“Are you kidding me? The panel is in like three days! I still have no idea what I’m gonna wear!” Jane wishes she could make Sutton understand, but even as she speaks into the phone, a note of panic in her voice, she knows that it is going to be an uphill battle. “You said you were gonna help me…”
There are background noises on the other end of the line and then she overhears the blonde’s muffled voice. “Uh, yeah, hi. Sutton Brady, Oliver Grayson sent me?”
About a minute and other non-distinct noises later, during which time Jane paced the entire length of the fashion closet in an attempt to burn off her excess energy, her friend is back, her voice perfectly audible this time. “I’m sorry, Jane, but Oliver had me run over to Calvin Klein to pick up new accessories for the Men in Makeup shoot. Mitzi screwed up big time, everyone is panicking—“
Jane’s energy appears to leave her all of a sudden, and she flops down on a futon, rubbing her left temple with her free hand. She knows she can’t be angry at Sutton for bailing on her when she had a Scarlet emergency to tend to, but that doesn’t make her ordeal any less… ordeal-y.
“I have other things to do while I’m out and don’t know how much longer I’m gonna be. Just… pick out a few pieces you like and I’ll go over them with you when I get ba—“
“No, I… I need your help,” Jane all but whispers, pleading with her.
A long pause. “Jane, I don’t understand what the big deal is,” Sutton says carefully. “I know you’re nervous about your panel, but it’s not like you haven’t been on one of those before, and you managed to do just fine choosing what to—“
“This… this is important.” And it’s not that her previous public appearances hadn’t been important - Lord knows she was nervous enough before her Rising Political Voices Under 30 panel, which was a really big deal at the time, introducing Jane to the publishing world as a serious political writer… but it still didn’t compare.
This time, Jane was going as the co-author of the piece that ended Pamela Dolan’s entire career.
But then again, she has been the face of the Dolan story before. And it’s true that her Breaking Through the Noise panel at the 92nd Street Y held more bad memories than good (even if she and Ryan ended up getting back together)…
…but that’s neither here nor there.
“This is different,” she tries next, even if she can’t properly articulate how and why…
“But why is it different?”
It comes out with a sigh. “Jacqueline is going with me.”
Last time her boss had been the one to receive the invitation to attend an event, but unable to make it, she sent Jane in her place. This time, both of them have been asked to speak at a panel discussing the abuse of power perpetrated in the fashion and entertainment businesses.
“Okay…” Sutton drags out the word, waiting for Jane to make her thoughts clearer.
And I need to look good seems like a simplistic way of putting it, but it was the truth when it came down to it. Jane doesn’t want to wear just anything as she sits next to her boss turned mentor turned co-writer (turned... friend) and discusses the most important piece of her career thus far. No, she wants to look perfect. She longs to look perfect, in the natural and effortless way Jacqueline always seems to, whether she is wearing a sparkling evening gown or jeans, blouse, and loafers. What Jane doesn’t want is to look like she’s trying too hard, dressed up in some trendy outfit that ticks all the right boxes but somehow doesn’t represent her or her personality.
And the very last thing Jane wants is for Jacqueline to look at her and see an impressionable young girl, like the one she met over five years ago who could barely get two words out in her presence - the same one who had no idea how to dress and style herself.
She’d like to think that she - that they - have come a long way since then. A long, long way.
“Jane, Jacqueline is not gonna stand there and pick apart your outfit like a judge on Project Runway - if you don’t show up in overalls and flip flops she’s not gonna care—"
“But I want her to care!”
And there it is.
She closes her eyes, as Sutton stays quiet on the other end of the line.
“Oh, you look fantastic!”
Jane can still hear Jacqueline’s impressed voice when the woman saw her backstage at Sutton’s fashion show - her approval and admiration both comforting and exhilarating, keeping her on Cloud 9 that entire evening.
Memories of the show come to her in flashes. She recalls the packed venue, the blinding flashbulbs of the photographers’ cameras, the loud and distracting music… and how, despite all that, she had known exactly where Jacqueline was seated. How, even as she focused on walking down the runway in her platform shoes and made a conscious effort not to fall flat on her face, she could feel the woman’s gaze trained on her as she sat in the front row. It had made Jane feel… powerful. Invincible.
Sexy as hell.
“So you want her to think you look nice,” Sutton offers, a question in her voice. She has no idea what Jane wants.
And what does she want?
Jane wants Jacqueline’s attention. She wants nothing less than the full weight of Jacqueline Carlyle’s undivided attention, the one thing that never failed to make her breath catch, her skin prickle, and her heart race. She wants Jacqueline to look at her in wonder, wants to hear that admiring tone of voice of hers again, dripping with honey, warming her chest and making her feel like she can do anything and be anything. Jane wants…
Jane wants her to think… she looks nice?
“I wish that was all I wanted,” she finally whispers into the phone.
Another long stretch of silence.
“Yeah, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there’s a bit more to unpack here than your outfit for this panel—”
Jane makes a whining sound and flops backward on the futon, closing her eyes.
Unpacking everything wouldn’t be possible over the phone as Sutton ran all over Manhattan on errands for Oliver, they both quickly agreed. There was no judgment in the blonde’s voice when she told Jane they’d talk about this (i.e. Jacqueline) later, and for that, she was quite relieved, even if she should’ve known not to expect such a thing from her best friend in her first place. As Sutton rode the elevator to her destination at Calvin Klein, their signal cutting off every few seconds, she did her best to encourage Jane, reassuring her that she was perfectly capable of choosing an amazing outfit on her own, and urging her to check out the new pieces they’d just received from the designers’ Winter collections. That was all she had time to say before their call finally got disconnected, and knowing her friend was busy, Jane didn’t attempt to call her back and disrupt her day any further.
“I can do this…” Jane repeated to herself, like a mantra. It’s not like she hadn’t learned anything about fashion in all her years at Scarlet Magazine, but navigating a veritable sea of clothes of all colors, styles, and kinds was still a daunting task - especially after Jane had put so much pressure on herself to look not only nice but “perfect”.
And now here she is, an hour later, a measly selection of items in hand that are closer to the ‘nice’ end of the scale, as she attempts to find something - anything - that tips the scales at the ‘perfect’ end.
Jane grunts in annoyance and frustration, using her free hand to push through the hangers with more force than strictly necessary. When she hears the door to the fashion closet open, she doesn’t bother to turn around to see who it is, trusting that whoever chose this, of all moments, to violate her inner sanctum would be able to interpret her body language, take the hint and promptly leave.
“What did those poor clothes do to you?”
“Jacqueline!” Jane gasps, quickly turning around at the sound of her boss’s voice. Just like that, her aggravation turns into embarrassment at being caught by her, of all people, mid-hissy fit, and she looks at the smiling woman with a chagrined expression.
“I needed an accessory for this outfit,” Jacqueline promptly offers, in an obvious - but nevertheless appreciated - effort to give Jane some time to regroup.
It does the trick. Jane’s eyes immediately zero in on the woman’s bare wrists and she asks with a frown, “What happened to your golden bangles?”
“Well, I do make an effort to mix it up every now and then, believe it or not,” Jacqueline defends, rolling her eyes in a show of mock annoyance, and Jane laughs. “Apparently not as often as I should…”
She feels ten times lighter after barely a minute in the woman's company. Jacqueline is looking at her thoughtfully, and the thought of coming up with some excuse and hiding the real issue from her crosses her mind for all of 0.2 seconds before being promptly discarded - Jane having realized a long time ago that she is unable to be anything but honest with Jacqueline.
“And I was just… looking for an outfit for our panel on Friday,” she explains with a sigh. At Jacqueline’s nod, she adds, “Well, I did find an outfit,” and doesn’t bother to muster up any sort of enthusiasm as she holds up the pieces she picked out after scouring the fashion closet by herself for what had felt like a small eternity.
“You don’t sound exactly thrilled about it,” an amused Jacqueline says in reply, crossing her arms.
“It’s just… it’s pretty, don’t get me wrong, but it’s… kinda boring?”
“Then I hate to break it to you, but you haven’t found your outfit.”
Jane sighs again in frustration, Jacqueline having just given voice to what she knew in her head to be true all along.
“With a closet like ours, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to leave here not feeling like a million bucks,” Jacqueline says, approaching Jane. “When you think of yourself at this panel, what do you picture yourself wearing?”
Jacqueline barely finishes voicing her question and Jane already has the answer. She can see herself sitting next to the woman on a stage, which opens up into a wide, captive audience below. And just as clearly as she can feel the lights warming her skin and hear the static of the microphones, she can see what she’s wearing. In her fantasy, Jane looks and feels hot as hell, every bit as perfect as she hopes to be.
But there’s expectation and then there’s reality.
“Well, I’ve always liked a good power suit,” Jane explains in a timid voice. “I’ll see these women in fashion magazines wearing suits with wide pant legs and long jackets, and they look so stylish and badass…” A glint appears in Jacqueline’s eye at that, her smile widening, encouraging her to continue.
“But… I’ve always been told to stay away from those, for obvious reasons.” That comes out with a self-deprecating chuckle, and Jacqueline narrows her eyes, tilting her head in a silent question. “They… swallow me whole,” Jane explains, her tone flat. “Make me look like a little girl playing dress-up in her mom’s closet.”
Jacqueline’s eyes turn sympathetic then, appearing to understand even as Jane notes that the woman can’t possibly relate - her mile-long legs and elegant silhouette perfect to showcase the kind of outfit Jane has just described.
“Anyway, so I… tend to stay away from those and stick to pencil skirts and tucked-in blouses… short, tailored blazers paired with fitted pants, and other clothes more suited for petite women,” she concludes, awkwardly holding up the hangers with the skirt and blouse she’d selected once again before her boss had walked into the fashion closet.
Another nod follows… a pointed one this time, that all but says, “Challenge accepted”, and makes Jane swallow hard. “Well… to that, I say two things. One, there’s a perfect power suit for every woman out there,” Jacqueline counters, moving to the racks to her right where she begins to swiftly thumb through outfits, seemingly on the lookout for something specific. “And two… fashion rules are meant to be broken. All you need is a little patience…”
She continues to sift through the hangers, moving seamlessly from rack to rack, as Jane stands in the middle of the room clutching her selected outfit to her chest. She watches transfixed as her boss (slash co-worker, slash co-writer, slash…) commands the place as if she were at a writers’ pitch meeting. Jane actually forgets that Jacqueline has left an unfinished thought hanging in the air until she finishes it, announcing triumphantly as she pulls out a garment bag inconspicuously tucked away near the back of the closet—
“… and a little bit of luck.”
As she quickly unzips the plain, black bag and its contents are revealed, Jane’s jaw drops. It’s like Jacqueline has conjured up the exact outfit Jane had seen in her mind’s eye. The black suit with thin, white pinstripes looking like something straight out of a Vogue or Scarlet Fall editorial.
“The vertical lines and cut elongate the silhouette. Good tailoring should take care of the rest,” she explains simply, ignoring Jane’s stupefied reaction. “I’m sure you can get Sutton to help you with that?”
“Ah…” Jane doesn’t know what to say, unable to take her eyes off of the suit. “Yeah, of— of course.”
“Well, good. Problem solved,” Jacqueline says with a warm finality, as she hands Jane the suit, exchanging it for the skirt and blouse she had been hanging on to and moving away to put those back in one of the racks.
As Jane touches the jacket reverently, marveling at the feel of the rich fabric and admiring the impeccable stitching and flattering cut, she doesn’t notice Jacqueline’s approach - not until the woman is close enough for her to smell her perfume. Jane holds her breath instinctively, trapping the warm, rich scent inside her lungs. She feels dizzy.
Then Jacqueline gently presses a blue blouse against her chest. “Wear this with it,” she says in a low voice that still feels more like a command than a suggestion. When Jane’s gaze finds Jacqueline’s, her mouth falls open once again. She is watching her carefully, attentively, and just like that, Jane’s taken a hit of her drug of choice. It’s a heady sensation - she feels nervous, excited and… exposed, as if she were down to her underwear and about to try on the - undoubtedly incredibly expensive - outfit the woman had just selected...
...especially for her.
When Jacqueline touches Jane's shoulder next, gently turning her so she’s facing the full-body mirror in the corner and arranging the hangers she is holding in front of her, it’s all Jane can do not to gasp.
“One more thing…”
But, a moment later, when Jacqueline carefully gathers Jane's hair from her nape and piles it atop of her head, she can’t help the small, strangled sound that escapes her throat, her eyes immediately finding Jacqueline’s in the mirror. Silence stretches between them as they look at each other before Jacqueline finally breaks eye contact. Her heavy gaze drops, traveling up and down Jane’s body, unceremoniously. It stops and lingers at her exposed neck, before meeting Jane’s eyes in the mirror once again.
“Wear it up.”
Sutton and Kat arrive at Jane’s to find their friend sitting straight as a rod in the middle of the couch, hands cradled in her lap, looking straight ahead - a garment bag carefully laid out on the back of the seat next to her.
“Oh, so you found your outfit!” Sutton says animatedly, noticing the bag as soon as she entered the living area. Behind her, Kat sets down her purse and a bottle of wine on the kitchen counter.
Jane has a pained expression on her face, frowning in concentration. She opens her mouth to speak, but no sound comes out. She can’t figure out what to say. She tries again, tilting her head.
“What’s happening here?” Kat asks as she approaches Sutton, looking curiously at Jane.
“I don’t know, some sort of system failure. We are going to have to turn her off and back on again before calling tech support.”
Both girls stand in front of the couch looking curiously at Jane, who opens and closes her mouth like a fish.
“I’m gone for one day and this happens?”
“Hey, I was gone most of the day too, we only spoke on the phone— although, what she did manage to say…” Sutton offers, comically mumbling the last bit.
“What did she say?”
“That’s for Jane to tell you, not me.”
“But the girl is catatonic and obviously in no condition to talk right now,” Kat counters, looking at Sutton but gesturing in the general direction of an open-mouthed Jane sitting on the couch.
“I’ve already told you as much as I feel comfortable telling you…”
“All you said was ‘bring wine’ and ‘Jacqueline’, ok, that’s not much to go on—“
Jane jerks her head, the mention of Jacqueline’s name appearing to wake something inside of her.
“She picked it out.”
At that, both girls quickly turn to look at their friend.
“She speaks!” Kat interjects with a bright smile.
“She picked it out... Jacqueline? She picked your outfit?” Sutton tries, nodding towards the garment bag.
“She… walked into the fashion closet and… found it for me.”
“So what’s the problem? You don’t like it?” Kat asks.
Jane stares at Kat unblinkingly for a couple of beats. Then she lets out a snort, which is followed by a chuckle. Soon enough she is laughing in earnest and shows no signs of stopping. Kat looks at her confused, narrowing her eyes. She turns to Sutton.
“Yeah, we still might have to reboot her…”
When her laughter subsides, both her friends are seated next to her, wine glasses in hand and curious, amused expressions on their faces. Jane reaches for the glass waiting for her on the coffee table and takes a healthy sip, before taking a fortifying breath and getting up from the couch. Reaching behind Sutton, she grabs the garment bag. Opening it, she reveals its contents to her friends.
Kat’s face breaks out into a big smile, as next to her, Sutton’s eyes widen.
“Wow…” Kat says.
“I know…” Jane says with a content sigh, her eyes not leaving the suit.
It’s just a suit, she tells herself. A very beautiful - as perfect as can be, really - suit but these are just… clothes. Her article on congresswoman Wolfe comes to mind then.
“Pay attention to the woman behind the clothes”. She can still remember, clear as day when Jacqueline had sauntered up to her wearing a blouse made up of black see-through cut-outs and strategically placed straps of solid fabric and parroted her article’s title back to her. Jane sure as hell was paying attention to “the woman”, even back then when things were… less confusing. There was just no ignoring her in such an outfit.
“How… exactly did this… happen?” Sutton finally manages to ask, still staring incredulously at the suit in Jane’s hands.
“I was in the fashion closet looking for an outfit. She walked in, saw how frustrated I was and… decided to help.”
“Well, she certainly did that, I’m jealous you get to wear this, it’s incredible,” Kat gushes, as she scooches down the couch and reaches out to touch the suit.
“I know…” Jane says with a smile. Then, turning to Sutton, she says, “I’m really gonna need your help with the alterations. Jacqueline said she’d talk to Oliver about clearing your schedule…”
At that, Sutton’s eyes widen again and she shakes her head as if snapping out of a trance. “Yeah, of course."
“So… is this the Jacqueline thing? But… I’m confused, Sutton didn’t know Jacqueline had chosen your outfit?” Kat asks with a frown.
Reluctantly putting the suit back into its bag, carefully setting it down on an armchair, Jane picks up her wine glass again and flops back down on the couch.
“That.. is a conversation for later.”
‘Later’ comes after three glasses of wine on an empty stomach. Her brain pleasantly fuzzy, Jane finally feels ready to start "unpacking".
“These… feelings. They have just sneaked up on me.”
Her friends listen attentively, not saying anything. Kat’s head is propped up against her hand, elbow resting on the back of the couch. To the other side of Jane, Sutton sits in a similar position.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time together.” Somewhere along the way, Jacqueline stopped being “work” to Jane. And, perhaps more notably, Jane stopped being a subordinate to Jacqueline.
“This is my colleague, Jane Sloan.”
At some point, quite unexpectedly, they found themselves on equal footing, for the first time since they’ve met.
There was an inevitable intimacy that arose from working so closely together these last few months, as they interviewed sources at a number of different locations outside of Scarlet for the Dolan story. Jane had never spent so much time with Jacqueline, not all at once, and at such regular intervals. As a result, she got to see a more personal side of her that she'd only managed to get glimpses of before. When Jacqueline was fired, Jane didn’t think twice before going straight to her loft, which she’d seen several times at that point. As they shared a bottle of wine, even as heart broke at the resignation in the woman’s voice as she explained she didn’t want to fight for Scarlet anymore, Jane noted, and not for the first time, how natural and right it felt to be with her outside of work, even at the home she shared with her husband.
Then, several days later, over a different bottle of wine and home-cooked Cambodian food, Jacqueline would tell her that Ian Carlyle was about to not be her husband anymore. That should’ve helped explain a few things to Jane, but it didn’t, not at the time.
“Where does Ryan fit into this?”
“He doesn’t.” Sutton’s eyebrows nearly reach her hairline at the cut and dry manner in which Jane’s basically announced the end of her relationship with her boyfriend. But when all was said and done, she hadn’t been able to move past his infidelity. The fact that he had been okay with her kissing someone else just so she wouldn’t be able to hold his actions against him any longer was the final straw, telling Jane that their relationship was far from healthy and beyond the point of saving. She feels as though she’s been fighting for the two of them since the beginning, but now it was time to let go.
The thing is, even knowing that she and Ryan had issues that went beyond Jacqueline and were about them and them alone, a part of her still felt guilty… and that’s because at some point, around the time Jane had been traipsing around New York playing Woodward & Bernstein with Jacqueline, working late nights with her over greasy takeout and the occasional glass of scotch, worrying sick about the hack and what would happen to their story as a result of it, Jane couldn’t help but notice how much she looked forward to spending time with the woman. How much she missed her when they were apart, more than she did her boyfriend while he was away on his book tour…
…and that should’ve definitely cleared things up for her… but it didn’t.
It wasn’t until she had pretty much decided to end things with Ryan… that the ink had already dried on Jacqueline’s divorce papers… and that Jacqueline had let Jane know they’d been invited to speak at some panel and all these obsessive thoughts and feelings about how the woman would see and perceive her invaded her conscious mind, that she put two and two together.
Jacqueline is no longer just Jacqueline Carlyle, Editor-in-Chief of Scarlet, the magazine she’d read under the covers as a child and became the big sister she’s never had… who inspired Jane to become a writer, gave her a job and a chance, mentored and molded her into the best writer she could possibly be. She is now also… Jacqueline, the woman she’ll hang out with at her loft, who is teaching her how to play chess and will often regale her with stories from her days as a war reporter and an AP stringer. The woman who will, in turn, listen to Jane, appearing to be equally fascinated by her own stories and past, who will also listen to her problems and give her advice - but not in effort to “fix” things just to get Jane to crank out a piece she is having trouble with, but because she cares about her.
The larger than life, nearly mythical figure now shared equal real estate with the woman in her mind and heart - a flesh-and-blood, magnificent woman whom Jane wants more and more of the more she has of her.
“You do know you’re only thinking, not saying anything, right?” an amused Kat asks after a while.
Jane turns to her with a hopeless look on her face. It must convey all she’s been thinking and feeling for the past few minutes, as her friend’s expression softens.
“Oh, you’re in trouble…” Kat sing-songs.
Something is not quite clicking for Jane.
“You guys are being surprisingly… chill about all of this.”
Sutton and Kat exchange weirded out glances before they turn to her. “Why wouldn’t we be?”
“Maybe chill isn’t the right word," she tries, shifting awkwardly on the couch. "I just figured you’d be a little more… surprised? I mean… it’s not like I’ve been with a woman before, or even… interested in one. In fact, I seem to remember a conversation where I said—“
“And neither had I before Adena, remember?” Kat interrupts her. “I mean, it’s true that I've dealt with my sexuality a bit more openly—“
“A lot more openly,” Sutton interrupts.
“A lot more openly…” Kat acknowledges with a nod. “With your guy’s help. But that particular conversation notwithstanding, Jane… it’s not like your crush on Jacqueline was exactly a secret.”
“Your big, leeeeesbian crush…” Sutton adds jokingly.
Jane's mouth opens again. "Wha-- but-- I..."
Before her brain experiences another Windows blue screen of death, Kat comes to her rescue. “Look… everyone is a just little in love with Jacqueline, right?”
“Facts!” Sutton raises her glass, as Jane nods dumbly, still appearing lost in thought.
“But you…” Kat starts saying, and Sutton snorts. When Jane glares, Kat bites down a laugh of her own. “You’re a… special case.“
Jane grimaces. Somehow that doesn’t feel like a compliment.
“And if you’re honest with yourself I’m sure you’ll find that you’ve been attracted to her for nearly as long as you’ve… admired her,” Kat concludes gently.
Jane’s eyebrows furrow as she takes in Kat’s words. Her feelings for Jacqueline might have been clear to her friends, but they were much more confusing to her. It’s not that she’s ever felt… indifferent towards the woman - far from it -, but she always attributed the butterflies in her stomach to being drawn to Jacqueline's presence and talent and power. She didn't think--
“Come on, now - you and Jacqueline. What did you think that was?” Sutton asks, tapping into Jane’s thoughts.
“Ah, admiration? Respect?”, she tries, a little defensive.
“Eeeee”, Sutton makes a failed buzzer sound. “Try again.”
Jane focuses on this more obscure facet of their dynamic next. She thinks back to the day she saw Jacqueline in the see-through blouse and says, tentatively, “A totally platonic, purely objective… aesthetic appreciation of a conventionally attractive woman?”
Kat chuckles, and Sutton says, “Yeah, I’m hearing these big, fancy writer words when it comes down to one thing.“
At Jane’s attentive look, she explains.
“Your mouth... it has a little problem staying closed whenever she’s around.”
“Oh my god, remember her first day as a writer?” Kat says to Sutton, speaking over Jane in the middle of the couch. “We literally had to drag her out of there because she was just staring into Jacqueline’s office—“
“Ok, I get it!” Jane says, mortified, as her friends share a laugh at her expense.
“Ok, so, it just occurred to me….” Sutton slurs, two hours and two-thirds of their second, Postmated wine bottle later. “You were in the fashion closet looking for an outfit to look good… for Jacqueline…”
Not good… perfect. “Hmm, yes...” Jane mumbles with a frown, her head resting on Kat’s shoulder next to her, half asleep.
“…and Jacqueline found you an outfit in the fashion closet… so you’d look good… for Jacqueline.”
“Ha!” Kat says.
They all exchange glances and then burst into laughter.
“Argh, It’s not funny,” Jane says, throwing her head back against the couch and covering her eyes.
“Oh, it’s funny. It’s ironic… and it is funny,” Sutton says, pointing with her glass at the last part.
“But… but she doesn’t know it’s for her. The outfit,” Jane says, a question in her voice. She feels wide awake now.
“Are you sure?” it’s Kat’s turn to ask. “What if she does know? I mean, it’s Jacqueline.”
The thought alone is enough to make Jane’s temperature rise by about ten degrees.
“Ok, go put it on,” Sutton pats Jane’s knee.
The blonde’s words effectively put out the fire Kat’s had ignited right before. “What? N-now?”
“Yeah, I wanna see what it looks like,” Sutton says with an impatient wave of her hand.
“I-I don’t think it’s a good idea, you’ve been drinking—“
“Jane, I’m not gonna cut into fabric now, I just need to see what I’m working with,” is the blonde’s amused reply. “I know better than to drink and stitch.”
“Smart,” Kat interjects with a salute.
Jane doesn’t move. She’s frozen in place.
“What if it doesn’t look good?” she asks in a small voice, turning to Sutton. “I’ve never had a suit like that look good on me before—”
“That’s because you’ve never had me fitting you into one before.” Sutton’s strong voice and confident response make Jane’s chest a little less tight, allowing her to get up from the couch, and a few moments later she is down to her bra and panties and about to try on the suit.
As Jane carefully slips into the pants, she notes they are way too long for her, as predicted, and she’s careful not to step on the fabric, which scrunches up around her calves. The blouse is next, and, luckily, a much better fit, even if it will have to be taken in a bit in the chest. The jacket - the pièce de résistance of the whole outfit -, completes the ensemble. Jane feels swallowed by a tent, and as Sutton starts taking her measurements, she tries not to panic. She hasn’t seen herself in a mirror yet, and she really doesn’t want to.
Now that Jacqueline picked out her outfit, and has her own expectations of what Jane will look like in it, the stakes feel higher than before. Jane doesn’t want to let herself down - but she definitely can’t let Jacqueline down.
“Hey,” Sutton says, meeting her eyes. “Trust me.”
Willing her friend’s confidence to boost hers, Jane takes a deep breath and nods at her.
“Red, I know you’re still… occupied, but I’m gonna need all hands on deck in a few,” Oliver announces as he enters the fashion closet where Jane is perched on a stool, having her final fitting for her suit. His tone is flat and vaguely annoyed as he addresses his employee, which is nothing new for him and Jane thinks nothing of it.
But when his eyes meet hers and nearly melt the flesh off of her face, Jane realizes there’s a problem. She swallows down a gulp.
Sutton’s head pokes out from behind Jane’s legs. “I’m almost done here, I can be there in ten?”
“Fine,” he concedes, still looking at Jane. Then he shakes his head, turns on his heel and leaves.
“Ok, what was that about?”
“What was what about?” is Sutton’s immediate reply, her quickness betraying her nervousness even if her eyes don’t waver from the hem of Jane’s pant leg.
“Um, the way Oliver looked at me just now?”
At Sutton’s continued silence, she clarifies, her voice rising in volume, “Like I murdered a bunch of Dalmatian puppies to make this suit?!”
Jane understands that the man cannot be too happy with her monopolizing Sutton’s time and attention in the last few days, but that didn’t explain the look on his face - Oliver’s eyes holding such a peculiar mix of sorrow, anger, and contempt that Jane would have found the look comical if it had been directed at anyone else but her.
Sutton’s eyes widen for a brief moment, as she continues to look down and studiously ignore Jane’s comments. But when Jane clears her throat, jerking her leg to let the blonde know she’s not letting the subject go, she finally relents, accepting Jane's extended hand to get up from the floor with a heavy sigh. “Look, I didn’t want to bring this up before your panel—“
“Jeez, how bad can it be?” Jane’s voice raises a few more octaves. She is officially worried now.
“It’s not bad, it’s just…” Sutton lets out a resigned sigh. “This suit you’re wearing… it’s a Karl Lagerfeld.”
It wasn’t as though the Chanel label on the jacket had escaped Jane’s notice, and it did flatter her that Jacqueline had selected this particular ensemble for her, but high-end designer pieces were not exactly a rare occurrence in the Scarlet fashion closet. She frowns.
“Okay…” she encourages her friend to continue with a pointed nod of her head.
“It’s a Karl Lagerfeld that he designed… for Jacqueline.”
Jane’s eyes widen. “F— for Jacqueline. You mean… specifically? As in—“
“— as in a unique, one-of-a-kind number he designed with her in mind, that also happens to be one of the last articles of clothing the man created before his death? Yeah, exactly,” Sutton blurts out, following her explanation with a nervous laugh. All the words she’d been keeping to herself for days are now coming out in rapid succession. “I still remember the day this thing arrived here from Paris. Oliver handed me ’The Karl’ as he calls it like it was the holy grail and had me hide it in here in the closet until the perfect occasion presented itself for Jacqueline to wear it. He was planning on doing a whole editorial around it, too, so when he saw you in it just now, you can understand why—“
Jane’s legs threaten to give out from under her and she shakily steps down from the stool and takes a seat.
When Jane’s alarm wakes her up the next morning, before she can even open her eyes her heart begins thumping inside her chest - the staccato rhythm letting her know before her head even did that today is the day of her panel.
She lays on her back, staring at the ceiling, as she attempts to get her heart under control by taking slow, deep breaths. This is a day like any other, she tells (or rather, tricks) herself. She just needs to get up and take a shower so she can get to work. Reciting the simple, mechanical routine she follows most days does the trick, her heartbeat returning to normal, and before her nerves get a chance to paralyze her once again, she gets out of bed and jumps straight into a hot shower.
It took everything she had not to barge into Jacqueline’s office after her conversation with Sutton the day before and ask her if she hadn’t made some kind of mistake, as Jane couldn’t possibly be wearing that particular suit to the panel… but something had kept her from doing so. More specifically, Jacqueline’s eyes in the mirror of the fashion closet, which haunted both her dreams and her waking thoughts, and told Jane everything she needed to know.
Jacqueline hadn’t made a mistake.
She wanted to see Jane in her clothes.
Just like that, liquid fire is running through her veins, warming her more than the nearly scalding water as she stands under the shower spray. This whole thing felt like some sort of game, like the beginnings of yet another shift in their dynamic, one that terrified and excited her… and she sure as hell would see it through.
As Jane mechanically runs her soapy hands over her sensitive skin it is to the thought of Jacqueline’s electric eyes. As her right hand roams over her stomach, she recalls Jacqueline’s fingers as they gently gathered her hair, brushing against her nape in the process and making her break out in goosebumps. Her breathing turns shallow at the memory of that brief touch, and when Jane’s hand slips further south, as if of its own accord, she gasps and leans against the shower wall with her forearms, bowing her head.
The thing she wants most - Jacqueline’s full, undivided attention - is the very thing that now threatens to make her burst into flames.
Only when the water begins to run cold she shuts it off. Slipping into a robe, she pads out of the bathroom and finds her two friends already waiting for her in the living room.
“Good morning,” Sutton greets her, cup of coffee in hand, the suit she brought over with her on a hanger resting against the back of the couch. Next to her, Kat pats the makeup bag sitting on her lap. “Your glam squad is here!”
“Let’s do this thing!” Kat announces cheerfully, getting up from the couch and urging Jane into her bedroom, Sutton right behind her.
Jane still hasn’t seen herself in the suit.
When she had first put it on in her living room, she simply refused to see what it looked like - the pants and jacket comically large on her, she knew looking in the mirror would be too upsetting, bringing back painful memories of ill-fitting suits past. When Sutton suggested she wait until it was ready and perfectly tailored to Jane’s body before she saw herself in it, she couldn’t have agreed fast enough. And since she was waiting, it only made sense she wait until her hair and makeup were done as well, so she’d appreciate the final, “perfect” product.
As she sits in front of the mirror in her bedroom, still in her robe, Kat stands behind her chair and begins playing with her recently blow-dried hair. “So, what are thinking? Straight?” she asks, holding up the hair straightener, only to swap it for the hair curler. “Beach curls?”
Jane hears Jacqueline’s voice in her head then, clear as day as if she were behind Jane’s chair right now, whispering in her ear…
“Ah, no,” she announces, clearing her throat, sharp eyes meeting Kat’s in the mirror.
“I’m wearing it up.”
Jane has opted for big lashes and a bold lip. As she applies her lipstick with the aid of a handheld mirror, she thinks about how there is nothing shy about her makeup look, just like her choice in footwear - the burgundy boots with chunky heels an unexpected but great selection according to Sutton. Getting her fashionista friend’s seal of approval felt nice, but that was the one thing she was never nervous about - when Jane saw the boots in the closet, she just knew they were the right choice.
As she folds up the sleeves of the jacket before her “reveal”, Jane feels like a participant on one of those makeover shows on basic cable. This is the moment when anyone would have thought her nervousness would take over, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. She has a good feeling about this. It just feels… right.
A moment later, with encouraging smiles from her friends, she steps in front of the full-body mirror, finally seeing herself.
“So… what do we think?” an excited Sutton asks, as, next to her, Kat bites her lip in anticipation.
Jane takes a deep breath as she stares at her reflection. Sutton had done a remarkable job - the jacket large and oversized like it’s supposed to but just the right length, sitting perfectly on her shoulders. The pants also fit great, hugging her curves and flaring out in all the right places. The v-neckline of the blouse combined with the updo made Jane’s neck look as long as a swan’s, and she immediately thinks about Jacqueline, standing behind her and holding her hair up in the fashion closet. Thinks about how she’d react if she saw her just now. In her mind’s eye, Jane can see her bright, twinkling eyes and the pleased smirk forming on her lips at the sight of her. Her breath leaves her in a shaky exhale.
She's running late.
Of all the days to be running late--
Jane practically sprints through the doors when she arrives at the 92nd Street Y. She was in too much of a hurry to properly tear into her Uber driver for taking the worst route there and getting stuck in a traffic jam, but in her mind, he and his entire bloodline was feeling her wrath - and if they weren't, her one-star review would surely send the message loud and clear.
Luckily, leaving almost an hour before strictly necessary actually paid off this time. And she would have this day to rub in her friends' faces if they ever dared mock her for being extra prepared.
When she finally enters the green room she finds it nearly empty. Only Jacqueline is there, sitting in an armchair, looking down at her phone. She immediately looks up, as if sensing her presence, and Jane barely has time to register the sly smile and bask in the appreciative look on her face before asking gravely, “Why would you have me wear this?”
This is definitely not what she was going to say - her apology for making Jacqueline wait still sitting on the tip of her tongue. Jane thought she’d successfully talked herself out of that particular question before and can't hide her shock, but Jacqueline seems unfazed and doesn’t miss a beat. “Because I thought it would look good on you,” she replies airily, her tone indicating she was stating the obvious. Then, with an arched eyebrow, she adds, “and I was right.”
Her heart skips a beat at the words. “But-but it’s The Karl. It was made for you. I—”
Jane feels a lot of things, all at once - her confidence from earlier that morning, buoyed by the beautiful suit and by the fact that it was gifted to her by Jacqueline Carlyle at odds with her lingering nervousness about carrying off such an outfit, created by one of the most renowned designers of all time, who had had the magnificent woman that’s sitting right across from her in mind.
Jacqueline smiles again. She uncrosses her legs, drawing Jane's attention to them immediately - a sight to behold in a curve-hugging black pencil skirt and five-inch Manolo heels - and slinks up from her seat.
Jane can’t help but stare at those legs, as if hypnotized, and slowly, almost reluctantly, raises her gaze to meet Jacqueline’s. The woman’s eyes appear to shine a bit brighter, all of a sudden, the corner of her lip tugging into that familiar, maddening smirk normally reserved for Jane. She opts not to address the elephant in the room, however, asking instead, “You wanted a power suit, did you not?”
“Uh, yes, but you should have seen the way Oliver looked at me yesterday,” Jane says with an unamused chuckle, unable to disguise her annoyance at the fashion director. At Jacqueline’s raised eyebrow, Jane shakes her head. She doesn’t know why she bothered sharing Oliver’s reaction with her, doesn’t know why she’s pissed at the man all of a sudden - the same way she doesn’t know whether her heart is picking up speed because of Jacqueline’s blasé attitude about the one-of-a-kind outfit or the fact that the woman is now slowly approaching her like a lioness her prey.
Actually, come to think of it… the answer to that was quite obvious.
“Well, Oliver… doesn’t have a say in it,” Jacqueline says almost absent-mindedly but in a tone that leaves no room for discussion, and just like that, as Jane’s chest floods with the warmth of validation, she discovers why she became so irritated with him. This is Jacqueline, and these are Jacqueline’s clothes which she chose to gift to Jane. This - whatever “this” is - is about the two of them and the two of them alone… Oliver Grayson had no business in it.
Jacqueline finally comes to a halt in front of Jane and stares her up and down, making her heart beat a steady drum inside her chest. Then she reaches out and straightens her collar in a smooth gesture. Her voice is low when she says, “It is mine to do as I please.”
Jane knows Jacqueline is talking about the suit, but it doesn’t keep the heat from rising inside of her at the possessiveness she can hear in her words. She hopes she’s not blushing, but she knows it's a futile hope because can feel the warmth creeping up her cheeks.
“You wore it up.”
A sharp inhale is all the reaction Jane can muster at that moment, Jacqueline’s tone causing that warmth traveling up and down her body to settle low in her belly. As her lips part and she lets the air out in a shaky exhale, she sees Jacqueline’s eyes drop from the top of her head to her mouth.
When she swallows, hard, that heavy gaze moves to her throat.
It makes Jane want to tilt her head and stick out her bare neck for Jacqueline to—
Their eyes lock then.
“You told me to.”
Not you asked me to.
You told me to.
“Hmmm," Jacqueline hums, clearly pleased, her eyes flashing dangerously. Her face impassive, she is so perfectly still Jane feels like she's moments away from being pounced on and devoured by the woman standing in front of her.
And she is really looking forward to it.
“Everyone is already on stage. You’re on in five,” a bored PA pokes his head into the green room, his monotone indicating he either doesn't know or doesn't give a damn about what he's just interrupted.
Reluctantly peeling her eyes from Jane, her expression transformed into one of sheer congeniality, Jacqueline informs the man they'll be right there before turning to Jane again. Her voice is all business, but her eyes are still dark when she says—
“Well, that's our cue. Time to go, partner.”
As Jane sits there, she wonders if there is such a thing as self-fulfilling prophecies. She is basically living the exact scenario she imagined that day in the fashion closet - wearing the very outfit she saw in her mind’s eye. Even her image of the stage proved to be accurate, but having been here at the 92Y before that was to be expected, even if she hadn’t known in which room their panel would be held ahead of time.
She attempts to focus on the discussion at hand, but as some man (whose name she’s already forgotten) speaks at the end of the stage, her thoughts are on Jacqueline, occupying the chair next to her. They are sitting more than an arm’s length away from each other, but with the charge between them after their conversation in the green room, they might as well be close enough to touch.
The upside to being so caught up in the woman is that Jane hasn’t had the time or energy to be nervous about the actual panel in the first place.
“If anything the case of the McDonald’s CEO makes it clear that high leaderships shouldn’t get involved with subordinates in the workplace. That should be the rule in every corporation. It’s basically the only way for people to protect themselves against charges—"
Baldy manages to get Jane’s attention. Her head snaps up to look at him and before she knows, she’s talking.
“Ah, policy changes shouldn’t be about shielding powerful figures from scandal, they should be about protecting potential victims,” she interjects, as the voices around her murmur their agreement.
The man bristles then chuckles defensively. “Nor is that what I was implying. But in this environment, I believe it’s only fair to ask that if you reach a certain position, given the opportunities for abuse of power, you abstain from relationships at work. That was a consensual relationship and the man still lost his job.”
“It’s not as though abusers will just follow rules against fraternization. McDonald's had such a rule and look at what happened to that CEO. People don’t stop falling in love because the rule book says they can’t-“
“Maybe they can't help falling in love, but if it happens, one of them can and should change companies—“
She can’t believe this man. “Aside from the fact you make it sound like finding a new job and potentially changing your career trajectory is as simple and easy as buying a new pair of pants, you’d be punishing people just for being human. There’s nothing inherently wrong with falling in love and being in a relationship.”
A knot forms in Jane’s stomach. As much as she believes in what she’s saying, there are her feelings on the matter and then there’s the real world of board rooms and policies and practices that have little or nothing to do with the happiness and well being of lowly employees such as herself, and everything to do with maximizing profit margins while minimizing the potential for scandal. A thought that had never crossed her mind before - that of Jacqueline losing her job for becoming involved with her -, suddenly becomes a very real possibility to her.
“There are ways to protect people when there’s an impropriety of power, perceived or otherwise,” Jacqueline interjects as if reading her thoughts, and Jane turns her attention to her. “Safford group, which owns Scarlet Magazine, makes it so employees are mandated to flag any romantic liaisons in the workplace to HR, which, in turn, conducts an investigation and determines if the relationship is appropriate given its particular circumstances and both parties’ positions with the company. No one gets in trouble, not when there’s full transparency.”
Jane can’t take her eyes off of her. She stares at Jacqueline even as baldy starts yapping about that not being a good enough solution in the “current climate”, as he keeps saying. Jane has half a mind to put him in his place, but she can’t be bothered. She just wants Jacqueline to please, please turn and look at her—
There she is.
As a woman starts talking (and Jane wants to feel bad for not remembering her name or paying attention to what she is saying, but she just doesn’t), their eyes finally meet. Jane stares at that perfect poker face and hopes that her own eyes convey how grateful she is to Jacqueline for reminding her about this blessed Safford policy, which she already knew but forgot all about due to the sudden panic of her relationship with this woman being over before it even started. She hopes Jacqueline can see that she is not afraid, and, most importantly, that Jane knows what she wants now, and just how badly she wants it. As the corner of Jacqueline’s mouth lifts up in a knowing smirk that clearly says “Message received”, and she shoots her a look that all but says, “Behave”, it’s all Jane can do to take her lead and turn her attention back to the panel. She has to sit there, attempt to control her breathing and pretend to listen, even as her heart hammers inside her chest and her muscles shake... even as she thinks about the conversation they just had, without uttering a single word.
After a few minutes that might as well be an eternity, the panel is finally drawing to a close, and the moderator thanks everyone for participating. Jane takes the opportunity to turn to Jacqueline again. As she stares at her with all the intensity she can feel in her body, as she thinks of all the things she’d like to do to her the second they’re alone, it’s the woman’s turn to swallow down a gulp, and Jane’s turn to smirk.
The lioness just became the prey.
Jane has never has resented Jacqueline's quasi-celebrity status as much as she does now.
The panel ended almost half an hour ago, and she hasn’t managed to leave the stage yet, caught up in conversation with… panelist #1 and panelist #2 - Jane doesn’t even pretend to know who at this point. She doesn’t care.
She does care, however, that she is back in the green room, all by herself. She paces the room, up and down, in a scene so familiar that she might as well be in the fashion closet a few days ago, desperate to find something to wear.
Only she is desperate for something else now.
She doesn’t even know why she is still here because, for all she knows, Jacqueline will go straight out the front door and into her town car as soon as she’s finally free of the annoying people who decided to take this opportunity to catch up and chit chat.
The thought is enough to make Jane stop dead in her tracks. She hesitates, her hand frozen on the clasp of the clutch where she’s keeping her phone. Should she just… go home? Should she shoot Jacqueline a text to let her know she’s still here?
She’s not wrong about everything, is she?
Before Jane has time to properly second-guess herself or do anything, really, she hears the door opening, and a couple of beats later, closing shut. Her back is to it, but she can feel someone’s presence in the room with her. When they don’t say anything in the next few moments, she knows exactly who it is.
When she finally turns around, her heart picks up speed again. She knows she’s flushed, she can feel her eyes start to water and her breath is leaving her nostrils in short bursts. Her bun is halfway down her head at this point, that one strategically loose strand of hair framing her face having been joined by two or three rogue others, and with how much she’s bitten her lips, she’d be surprised if there was any lipstick left on them. She hasn’t looked at herself in a mirror but she knows she looks a hot mess.
Jacqueline is standing there, head to the side, looking at her again. That small, maddening smile is back on her face, and as her gaze flicks from Jane’s hair to her cheeks, her lips and then her heaving chest, it just gets wider.
Then she finds her eyes again and utters one, simple word.
It takes Jane two, maybe three strides to get to her.
Her right hand immediately closes around Jacqueline’s nape, pulling her down for a kiss that’s more than a little desperate, and long, long overdue. Jacqueline hums and her hands immediately move to circle Jane’s waist and then they’re swaying against each other, swallowing each other’s moans, only breaking the seal of their lips when oxygen becomes an imperative.
“Took you long enough,” Jacqueline pants, her half-hearted attempt at humor completely lost on Jane, who could only focus on the desire she could hear in her voice. She has never heard Jacqueline out of breath and hoarse like this before and greedily records the sound in her brain, where she hopes to replay it over and over again...
And then, through the fog, Jane manages to process her words.
Jacqueline has been… waiting? How long has she been waiting?
She can’t bring herself to say anything in response. They’re both still attempting to catch their breaths, foreheads resting against each other. But it doesn’t take long for Jane to become desperate again - she’s basically glued to Jacqueline, but it isn’t enough. They aren’t close enough—
So she kisses Jacqueline again because she can do that now. She doesn’t have to just look at her from afar, crave her attention and think of her with a longing she just didn’t comprehend.
When they break apart once again, Jane notes Jacqueline's normally clear blue eyes have turned into a steel shade of grey, her lips forming a thin line. She frames her face with her hands, gently caressing her cheeks with the pads of her thumbs, Jane’s eyes automatically falling shut at the sensation. “Come home with me,” she urgently whispers, and if Jane thought she'd sounded hot before, it’s nothing compared to what this sound does to her.
“Okay,” she manages, speaking for the first time since Jacqueline entered the room.
No words are exchanged between them as they make their way out of the building. They don’t even look at each other as they take the few yet infinite steps towards the Lincoln town car awaiting them across the street. Blood is rushing through Jane’s ears and she can barely hear when Jacqueline greets her driver, only managing a polite nod of her own at the man who’s always so nice to her. But as soon as Jane slides into her seat, Jacqueline following suit through the opposite door, she hears her asking him, in a perfectly unaffected tone of voice, to raise the partition up.
That’s the moment Jane is no longer responsible for her actions.
The tinted piece of glass has barely slid all the way up, shielding them from the rest of the world, and then Jane is moving to straddle Jacqueline in her seat. Cursing the pencil skirt, that makes reaching her thigh an impossible task, Jane settles for a perfect knee instead. Her touch is needy, almost rough and doesn’t appreciate, and she has to tell herself to slow down.
After a searing kiss, she buries her face in Jacqueline’s neck, getting drunk on the feel of her skin and smell of her perfume. She’s so distracted she doesn’t even notice Jacqueline’s hands slipping below her jacket, below her blouse, not until her soft hands start caressing her back gently. Jane moans, her eyes falling shut at the sensation.
“Not fair,” she whines, her protest muffled against Jacqueline’s neck, and the woman chuckles softly. Jane feels the vibration more than she hears her voice, their chests rising and falling in unison. It’s only Jane's competitive nature, her urge to make Jacqueline feel even a third of what she’s feeling that has her fighting the fog of lust that’s overpowered her brain to focus on the task at hand.
Her lips open and she starts lazily kissing Jacqueline’s neck. Jane feels her sharp intake of breath when she uses her tongue, and when she uses her teeth to gently scrape the delicate skin below her ear next, she hears the woman gasp, her nails digging deep into her skin. Jane pulls back quickly and stares at her with wide eyes. Jacqueline’s own eyes widen in response.
“I’m sor-“ Jane immediately moves to swallow her apology with a kiss, that gets hotter and more forceful with each moment that passes. When Jacqueline’s hands move from her back to her front, caressing the skin of her stomach before undoing her button and zipper and dipping below her waistband, Jane realizes there’s no way they’re making it to Jacqueline’s place in the Upper East Side.
The angle is not quite right, but nimble, questing fingers have now slipped under her underwear, and when Jacqueline starts talking in her ear, Jane realizes angles don’t matter in the slightest.
“You looked so beautiful in my suit today,” she croons. “And you did so well, just like I knew you would.”
Jane moans against her neck. Her eyes squeeze tightly shut, stars going off in her head.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off of you,” she continues in a voice that’s soft and low and commanding. “When you put that man in his place it was all I could do not to drag you from that stage—“
“Oh God,” Jane whispers.
“I wanted to take my time with you, you know? I was going to have you undress for me. Starting with the pins holding your hair up…”
“But I just couldn’t… wait. I can’t get enough of you.”
It’s only been a few minutes and Jane already feels like she’s hanging by a thread.
“What do you need?” Jacqueline asks in a whisper, just as two fingers drive deep inside of her.
Jane all but screams at the rough touch, which makes her throb and pulse against the woman's fingers. “Just… keep talking to me.”
All she needs right now is Jacqueline’s voice, filling her head with all the things she’s wanted her to say for so long and didn’t know—
“I can’t wait until we’re home, so I can take this suit off of you. But my plans have changed... I’m not going to be gentle… not this time."
Jane’s breath now comes in short bursts. The rougher Jacqueline touches her, and the cruder her words, the hotter she gets.
“Is that ok with you?” Jacqueline asks.
“Will you let me fuck you like I want to?”
“Yesssssss,” she can feel her orgasm creeping closer and closer.
“What do you want me to do to you?”
Whatever you want. “I want you to fuck me until I can’t walk straight anymore." At her words, Jacqueline’s fingers drive deep inside of her again and twist, drawing a guttural moan out of Jane’s throat. Then they leave her depths and begin gently drumming against her clit. Jacqueline takes her time touching her, alternating pressure, circling her nub, as Jane undulates in her lap. She feels like she’s about to lose her mind.
"I'm gonna--" When Jane starts jerking against her hand, Jacqueline gives her a slow, gentle kiss and then pulls back to look at her. Jane can barely keep her eyes open but Jacqueline’s own dark, narrowed eyes draw her in.
“That’s it, come for me.”
The sound, the smell, the sight of her… it’s all too much for Jane. She sobs at the overwhelming pleasure that finally takes over her body, muffling the sound against Jacqueline’s lips. She feels herself imploding, melting against the woman below her. Her muscles tighten, contracting almost painfully, and then she slumps against Jacqueline, totally spent.
“That’s my girl,” she coos, as Jane buries her face in her neck and closes her eyes.
She feels like she’s wearing a tent again.
Only this time, that feeling evokes quite a different response inside of her.
Jane has just gotten out of a hot shower and, after drying with the softest towel she’s ever felt against her skin (there are thread counts for bath towels?!) she decided to put on Jacqueline’s robe, which had been hanging on a hook on the bathroom door.
It’s the same striped silk robe she’d been wearing when Jane came to her, heart in her throat, to ask her what the hell was going on, and what she was planning to do to return to Scarlet. Only to find out that she wasn’t.
Jane feels the lump form in her throat at the memory and, closing the robe tighter around her body, she reminds herself that all is well now. Jacqueline is back at Scarlet where she belongs… and the insecure man who couldn’t handle his wife’s success and love for her job is no longer in her life.
Neither is her cheating boyfriend in hers, for that matter.
As Jane stares at herself in the mirror, seeing herself swallowed by Jacqueline’s four thousand dollar robe that smells like her, and feels almost as luxurious as her skin, she feels more perfect than she’s ever felt before.
And then she remembers that she doesn’t have to settle for traces of the woman when the real, flesh and blood thing is waiting for her just outside this bathroom.
When she finally leaves the en-suite bathroom and pads barefoot to the living room, she finds Jacqueline sitting on the couch, staring attentively at the chessboard sitting on the coffee table in front of her. She’s wearing a baby blue cotton t-shirt and shorts set - short shorts, her long, golden legs fully on display.
It’s just not fair.
Then she’s looking up at Jane. Her eyes narrow into slits at the sight of her, and just like that, Jane is losing her mind all over again.
“It’s settled - you should always wear my clothes, they look better on you than me.”
“That is just… not possible,” Jane laughs as she stands there, looking at Jacqueline like an idiot. A part of her still can’t believe any of this is real.
Jacqueline ignores her words, turning her attention back to the game. She uses a couple of fingers to slowly and elegantly move a piece on the board. Jane watches transfixed.
Jane looks at her. She sedately approaches the coffee table, bypasses it and then she’s straddling Jacqueline on the couch.
“Not what I meant,“ Jacqueline chuckles, already moving to encircle Jane’s waist below the robe.
“My move,” she whispers against her lips and no other words are spoken for a long time.