That Australian WomanbyShaima32©
Emily checked her reflection in the mirror after she finished drying her hands. Her makeup needed touching up and she took out her lipstick. It was five minutes past five and the ladies toilet was half full. Three women stood in front of the mirror doing much the same as her, putting on lipstick, applying more rouge or just brushing their hair. She ran a brush through her shoulder length blonde hair, it was thick and curled into a wave just below the collar of her white blouse.
Am I attractive enough for E?
She frowned as she looked down at the Valentines card on the vanity.
It had landed in her In Tray enclosed in an internal mail envelope, which meant it had come from somewhere in the building. It had a standard message but underneath it was a simple sentence.
Will you be my Valentine at the Pig and Whistle tonight? 6:30 pm.
It was simply signed E.
Emily worked as a filing clerk at a London newspaper and when not going through drawers filled with files and clippings, she was delivering material to various reporters. For the most part she enjoyed the work, although the men seemed to regard her as a distraction whenever she put a pile of papers on their desk. The women were a little more pleasant though and one women in particular had caught her eye, admittedly it was for her Australian accent at first.
London in the early '70s had begun attracting Australians in ever increasing numbers. One of those was Georgina Harrison, a statuesque blonde in her mid twenties who had attracted the roving eye of almost every man in the building. Her demeanour could be somewhat brash and many of Emily's peers thought her too feminist for their liking. Another factor was the simple fact that men tended to gravitate towards Georgina and yet after nine months she hadn't been seen dating any of the men in the office.
However a chance remark when she was putting a pile of clippings on her desk had changed the dynamic between them instantly.
"I'll never get this bloody story finished," she complained, "I don't suppose you can write?"
"Not articles," she replied, "I can write fiction."
Georgina didn't reply as she stared at the paper in her typewriter and then seemed to come out of herself as she became aware Emily was still standing there.
"What kind of fiction?"
"Um, romance," she teased a lock of hair over her ear.
"Fascinating," Georgina looked her up and down, "you must let me read some, what are you working on now?"
"A short story, I've done a few of them."
"Have you had anything published?"
"Not yet, I'm just writing and sending them into competitions."
"Bring something in, I'll give it my full attention, just not here," she scowled at her typewriter and Emily nodded.
It was the start of something but she didn't know what just yet as she submitted her short stories to Georgina for a professional opinion and she discovered the Australian woman had a razor sharp eye for grammatical structure and style. Her appraisals usually took place at a pub down the road and gradually her writing started to improve.
Emily's eyes shifted to the handbag as she flicked the brush through her hair. This morning she'd taken the first fifteen pages of her novella up to Georgina and found twelve Valentines cards arranged in a row.
"Thanks, sweetie," she smiled, "another one?"
"Yes," she lowered her voice, "girl meets boy but then falls for his sister."
"His sister," Georgina's eyes narrowed, "ooh, now that sounds interesting."
"I don't know how it's going to turn out," she went on, "it's not like they can live happily ever after is it?"
"It is fiction," she replied, "I'll look forward to it."
"Get any interesting cards?" Emily looked at the cards.
"No," she rolled her eyes, "every one of those cards has the guy's full name at the end. The whole idea of a Valentines card is not signing the bloody card. What about you?"
"My one is from E," she replied, "I'm to meet him at the pub tonight at six thirty."
"How exciting," Georgina leaned back and stretched, "so, what will you wear?"
"Probably this, I'd have to rush back home to get changed so I'll go like this."
"Well I hope E is everything you hoped for," she smiled.
Emily checked her appearance one last time. The black pleated skirt was a few inches above her knee and the white belt matched the white shirt, she looked down at her black shoes and finally stepped out of the bathroom and headed downstairs to the entrance. She was just passing the reception desk however when Jean, one of the receptionists called out her name.
"What?" Emily approached the desk.
"A parcel just arrived for you half an hour ago," she opened a drawer and took out a gift wrapped box and handed it over. The box had a ribbon around it and a small card with the letter E written on it, her eyes shifted to Jean as put it in her bag.
"He was here half an hour ago?"
"It came with Internal mail," she shrugged, "who's E?"
"My Valentine," she replied.
"Lucky you," she smiled blandly, "good night."
She made her way out into the street but felt as if the package was burning a hole in her bag and so she perched at a bus stop and carefully unwrapped it.
The box contained a small bottle of expensive perfume and Emily swallowed as she sprayed her wrist. Obviously E appreciated the finer things in life because this scent was intoxicating. She closed her eyes and tried to think where she'd smelled it before but the memory escaped her and so she got to her feet and kept walking, deep in thought.
It still hadn't come to her when she stepped into the smoky interior of the Pig and Whistle. The pub was half full and she was forced to fight her way through the crowd to a tap and then she came to a dead stop. Georgina was sitting at the bar with her back to her. She was wearing the clothes she'd had on today, black, button down, pinafore dress over a white blouse.
G'day," Georgina raised a glass of ale, "if I was the paranoid type I'd think you were stalking me," she took a mouthful of ale.
"So, have you found E yet?"
"No, no, but he gave me this," she took out the perfume.
"Charlie for Women," she read the label, "very chic, do you mind?"
"Of course not," she blushed.
Georgina sprayed herself and Emily remembered where she recalled it. Georgina had used it but so had quite a few women at the paper, still her presence here was a mystery. She was no E though, and she still had no idea who he was.
"Fancy a drink? My shout," Georgina nudged her.
"Ta," she nodded.
"Ale or something stronger? I'm thinking of vodka."
"Ale," she replied and swivelled to look around the pub. There were quite a few men here and a few had noticed Georgina or was it her they were looking at? The drink was pushed towards her a few minutes later and Georgina raised her glass.
"Here's mud in your eye, happy Valentines day."
They clinked glasses and drank their drinks in relative silence and finally Georgina swivelled on her seat to look around the pub.
"So, where is E?"
It was a mystery that still hadn't been solved an hour later, despite attempts to locate a man whose name started with E. At one point she'd been half tempted to shout out if anyone here had a name starting with E, but that would have resulted in a flood of men wanting to be E and Georgina had already gotten rid of several men trying to proposition her.
"I don't think he's coming," Emily finally sighed.
"I think you're right," she looked at her watch, "it's seven thirty, fancy a bite to eat? I know a great little restaurant in Belgravia."
She felt disappointed to be leaving the pub without meeting her Valentine but on the plus side, Georgina was entertaining company.
Prior to tonight, she hadn't known much about Georgina Harrison, their discussions of her work were almost clinical in some respects although she was certainly egalitarian in nature. However, over dinner that night a change seemed to come over Georgina. Perhaps it was because there was no ticking clock, work had finished for the day, and they'd both had a few drinks, but Emily learned a lot more about Australia and Georgina Harrison, the second oldest child of Patrick and Elizabeth Harrison.
"My dad is an editor at the Sydney Morning Herald and mum has a hair salon. I've got an older brother and a younger sister. I could have gotten a job at the Herald on the strength of dad's name but I wanted to make it on my own, so I moved down to Melbourne, worked for The Age, did a stint with Women's Weekly and threw the bloody lot in to come and work here."
It was a far cry from Emily's rather sheltered upbringing in Cambridge. Her family was far more traditional.
"Dad works as an accountant and mum stays at home. I'm an only child so they were keen for me to go to university at least, which qualifies me to be a filing clerk. I had hopes of becoming a reporter but so far I've not managed it, which doesn't bother me really."
Eventually however the topic of conversation moved to the fifteen pages she'd handed her that morning and Georgina admitted she'd only read the first three pages.
"I had to dash out for an interview but I did read the very last page, it looked kind of disjointed, like an excerpt from a later chapter."
"The first kiss," Emily nodded, "I threw that in as an extra, I haven't actually gotten to that part yet but I had to write it out before I forgot it."
"I liked it," Georgina propped on her palm, "it doesn't need changing at all."
"Oh," Emily looked at her watch, "that's encouraging."
"Tell you what," Georgina leaned back, "why don't we go back to my flat and I'll get a cuppa into you and read the rest tonight, how does that sound?"
"As long as it's no problem."
"No problem at all," Georgina smiled.
Georgina's Earls Court two-room bedsit was small but cosy and as she unbuttoned her coat and hung it on a rack behind the door Emily looked around the lounge room. The couch was one of those two seater affairs that looked as if it'd seen better days. Just behind it was a bed and on the other side of the room was a small roll-top desk with a typewriter.
Georgina showed her where the tea and cups were and settled down to read the rest of her manuscript, which left Emily alone in the kitchen to make tea and more out of curiosity she made a cursory examination of the kitchen. Her fridge was covered in stickers and typed notes, the stickers were flags for the most part and the pieces of paper were inspirational sayings she'd copied out. There was also a Peace sign and the symbols for women, two circles over crosses, they were interlinked, symbolising lesbian love, and then her eyes darted to the pile of mail Georgina had collected from the door some ten minutes ago. Something about those letters had caught her eye as Georgina was talking to her in the kitchen but she hadn't made the connection until right now when she stared at the name on the letter.
Miss Georgina Edwina Harrison.
E, she thought, I've been looking for a first name starting with E. She looked at the symbol for lesbian love and a moment later she stepped back quickly and walked to the door of the kitchen, Georgina was sitting with a smile on her face, still reading her typed out pages.
Georgina looked up and smiled a little nervously.
"I am, sorry."
"I'm not offended," she blushed, "it took me by surprise," she leaned on the side of the door, "so, you like me?"
"I do but I wasn't sure," she replied a moment later, "so I sent the card through the internal mail system and met you at the pub. it was a little underhanded but it was all I could think of."
The kettle started whistling but Emily didn't move as she processed the information. Her willingness to just read her stories, why? She pinched her nose and Georgina rose and moved past her into the kitchen and lifted the kettle off the ring.
"If my being attracted to you bothers you, I understand. At first I read your stories because I just wanted to be in your company," she started pouring tea into the teapot.
"But then I started to get into your romantic short stories and I found myself wanting to know more about you. The card did get you into the Pig and Whistle and from there to the restaurant, after that I had no idea what happens next," she put the lid on the teapot and moved back to the other bench, "I know how these things turn out in real life but your stories gave me hope."
She managed a crooked grin.
"Perhaps foolish hope but isn't it better to have foolish hope than none at all?"
"I wrote that," she murmured, "my second story."
"I remembered that line, it sticks in my mind to this day," she glanced at the teapot.
"But at least now you know the truth about me."
They stood facing each other for what seemed like an eternity and then she put her arms around Georgina.
"Thank you for the perfume, and the dinner."
Georgina squeezed her gently and she felt her breasts pressing against hers, she closed her eyes briefly and then pulled back slightly. A moment later she kissed her quickly on the lips and walked to the door of the kitchen. Georgina touched her own lips and smiled.
"I'll never wash that spot again."
The comment made her laugh out loud. It was a cliché but Georgina's romantic approach had touched her in a way she hadn't thought possible and she found herself thinking about that story she'd started writing. The one that had gone strangely off track for some unaccountable reason and even though she could make adjustments to the plot, she felt as if her character Anna wouldn't take kindly to it.
"So, your novella," Georgina set the tray on the table and moved the ashtray closer, "it's really quite good, a few minor corrections but where do you think it's going?"
"I don't know, I wrote the first few pages and then the first kiss scene just popped into my mind, it was totally out of the blue, like a dream. I didn't write any more for a few days and then I did the other pages. I don't know where it's going but it feels different because the characters are telling the story for me," she accepted a cigarette.
"I loved the kissing scene," she chuckled, "tell me, what was going through your head when you wrote it? You said it was like a dream."
"Pictures," she accepted the light, "I thought of softness," she cupped Georgina's hand with her hand, "sensuous," she went on a moment later, "seductive," she took a mouthful of tea.
The two sat smoking in silence for the next few minutes.
"So, when did you turn onto women?"
"At university, some woman became friendly with me and one night we had a few too many drinks and she brought out a joint. One thing led to another, we had a game of strip poker and before I knew it we were kissing, I never intended to go all the way but I did and afterwards I knew I didn't want to go back to men," she leaned forward and put her wineglass down.
"I like men, don't get me wrong but there's something about a woman that turns me on," she stretched her arm along the back of the couch, "we can sit and talk for hours without anything happening or," she stroked the back of Emily's head, "a single touch can light a flame."
Her fingers slipped through her hair.
"The odd thing for me is the fact I can do this for straight women without anything happening, we touch each other all the time. Women tend to be more tactile, we like hugs, kisses, caresses, the feel of a warm body against ours, and it doesn't have to end in sex. It's intimacy we crave above all else, but if we try doing those sorts of things with a man it always ends in sex. Even then we're searching for intimacy but a man just needs to relieve the pressure, he explodes inside you and then he falls asleep."
Emily had turned towards her by now, her legs brushed against hers and Georgina shifted her arm slightly so as to caress her cheek with soft brushing movements. Emily let her keep going, closing her eyes to take in the sensation, there was an innocence about it.
"Soft," she murmured.
Georgina raised her other hand and slid it through her thick blonde hair, her movements became slightly more sexual when she reached her earlobe and traced a finger down it. Emily's eyelids flashed upwards but she didn't move for a moment as she let the gentle massage continue and then she put one hand on Georgina's left wrist. The hand stopped moving through her hair and the two women looked at each other, hovering on the brink. She saw the hesitation in Georgina's eyes as she prepared to pull back and Emily felt something shift inside her, a boundary had been crossed and if she tried to go back it would haunt her.
She relaxed her grip on Georgina's wrist and leaning forward, tilted her head and kissed her gently on the lips in what she hoped would be a sensual kiss. She felt Georgina's hand sliding around the back of her head and down to her neck as her mouth opened. Emily felt the familiar weakness in her belly as she explored those soft lips.
The kiss ended all too soon but by then Georgina's other hand was stroking her chin while her other hand maintained a loose grip of her neck. She looked past her for a moment and Georgina kissed her cheek gently and when Emily turned, Georgina kissed her forehead. She closed her eyes as the older woman kissed her eyelids and Emily exhaled slowly.
"Sensuous," she murmured.
Georgina kept stroking her throat, moving behind her collar to the topmost button and then she kissed her several times in succession, quick, teasing kisses that became steadily longer with each kiss until that final open mouthed passionate kiss. The button came loose and Georgina's hand dropped like a stone, the finger dangled precariously from the next button, dragging the vee downwards as they parted. Emily looked down and Georgina tugged at it playfully.
"Very," she murmured. Her breathing felt laboured but she wasn't panting, she was however turned on by this new development. At any time she knew she could pull out. Georgina wasn't pushing her back against the couch or trying to put her hand up her skirt, instead she was just kissing and caressing her.
"It's not like it is with a man."
"I should think not," Georgina slid her finger out of the vee and let it fall down the front of her blouse to her belt, "I might be very embarrassed to discover I had a prick."
Emily giggled, something she often did when she'd had a little too much to drink. She adjusted her position slightly, moving closer to Georgina and bringing her hands up to her face, began to stroke her face in return, feeling the softness of that thick mane and noticing the way her eyes softened when she stroked her throat and danced her fingers down the vee to the top button. It popped loose and because it was so far down her front, part of her bra was revealed.
Emily slid her hand under the blouse and over the cup, finding she knew instinctively how much pressure to put on the breast. Georgina pushed her breast into her hand and tilting her head, moved in for another long and lingering kiss. Emily groaned as she massaged her breast and worked her mouth at the same time. Her own breasts ached for the same attention and sensing her need, the older woman found one of her breasts and cupped it, Emily moved forward against her hand, letting Georgina mould it gently.
They broke free again and this time she felt flushed and aroused. She stared at Georgina for a few moments and then kissed her again in a series of teasing kisses, dragging them out slowly until they became longer passionate kisses. Georgina undid another of her buttons and Emily fumbled with another of Georgina's buttons. It popped loosed and she broke free and parted the blouse a little more, her mouth descended on Georgina's throat and front as she moved her hands up and down and slowly but surely she felt the older woman moving backwards.