Author's Note: This story is dedicated to Colleen Thomas whose work has been such an inspiration to writers on this site. I didn't know her personally, but perhaps to know a writer's work is to know her as she wished to be known. In that case, I can claim more than a passing acquaintance.
This story is not somber. I doubt she would have wanted it so. Her own work was anything but. It was playful and passionate, an unfailing celebration of life. One can only wish there had been more of it.
She was sprawled across the bed, her limbs in sweet disarray.
Even in sleep, she can sense when our bodies are no longer touching. She moves without conscious bidding to recover the warmth of me, her lips coming to rest against my skin or her fingers finding my face in a soft, searching caress. I love the way her body moves against mine even without her willing it, like a lonely petal tossing on the crest of a wave.
I raised myself on an elbow and ran my eyes down her body, drinking in the pale sinuous vision of her, all luscious curves and waiting warmth.
I would have her exactly as she is. There is nothing I wish to change, not the fleeting flecks of green in her blue eyes, the soft ripe mounds of her breasts topped by strawberry pink nipples, the welcoming roundness of her tight bottom or the wet warmth of her when I dip my lips into her sex. I wouldn't have her any otherwise.
I love to watch her when she's still asleep, heavy and languid, bathed in early morning sunlight, her body all dappled shadows. It's the only time I can have my fill of her without having to explain, in response to a quizzically raised eyebrow, why my eyes are so unwilling to abandon her face or the liquid lines of her body. She is embarrassed by my dogged attention and she will, suddenly self conscious, scratch her nose or tug her collar or fiddle with her hair before breaking into a spasm of giggles. I will laugh too, with her, and finally look away ... reluctantly. I marvel at how different it is, this precious thing between us ... so unbearably fragile that I dare not look at it too directly for fear of jinxing it ... so different from everything that I had ever known before I met Nicole ...
I had been a late bloomer and was singularly indifferent to the charms of the boys in High School. It was not for want of their trying. There was the usual - the clumsy words, the stolen glances. Now, those stumbling efforts at affection seem rather sweet. But back then, it was just an embarrassment I could do without. I wasn't sure why I was fending them off, but somehow I knew I had to. So, I pretended to a superiority I didn't really feel and acted as though they were all rather beneath me. Apparently, nothing piques their interest more than the seemingly unattainable and I spent my entire senior year fighting them off. The girls in my class thought I was nuts.
Finally tired of the veiled barbs and the pointed remarks that I had something stuck so far up my ass that I couldn't sit down in common company, I yielded to a passing impulse. I accepted an invitation to the prom from the school quarterback. He was good looking, well muscled and well intentioned, what generally qualified in those days as "dreamy." The other girls in my class were green with envy, but I was just nervous. Terribly clichéd, I know, but there it was, my first foray into the glamorously adult world of dating.
He picked me up in his beat up sedan on the night of the prom. I was glad he hadn't hired a limousine. They all seemed to be doing it. I would have died of embarrassment. The fact that I was on a date was almost more than I could handle without any added complications.
He tried very hard all evening to be the perfect gentleman - attentive, thoughtful, protective. He danced passably and didn't crush my feet more than a couple of times the entire evening. I was counting my blessings at that point. We attracted curious looks on the dance floor due, I'm sure, to my rather glacial reputation. A lot of the kids were surprised to find me there at all. He preened at having been the thaw. I for my part fixed any curious bystander with a look that I hoped was stern enough to discourage any attempts at small talk or any humorous remarks about my entry into polite society.
It was almost midnight when we left the hall. I had had a wine or two and was feeling light headed. I wasn't accustomed to drinking. His palm was sweaty in mine as we walked towards his car. It was at the end of the parking lot, wrapped in shadow. I supported myself against its comforting bulk, my palms flat against the cold metal. That's when I felt his arms encircle me. My body stiffened at first, but then I was overcome by a sense of resignation and a dull curiosity to find out what the fuss was all about.
He couldn't believe his luck as I yielded to his kiss. It was clumsy, our teeth grinding together before he withdrew a little and found my lips. He was almost slobbering in his eagerness, his arms wrapped tightly around my body as though he were afraid that I would fly away. He opened the rear door of his car and we stumbled into it, his weight crushing mine into the soft leather of the seat.
His limbs were uncoordinated in their frenzy. He struggled to lift the hem of my dress over my waist and I felt his fingers scrabble at my panties to sweep them aside. I heard the rasp of his zipper ripping open in the silence, a silence so profound that our panting breath sounded like a pair of blacksmith's bellows. What followed is, in my memory, a confused medley of sensation – the smell of cigarettes and stale beer, the heat of his wine breath on my cheek, the fabric of my dress clammy against my sweat-slick back, his flesh pressing insistently between my thighs, a moment of searing pain and then a dull ache. There wasn't much blood.
That night, my brief experiment with boys abruptly ended. My date had been hoping for more after an evening he regarded as an unqualified triumph. He was confused by my indifference. It was not his fault. He was nice enough. The problem, I realized, lay in myself.
It was not until I was well into college that it finally crossed my mind that there may be a reason I found boys so uninspiring. I had never allowed myself to entertain the possibility that girls could be anything more than friends. That changed when Karen came into my life or swam into it. That's how I saw her for the first time, her smooth body cutting languidly through the water, eating up laps with efficient sweeps of her long arms. She was tanned a golden brown and seemed to glint in the light. As I watched her tight little bottom swivel with each stroke, rolling in the water, reveling in it, I felt my pussy lurch. I could barely contain my own surprise. It was a moment of epiphany so complete that I knew without a shadow of doubt that my life would never be the same again.
She reached the end of the pool where I was standing gawking at her like an adolescent on hormonal overdrive, and pulled herself out of the water. She emerged like a sleek porpoise, the water flowing off her body in smooth little rivulets. As she pulled off her cap and goggles, a mass of reddish hair sprang free to form a halo around her face. Her eyes were soft brown and there seemed to be a smile hidden in their depths. They were the sort of eyes that would look cheerful even when the rest of her was trying very hard to look grim. I somehow had an inkling that it wouldn't be very often.
As she ran her wet fingers through her hair restoring some semblance of order, she suddenly caught sight of me, still rooted to the spot, still gawking shamelessly, face frozen in surprise. She glanced at me enquiringly through the soft veil of her hair. The color, I thought, of burnished copper. She hesitated for a fleeting second and then extended her hand in greeting.
"Hi," she said, "I'm Karen."
Her voice was soft and warm and I felt her words, utterly ordinary and yet for me utterly significant, pool like liquid honey in the pit of my stomach. I found myself wondering what that voice would sound like stretched thin in a quivering moan. The impulse caught me unawares and I shivered. I shook my head to exorcize the image in my head – of her face thrown back in passion, her lips softly parted, no longer forming words, just leaking sounds, their meaning unmistakable. I was beginning to panic. What in heaven's name was happening to me?!
I forced myself to breathe deeply, in an effort to calm my poor little heart, which was pounding away against my ribs as though it wanted to tear its way out of my chest. And for one insane moment, I thought it might. I raised my left hand to my chest to prevent any attempt at a breakout and extended my right hand to grasp hers.
"Justine," I replied.
Her palm seemed soft and unbearably fragile in mine, like foam on a stretch of golden sand or down on a baby bird's breast. I imagined how it would feel softly cupping the swell of my breast or running in a gentle caress along my heated skin. As my mind ran amok, I felt a shudder rack my frame. She was looking at me with concern. I suddenly realized that I was still clutching her hand and far too tightly for a handshake.
"Sorry," I mumbled and dropped it like a hot coal. I really was in peak form that night.
"Are you alright?" she asked, her soft voice clouding over with concern.
"Y-Yes," I stammered and then giggled nervously in an attempt to dispel the tension. I must have sounded like a psychopath.
"Alright then," she grinned, obviously intrigued by my demeanor, but too polite to probe any deeper.
As I watched her retreating back and the way her pert little ass rolled under the second skin of that wet bikini brief, I knew I was in trouble. What I didn't know then was that I would be seeing a great deal more of her. It turned out that our swimming coach had hired her to help us train for competition. She was certainly qualified for it. In her graduation year, she had been part of a quartet that won gold at the Olympics in the 4 x 100 m medley. The coach thought it was a clever idea to have her pace us in training. It didn't work very well at first. Most of the girls were intimidated by her, by the notion of testing themselves against someone who was a gold medallist at the Olympics, for chrissakes!!!
I wasn't usually as easy to intimidate, because I didn't take myself too seriously. I didn't have any big dreams that were in risk of fracturing. Some of the girls were there for the medals. They were already listening to the star spangled banner in their heads as the ribbons dropped around their necks. I was there because I enjoyed swimming.
I was naturally athletic and could do a mean lap when I put my mind to it. And I certainly had a swimmer's body – long, lean, without any extra fat, the curves of my breasts and my hips gentle rather than generous. But I wasn't there for fame or fortune. I was there because water was my element and for as long as I could remember, I had been slicing through it ... joyfully.
She made me nervous for other reasons. My usual equanimity splintered into tiny little pieces when I was near her. I was like a schoolgirl in braces with a crush on the campus jock. I knew it was hopeless, but I couldn't help my hunger. When she was around, my eyes simply refused to abandon her. They drank in greedily the warmth of her smile, the mischief in her eyes, the way her limbs moved, graceful and languid, the measured movements of a sleek cat stalking its prey. She made my pussy melt. It was a fact of life and there was nothing I could do about it.
And there was nothing I did about it except admire her from afar. She seemed to have decided that I was the odd one. She treated me more carefully than she did the others as though I were some fragile and unpredictable piece of machinery that needed delicate handling. That made me even more nervous than I already was. My brain seemed to freeze over in her presence and I sounded for all the world like a bumbling adolescent rather than the collected young woman I fancied myself to be. It came to a point where I would lie awake at night kicking myself mentally for the things I did and did not say that day. After some time, I gave up. I resigned myself to the fact that, when it came to Karen, all that I could muster were vague grunts and clumsy monosyllables.
And this would have pretty much set the tone for the year if Karen hadn't decided to take matters into her own hands, literally. That evening, I had been working on my freestyle. She thought I could do a lot better than I was doing. The others had already left, but I was plodding on. It was twilight. The lights had not yet been turned on and the water was dappled with shadows. My shoulders were on fire and I was almost weeping with frustration as I pulled myself through the water. Swimming no longer seemed such a joy and all I wanted to do was climb out of the pool, get under a shower and let the warm water ease the ache from my limbs.
In the gathering darkness, her features were indistinct. I could only see the bare outline of her kneeling at the end of the pool where I was headed. At that moment, I had this strange feeling that I couldn't explain, that she was willing me on, that she was lending me her breath, the quiet energy coiled in her supple limbs to hasten my way to where she sat, still, statuesque. The feeling, however inexplicable, gave my limbs a new lease of life. My feet quickened just that fraction and my hands whipped through the air just a mite quicker and my body accelerated through the water.
When I pulled up next to her, out of breath, she sensed my exhaustion. Those eyes, soft with concern, made my heart lurch.
"Enough for today," she announced as she gripped my hand in hers to help me out of the water. As we walked towards the shower room, she offered her take on the day's workout in that soft even voice of hers, careful to keep her suggestions neutral. As always, she didn't want to sound critical, just helpful.
"It's in the hips, Justine," I heard her say as she gripped mine to demonstrate, "not in the shoulders. You aren't using your hips enough."
She slowly swiveled my hips from side to side to show me what I should be doing to quicken my pace in the pool. But I had stopped listening. I wasn't even thinking of swimming. The gentle grip of those fingers on my hips was far too distracting to permit my mind to process any other information at that point. I wanted to feel those fingers against my naked skin. I suddenly felt this deep, utterly irrational resentment of my swimsuit whose fabric separated my flesh, wet from the water, from hers. I shook my head in a desperate attempt to clear it. I was afraid I would do something foolish that I would afterwards regret.
The locker room was deserted. The others were long gone. I switched on the lights to disperse the shadows that had now gathered with the deepening dusk. I watched her retreating back as she walked towards the showers at the end of the hall. Without breaking stride, she reached behind her to undo the clasp of her bikini top, shrugged off the flimsy garment and dropped it almost casually to the floor. I froze.
It was not that I had never had a woman strip in front of me. We all did after a workout without giving it too much thought. It was just us girls after all. But this was different. We were alone. It was night. The room was quiet as death. There was no laughter, no inconsequential banter to shatter the intimacy of nakedness. The fact that she had now removed her bikini bottom and that I couldn't tear my eyes away from the smooth curves of her tight little derriere didn't help.
It was only when she turned around and tossed me an enquiring look that I realized that I was still standing next to the door, as though carved in marble. Her pussy was bare and smooth as a baby's bottom. I felt desire flood my sex and my juices spill out of my lips and drip down my thighs. I thanked my lucky stars that I had just emerged from the pool and that no telltale stain galloping across the fabric of my bikini would confess my hunger for her.
I swallowed hard as I tore my eyes away from the junction of her thighs and forced myself to meet her level gaze. Her eyes were inscrutable, but could she have missed the hot blush that had colored my cheeks? I pondered my options in a panic. I couldn't scurry into a shower booth and strip off in private without embarrassing her, without poisoning the air of utter normalcy that she had lent her act of disrobing. I knew I had no choice. I would just have to quell the storm raging in my cunt and pretend that there was nothing wrong.
I stripped off my bikini quickly, casually, with an affected air of indifference and then walked towards the row of shower booths ... towards her. It was the longest walk of my life. I felt for all the world like a condemned man marching towards a remorseless fate. There seemed a tiny little smile playing on the corners of her lips. Or perhaps I was imagining it.
I brushed past her and walked into the nearest booth. As I turned around to pull the swing door closed, she was there, framed in the entrance, her hands loosely by her sides, her legs slightly parted. The expression on her face was distant, vaguely distracted, as though her mind was a million miles away. She reminded me of a gunfighter in an old western. She had the same loose-limbed grace, the same lassitude waiting to uncoil into explosive movement.
She seemed not to notice the shock on my face or the fear. To all outward appearance, she seemed to think that there was nothing out of the ordinary about sharing a shower with a naked woman. My own sense of reality was beginning to crumble. Maybe there wasn't anything out of the ordinary, I thought. Maybe for her this was perfectly innocent, just a benign sharing of space with a person she didn't even view as a sexual being. Which was all very well, but I didn't know how I was going to survive the next few minutes, survive the proximity of her hot flesh, the warmth of her thighs, the soft darkness of her nipples and those melting brown eyes.
She reached almost absently for the shower knob to start the spray and then began to lather herself. I watched, entranced. Her hands ran over her body slowly, sensuously, making love to her limbs. I caught myself wishing those hands were mine. She sighed softly as she gathered the soft mounds of her breasts into her palms, squeezing them, stroking them, palpating them. When they were covered with soap, she gripped each nipple between a thumb and forefinger and twisted the sensitive buds ever so gently. Her nipples hardened under her tender ministrations. She squeezed the now turgid peaks and tugged, stretching her soft mounds into sharp peaks. When they would stretch no further, she released them to snap back against her body. Her fingers trailed downward, over her ribs and the flat planes of her stomach to softly cup her pussy with her palm.
I stood there, my body rigid, my mind unable to decide whether I should flee or freeze. I was wet and not from the shower or the pool. My pussy was leaking all over my lips, the soft inner skin of my thighs, the damp cleft of my ass. I was like a bitch in heat. The only thing I still wasn't sure about was whether she had me in her sights, whether my heat was about to be doused or stoked. She looked at me then, her eyes soft and unfocussed, her hand still covering her sex, a seductive picture of coy feminity. She gave me an apologetic half smile.
"Look how thoughtless I'm," she breathed, "I've been monopolizing the soap."
With that, she reached out to grasp my wrist and began to run her soapy hand along the length of my arm, smothering it in lather. I froze, unsure how to react, wondering whether I should withdraw my arm gently, but wanting ... so desperately ... to feel for just a while longer the soft silken caress of her palm running along my heated skin. My throat seemed unable to form any words. My breath was caught in it. I cleared my throat awkwardly, setting my breath free and ran my tongue nervously along the length of my lips. They were dry and seemed swollen with longing. Or was my mind just playing tricks on me?