This story has a slowish build-up -- because that's the way I like it. Hopefully you will too. The first chapter sets the scene, so if you're looking for racy, hang on for chapter 2. It's nearly done.
This is copyright and all that, so please be respectful of my rights as the author.
Chloe sat further back on the couch, pulling a cushion onto her lap and sobbed, hands clutching at the tasseled edges.
"I'm so sorry...I can't believe I'm still crying like this after a year!" she almost moaned through gritted teeth.
"You have nothing to be sorry about, Chloe. You need this. It's OK. After all, if you can't cry on your therapists' couch, where can you? And anniversaries are always hard..." said Eva with a sympathetic, understanding smile.
Chloe looked at her blearily and for the umpteenth time thanked God / fate / whoever had delivered her to the woman sitting opposite her. Eight months before, she had been ready to give up, give in, or do something monumentally stupid. She had been drinking way too much; hanging around people who were bad for her and fed her spiral into disrepair with drugs and false camaraderie. Now, while she was still devastated and hurting, she was at least able to eat, talk and carry on some semblance of living.
Exactly one year before, she had been in an accident while driving home with her partner. Her partner had died, while she had sustained whiplash, concussion and a broken arm. The reality of her life after Paula was not one she wanted to contemplate.
For a long time she wanted to die. The wanting changed into active planning and her friends and family had stepped in and taken over. Her oldest friend, Gail, who was also a therapist, had after a lot of careful thought found her someone to see and told her in no uncertain terms that the choice was no longer hers -- the appointment was made and she was escorted there by her mother and Gail.
Eva had let her set her own pace. She refused to prescribe how her healing should progress. While some people eventually grew impatient and started telling her she needed to 'put it all behind her and carry on living' or 'what would Paula want you to do?' Eva had clucked her tongue at their advice and just gave Chloe the space to deal with the sharp, acrid emotions of loss. The first time she opened Pandora's box and allowed herself to feel some of her grief, she had the mother of all panic attacks. Eva calmly came and sat next to her and talked her through it, allowing Chloe to anchor herself to Eva's voice. Eva asked her permission to hold her hand and Chloe, never one to do things in half measure, thought "Fuck a hand" and the next thing Eva knew, she was holding a shuddering, sobbing, skinny frame to her chest, feeling quite overwhelmed by the trust placed in her by the frail person on her lap. Whenever she had an attack in a session, Eva would be by her side, holding her and gently coaxing her to breathe her way through it.
"Breathe, Chloe...just breathe and listen to my voice...we'll get through this together...just listen to the sound of my voice and keep breathing...just like that..." They developed a very close therapeutic relationship.
Chloe realized in retrospect that Gail had made a very canny choice. Not only was Eva an expert in helping people through the trauma of bereavement, but she was physically just Chloe's type. To a 'T'. If she had to make a list of the attributes she looked for in a partner, Eva would tick every box. She was a little over average height with straight, silky, very dark hair and eyes so blue Chloe just wanted to immerse herself . Sometimes, when Eva said something to her, she had to ask her to repeat herself simply because she had been staring, lost, into her eyes.
The rest of Eva was equally attractive to Chloe -- she had the sexiest feet Chloe had ever seen and she had long, brown, delicate fingers, what she thought of as 'artists hands'. Her nails were always neatly filed but not long and she used a clear kind of polish for her finger-nails and toe-nails. She seemed to have a skin-tone that always looked tanned, even in the dead of winter. When she stood up she uncoiled rather than stood and Chloe found this utterly absorbing. She would always wait for Eva to rise at the end of the session before standing up herself, just so she could watch the woman's fascinating grace.
She had a ready smile and a musical laugh and despite what she did for a living she never appeared jaded or cynical and she often gently teased Chloe into laughing at life and her role in it.
Despite Eva being every inch the professional and being very careful about how much she let slip in their sessions, Chloe knew Eva was in her mid-thirties and she obviously took care of herself. She looked firm and well... edible to Chloe. And those breasts...holy mother of God was biology good to her. Eva seemed to take care not to wear clothes which were too revealing, but she often wore fitting tops which showed off the shape of her breasts and even in her bereaved and desperate state they were the first thing she noticed about Eva after her eyes. The days she had a panic attack during a session, she would nestle her head between them, sighing contentedly without even realizing what she was doing. On top of all of this, Eva had an ass that could best be described as bewildering.
On some level, she knew Gail had deliberately chosen someone she could be attracted to -- almost as if she was willing Chloe to see there was life after Paula. She had no idea if Gail had said anything to Eva when she made the referral, but knowing her friend she probably had. She had caught Eva looking at her curiously when she interrupted one of Chloe's more longing looks. It was around about the time that she started to waft off into the spell created by Eva's baby-blues that Chloe realized she was not quite ready to give up on life just yet.
The evening after the session where Chloe realized that she had actively perved her therapists' breasts for the first time, she nearly cried with relief. She immediately phoned Gail and wept over the phone to her. Gail was initially a little taken aback by the wailing until she realized what Chloe was trying to say.
"Let me get this straight...you're crying because you perved your therapists' breasts?"
"Yeess!" Chloe wailed.
"Sooo, this is a bad thing?" she asked, feeling justifiably confused.
NOOO!" Chloe yelled, "This is the first time I've even looked at or thought about someone in any kind of sexual way since Paula...you know..."
"Sooo, a good thing then?"
"Yes, most definitely a good thing!" Chloe beamed. "Although..."
Gail sighed. That was so Chloe. "Although what, sweetie?"
"Aren't I just a walking cliché?? I've got the hots for my therapist!"
Gail sighed again. "Just because you looked at her breasts doesn't necessarily mean you have the hots for her, Chlo, it just means your sexuality is reasserting itself, you big dyke."
Chloe felt something she hadn't felt in a long while -- a big belly laugh rumbling up her torso. It made her happy and as soon as she recognized this, it gave her a deep pang. Whenever she started to move on or felt an inexplicable moment of happiness despite her loss, she felt relief and guilt. Relief that she wasn't actually dead inside and guilt that she was having this moment, but Paula was not there to share it with her. Survivor guilt, Eva called it.
After every session, Gail and Chloe played a game whereby Chloe pumped Gail for information about Eva which Gail always shrugged off with the answer "You know I can't divulge personal information about Eva to you, Chlo." Gail assumed it was the usual fascination a client often holds for who lay behind the therapist persona.
Despite the fact that she felt an obvious attraction to Eva, Chloe was still lost and felt very alone. She knew how professional Eva was and didn't entertain the slightest thought that "Miss Heterosexual of the year" with her gold wedding band coiled around a perfectly tan finger would ever be a viable option to pursue. She agreed with Gail when she told Chloe that she was probably perving Eva because she was a safe person for her to fantasize about because of the secure space they had created together and because she was sure it could never go anywhere.
As a freelance writer, Chloe had a lot of leeway -- there was no 9-5 job to anchor her. She worked from home. Well, home was probably a loose term for where she lived. It was a house, but was definitely not a home. She had not been able to go back to the home she shared with Paula after the accident. Her mother and Gail had packed up her place and she had moved in with her mom. When she was ready, they helped her find a new place and moved her in. She hadn't unpacked in the two months she had been there and still lived out of boxes. The impermanence suited her, like she was unwilling to commit to anything lasting. Even the lease was only for six months. Besides her family, friends and work, the only thing she had committed to in the last year was therapy.
Eva watched Chloe to her car, waved goodbye then closed the door and walked back into her consulting room where she slumped down into her therapist's chair. The young woman confused her. She had been doing this work for over fifteen years, but had never seen someone like Chloe. She was so passionate and, well, 'out there'. She felt every emotion she had fully -- immersing herself in it; rolling around in it; feeling her way through it until it made sense to her.
Eva had so much admiration for how Chloe had started to put her life back together again. She knew how much courage it had taken Chloe to start living again, given the shell she had been when her mother and Gail had deposited her on Eva's couch all those months before. It had taken Eva weeks to break through to her, gently coaxing her story out of her, talking her through her panic attacks and helping her heal.
When Gail had come to her and asked her to take Chloe on as a personal favour she had hesitated. Gail and her were colleagues and although Gail was younger, they considered each other friends. Chloe was Gail's best friend. Chloe and Gail had grown up together and remained very close. Gail was a fiercely loyal and protective friend, standing up for Chloe when Chloe cried herself to sleep at night when she was taunted during puberty for being 'different.' Apparently Chloe had always known she was gay and saw no need to keep it a secret, being part of who she was and all. From when they could put this into words, the two friends talked it through -- the bond between them was extraordinary and both accepted the others' sexuality with ease. Eva hesitated because she enjoyed Gail's friendship and she realized that this effectively put paid to any socializing they would have done in a group setting, as Chloe was bound to be invited and Eva would not attend a social gathering where she knew clients would be attending. She kept very strict boundaries.
Gail understood her hesitation, but ended up begging her, saying that she didn't trust anyone else with her friend. Eva eventually relented. Then began eight of the strangest months of her life.
Gail had of course explained to Eva that Chloe was gay; that Paula had been her life partner and that barring legislation to the contrary, they would have been married. She described what kind of person Chloe was. Only after Eva had agreed to see her, did Gail drop her bombshell.
"I have a confession," she said, colouring slightly.
Eva looked at her in some surprise. "OK...? What's going on?"
"I want to show you a picture of Paula. But you have to promise not to freak out when you see it."
"OK" said Eva uncertainly.
Gail fished out a picture of a very tanned, young woman with green-blue eyes and dark, silky hair, pouting theatrically for the camera. "That's Paula..." she said, trailing off, a lump in her throat. Paula had been a good friend to her as well.
"Ah..." said Eva, then handed the picture back to Gail and arched a slim eyebrow in her direction. Gail blushed. "I'm assuming you didn't convince me to take your friend on just because I'm a superb therapist, then?"
Gail's blush went several shades deeper. "Evie," she said, using the diminutive everyone used when they wanted to charm Eva, "I...ah...look, you know how much I respect you and the work you do. You know I think that you are, quite frankly, a brilliant therapist. I was just hoping that the fact that you are her type might...umm...jog her, you know?" Gail's eloquence appeared to have deserted her.
Eva's eyebrow was tracking up her forehead again. Then it dropped and she sighed. "OK, but I do wish you had just been honest with me." Gail had the good grace to look embarrassed. She apologized and swore that she hadn't meant to manipulate her, but that she was just so worried about Chloe.
After she met Chloe for the first time, she wished that Gail had included her in the picture too. Chloe had grown up in a coastal town world-renowned as a surfing hotspot. Paula had headed to the town for a holiday with a group of friends and had met Chloe at a surfing clinic Chloe was teaching over varsity break. Paula never left -- alone that is. Chloe and Paula moved to the big city a few years later and set up house together. Gail had been there a few years already, having studied there and set up practice in the suburbs. Eventually, Chloe's mother moved down after her father passed away.
When Gail and Chloe's mother had arrived on her doorstep with Chloe in tow, Eva had not expected this creature. She was very thin after months of self-neglect, but she was still utterly luminous. Her grief just seemed to make her more so. She had blonde hair which cascaded down her back and it was bleached almost white-blonde by the sun. Her eyes were a kind of impossible to describe tawny brown -- almost leonine, and a smattering of very light freckles dusted her nose and cheeks. There were little crinkles in the corners of her eyes which could only have come from squinting into the sun during long hours of surfing. The only word Eva could come up with was 'fetching'. Chloe was fetching.
As a result, Eva was on her back foot from the beginning. She had been unprepared for Chloe to look the way she did. She was unprepared to react to Chloe the way she did. All in all, she simply felt unprepared.
Over the weeks, Eva learned to prepare herself when she knew Chloe was coming. She had no idea why she found the woman so disconcerting. She just knew that she was thrown off balance most of the time when Chloe was around. She hid it behind a very professional persona and took great pains to keep very strong boundaries with Chloe. This was, admittedly, very difficult to maintain when she ended up rocking her on her lap during panic attacks, but how could she stop now when the precedent had been set? She just figured it wouldn't be therapeutic.
Once Chloe started to come out of her deep depression, she slowly started to revert back to the person she was before the trauma and Eva was treated to the gentle unfolding of this woman who sat before her week after week, trying to put her life back together. She discovered Chloe had a wicked sense of humour -- she was very sharp and very funny. She was somewhat self-deprecating, but not in a way which ever really put herself down. She simply seemed to enjoy making other people laugh -- even if it was at her expense. She started to fill out physically, gaining back curves removed by neglect and abuse. She started surfing again, gaining a healthy glow to her skin and rediscovering muscle tone. Instead of sweat pants and old t-shirts, she once again started taking care in her appearance, dressing usually in beach shorts, jeans and t's or loose cotton tops. She had an artlessly whimsical style of dress.
The therapy eventually got to the point where Chloe felt she wanted to start talking about her sexuality and dating again. She by no means felt ready, she related to Eva, but she wanted to start exploring herself as a single person -- and that included exploring herself as a sexual being again.
Eva felt something shake loose inside her when Chloe said those words. She started to feel a bit faint and with horror she realized that she was beginning to blush. Luckily, with her dark skin tone, it wasn't as noticeable as it would have been on someone else. She silently thanked her Persian ancestors. She thought she managed to cover it up rather well, but she did catch Chloe looking at her rather curiously.
"Are you OK?" Chloe asked.
"Yes, sorry, feels like I swallowed wrong." She said lamely, not meeting Chloe's eyes for a few seconds. The session was nearing a close and Eva was relieved, because suddenly everything made complete sense to her. She pulled herself together, finishing the session on a composed note and escorted Chloe to the door, letting her out before walking back to her room in a daze.
And that's when she found herself slumped in her chair breathing deeply with her head in her hands. "Shit..." she said softly to herself, "shit, shit, shit, SHIT!!"
With her training and that training's insistence on inward focus and self-insight, she could not believe it had taken her so long to come to this realization. She cast her mind back to childhood, to puberty, to young adulthood and unbidden memories came flooding back. She had always been good at putting up a façade. She had always been good at hiding her emotions. She had always been good at reading other people and figuring out what made them tick -- yet always struggled with her own emotional turmoil. Sure, she had learned ways of dealing with things in a psychologically mature way, but not before crushing an intrinsic part of who she was.
As far back as she could cast her mind, events and people started to come back to her -- the crush she had had on the older daughter of friends of her parents. The teacher she couldn't look in the eye for an entire year for fear she would be able to read her adoration there, fear that it was as on display as it felt for all to see. No-one guessed.
Everyone just thought she had grown out of her tomboy phase. That she had arrived at puberty, become attracted to boys and therefore more interested in becoming more feminine. While part of that was certainly true -- she was also definitely attracted to men -- she realized to her horror that she had simply shut down a part of herself when she noticed that it was not what the other kids perceived to be 'normal.' She changed herself gradually until she blended in. She had kept an absolutely iron-clad control over herself ever since. Over time, she could look at beautiful women with absolute impartiality, and her attraction was so pushed down in her subconscious that she herself forgot it was ever there.
The undeniable truth appeared to be that these feelings had resurfaced. Another undeniable truth appeared to be that Chloe was the catalyst. She finally realized that it was not confusion she felt towards her beautiful client. She had to admit to herself that she was deeply attracted to Chloe. She also admitted that it was something she would never allow herself to act on. Ever.
Chloe walked out of the session feeling off-centre. She rang Gail up and asked her out for a drink, meaning to pick her brain.
As soon as Gail walked through the door, Chloe blurted: "You did tell her I'm gay, right? I mean, she knows I'm gay. I know I've said so. And besides, I've talked so much about Paula & I don't know any guys called Paula...I definitely haven't made a secret of the fact..." she mumbled as she ran out of steam.
Gail looked at her with puzzlement radiating out from her face. "Huh?"
Chloe was very flustered now. "EVA!" She practically yelled. "She knows I'm gay, right?"