Between What's Wrong and Rightbydamppanties©
She let Christine go.
* * *
August 2012 Now, here she was. In the shape of that young face, those stormy grey eyes, that rich dark hair cascading down a center part. Exactly as Tanya had seen her last.
"Who are you?" Tanya asked, a hand still cupping the sweetness in that face.
The girl exchanged glances with Brad before replying. "Aimee." Even the voice was a perfect replica of the echoes that still rang through Tanya's mind from what seemed another lifetime.
"Aimee? And... your mother?"
A tiny frown grew in the middle of that soft forehead. "Christine. Christine..."
"Fortier," Tanya completed.
"Oh, you know her?" a smile blossomed on the girl's face.
"I used to," Tanya replied.
* * *
After she had taken a quick shower, Carly knocked on her door with a cup of coffee and a cookie, and Tanya was fussed into bed by the woman. With time and food fortifying her, the shock began to wear off and the hurt began. Everything that had been banished to the back of her mind for the past several years had been set free in that one instant when she had gazed at that familiar face.
Tanya clenched her fist into a hard ball and pressed it down into the pit of her stomach, trying to stop herself from remembering every detail of those four years when she had lived with Christine; those four years when she had loved Christine.
She got up, restless, and went to look out of the open window into the dark of the eastern sky. The wind was picking up and a summer thunderstorm seemed to be on its way in from the ocean. Even as Tanya watched, a brilliant line of white illuminated the gloom and a minute later, thunder boomed across the sky, echoing in her heartbeat.
Aimee. The girl was a replica of Christine. Everything, from the lilt of her voice and the way she held herself to the frown that had touched her face, everything had been purely Christine. Tanya shook her head. Now Christine would probably look different, older, but God, her daughter looked exactly as she had been twenty-two years ago.
It was like the ghost of Christine had come across time and touched her, and Tanya shivered.
With these thoughts came the rush of memories that Tanya had tried to forget. Christine in a sundress on their first day of college. That warm smile as they had introduced themselves to each other. Storm grey eyes looking into hers with frank appraisal, that later would with a look she could have sworn was love. Smooth limbs entwined with hers as they lay in bed together. A soft voice whispering encouragements as they moved together. All of it whirled together in Tanya's mind as she stared unseeing out of the window at the performance nature was putting on, blind to it all.
As the cool rain finally came down in sheets, memories that had been buried rose like vapor from the sun-warmed earth, and Tanya gave in to the overwhelming need within her to relive the time in her life that she treasured and loathed in equal measure.
The very first time she had touched Christine, held her, loved her....
* * *
December 31, 1989 It was the last night of the year and Tanya was getting ready to go out with Christine and a bunch of friends. It was their last year and, by May, they would have their degrees and would be out of college. This last New Year's Eve was going to be celebrated in a big way. They were planning to go barhopping down the strip, ending up in whatever place they felt like, with whoever they fancied. But together, the two of them, always together.
The black dress with huge red flowers was cut to just above her knees, the skirt flaring out while the top hugged her slender form. Black opaque tights completed the outfit. Tanya turned to and fro in front of the mirror, eyeing herself critically, then snugged up her breasts and tried to plump them up into a more flattering shape, but it was no use. She did not seem to have any cleavage to do anything with.
Her dark blonde hair was straight and loose around her shoulders with a black gauzy bow tied into the teased locks just above her right ear. She was just starting on make-up when Christine walked into her line of sight.
"A few more minutes and I'll be ready," Tanya said as Christine walked up to the mirror. "I just need to put some make-up on."
"Don't worry, me too," Christine replied.
Christine looked radiant in a pale pink dress that cupped her form in a satin bustier coupled with a tulle and lace skirt down to her knees and her dark hair was braided and adorned with white transparent beads in a line across her crown that matched the sparkle in her eyes. The pulled back hair highlighted her high cheekbones and the perfect oval of her face, and Tanya marveled once again at the flawless beauty of her roommate.
"You don't need any make-up," Tanya said sincerely.
Christine laughed. "You think I'm going to step out of here without make-up on New Year's Eve?"
Both girls stood side by side in front of the mirror, sharing the space with easy familiarity and applied black mascara and eyeliner with an expert hand. Heavy eye shadow went on next, a deep rose for Christine and a dark purple for Tanya that made her slate blue eyes seem darker. Christine's hand fluttered over the lipsticks, finally choosing the bright pink that went with her dress. Tanya chose a bright red, the color of the flowers on her dress. Finally, both girls stepped into shoes and coats and walked out.
That night was the stuff of dreams. Everything sparkled, like stars and diamonds and fine crystal in the cold December night. There was no snow but the air was freezing with the promise of it before morning. Christine and Tanya walked hand in hand with a group of friends surrounding them, the group flitting from one place to the next, happy and free as the night carried them as if on thin air. Whether it was the alcohol -- though neither girl drank much -- or the excitement, they felt drugged with happiness, giggling and dancing and skipping along to the fizzy exhilaration in their heads.
When the dance music in the bar was turned down a few seconds before midnight, for the announcement of the New Year, they were sitting in a dark corner, side by side, in the middle of a bunch of guys and girls. The rest of the group scattered, eager to get on the floor, and Christine made to get up to go with them but Tanya took her hand and pulled her back.
"No, sit. Let them go. It will be so crowded on the floor right now. We're better off where we are."
Christine fell back on the couch against Tanya and as the countdown began over the music system, both girls felt their breathing notch up with each number that was called out. Christine clutched Tanya's hand tightly in her own and squeezed, her excitement outlined in her shining eyes as she turned to look at her best friend.
Just as "Happy New Year" was shouted over the speakers, Tanya leaned in and touched her lips to Christine's. Blood thrummed through their senses as shouts, screams and blasting music drowned out everything around them in celebration of the new decade, but they were oblivious to everything except the sound of their hearts.
The rest of the night was sweet delirium for Tanya. She couldn't forget the pliant lips that had opened under hers in a sweet sigh or the slight breath that had escaped into her mouth as she had first nibbled, then firmly kissed that mouth.
Later, back in their dorm, they climbed up the stairs to the room, slightly tipsy and weaving with giggles running through their bodies, supporting each other. It took Tanya three attempts to get the door unlocked and they staggered in as it finally gave way.
They helped each other with their dresses, first Tanya, and then Christine stepping out of the party dresses. When they were in their underwear and tights, they stopped and stood there, looking at each other. Something changed then, subtly, and Tanya reached out and cupped Christine's face.
"You're beautiful," she said.
Christine just looked back until Tanya took her hand and led her to her bed. They had lain together before, cuddling into each other for companionship or while watching a movie, but this was new. This was special.
They climbed in, the bed creaking softly beneath their weight, and wrapped their arms around each other. Tanya's warm breath hitched once as she brought her lips back to that sweetness she had tasted briefly, oh so briefly, a few hours ago. With one hand cradling the back of Christine's head, she lost herself in the taste and touch and smell and feel of her best friend.
Hands fumbled as the last remnants of the clothes were shed and the quilt was pulled up against the cold chill of the room. Satiny bodies rubbed against each other and they kissed like they were drugged, the whole encounter taking the feel of a dreamlike fuzziness that warmed them from somewhere deep inside, reaching out to envelope them both with its unexpected desire.
Tanya's mouth wandered, nibbling on an ear, snaking down a long silky neck as she turned back the quilt to expose milky white breasts. Bending her head, she kissed each one in turn, licking each nipple delicately with her tongue to make it rise, a hardening dark pink nub.
"God, they're so lovely," she murmured as she took both breasts in her hands, admiring the fullness she didn't have. She rubbed her lips back and forth over the curve, feeling the downy velvet of Christine's skin brush her mouth.
It was a plea.
Her head dipped lower, leaving a faint line of wet down Christine's body from the middle of her beasts to her navel, following the little hollow that ran right down the middle. Her hands moved to the solid curves of Christine's back, down to her waist and came to rest cupping the firm rounds of her buttocks. The bare flesh was warm and smooth under Tanya's hands.
She dipped a tongue into the round well of the bellybutton and tasted salt, musk, Christine. She left trails of wetness over the smooth drum of the belly stretched over high hipbones, then encountered the furry mound from where she could give unbound pleasure to the pliant girl in her arms.
One hand slid up Christine's thigh, stroking the skin, gently spreading the thighs apart. Tanya felt a shiver run down Christine's body, then felt her relax completely, abandoned to the warm demand of Tanya's mouth. She rested comfortably between spread legs, cupping one taut buttock in a hand, and with the other, spreading Christine open so that her mouth could feast on her.
Christine's hips rose slightly, and she relaxed into a liquid softness as Tanya suckled at her center. A tiny shudder started deep within her, grew and spread from her core, rising into a completion that left her short of breath, gasping and clutching at the sheets on either side of her.
Tanya's head came to rest on her thigh, still breathing in the fragrance of Christine, the taste of her still in her mouth. She lay unmoving for a moment, counting breaths, waiting for Christine to collect herself before starting to caress the curve of a hip, the silk of a thigh and the swollen wetness of her desire.
Christine moaned as Tanya brushed the hardened nub.
Tanya waited, unsure of whether Christine was ready.
A faint arching of hips was all the response that was needed.
Tanya bent to her task as Christine's hands came down, gently gathering the loose hair away from Tanya's face and coming to rest on the back of her head like a benediction.
"Tastes like warm honey," Tanya said, lips to surface, and a tremble ran through Christine's body form the vibrations against the sensitive flesh.
"Ah," Christine breathed. "Tanya."
"Mmm?" she asked, and felt another faint tremor travel through the body in her hands.
"Don't. Talk," Christine said, desperate, straining upwards.
So Tanya merely stuck her pointed tongue into the moist entrance that made Christine squirm uncontrollably, digging her heels into the mattress. Guttural noises escaped from deep within her throat and her hands clenched in hair that she had so gently smoothed a moment before.
Tanya ran a flat tongue over heated flesh.
"Oh, that is..."
"Yes?" Tanya asked and flit her tongue over the hardened bit peeking from beneath its hood.
Christine arched into the air, her back forming a perfect concave as she grimaced into the night. "Tanya, I can't..."
She cut off abruptly into incoherent noises as Tanya nibbled gently.
"What were you saying?" came a voice from under dark blonde tresses a bit later as Christine's heart thundered through her being, threatening to escape its confines.
Christine did not have the breath to reply.
* * *
Contrary to what Tanya had thought, things did not turn awkward between them once morning came. Christine took the lead, behaving as nothing had happened, and Tanya followed it. They continued the same as always, comfortable in each other's presence. Until night fell, and in the cover of the darkness, they fell into each other's arms, gripped by a passion that could not be staunched. It was not talked about, nor discussed, but there was a knowing between them that could not be denied. As much as it was discounted in the harsh light of the morning, it came to life and blossomed again and again in the cold blackness of the long winter nights.
They found each other again and again, bringing each other to heights that had remained unknown only days before, that couldn't have been imagined until experienced. And then they slept, held by the warmth of arms and in the tangle of legs and in a perfect fitting of bodies like they had never been apart.
The days were spent in the glow of being well loved. Amidst everyday classes and projects and tests and activities, Christine and Tanya shared the unspoken knowledge of a secret world of their own. A world that was private in its shared existence, mysterious in its newness, and breathtaking in its splendor.
It lasted in this unblemished beauty of unsaid half-life for two months, until Giles Fortier was introduced to Christine Haumann. Then it all began to come apart.
* * *
August 2012 Tears escaped as the bittersweet memories wound down and dissolved into the rain-washed summer evening. The thunderstorm was over, but the turmoil within Tanya was still squeezing her heart until she could no longer bear it.
There was a knock on her door, and she went to answer it, thankful for the distraction.
It was Aimee.
"Hello, I was just wondering if you were doing okay."
"Yes, thank you. I'm perfectly fine now." Tanya hungrily drank in the girl's features. "Would you like to come in?"
"Actually, Mom is downstairs and if you're okay, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind coming down and meeting her? This will be such a surprise for her." The girl took Tanya's hands in her own. "Just for a few minutes."
"I don't know if your mother would want me disturbing her..." Tanya started.
"Oh, no! Of course, there's no disturbance. It's not like we're doing anything super important here. We're here on a vacation, just Mom and I, and there's nothing serious on the agenda tonight. Mom would be really happy to meet a friend, I know it."
"I don't know," Tanya said, unsure how to discourage the girl from her task.
"Please, if you're worried about disturbing Mom, don't be. This would be such a wonderful surprise for her. Completely unexpected! I'm bursting with wanting to do this. Please?"
Tanya didn't know what to say, and was pulled along in the wake of the girl's enthusiasm.
Tanya walked into the sitting room of the inn, and there she was. A little grey at the temples, cheekbones a little more defined. Dressed in softer colors than she used to dress in, crow's feet at the ends of her eyes and skin turned even more translucent with age. The rest of that dark hair was the same, tied simply at the back, and that face was the same, looking into a book held in her lap, and that body was the same, achingly real in front of her.
Tanya did not want to go in there. She did not want to meet her. She did not want to undo all of the effort she had put in trying to forget heartache that would never truly die, just be buried under work and business and years and distance. But she was being carried along by the naïve enthusiasm of a daughter who did not know the girl her mother was before she existed, a daughter who believed that meeting old friends would be good for her mother, who felt that she was giving her mother a welcome surprise.
"Mom, look who I found," the girl declared as they walked in.
The face turned up, a smile forming in the corners of her eyes and coming to rest with an expression of warm love on her daughter.
Then the eyes shifted to Tanya, and the smile on that face froze for a moment, before slowly fading away.
"Hello Christine," Tanya said softly.
"Tanya." The word was let out on a breath.
"I ran into Aimee on the staircase earlier today and I thought she was you. I mean, she looks so much like you." Tanya felt compelled to explain that this meeting wasn't her idea. "And now she sought me out and dragged me here to meet you."
"She said she knew you, Mom." She turned to Tanya. "I'm sorry I didn't even ask you your name or how you knew my mother. I just dragged you here in my excitement. I mean, it's such a coincidence, isn't it? I thought I knew all of Mom's friends, and to meet someone from her past like this in a place that we both have come for a holiday -- it's amazing, isn't it?"
Tanya shifted her eyes on the girl with an effort and schooled her features into a smile.
"It is, yes."
"So how do you two know each other?" Aimee looked back and forth between the two women.
It was Tanya who answered. "From university. It was long back. More than twenty years. Twenty-two to be exact."
The expression on Christine's face remained frozen.
"How have you been, Christine?" Tanya asked.
Christine's gaze finally shifted away from Tanya and she closed her book slowly. "Fine. I've been... fine." She ran a tongue over her lips. "And you?"
There was a small silence then, in which the two women just stared at each other.
"Mom, I was thinking we should invite... I'm sorry I don't even know your name...."
"Tanya. Tanya Brant."
"... Tanya for dinner with us. What say?"
Christine seemed stricken for a moment before she formed her features into impassivity.
"No, I wouldn't want to intrude," Tanya said quickly, before the awkwardness could be prolonged any longer. "Thank you for the invitation though."
"Do you have other plans?" Aimee asked. "I heard Brad telling you to go to Breakwater Restaurant. We were planning to try that ourselves tonight, weren't we Mom?"
"Yes, ah, but maybe Tanya wouldn't like us to foist ourselves on her, Aimee."
"What? Wouldn't you two want to catch up over dinner? I mean, you said yourself it's been twenty-two years since you met, hasn't it?"
"Yes," Tanya said. She made a decision. "Actually, if you wouldn't mind, I'd love to have dinner with you two," she said. She did want to know how Christine's life had been. She wanted to see her sitting at the same table with her for a night. She wanted to know Christine's daughter. She wanted to just sit there and see and feel for a night, imagine what it could have been like. She would give herself one night, if she was allowed.
"No, of course we don't mind," Aimee replied, and it was decided.
They went to the elegant restaurant and were seated by a breath-taking view of the sea. Between delicious courses of bread, then appetizers, then entrees, the conversation slipped back and forth mainly between Aimee and Tanya. It moved from Tanya's work to Aimee's recent entrance into university.
"So where are you going?" Tanya asked.
"Northwestern," Aimee replied.