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of living and loving you (my starlight, my goddess)

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“Could you pass the salt?”

They’re in their kitchen on the 24th of December, the phonograph playing their favorite, newly-released Christmas record, their tree decked and gifts upon gifts already tucked under it.

“Won’t you ever teach me how you make your sauces?”

“Now why would I want to do that?” Carol turns, takes a lick of the wooden spoon she’s been using to stir the sauce in the pan on the stove. “Then you wouldn’t need me to cook for you.”

All Therese can do is smile by the kitchen table, head resting on her hand as she watches Carol flit around the kitchen. Sure, Therese can cook, but she had never spent enough time at home to actually cook, not like Carol has. They were taught a bit of how to do it in boarding school, but that was child’s play, and nothing like what Carol can do.

“I’d want you to cook.” Therese stands up, and Carol smells the scent of her perfume before she feels Therese’s arms slip around her waist. Carol feels Therese nuzzle her nose against her neck, and she’s half a mind not to shut her eyes. She has half a mind enough to tilt her head away though, and Therese takes that as an invitation to leave a kiss under her jaw. Therese murmurs against her skin, “You know I get lazy.”

“Oh,” and it comes out a little huskier than intended, as it always does when Therese does this to her. Oh, but Carol would never complain. “So what happens when we both get lazy?”

Therese giggles, and she pulls Carol closer against her. “You’d cook for me even if you don’t want to cook for yourself.”

Carol laughs, and Therese’s heart flutters at the sound. She closes her eyes to listen, and it’s like the jingle of bells on Christmas Day. She rests her head at the crook of Carol’s neck, and it’s Carol’s perfume, Carol’s signature pasta sauce, and Carol all around her.

Carol puts a hand over Therese’s hand on her waist. She hums in time with the record, stirring a little more before letting the sauce simmer.

“Sweetheart?”

“Mm?” And Carol’s hand drifts up to stroke Therese’s cheek, where she feels the push of Therese’s cheeks, up, the way it does when Therese smiles in that drowsy way of hers. Adorable, if Carol would say so herself. “I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetheart.” And it’s been—months, now, and still, every time they say it to each other, Carol feels like she’s promising herself to Therese all over again. “I was going to ask if you’d like to dance.”

“Won’t the sauce burn?”

“Oh, look at you being a connoisseur.” Carol turns, and Therese can only half open her eyes despite being wide awake and completely sober. Being in Carol’s presence is enough, anyway, to get Therese drunk and dreaming of… nothing really. Nothing could possibly be better than the moments she’s got with Carol now. Carol tilts her head up, and Therese offers a sloppy smile. “It won’t burn if you don’t distract me.”

“Distract you how?” Therese pouts. Carol bites her lip down to keep from kissing Therese right then and there. “I thought we were just going to dance.”

“Play innocent all you want, darling, but don’t think I’ve forgotten the way you danced with me earlier this week.” In Carol’s defense, they did have a bit to drink.

“You didn’t like it?” In Therese’s… offense, it’s not as much of an accident as it looked when she slid her hand up Carol’s thigh. Therese smirks. “I remember you liking it very much.”

That night was not their quietest for sure.

“Well unlike then, I have something cooking now.” Carol tuts, and Therese laughs. “If you really want to show me some appreciation, appreciate my cooking first.” Carol slides her hand up Therese’s stomach, and she can feel Therese shiver past the dress. Oh, the dress. The brand-new scarlet dress Carol bought for Therese, that in anyone’s eyes seemed just fitting for Therese, but in Carol’s eyes looked… positively ravishing. Carol’s palm finds purchase over Therese’s breast, and she squeezes. “Now, my angel, dance with me.”

They move to the living room. Carol finds she prefers their lack of a rhythm, a sharp contrast to all the strict steps she had been taught growing up, and all the strict choreographies she had to play by when she danced with Harge in view of his parents. She rests her chin on Therese’s shoulder, and by God does she want to nip at Therese’s neck, so she kisses it instead.

One soft kiss, and Therese sighs. She pulls Carol closer, hooks her arms around Carol’s shoulders, and buries her nose in the crook of Carol’s neck. She traces Carol’s back, the rise of Carol’s collarbones and the dip between them. She remembers the feel of Carol’s skin, soft beneath her fingers every time she traced her way up, down, up, down, until she memorized even the most minute of scars not even Carol noticed. Since when, Carol would say, did she have a scratch under her shoulder blades? Since, and Therese would say, probably after work that day. And Carol would roll her eyes, then roll in bed bringing Therese with her, and kiss her full on the lips.

Therese kisses Carol’s neck and inhales her perfume. I love you.

Carol’s hand moves to Therese’s heart. This, one of her favorite pastimes. Under her palm, for which she closes her eyes, she listens and feels to Therese’s beating heart. It’s deep, and slow, and so, so close, and if Carol only could, she would kiss past Therese’s chest and Therese’s ribcage all the way to her heart. I love you, Carol wants to tell it, I love you, I love you, and while she has whispered those words on Therese’s lips, over Therese’s eyes, a breath ghosting Therese’s stomach, and even a whisper teasing between Therese’s legs, Carol finds it not enough. I love you, and even repeating it every second of the day does not feel enough, for words can only deliver so much.

“Carol?” It’s barely a whisper, and even if there had been a hundred more people with them, Carol would only need Therese’s heartbeat to hear it.

“Yes, sweetheart?” And they just sway, their own odd rhythm, not really any constant, not really anyone else’s. Just theirs.

“Where do you want to go tomorrow?” Therese asks.

“Hm.” And Carol wonders. Anywhere, really; even just here would be fine. “Where do you want to go?”

“I was thinking of turning Danny down on the invitation.” Therese sighs. “I mean, he’ll understand.”

“Understand that you’d want to fuck me through Christmas day? Of course, he would.” Therese laughs, and Carol’s deep laughter follows. “Besides, doesn’t he have his own woman to satisfy?”

“Oh, but I don’t think she’s as insatiable as you.”

“Me? Try talking to the mirror.”

As the record dies down, they untangle, and hand in hand, they walk back to the kitchen.

Therese kisses Carol’s knuckles as Carol turns off the stove.

“There. Now we have not-burnt sauce for our pasta tonight.” She turns, and while her back is to the kitchen counter, Therese leans against her. Their hearts beat as one, and Carol can’t help diving into Therese’s eyes. “What do you want to do while we wait for it to cool?”

“Oh nothing,” Therese says, and she tucks a strand of hair behind Carol’s ear. Carol forces a sob back down, and Therese reflects it with a watery smile. “I think I’m happy just standing her for a moment.” So they stand there, staring at each other.

Carol does not think she’s ever quite seen anyone so made of starlight as Therese leaning against her on this kitchen counter, and Therese does not think she has ever seen any woman nor man rival the image of a goddess as Carol does in this moment.