Reaching Out Ch. 02bywakingDown©
+++All characters are over 18. Special thanks to Subbymaybe, the silent and clear voice in the void. You made me want to write more. This was done in days instead of over a month. Thank you for that. I just hope that this is an acceptable follow up. Part three in progress soon+++
"James, I'm scared to. I want to, but I'm scared. I know it will hurt, but that doesn't scare me. I'm scared because there will be no way to go back." She whispered. Her mouth was resting close enough to his neck that her lips brushed his skin as they moved. Her words were hardly louder than a soft breath, but with her mouth just under the lobe of his ear they didn't have to be anything more.
"I know. I'm a little nervous about it myself. I want to. I want to a lot. But it's, I don't know, it still feels forbidden, I guess." He said, feeling like he was wording it poorly but unable to do better.
Dana ran her hand down the other side of his neck. Her fingertips were as barely-brushing as her lips had been. It made his skin tingle, that ultra-light friction that was mainly picked up by the tiny hairs, and only partly by the skin itself. It was almost a tickle, almost a tease.
James let his hands rub across Dana's back. He knew she liked her back rubbed. Every time he did it he felt the muscles there loosen and her breathing eased a bit, if they weren't exciting themselves. He closed his eyes and concentrated on her. Her breathing, the sound from above him and how it slightly vibrated his chest where she lay. He focused on her touch; most of her body, and yet narrowed to a purpose at her fingers and lips on his neck, so small. He could smell the remnants of shampoo and some kind of body wash, but it was almost lost in the much fresher, wilder scents of their sweat and her orgasm. He could not tell which sweat was whose, but he knew he would in time. He wanted to learn how to observe the way Dana did. He wanted to see the world the way she did. That way he could better help her to understand that world and live within it.
James turned his head and kissed her, wanting to taste her lips, her tongue, her mouth. She did not object. His hands stopped rubbing in slow circles and centered on the small of her back. She smiled into his mouth, and kissed him back harder. She sat up a little and centered over him again, her hips pressing down. James sat up slowly, and gently lifted her leg. She looked at him, an eyebrow cocked slightly, her lips a little tight.
"Trust me. You'll like this." He answered with a grin. She trusted him. He guided her onto her back and ran his hands gently up and down her legs, just following the curves and surfaces as he did. He began humming an aimless little tune. Nothing so much as a melody, even, just notes without pattern, very quiet. His hands ran along her thighs and across her stomach. Dana had her eyes closed and was breathing slow and deep. He smiled. His fingers trailed to the waistband of her panties and pulled down gently. She made a small whimpering sound in the back of her throat, the tendons in her neck tightened a bit, and her brow furrowed just a tad, but she lifted her hips.
James pulled them away slowly, easing them down her thighs and calves very deliberately. When they left her feet, Dana lay before him completely naked for the first time. He thought it was an image he would never forget. She let her legs spread a little, her head turning to the side, and she looked tense. James knew what she was worried about. He let his hands slide up to her knees and pushed them together a bit. Not completely, but a bit. She relaxed a little and opened her eyes. She watched his hands carefully.
"I would like to use my mouth, if you would like that." James said quietly. Dana was quiet a moment, her eyes still on his hands. When she looked up to his face her eyes were a little wider.
"Your mouth. I don't. Yes. Yes I would like that." She said. She stuttered and her eyes bounced back and forth between his hands and face. Her voice was terrified and excited. Her while body was tense.
"Are you sure? I can't tell for sure right now. You look more scared than anything. I don't want to do anything you don't want to." He said. He took her hand as he said it, letting his thumb rub across her knuckles. To her it seemed like an oddly disjointed, brotherly gesture to make while his other hand was on her bare thigh inches away from her slit and he was asking if she wanted him to lick her. She smiled at the thought and calmed a little.
"Yes. I'm scared. I'm nervous. A lot. But I want you to. Please? Please lick me James?" She said. She was smiling, and was keeping eye contact. Her voice at the end was light and open. He was happy to see it, and happy to hear her speaking playfully, more than just conveying information as she usually did. He nodded and let his hands wander to her inner thighs, easing her legs back open. She was more relaxed as her knees parted this time. She watched as his hands ran along her thighs, getting closer to her slit with each pass up. He let his right hand stop at the top of her thigh, not quite touching her lip. His left went up to her stomach and eased back down. He ran his palm slowly over her slit, touching her as lightly as he could, as she had done to his neck earlier. He smiled as she shuddered. He started humming again, almost silent. Dana could only hear it on the higher notes when they came. All the while his face was inching lower and lower, closer and closer. His hands kept up their light, tingling dance. Dana's breathing was just starting to speed up when she felt a puff of warm air across her clit. She closed her eyes and waited, concentrating on the sensations.
Another puff of air and suddenly she could feel the tune he was humming. She twitched, her hips jumping a little to the side and her breath catching sharply as his lips pressed against the top of her slit. They were vibrating evenly as he hummed. She could feel the different notes as different patterns of vibrations. It was amazing. She shuddered again as he began to move up and down, his lips kissing here and there. Her breathing went a little jagged, uneven, when his tongue ran out and parted her lips.
"James." She whispered. He could hear the waver in her throat, probably from how her body was trembling. It was a slight tremor, but there. "James. Please." Her breathing had grown far more jagged. He felt her pulse in her thigh under his hand, too fast. Her voice was weak, and he realized what had happened. Her pleasure had turned to fear. Even here, even in this. He immediately stopped and moved up to sit next to her, pulling her up to wrap his arms around her. She clung tightly to him and they sat that way for a while, both of them paying careful attention to her body.
James listened, felt, and saw many minute signals, indications. He observed piece by piece as her body and mind calmed.
"I'm sorry, James. It was too much. It was wonderful, I was enjoying it, and then, I don't know. I just started to feel afraid. Like I was doing something that was off. Like walking outside without a shirt. It felt like that. Like I had to stop and fix it before someone found out. I'm so sorry." She was close to tears; her face was buried in the side of his neck. He could feel the heat coming from her cheeks and forehead.
"You don't have to apologize, Dana. I don't want to do anything you don't want to do. If that means we stop doing something, then we stop doing it. No judgment. I don't want to do anything that scares you. If you would rather we slow down, then we slow down. Okay?" James was almost whispering, his hands making slow circles on her back, and he was rocking back and forth just a bit. It was all rather soothing.
"Okay. I know I'm making too much out of nothing. People do this every day. I hate myself when I'm afraid." She said. He could barely hear her, but he held tighter when she said it.
"What we are doing is not something that people do every day. It's a fair bit different for us, you know. And I know your fear frustrates you, but please don't hate yourself. Please."
Dana moved a hand up to the back of James' head, and let her finger tips draw a small ovoid shape that started at the top of his spine and spread up to the center of the whirl of his hair on the back of his head.
"This is where the fear starts. It spreads everywhere from there. That's where it comes from. I don't know why." Dana whispered. James was a little surprised by this statement, but nodded slightly, acknowledging it.
"How can you tell where fear comes from?" He asked after a while.
"I feel it all the time. I can't help but learn about it. Someday I will learn why it starts there. I looked in a lot of books and websites about the brain. They don't know where fear starts. But I do." She explained. Her last words were said with a sad pride.
"I want to help you learn to set fear aside. You have learned how to live with fear. How to move around it. I want to help you learn how to live without it. To move through it." James said quietly.
"I would like that." She answered. Her fingertips were still tracing the light outline on the back of his head. He felt her finger trail higher, to the top of his head, right in the middle.
"This is where nervous tension starts." She whispered. Before James could answer she released him and began to get dressed. After a moment, James followed suit. He wondered how they were going to spend the rest of the day.
James stepped out of the shower and grabbed his towel. Dana had already showered. He put on clean clothes and opened the door. When he turned to the living room, he saw Dana standing up from the couch. She had changed her clothes again. After her shower she had stepped out of the bathroom in a simple sundress. Now she was wearing a button down blouse and slate grey slacks. Her hair was pulled back into a tight, smooth ponytail, except for a thick lock of hair on either side of her face that framed her nicely until she turned her head. When she turned, the hair hid her face quite well. She looked at his hands, a slight smile playing on her lips.
"Mom called while you were in there. I need to go into the shop. The guy she has been talking to about knife sheath things is going to be there soon. He wanted to talk to Mom and me about working out a deal." She said. She sounded jittery, and he could understand why. She would probably have to talk to this guy, and she would be terrified. But she wouldn't be able to run or anything without risking blowing the deal for mom.
"Well, that's good for the business, but are you going to be able to do this?" He asked quietly.
"I don't know. I was hoping, I thought maybe. Do you think?" She was stammering, and her cheeks were brick red.
"Yes Dana, I'll go with you." He said gently. She smiled wide and hugged him tight.
"Thank you." She whispered in his ear.
Ten minutes later they were in James' car and on their way. James had put on a nice polo. Dana had asked James to drive, as her nerves were far too jumpy for her to drive her little car. James was fine with that. He was just over six feet tall and did not fit well in Dana's little Hyundai. Dana tried to explain what the guy was wanting from them as they went.
"He designs, makes, and sells knives and swords and stuff like that. We design handmade leather goods. So he wanted to know if we could work out a deal where he would make a knife or whatever, send us a scale outline of the design, and we make a sheath thingy custom fit for it, with each one covered in original artwork. He said sometimes he may ask for certain designs or initials if the piece was a commission, but that should be fine. But Mom wants me to be there because I will be doing the artwork. So I'll have to talk about it. And I feel like I'm going to throw up." She said. He punched the little button on his door console to roll her window down real quick.
"Just concentrate on breathing right now, okay? Slow, even breaths. Gentle in, gentle out. Let your mind empty, just think about the sensation of the air filling your lungs and emptying." He said, his voice as even and smooth as he could make it. He spoke in a slightly deeper voice than he usually did, knowing it would help to calm her. His words were slow and relaxed. He could hear her breathing regulating as he spoke in his quiet, low voice. When she was calmer, she opened her eyes again and reached over to take his hand.
"Thank you." She said, squeezing his hand.
They pulled up to the shop and got out. Dana fussed over her blouse and slacks, picking and straightening, until James put his hands over hers and told her she looked fine. They went in.
Mom was just coming up to the front. There were no customers in the shop, and it was peacefully quiet.
"Hello James, I didn't know you were coming as well." Mom said.
"Just here for moral support." He said with a smile.
"I asked him to come. I hope that's alright." Dana said quietly.
"Yes, it's alright. I don't see why not. Now, he should be here any minute. I wanted to have a few things laid out..."
They went over the set-up mom wanted and got everything ready. It did not take very long to arrange the samples she had in mind. She wanted Dana behind the workbench where she tooled the leather, figuring it would be the most comfortable for her. James brought over a small stool and set it next to Dana's so he could sit with her. Mom would be at the long bench next to the workbench.
While mom told Dana everything she needed to know, Dana stood next to her, staring at the bench and nodding. James looked around Dana's work space. It was rather cozy. The bench itself dominated the area; easily ten feet long, and sitting almost chest high. The top was a gigantic slab of stone with a thick layer of oak bolted to the top. It had a couple clamps and vises around the edges, and a ruler carved along the worker's edge. He saw several depressions carved on either end, and each held a few tools, mostly assorted knives. Hung low over the bench was a long soft-light lamp that gave a mellow, even glow across the bench. To the left, on the wall, was a triple rack of wooden cups. Ten to a row. Each was almost six inches deep, held in place by small metal bars. Each cup held a dozen or so tools. Each tool was a slim metal rod that had a small shape at the end; a crescent, a line, a circle, hash lines, many, many different little shapes. Each cup had its own type of tools. Hard angles in this cup, soft angles in this one, sets of lines in that one, and so on. All the many shapes Dana used to create the large, intricate designs on the leather. On the back wall, behind her stool, was a small peg board. She had four different hammers hanging, and what looked like a small assortment of chisels hanging from holes in their handles on hooks. He ran his fingers over one of the hammers. It looked different than the others. The handle was wood, like the others, but the head was different. Not metal, not wood. When he touched it and looked closer he saw it was a tightly coiled and bound bundle of rawhide, cured hard. He smiled faintly at the thought of using leather to shape leather.
"That's my favorite mallet. It never hurts my hand. I trust it." Dana whispered in his ear. James started and turned to her with a little smile. He had not noticed that Dana and mom had finished.
"It's neat. I would never have thought to use leather to make a hammer." He said, his finger running along the face of it again before dropping.
"Mallet. That metal one is a hammer. A hammer drives, a mallet pushes. I don't like the hammer. A mallet is nicer." She said. James was watching her closely. She was letting her eyes roam across her tools as she explained, and he could see and hear the emotions each tool brought flit across her features and voice as she spoke. When she finished, she looked down a little.
"The tools are simple. The tools cannot judge. The tools cannot be anything but safe." She said. Her voice was low and slightly strained. James looked up when he saw a slight movement. Mom was standing on the other side of the workbench.
"The tools are neural, then?" James asked quietly, keeping his eyes locked on his mother's, trying to keep her silent through force of will, hoping she would and just let Dana speak.
"Yes. The tools can't think, they can't criticize, all they can do is what my hands make them do. When I set them aside, they can only wait to be used again. They are safe. They don't think about how I use them or how I don't use them. Not like people." She said. James watched her carefully, waiting for more. Dana twitched her head to the side a bit, and James knew she had noticed their mom. Probably heard her breathing in the quiet.
"Okay. Thank you for explaining the hammer and mallet thing. I thought they were all hammers." James said, his voice light and pleasant, trying to lighten the mood. Mom looked like she about to speak when the front door opened.
James sat on his stool, quiet, out of the way, while mom talked. James and Dana both just watched while she haggled and negotiated with the man like an old pro. They weren't even talking real numbers yet and she was already feeling out what kind of rates she could expect for specialty commissions. Soon, though, he began asking about the design work. He knew that the structural design was mom's area, but the tooling and decorative design was Dana's.
James had placed his stool close enough to the workbench that when Dana stood next to it he could slip his hand into hers without mom or the client seeing. Aside from its design, the bench was on a small riser to begin with. Dana and James were looking down on mom and the client.
As soon as he turned to Dana, James took her hand, and she smiled a little. She spoke softly, and was still clearly shy, but she did not stutter, and she did not panic. She was able to explain all the types of artwork she could put to leather, and how long most of them took for the most part. Thankfully, the client was a kind, quiet man and was content with her short and simple explanations. She was nowhere near as verbose as she was when she spoke to James. With this man, it was back to just the pertinent information. But she was doing better about conveying it. James knew that part of that was his presence, but he thought that if he wasn't here, she would have done better than she would have before he started talking to her.
It was only about a half hour later that the man said that he would be happy to work with "two ladies that clearly know what they're doing." He said he had trouble before with getting sheaths made and thought that this would work well. Mom and the client went to mom's office to go over the actual numbers, so James and Dana said their goodbyes and headed home. As soon as they were in the car, Dana took James' hand again.
"I couldn't have done that without you." She said.
"I think you could have." He replied. She watched him a moment and decided he really thought so. She was quiet a moment before speaking again. "Did mom hear me talking about the tools? She did." Dana answered her own question as soon as she saw his face after asking it. "Now she probably thinks I'm crazy. Talking about tools like they are people." She said, staring down at her lap.
"I don't think she thinks you're crazy. She didn't seem to think that when you said it. She didn't look at you any differently after you said it. I think she just got to hear a little bit of how you feel. It might help her to understand why you are afraid sometimes." He said, squeezing her hand and running the ball of his thumb across her knuckles. She didn't answer, but her pulse slowed in her palm and her breathing was back to normal. He thought she was calmer. He didn't even realize anymore that he did not have to look at her to know how she was feeling. He wasn't thinking about how much his perception of a person's demeanor had opened in the last few days. His attention was almost entirely swallowed by his concerns for Dana. He didn't know how he was going to leave when the day to go back to his place came.