"Oh, my family has a cabin on a lake!" I blurted out without thinking about it.
My friend Shira had been talking about how much she had liked camping by a lake. It seemed her entire childhood had been spent camping, at least until her parents' divorce.
"Really?" Her whole face lit up. "Can we go? Our only Friday class has been cancelled."
"I, um, I guess so. I'd have to ask my folks, and I've never been there alone before. I don't even know how to turn on the heat."
"We won't need any heat, it's been really warm this week." It was true, it had been unseasonably warm for early May.
"It gets cold by the lake."
"We'll light a fire."
I looked at her more closely then. Her beautiful eyes were sparkling, and there was a "please?" on her face.
"OK, I'll call my mom."
I had met Shira in the Hillel Kitchen. She had grown up in a religious family, and cooking kosher meals came as naturally as breathing to her. My family had been totally secular, but I had wanted a place to cook healthy vegetarian food and Hillel had welcomed me with open arms as long as I used kosher ingredients. She was funny, vivacious, a raven-haired beauty. The only time her face was troubled was when she had to talk to her mother about the marriage they were arranging for her.
"Mom, I'm too young to get married, I want to finish graduate school first."
"What do you need with a psychology degree to be a wife and mother?"
"I was married at 17, had four children all smart and beautiful, kept a good home"
"And you were divorced at 30."
You could hear her mom's sigh on the telephone from across the room.
But now her face was all illuminated, like a child's or an angel's.
So there we were Friday morning in her brother's car driving up the Thruway to the lake house. I only managed to get us lost once, and we arrived in once piece in mid-afternoon. As soon as she stopped the car, she was out running on the dock, dipping her fingers in the cold water. I dropped our backpacks on the porch and ran after her.
"Let's go in," she said mischievously.
"I didn't bring a bathing suit."
"I didn't either."
I blushed. "Actually, we never wore any when it was just family anyway."
She smiled at me. "Don't I count as family? I've been eating your cooking for 8 months."
Suddenly we were racing to see who could get her clothes off first. She won by a few seconds, and I had a brief look at her tush before it disappeared into the lake. She was a good swimmer, and was out to our raft in a couple of dozen strokes, and lying on it gasping with laughter before I got there. I got up on the raft with her, laid across the raft with my head on her belly for a pillow.
"That sun feels good after the cold water," she said.
"I'm covered with goosebumps." The light breeze was cooling my skin almost as fast as the sun was warming it.
"I see." She giggled as she lightly stroked my shoulder. Her bouncing my head up and down made me smile. I flipped my shoulder length auburn hair over her belly so she could touch my neck.
"Did I ever tell you I love having my neck touched?"
"It's a nice neck."
"Thank you." I sighed, turned to look at her. Now she was tugging gently at my hair, touching my eyebrows, my cheeks, my lips. Playfully, I licked at her fingers. She ran the damp fingers down my neck, to my collarbone, down the middle of my chest. "You're making my goosebumps worse."
"I'm getting them too. Maybe we should get inside."
"Race you back to the shore."
I got up and leapt over her into the water, but she caught me from behind and grabbed my feet. I turned to try to push her away, and we got all tangled up, almost wrestling in the water to see who was going to win. We reached the sandy part of the beach at almost the same instant, and started running for the cabin. Laughing, we burst through the door together and raced for the double bed in the corner of the one room, and slipped, still wet, under the covers to warm up. Shivering, we turned to face each other.
Suddenly, as though we had been discussing it for hours, we were kissing softly on the lips, then kissing deeply. I hadn't kissed a girl like this since about 8th grade, when my best friend and I were practicing for the boyfriends we would inevitably have. But Bonnie had never touched my breasts, as Shira was now doing. I hugged her to me.
"So, um, what do you want to do, Shira?"
"I don't know, Charlotte, what do you want to do?"
"Part of me wants to kiss you all night, but part of me wants to get up and make dinner."
"We could make dinner and then kiss all night."
"Or," I suggested, "we could kiss a while longer, then get up and make dinner."
"Only if we kiss more after dinner."
Just then her cell phone rang, the Ride of the Valkyries. Shira bolted from the bed and ran to her backpack in the doorway. "Hi, mom," she answered without even glancing at the caller ID. "No, mom, I told you I wouldn't be home for Shabbos dinner. I'm upstate at Charlotte's family's cabin, remember?"
She listened for almost a minute, turning redder all the while. "No, mom, I didn't know you specially invited Arnold and his parents to dinner. Why did you do that? You knew I wouldn't be home this weekend."
She turned away from the bed, standing in the fading light coming in through the living room window. "Mom! Please don't do this to me. You know I'm not ready to marry, Arnold or anybody else." She was trying not to let her teeth chatter, standing there with her hair dripping.
Finally, "Yes, mom, I did bring shabbos candles. We were just about to light them." Taking a beach towel from the drying rack, she wrapped it around herself. I got one for myself, went outside to get our clothes.
"No, mom, Charlotte's a vegetarian, we brought some spinach lasagna she had in the freezer." Pause. "Of course it's kosher! She made it in the Hillel kitchen."
"Listen, mom, I'm not being a very good guest. I'll be home Sunday afternoon. Give my best to Arnold."
She smiled. "I love you too, mom. See you Sunday." As she closed the phone, she visibly deflated onto the couch. I sat beside her, watching the storm breaking on her features. Taking her clothes from me, she glumly started donning her sweatshirt. She wouldn't meet my eyes.
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," she started. She stared at the floor, trying to get her jeans over her still damp thighs. I reached for her hand, but studiously ignored me.
"Why not? We're friends. We're going to have a lovely quiet weekend in the woods."
She looked at me for long seconds, the dropped her gaze back to the floor. "I've never kissed anybody before. Not like that."
I smiled. "I only ever kissed one boy like that, and it was the night of the spring formal. I didn't even like him that much. I didn't like kissing him. I liked kissing you."
"I liked kissing you, too. Too much." She glanced at me. "I can't be kissing a girl, not like that."
"I did that once in junior high, but we were, you know, just practicing on someone safe. Just getting ready for boys. Bonnie Snyder. I'd forgotten her until I was kissing you."
"Did you like kissing her?"
"I don't know. No. Not as much as I liked kissing you."
She was silent for a long minute. "Can we be non-kissing friends? I want to be friends with you."
"Of course. We are friends."
All through dinner we were careful not to touch. The cramped kitchen corner made this difficult, but somehow we heated the lasagna, made a salad and garlic bread, and lit the Sabbath candles. I tried not to think of how romantic it was having dinner by candlelight with Shira, but it was impossible.
After cleaning up, we sat together on the couch, about a foot apart, staring into the fire and not talking.
"I am so tired," she finally said, "I'm going to get ready for bed." She got her backpack and went into the bathroom. I could hear her brushing her teeth and flushing the toilet. She came out in a long flannel nightgown and sat down on the edge of my sister's bed, trying to brush out her hair. Although we had been naked together just a few hours ago, it was too uncomfortable to change in front of her, so I went in and changed into a t-shirt and panties, took out my contacts, combed out my hair, and started to crawl into my bed.
"Oy, my hair is so horrible! I should cut it all off." She was still struggling with her hair.
Shyly, I asked, "Can I help you?"
She hesitated. I could almost see the wheels turning. Was it OK to let me touch her? At last, she gave in. "Yes, please."
I came over to her bed, sat behind her, and started combing out the ends, working my way up the right side. She was sitting, still staring at the fire, not talking.
As I got to the top of her hair, I couldn't help it, I stroked her neck. Just once. She stiffened, pulled away a bit, then sat back down. I continued working on her hair, being so careful not to touch her at all.
Minutes later, I realized she was crying, softly so I would not notice. All I could say was "shhh, shhh, shhh." She leaned back against me and I held her in my arms, shushing her while she wept silently. She turned, touched her wet cheek to mine, and kissed me softly on the cheek. "Shhh, shhh," I murmured.
"Did I ever tell you I love having my hair brushed?" She smiled through her tears.
"It's nice hair."
"Thank you. You have a nice neck." She leaned in and kissed me softly on the neck.
"You're kissing me. Is that what you want?"
"I don't know what I want." She kissed me again on the neck, on the ear, on the cheek. She touched my face, turned me slightly to her, and kissed me softly on the lips.
"I think we should sleep on it and figure it out in the morning."
Gently, I laid her down in front of me, curled around her like a spoon. I lifted her hair out of the way and kissed her gently on the neck. I debated with myself for a few seconds and decided it would be safer to curl my hand under her breast than hold it. Her breathing grew more regular as she drifted off to sleep.
I don't know how long I laid there in the dark, trying to go to sleep, nor how late it was when I became aware she was caressing my face. I woke to find her staring at me in the darkness. I leaned in a little to kiss her softly on the cheek. She smiled, touched my face and neck, and kissed me back. So soft, just little brushes of the lips. Her eyes were teary, but they were smiling at me in the dim candlelight.
Her tongue came out, darted onto my lips, retreated. I touched her lips with my tongue, rubbed my nose on hers. Our tongues touched, played on each other.
Her hand dropped from my neck to my breast. Softly caressing me through my t-shirt. I sighed softly and kissed her deeper, then leaned back and questioned her with my eyes. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and leaned in to kiss me, harder, more urgently. Our legs intertwined, hips and bellies melted together. Her thigh started rubbing on my mound. My heart was pounding, lifting my breast into her hand with each beat.
I pulled away a little to look at her. "What are we doing?" I asked her.
"We're becoming kissing friends. OK?"
I nodded. "If you want. Friends who kiss, anyway."
Her hand slipped under the hem of my shirt. "Did I tell you how much I liked touching your breasts?"
"No, you didn't. Did I mention that I liked it too?"
"No, but it's showing its own appreciation." I grinned. My nipples were harder than I could remember. "Maybe you'd like to return the favor?" She took my hand and put it on her nightgown. I tugged at her nipple, and she bit my lip softly as she moaned. "Please touch me some more."
I lifted the hem of her nightgown. Her breasts seemed almost to glow in the candlelight. I circled one nipple with my index finger, scarcely able to breath. My mouth was drawn to it, and I took almost the entire breast into my mouth, before pulling back to concentrate on the areola. "Mmmm oh, Charlotte, that feels so wonderful!" She tugged at my nipple as I sucked. I came up to kiss her some more. Her leg was now bare on my panties, which were beginning to soak through. I pulled her tush toward me, and felt her damp pubes rubbing on my thigh.
I pulled away. "I really want to look at you. May I?"
"I haven't told you how much I like having you look at me, have I?"
I grinned, got up and brought the candles to the shelf above the bed.
She stared at me. "You'd better take your panties off, they're already soaked." Grinning, I complied. "T-shirt too," she commanded.
I sat on the edge of the bed naked, and raised her nightgown to her shoulders. "Oh, just take it off me," she growled
I did so, then sat on my knees beside her, just admiring her. Starting at her fingertips, I stroked up her arms to her neck and smiling face. "I love your goosebumps." She smiled at me. I gave her a little lick on the side of her neck, and came down to her other breast.
"I was wondering when you would give her equal time."
"I'm going to have to give both a lot more time."
I stroked downward, over her soft belly, her thick dark curls, and followed the trail of my fingers with more kisses. As my face grew nearer to her mound, she seemed to pull away a bit. "I can't believe you want to kiss me there."
I looked up at her. "Why not? I want to touch you there." I continued kissing and stroking my way down her thighs. Almost of their own volition, her thighs parted. I kissed my way up the inner thigh, started to stroke her curly pubes. I combed her hairs softly with my fingertips, leaned in to kiss her lips.
"Oh, Charlotte!" She was almost whimpering as I was starting to split her lips with my tongue. She tugged at my head, bringing me closer. "Oh, so nice. Oh. Oh." She was caressing my hair and face as I licked her. "Oh, ahhh, mmm, more, more, ohh, more please more..." Her voice was getting higher and higher, louder and then softer, and it was hard to keep up with her hip movements.
Suddenly, she almost screamed and lay there, all quivering but otherwise still. Her flavor changed subtly, became almost tart. "Ohhh, Charlotte, ohhh, stop a minute." She sighed and lifted me up to her face. "Kiss me please."
I grinned. "My pleasure."
"I guess that was an orgasm?"
I looked at her in disbelief. "Your first?"
"I think so."
"You never touched yourself?"
She looked away, blushing on top of her already rosy skin. "I did, but that never happened before." She kissed me again. "That was wonderful."
I kissed her softly. "I never did that before either. Wanna do it again?"
She bit my lip softly. "Maybe later, first I want to kiss you like that."
"Oh? Would you like to be friends who kiss each other like that?"
She smiled. "I don't know, Charlotte, what do you want?"