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.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Free Lesbian Historical Romance Story: The Bridge

This historical story set in WWI England may be as close as I ever come to a non-erotic lesbian romance story, one I may someday expand into a novel. It was published in Through the Hourglass: Lesbian Historical Romance.

The Bridge
Sacchi Green

Upstream the river riffled over stony outcroppings, but under the bridge it ran deep and clear. Reggie leaned over the wooden railing and stared down into those amber-green depths, willing herself to see only a great speckled trout balanced in perfect stillness against the current. An ordinary Midlands English stream, all green shadow and shimmering sunlight and blue reflected sky. An ordinary fish. Yet she could not block out visions of bodies submerged in other streams throughout the ravaged countryside of France, flowing ever redder with blood until they reached the Somme. Even the songs of birds in flight, spilling over with rapture, warped in her mind into cries for help, help that could never be enough.
"Shell-shock," the doctors might say, but it scarcely mattered what one called it. Pure, searing grief, not war itself—though war would have been enough—had breached her defenses. Grief for Vic. For herself without Vic.
By what right did England bask in such a May morning, calm and lovely, while over there artillery’s thunder still shook the fields, and men rotted in muddy trenches? How could she bear to stand idle in the midst of such peace when her place was over there, even...even with Vic gone? All the more with Vic gone.
But she must adjust, must let the peace of home heal her—not that anywhere felt like home now. Or ever could again, without Vic. If Reggie could prove herself recovered, not only from her physical injuries but those of the spirit—capable once more, clear-minded—they just might send her back to the war. An experienced ambulance driver, strong as most men, skilled at repairing motorcars and field-dressing wounded men; here in pastoral England she was of no use, but over there she was desperately needed.
Reggie straightened abruptly, trying to focus on the tender green of new leaves, the glint of sunlight on the flitting gold and peacock blue of dragonflies. She shook herself like a retriever emerging from deep water.
“Don’t move!”
The low, terse command froze her in mid shake. “There’s a nest...” The voice came from below, less peremptory now, but Reggie’s mind raced. A machine gun nest? She fought the impulse to drop to the wooden planks of the bridge. Surely not gunners, not here! A nest of wasps?
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” The speaker was almost whispering. “It’s just that swallows are nesting below you on the supports of the bridge, and I’ve been sketching them, but they get uneasy when you move so suddenly and might leave the eggs.”
A flush of fury heated Reggie’s face. Forced to the verge of panic by some silly schoolgirl! She bent over the wooden railing, an angry shout surging into her throat, and saw, first, a head of tousled light brown hair cut short about the ears. A schoolboy, then! All the worse! “WHAT do you bloody mean by—”
The artist looked up. The remainder of Reggie’s words, stifled, burned like mustard gas in her mouth.
Not a boy. Not a child at all, though she might have been taken for one if it weren’t for tiny lines at the corners of mouth and eyes, and a certain look in those eyes that spoke of a share of pain in her life; rather like what Reggie saw in her own when she was careless enough to look in a mirror. Her hair was really no shorter than Vic’s pale curls had been in France, and Reggie’s own dark thatch had been cropped a good deal shorter back then, a necessity in the filth and chaos of battlefields. She realized uneasily that it was about time she cut it again. Eight months in hospital had left it just long enough to tie back in a straggly knot, which she would have hated if she had cared in the least about appearance these days.
“I really am terribly sorry,” the woman said. “I shouldn’t have startled you like that. I get too engrossed in what I’m working on; it’s my besetting sin. One of them, at any rate.” A flashing smile turned her rather ordinary face into something quite different, almost enchanting, in the elven manner of an illustration from a fairy tale. “You must be Lady Margaret’s cousin, and this is her bridge, so really you’ve much more right here than I. We’d heard you were spending the summer with her. I’m Emma Greening from downstream at Foxbanks.”
She stood from her perch on a mossy rock and made as if to extend a hand, then realized that she couldn’t possibly reach up to where Reggie stood and withdrew it in some confusion. “Just a second and I’ll climb out of here with my gear.”

Reggie found her voice, or at least some version of it just barely suitable for the occasion. The hoarseness couldn’t be helped. Vic had claimed to quite like what being a little too slow to get her gas mask on once had done to her tone. “No, you can go on sketching. I was about to move along at any rate.” Emma Greening...what had Margaret said about her? Something, in all that chatter about the local population, something about being an artist, but Reggie had paid no attention to any of it. No one in this dull, placid countryside mattered to her.
Now she wondered just how much Margaret had told the local population about her. Or how much Margaret herself understood.
“I should be going myself,” Emma said. “I can sketch swallows in my sleep—it was the bridge itself I wanted to catch in a certain light, and I think I have enough now to be going on with.” She packed her sketchbook and paint box into a satchel slung over her shoulder, and stepped from the rock onto the steep riverbank.
“Here, I can give you a hand with that.” Reggie heard the brusqueness in her own voice, and couldn’t quite erase the remnants of her angry frown, but found herself reaching down from the top of the riverbank without remembering how she’d got there. Emma’s sun-browned hand met hers in a firm grip, and she was up the slope so quickly and easily that it was clear she hadn’t needed any help at all.
“Thanks. I’ll be getting along now, and I do apologize for disturbing you.” Her smile now was merely polite.
This would be as good a time as ever to practice behaving normally, Reggie thought. Best to scotch any gossip about her being a bit odd. “Don’t leave on my account, Miss...Greening, is it? I’m Regina Lennox. Make that Reggie. Sketch here all you like. I’m the one who should apologize for being such a troll when you startled me.”
Emma’s smile flashed brilliantly again. “A troll? How funny that you’d say that! This is indeed a perfect troll bridge, which is why I was sketching it, for a book I’m illustrating. A children’s story, the one with the three goats.”
“Trip, trap, trip, trap over the bridge?”
“That’s the one,” Emma confirmed. “For now I wanted to get the bridge itself, rustic and charming, with the swallows, and that wren darting in and out of the bittersweet vines on the other side—she must have a nest there—and the clump of purple orchis just where the bridge meets the bank. All lovely and peaceful before the goats or troll appear. A lull before the storm sort of thing.”
“So the troll got here prematurely.” There was something comfortably familiar about this sort of conversation.
Emma tilted her head, surveying Reggie with mock seriousness. “No, I wouldn’t cast you as the troll, exactly. In any case, I was the one under the bridge, or nearly so. I’m a better candidate for trolldom.” She leaned her head the other way with a frown of concentration belied by a twitching at the corners of her mouth. “I see you more as the biggest Billy Goat Gruff—stern, shaggy, putting up with no nonsense from any troll.”
“Certainly shaggy...” Reggie stopped short. Memory hit her like an icy blast. Vic used to tease her, rumpling her hair when it got shaggy and needed cutting, calling her a troll—often followed by, ‘Well, get on with it, you slouch. Kiss me if you’re going to!’ She felt her face freeze into grim stillness, bracing against the familiar onslaught of grief.
Emma stepped back. “Sorry again,” she said, sounding embarrassed. “I have a bad habit of blurting outrageous things without thinking.”
“It’s not you,” Reggie got out, but no more words would come.
“I really should be going now, anyhow,” Emma said quickly. “I’ll just leave you in peace. I expect we’ll run across each other in the village from time to time.”
Reggie watched in frozen silence as Emma picked up the bicycle lying beside the lane, settled her art supplies in the canvas panniers at the back, mounted, and rode away. Her divided skirt revealed a brief glimpse of quite nice lisle-stockinged calves above sturdy boots—and a smudge of moss stain where she’d been sitting on the rock.
So much for behaving normally! Reggie’s spasm of grief was subsiding. She wished she could call Emma back, but the bicycle had disappeared around a bend edged with dense shrubbery. And what could she have said? “I froze up because you reminded me of someone.” Which wasn’t even true. Emma didn’t particularly resemble Vic. It was more the light, pleasant conversation, the brief exchange of banter...
Ah. That was it. Just as the rehabilitation counselor had said, but Reggie had resisted. Guilt. Survivor’s guilt, they called it. Why should she be the one to survive? How could she deserve, or accept, even the least pleasure?
Well, she had enjoyed herself, if only for a few minutes. Maybe that was a sign of healing. She rubbed her hands across her eyes, then turned back to the bridge. A swallow darted under the arch, and a second bird took flight from the nest on the wooden underpinnings while the first took over hatching duty. On the far side a wren darted in and out between clusters of tiny white flowers on a trailing tangle of vines—bittersweet, Emma had called it. A small butterfly speckled like polished tortoiseshell flitted between masses of ferns on the upper bank. Emma would probably know what it was called.
It occurred to Reggie that this side of the bridge was the farthest she’d been from Margaret’s house since she’d come here, and also that it must be close to time for lunch. A quick sound in the water and a spreading ring of ripples showed that the trout concurred and had snatched a mayfly from the surface.
She went back across the bridge, pausing to look down into the water. Only when she was well along the lane did she realize that her mind had played no tricks this time. She’d seen only the river, and the fish, and the reflection of a swallow in flight.
Margaret met Reggie at the edge of the garden, clearly relieved at her return.
“Elsie told me that you’d walked down toward the river, so I was just coming to tell you that lunch will be ready on the table in a very few minutes.”
Margaret was kind, but closer to a middle-aged aunt than a cousin, and she worried far too much. The river at the bridge was nothing like deep enough for anyone to drown herself in. Someone with Reggie’s height would need to lie prone in the water like a pre-Raphaelite vision of Ophelia in order to manage it, and she was certainly not the Ophelia sort. Nor the Hamlet sort, when it came to that. Back in their Somerville College days at Oxford, she had played Othello to Vic’s Desdemona in the all-women dramatic society, Vic teasing her into laughter so often during rehearsals that the actual performance startled them both with a fierce tension that went well beyond the dramatic. And well beyond the performance.
The thought brought a stab of pain, but also a wave of relief. She had not been sure that her mind still held such happy memories, that the tragic ones had not destroyed them. Margaret need not fear that she would destroy herself, with such memories to preserve.
She supposed she should make some effort to appear less submerged in despair, whether she were or not. “Very pleasant down by the bridge,” she said casually as they walked back to the house. “That artist woman you spoke of was there, sketching birds’ nests or something of the sort.”
“Oh, you’ve met Emma! How nice! We must have her over for tea one of these days.”
Tea. Over there, tea had been at best a brief pause, or no pause at all, to swig a bitter brew from a thermos bottle; tea or coffee, no milk or sugar. Still hot only if you were lucky. And when any of the lads you transported in the ambulance were in good enough shape to sit up and drink, you willingly gave your share to them.
“She didn’t strike me as a tea party sort.” Which was a plus in Reggie’s opinion, or would have been if she’d cared. She did care a bit, in fact. Emma seemed like someone she could enjoy chatting with, bantering, in a casual friendship uncomplicated by passion or drama.
“Well, she keeps quite busy with teaching drawing at the Midbury School for Girls, and does the most charming illustrations for children’s books, and is active in village affairs and war relief as well, so she might not have much time for tea. But she’s really quite nice, and from a good family.”
How genteel, Reggie thought. Although the split skirt and the slim strong calves that clambered up a steep riverbank as easily as they propelled a bicycle had not struck her as particularly ladylike.
It occurred to her that Margaret was sounding suspiciously like a matchmaker. Of course she couldn’t be blamed for wishing Reggie to make friends, or to at least do something besides mope about the house, but could there possibly be more to it? Surely not. Hard to be certain whether her cousin had guessed how much more Vic has been to her than a chum from student days, or a teammate in the grim work of bearing stretchers and driving ambulances on the battlefield, where an exceptionally long ranging shell could hit vehicles, patients, drivers...
Trying desperately to distract herself from that last image, she played along with the casual conversation. “Yes, she introduced herself. Said something about wanting to catch the bridge in a certain light.”
“Artists can be rather odd like that,” Margaret prattled on. “But they say she’s very good. I’ve only seen her sweet watercolors of birds and flowers and local scenes, but her work is shown in galleries in Birmingham, and even a few times in London at the Royal Academy of Arts, which is quite grand, I believe.”
Reggie was relieved to be stepping through the French doors from the garden into the morning room, where the housekeeper Elsie had lunch laid ready. For once she even had an appetite.
“Is there a competent seamstress in the village?” she asked Margaret when the meal was nearly over. For an instant her cousin’s mouth hung open in astonishment before she could answer.
“Oh! Well, yes, there’s that Miss Ogilvie who used to be a governess until she retired here to live in Bramble Cottage after her great-aunt died and bequeathed it to her. You know, that charming little thatch-roofed house just where the Mosely road branches off from the High Street? Thatched roofs are dreadfully susceptible to vermin, of course, but so picturesque, and Miss Ogilvie has had her roof rebuilt and sealed off from the interior, and then re-thatched, and—”
“An admirable woman, I’m sure,” Reggie broke in. “But can she do a decent job of altering clothing?”
“Oh yes. Of course no one is having new frocks made these days, with everything so scarce and so dear, so she does a great deal of mending and taking in and letting out and restructuring, until one would scarcely believe that the garments weren’t new. She even...well, I took her that immense paisley silk shawl my great grandfather brought from India, the one that used to be spread across the grand piano, and she sewed folds and tucks and fashioned it into a quite stylish evening wrap without making a single cut in the fabric! I’m so glad you’re thinking of having some clothing altered. You’ve lost so much weight during your illness!”
There was some truth to that, although Reggie knew quite well that Margaret also wished she would dress more conventionally. The tunic and trousers and trench coat that had been the accepted uniform for ambulance drivers in the war zone were fairly close to what the Women’s Land Army girls wore as they farmed here in England, and thus not exactly unconventional, but there were times and situations where they were out of place. Not that Reggie gave a damn for such times and situations.
The next morning Reggie packed up such clothing as she’d brought, mostly those tunics and trousers, but also two severely styled black gabardine dresses and a long skirt of brown twill. She drove an old cart pulled by grey Molly, a pony elderly enough not to have been requisitioned by the army with most of the other horses in the area. The Daimler that had been the pride and joy of Margaret’s late husband still stood forlornly in the stable, only saved from being requisitioned by being in poor repair, and likely to be taken soon for parts in spite of it. Margaret went along into the village to do some shopping.
“I do think you’ll like Miss Ogilvie,” Margaret said cheerily as she went off to browse the meager wares of the baker and greengrocer and have a look-in at the tearoom in case any close friends were there.
Reggie did like Miss Ogilvie. They recognized each other as two of a kind almost immediately. Reggie in her trousers was, of course, easier to spot, but Miss Ogilvie in her tailored suit had a way of moving, of holding her head, meeting Reggie’s eyes with a certain subtle smile in her own that was unmistakable if one spoke the unspoken language.
When Reggie held up the brown twill and asked whether it could be refashioned into a split skirt, the seamstress cast a professional eye over it, then over Reggie’s hips and thighs, and nodded with just a touch more than professional approval. “Quite enough fabric for that. Styles are shorter now, so I can take a good deal off at the bottom and use it for paneling to insert along the inseam.” She knelt to take the required measurements with no hint of impropriety, to Reggie’s slight regret and great relief. No complications, just an acknowledged fellowship.
Miss Ogilvie looked up. “Do you ride a bicycle? A split skirt is just the thing for riding.”
“I might take it up for the exercise. And the convenience, of course.”

“Excellent exercise, especially when one has been in hospital for some time.”

Reggie stiffened. “Yes. I suppose Margaret has spoken of it.” How much else had she told her backward, countrified world about Reggie’s affairs?
Miss Oglivie rose, jotted down numbers in a journal on her desk, and turned with a companionable smile. “Just that you’d been injured driving an ambulance in the war, and in hospital for several months, and had come to recover in the fresh country air. Nothing more, I assure you. No gossip gets spread around town without making its way here, but no gossip originates here, or ever will.”
Reggie relaxed just a notch or two. “Well, that’s all true. I’m a bit scarred on the back and shoulders, but nothing to interfere with bicycling.” It occurred to her that a little innocent gossip about Emma Greening might not be out of line. “I thought of the split skirt when I chatted with a lady artist yesterday who wears one when she cycles.”
“Oh, I’m so glad you’ve met Emma!” Miss Ogilvie’s words spilled out in a manner quite startling after her professional coolness. “She could use the company of someone from beyond this rural backwater. It’s been stifling for the poor girl this last year, taking care of her elderly parents. They went quite to pieces after her brother was killed. Of course this is her home, and the basis for most of her art, and she keeps busy with her teaching and volunteering for war causes, but other than the art she has precious little joy in her life. She can’t even get away now and then to London as she used to, visiting artist friends in Bloomsbury and Chelsea and, you know, all that lot.”
Reggie did know “all that lot.” And she understood what Miss Ogilvie, despite her claim of initiating no gossip, wanted her to know.
After a few more measurements pertaining to taking in
the waists of the trousers and dresses, and advice as to a barber who might do a decent trim of her hair, she left Miss Ogilvie’s establishment with her mind in turmoil. So Emma Greening was indeed a country girl, but one with a decidedly worldly side and artistic tastes that went well beyond sketching birds and flowers. If both Margaret and Miss Ogilvie were bent on pushing them together...well, Reggie had clearly been underestimating Margaret’s powers of perception.
Perhaps it would be better not to think of friendship with Emma Greening after all if Reggie meant to avoid complications, and drama, and—and passion. She thought again of that slim, strong hand, those calves below the split skirt, that sudden, brilliant smile. Definitely some danger there.
Once she’d been out and about and visible in the village, Reggie thought it best to keep up the effort to avoid appearing any odder than she could help. There were some fittings with Miss Ogilvie—“Lydia” by then—and a single appearance at church wearing one of the altered gabardine dresses, which were then hung at the back of her closet and ignored. She found that passing the gravestones on the way through the churchyard was so disturbing that only the exquisite organ music got her through the service. So much death in war. So many denied a peaceful rest in a country churchyard.
Reggie also accompanied Margaret by bus to the nearest good-sized town. While her cousin shopped, she found a fix-it shop that sold repaired bicycles, chose one to be delivered once suitable adjustments had been made, and struck up a companionable conversation with the owner. He’d been invalided home early in the war, but swore that operating from a wheeled chair or on crutches just made him better at understanding the mechanics of vehicles in general. They swapped stories of jury-rigging repairs to ambulance lorries and the horse-drawn caissons that bore the great guns, using whatever unlikely bits of metal or binding could be scrounged, from bent metal stirrups to leather bootstraps.
What Reggie did not manage, in all this whirl of sociability, was to see any trace of Emma Greening. Could the artist be avoiding her? She could scarcely be blamed after Reggie had been such a...well, such a troll. Strange that the absence of someone she’d barely met could feel like a hollow place inside her. Just as well to leave it at that.
Still, she mentioned Emma’s absence to Lydia Ogilvie, who was not deceived by the attempt at an off-hand tone. “Yes, she’s away doing volunteer work at least one week out of each month. If you want to know more than that, you must ask her yourself.”
Three days later Reggie saw a bicycle with familiar canvas panniers leaning against the low wrought iron fence surrounding the churchyard. In a far corner of the enclosure, someone with unruly light brown hair sat in the grass by a gravestone, bent over what might be a sketchbook. Not a suitable time at all for a casual greeting. Still, Reggie leaned her own second-hand bicycle against the fence and stood watching against her better judgment.
The bent head lifted. Emma gazed at the stone for a long minute, then raised a hand to rub an eye. To rub a tear from an eye, Reggie was certain. Quite definitely not a time to invade someone’s privacy.
Yet there Reggie was, setting one hand on the top rail and vaulting easily over the fence, striding between the ancient and not-so-ancient headstones, and dropping to the grass beside Emma.
Emma looked up, face drawn, eyes bright with tears. She didn’t seem surprised at all to see Reggie. “Mother can’t bear to come here,” she said in a low voice. “But if I draw the stone, with flowers that bloom here or some I’ve picked, and leave my sketchbook open on the hall table, she’ll pick it up and look. That’s the closest she can come to acceptance.”
The open sketchbook showed a watercolor scene, still damp, portraying the grey stone with softly muted edges and an inscription that could just barely be read, although the one on the actual stone was sharp and all too recent: “Lieutenant Edward Greening.” In front of the pictured stone, small bright buttercups danced on delicate stems, minutely detailed mirror images of the actual flowers before them, just as an oak branch in full leaf at the top of the page matched the very one arching above them
“Your brother?” was all Reggie could think of to say. Something about sitting on the grass together made any formality absurd.
Emma looked back at the stone and went on as though they were longstanding friends, the sort with whom one could share deep thoughts when one desperately needed to speak them. “At least Eddie came home. So many others never will. Who knows—you might even have carried him in your ambulance. But he was too broken to live long, in too many ways. And he’d lost someone he loved over there. I think he would rather have been buried there too, in ‘some corner of a foreign field...’”
“‘...that is forever England.’” Reggie continued the quotation without conscious thought. “So you know Rupert Brooke’s poetry.” Vic had loved Brooke’s poetry. Reggie braced for the pain the thought must bring, her face tightening.
“Oh yes. Rupert was from this district, a distant cousin in fact, and Eddie knew him at Cambridge. He was given his book when it came out. Eddie thought him rather too sentimental, but his words were sadly prophetic and do stick with one in times like these.” Emma turned, saw Reggie’s expression, and reached out to touch her arm. “You lost someone there?”
The pain came, but now she could speak of it, which made all the difference. “Vic only went to the war because I did, and now she’s dead, when it should be me.” She drew a gulping breath. “I want to go back, I must do the work again, but with her gone...” She groped in a pocket for a handkerchief. She’d thought all her tears had been spent long ago, but one was making its way down her cheek.
Emma passed her a paint-stained square of cotton cloth. “Work is the only thing that helps, no matter how hard it is to do, but there’s more than enough of it on this side of the Channel. I go to Oxford once a month because I’m needed, but also because I need to do the work.”
Reggie stared at her blankly. “Oxford?”
“Somerville College has been converted to a hospital for the duration,” Emma explained. “I was in training there to go to France as a nurse, but then Eddie...then I had to care for my parents. Now I go one week a month as a nurse’s assistant, filling in when others need time off, helping with cleaning, changing dressings, lifting, sitting with cases who can’t be left alone. Sometimes the lads like me to make sketches of them to send home to their families and sweethearts, pictures showing them less...less harshly than a photograph would.” She snatched the cloth back and used it on her own cheek.
The flush on Reggie’s face this time was of shame, not anger. What a thick-headed jackass she’d been, assuming that folks in the peaceful countryside knew nothing of the horrors of war. And giving no thought to what became of the wounded she carried to the field hospitals, or from those to the ships, once they got back to England.
“I could be of help there,” she said slowly. “I could go with you.”
“Yes. You could.”
A long, considering silence. Then: “We were at Somerville together, Vic and I. Victoria and Regina. We got ragged about the names, of course, but eventually everyone just took it for granted that we did everything together.”
Emma smiled at that, not her brilliant, flashing smile, but one of understanding.
“I should go there,” Reggie went on. “There are people in Oxford I must see, a tutor who was a mentor to me, and to Vic, and wrote to us when we went to the war, as did some others as well. But I’ve been putting it off. To be there, when Vic never will be again—to tell them how it was, how she died. It’s a bridge I must cross, but I don’t know how I can bear it!”
Emma wrapped her fingers around Reggie’s as though they had a perfect right to be there. To Reggie it felt as though they did.
“I can give you a hand with that,” Emma said, echoing Reggie’s words by the wooden bridge where they’d met. “Over any number of bridges.”
Reggie tightened her grip, leaned forward, paused, and thought briefly of looking about to see whether any passerby could see them. But Emma had leaned forward as well, so that their faces all but touched, and a breeze through the oak leaves above them sounded uncannily like Vic’s voice saying, ‘Get on with it, you slouch!’
So Reggie did. And the salt of spent tears had never tasted so sweet.

Free Lesbian Erotic Romance Story: Healing

Healing has been free on my blog site for years, and still gets more clicks than any other entry. First published in 2005 in Ultimate Lesbian Erotica from the long-gone Alyson Books.

Sacchi Green

Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the hemlock branches. An hour ago it had blazed over the water-sculpted granite, and radiant heat still penetrated into places I had thought would never be warm again. My body adjusted to the stone's smooth contours and felt, for a while at least, at peace.
Something moved among the trees on the bank above. I kept my eyes closed, trying to block out everything but the ripple of water and the scent of spruce and balsam. Far below, where the stream leapt downward in the series of falls and slides known as Diana's Baths, there were swarms of vacationers, but they seldom climbed up as far as this gentler sweep of stone and pool. I'd hoped, foolishly, for solitude.
Someone stood there, watching. Move on, damnit, I thought, hating the unfamiliar sense of vulnerability, the suppressed jerk of my hand toward a gun that wasn't there. Maybe the Lieutenant was right. Maybe I really wasn't ready to get back into uniform.
Maybe I was hallucinating being watched.
I sat up abruptly. A hemlock branch twitched, and through its feathery needles a pair of bright eyes met my challenge. A child, I thought, glimpsing tousled russet curls and a face like a mischievous kitten. Then she moved into clearer view, and I got a good look at a body that could have held its own on one of those TV beach shows. So, for that matter, could her bikini.
She looked me over just as frankly. "Hi there," she said throatily. "I think I've got myself lost."
Eye candy or not, I resented the intrusion. "Well, there's upstream, and there's downstream. Take your pick."
"They both sound so good, I can't decide!" Her glance moved deliberately from my face over my body down to the long, semi-healed scar running from mid-thigh up under my cut-off jeans. The scar didn't seem to startle her a bit. I began to suspect a plot.
It's not that unusual for women to come on to me when I'm in uniform, and I've taken advantage of their fantasies a time or two, but I was in civvies, and this was way over the top. She was so blatantly acting out a scene that I was more amused than anything else. Well, maybe not anything else. It had been a long time. A definite tingle was building where it counted most, and my nipples threatened to assert themselves through my gray tank top. I pulled on the sweatshirt I'd been using as a pillow. The New Hampshire State Police logo on the front didn't seem to surprise her, either.
I looked downhill. "Hey, Dunbar," I called to the head poking around a mossy boulder, "who's your little friend?"
"How's it going, Josie?" Jimmy Dunbar emerged from concealment. "I'd've introduced you, but you cruised right on by without so much as a nod for an old friend."
"Sorry," I said. "Been a bit preoccupied lately."
"So I heard. You okay?" He looked toward my injured leg and then met my eyes with genuine concern. Aside from his taste in practical jokes, Jimmy's not a bad sort, and we've been friends since summers in our teens when we cleared trails and packed supplies up to the Appalachian Mountain Club huts.
"Can't complain," I said shortly. "A couple of weeks of enforced R&R and then I'll be back on the job. What are you up to these days?" I should have known better than to come where I'd be recognized. The newspapers had made the hostage case into a big deal.
"He's building sets at the playhouse," the sex kitten chimed in, clearly tired of being ignored by everything but the mosquitoes. In that outfit, she was damned lucky black fly season was over. "We open with 'Oklahoma' tomorrow night. I could get you a ticket if you'd like." She picked her way carefully down the bank, gripping bushes and gnarled, exposed tree roots. Any bits of previously covered anatomy revealed themselves as she bent and stretched. I was willing to bet her breasts owed nothing to silicone.
It might not have been entirely gallantry that prompted me to help her down the last, steepest bit, but when she tried to cling I spun her around and set her on her feet at a safe distance.
"This is Katzi Burns. She plays 'just a girl who can't say no.'" Jimmy sang the last part. Instead of grabbing the line and running with it, as I expected, she shot him a fierce look.
"I should've had the lead! But at least I can have a little fun with this role. I'm so sick of doing 'wholesome' I could puke!"
"That's what you get," Jimmy said unfeelingly, "for starting your career playing Daddy Warbuck's little 'Annie'."
She yowled and took a swipe at him, and, while I figured he deserved a good clawing, my peace-keeper instincts kicked in. "So Katzi," I said, with a hand on her elbow, "what kind of parts would you rather play?" Then it hit me. "Holy shit! 'Annie'? How long ago?"
She turned that feral kitten snarl on me. The flare of anger in her amber eyes attracted me a lot more than the bimbo act. "Long enough! I'm legal! You wanna see my driver's license?"
I grinned and looked her scanty outfit over appreciatively. "You bet, if you've got it on you somewhere."
Her scowl cleared. "You could search me," she teased.
I just patted her cute round butt and turned to Jimmy. "I hope you two have some clothes stashed somewhere. As soon as the sun gets a little lower the mosquitoes will be fierce. I don't much care what they do to your scaly hide, but it would be a shame to let Katzi get sucked dry just before opening night. The bites would be kind of a challenge for the make-up department, too."
"What time is it, anyway?" Katzi asked, with a stricken look.
"Close to five," I told her.
"Oh damn! I'm screwed!" She slid and lurched down the hill toward where they'd left their clothes and towels. Jimmy and I followed, ready to
pick up the pieces if her fashionable sandals skidded on the loose layers of leaves and needles.
"So what the hell is that all about?" I asked Jimmy. "I may be on the injured list, but I can still manage to do my own hunting."
"Hey, little Katzi takes hunting to a whole new level. She's only been hanging out with me because she wants to meet you, and I said I'd heard you were back in the Valley. She clipped your picture out of the paper. Lord only knows what she does with it!"
I swatted him, on general principles, and wondered why I didn't just go back to communing with nature. Then I watched Katzi's sleek legs do a good job of keeping up with our longer ones on the trail out to the road, and reflected that nature's blessings are many and wondrous, and definitely not limited to rocks and trees. Being alone in the mountains had always healed my spirit, but surging hormones might well spur the healing process of the flesh.
At the road, without saying a word, I held open the passenger door on my truck. Katzi scrambled right in. Amazingly, she had the sense to keep quiet during the short drive into North Conway, while I considered my next move. If I was going to make one.
She darted a glance or two at me, almost shyly, then looked off toward Cathedral and White Horse Ledges looming to the west. It occurred to me that her vamp act might require an audience, even if it was only Jimmy. An encouraging thought.
We crossed the Saco River, easing our way through the sun-burned kayakers and rafters reclaiming their cars at the bridge. I let the tension build until we were waiting at the traffic light just before the turnoff into the Mount Washington Valley Playhouse.
"Do they give you any time off for dinner?" I asked casually.
"Just an hour," she said hopefully. "Seven to eight, and then we do the final run-through."
"Want me to bring a picnic?"
Her face lit with genuine pleasure. "That would be great! I can't eat much just before two straight hours of dancing and singing, but if I don't eat anything I'll keel over by the second act."
When she'd disappeared into the theater I considered my options, then drove north to Jackson Village, where the men are golfers, the women are skiers, and every view is above average. "Fine dining" isn't something I think much about, but I have contacts at a four-star inn there. When I was a kid I used to forage wild mushrooms for the chef, who built a good part of his reputation on his creative use of them, especially the golden, earthy chanterelles. My half-French, half-Abenaki grandmother had taught me where to find them along trails and stream banks back when I could barely walk.
My welcome at the inn was so warm as to be embarrassing. They even had one of the damned newspaper clippings posted in the kitchen. I was a few minutes late getting back to the theater, and Katzi was outside, in costume, managing to be outrageously provocative in a demure calico dress for the benefit of the photographer taking publicity shots.
Publicity! I nearly turned the truck around. Then Katzi saw me, and came running, a look of unstaged happiness replacing the vamping she'd been doing for the camera. I got out to open her door.
The photographer followed, of course. I vaguely recognized him from high school. "Hey, Jo Benoit!" he called. "How about a shot with Katzi?"
"Hey, Ted. Sorry, no time." I gave Katzi a brief hug to let her know that being seen with her wasn't the problem. She'd already resumed her knock-em-dead stage smile, but she was perceptive enough to feel the tension in my body.
"That's right," she said. "I'm starving. We'd better get going." She waved to the photographer, who got a shot of the truck anyway as we pulled away.
"I'd planned to drive up the Cathedral Ledge road," I told her. "Great views, but I'm not sure there's time."
"Up there?" She looked uneasily at the domed cliff looming above the valley and the Moat Range rising beyond. "Well...I think I'd rather look at it from down here anyway."
"Does that mean I can't talk you into going rock climbing?" I teased. It was probably just as well that we didn't have much in common. I wasn't looking for a soul mate.
"There isn't much you couldn't talk me into, but that would be a hard sell." Her little grin managed just the right amount of seductive charm. I hadn't noticed before quite how deliciously shaped her mouth was. "They mentioned in the paper that you were a rock climber."
"Can't we just give all that a rest?" I said, maybe a little harshly. If she was going to press for juicy details, it was all over, right now.
"Sure," she said quickly. "But if there's any other way I could dangle from ropes, completely at your mercy...."
"Not and still have time for dinner," I said, relaxing. The usual tell-me-about-yourself-before-I-explore-your-underwear routine seemed refreshingly unnecessary. Although I was, in fact, beginning to feel some real interest in getting to know her.
We parked in the pine woods at the foot of the cliff, where we ate duck salad with mango, asparagus-chanterelle tarts, and French rolls still warm from the oven.
"Wow!" she said, when the food was gone. "That was incredible!" She glanced at me sidelong with a mischievous quirk of her lips. "But I'll bet you hear that from girls all the time." That impish mouth demanded a kiss, which I provided, in full view of the last climbers of the day trudging past to their cars with their cables and hardware.
There'd have been more to see than kissing if I hadn't guaranteed to get her back by eight. It was hard to pull away from the insistent sweetness of her mouth. Her arms around my neck and her breasts pressed against me didn't make it any easier. I peeled her off and started the engine. "Better save some adrenaline for the play," I admonished as I pulled onto the road.
"You'd be amazed how fast I can get recharged," she said hopefully.
"Behave yourself now, and I might let you amaze me later," I told her sternly.
"Yes, Sir!" She subsided against the backrest, letting one hand rest not-quite-accidentally on my thigh, carefully avoiding the dull red scar. When a pleasant tingle spread to the injured flesh it became a throb that under other circumstances might have been pain. She felt me tense.
"Does it still hurt?" She took her hand away. I reached out and pulled it back.
"Once in a while." There was far deeper pain I needed to confront, but at the moment I couldn't imagine any finer medicine than Katzi's exuberant sensuality.
"I could kiss it and make it feel better," she suggested wickedly.
Oh, yeah. Much, much better. "Right, and I could get pulled over by the local guys for erratic driving. Tabloid heaven."
"What made you decide to be a cop, anyway?"
"Well, I got as far as a semester into law school and realized I belonged on the front lines instead of in an office. Plus I couldn't afford any more. I'm still paying off student loans."
"I don't suppose all that many girls fantasize about lawyers, anyway," she teased.
It had never bothered me before to be the subject of fantasy, but this time, oddly enough, it stung. "Look, I'd better warn you that I don't have my uniform with me, and even if I did, it doesn't get used as a prop for a scene." I may not keep my gear as trim as I should, but I have respect for what it represents. "And besides..." something I hadn't realized myself until just then, but had better get out in the open... "there are some kinds of games I'm just not going to feel like playing for a while yet." A stab of pain shot through my leg into my guts. I could see my best uniform pants, sliced open from knee to crotch, soaked with more blood than could ever be washed out.
"That's okay," she said quickly. "It's what's underneath that turns me on." She slid a finger under the edge of my cutoffs, revealing a more dramatic section of my wound. "Oh, Jeez! Did you ever think about getting hurt?"
"You don't let yourself think about it," I said brusquely, and changed the subject. "Look, there's a full moon rising. I'll take you for a moonlight ride when rehearsal's over, if you'd like." We pulled up in front of the playhouse.
"Will you throw in sunrise, too?"
I leaned in for a quick taste. "Can't stop the earth from turning," I said against her soft cheek, and nibbled from her earlobe down to her tender throat. It was just as well that her calico costume had such a high, modest neckline.
When she'd gone I sat there for a minute, hardly noticing the people strolling along the village sidewalk. Then I headed north, up Pinkham Notch, needing to center myself in the mountains.
The peaks loomed dark against a backdrop of moon-gilded clouds; Madison, Adams, Jefferson, and, crowning the range, Mount Washington. I'd never needed more to be up there, on the slopes above treeline, looking down on a world made tranquil by distance. Or, even better, looking down when clouds filled the valleys with a sea of billowing silver and the stars above seem closer and more real than the shrouded earth. Best of all would be to watch the dawn, when the still air is cold, and clear, and nothing exists except stone, and space, and the coming of light over the edge of the world.
My eyes followed the contours of the mountains, my hands almost feeling their harsh ridges and swooping ravines. Then the thought of Katzi's softer curves and sweet valleys beckoned me with increasing urgency. I didn't want solitude, after all, at least not right now. I drove back down the winding highway feeling as though I had wings. Just a quick fling, I warned myself, a little summer diversion with someone who'll head back to New York or wherever soon enough. That's all you want. That's all she wants. Nobody gets hurt.
Katzi smelled of sweat, excitement, and greasepaint, although she'd scrubbed most of that off her face. She was close to exhaustion, too, but tried to hide it. I got out and helped her into the truck, patting her tight jeans where they were molded to her heart-shaped ass. I've never understood how some girls wear them so tight, especially in the crotch--you'd think they'd get sore if they had any pussy lips worth mentioning. I said so as I drove, and Katzi laughed and perked up.
"You wanna check 'em out?"
"A fine idea." I swung into the official "scenic overlook" just north of town. The moon and mountains would have been breathtaking if I hadn't had more intimate scenery on my mind.
Katzi raised her hips while I unzipped her pants and worked them just far enough down to get my hand where it wanted to go. Her pussy lips were full and moist and clinging. "Just fine," I said against her mouth, working my thumb toward her clit. That was just fine, too, and getting finer. "Nice preview."
"God, Jo, don't stop there!" She hauled her shirt up, and then her satin bra; I held my breath, until, at the magic moment when her breasts surged free of confinement, something lurched hot and low inside me . Her nipples were hard, and rosy even in the white moonlight.
"You guarantee you're rechargeable?"
"Yes, dammit!" She wriggled and thrust against my hand.
"You sure?" My other hand stroked across her breasts, flicking one nipple and then the other. "The night is young yet."
"So...ah! am I!" she gasped, and stuck her tongue out at me. I wanted to grab that impudent bit of flesh in my teeth, wanted to yank her jeans the rest of the way off and chew every part of her impudent, tender body, but my leg wasn't up to the calisthenics necessary to accomplish all that in the cramped space of the truck cab. I rolled one of her nipples in the angle between my index and middle fingers, and worked her pussy in hard circles, meeting her accelerating thrusts, until the truck rocked and she yelled so loud it would have echoed from the cliffs across the valley if the windows hadn't been closed. Which, of course, meant steamed-up windows to clear before I could drive on.
By the time we reached my cabin Katzi seemed to be asleep, head nestled against my shoulder. It was far up a dirt road along a branch of the Saco River, entirely surrounded by National Forest. There must have been a story behind how my grandmother managed to keep title to the land, but I'd never thought to ask until it was too late. I have a place farther south, too, where I'm stationed, but the cabin has always been the center of my world. I grinned inwardly, thinking that I'd come back here to lick my wounds, but found something much more worth licking.
When the truck stopped, Katzi raised her head. "Just a minute, Kitten," I said , and got out to open the padlock on the chain across the driveway. The building was still hidden in the trees.
"Rowr," she said in a distinctly feline tone when I climbed back in. Sleep was fading from her eyes. "Can't you see my fur sparking?" She ran her fingers through her short curls.
"Does that mean you're recharging?" I asked.
"Stick a finger in my socket and see!"
So, of course, I did, once I'd lit an oil lamp in the cabin so I could see her delectable skin as I tasted it.
And that was only the beginning. Katzi wanted to go places she'd never been, feel places she'd never felt. "I don't need lube!" she said when I grabbed the tube. "Just feel how incredibly wet I am!"
"You're gushing like a river at spring thaw," I agreed, flexing my gloved fist, "but we do it my way this time."
"Yes, Sir!" She spread her legs. I stroked her gently for a moment, and she arched her hips, showing me glimpses of pink as tender and lovely as the lady-slippers that bloom along the river trail in spring. I bent and touched my tongue to her glistening sweetness. But tenderness wasn't what Katzi wanted just then.
"Fuck me hard, Jo, please!" she said. "I want it all!"
"You'll get as much as I want you to have ," I said. "You'll just have to trust me."
Two fingers into her tight, clinging cunt, I knew it was going to be a gradual process, and it was, compounded by her amazing capacity for multiple orgasms. "I'm sorry," she panted, after the first spasms gripped my hand. "But I just a minute...I really do want more!"
"Don't apologize," I murmured against the luscious flesh of her belly. "Take everything you can get." My own cunt was throbbing; I wanted desperately to grind against her thigh, but my wound was threatening to flare into serious pain, and I didn't want any distraction from the joys of fucking Katzi.
Twelve minutes and three orgasms later her moans were fierce and low and my whole fist was moving gently in her depths. Hard pumping could wait for another session. Half an hour later, as she slept in exhaustion, I watched the rise and fall of her breasts for a long time before drifting off with my face pressed against her warmth.
We didn't manage to see sunrise, but the morning light was still fresh and clear when I went down to the river and waded into the deepest part. The cold water tumbling down from the mountains could always sweep away sweat, doubt, confusion. Then I sat in the sun on my favorite high boulder and tried to clear my mind of everything but the intense blue of the sky.
"You look like one of those paintings," Katzi said, coming to stand below me. "You know, the ones with girls sitting on rocks with mountains and waterfalls and stuff."
"Maxfield Parrish?" I asked, without turning.
"That's the guy. You look like what I wish he would have painted, instead of all those cute fluffy girls."
"You'd have fit right in," I said, "but I always wondered how they were supposed to have got up onto those jagged mountains with bare feet." I wriggled my own river sandals, the only clothing I was wearing.
She looked at my feet, then my legs; I steeled myself not to clamp my naked thighs together, and let her look.
"Oh, Jo," she cried, aghast at the full extent of my wound. "Did he cut you that way on purpose?"
I couldn't bottle up the anger, the guilt, forever. "Yeah. Probably. His wife had been going to leave him for a woman, but luckily the papers didn't get hold of that tidbit. We could've charged him with a hate crime, I suppose, from the names he called me, but there wasn't any point. Even if he'd lived."
Her hand was on my thigh, and she could feel me shaking. "You had to do it, Jo, it was self defense, and who knows what else he'd have done to them?"
I remembered the woman's screams, and the child's terrified cries. I remembered climbing the back of the building, finding foot and finger holds on ledges and chinks in the bricks, while my partner watched the front; remembered the shatter of glass as I dove through the window, and the flash of the knife as I wrestled with him. I hadn't been able to climb with my gun drawn, and then it was too late. Most of all I remembered the crumpling of his larynx under my hand.
"There had to be another way," I muttered. "If...maybe if I had been different, gentler, softer somehow, I could've talked him around. That poor little kid had been through enough, without having to see all that."
"But the mother lived, didn't she? My God, Jo, how can you kick yourself? I know it must have been awful, but..." She stood on tiptoe and lay her head against my side, and I bent to hide my face in her soft curls. Then she worked her lips gently downward toward the scar. "Let me, please..."
I began to tremble in a different way. I wasn't sure I could bear to be touched. She looked up at me with such tenderness in her eyes that suddenly I couldn't bear not to be touched, not just by her hands and mouth but by some indefinable flame of life in her that warmed something in me deeper than the flesh.
I leaned back with my arms braced against the rock and let my thighs spread farther apart, let Katzi's mouth move up, and up, toward where I needed it most. She reached her arms around my waist and pressed her lips and tongue against me so softly, gently, that I felt no pain, only a tantalizing stimulation I thought would drive me crazy. I tried to pull her head closer, harder--maybe I was healed enough!-- but she resisted. "Trust me," she murmured, and I had to, even had to let her hear me whimper and moan. She kept on and on, driving me closer and closer to the brink of a great void, like hurtling on skis toward the headwall of Tuckerman's Ravine--and then I plunged over in an avalanche of fierce joy.
Much later in the day I kissed her, told her when I'd pick her up, and watched her hurry into the playhouse. I really was healed enough, I realized, to go back on duty. Why rush it, though? I could still taste her, still feel her body against mine. Her scent still clung to me; I hoped that something of her would always cling to me. I couldn't quite handle wondering about the future, but for now, I was going to savor every moment of the present with the healing force of nature that was Katzi.

Free Lesbian Historical Erotic Romance: To Remember You By

To celebrate Wild Rides, my new collection from Dirt Road Books, I'm sharing a long story that isn't in the book at all, but does appear in my Lambda-Award-Finalist collection in 2011 from Lethe Press, A Ride to Remember (along with a 35-years-later sequel.)

To Remember You By
Sacchi Green

     In the summer of 1943, the air was 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, WACs, 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," our bodies 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 and sometimes my body responded with such force I felt as though my own skirt should have bulged with it.
     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 with my body 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 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--and 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 wasn’t something 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 said, offering a firm handshake. "It's fine by me. Afraid the boyfriend will try again?"
     So she'd noticed our little drama. "Not boyfriend," 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 insane 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."
     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…that I wanted to 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 even remember who I was before the war," I said, scarcely knowing who I'd been just half an hour ago. "It seems as though nothing interesting or exciting ever happened to me back then. Not that 'interesting' will be a fair description of life now until I'm at a safe distance from it."
     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."
     "Yes!" she said. "I get that feeling here, once in a while, even in the air. Somehow 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 huge 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 Germans call them. If the war goes on long enough..." She stopped short of saying, "If enough of our men are killed I'll get to fight," and 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 for 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 stared 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."
     "Somebody sure as hell would," Cleo said bluntly, "if they were doing it right." She 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 woke up 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--what on earth, we speculated, did Harrod's stock when it wasn't wartime?--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 could only hope 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, experimentally, 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. As always, I wanted to feel the movement of her lips. "Freckles are just fine," she said, "so long as I get to count them." She turned, and leaned close, and shivers of anticipation rippled through me. "With my tongue," she added, and very 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, and undid my top buttons, 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, when Hitler's Russian campaign had distracted 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. Though not necessarily slow enough."
     She gazed impersonally into space, her weathered face expressionless, until, as we passed, she glanced down 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..." I remembered Frank's bitter voice asking, "What kind of woman?"  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 what," 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 opened, 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. I crossed to the window to heave it open, and then the door slammed shut and she was behind me, pressing her crotch against my ass, wrapping her arms around me 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 then, as my nipples jerked taut under her strokes, "and getting so hard..."
     A melody drifted from below; "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 ass, 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 until she held my breasts again; then she 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 crooned, "I'll Be Seeing You." I cupped my full 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 swollen nipples felt as big as her demanding tongue. Then she worked her hand between my legs, and spread the juices from my cunt up over my straining clit, 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 into my cunt, 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 would 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 asked, wanting to be able to envision her there, high in the sky.
     "Sure. You can even sit in it and play pilot, if you like." She helped me climb onto the wing, with more pressing of my ass 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, and 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 breasts until I begged her to lean in far enough to suck my aching nipples; 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 she had her whole hand at last inside me and I was riding it 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 ménage 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. By then, though, after going through hell in the Pacific theater of war, I had met Jack, who truly loved and needed me, whose son was growing below my heart. His kisses tasted of home, and peace, and more unborn children demanding their chance at life.
     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 that was 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.

Free Lesbian Erotic Story: Baubles and Beads

This story has both a prequel and a sequel, on how Ree and Carla met, and how they're reunited. Both of these are included in my collection from Dirt Road Books, Wild Rides.

Baubles and Beads
Sacchi Green

Garish pink, purple and green fingers of light from the midway groped between the buildings all the way to the horse barns. Some of the fair’s rides and hucksters kept on as long as cash still smoldered in the pockets of the farm boys, but Carla shut down her balloon-dart concession at the official closing time. She could’ve handled the lingering customers by herself, most of them on the leering side of friendly and the slurring side of drunk, but my looming six-foot-two of crop-haired farm girl didn’t hurt. We rolled down the canvas, secured it, and slipped away into the shadows.
Lights just as garish had seeped through skimpy curtains from the neon sign outside her motel room last night. I’d scarcely noticed, obsessed with Carla herself, the black-haired, blue-eyed bad girl of my dreams.
She’d bound me to the bedposts with strings of flashy mardi gras beads, my prizes from her game, and challenged me NOT to break them no matter what she did. I’d almost managed it. And learned, first, how it felt to give up, give in, abandon my strength, my will, all the armor built up over the years. In the beginning I’d had to struggle not to strain against apparently flimsy bonds, but the more Carla forced pleasure into pain and pain into pleasure, the more both willpower and reflexes faded away. I floated somewhere beyond thought, drowning in pure sensation. When she tipped me over at last into a thrashing orgasm I must have broken those strands of beads, but it was a long time before I noticed them sprawled limply across the bed, and longer still before I saw that they were strung on strong nylon thread, knotted between each bead, every strand only broken at a single point.
So the second thing I learned, the most important, was not to assume that just because something looks flashy and cheap it must be flimsy.
It was my first time exploring the darker pleasures of sex, at least with someone who knew what she was doing. In grad school, studying veterinary medicine, my friends and I had plenty of access to barns, and ropes, and dim spaces deserted at night. I’d been invited to some secret sessions where we played, or rather played at being players, but it was strictly amateur night. Mostly clumsy flogging, and the occasional cracking of a whip, but no real sex to speak of. I’d known how to crack a whip without touching my horses’ glossy hides since I was half-grown, and could control my two-ton draft team with no tools but my voice and muscles, so floundering around in a hayloft with whips and floggers just seemed silly. So did the girls who couldn’t take even a fraction of what I could have delivered—or give me a fraction of what I didn’t even know I needed.
I still didn’t pass up any chances to learn my way around women’s bodies, including my own, and had a fine time of it, but Carla…well, ”hot” didn’t begin to cover the vibes she gave off. Something in the way she moved, and the way she played to the guys ogling her in her booth, wisecracking with sultry innuendos that didn’t actually promise them anything. They never caught on when she got to bantering with me and really did promise more than I could imagine. Even my muscle-bound teenaged brothers had no clue what I was up to. They’d finally given up on hovering within range of her seductive aura when I gave them extra money and told them I’d seen a swarm of girls from their high school on the prowl over by the tilt-a-whirl.
In a lull while her customers’ attention turned to a dramatic scene between a guy and the girlfriend who dragged him away, Carla let me know that big dumb farm boys weren’t her type, but a big farm girl—no “dumb” implied—might be right up her alley.
My wrists and ankles were still raw. My tenderer parts ached when I remembered the keen torments and even keener pleasures she’d put me through. But later, after I’d demonstrated my own grasp of the basics--and of her tender parts--and taken possession of the shiny beads, Carla had offered to meet me again tonight on my own ground to face any challenge I set, even if it meant getting up close and personal with horses that looked to her “big as elephants and twice as mean!”
Whatever I thought I’d known about women, Carla was a whole different story. A story turning out to be more complicated than I’d bargained for, but worth every bit of whatever it took. Last night she’d taught me more about myself than I’d ever faced up to before; tonight it was my turn to challenge Carla. Maybe even teach her a thing or two. And find out more about myself.
The horse barns faced east, away from the chaos of the midway and the crowds. I’d signed up for the overnight security shift, so once the guy on evening duty saw me coming, waved, and took off, there was nobody else around. There’d sure better not be.
A full moon was rising. Carla gazed up at it for a minute or two while I reached around from behind and fondled her sweet round breasts. A warm late-summer breeze raised tendrils of her hair to brush against my cheek. Moonlight intensified the hint of mystery I’d already sensed about her even in the glare of neon, an impression of layer upon hidden layer. I hoped for a chance to explore them all.
“Autumn’s almost here,” I murmured. “Plenty more fairs coming up. I’ll be bringing my team to half a dozen or so. You’ll be at Fryburg in Maine?”
“Maybe.” She shrugged and stepped out of my embrace. “But bring on your challenge now, Ree.”
She knew it would be about the horses. Yesterday, when I’d led my team out of the pulling ring and over to meet her, she couldn’t hide her terror. Molly and Stark, great black Percherons, two thousand pounds each with hooves the size of pie plates. Any city girl would be scared. I’d backed the pair off, told her I’d meet her at ten at her carnival booth, and moved on toward the barns, surprised at how much that lapse in Carla’s femme-top self-possession excited me. A chink in her armor.
Now I leaned against the open barn door. “First, find out where I hid the beads.”
Carla relaxed, back in her own territory. “Let’s see. Maybe here?” She probed the pockets of my shirt, managing even through the flannel to tweak nipples still sore from her clamps last night. Then she reached up under the shirt to squeeze my heavy breasts, sending lightning strikes deep into my cunt. I tried hard to control my breathing. “Or here?” She worked her hands into the front pockets of my jeans, finding the same tube of horse lube I’d used with her last night, then the rear pockets, with more squeezing. My hips began to shift. The look on my face must have given me away. Or maybe the catch in my breath.
“Aha.” Her fingers went between my legs to knead the thick seam of my jeans into my crotch. “Are these beads in your pants, or are you just glad to see me?”
I could barely get any words out. “See…for yourself!” She wriggled a hand down inside belt, jeans, and briefs, found what she was looking for, and began sliding the strands through my slippery heat. I nearly lost it. One of those strands had been nestled even deeper the night before last, when I’d been supposed to be resting up before the final round of the draft horse competition, but could think only of her. Tonight the beads had been driving me wild for half an hour. Was I really so set on being in charge tonight?
 I gritted my teeth and yanked her hand, clutching its wet ruby and peacock-green prizes, out into the night air. I’d re-tied them securely after breaking them last night.   Even in the dim light from a single bulb inside the barn they glowed like a Rajah’s treasure. Or…what was the right term? A Ranee’s?
“Mmm.”  Carla ran them across her tongue before draping the strands around her neck so that they swayed across her breasts.
I drew a shuddering breath and turned away.  “Now find the other two strands.” I stepped into the barn. Carla hesitated, then, very slowly, followed.
Molly, in a roomy box stall just inside the entrance, leaned her great black head over the gate and whuffled a greeting. Her brother Stark, just across the way, merely dozed on.
“Molly, this is Carla. Carla, Molly.” Molly lowered her nose politely to be petted. Carla jerked back, braced herself, then raised a tense hand. I knew her fear of the horses wouldn’t last long, but it might at least soften her up a bit.
“Hello, Molly.” Her voice wavered. The black nose dipped lower, snuffling at the green and ruby beads on Carla’s chest and then at her hands. Carla jerked back again, then suddenly laughed. “You’re smelling Ree on me! I guess that makes us all pals.” She stroked the velvety nose tentatively. “And you’re wearing beads, too!” The gleaming strands twined through the mane on either side of Molly’s neck, the golden on the right and the purple on the left.
“You’ll have to climb on the gate to reach them,” I pointed out.
She shot me a dirty look, mounted the lower bars, and reached across and upward. Even then, if Molly hadn’t been nuzzling her shoulder, the beads would have been too high for her to reach.
The first strand came loose easily. Carla climbed down, dangled it in front of me, then let it go when I gripped her wrist too hard for comfort. Yes, I definitely did want to be in charge, now that she had to meet my challenge. More was at stake than a tumble in the hay. Carla’s chin went up almost imperceptibly--and then she lowered it, turned, and climbed back up on Molly’s other side. Molly bent her head again cooperatively, but I gave a low whistle and she moved backward so that Carla couldn’t reach no matter how far she tried to stretch.
“That’s how I tell her to back off,” I said conversationally as I pulled Carla’s skirt up and panties down. “You want me to back off any time, just whistle. You do know how to whistle, don’t you?”
She stopped reaching in vain for the beads, kicked off her panties and skirt, and thrust out her bare butt. Playing along, letting me get away with something, but taunting me just the same. I let the golden beads drift gently over each round, tempting cheek, drew them along the valley between, then whipped them suddenly across each side. Carla gripped the top of the gate and didn’t look around. I swung them harder twice, slashing in diagonal strokes that left an intriguing latticework pattern. I’d tried whipping my own arm with the beads that morning, though, and knew how extra painful they could be, so I switched tactics. Breaking the skin would end things too soon.
Besides, I couldn’t wait any longer to touch her directly. The heat of her skin, the sound of my bare hands striking her flesh, the tremors of her body, her musky scent intensifying by the second… I lost count of my strokes, intoxicated, high on power and lust, all the more when she began making guttural sounds interspersed with gasps. “It’s…it’s okay, Molly!” she got out as the horse twitched and shifted nervously.
I eased off, until she grated, “More, Ree, damnit!” twitching her hips to emphasize the demand.
“My territory, my rules! I decide what you get, and how much, and when.” I made a stab at sounding stern. It felt good. More than good.
Her muttered words were barely audible. “Yes Ree, all right, whatever you want…” Then, even more faintly, “Please…”
My hand came down hard again on her rounded, tantalizing butt, over and over. I wanted her to want more of that, and to want all the kneading and squeezing of her reddened flesh my fingers indulged in between bouts of spanking. I needed her to want those things, and to want them even more because they pleased me.
I struggled to keep some control over myself. A whack on a draft horse’s rump just hard enough to get his attention could do real damage to a slender girl. I tried to gentle her again with slower strokes, but she shuddered and squirmed.
“Please…” Carla’s whisper was low and tremulous now. “Don’t stop…don’t let me drop…” Whatever she meant, I was dead sure playing along had nothing to do with it any more. She wasn’t enduring the pain now so much as absorbing it, consuming it.
“Trust me,” was all I thought of to say. I got one boot up onto the bottom rung of the gate and one arm around her waist, supporting her, never letting up but varying the rhythm of my hand. Her dark hair hung down on either side, exposing the pale nape of her neck. After a while I gave in to temptation, bent my head, kissed that tender, vulnerable skin, and felt a tremor wash through her.
Then I bit down, just hard enough to leave my mark without drawing blood. That jolted her into shuddering motion. Her breath came harder, in gulps, then hard, wracking sobs. I lifted her down and managed to get to the folding chair beside the door and sit with her cradled her against my shoulder until the heaving of her body subsided. She murmured something into my shirt that might have been, “thank you…” and then raised her head just a little. “If only…I wish…”
I’d have done anything for her by then. “Wish what? Just tell me what you want!”
She shook her head, wiped her tear-streaked face against my shirt, seemed to pull herself together, and sat upright on my lap. The old Carla was back, cockiness muted, playing along, but any real vulnerability well-hidden.
“Whatever you want, Ree.” She pulled off a tank top, her only remaining garment, and started to unbutton my shirt with her teeth. My tits strained toward hers, just inches away. Suddenly her mouth changed course, toward the shirt pocket where I’d clumsily stuffed the strings of beads. Loops of each still dangled outside. Carla’s tongue flicked the golden strand, drew it slowly all the way out, and dropped it into her hand. My cunt clenched as though the beads had undulated right through it.
“You don’t want to let these go to waste, do you?” Her tone was low, smooth, sultry.
The raw marks on my wrists from last night tingled. I hesitated. What did I want most? Carla wriggled seductively on my lap, but couldn’t conceal a wince of pain. I stroked what I could reach of the superheated cheeks pressed against my thighs. That backside needed a rest from friction. More sitting wasn’t an option.
“Across my lap. Now. On your stomach with your hands behind your back.” I lifted her just enough to ease her movement, and had her wrists bound behind her in seconds with the golden beads. Nobody’s better at one-handed knots than a horse handler.
I forced myself to take it slow. Two more strands of beads slid between those lovely moon-pale, red-striped cheeks--rolled lower into the hot, wet heat between her thighs--nudged at her hardened clit--until I couldn’t stand to let the beads have all the fun. I got the tube of lube from my pocket, opened it with my teeth, lubed my hand, drew out the beads, and slid two fingers deep between Carla’s folds. She arched into the pressure, moving frantically at first, needing more, more depth, more force, but I still teased her with retreat and advance and retreat, over ever more wet and slippery terrain, ignoring her wriggles and pleas for more until my own need forced my hand.
Faster, deeper, harder, her sounds and movements igniting my own body. Time had no meaning, only motion. My big hand raced to give her everything she wanted, everything she could take, everything I wanted her to have, until her body tightened around my fingers, pulsed to a relentless beat, then clenched even harder as the crescendo shook her.
Carla’s sobs of release dwindled gradually to whimpers. I lifted her down to the sleeping bag I’d left spread on a mound of clean straw in the empty stall next to Molly’s, lay down with her, and started all over again--with the added benefit of lips, tongue, full frontal contact, hands freed from beads, and my own thundering crescendo.
Much later Carla muttered drowsily, “I didn’t get the other strand yet. I failed the challenge.”
“That’s okay.” I pulled a rough horse blanket up over us. “Just never assume that because something looks extra big and strong, it must be scary.”
“Maybe I’d like it to be scary, now and then.”
I let her have the last word, unless you count Molly’s gentle snort, and drifted into sleep. But only for a while.
“Ree!” Carla was straddling me, her old cocky, assertive self again. She’d retrieved the purple strand of beads from Molly’s mane while I slept and bound them around my wrists, and now she whapped me across the chest with golden ones. “Molly and I want to go for a ride!” Meeting my challenge in full, then topping it.
“Okay,” I said. “But for the sake of Molly’s unblemished reputation, I’d just as soon you kept it inside this barn and the one next door.” Even with my wrists tied I could make a stirrup with my hands for Carla’s foot, and toss her high onto Molly’s broad back.
It was a shame, really, that no one but me got to see a dark-haired, naked Lady Godiva ride a great black mare through the horse barns that unforgettable night at the county fair. Especially since I very much doubt that the original lady rode with strands of golden and royal purple beads coiled inside her well-seasoned cunt.
That glorious sight turned out to be a parting gift. We slept again, clinging together, but when I woke in the morning Carla was gone. Gone from my arms, from the barn, from the fairgrounds, with nothing to tell me how to find her, and no sign of her at any of the other fairs that year. All I had left was a new sense of myself, searing memories of pleasure and pain, Carla’s scent on Molly’s back, and a faint voice murmuring in my dreams, “If only…I wish…”
I haven’t given up wishing.