Reaching Out from a Mind as Dirty as All Outdoors

If you get lucky enough, I might post adult-only material from time to time, so be 18 or over, or please be elsewhere.

I'll be discussing erotica here, the writing of it and the people who write it, as well as what we've written. I find all these aspects stimulating, but if any of them bore you, feel free to skim. You never know what you might miss, though.




Total Pageviews

Saturday, March 20, 2021

To Remember You By

This story was already posted on this blog, but I'm bouncing it up to here because I just dd a live reading of it on a Facebook group, Lesbian Fiction Campfire. We had a whole day long series of readers,  and they've been recorded, so are all still available, but one has to join the group to access them. In any case, I said that I'd post my story here for a while, so here goes.

To Remember You By

     In the English summer of 1943, the air felt sometimes so thick with sex you could have spread it like butter, and it would have melted, even on cold English toast.

     The intensity of youth, the urgency of wartime, drove us. Nurses, WAC's, young men hurled into the deadly air war against Germany, gathered between one crisis and another in improvised dance halls. Anything from barns to airfield hangars to tents rigged from parachute silk would do. To the syncopated jive of trumpets and clarinets, to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Accentuate the Positive," we swayed and jitterbugged and twitched our butts defiantly at past and future. To the muted throb of drums and the yearning moan of saxophones, to "As Time Goes By" and "I'll Be Seeing You," couples clung and throbbed and yearned together.

     I danced with men facing up to mortality, and with brash young kids in denial. Either way, life pounded through their veins and bulged in their trousers.

     But I wasn't careless. And I wasn't in love. As a nurse, I'd tried to mend too many broken boys, known too many who never made it back at all, to let my mind be clouded by love. Sometimes, though, in dark hallways or tangles of shrubbery or the shadow of a bomber's wings, I would comfort some nice young flier and drive him on until his hot release geysered over my hand. Practical Application of Anatomical Theory, we nurses called it, "PAT" for short. Humor is a frail enough defense against the chaos of war, but you take what you can get.

     Superstition was the other universal defense. Mine, I suppose, was a sort of vestal virgin complex, an unexamined belief that opening my flesh to men would destroy my ability to heal theirs. 

     My very defenses (and repressions) might have opened me to Cleo. Would my senses have snapped so suddenly to attention in peacetime? They say war brings out things you didn't know were in you. But when I think back to my first sight of her, the intense gray eyes, the thick, dark hair too short and straight for fashion, the forthright movements of her lean body--a shiver of delight ripples through me, even now. No matter where or when we met, she would have stirred me.

     The uniform sure didn't hurt, though, dark blue, tailored, with slacks instead of skirt. I couldn't identify the service, but "USA" stood out clearly on each shoulder, so it made sense for her to be at the Red Cross club on Charles Street in London, set up by the United States Ambassador's wife for American servicewomen.

     There was a real dance floor, and a good band was playing that night, but Cleo lingered near the entrance as though undecided whether to continue down the wide, curving staircase. I don't know how long I stared at her. When I looked up from puzzling over the silver pin on her breast she was watching me quizzically. My date, a former patient whose half-healed wounds made sitting out most of the dances advisable, gripped my shoulder to get my attention.

     "A friend of yours?" he asked. He'd been getting a bit maudlin as they played "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," and I'd already decided he wasn't going to get the kind of comfort he'd been angling for. I shook off his hand. 

     "No," I said, "I was just trying to place the uniform. Are those really wings on her tunic?" I felt a thrill of something between envy and admiration. The high, compact breasts under the tunic had caught my attention, too, but that was more than I was ready to admit to myself. I watched her movements with more than casual interest as she descended the stairs and took a table in a dim corner. 

     "Yeah," he said with some bitterness, "can you believe it? They brought in women for the Air Transport Auxiliary. They get to ferry everything, even the newest Spitfires, from factories or wherever the hell else they happen to be to wherever they're needed." 

     His tone annoyed me, even though I knew he was anxious about whether he'd ever fly again himself. But then he pushed it too far. "I hear women are ferrying planes back in the States now, too. Thousands of 'em. Next thing you know there won't be any jobs left for men after the war. I ask you, what kind of woman would want to fly warplanes, anyway?" His smoldering glance toward the corner table told me just what kind of woman he had in mind. "Give me a cozy red-headed armful with her feet on the ground any day," he said, with a look of insistent intimacy.

     "With her back on the ground, too, I suppose," I snapped, and stood up. "I'm sorry, Frank, I really do wish you the best, but I don't think there's anything more I can do for you. Maybe you should catch the early train back to the base." I evaded his grasp and retreated to the powder room; and, when I came out at last, he had gone. The corner table, however, was still occupied. 

     "Mind if I sit here?" I asked. "I'm Kay Barnes."

     "Cleo Remington." She offered a firm handshake. "It's fine by me. Afraid the boy friend will try again?"

     So she'd noticed our little drama. "Not boy friend," I said, "just a patient who's had all the nursing he's going to get." I signaled a waitress. "Can I get you a drink to apologize for staring when you came in? I'd never seen wings on a woman before, and...well, to be honest, I had a flash of burning jealousy. I've always wanted to fly, but things just never worked out that way."

     "Well," Cleo said, "I can't say I've ever been jealous of a nurse's life, but I'm sure glad you're on the job."

     "Tell me what being a pilot is like," I said, "so I can at least fantasize."

     So she told me, over a cup of the best (and possibly only) coffee in London, about persuading her rancher father that air surveillance was the best way, to keep track of cattle spread out over a large chunk of Montana. When her brother was old enough to take over the flying cowboy duty, she'd moved on to courier service out of Billings, and then to a job as instructor at a Civilian Pilot Training Program in Colorado, where everyone knew that her young male students were potential military pilots, but that Cleo, in spite of all her flight hours, wasn't.

     Then came all-out war, and the chance to come to England. Women aviators were being welcomed to ferry aircraft for the decimated RAF. I watched her expressive face and hands and beautifully shaped mouth as she talked of Hurricanes, and Spitfires, and distant glimpses of German Messerschmidts.

     As she talked, I did, in fact, fantasize like crazy. But visions of moonlight over a foaming sea of clouds kept resolving into lamplight on naked skin, and the roar of engines and rush of wind gave way to pounding blood and low, urgent cries. Her shifting expressions fascinated me; her rare, flashing smile was so beautiful I wanted to feel its movement under my own lips.

     I didn't know what had come over me. Or, rather, I knew just enough to sense what I wanted, without having the least idea how to tell whether she could possibly want it too. I'd admired women before, but only aesthetically, I'd rationalized, or with mild envy. But this flush of heightened sensitivity, this feeling of rushing toward some cataclysm that might tear me apart... This was unexplored territory.

     "So," Cleo said at last, looking a bit embarrassed, "that's more about me than anybody should have to sit through. What about you? How did you end up here?"

     "I'm not sure I can remember who I was before the war," I said, scarcely knowing who I'd been just half an hour ago.

     She nodded. We were silent for a while, sharing the unspoken question of whether the world would ever know such a thing as safety again. Then I told her a little about growing up in New Hampshire, and climbing mountains, only to feel that even there, the sky wasn't high and wide enough to hold me. "That's when I dreamed about flying," I said.

     "Yes!" she said. "I get that feeling here, once in a while, even in the air. This European sky seems smaller, and the land below is so crowded with cities, sometimes the only way to tell where you are is by the pattern of the railroads. The Iron Compass, we call it. I guess that's one reason I'm transferring back to the States instead of renewing my contract here.

     "The main reason, though, is that I've heard women in the WASPs at home are getting to test-pilot Flying Fortresses and Marauders. And that's only the beginning. Pretty soon they'll be commissioned in the regular Army Air Force. In Russia women are even flying combat missions; "Night Witches" the scared Germans call them. If the war goes on long enough..." She stopped just short of saying, "If enough of our men are killed I'll get to fight." I was grateful. "History is being made," she went on, "and I've got to be in on it!"

     In her excitement she had stretched out her legs under the table until they brushed against mine. I wanted so badly to rub against the wool of her slacks that I could scarcely pay attention to what she was saying, but I caught one vital point.

     "Transferring?" I leaned far forward, and felt, as well as saw, her glance drop to my breasts. The starchy wartime diet in England had added some flesh, but at that moment I didn't care, because all of it was tingling. "When do you go?"

     "In two weeks," she said. "I'm taking a week in London to get a look at some of the sights I haven't had time to see in the whole eighteen months I've been over here. Then there'll be one more week of ferrying out of Hamble on the south coast. And then I'm leaving."

     Two weeks. One, really. "I've got a few days here, too," I said. "Maybe we could see the sights together." I tried to look meaningfully into her eyes, but she looked down at her own hands on the table and then out at the dance floor where a few couples, some of them pairs of girls, were dancing.

     "Sure," she said. "That would be fun." Her casual tone seemed a bit forced.

     "I don't suppose you'd like to dance, would you?" I asked, with a sort of manic desperation. "Girls do it all the time here when there aren't enough men. Nobody thinks anything of it."

     "They sure as hell would, if they were doing it right!" Cleo met my eyes, and, in the hot gray glow of her defiant gaze, I learned all I needed to know.

     Then she looked away. "Not," she said carefully, "that any of Flight Captain Jackie Cochran's hand-picked cream-of-American-womanhood pilots would know anything about that."

     "Of course not," I agreed. "Or any girl-next-door nurses, either." I could feel a flush rising from my neck to my face, but I plowed ahead. "Some of us might be interested in learning, though."

     She looked at me with a quizzical lift to one eyebrow, then pushed back her chair and stood up. Before my heart could do more than lurch into my throat, she said lightly, "How about breakfast here tomorrow, and then we'll see what the big deal is about London."

     It turned out we were both staying in the club dormitory upstairs. We went up two flights together; then I opened the door on the third floor landing. Cleo's room was on the fourth floor. I paused, and she said, without too much subtlety, "One step at a time, Kay, one step at a time!" Then she bolted upward, her long legs taking the stairs two, sometimes three, steps at a time.

     Night brought, instead of a return to common sense, a series of dreams wilder than anything my imagination or clinical knowledge of anatomy had ever managed before. When I met Cleo for breakfast it was hard to look at her without envisioning her dark, springy hair brushing my thighs, while her mouth... But all my dreams had dissolved in frustration, and I had woken tangled in hot, damp sheets with my hand clamped between my legs.

     Cleo didn't look all that rested, either, but for all I knew she was always like that before her second cup of coffee. When food and caffeine began to take effect, I got a map of bus routes from the porter and we planned our day.

     London Bridge, Westminster, Harrod's department store; whether I knew how to do it right or not, every moment was a dance of sorts. Cleo got considerable amusement out of my not-so-subtle attempts at seduction. She even egged me on to try on filmy things in Harrod's that I could never afford, or have occasion to wear, and let me see how much she enjoyed the view. I didn't think she was just humoring me. 

     In the afternoon, after lunch at a quaint tearoom, we went to the British Museum and admired the cool marble flesh of nymphs and goddesses. Cleo circled a few statues, observing that the Greeks sure had a fine hand when it came to posteriors; I managed to press oh-so-casually back against her, and she didn't miss the chance to demonstrate her own fine hand, or seem to mind that my posterior was not quite classical.

     Then we decided life was too short to waste on Egyptian mummies, and wandered a bit until, in a corner of an upper floor, we found a little gallery where paintings from the Pre-Raphaelite movement and other Victorian artists were displayed. There was no one else there but an elderly woman guard whose stern face softened just a trace at Cleo's smile. 

      Idealized women gazed out of mythological worlds aglow with color. The grim reality of war retreated under the spell of flowing robes, rippling clouds of hair, impossibly perfect skin. 

      Cleo stood in the center of the room, slowly rotating. "Sure had a thing for redheads, didn't they," she said. "You'd have fit right in, Kay." 

     I hoped she herself had a thing for redheads. Standing there, feeling drab in my khaki uniform, I watched Cleo appreciating the paintings of beautiful women. When she moved closer to the sleeping figure of "Flaming June" by Lord Leighton, I gazed with her at the seductive flesh gleaming through transparent orange draperies, and allowed myself to imagine stroking the curve of thigh and hip, the round, tender breasts.

     "I don't know how this rates as art," Cleo said, "but oh, my!"

     A hot flush rose across my skin, of desire, yes, but even more of fierce jealousy. I wanted to be in that bright, serene world, inside that pampered, carefree body, with smooth arms and hands, not roughened by scrubbing with hospital soap. I wanted to be the one seducing Cleo's eyes. "She could have a million freckles under that gown," I blurted out childishly. "The color would filter them out!"

     A tiny grin quirked the corner of Cleo's mouth. "Freckles are just fine," she said, "so long as I get to count them." She turned, leaned close, and shivers of anticipation rippled through me. "With my tongue," she added, and gently laid a trail of tiny wet dots across the bridge of my nose. I forgot entirely where we were.

     Then she bent her dark head to my throat, undid my top button, and gently cupped my breasts through my tunic as her warm tongue probed down into the valley between. I couldn't bear to stop her, even when I remembered the guard. My breasts felt heavy, my nipples swollen, but not nearly as heavy and swollen as I needed them to be.

     Cleo's gray eyes were darker when she raised her head. "Where," she murmured huskily, "is a bomb shelter when you need one?"

     But we knew that even now, with Hitler's Russian campaign distracting the Luftwaffe enough that there hadn't been a really major attack on London in over a year, every bomb shelter had its fiercely protective attendants.

     The guard's voice, harsh but muted, startled us. "There's a service lift just down the corridor. It's slow."

     She gazed impersonally into space, her weathered face expressionless, until, as we passed, she glanced at Cleo's silver wings. "Good work," she said curtly. "I drove an ambulance in France in the last war. But for God's sake be careful!"

     In the elevator Cleo pressed me against a wood-paneled wall and kissed me so hard it hurt. I slid my fingers through her thick dark hair and held her back just enough for my lips to explore the shape of her lips, and my tongue to invite hers to come inside. 

     By the time we jolted to a stop on the ground floor my crotch felt wetter than my mouth, and even more in need of her probing tongue.

     There was no one waiting when the gate slid open. Cleo pulled me along until we found a deserted ladies' room, but once inside, she braced her shoulders against the tiled wall and didn't touch me. "You do realize," she said grimly, "what you're risking?"

     "Never mind what I'm risking," I said. "One nurse blotting her copy book isn't going to bring everything since Florence Nightingale crashing down. But you..." Tears stung my eyes, but it had to be said. "You're holding history in your hands, Cleo." I reached out to clasp her fingers. "Right where I want to be."

     "Are you sure you know what you want?" 

     "I may not know exactly," I admitted, drawing her hands to my hips, "but I sure as hell know I want it!" I reached down and yanked my skirt up as far as I could. Cleo stroked my inner thigh, and I caught my breath; then she slid cool fingers inside my cotton underpants and gently cupped my hot, wet flesh. I moaned and thrust against her touch, and tried to kiss her, and her mouth moved under mine into a wide grin. 

     "Pretty convincing," she murmured against my lips.

     I whimpered as she withdrew her hand, but she just smoothed down my skirt and gave me a pat on my butt. "Not here," she said, and propelled me out the door.

     On the long series of bus rides back to Charles Street we tried not to look at each other, but I felt Cleo's dark gaze on me from time to time. I kept my eyes downcast, the better to glance sidelong at her as she alternated between folding her arms across her chest, and clenching and unclenching her hands on her blue wool slacks.

     Dinner was being served at the Red Cross club, probably the best meal for the price in England. Cleo muttered that she wasn't hungry, not for dinner, anyway, but I had my own motive for insisting. The band would be setting up in half an hour or so, and with the window open, you could hear the music from my room. Well enough for dancing.

     So we ate, although I couldn't say what, and Cleo teased me by running her tongue sensuously around the lip of a coke bottle and into its narrow throat. Her mercurial shifts from intensity to playfulness fascinated me, but the time came when intensity was all I craved.

     "I don't suppose you'd like to dance, would you?" I repeated last night's invitation with a barely steady voice. "If I tried my best to do it right?" I stood abruptly and started for the stairs. Behind me Cleo's chair fell over with a clatter as she jumped up to follow me.

     I reached my tiny room ahead of her--nursing builds strong legs—and crossed to the window to heave it open. Then the door slammed shut and she was behind me, pressing her crotch against me, wrapping her arms around to undo my buttons, and cradle my breasts through my sensible cotton slip. I longed to be wearing sheer flame-colored silk for her.

     When she slid her hands under the fabric and over my skin, though, I found I didn't want to be wearing anything at all. "So soft," she whispered, "so tender..." and as my nipples jerked taut under her strokes, "getting so hard..."

     A melody drifted from below. "Give me something to remember you by." I turned in her arms. "Teach me to dance," I whispered. 

     We swayed gently together, feet scarcely moving in the cramped space, thighs pressing into each other's heat. Cleo kneaded my hips and butt, while I held her so tightly against my breast that her silver wings dented my flesh.

     "Please," I murmured against her cheek, "closer..." I fumbled at the buttons of her tunic. When she tensed, I drew back. "I'm sorry...I don't know the rules..."

     "The only rule," Cleo said, after a long pause, "is that you get what you need." 

     "I need to feel you," I said.

     She drew her hands over my hips and up my sides, then stepped back and began to shed her clothes. Mine, with a head start, came off even faster.

      The heady musk of arousal rose around us. A clarinet from below crooned, "I'll be seeing you, in all the old familiar places…" I cupped my breasts and raised them so that my nipples could flick against Cleo's high, tightening peaks, over and over. The sensation was exquisite, tantalizing--I gave a little whimper, needing more, and she bent to take me into her mouth.

     I thought I would burst with wanting. My nipples felt as big as her demanding tongue. Then she worked her hand between my legs, and spread my juices up over my straining clitoris, and my whimpers turned to full-throated moans.

     Cleo raised her head. Her kiss muted my cries as she reached past me to shut the window. "Hope nobody's home next door," she muttered, and suddenly we were dancing horizontally on the narrow bed. I arched my hips, rubbing against her thigh, until her mouth moved down over throat and breasts and belly, slowly, too slowly; I wanted to savor each moment but my need was too desperate. I wriggled, and thrashed, and her head sank at last between my thighs, just as in my dreams. Her mobile lips drove me into a frenzy of pleading, incoherent cries, until, with her tongue thrusting deeply, rhythmically inside me, my ache exploded into glorious release.

     In the first faint light of morning I woke to feel Cleo's fingers ruffling my tousled hair. "If I were an artist I'd paint you like this," she whispered. "You look like a marmalade cat full of cream." 

     I stretched, and then gasped as her fingers roused last night's ache into full, throbbing resurgence. "Sure enough," she said with a wicked grin, "plenty of cream. Let's see if I can make you yowl again."

     This time I found out what her long, strong fingers could do deep inside me, one at first, then two; by the end of the week I could clutch at her whole, pumping hand. 

     Sometimes I think I remember every moment of those days; sometimes everything blurs except the feel of Cleo's hands and mouth and body against mine, and the way her eyes could shift suddenly from laughing silver to the dark gray of storm clouds.

     We did more sightseeing, the Tower of London, Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral scarred by German bombs. We took boat trips up the Thames to Richmond Park, where we dared to kiss in secluded bits of woodland, and down river where we held hands across the Greenwich Meridian. One night, in anonymous clothes bought at a flea-market barrow, we even managed to get into a club Cleo had heard of where women did dance openly with women. We couldn't risk staying long, but a dark intoxication followed us back to her room, where I entirely suppressed the nurse in me and demanded things of Cleo that left both of us sore, drained, and without regrets.

     On our last night in London we went anonymously again into shabby backstreets near the docks. I brought disinfectants, and we chose what seemed the cleanest of a sorry lot of tattoo parlors. There, welcoming the pain of the needle as distraction from deeper pain, we had tiny pairs of wings etched over our left breasts.

     We parted with promises to meet one more time before Cleo's last flight. I mortgaged a week of sleep to get my nursing shifts covered, and at Hamble Air Field, by moonlight, she introduced me to the planes she loved. 

     "This is the last Spitfire I'll ever fly," she said, stroking the sleek fuselage. "Seafire III, Merlin 55 engine, 24,000 foot ceiling, although I won't go up that high just on a hop to Scotland."

     From Scotland she'd catch an empty cargo plane back to the States. I had just got my orders to report to Hawaii for assignment somewhere in the South Pacific. War is hell, and so are good-byes.

     "Could I look into the cockpit?" I wanted to be able to envision her there, high in the sky.

     "Sure. You can even sit in it and play pilot." She helped me climb onto the wing, with more pressing of my backside than was absolutely necessary, and showed me how to lower myself into the narrow space. Standing on the wing, she leaned in and kissed me, hard at first, then with aching tenderness, then hard again.

     "Pull up your skirt," she ordered. I did it without question. She already knew I wasn't wearing underpants. "Let's see how wet you can get the seat," she said, "So I can breathe you all the way to Scotland." She unbuttoned my shirt and played with my aching breasts until I begged her to lean in far enough to suck them; then, with her lips and tongue and teeth driving me so crazy that my breath came in a storm of desperate gasps, she reached down into my slippery heat, and made me arch and buck so hard that the plane's dials and levers were in danger. I needed more than I could get sitting in the cramped cockpit.

     We clung together finally in the grass under the sheltering wing. I got my hands into Cleo's trousers, and made her groan, but she wouldn't relax into sobbing release until I was riding her hand, on pounding waves of pleasure as keen as pain.

     I thought, when I could think anything again, that she had fallen asleep, she was so still. Gently, gently I touched my lips to the nearly-healed tattoo above her breast. Tiny wings matching mine. Something to remember her by.

     Without opening her eyes she said, in a lost, small voice, "What are we going to do, Kay?"

     I knew what she was going to do. "You're going to claim the sky, to make history. And anyway," I said, falling back on dark humor since I had no comfort to offer, "a cozy menage in Paris seems out of the question with the Nazis in control." 

     Then, because I knew if I touched her again we would both cry, and hate ourselves for it, I stood, put my clothes in as much order as I could, and walked away.

     I looked back once, from the edge of the field. Cleo leaned, head bowed, against the plane. Some trick of the moonlight transmuted her dark hair into silver; I had a vision of how breathtaking she would be in thirty or forty years. The pain of knowing I couldn't share those years made me stumble, and nearly fall. But I kept on walking.

     And she let me go.


     On June 24, 1944, against all justice and reason, the bill to make the Women Airforce Service Pilots officially part of the Army Air Force was defeated in Congress by nineteen votes. In December, the WASP were disbanded.

     Thirty-three years later, in 1977, when women were at last being admitted into the Air Force, the WASP were retroactively given military status. It was then, through a reunion group, that I found out what had become of Cleo Remington; she had found a sky high and wide enough to hold her fierce spirit, and freedom as a bush pilot in Alaska.

     And she was, as I discovered, even more breathtaking at sixty than she'd been at twenty-six.

     But that's another chapter of the story

____________


The other chapter is a story,”Alternate Lives,” in that same collection, but be warned that Kay was actually bisexual, and had raised a family with a soldier whose life she had saved during the war. Cleo in Alaska was partnered with a former “Night Witch” who had defected from Russia. The story is entirely about the three women coming together on Kodiak Island.



https://www.amazon.com/Ride-Remember-Other-Erotic-Tales-ebook/dp/B004WKQFIK/ref=sr_1_7?crid=2YME04GVSJTW3&dchild=1&keywords=sacchi+green&qid=1616272615&s=books&sprefix=sacchi%2Caps%2C150&sr=1-7 




  

     

        

 

         

        

     

                 

      

           

          

     


     

     

             

       


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Charity Sunday: Let Them Not Hunger

 


Let Them Not Hunger

At last! I’m not constantly donating to political causes! Not that they’ve stopped asking, but I’m stopped answering, at least not for a while. I’m trying to get back to environmental causes, but there are always even more urgent needs, so just now I’m answering a cause or two (or more) to help in feeding desperate people in distant places.


Here’s how this works. I will contribute one dollar to this cause for every view of this post within two weeks, and two dollars for every comment.  


My charity choice for this Sunday is AVAAZ.org, for their work in Yemen, where roughly 85,000 children have starved to death, unable to get enough food or medical care during the devastating civil war. Half of all medical facilities have been destroyed or forced to close, and 80% of the population needs urgent humanitarian aid -- including 12 million children.


As usual, I don’t have any stories at all connected to this situation, so I’ll resort once again to a food topic, or rather a long excerpt from a story that happens to include quite an entertaining dinner scene, even though that’s not the main theme of the piece.

____________________________

  

Meltdown

Sacchi Green


“Some piece of work you got there.” Sigri jerked her head toward the door. Or maybe she was just flicking a trickle of sweat out of one eye, since her hands were occupied with hammering a rod of red-hot iron into submission. She’d been wearing goggles but shed them when we came in. “Ought to keep a shorter tether on your toys, Roby.”

It was just as well Maura had already flounced out in a snit when she realized that we weren’t going to focus on her—although Maura’s every movement was far too elegant to be termed “flouncing.” Even when she’d knocked over a short trollish creature built using trowel hands and garden-rake teeth, tried to right it, got those long auburn waves that had sold ten million crates of shampoo tangled in another contraption, and knocked that one over, too, her taut ass was as elegant as it was enticing. She could have been modeling those stretch ski pants for a fashion spread in Vogue. Probably had been, in fact, when she’d been here in New Hampshire in October for an autumn leaves photo shoot. Now, in January, the outfit suited the snow coming down outside.

Sigri’s boi, Rif, edged deftly among the metal sculptures, righting the ones Maura had knocked over, touching some of the others as though they were friends. Or lovers. In their shadows, her slight body and pale short hair were nearly invisible. She hadn’t spoken a word since I’d been here. Now, at a gesture from Sigri, she followed Maura out of the barn. 

Maura needed to be the center of attention. Someplace deep inside being in the spotlight terrified her, but she still craved it. She didn’t know how lucky she was that Sig and I had been ignoring her, catching up on old times and our lives over the past twenty years. She’d brought us together for her own convoluted purpose and pushed me over the edge of anger into rage once I knew what she was up to. Could’ve been part of her plan; Maura’s plans were never straightforward. I didn’t care whether she was listening outside the door or not. 

“I’m not her goddamned keeper!”

“No? Somebody sure ought to be, and I get the impression she thinks it’s you.”

I perched gingerly on the seat of an antique hay baler stripped of its wheels, waiting its turn to be cannibalized into parts for the scrap metal beasts and demons Sig sold to tourists and the occasional high-end craft gallery. “Not a chance. Don’t tell me she hasn’t been trying you on for size.” 

Sig concentrated more intently than necessary on the metal she was bending across the edge of her anvil. “‘Trying’ is the word, all right.” Her hammer came down hard. “The magazine crew was doing a photo shoot down the road with my neighbor’s big black Percheron mare close by and sugar maples in the background. Rif hung around watching, kind of dazzled by the glitz, I guess, so when Maura asked about the weird iron critters out front here, Rif dragged her to the barn to see more. I knew you’d worked with her—Rif keeps some of those fashion mags around for some strange reason, and I don’t deny taking a look now and then. Just to see whether your name’s in the small print as photographer, of course. Not for those skinny-ass models.” That brazenly lecherous grin was just the way I remembered it.

“Yeah, Maura has a thing for sharp scary things, the weirder the better. So I guess one thing led to another?”

“One thing led to—zip! Nothing but some crazy maze of ‘yes…no…wait, maybe…’ Does she have any fucking idea what she wants? Won’t negotiate, won’t submit, won’t bend, likes to be hurt but mustn’t be marked anyplace it would show when she models bikinis. I tell you, Roby, I don’t have the energy anymore for games like that. No topping from the bottom.” One more hammer blow and a curse, and then the warped metal was cast into a tank of water where it hissed as it cooled. From what little I’d glimpsed, I didn’t think it had turned out as Sig intended.

“She doesn’t know what she wants until she gets it,” I said. “Looks like just now she thinks she wants it from you.” And she has the gall to want me to show you how to give it to her. I’d given in to Maura’s pleas to come back with her to the Mount Washington Valley in New Hampshire for a long weekend visit with my old friend Sigri, which did sound tempting, and then just as we arrived at the farmhouse, Maura had told me casually that she wished I’d teach Sigri the right way to hurt her. I had never come closer to hurting her in all the wrong ways.

“Screw it. I wouldn’t have bothered at all if Rif hadn’t been all for it.” Sig pulled off her heavy leather apron and straddled a wooden bench. “Why’d she drag you here, then? Not that I’m not glad to see you. Every time I see your name on one of those photo spreads in a nature magazine I think about getting in touch, but somehow I never get around to it.” She considered me for a moment, the fire from the forge casting a red glow over her square, sweaty face and muscular arms. “Good thing you moved on from the fashion ads racket. Your stuff is too good for that.”

“The fashion biz pays better.” I didn’t quite meet Sig’s gaze. “I still do it once in a while.”

“You didn’t come when Miss Fancypants threw a fit last October and insisted they had to get you because she wouldn’t work with anybody else. So why now?”

“I was in Labrador on assignment from the Sierra Club magazine! And next month I head for Patagonia. In any case, I do have my limits. The guy they had here was good and needed the work.” I looked her full in the face—a face I’ve seen in my dreams through the years more often than I’d like to admit. “This location is a big draw, though. So many memories…”

“Ohhh yeah!” Her smile this time was slow, reflective, and genuine. I wondered what she was remembering. My second most vivid image from those days was Sigri’s fine broad, muscular butt in tight jeans twenty feet above me on the face of Cathedral Ledge. 

We’d been casual friends, members of a fluctuating group of dykes renting this very same farmhouse for a few weeks in the summer while we hiked and climbed, and again in the winter as a ski lodge. Both of us usually had a girlfriend in tow, but when it came to rock climbing, we trusted each other and no one else. Even on easy climbs with iron bolts not more than twenty-five feet apart, when you take the lead with a belaying rope and call "Watch me," you damned sure need to know that when your partner on the other end answers "Go for it, I've got you," she has absolutely got you, her end of the rope firmly anchored, and will hold on if your grip fails or a rock edge breaks away and you start to plummet down the unforgiving cliff face.

We’d only admitted to figuring in each other’s fantasies back then as mead companions, playing at being Viking warriors ravaging villages side by side as we bore off not-unwilling maidens. She still wore her yellow hair in that thick Viking braid down her back; I couldn’t tell in this unreliable light whether there were silver strands mixed in with the gold. My own dark cropped hair was still more pepper than salt, but not by much.

“Well, you’re here now, and I’m glad. No need to let that glitzy bitch spoil things.” She put away her tools and adjusted the damper on the furnace to let the fire die down. “Think we could make her sleep out here in the barn?”

“Not unless we made it seem like her own idea. Which isn’t impossible.”

“Never mind for now. Rif’ll show you your room, and once you’re settled in, we’ll eat dinner. She’ll have it the oven by now.”

“Rif sounds like a real treasure.” 

“More than I deserve, that’s for sure,” Sig muttered, almost too low for me to hear. She made for the door. I followed, admiring that rear view the way I used to when no one was looking. Just a bit broader now, but even more muscular since she’d turned to blacksmithing. The front view had been admirable, too, but harder to enjoy covertly. Back then butch buddies did not openly ogle each other’s chests, and things hadn’t changed in that department. I could tell now that it was still remarkable, even hidden behind the leather apron shielding her from any runaway sparks or splinters of metal. 

Snow was building up fast along the short path from the barn to the house, piling the existing banks along the sides even higher. Good thing we didn’t have to drive anywhere tonight. Maura had damned well better not make me wish we could get away. 

Dinner was maple bourbon-glazed salmon with hot cornbread, mushroom risotto, and tossed salad with pecans and dried cranberries. Perfection. Rif was perfection, too. Maybe too perfect. Her cooking was excellent, and her serving of it—well, let’s just say she epitomized service in more ways than one while managing to sit for long enough to eat her own food. Quiet, efficient, never speaking without being spoken to, anticipating our needs, all with downcast eyes, at least whenever I glanced at her. Just the same, I could feel her gaze on me from time to time, and I was pretty sure she was sizing up Maura, too.

Maura was sizing up Rif right back, maybe taking notes on how to appeal to Sigri. At least she was putting on a pretty good demure act. Sig and I were wallowing in nostalgia, swapping recollections of cliffs we’d climbed, mountains we’d summited, ice walls we’d conquered, and après-ski orgies we’d enjoyed the hell out of. 

Finally, when we were about done eating our desserts of individual pumpkin custards and sipping Rif’s excellent coffee, Sig turned to Maura like a good host. “How about you, Maura? Done any climbing?”

“Oh yes, I’ve been on some jaunts with Roby out in the Sierras.” She gave that trademark toss of her head that made strands of chestnut mane drift across one or another of her perfect breasts. Her navy silk shirt was conservative but clingy in all the right places. “You know how it is, though, hiking with somebody so much older, having to take things slower than you’d like.”

Sig shot me a “what the fuck!” look.

Okay, Maura was asking for it. I smiled, genuinely amused, but also irritated as hell. “Got a mouth on her, hasn’t she. Don’t worry. It’s just that insults are the best Maura can manage as foreplay.”

“So how does that work out for her?”

Maura’s glare in my direction was weakened by her belated realization that Sigri was just as old as I was.

“Depends on the circumstances. The last time she called me too old, she was already spread-eagled, tied to the four corners of a tent frame, and demanding to be gagged.”

Rif’s eyes flashed wide open for just a second. Sig nodded judiciously. “I can see getting a little something out of that.”

“What I got was a bent tent frame. What Maura got was my mark in a place even a bikini won’t reveal.”

Maura apparently decided to go with the flow. “Isn’t it cute,” she said with a sultry smile, “the way old folks’ memories get so fuzzy?”

Sigrid leaned forward and looked from Maura to me. “More foreplay?”

“Well, she seems to think so. It’d be cute if it weren’t so juvenile.”

Sig almost asked another question, thought better of it, pushed back her chair, and stood up. “Rif, how about you kids go take a walk while Roby and I have a nice chat about grown-up matters.”

“Is it still snowing?” But I knew perfectly well that it was. “They could just stroll around inside the barn, and Maura could decide which sharp-edged, long-toothed demon there she’d most like to fuck her in her dreams.”

Maura managed to stifle a smartass retort. Rif stifled a smile, then went to stand beside Sig with head meekly bent, speaking softly, before leading Maura away. Sigri and I moved into the cozy living room to sit by the fire and savor our after-dinner port, like any Old Country lords of the manor. Except that, instead of port, we savored excellent home-brewed mead a friend had given Sig and Rif at Christmas. 

While Sig bent to pour a little of the golden elixir into my genuine bull-horn cup set in its own wrought iron stand, I felt her closeness with a jolt that startled me. In the old days, no matter what girl I was with, if Sig was in the room, I was more aware of her than of anyone else. Comradeship, sure, but I couldn’t deny that there’d been an intensely sensual element as well. Now she was so close I could have reached out and touched her breast, guarded now only by flannel instead of leather.


That’s all you get for now. What, you thought you were going to get some really hot sex? It comes later, after Rif reports that she and Maura have fired up the sauna hut, and everybody gets naked and really, really hot. And then rolls in the snow. The complete story is in my collection Wild Rides from Dirt Road Books. If you ask me nicely, though, I might email you the whole story. Another story with the two main characters, “Bright Angel Falls,” is on my blog as the Charity Sunday entry titled “National Park Nostalgia” posted on July 26th, 2020. As a matter of fact there are a dozen or so Charity Sunday stories or excerpts posted on my blog, and even more of my stories, so if you want some free reading, there you go.


For another Charity Sunday blog, go over to lisabetsarai.blogspot.com. Lisabet is the writer who established this tradition, and a varying number of others also contribute. Scroll down on Lisabet's post, and you'll see the link for another participant




Thursday, December 24, 2020

Charity Sunday: The Gift: A Christmas Story

 





I missed the official call for this month's Charity Sunday, but I'll chip in anyway, donating a dollar for every hit on this page to my local Amherst Survival Center. They have met the challenges of the pandemic with excellent organization and service, and are providing and delivering food to many area towns beyond Amherst, MA. 

You can find the two official Charity Sunday posts at:

https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2020/12/charity-sunday-for-full-belly-hunger.html

and

http://www.nomadauthors.com/blog/2020/12/26/charity-sunday-world-central-kitchen/

  


This story is entirely fiction, but the characters are drawn from two real people, separated by the same circumstances, several years ago. I got their approval to publish it, so it appeared in Best Lesbian Romance 2011, edited by Radclyffe 

                                                          The Gift

                                                       Sacchi Green


The desert under the full moon lay still and serene, as though the storms of war and of nature had never swept across it. With a bit of squinting and a dose of wishful thinking, Lou could almost fancy that the pale expanse of sand was a snowfield. But the distant hills to the north and the ice-glazed mountains of the Hindu Kush far beyond weren’t the Swiss Alps, and only imagination spurred by loneliness could show Meg, in her trim ski kit, tracing elegant curves across the slopes and throwing up plumes of new powder as she raced by. Or in nothing at all, sinking into a hot tub at the end of an exhilarating day, skin flushed by more than the rising steam. 

 Sand or snow. Made no difference. What mattered was that it was Christmas, and Lou was four time zones away from Meg. No, wait, Switzerland wasn’t as far from Afghanistan as their home in England. Three time zones. Or three-and-a-half—and how had that half-hour bit got stuck in, anyway? Never mind. She tilted her bottle and drank the next-to-last draught of water. Almost midnight here, just mid-evening in the Alps. Meg would be at dinner with friends, or already partying in one chalet or another. That was as it should be, no matter how much Lou longed to be with her. They’d planned the ski holiday long before Lou’s Army orders had come through, and it was better for Meg to go than to sit alone at home. Except that home was where Lou needed most to envision her. To envision them both, together.

Bugger envisioning! Lou needed to see Meg right now, tonight, if only for a moment. Touching her, hearing her, feeling the brush of her soft hair, the warmth of her breath, the accelerating rhythm of her heart—all these were impossible. Lou had chosen to accept that, knowing how hard it would be, even knowing how much she was hurting Meg. Seeing her was just as impossible, and the sooner Lou forgot about what the old Afghani grandmother had said this morning, the better. Mind games, even if the woman hadn’t meant it that way. 

Even so, Lou slid a hand into the pocket of her camo jacket. The flat brass box was warm to the touch from her own body heat. The gift had been a generous gesture on the old woman’s part, too generous, really, when all Lou had done was to bring food from the mess tent to the family group huddled outside the hospital complex. 

They’d been there for hours, waiting while the doctors worked on two small children with serious injuries. Bringing them food and water had been the least she could do. She had to confess to some slight curiosity as well; sick or injured children were brought in all too often, but this was the first time a woman had accompanied the men. It was she who had tended the children, and the bearded men had shown her something approaching deference.

The curiosity had been mutual, Lou was sure; the fierce old eyes peering out from the enveloping burka had seemed to follow her intently, until, as Lou collected the emptied cups and bowls, rough, wrinkled fingers had pressed the box into her hand. Would refusing a gift be taken as an insult? The woman spoke a few words, her face crinkling into what might have been a smile, and then a nurse came out to lead the family into the post-op tent.

A local civilian maintenance worker had been watching the whole encounter. Lou asked what the woman had said, and after some hesitation he’d translated the words as meaning something along the lines of, “Catch the moon in the box and see your heart’s desire.” He’d started to add something about how foolish women’s tales were, stammered as he remembered that Lou was a woman as well as a soldier, and escaped back to his work with relief.

It was foolishness, of course. A good story to tell Meg tomorrow in e-mail, but nothing worth dwelling on now. Tonight she’d just have to make do with some more serious envisioning of Meg, and that might be better done in her warm cot, except that tents provided very little in the way of privacy.     

Lou raised her water bottle in a toast. “Cheers, sweetheart! Merry Christmas! Have a great time!” She drained the last few trickles of liquid. “Here’s hoping yours is a gin and tonic!” Wherever Meg was, she’d be thinking of Lou tonight. And she’d have a g&t in hand. Maybe she was even gazing toward the moon at this very moment, though it might be too low in the sky just now to clear the Alpine peaks.   

In Afghanistan the moon soared high overhead, revealing every object, including Lou, with relentless clarity. She shifted uneasily. This perch on sandbags heaped in an angle of the perimeter wall gave her a better view of the desert than was strictly safe, although “safe” was a relative term at best in a world where even a transport lorry full of frozen turkeys for the soldiers’ Christmas dinner had been blown up by insurgents. The holiday had still been jolly enough, with more turkeys rushed in by plane, plenty of sweets and packages from home, and a great deal of singing and chaffing and merrymaking that got as near to boisterous as the lads could manage without proper drinks.

Lou had joined in with her customary high spirits, but the time came when she needed to get away from the noise and forced cheer. If she couldn’t be with Meg, at least she could be alone to think about being with Meg. Now a glance back at the main camp showed row upon row of tents glowing golden with interior light, like a scene from some fantastic Arabian Nights tale. 

She turned back to the cold white moonlight and her own thoughts, which reverted, in spite of herself, to the little box. She’d opened it once already, of course, and found a round mirror set inside the lid. When her own face stared back at her, with a bit of her camo shirt showing at her throat, she’d figured, well, close enough. Being here, in uniform, doing her part, was truly her heart’s desire, surpassed only by Meg’s love.  The miracle was that Meg, for all her pain at the separation, for all her horror of war—Meg, who was never violent except in her attack on a challenging ski slope or in defense of those she loved—would still let Lou have both.  

The box in Lou’s hand still felt warm, but it was just too bloody silly to think that there was anything mystical about it. Still, Meg was bound to ask, if Lou told the story, whether she’d tried it by moonlight.  So as long as she was here…

Moonlight glinted on tiny mirror chips set into the metal between inlaid ovals of lapis lazuli, while the stones themselves, so vividly blue in the daytime, looked almost black. Merely a trifle, actually; its like could be found in any market in Lashkar Gah or Kandahar, or, for that matter, on many a flea market barrow on Portobello Road in London. Nothing special about it, except, perhaps, the borrowed glamour that moonlight seems to cast on ordinary objects.

Lou’s fingers still shook as she fumbled to undo the brass clasp. Just the cold night air, of course. Before lifting the lid all the way she shifted around on the sandbags until the moonlight came over her right shoulder. Then, with a catch in her breath and a touch of defiance, she opened the box all the way and tilted the round mirror to catch the moon directly in its center.

The white orb hung there, clear and sharp. Lou started to breathe again. Then a mist crept across the glass, and the moon’s image spread to fill the whole surface. Condensation, of course, from her own breath. She fumbled with one hand to find a handkerchief to clear it, gave up, and was about to try with the elbow of her jacket when the mist began to dissipate on its own until only a few drifting wisps remained. The light, much softer now, still filled the entire mirror.

A blurred scene began to form, or to emerge, as though it came closer; or as though Lou herself moved forward into it. The surroundings were vaguely familiar, but all she could focus on was the figure standing in the center, head bowed, smooth russet hair swinging forward against her cheeks. Lou knew the scent, the softness, of that hair, as well as she knew anything in life; and she knew the feel of the lovely body beneath, exposed entirely to her gaze, as well as she knew her own flesh. 

“Meg…” If only she would raise her head! But the figure moved slowly, face still hidden, down a step or two. More tendrils of mist floated around her. “No…don’t go…” Meg kept on, sinking gradually downward into something denser than mist, water that lapped about her body until only her head, shoulders, and the upper curves of her breasts showed above it. “Meg…”

And then Meg leaned her head back against the edge of the hot tub and sighed. Lou could hear that sigh inside her own head. And now she could see Meg’s face, that particular blend of eyes and nose and lovely lips, of gentleness and strength and elegance, that for Lou would forever define beauty. And love. And home. 

There was sadness in Meg’s expression, and dampness on her cheeks that might have been due to the hot, humid air, or might have included a tear or two. She lifted her head, raised an arm from the water, and reached out to a tray beside the tub. Lou hadn’t noticed it before, but now she saw the glass, and knew beyond question what it contained. 

Meg held up the drink. “Cheers, Lou darling! Merry Christmas!” She took a healthy draught of her gin and tonic. Then, more softly; “Keep safe. Please.” She drank again, uncharacteristically deeply, and added, “I’m truly proud of you, right where you are. But…oh, I miss you so much!” She emptied the glass, closed her eyes, and leaned back, sliding a little lower into the water. 

Lou needed to reach out, to brush the tears from Meg’s face, even more than she needed to breathe. She felt torn into two separate beings. One clutched a brass box in the cold Afghan desert; one floated through the steam rising from the hot tub and sank into the water so close to Meg that their legs intertwined. As heat rose from her feet all along her body, the colder world retreated, until it was just the faintest of memories.

Lou couldn’t make her voice work, but her fingertips could feel the curve of Meg’s cheek, and throat, and shoulder. Meg sighed. Her face relaxed, and her lips curved into a smile. “I can almost feel you here with me,” she murmured, eyes still closed. “Are you thinking of me now, sweetheart?”

“Thinking” didn’t come close to describing it, for either of them. Meg seemed not to find it strange that her arms could go around Lou, and Lou’s around her. They clung to each other, moving gently together in the slow swirl of the water, bathed in a warm current of love and joy. No dream could ever be sweeter, Lou felt—until Meg opened her eyes and looked directly into Lou’s. “I can even see you, darling!” Meg’s voice held more delight than surprise. ”How lovely!”

That was the sweetest moment of all. And even when Lou felt the pull of that half of herself left behind in the desert, and knew that she was drifting away, not from Meg, but merely from that particular time and place, she held the image of Meg’s loving smile in her heart.

The night was dark again. Lou still held the box, but the moon was so low in the sky that only a sliver of it still showed in the mirror. Tilting the lid brought the bright disc back into its center, but accomplished nothing further. Lou drew a deep breath, rose slowly from the sandbags, and started back across the compound toward the clustered tents. In spite of the cold air, warmth still suffused her body, lingering until her bed could capture and preserve it. 

She was too tired, and too much at peace, to try to analyze what had happened, except for a fleeting thought about what she should tell Meg. Or, perhaps, what she should ask. Just a humorous tale about the old Afghan woman, and a joke about an “envisioning aid”, and a light account of her “dream” might be the best course.

It was mid-morning before Lou had time to write even a brief e-mail, and by then Meg had beat her to it. Dearest Lou, Meg wrote. The strangest thing happened last night! It was like the most marvelous Christmas gift! I was in the hot tub in the chalet, thinking of you, and…well, maybe it was just that drinking a g&t in all that heat made me lightheaded—I should know better—but I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. Please don’t laugh; just tell me where you were last night, and whether you were thinking of me.

Lou felt warm all over again, and a bit lightheaded herself. You tell me yours and then I’ll tell you mine, she typed. It’s long story, and I only have a minute now, but if there’s any laughing to be done, we’ll do it together. Always.


     


 


       


    




             


  


           


    



Saturday, November 28, 2020

Charity Sunday: Going Postal for Four Directions



Once again, I’ll be donating one dollar for every view of my blog, and two dollars for every comment, up until two weeks from Sunday 11/29/20.

For this Charity Sunday entry, I knew what organization I would be donating to, and what story I wanted to share, but at first there didn’t seem to be much connection between them. The charity is Four Directions: https://www.fourdirectionsvote.com, promoting and enabling voting by Indigenous populations. It may sound political rather than charitable, but it does qualify in that it doesn’t overtly favor any particular candidate, just encourages voting itself. Some of it deals with voting registration, and much of it is a drive to enable voting when large numbers of Indigenous people on reservations, especially in the southwest, live far from official voting places and have little means of getting there, and even when voting by mail is permitted, it requires residential mailing addresses that are not available where roads are sparse. People may have PO boxes in town, visited at intervals, but often no delivery to their homes. The Four Directions group organized grassroots volunteers to get the vote out, getting voters to pollng places or to places to mail ballots. This year they were extremely successful. In Arizona, for instance, it’s been reported that there were 79,000 ballots cast in the Navajo Nation, a majority for Democrats, so considering the narrow wins for both Biden and Senator-to-be Kelly, that made a huge difference. Tribes in Wisconsin may also have made the difference for Biden.

Now that I’ve written all that, the connection with my story “Going Postal” seems, if not obvious, at least arguable. It concerns a Presidential election (the election of 2004, which did not have as pleasing an outcome for me as the recent one) and one of the characters delivers the mail, though I haven’t specified where. I wrote the piece a little while after that, for an online anthology I was editing for my then-publisher, the dear departed Suspect Thoughts Press, and it was picked up by whichever volume of The Mammoth Book of New Erotica came next. That surprised me, since I didn’t consider it one of my best (several others of which have been in other Mammoth Book editions,) but then the editor Maxim Jakubowski told me that he likes to include works published by his friends, and the Suspect Thoughts pair were very good friends indeed. I dunno, I kind of wish he hadn’t told me why he took it, but I’m still glad he did.

Enough of that. Onward to the story.

__________

Going Postal

Sacchi Green

     "Hey, are you all right?" She rang the bell again and knocked, hard. I couldn't seem to move. What was the point? What was the point in anything? The world was going to hell, with my own country toting the handbasket. 

     "Lynn! Ms Rackliffe!" She pounded until I could feel the vibrations through the floor. I pictured her big, strong hand, knuckles reddening at the impact with my door, a hand I'd imagined so many times impacting other places... Some part of me stirred, though not, as yet, the parts that could move me out of my huddle on the couch.

     "Look, I know you're in there. The lights and TV go on and off, but you haven't picked up your mail or UPS deliveries in three days. If you don't tell me you're okay, I'll have to either notify the police or break down the door myself." 

     Three fucking days--no, fuckless days--of despair. The bastards had won. In spite of the exit polls, known voting irregularities, and statistical impossibilities, no recounts in Ohio or Florida were going to make any difference. The voters had cast away all reason, and, in the states where gay marriage rights had been trampled into the dust, all sense of human decency as well.

     Not that decency in the conservative sense had ever concerned me much. What the hell possessed people, anyway, to be so obsessed with the kind of sex other people were having? And so unconcerned about their own government's campaign of war, destruction, arrogance, and downright stupidity?

     She knocked again. "Last chance," she called sternly. Her tone of voice had begun to play tricks on me. If I'd been standing up, my knees would have wobbled--which suddenly made standing up a more appealing prospect than it had been in a while. "Looks like some galley proofs in the mail," she added. "Are you such a hotshot writer your editors will let you blow off deadlines?"

     I tossed off the quilt and shuffled around for my slippers. She must have heard me, because she waited silently on the other side of the door, all imposing, silver-brush-cut, six feet of her. I realized suddenly what a mess I must look. Well, why not, when the future looked even worse? 

    Time was, my mother used to say, when your postman knew everything about you short of your underwear size. This one had been delivering my mail for only about three months, but she already knew my politics, my taste in porn, and the publishers who were buying (or rejecting) my work. She'd asked me to autograph an old copy of On Our Backs a couple of weeks ago, and since then I'd been doing my best to make sure that even my underwear size was no mystery to her.  

     It had been a game, inching along toward something major-league. She'd been playing along by knocking and hand-delivering all my mail, even if it was only pizza coupons, trying to suppress her amusement and maintain the official role belied by the gleam in her eye. I'd been planning, if all went well, to dispense with the underwear altogether and appear at the door on the day after the election attired in nothing but a map of the country drawn across my torso, with the blue states colored in. Maybe the whole thing could have been tilted to make a bright blue Florida jut downward in its most interesting possible alignment, pointing the way to glory.

     But all hadn't gone well. For the past two days she'd rung my doorbell, and I hadn't responded, unable to face the world except through the furious online filters of Daily Kos, Buzzflash, Agonist, Fuckthesouth, until even the bloggers' convincing but unprovable conspiracy theories became more than I could bear.

     Now, on the third day, under threat, I opened the door.

     "You look like hell," she said brusquely, a frown denting her wide brow. For a moment I was tempted to throw open my bathrobe and flash my unmapped nakedness at her anyway, until I remembered that I hadn't showered in three days. Or possibly longer.

     "When was the last time you had a meal?" She kicked the door shut behind her,moving inexorably into the kitchen. I followed, and looked vaguely into the sink. Traces of macaroni and cheese had been drying on the unwashed dishes there for at least two days, but I was pretty sure there were more recent cracker crumbs sprinkled across my computer desk.

     "I'm not hungry," I said, with some attempt at dignity. 

     "Well, I am. And you will be." She thumped the stack of mail down onto the table and backed me against my refrigerator, trapping me there with one muscular arm braced on either side, her large body blocking out the rest of the room. And the rest of the world. For a brief moment I felt the warmth of protection and the tingle of challenge, all merged together. A smile threatened to take charge of my lips. 

     Then I saw the postal service insignia on her sleeve. Stylized, streamlined, invoking speed and reliability; but still an eagle. Still sometimes a symbol of war. I began to shake.

     "What...?" Then she saw where I was looking, and backed off, leaving me shivering even harder without the warm shelter of her body. I stifled a whimper. "The uniform? Damnit, you're even farther gone than I thought! Have you been getting any sleep? You haven't been home more than three or four days a week in the last two months. No wonder you're crumbling." 

     Her voice was rough, with an underlying note of concern. She'd noticed, I thought. Kept track of me. Well, I'd had to tell her to hold my mail whenever I was away working on voter registration and getting out the vote in states where it might matter.

     Except that nothing I had done had mattered. I slumped back against the refrigerator and began to slide down it. "All that work...we tried so hard..." Tears burned in my eyes and stung my throat. "I did my best..."

     She dragged me upright with her big hands under my armpits. Her thumbs pressed into the sides of my breasts hard enough to leave marks. The pain was a welcome distraction, I realized. Amazingly welcome. My nipples began to harden, and the tears retreated just a little.

     "Yes," she said soothingly, "you did..." She broke off abruptly and looked intently into my eyes. Her tone changed, seething with scorn. "Sure, you tried, but you didn't try hard enough, did you? You call that doing your fucking best?"

     I couldn't flinch away from her bruising grip. Her words seemed brutal, biting--but oddly familiar. My own words, in fact. I discovered that I didn't want to flinch. What had I written next in that story she must have read? Never mind, I'd just wing it. "I'm sorry," I muttered, ducking my head so that my brow rested between her breasts. If I leaned one way or the other, if I turned my head...  No, I hadn't earned such bliss. "It's all my fault. I know it is."

     "You bet it is," she growled. "And you're going to get what's coming to you." She yanked me over to a high chair at the kitchen counter and dumped me there. I watched in awed anticipation as she pulled off jacket and shirt and stood flexing her hands, her white wife-beater clinging to the tantalizing contours of the flesh beneath.

     I started to untie my ratty old bathrobe, but she slapped my hands away, then lifted me from the chair, swung around, and suddenly I was sprawled across her lap. My bathrobe was bunched up around my waist, leaving my ass hanging out in all its chilly vulnerability, so much more humiliating than full nudity. No amount of wriggling and kicking could make my feet reach  the floor. I whimpered.

     "You want something to cry about?" Whack! Her hand came down full force, no warm-up. I yelled, and braced for another hit, but she pinched and squeezed hard for a few seconds, probing for sensitive spots, not that there was an inch of flesh that wasn't either aching or aching for more.  

     Whack. Whack. WHACK!  A relentless rhythm, repeated with variations, making me realize, as much as I could think at all between gasps, that I'd had no conception at first of what full force could mean. 

     On and on, with no let-up except to get me off-guard, interrupt my expectations. From my ass to my thighs I was hot, throbbing, quivering before and after each impact, and my whole body jerked with the intensity of each strike. The tears were back, flowing down my cheeks, snuffling in my nose, but the wetness squeezing from my cunt under her relentless pressure made a keener impression.

     "Please," I whispered, but she ignored me. "Please," I cried louder, wriggling my crotch against her thigh, then trying to raise my butt, straining against the forearm steadying me across my waist. She paused.

     "'Please,'" she mocked. "You think you've had enough? Ready to forgive yourself, are you? You think this is it, we're finished?"

     "No, please...I need...I'm so hot..."

     "Flaming hot," she agreed, pinching one buttcheek hard. "And getting pretty tender. Maybe it's time to stick a fork in and see if you're done." There was no time to process what she'd said before two fingers and then another thrust into my hungry cunt. The tines of her "fork" seemed to spread apart, clench together, probe commandingly just where my need was most demanding, until, just as her other hand came down in a sharp, solid slap on my sore ass, the wrenching spasms hit and shook me from my toes to my streaming nose.

     It was a long time before I could fumble the sleeve of my robe up to wipe away my tears and snot. She was stroking my reddened ass gently now, but for a little while I still sobbed softly, wringing every drop of release from that magnificent catharsis.

     Finally she carried me to the couch, and we cuddled for a while. I started to work my mouth surreptitiously across her undershirt, millimeter by millimeter, but suddenly I sat upright. "Don't you have to finish your route?" I asked. 

     "Nope. I have the afternoon off. Just came by to check on you."

     I snuggled back. "You did a good job," I told her. "I'm so glad the postman never gives up."

     "Neither snow nor sleet nor stolen election," she agreed. "I've been around the block enough times to get some perspective. And so should you. A little food might help, though." She set me aside. "C'mon, I'll take you out for something spicy enough to get the circulation flowing, if you can manage to get dressed."

     My circulation was already in fine shape, but I was suddenly ravenous. In fifteen minutes (ten for a mutual shower that nearly derailed our plans)  we were heading toward her station wagon.

     "Just a minute," she said, her hand on the door. "Extra credit if a young whippersnapper like you can tell me what those are about." She motioned toward two weather worn bumper stickers held on with strips of duct tape.

     "'McGovern/Eagleton'" I read. "Um, '72? But...wasn't it McGovern/Shriver?"

     "Yeah, eventually," she said. "Close enough. But look it up. Politics is always messy. How about the other one? I saved them both when I finally had to junk my first car. They don't make 'em like Dodge Darts anymore."

     ""Don't Blame Me, I'm from Massachusetts.'" I had to think about it. '72...'73... "Nixon? Watergate? The impeachment?" She nodded, but still waited. "Okay, right," I said. "Only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia went for McGovern."

     "And even then," she pointed out, "McGovern got nearly 40 percent of the vote. Don't go forgetting how many people are still on the same side you're on. And some of them are getting their rears in gear to fight on." She opened the door and didn't wait for me to say anything else, which was a damned good thing, because I didn't have anything else to say just yet.

     She just let me relax as we rolled onward toward food and fellowship, her hand on my thigh and my head against her shoulder, my thoughts for once not so much on politics as on what I hoped to get with all that extra credit.

__________


To find the other bloggers posting for this Charity Sunday, you can go to Lisabet Sarai’s blog, where you can read her post, and find a link to a third one.

https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2020/11/charity-sunday-shelter-and-more-for.html




  

        



Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Grapes of Fire and Smoke



My charity this time is the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) California Wildfire Relief Fund, https://latinocf.org/nuestra-voz/

The fires in the Northwest have been catastrophic for thousands of people, even millions if you count the smoke spreading across the country. Among the hardest hit are the vineyard workers, largely Latino, who have lost their communities of (usually) house trailers, and also face the loss of jobs. Even where vineyards have not been destroyed, it turns out that the thick fogs of smoke have affected the grapes that should be ready to pick about now, coating them and even imbuing them with foul odors and tastes.

As usual, I will contribute a dollar for each reading of my blog over the next two weeks, and two dollars for comments.

And as usual, I like to include at least an excerpt from one of my stories, but somehow over the years I’ve neglected to write any stories about vineyards, and even wine references have been rare, which is odd because I enjoy wine with dinner almost every night. I haven’t written anything about forest fires, either. So what to do?

This is going to be exceedingly convoluted. I’ve decided to share an excerpt from a story set near the site of another catastrophic fire—even though the fire hadn’t even occurred yet when I wrote it. And it’s set in Paris, not the American Northwest.

An excerpt from “Gargoyle Lovers,” originally published in XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance, edited by Kristina Wright for Cleis Press, and reprinted in my own collection for Dirt Roads Books, Wild Rides.

____________

Gargoyle Lovers

By Sacchi Green                                                                                            

“I’m siingin’ in the raaiin…” But that was from the wrong Gene Kelly movie, and it wasn’t quite raining, and I was only whistling. My speaking voice gets me by, but singing blows the whole presentation. 

Hal glanced down, her face stern in that exaggerated way that makes me tingle in just the right places. I shoved my hands into my pockets, skipped a step or two, and knew she felt as good as I did. Hal’s hardly the type to dance through the Paris streets like Gene Kelly, especially across square cobblestones, but there was a certain lilt to her gait. 

Or maybe a swagger.  “That pretty-boy waiter was all over you,” I said slyly. “And giving me dirty looks every chance he got!” A gay guy making a pass always sparks up her day.

“Lucky for you I’m not cruising for pretty boys, then. But don’t give me too much lip or I might change my mind.”

I couldn’t quite manage penitence, but at least I knew better than to remind her that she already had a pretty boy, for better or worse. Still, some punishment games would be a fine end to the evening. Last night we’d been too jetlagged to take proper advantage of the Parisian atmosphere. “That Maitre D with a beak like a gargoyle was sure eyeing me, too, especially from behind.” I gave another little skip.

Hal ignored the bait. “Thought you’d had your fill of gargoyles today.” A cathedral wouldn’t have been her first choice for honeymoon sightseeing, but the mini-balcony of our rental apartment had a stupendous view of Notre-Dame de Paris. I’d oohed and ahhed about gargoyles over our croissants and café-au-lait, so she’d humored me and we’d taken the tour. 

To tell the truth, being humored by Hal unnerved me a bit. I didn’t want being married to make a difference in our relationship. The fact that she’d shooed me out of that sex toy shop in Montmartre while she made a purchase was reassuring, but just in case, I decided I could manage some genuine penitence after all.

I hung my head and peered up at her slantwise. “I know I was a real pain. I can’t figure out what it is about gargoyles that just gets to me. They’re sort of scary, but not really, and sort of sad, and some of them are beautiful in a weird kind of way.” Just as Hal was, but I’d never say that. “I’m sorry I went on about them like that.”

“What makes you think they’re sad? Just because their butts are trapped in stone?” She was trying to suppress a grin. I felt better.

“Well, I’d sure hate that, myself!”

That got me the squeeze on my ass I’d been angling for. “I’d rather have these sweet cheeks accessible,” she said. The squeeze got harder than I’d bargained for, startling me into a grimace.

She eased off with a slow stroke between my thighs.  “You should’ve seen your face just now. Could be there’s something like that going on with the gargoyles. Not rage, or fear, or pain at all--unless it’s pain so good it makes them howl with lust.”

I was awestruck. Hal is generally the blunt, taciturn type, but I love it when her wicked imagination bursts forth. Almost as much as I love the vulnerability that once in a while gives an extra gruffness to her voice.

She was on a roll now, face alight like a gleeful demon. A lovable demon. “There’s somebody hidden behind the stone, in another dimension, or time, or whatever, giving the gargoyle the fucking of its life. A reaming so fine it’s been going on for centuries.” 

“Yes!” I was very nearly speechless. To lean out high above Paris, in the sun, wind and rain of eons, my face forever twisted in a paroxysm of fierce joy while Hal’s thrusts filled me eternally with surging pleasure…    

A few drops of rain began to fall, but that wasn’t what made us hurry faster across the Pont de Saint-Louis. The great ornate iron gates at our apartment building had given me fantasies that morning of being chained, spread-eagled, against them, but now I rushed across the cobblestoned courtyard and through the carved oak door, so turned on that the four flights of stairs inside scarcely slowed me down—which might also have been because Hal’s big hand on my butt was hurrying me along.

____________

To read the blogs of other folks participating in this Charity Sunday, since I always get the linkage wrong, go first to https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com, and you’ll find the links there. 

 


Saturday, September 19, 2020

My Live Reading of "A Dance of Queens"

 Sound and Fury, an Open Mic via Zoom event Hosted by Laura Antoniou and A Plague of Players,  will be live on Sunday, September 20th, 2:pm EST. You can look it up on FaceBook: search for A Plague of Players.

I'm reading an excerpt from my Elizabethan--era story, and I'm posting the entire story here so that anyone intrigued by my reading can see all the rest

“A Dance of Queens” features two actors from the very first production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with Queen Elizabeth herself in Titania’s disguise, nostalgic for her youth when she might roam free, masked, through Midsummer revelries. All mingle in a scene enabled by the Puck theirself, in no way imprisoned always in a man’s form, presenting as a dwarf servingwoman to the Queen. 

Originally published in Hanne Block’s Best Transgender Erotica, reprinted in a collection of my own work, A Ride to Remember, and featured on The Nobilis Erotica Podcast.

A Dance of Queens

Sacchi Green

Midsummer's Night, the play safely done, dusk sweet as a languorous touch on yearning flesh...and still I could not take my love into the greenwood and lay her on my cloak and be consumed in her fire.

I cursed my own impatience. We should have pressed on without pause, but Quenta had tormented me so, slipping a hand beneath my shirt and then down into my breeches until I could scarce walk, and must stop for a taste of the feast to come.

So the Queen's messenger had caught us. And truly, by the shimmer in the air at the instant she appeared, I knew there had never been hope of escape. In the Welsh hills and valleys we have tales, more than tales, of such creatures, though I had thought the filth and disbelief of London must repel them. At another time I would have been glad that the green countryside along the Thames still held such folk. Glad or no, we had no choice now but to let the greenwood's promise fade into shadow.

Frustration pounded in my veins. I jerked away from Quenta's touch, the mere brush of her hand making me forget that I must not even think of "him" as "her" until we could be blessedly alone.

I focused on the wide skirt sailing just ahead. Though the farthingale was not devised with a lady dwarf in mind, its absurdity was more than countered by the messenger's bearing and the Queen's crest broidered on her sleeve. It scarcely needed Quenta's nudge to put me on guard against those keen, merry eyes, though they looked up at me from about the level of my belt.

Such danger should have chilled my ardor. But surely the Queen would waste little time on us, might have forgotten already her whim. At most there could be a gracious word or two, perhaps a small purse. Why, then, command that we bring our play-garb? A jest among her ladies?

But in the great bedchamber we found Her Majesty alone, a slim, pale figure whose aura crackled through the paneled room like heat-lightning.

Our diminutive guide swept a curtsy. "The player boys, Madam. Quentin O'Connor and Kit Rhys."

Bright, tired eyes assessed us. "Well enough, Gwen. Now keep us private for a bit." The attendant gave me a wicked sidelong glance as she went to sit between the great oak door and the carven screen before it.

Quenta elbowed me sharply. I joined her in an elegant stage bow, feeling the royal glance caress our snug-hosed calves. Her Majesty was said to have ever an eye for a well-turned leg; if it went farther than a look, or a leg… But I had never heard so much as rumor that it did.

Her voice was cool enough. "So, Titania and Hippolyta. You played the queen's part well, each in your own way."

"Never so well as you, Your Highness." Quenta's green eyes gleamed wickedly, and I suppressed a groan. This was no time for her sly wit!

An answering gleam lit the Queen's eyes. "Ah, but I have performed the role far longer!"  Her face seemed less weary now; it was hard to credit that she had more than twice our years. "Do you not think I could play Queen of Faery as well as England's monarch?"

I tried to break the manic current between them. "Yes, in truth, Highness. Or Queen of Amazons, or any ruler ever conceived." I knelt with Hippolyta's tunic and gilded leather breastplate across one knee. Her gaze turned toward me, lingering on my long legs; I felt as when Quenta would stroke me from calf to thigh and beyond, and my flesh would melt and surge in sweet torment.

"I have not your height, lad, to play the Amazon," she said. "You did well enough, though one could scarcely credit that you would ever yield to Duke Theseus, whether in battle or in marriage bed. But come, it was bravely played, if a slighter part than Titania's." 

She turned to Quenta with a thoughtful look. "Have you two played Master Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet?' You would suit well as lovers."

Did she toy with us? What hope had we against the wits of one who played with envoys, kings, even the Pope, for her own and England's gain?

"Quentin is acclaimed as Juliet," I answered cautiously, "but to tell truth, Hippolyta is my first speaking part, and well may be my last. I am more like to play an accompanying lute, or rattle distant armor."

"It is an awkward age, I know," she said. "Your voice is nigh too low already for a woman's part. Indeed..." Those keen eyes scrutinized us closely. "I might think you both somewhat old for boy players."

I tensed inwardly, forcing my body to reveal nothing. To stifle Quenta's special genius would be a crime against art, against life itself! But if she were judged to be a woman... A woman appearing upon the public stage was such outrage that the penalty could only be surmised.  

Quenta laughed, and in that instant the tilt of her head, the cock of hip and shoulder, were entirely those of a brash youth. "I can play you any age, Lady, any sex." She took on the bombastic voice and gestures of Bottom the Weaver. "I can play you a roaring Lion, or a most excellent Wall..." and then her voice softened, its husky purr making my flesh quiver with longing for the velvet touch of her tongue. "Or I can be the Lady Moon herself."

She stepped toward the high window, every motion, every line now utterly female, despite the padded trunk-hose muffling the sweet curves of her hips. Had I been a jot closer my hand would have slipped of its own accord between cloth and smooth, seductive skin. And had she turned, and my fingers found what waited between her thighs.... 

"Look you, Lady, how the new moon burns, no silver bow, but a crescent slit through which the passions of the sky pour forth. Can you not see in me that same bright fire?"

 And she was, in truth, the very essence of the new moon, its tremulous yearning in her slim grace, its hot intensity in her smoldering eyes. Then I stepped toward her and broke the spell, and it was not her madness but mine that gave us away.

"Sirrah! Do not force me to see that which were better kept hidden!" If the Queen sensed that we were lovers, she had no wish to bring it to an issue. I did not think that she had yet sensed more.

"But Titania may see what England's Queen may not." Quenta knelt, proffering her red wig, leaf-green draperies and silver demi-mask. "On Midsummer's Night, the fancies of mortal and fairy alike may roam free. Come with us, Lady, to observe their merry frolics!"

Even through my outrage I saw what Quenta had recognized at once. Though the Queen might conceal it even from herself, it was for this we had been summoned.

A moment of hesitation; then she took the silver mask. "In truth, I have a fancy to see my host's estate by moonlight. You shall escort me, and together we shall see 'what fools these mortals be.'" She caught my eye. "Yes, lad, I know, none better, how mortal and therefore foolish even a queen may be. That is my own affair. Send Gwen to me, and wait behind the screen." But Gwen was beside her already, the sole evidence of her passing the twinge of a playful pinch upon my rump.

When the Queen was ready Gwen went sedately enough before us. I could not discern how she bespelled each guard we passed, but it was clear that none could see her mistress until we were well outside and mingling with the crowd.

The Lord Chancellor's estate was alight as though to cancel out entirely this shortest night of the year. Near the great house lords and ladies strolled the torch-lit paths, or clung together in the shadowy embrace of shrubberies. Farther off, where the village clustered around the river landing, a bonfire flared and crackled and smoke hovered in the sky like a lecherous ogre.

Habitual command mingled with laughter in the voice that urged me forward. "Come, they can have devised no cruder games than when last I walked free on a Midsummer's Night, though it were half a lifetime ago."

Quenta, just behind me, slid her hand between my thighs, and I had no choice but to move forward or turn and punish her as she deserved.

Two Quentas imprisoned me, both shimmering with manic energy, both intent on torture. The green-draped lady on my right had every movement, every gesture, even the voice of Quenta-as-Titania. No actor could have surpassed her.

On my left pranced my infuriating love in full boy-mode, her russet hair swept up under a jaunty feathered cap. At every step her hand and hip and shoulder nudged and stroked me. The Queen might not see, but Gwen, trotting behind, smiled slyly.

Much more of this and I would be unfit to walk at all. In the bedchamber, as we had waited behind the screen, Quenta's seeking hands and mouth had maddened me until I grasped both wrists and held her away. Then she flicked her mobile tongue at me, and I could only muffle my groans in the hollow of her throat. This too Gwen had seen as she came to fetch us.

My arousal was mounting all too close to pain. "Quentin, you unmannered lout, take the Lady's other side!"

 The Queen cocked a brow at my strangled tone, but held out a regal arm, and Quenta moved to take it. A glance behind showed a broad grin on Gwen's round face.

The Queen seemed drawn to all the bawdiest displays. She cheered on village maidens belaboring the pale hairy bum of a hapless stock-bound miscreant, and would have taken a switch to him herself had I not diverted her attention to two buxom wenches admiring the massive virtues of a docile bull, while their blushing swains tried to draw them onward.

A cluster of tipsy revelers drew us to the village square. I could hear the clown Will Kemp's falsetto above the laughter; he was a noted player in our troupe, and always rare entertainment. Then I saw his companion, and hoped short Gwen would take no offense.

Will pranced in strumpet's garb across a rough stage, swinging padded rump, while Long Tom the tumbling dwarf somersaulted in mock pursuit. Another time I would have laughed at their antics, and later bought an ale for Tom and traded japes in Welsh; he was a good man, philosophical, adept at using what he had to earn his living.

What he had, besides acrobatic skill and a merry black-bearded face, was the largest codpiece I have ever seen and ample means to fill it. A stallion might have envied his endowment.

Will crouched, and swung his bum into Tom's jutting cock. Tom tumbled and bounced and vaulted back, while the crowd howled, and my face burned. I tried to back my party out of the throng.

We were almost clear when I heard a gasp of outrage. I turned, and saw whose hands clutched at Gwen, and perversely welcomed this vent for my frustration.

That sniveling whoreson weasel's whelp Dick Fry, talebearer and eternal understudy! "Ho, Rhys," he hailed me. "Come help me toss this hobgoblin up on stage with t'other! What, no stomach for sport?"

Quenta gripped her dagger. Gwen narrowed her eyes, and Dick's ears and nose began to lengthen and grow hairy. It would have made a rare spectacle, but the Queen must not be found out.

"The lady is with me, you lout! Would you feel my fist smashing through that empty travesty you call a codpiece?" I moved so close he had to peer upward at me. "Do you wet yourself dreaming of my fist mangling your puny balls?" Fear flickered in his eyes, and rage, and something else; I pushed him away in disgust and led my company past the gawking bystanders.

"Lucky for that one you were here," Gwen muttered in Welsh, and spat in the direction Dick had gone.

A slim, imperious hand gripped my shoulder. "Enough, lad. You have done nobly, but the Midsummer's magic I recalled is gone forever." 

"Nay, lady, there is magic still!" Quenta's eyes glowed cat-like in the torchlight. "Kit has found a place a fairy queen might lie, and takes me there this night. We shall see what magic three queens together may ignite!"

I could have wrung her slim white neck. The Queen, though, waved dismissively. "I doubt not such a tryst is meant for two alone. Only see me back to the Hall, and then be off wherever youth and Midsummer madness lead you." She took my arm. "You may divert me as we go. Is there indeed 'a bank where the wild thyme blows.... With sweet musk roses and with eglantine?'"

"As to that, Lady, the scent was more of mint and fern. I saw daisies but no roses, though there were berry brambles aplenty. Perhaps by daylight you might view it."

"Ay, perhaps." Her voice was bleak.

"Now!" said Quenta. "Now, by moonlight, or not at all!" Her fierce eyes held mine, her meaning all too clear. When I turned toward the greenwood the Queen, a gleam restored in her eye, did not demur.

The way was not so far that the Queen might tire. Indeed, I recalled, Her Majesty was known to out-ride and out-walk her courtiers, and out-last them on the dance floor, too, however fast or subtly sensuous the steps.

Earlier in the day I had followed a stream upcurrent to a place where the waters split and merged again, leaving an islet in their midst. Wading across had been easy, cutting my way through brambles harder, but the reward had been a grassy glade spangled with flowers and hidden from all but the sky.

Here I could bring my love where the rush of water would drown the wild, raw cries her touches forced from me. Always in the city I must stifle my voice, and my pleasure. But here, alone...

To be alone! But, now, not to be.

I waded across with Quenta first. She resisted being carried, but I clung to that remnant of my fantasy despite the temptation to drop her in the deepest water. When she guessed my mood and clung, other temptations rose to nearly overwhelm me.

"It was you who taught me, love, that the magic must be shared," she murmured, and laid a trail of kisses across my throat.

 "Between two, yes! Solitary pleasures are paltry trifles! But three? And one of these the Queen? Your madness goes too far!"

 "Yours has ever kept pace before! Truly, Kit, you always know my needs, better than I know myself. Open yourself to hers!"

"'Open?' You cannot mean..." but she had slipped from my grasp and danced away, her torch flickering eerily through the brambles.

I hoped that the Queen might have regained some sense, until I saw the torch set into the stream bank reflect from eyes gone fey and feral. "It is the Queen of Faery who goes abroad this night," she murmured, "and all she sees shall be no more than fairy-tale."

As I lifted her she leaned her head far back to watch the moon and trailed one hand into the stream, and I had to press her close for balance. She felt so like Quenta--or perhaps moonlight on the water dazzled my eyes and other senses--but when I set her on the bank my blood raced despite the water's chill.

Going back for Gwen did little to cool me. Anger played as great a part as arousal; both vixens would be well served to be marooned while I looked elsewhere for ease of my throbbing flesh.

I noted again how compact in form Gwen stood, her mouth scarcely above the level of my loins... 

Gwen knew that look. "Nay, youngling, my taste is for meat less tender. Do we but get my Lady safe home before dawn, I am appointed to meet a certain short tumbler and countryman for deep conversation." She gave my thigh a shove. "Go to, distract the Queen from her melancholy. For once she shall be entertained by earthly pleasures on a Midsummer's Night. When she lies safe again in her bed both Tom and I will thank you; for now, I wait and ward here."

Across the water light flickered from the torches left in readiness.  No doubt Quenta had also found my bed of heaped sweetfern and the basket of strawberries and flask of wine. Damn her capricious impulse! I ached so for the promised tryst...

Gwen whacked me ungently across the buttocks. "Go to, young fool, or they'll begin without you! And do not doubt that I shall see all!"

I went.

Such moonlight poured across the little glade that the slender crescent seemed to burn as fiercely as my desire. Pale daisy faces glowed with inner life, and fireflies' lanterns pulsed in shadowy bushes--or had Gwen provided fairy lights? The torches were scarce needed.

The Queen reclined on the cloak-spread bed, but I had eyes only for Quenta. Moonlight bathed her pale, smooth skin, flowing over every inch, as she stood, her back to us, naked and trembling and lovely before our eyes. When she looked over her shoulder her eyes were moon-glazed jewels.

"Now, sprite," said Titania, "now that your companion is come, you may reveal what you truly are, if you think I have not guessed."

I could scarce keep from laying hands on Quenta. There was no way now to play this scene save by whatever mad script she had devised, though my heart ached that my acceptance, my love, was not enough to allow her to accept herself. 

"Some would call me hermaphrodite, Lady," she murmured huskily. "My mother named me son on scant evidence, and my father so wished to believe that he deceived himself. You will find me writ on the parish roles as male."

The Queen raised narrow brows. "I do not presume to question parish records, but I would judge of this evidence myself."

I held my breath as Quenta turned, all bravado fled.

For long moments the Queen surveyed her; the small tilted breasts; the slender waist curving into gently flaring hips; the small, dainty cock nestling amidst tawny curls above the woman's shadowed cleft. 

When at last it came the royal voice held not shock, but years of anguish.

"Had I shown evidence twice as scant, my mother's neck had escaped the ax! Could my father the King have believed me a son...." Her voice sank almost too low to hear. "How many noble souls might have been spared...."

I fell to my knees before her. That she should feel self-loathing, after all she had done to make England strong!

"Nay, Madam, never wish yourself other! What was't you said before the troops when the Armada threatened? That you had 'the body of a weak feeble woman...but the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too...' Such a heart in such a body serves England best of all!"

"It may be so." She summoned up a smile and spoke to Quenta, who knelt now beside me. "Enough of idle speculation. I had guessed, of course, that you were no boy; I would not have come merely to witness love of Plato's Athenian sort." She turned to me. "You tell me, sir, is this eldritch chimaera male or female? I'll warrant your judgment can be trusted on that score!"

"She is my love," I said simply. "Her form is to me perfect and unique, but I would love her had she horns and a tail."

"You might well love me even better!" Quenta sprang up and twirled around the glade, her wild mood renewed. "Come, show how you love me!" She pulled me up and pressed tight against me, fingers busy in the lacings of my doublet.

"Show you? You know all too well!" I caught her hands. "Is it the audience you play to that quickens your blood? Best be sure she has a taste for such display!" 

Titania's eyes were dark behind the silver demi-mask. "Play on," she murmured, and in her tone I heard regret, and sorrow, and the yearnings of a passionate heart too long reined in.

"Nay, Kit, truly, you alone inflame me." Quenta's eyes held mine; my hold slackened and her hands slipped free to brush my face, my lips, my throat, and then my chest in quicksilver, fire-trailing strokes. "Please, Kit, please, touch me, let me touch you..." Her husky voice deepened, throbbing in resonance with the pounding of my blood.

I pulled her close to still her fingers, but the press of her firm breasts was yet more maddening. I ran my hands over smooth back and waist and hips, cupped them over pert, rounded buttocks and lifted her whole body tightly against my hunger. "Your skin is chilled, love."

"Then give me your shirt." She laughed into my face and pulled open my doublet. When she drew up my shirt and worked her mouth across my chest I knew that I was lost, that not even the icy stream could quench this fire.

"And take off your hose and breeches, too, you are so wet against me!" One hand slipped far down between cloth and flesh and I felt myself grow ever wetter, and hotter too, despite the chill from the wading of the stream. 

"Which will you bare first?" she purred, a wicked light flickering in her eyes as fireflies flickered in the grass around us and their throbbing points of light seemed to spark in my own depths.

It scarcely mattered. I chose what might by a fraction be the lesser shock. I tossed my doublet aside and pulled off my shirt, draping it around Quenta's chilly shoulders while she tore at bindings grown unbearable and let my aching breasts surge free.

"Not Athens." My breath caught as Quenta's soothing strokes became a torment that made me ever fuller and more sore. "Not Athens, Lady, but Sappho's Isle of Lesbos. Though I resist the constraints of a woman's body, I rejoice always in its pleasures."

This, she had not foreseen. The mask dropped; her eyes were wide.

"Please, Kit, please..." Quenta tugged at my belt while her hot mouth drove my breasts and nipples taut and aching with the need for more. "Please, I must..." Her voice was muffled against my swollen flesh.

"Slowly," I soothed, though I could scarcely speak. "The slower the sweeter, love."  As ever, she who had teased and maddened me for hours was now all desperate haste, while to me each stab of pleasure promised such further, keener pangs that I would not give up any part to leap too quickly to release.

I kicked off wet boots and wriggled out of breeches and hose, Quenta's hands more distraction than help. Then I half-turned that the Queen might see I had no such exotic equipage as my love. 

Her gaze moved over me from head to foot, taking in my length and strength and the incongruous swellings of a woman's body. A fierce longing for her approval swept me; now I understood what drove Quenta to reveal herself.

"You are the Amazon indeed," the Queen murmured at last, "and you," to Quenta, "a most exquisite Queen of Sprites." Then she laughed. "Master Shakespeare had it skewed, to say Hippolyta dallied with Oberon and Titania with Duke Theseus. Yours promises to be the better play, in truth!"

"Not so much play as dance, Lady, with intricate and subtle steps." I gazed into Quenta's eyes, holding her to stillness as my hands devoured the sweet curves of her body. She tried valiantly to wait, to savor, as I put my mouth to her small pouting breasts. She trembled, and her breath came in quick soft moans, as I licked and gently bit at her thrusting nipples.

Then her hips began to sway, and twist, and she clutched at me, and since the bed was occupied there was nothing for it but to lift her up along my body until that sweet seeking little dagger, no more in truth than a greatly inflated clitoris, pressed against my own.

She cried out, and clung to me with arms and thighs. I stilled, knowing her needs, that every movement must be hers now, every pressure, lest the rapture of her wondrous engorgement turn to pain. The lightest stroke of my hand, my tongue, could tip the balance.

As steadily as could be I endured the piercing stabs of pleasure. Rough moans escaped me as she arched and writhed against my mound, but from her there came only a keening so faint it might have floated from a distant world.

All at once she flung back her head, the moon mirrored in wild, half-closed eyes. "Now love, now!"

But already I had slipped one hand between our bodies and into her ready heat. Two fingers, deep and gently deeper, probing and pressing into her hunger; and now at last her cries burst forth, her slippery depths clutched at me, her great hard clit vibrated against mine; and my joy in her joy came near to overwhelming me.

Still there was more I must, would, have. I held her while spasms dwindled into trembling and her breath at long last slowed. Then I loosed my hold, and she slid gradually down my length, her mobile mouth teasing and caressing all the way until she knelt before me.

"Do you lag behind, love?" Her laugh was still unsteady. "Come, you will overtake me yet."  She moved her hands over my hips until they pressed into my tingling buttocks, then pulled me toward her. My clit, still aquiver, leapt at the subtle flick of her tongue.

I tangled my fingers in her moon-burnished hair as she drove me to new extremes. Moans racked me as she nudged my thighs apart and thrust her long supple tongue up into my molten cunt. Deep inside me a bright slim moon seemed to pulse and swell into full roundness.

Pleasure surged and pounded through me. My own rasping cries seemed far away as I rode the waves, striving still for more, and more, needing something more with an incoherent desperation....

And then a warm body pressed against my back. A voice murmured low into my ear, "Surely this figure can be danced by three!" Slim arms wrapped about me from behind; long clever fingers cupped and weighed my full breasts, making the aching pressure build and build; and when she curved her palms around my nipples and circled them so lightly that the hardened tips must strain and thrust into her touch, it was the final stroke. My clit strained and thrust too, and my cunt clenched and swallowed at the firm flame of Quenta's tongue, until the moon exploded inside me in a roaring burst of tangible light.

Or perhaps the roaring was my own. When at last awareness spread beyond receding ecstasy I felt hot breath on my shoulder, and a voice, hesitant yet tinged with laughter, murmured in my ear; "And can you make me sing so, as well as dance?"

Her arms were tight about me as her body swayed and rubbed against mine, breasts stroking my back, soft belly pressed beseechingly into the curve of my buttocks.

"Yea, Lady, you shall sing as full and sweet as any!" Quenta toppled us both onto the sweetfern bed and sprawled atop us; and there indeed we tasted royal flesh and royal passion, and taught the woman within to sing, taught her most thoroughly the joys of the body fate had decreed.

We had no doubt that the spirit of Midsummer accepted our triple offering as graciously as that of any mundane coupling. As wave followed wave of pleasure my lovers took on a glow of celestial light, Quenta the silver of the moon, our Queen the royal gold of the sun; while I, the dark earth, absorbed and radiated back their overlapping aurae. Bright sparks like stars flashed and swirled above us, while a swooping comet bore the grin and wicked eyes of Gwen.

Much later we laughed together and soothed our throats with wine and berries. When Gwen's muted whistle sounded we looked up bemused; the moon hung low and the first faint harbingers of morning streaked the sky. I thought of her assignation with Tom and felt some guilt, but when we had made our way across the water she only smiled at the sweetfern clinging to the Queen and made no reproach.

"Ah, Gwen," said her Lady, somewhat ruefully, "I doubt but that I have forfeited the name of 'Virgin Queen.'"

"No such thing, Madam," Gwen said cheerfully, hurrying us along deserted pathways. "It is the Queen's English, after all, and means whatever the Queen decrees."

She brought us to the great house sooner than humanly possible, and maid and mistress slipped in through a small side door that took shape even as we watched. When Gwen reappeared with jeweled tokens from the Queen, I bade her give Tom my apologies. Her grin flashed bright, and then she sobered.

"No matter. Our sweet Lady has more need of you than you can know, for service quite apart from this night's frolic. Neither of you will strut upon the stage much longer; who would credit such protracted youth? But two who act so well can do it on the Queen's behalf, and be her eyes and ears about the world. Be sure I will send soon to tell you of her needs."

"We are truly hers, body and soul," I said. "But Gwen...who, or what, are you?"

"Need you ask?" she said impatiently. "The realm of Faery takes yet a care for England's welfare, and for her rightful monarch. As for me, think you the Puck must be ever prisoned in male form?" It took her sharp pinch to make me close my gaping mouth.

"For now, begone, before suspicious daylight catch us all." She gave us each a solid whack across our flanks.

Daylight be damned. I held Quenta close as we went toward the players' quarters. 

"There is much danger in this business, Love," I warned her.

"'Tis true," she answered, "but you know as well as I there is no drawing back. We are as bound now to our royal mistress as to each other."

She spoke the truth. I lengthened my stride to match the skipping haste of hers, feeling anew the desire that was ever my torment and my joy; and when I squeezed her hand I felt within my grasp as well the long, slim, sensuous fingers of the royal hand that would ever hold us fast.



     

   

        

    

            

            


     

      

     

     

      

                              

       

           

               


 a