She's sitting at her favorite table by the front window, her back to the wall, so she has a clear view of the room. She is carefully nibbling an almond croissant with her coffee, reading a book. She is probably around thirty, but presents herself as older. She has quite a pretty face made dour by the absence of any make-up. Her hair is a nice medium brown with some natural red toning, pulled tightly back in a workday bun. Her only jewelry is a thin gold chain around a first-class neck. Her clothes are quality, but blandly sensible, as well -- a simple white blouse, pale plaid mid-calf skirt, and a lovely shawl sweater that would be perfect on my gran. She looks every bit the prim librarian, which I know is exactly what she is.
I go across with my latte and stand at the empty chair until she looks up.
"Mind if we share a table?" I ask and sit, not waiting for an answer.
For a long moment, she looks blankly at me smiling across at her.
"Ah... Sure, okay," she answers quietly. She pulls her plate closer and goes back to her book.
I take a few sips, looking around at the breakfast crowd, then deliberately back at her. I see her eyes flick my way for a second before she looks up, meeting my stare.
"What? Do I have crumbs on me or something?"
"No. You're quite perfect. I'm Bet," holding out my hand to her.
"Lillian," she responds by reflex, taking my hand. We shake, but I don't break our grip, as I hold her eyes and smile.
"Like Bette Davis?" she asks, as we stay posed like that, hands grasped above our cups.
"I wish! Like in 'wanna make a?' Mom named me Betsy. Really? Who the hell is named Betsy any more? So it's Bet now and lay your money down."
She gives me a little smile. "Pleased to meet you, Bet," she replies with a tiny hitch in her voice, as I slowly draw my hand away, letting a fingertip glide softly across her palm.
She holds my eye for a second, then goes back to her book. I have another sip of coffee and watch the room.
"She is cute."
"She? Who? Bette Davis?" Lillian asks, looking up with a puzzled frown.
"No. The girl you've been watching while you pretend to read. Her," pointing with a nod, "the one in the yellow top, brown curls, sweet little bottom. You have good taste."
"I don't know what you could mean."
"Oh nonsense, Lillian. Perfectly obvious, though I do have the advantage of an intimate knowledge of the whole girl/girl thing."
"You're a lesbian?"
"Shhh!" I hiss, an exaggerated finger to my lips, then lean in and whisper, "It's supposed to be a secret, but I can show you my International Ladies Only membership card, if you need proof. I'm platinum level." I give her a smile and a broad wink.
"You're funny!" she grins.
"So, you gonna ask her out?"
"Me? Goodness no. I wouldn't... I don't... I don't date women." She looks back into her book with a blush.
"Don't or haven't?"
"So, you date men."
"I didn't say that. I don't think about men that way."
"So, a big no to men, but for women, it's just 'I don't.' Well, that may be true, but it doesn't take a lesbian genius like me to see you think about it a lot. So what's stopping you? Is it a religious thing? Family? Or are you afraid of what you might discover about yourself?"
"This is getting pretty damn personal for two women just sharing a table!"
"Hey, those were your eyes dancing with a girl's bouncing butt a few minutes ago. Now, which is it?"
"I just never have."
"So you don't, because you never have, even though you really want to?
"Stop putting words in my mouth!"
"Ha! Don't have to, kiddo, doing that well enough all by yourself. Okay, simple solution. Dinner, you and me tomorrow. Pierre's. A woman out with a woman, the two of us."
"You and me? A date?"
"Well, that depends."
"On what? she asks with a narrow stare.
"On if I get to kiss you goodnight."
"Very funny," she retorts, with a sarcastic smile. She looks away into the middle distance, her face a blank. I can almost hear the wrestling match going on inside her head. "I have always wanted to try their menu," she concedes at last. "I'll think about it, okay? But no promises."
"I'll be there at 7:30, either way."
I am lounging against the bar, sipping a neat whisky, and surveying the busy room. Through the swirl, I spot Miss Kathryn in her booth at the far end. She is flanked by a pair of astoundingly beautiful young women, a blond and a redhead tonight, each giving her their rapt attention, vying for hers. I catch her eye, offering her a smile and nod of respect, which she returns. She arches an eyebrow in question and I nod yes. She blows me a kiss, then turns her gaze to the blonde's dark, prominent nipples on display beneath a gossamer pale peach blouse.
I feel a soft touch at my elbow.
"Bet? Sorry I'm late."
"Nonsense. Right on time, Lillian."
"I didn't know what to wear. I hope I look okay."
I give her a slow head to toe. "You look lovely." She has on a muted deco patterned blouse with a pleated navy skirt cut high enough to show off a nice pair of legs. Her hair is down, falling in loose waves to her shoulders in a vaguely 1940's do. Her makeup is restrained, as one would expect given how seldom she probably wears any at all, but does play up her beautiful hazel eyes.
"And you look... handsome," she replies, taking in my dark camel Jaberri unstructured suit with a pale ecru shirt and vintage Lily Daché silk tie.
"Shall we eat?" I ask with a chuckle. I give a little wave to Jillian, who comes over to collect us.
"Your usual table. Angela asked to serve and Chef Pauline says hello."
"Angela is always a delight and please give chef my warmest regards."
"They seem to know you quite well here, Bet," Lillian says with a smile.
"Oh, we always enjoy your visits, don't we... Bet?" Jillian murmurs, with a little smirk.
I look up at her with a big smile and flutter my eyelashes shamelessly. I can hear her giggling as she leaves us.
After a typically superb dinner, we are enjoying the last of our coffee and Armagnac. I now know more about the travails of the public library system than I ever wished to, but also discovered Lillian has a solid knowledge of German Expressionism and the Weimar years in Berlin, which is a passion of my own. I mentioned Veronica Lake in passing and thought she was going to swoon. And in between, there were jokes and smiles and little teases from both sides of the table.
"I don't think I've ever enjoyed a dinner as much as this." Lillian declares warmly, setting down her cup. "Both the food and the company." She takes out her cell and starts tapping.
"What are you doing? I'm getting a Yelp review?"
"No," she giggles, "calling a ride. I don't drive."
"Put that away. My car is outside and I claim the right. End of discussion."
She smiles with a nod. I slip Angela's tip under my cup and get up to go, offering her my hand.
"I see why they like you here," she says, glancing at the bill peeping out.
"Real consideration deserves real compensation, daddy always told me."
We park in front of her apartment on a quiet backwater street at the edge of the swanky part of town.
"Thank you again for such a wonderful evening, Bet. I really am feeling quite happy for a change. I do have one question, though."
"And that is?"
"Was this a date?"
Our first kiss is slow and tender, her eyes never leaving mine. With the second, her hand finds the side of my head, and our tongues find each other.
"Would you... Would you like to come up?" she barely whispers, looking down.
I can hear in her voice what it took for her to ask that, see the tiny tremors of apprehension and uncertainty.
"Nope. Bet's rule. Never on the first date," I whisper back, tipping up her head for a last kiss. "But call me, please?"
I figured it would take her three days. The first would be all euphoria and sunshine, but don't rush like a schoolgirl. The second would be full of stormy doubts and second guesses. The third would be "For God's sake, Lillian, don't fuck this up! Call!" And I was right, which is just as well, since one day of business with a lady visiting from New York City had turned into a very lucrative two.
"Bet? It's Lillian. Sorry I didn't get back sooner. Life, you know?"
"So good to hear your voice, Lil. Everything good?
"So good. I still dream about that salmon... and everything else. That's why I called. Would you like to have dinner on Friday? So I can pay you back?"
"My Friday is packed, but Saturday is free. Is that good?"
"Perfect. Do you like Italian?"
"Love Italian. Where were you thinking? Antonio's?"
"I was thinking my place. I'm not Chef Pauline, but I make my own pasta and the basil's from my window garden. Around 6:30?"
Okay, that wasn't expected. "Sounds wonderful. And I'll bring dessert. Can't wait, Lil, see you then."
I have been running scenarios through my head all day, trying to decide on the play. I finally give up. Too many possibilities, too many unknowns after one date, sweet as it was. Time to vamp and trust to your experience, missy.
She opens the door before I have a chance to knock, greeting me with a beaming smile.
"Oh my God, Lil! That's fabulous!"
She's wearing an authentic 1940's light cotton sundress with capped sleeves, a tight belted waist, and a wide flounced skirt. It is patterned in fantastically colored hibiscus flowers on a mint green background. She stands back and gives me a sexy spin, her breasts dancing beneath the thin cloth.
"Like it? I found it in a thrift store years ago, but never had a reason to wear it until now."
"It is perfect and fits you like a dream. You look so beautiful." I set down my pink pastry box and take her in my arms. There is no hesitation in her kiss or the dance of our tongues.
"Mmm, keep kissing me like that and we'll never make it to dinner!" I whisper in her ear between little kisses along her neck. She giggles and pushes me away.
"Then I better stop, because I've been slaving over a hot stove all day. What's in the box?"
"Antonio's tiramisu with rum. Not as sweet as you, but close."
She picks up the treats and goes into the kitchen, calling back, "I'm having some Chianti, but I noticed you were drinking whisky last time. This has been up in the cupboard for ages, can't even remember where it came from." Coming out and handing me a dusty bottle of twenty-year-old Glenlivet Single Malt. "Will it do?"
"You are one delicious surprise after the other tonight! Yes, this will do quite nicely, indeed."
"Dinner will be about twenty minutes, okay?"
"Just enough time for a quick snuggle then!" I leer, as I sit in the corner of her old leather sofa with my drink, patting the cushion. She sticks her tongue out at me and heads back to the kitchen.
Dinner is a plump fennel-laced chicken sausage, grilled sweet red pepper, herb-marinated mushroom caps, and fettuccine perfectly dressed with fragrant fresh pesto.
"I have to say," as I take the last bite, "if you ever want to open an Italian restaurant, you could give Antonio a run for his money."
"Oh, thank you so much, Bet. If you eat alone as much as I do, you either have to really like Amy's Enchiladas, or teach yourself to cook. I hate enchiladas."
I help her clear and we go back to the living room and stand close in the center.
"Shall we wait on dessert?" she asks, her eyes wide.
For all the evening's flirty nonchalance, I've been feeling the nervousness in her, seeing the apprehension swirling in her mind. I don't answer, but go over to her stereo and look through the shelves of CDs. I find what I hoped to find and pop it in. I come back and bring her close as Chet Baker's Let's Get Lost quietly fills the room. We trade kisses and sway gently, enjoying our warm embrace, just letting time float by.
As Someone to Watch Over Me ends, I pull back slightly, fingers massaging her back, gently shifting from side to side, letting the tips of our breasts share an intimate caress. Her nipples are swollen, pressing through the thin cotton covering them. Mine, too, are standing proud under my light cashmere. She stops and pushes back more, looking down at my chest. She lifts a finger and gives my left nipple the softest of touches, feeling its ring hanging below. I take her hand and slide it under my top, guiding her. With a moan, she slowly moves her fingertips over my breast, before gently closing and squeezing my nipple. She suddenly pulls her hand away and buries her face in my shoulder.
"What's wrong, Lil?" I whisper to her.
"Oh God, Bet, you don't know how long I've ached to do that, to touch another woman..."
"Too damn long," I answer back, tipping her head, kissing her with passion. She is trembling all over and her face is pink, as she looks into my eyes.
"You think, but I know. It's time for you and me to find your bed, Lillian."
With a warm mew, she takes my hand and leads the way.
We stand beside it, the covers already neatly turned down. I slowly turn her, untie the wide belt and open the button at her nape, letting the dress slide off her shoulders and down. She leans back against me and I reach around and cup her breasts while I nibble her ear. She moans as my hands cross her belly and ease the dress over her hips, letting it puddle on the floor. I hook my thumbs in the waist of her lacy panties and they too fall. She turns to me and pulls my sweater up and off. I pull her close for a kiss and she squeaks and jumps back.
"Cold!" she exclaims, pointing at my gold belt buckle.
"I have a solution for that," I propound, slipping it open and stepping out of my slacks.
"Much better," she murmurs, looking me up and down. "Now can we get in, because my legs are sorta wobbly."
We lay tight together in the center, kissing deeply and caressing our naked bodies.
"We'll go slow," I whisper.
"I just thought, you know, first time, nervous about what to do..."
"Oh, don't worry about that, Bet. Being sexual has never been my problem. It's people and relationships that scare me to death. I discovered the pleasures of my body and my touch when I was very young. I'm quite adept at it... and yes, always women. It pushes away the spiders, at least for a little while. It's been my solace, keeping me sane."
"So, like once a month?
She nods again.
She gives me a naughty girl look and covers her mouth with her fingers.
"Sometimes at work, too!" She hisses out between them.
"Why you wanton harlot, you! I gasp, then pull her hands away and kiss her hard. My hand takes in her breast and I trail kisses to it. I envelop her puffy pink marshmallow aureole with my mouth, sucking wetly on its perfection, as my tongue tickles her nipple to greater glory.
I slide my hand down across her belly and into the full tangle of hair on her mons, digging in my fingers, making her jump and groan. I move down and push her thighs apart, kneeling between, then crawl my body up hers, finding her lips. She wraps her arms around me, pulling me hard against her while I rock my hip between her legs. I descend again, tasting every inch of her flesh, as I go. I can smell her passion, feel her body trembling, hear her guttural moans. Settling between her open thighs, I rake them with my fingers and follow with wet kisses up to her cunny, open like a glistening orchid.
With long strokes, I coat my tongue in her abundant sweet muskiness, giving out a deep groan of my own. I tease her delicate pink pearl of a clit in its dark sanguine hood and she thrusts up her hips with a gasp at its first ever touch by a tongue. This is where I've decided to play, giving her what her fingers can not, the sublime intimacy of another's mouth.
I nibble and lick and suckle, while my fingers massage and stroke in counterpoint until she is thrashing on the bed. My hands can feel the orgasm start, her abs clenching and releasing, her back arching up, the spasms of pleasure washing across her body. She screams again and again in her release, hands tight over her face. With the last, she jerks up and pushes my head away, clutching her cunny in both hands, rocking from side to side as her bliss slowly fades.
I lay beside her gently, kissing her face softly, murmuring love in her ear. Her eyes slowly open and she turns to face me.
"Oh, Bet! That was... I never... All the times..." she tries to whisper.
I put a finger to her lips.
"Shhh. Rest yourself now, my sweet." I pull the duvet over us and hold her tight.
The lights are turned down low in the living room and we are snuggling naked in a corner of the couch, finishing our tiramisu.
"This is really good. A perfect before."
"Oh, look," she says, dripping a trail of mascarpone and chocolate down my tummy and over my mons, "you've spilled on yourself..."
Sometime later, I lift back the duvet and give her smile a kiss.
"Are you sure that was your first time doing that?"
She nods with a blush.
"Could have fooled me," I whisper, only fibbing a tiny bit, as I pull her close.
"I can't remember when I've had a better evening, Lil."
"But you have to go now."
"Yes. It's true what they say, no peace for the wicked. I have work to do tomorrow and need to make an early start. You, on the other hand, can sleep in all Sunday lazy like. Or do you have plans?"
"I was thinking of going out for coffee and asking a certain cute waitress if she'd like to have lunch with me."
"And this is what you tell the naked woman lying beside you?" I cry, with a lovelorn pout.
"Oh!" She clamps a hand over her mouth and mumbles, "Oh, Bet! I didn't mean..."
I cut her off laughing. "You silly goose! I couldn't be happier if I tried. Absolutely ask her out, then ravish her the first chance you get! I'll expect a highly detailed report." I give her a lingering kiss goodbye, then slip out to dress.
"Sweet dreams, Lil."
It's been a busy morning. I'm helping Joan and Jennifer Carson celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary tonight and there are some interesting special requests still to deal with. I stop in at Lydia's for a pick-me-up latte to go. As I wait, I look across and see her sitting against the wall with her croissant and coffee. And no book. Instead, a young woman with a sweet little bottom is standing close, her finger tracing out curls on the back of Lillian's hand resting on the table. Feeling my gaze, Lillian looks across and meets my eye. She paints my face with a sweet smile, before turning her attention back to the object of her desire. I grab my coffee and head out, feeling quite pleased with myself.
It's a quiet Tuesday evening at Duke's and I am sipping a finger of whisky and debating the relative merits of side by side versus above and below with Rita behind the bar.
"I thought I might find you here, Liz."
I turn to the woman who has come up to sit on the stool beside me. Rita lifts her eyebrows my way. Liz? She shakes her head, and goes back to polishing glass.
"Janice, what a nice surprise. What brings you here? Wait -- drink?"
"No, I'm good. I wanted to thank you again."
"Not necessary, at all. How's Lillian?"
"I talked to her today and she's never sounded happier. With herself, with life, with everything. All thanks to you."
"Rubbish. She was standing right at the edge, I just gave her a little tickle to send her over."
"And rubbish right back. She was standing there for a long damn time. Lost and miserable, wearing that 'my life is just fine' mask over the darkness inside. And it wasn't about being queer, though that certainly added to the burden. I told you it went deeper than that. She was the smart one, the overachiever, but always lived in the shadows, full of self doubt, unable to trust her own thoughts and feelings. And it was killing me to watch. You were my gamble, my hope to get her to embrace life's joy, instead of hiding from it. And you did exactly that."
She takes an envelope from her clutch and lays it on the bar in front of me.
"Call it a tip to your brilliance."
I glance at the bills inside. "No. You paid me my full measure. And, in truth, by the time it was over, I charged too much with the pleasure it gave me to see her smile."
"I insist. Give it to your favorite charity, if you want. I don't care, but it's yours."
I tap it on the counter for a few seconds, thinking. I set it down and pick up my phone, thumbing in a message.
"Okay, so here's what we'll do. I'm pretty sure Lillian will soon be telling you she has a real girlfriend. Take her out shopping to celebrate. I've sent you the shop address and I'll let Ruth know to watch for you. Just mention my name. Use the money to buy Lillian something extravagant, something that will make her blush, something meant to share with a special someone. She'll never know it's from me, but I will."
"I see why you enjoy the reputation you do. Our secret then." She leans across and kisses me warmly on the cheek, preparing to go. I touch a finger to her elegant knee and she pauses.
"Now Janice, is there anything I might do for you? I do offer a family discount..."
"That's so sweet," she giggles, "but I only play with the boys."
"Right. In that case, I have a young friend who might be of interest."
"Yes?" she asks, tilting her head back, giving me a look.
"Six foot three, 225 solid, a full eight soft, remarkable staying power. Comes highly recommended."
"A gentleman of color, by any chance?" she murmurs, her eyes showing more than a passing interest.
"Coffee, medium cream. He is due back in town on Friday. Shall I text his number?"
"Oh, my... Yes, please."
So now Jimmy owes me. I like it.
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