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one day at a time

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The next morning, she’s half-convinced she imagined the whole thing. If it weren’t for Dani’s name at the top of her recent calls list, she might have been able to write it all off as a weird, quarantine-related fever dream. 

But it isn’t. 

It wasn’t. 

It really happened.

She accidentally shampoos her hair twice in the shower because she’s too busy remembering the sounds Dani made the night before. She’s lost in the memory of her name muffled through the wall and that panting breath in her ear. When the sound of Dani’s impassioned you feel so good plays through her mind at full volume, she almost slips and just barely manages to catch herself on the metal shelf tower in the corner of the shower before hurting herself.

It doesn’t get much better after that.

The worst part is this: Dani doesn’t call or text or anything like that. 

Jamie isn’t exactly sure what the proper etiquette is for reaching out to your friend the day after having phone sex with them, so she decides to keep her distance. The last thing she wants to do is misread this whole thing and wind up with another broken heart.

And, no, maybe this isn’t anything like it was with Rebecca. After the sounds Dani was making on the phone, the way she moaned Jamie’s name—the entire situation, really—she’s positive, at least, that she isn’t barking up the wrong tree entirely. But there’s a voice in the back of her mind whispering that she’s too attached, that this is too fast, that Dani doesn’t want this and she can’t get it to shut up.

She’s making lunch when her phone rings and she jumps so severely that she almost drops a pot of boiling water on her foot. But it isn’t Dani. It’s Owen trying to FaceTime her. Against her better judgement, she answers.

Owen smiles when he appears on the screen, Hannah half-in the frame beside him. They’re sitting on their couch, eyeing her like they know every last one of her secrets and Jamie really doesn’t have the mental capacity for this. She reminds herself to breathe as evenly as she can manage.

“What’s up?” she asks. It comes out a little funny, a little harsh. 

“Just wanted to check up on you,” Owen answers. “See how you’re doing. But it’s pretty obvious that you’re perfectly fine.”

Sarcasm. Jamie doesn’t have it in her to even roll her eyes. 

“M’fine,” she mumbles, stirring her pasta in the boiling water.

“You sound it,” Owen says.

“How’s it in Paris?” 

An attempt to redirect the conversation. If Owen was anyone else, it might have worked.

“I don’t know, really, because we haven’t been allowed to leave our homes for a while. I assume it’s still here since we are. You want to tell us what’s going on?”

Jamie sighs and sets the stirring spoon on the counter before turning to lean back beside it. “Nothing’s going on. I’m fine,” she says. “Hannah, what’s new with you?”

Hannah smiles primly. “Nothing of note, I’m afraid. Apparently, the same can’t be said for you.” She leans forward a little, pushing Owen to the side. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re trying to change the subject.”

“And I’d say I agree with you,” Owen cuts in.

There’ll be no beating them. Why she even bothers to try, Jamie doesn’t know. “Fine,” she says, doing her best to make it sound as irked as possible. “I just...have this thing I’m dealing with right now.”

Owen eyes her warily. “Define ‘thing.’”

Jamie frowns. “Just stuff with Dani. My, um, the—”

“The neighbor you’re in love with.”

“I am not in love with her,” Jamie squawks, wincing at the way her voice cracks. “I’m just—”

“Completely smitten.”

If he were in the same country as her, Jamie would hit him. She settles for shaking her head and clenching her jaw. How he’s gotten that from the few conversations in which she brought Dani up over the last month, she doesn’t know. She’s been sure to make sure she keeps all details to a light minimum, but, apparently, that wasn’t enough to keep Owen from drawing his own conclusions.

“This is why I don’t tell you things,” she says. “Hannah, back me up.”

Hannah hesitates. She fucking hesitates.

“Oh, don’t you both gang up on me,” Jamie groans, rubbing at her forehead.

“We’re doing nothing of the sort,” Hannah tells her. “But you are a little...Well, from what you’ve shared with us, you do seem to have a slight preoccupation with her. But I think it’s rather darling. It’s the first time you’ve even shown an interest in any woman since—”

Jamie cuts her off with a wave of her hand. “Fine, I get it.”

“So what happened?” Owen asks. “Care to fill us in on the dirty details?” He winks.

Nothing happened. Forget I said anything.”

“You’re lying. Your voice is doing that thing it does when you’re lying.”

Jamie balks. “My voice doesn’t do a thing . And I’m not lying.”

“No, he’s right, dear,” Hannah says. “You do get a bit squeaky when you’re not being entirely honest.”

“I hate the pair of you.”

“The pear of us?” Owen asks and it’s only then that Jamie realizes he’s holding something in his hand. He lifts it up to reveal an apple with a bite taken out of it. “But, Jamie, we love you so berry much.”

Now Jamie does roll her eyes. “That’s an apple,” she says.

Owen grins. “I’m just app-pulling your leg.”

“I’m hanging up now.” 

She lifts her finger to do just that, but Hannah cuts in before she can, pressing a hand to Owen’s arm to get him to stop chuckling at his own stupid joke, a fond smile on her lips. It falls away as she fixes Jamie with a serious look and says, “Ignore him, please. What happened?”

Jamie’s cheeks feel hot and she idly stirs at her pasta a little more without moving. “It’s...Last night, we sort of…”

Owen gasps. “You didn’t!” he says, eyes wide and panicked. “Jamie! You have to be more careful. You don’t know if she’s been... careful . You can’t just go around—”

“Will you shut up?”

He closes his mouth obediently, though it looks like he has much more he wants to say. 

“We didn’t...At least, not in...It was...on the phone.”

If possible, his eyes bug out even wider. Beside him, Hannah’s eyebrows furrow like she’s trying to come up with something good enough to say. Jamie sort of wishes she could sink into the floor and never return. It’s not that she’s never opened up to them about her romantic life, but she’s never admitted to having phone sex with her next-door neighbor before.

“Can I speak now?” Owen asks, holding up his hand like a school child. 

“Would you even listen if I said no?” Jamie says.

A grin spreads out across his lips again, teeth on full display as he eyes her proudly. “You sly dog,” he says. “Who knew you had it in you?”

Hannah pats his arm again. “Don’t be crude, love.” 

“Right.” He coughs into his fist to clear his throat, then takes a calculated bite of his apple, chewing it thoughtfully. “So,” he says, some of the apple tucked into his cheeks so he can talk around it, “what’s there to be upset about?”

“Because now it’s awkward and weird and I haven’t heard from her all day,” Jamie explodes, the words coming out like spit-fire, frustration and mortification bubbling in her chest and throat. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to...Like...What now?” She shakes her head, feeling foolish and extraordinarily young.

For as long as Jamie has known both of them, Hannah and Owen have always had advice for her, even if it wasn’t the kind she could follow. When everything with Rebecca happened, there’d hardly been a day that passed without one of them reaching out to her to try and guide her back on track. She might have thought that, given that Dani is the first girl she’s shown interest in since all of that, they would have more to say.

But they don’t. Or, at least, they don’t seem to. 

Not until Hannah sighs and moves forward, closer to whatever device they’re using for the call. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear,” she begins, “and that this is always my advice, but...Given how... tricky the situation is, I think you might just want to... talk to her. Be honest about how you’re feeling. What you want.”

She makes it sound so simple. 

Jamie’s stomach bottoms out. “It’s not that easy,” she says, thinking of all the times she tried and failed to communicate with Rebecca when all that mess with Peter went down.

Owen is properly serious for the first time in as long as Jamie can remember. She feels a little apprehensive at the thought, but can’t stand the waiting.

Says, “Just say it, Owen,” and watches as he jostles a little.

“Nothing,” he says, but: “It’s just...Maybe it is .”

Jamie stares blankly at the screen for a moment. Considers this. And, okay—

Alright then.

_______

She paces on it all day. Feels reckless and silly about the whole thing, but then she’ll remember Dani saying her name like that —they way she laughs with her whole body; that low voice she speaks in when she’s tired; how she babbled nervously through the rest of Cabin in the Woods because she was scared—and it doesn’t feel silly anymore. 

When she goes out to her balcony, Dani isn’t there and it isn’t as if she’d truly been expecting her to be, but it still jars her a little. The wooden venetian blinds on Dani’s doors are closed, a wall instead of a window. She smokes a cigarette nervously, leaning on her own railing and listening to the muted sounds of the city below. 

That damn railing between them, keeping them separated. And she’s been thinking of it as some sort of invisible wall—uncrossable and solid —but it isn’t. There’s nothing keeping her on her own side save for fear and not the fear she’s been hiding behind with everything going on in the world. 

That hollowness that was dug out of her chest the night before as she listened to dead air in the quiet darkness of her bedroom, phone still pressed to her ear long after Dani disconnected the call, shifts then. Something light is beginning to blossom, to unfurl. 

Fuck it , she thinks, throwing her cigarette onto the floor of her balcony, and hops the railing.

And maybe it shouldn’t feel as monumental as it does, but she can’t help the hitch in her lungs when her feet touch the concrete tiles. She doesn’t care how dramatic it seems—couldn’t care if she tried—because it’s been almost two months of falling in love with a woman she can’t even hold and she’s not waiting anymore. 

She has to see her, touch her, tell her how much this whole thing means. Tell her that she loves her, because who cares if it’s too soon for that? She does.

She loves her—this beautiful and gracious so surprisingly fierce ; this woman who’s managed to trap the stars beneath her skin and blind Jamie to the rest of the world as it burns down around their ears; who is generous and loving and relentless in this life she’s been forced into so very recently—but she’s just as big an idiot as Jamie is because what in God’s name are they so afraid of ?

Lifting a fist, she knocks on Dani’s doors and waits. Holds her breath for as long as she can without it hurting. Releases it slowly. It’s beginning to rain and she shivers a little, tucking her hands into the sleeves of her shirt. Rocks back and forth on her heels. 

She knocks again, but there’s still no answer, and she is heartsick for exactly as long as it takes her to remember the person that Dani is, which is this: 

Someone who—good or bad, worse or worst—would always answer the door, the phone calls Jamie hasn’t made, the texts she hasn’t sent. There's a fine line between neglecting and avoiding and it isn’t one she can imagine Dani ever crossing.

She concludes this: if Dani isn’t answering, that means she’s not home.

And that means that Jamie will just have to go to her.

_______

By the time she manages to get outside—looking around corners, lingering in the lobby—it’s fully raining outside. And it’s something that she’s been so wary of since this whole thing began, but she’s trying not to be scared anymore. 

She’s going outside.

Some caution will be allowed, surely. But not fear. Not in this moment.

So it’s raining and cold, especially for summer, and she’s so glad she’s wearing a sweater with a hood because at least that means she can burrow into it.

Somehow, the view from her balcony hadn’t prepared her for it, but stepping outside is like being the last survivor on earth. It’s so empty. Quiet. She stands on the sidewalk, looking both directions for any sign of familiarity, but there is none. 

And she has two options which are these:

She could go back to her apartment and wait or—

Or she could go looking for Dani, following the buzzing in the base of her spine scooting her forward forward forward.

She goes with the latter one.

Decides to go right because neither direction is the better option. Stuffs her hands into her pockets as she makes her way, trainers splashing in the puddles of water that are knotting themselves into the pavement underfoot.

The sunlight is scattered and despondent, the rain blurring her vision from beneath her dripping hood. Most of the shops she passes have signs stating their temporary closure. She sloshes her way down the street, looks at the few cars that drive past, sticking close to the stone walls of the buildings. The air is thick and damp, bitter even through the cover of her mask, and it smells earthy and green even in the barren cityscape.

For all that she’s missed going outside—walking around, being normal —she misses her flat almost immediately. Violently. Its comfort and familiarity, all those long hours she’s clocked sitting around reading, watering the plants she keeps around. At least part of that, she knows, is the knowledge that Dani was always so close. Always waiting for her outside or just on the other end of a phone call. 

Out in the world she’s never directly shared with Dani, she feels haunted by the thought of her. Sees her in the splashing reflections of the puddles, in the water-dotted shop windows. In the woman walking just ahead of her, tucked beneath a bright, pink umbrella, wearing yellow wellies and shivering a little. 

Except—

She’s not imagining it. That woman is Dani. 

She’s sure of it, spent enough time staring at the back of her head, the side of her face, during all those movies. She’d know it anywhere.

Immediately, she quickens her pace in an effort to keep up. To catch up. Considers calling out, but decides against it given how quiet the world around her is. She thinks any noise other than the splash of rain would break everything apart—shatter this moment into the next and she wants this moment to last because, listen:

In this moment, she is exactly sure of who she is and what she wants.

And what she wants is the woman that is turning and going into a shop just ahead, leaving Jamie to the monotony of wet grays and blacks that make up the avenue. When she reaches the shop, it feels like a miracle and she uses her sleeve to open the door, shaking herself off as she steps inside.

She’s dripping on the welcome mat, pumping hand sanitizer onto her hands from the jug by the door, when she catches sight of that pink umbrella disappearing down the bread aisle.

Setting her resolve deep into the way she holds her head and shoulders, Jamie swiftly makes her way to the same aisle, turning into it and making a decision. The decision that matters. Perhaps the only one.

“Dani,” she says. Her voice catches on her name, and she wants to cough and clear her throat, but she doesn’t, because Dani is turning around, holding a baguette in her hands, umbrella hanging from the handle of her cart. Her eyes blink wide with surprise and she’s so beautiful. Jamie nearly forgot somehow. 

“Jamie,” says Dani. She sounds a little shaky, a little nervous, and Jamie certainly knows the feeling. “You’re...here.”

“So are you.” She sounds weak when she says it, clenching and unclenching her fists in her jacket. “I...Look, I wanted to— There’s something I really, really need to say to you—”

“I’m sorry I didn’t...call,” Dani blurts out, cutting Jamie off. “Or...say anything about…” She pauses, taking a deep breath with her eyes closed, and then finishes with, “last night.” 

Jamie shakes her head. “No, I was—”

“Wait,” Dani says, holding a hand up. “I need to...say something and I’m not...good at this sort of thing, so just let me—”

She gives Jamie an imploring look, waiting, and, when Jamie nods—the words she’s been lining up in her head bubbling in her chest—she sets the bread down and turns more fully. There’s still a good two or so meters between them, but they stay where they are and Jamie is acutely aware that this is happening in a shop with other people in it. Only a few, yes, but other people all the same. 

That being said, she doesn’t want to remind Dani of this for fear that she won’t finish at all.

“I...I’ve never really...done this —” she says, and she gestures between them, “before and I really...I’ve had feelings...for, um...for women in the past but I’ve never...acted on them.”

Whatever honesty Jamie had been expecting, it wasn’t this. She has to lock her knees to keep herself from bridging the gap and pulling Dani into her arms.

“So, I’m sorry if I...came off as callous or weird, I just—” she shrugs, looking a little baffled at herself and it’s really strange not seeing her mouth. Jamie feels like she’s missing the most important part of some of her expressions. “I’ve been so scared that I’m going to...screw this up that I just didn’t...But I don’t want to be. Scared, that is. Because it’s you. You and me and it’s so, so different with you, Jamie. But we’ve spent every day together, most of the day, and I...I think I could spend forever like that without ever...growing tired or-or getting sick of it. It’s like...It’s like I was just...waiting for you or something and I know that sounds so cheesy and cliche, but it’s...that’s how it feels and you deserve to know that.”

And Jamie knows, right then. Knows how worth it this is—how worth the threat of mess and tangled emotions. Knows that she’s been scared before, scared and remembering Rebecca. Remembering what that rejection felt like, how it was to watch Peter twist his way into someone she cared so deeply for. How much it hurt when it all fell apart and Rebecca left. Just like that. 

She’s had unrequited love. She was terrified she would have it again with Dani, but she doesn’t. 

And standing there, dripping in the bread aisle, with Dani’s huge, imploring eyes pointed her way, she can’t deny it. Doesn’t want to. 

“Dani, I…” she begins, then halts. Steels herself.

Tells herself: be brave .

Tells Dani: “I...It’s different with you, too.”

Then: “I...I’m not sick of you either. I’m actually pretty in love with you, turns out. And that scares the hell out of me, but... you deserve to know that.”

Dani blinks and damn her mask, it’s so hard to know what she’s feeling. Briefly, Jamie thinks she’s made a terrible mistake, that she’s read the whole thing wrong, but then Dani takes a careful step forward, hands outstretched. They’re on the same page and Jamie realizes it with startling clarity. Her heart hums with something else, then—something stormy and full that isn’t the same fear as before.

“I...This six feet thing is killing me, Jay,” Dani says, voice cracking with emotion. “If I don't touch you right this second, I think I'll actually go crazy.”

And, well.

Jamie knows the feeling

“Oh, my god, just come here ,” Jamie says because distance be damned. 

She opens her arms and then Dani is sweeping into them, closer than she ever has been before, and clinging on. Her arms wrap around Jamie’s waist, pulling her in and pressing their foreheads together, swaying them back and forth. There are tears in her eyes and she’s rocking them back and forth giddily right there in the shop, a few people in the aisles nearby watching this whole thing unfold like some kind of street performance, but—

Communication , Jamie thinks and makes a mental note to thank Hannah.

It really is that easy.

“You don’t have to be scared of me,” Dani whispers, “Of this.” And Jamie threads her fingers through damp, blonde waves, laughing a little wetly as she realizes that it’s the truth . That intensity is back in Dani’s eyes, making her look a little wild and Jamie really, really wants to kiss her, but that’s one thing that will have to wait. 

“Yeah?” she asks and Dani nods against her forehead, so close that their covered mouths brush together, the heat of her breath seeping through the fabric and into Jamie’s.

“Yeah,” she says. “I’m not going anywhere.”

And for all the unknowns, all the trouble in the world, Dani isn’t something that Jamie has to be unsure about. Maybe she never was.

_______

Eventually, they have to pull apart, even though neither of them wants to because they are in public. And they both need groceries, which Jamie only realizes once the adrenaline pumping through her veins starts to calm down. It’s a little hard to get everything done because Jamie can hardly think clearly and Dani refuses to be more than a foot away from her. She keeps drifting back over to wrap her arms around Jamie’s waist, to hold her hand. To whisper giddy, little things into Jamie’s ear to make her laugh and lean back against her.

Somehow, they get it done, and then their arms are too full to hold hands on the way home. Jamie settles for bumping their hips together every so often, making Dani laugh each time as they make their way back to their apartment complex. Nothing has changed outside, but Jamie pretends that it has. Pretends that the world is a little brighter and a little kinder now that she can view it to the sound of Dani’s laughter.

“Here we are,” Dani says once they reach their respective doors, standing in the hallway, her eyes giving away the smile the mask is hiding.

“So we are.”

“I know that we’re not supposed to, um…” Dani begins, quiet even as her expression is steady and assured. “But, it’s probably way too late for that. Would you want to...come over, or…?”

Jamie finds herself grinning on an inhale, not even feeling it as a cold drop of rainwater drips down her nose and onto her lips. If she had a spare hand, she would reach out and tug Dani in, pull that mask down and kiss her finally finally .

“Yeah,” she agrees easily, then thinks of something. “Just...give me a minute.” 

Dani nods and they part ways. Jamie’s flat feels even emptier than usual when she steps inside and she makes quick work of her groceries, tugging off her sweater and mask and leaving them to drip on her couch before rushing to her balcony doors and flinging them open. 

They slam shut behind her and then she—without hesitation—hops over the railing between hers and Dani’s balconies just like she’s imagined doing so many times before. Just like she did an hour before. The rain has let up a little, which is good news for her hair when she knocks on Dani’s doors and stands there waiting.

It’s only a few moments later, but it feels like forever by the time Dani finally opens them. Her mask is off, now, her pretty lips twisted down in dazzling, mesmerizing confusion. Light dances in her eyes as she says, “I was kind of expecting the other door to be honest, but—”

“Been wanting to do that forever. When I did it earlier, you weren’t home,” Jamie admits, and then cups Dani’s face in her palms and kisses her. Just like that.

At once, Dani’s hands fist in the fabric of her shirt, tugging her closer until their chests are pressed together, rising and falling to a rapid tempo just off sync from the patter of Jamie’s heart. She can feel herself slipping away into it almost immediately, so she takes care to pull away just long enough to get Dani to open her eyes so she can say, “That, too,” before kissing her again.

Dani hums. “So have I,” she murmurs, opening her mouth a little as Jamie’s tongue darts in, flicking against her own, against the roof of her mouth, against her teeth. She sighs and pushes into it even further, the heat of her body against Jamie’s scalding and perfect, making her feel dizzy dizzy dizzy.

She wants more and sooner. Wants closer. She drifts one of her hands down to cup the back of Dani’s neck, curls her fingers into her hair, leans in. It’s still too far and they’re standing in the balcony doors, open to the drizzling rain just behind her. Gently, she pushes back on Dani without breaking their kiss, stumbling forward a bit and then reaching out behind herself, blindly fumbling to shut the door. She has to break away and look in order to manage it and Dani laughs—this lovely, delighted sound—with her hands still clenched in Jamie’s shirt.

When Jamie turns around, she gets her first eyeful of Dani’s flat and can’t help but be distracted by it. It’s clean. Modern. Soft colors and a blanket folded over the back of the couch. A few pictures of her and some others hanging on the walls. Books seemingly arranged by color on her bookshelf.

“What’s wrong?” Dani asks. She lifts a hand to cup Jamie’s jaw and draw her eyes back.

“Nothing,” Jamie says. “Just haven’t seen your place. S’nice.”

Another hum. Jamie loves the sound. Dani tucks her face into Jamie’s neck and presses a warm, open-mouthed kiss to the skin she finds there. Jamie combs her fingers through Dani’s hair and resists the urge to tug her in further, to guide her into repeating the action.

“I’ll give you the tour later,” Dani tells her, quietly. “But, first, you have to keep kissing me.”

 Jamie laughs into their next kiss at everything—Dani’s voice and Dani’s presence and being in her flat for the first time; she feels exuberant and feverish, wants to touch too much of Dani at once, and she doesn’t quite know where to start.

But Dani seems to. Her hands drift to Jamie’s front and she begins the slow process of unbuttoning her shirt, refusing to pull out of their kiss even just briefly to get her bearings. Jamie reaches her own hands up to help, starting at the bottom while Dani moves down from the top and they meet in the middle. The shirt is pushed from her shoulders then and she feels it fall to the floor at their feet, but she doesn’t have long to think about it because Dani’s lips are suddenly on hers again, urgent and fervid. She cups the back of Jamie’s head with one hand, turning the kiss into something warm and wanting and a little bit filthy. 

At the same time, her other hand comes up to brush against the skin of Jamie’s arms, exposed now that she’s in only a t-shirt. If it weren’t for the hard press of Dani’s grip, Jamie would be fairly certain she could float away and she wants to analyze that, but she also doesn’t want to stop for anything. Anytime.

There will be time for all that later.

“Do you want to…” Dani starts, struggling with each word. “Can we...do this in my bed?”

She looks so helpless and serious that Jamie wants to reassure her—tell her that she wants this just as badly—but her throat is dry and she can’t manage it.

What she can manage:

“Okay.”

Dani leads her by the hand across the living room, through a tiny hallway and into her small, dim bedroom. Her bed takes up almost all of the space, just barely enough room for a tiny table beside it. One of those under-the-bed storage things is peeking out a little from the side closest to the door. Jamie stops with just one foot inside, trying to get her brain up to speed. She’s in Dani’s flat, in her bedroom, and she knows what Dani sounds like when she comes, and then they both laid bare the honest-to-God truth in a shop , of all places. Now they’re going to bed together.

Okay, yeah. That’s not too bad.

She can deal with that—make sense of it.

“If you want to...slow down, or—” Dani says quietly. Her hair is roughened by Jamie’s fingers, lips smudged a blushing red from being kissed, and she looks strikingly young and exposed.

“God, no. I think I’d explode if we stopped now,” Jamie says, hoping that Dani believes her, and then she takes the other woman’s clammy hand in her own, toeing her trainers off by the door, and leads her to the mattress. 

At the edge of it, she turns around and Dani is right there, bumping their noses together and looking for all the world like she’s been waiting for this too. Jamie’s cheeks hurt from smiling too much and she’s quite suddenly filled with such devotion that it feels unreal. Dream-like. 

“You’re so pretty,” Dani whispers, brushing her fingers through Jamie’s hair, over her forehead and down the side of her face. “It’s like I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Jamie’s breathing stutters. “I think about you, too. All the time.”

The quality of her voice catches her off guard. It sounds wrecked and raw and so absolutely honest. It’s strange. She didn’t know she could want anyone like this, not really, but she does. She loops her fingers through the belt loops of Dani’s jeans and tugs her in. Dani mouths hot kisses down Jamie’s neck, pressing in with her lips, grazing with her teeth, licking at Jamie’s pulse point. A warm hand slides up under Jamie’s t-shirt and then drifts up, trailing fingers that make her shiver until Dani is curving her hand around the shape of Jamie’s breast. 

Jamie groans at the sensation, closing her eyes and biting her lip. A thumb brushes against her nipple through the material of her bra and it’s perfectly timed with a nip at the hinge of her jaw. It catches her off guard and her knees are already shaking, so she can hardly be blamed when they give out and she collapses into a seat on the mattress, nearly bringing Dani with her.

The movement is so sudden that Dani’s hand is still outstretched, though it’s holding nothing but empty air now. She blinks down at Jamie and then grins, blue-eyed wonderful and delighted.

“You okay?” she teases and Jamie feels her face grow warm, a cold sweat breaking out along her back and spine. 

She makes an embarrassed noise and covers her face. “God, I’m such a dork.”

“But a really hot dork,” Dani tells her. “A dork I’m definitely about to sleep with.”

Her fingers brush through Jamie’s hair before gripping one of her wrists and pulling her hand away from her face. She’s expecting something light and joking to be in Dani’s eyes, but, instead, she’s met with something much more intense. “Now,” she says, “take your shirt off.”

And Jamie is helpless to do anything but obey. Reaching down, she tugs her shirt off and over her head, tossing it to the side so it’s out of the way. Their knees brush together as Dani towers above her and then Dani is reaching down and pulling her sweater off, too, revealing the pale skin of her stomach and the smooth curve of her breasts, making Jamie’s tongue feel thick in her mouth. 

“Come here,” she whispers, already moving back and up the bed a little.

Dani follows closely, climbing up Jamie’s body as gently as she can manage. Once she’s there, Jamie brushes Dani’s hair over her shoulder, lifting her legs to press her knees into her hips. 

“You smell really good,” Dani whispers, tonguing down Jamie’s neck and into the dip of her collarbone. “Just like I...I kept imagining you beneath me like this. All those nights, I—” 

Jamie lifts her head, fingers tangled in her hair, and kisses Dani again. Can’t wait anymore. Dani licks into her mouth, deepening the kiss and fuck because Jamie didn’t imagine that Dani would kiss like this ; long and hard and like she wants so very much to sink into Jamie’s body and never return. She kisses like she’s been wanting to for as long as Jamie has—like she can’t imagine spending her time doing anything else. 

It forces a swooping feeling throughout Jamie’s entire body, her lungs stuttering like fire as she exhales loudly through her nose, tugging Dani further down until the pressure aches. Dani kisses like Jamie is the center-point of her universe, like she’s the thing that she’s spent her entire life circling, circling, never quite finding. Like she’s found it, figured it out, and Jamie feels herself falling even more in love with her by the second.

“You’re overdressed,” Jamie murmurs, kissing Dani again and again. Her fingers toy with the clasp of Dani’s bra and Dani smiles so much that their next kiss is all teeth.

“So are you,” she says, and then she sits back on her knees so she can undo the button of Jamie’s jeans, drag the zipper down. Her hands are shaking so much that she can barely manage it so Jamie sits up and bats her hands away so she can finish. “God, I can’t believe this is happening. Last night, I kept thinking I would...wake up or-or something.”

There’s a note of desperation in her voice and it rolls hotly in Jamie’s stomach as she tugs her jeans down her lifted hips, kicking them off the rest of the way. 

Outside, the rain chatters against the side of the building, the room filled with soft gray light that makes the color of Dani’s hair look warm and glowing, angelic. The sight is enough to give her pause. It feels like seeing Dani for the very first time again. She keeps thinking she’s going to disappear with every lingering blink.

Jamie reaches out and unbuttons the other woman’s jeans, tugging them urgently because this isn’t moving quickly enough. Dani manages to get them off with only a little bit of a struggle, and then she’s in just her bra and panties and straddling her on the bed. She looks remarkable, absolutely striking; her hair is finger-pulled and tousled and her chest is flushed with a faint pink color that Jamie wants to kiss every inch of.

All the noise in Jamie’s head and heart goes very, very still at the sight of her.

“Kiss me again,” Jamie whispers, lips parted.

Dani does, leaning down to do it, and flicking her tongue against Jamie’s. When she nips gently at Jamie’s bottom lip, Jamie hears herself let out a truly inelegant noise. She scrapes her blunt nails up Dani’s back and then clumsily tugs at her bra clasp until it opens, too disoriented to be deliberate or sauve about it. Once it’s free, she slides the straps down pale shoulders and tosses it aside. Her own bra comes next, Dani panting in her ear as she works to pull it off. 

“God,” Dani whispers when she pulls away a little, eyes roaming over Jamie’s newly-exposed skin and lingering on her chest. “Of course I thought you’d, like— But, wow . You, um…” She shakes her head and cups one of Jamie’s breasts in her hand, licking her lips and looking so absolutely lovely that Jamie is dazed for a second. 

“You are, too,” she breathes. “You said you’ve never...Does that mean you haven’t…?”

Dani blinks, cheeks turning pink. “Um...Yeah, this is my...first time with a…” She chuckles awkwardly at herself. “So, yeah, congratulations on having the first boobs other than my own that I’ve seen during sex.”

Jamie can’t help it. She laughs so suddenly that she snorts, covering her mouth and nose with her hand. Fortunately, Dani joins in, pinching Jamie’s nipple for emphasis and Jamie gasps a little into her next peal of laughter. “Oh, wow, I’m...I’m so honored.”

“Yeah?” Dani asks, maybe the slightest bit serious about the question—checking in to make sure she hasn’t poured ice water over the mood.

But—

“Yeah.” Jamie nods and she’s not laughing anymore. “It’s, um...It’s kind of a major turn-on to know you haven’t... been with another woman.”

Dani gives her a serious look, eyelashes fluttering at the implication, and then pushes forward, bullying Jamie back into the pillows until she’s pressed tight above her. Her hand squeezes Jamie’s breast and then pinches her nipple lightly. Ducking her head, she wraps her lips around it and sucks a little, making Jamie gasp and arch into it.and closes 

“Tell me what to do,” Dani whispers as she moves to the other breast, grazing her teeth against it. “Like you did last night.”

She punctuates the final word with another graze of teeth against Jamie’s nipple and Jamie fists her hands in the sheets, trying to keep from grinding up into the pressure of Dani’s body. “What do you…” 

Lips dot kisses down her sternum to the dip of her bellybutton and she can’t quite finish the thought. 

Dani answers anyway. “There’s so much I want to do that I...I need you to talk me through it.”

“O-Okay.” The word hitches as Dani trails her hand down her ribs to the flare of her hips, slipping down even further to stroke the soft skin of Jamie’s thighs. “You’re…” Her eyes are slammed shut because she’s certain that, if she looks at Dani right now, she’ll never finish what she needs to say. “Come up here. If you do... that right now, I don’t think I’ll make it out alive.”

Dani chuckles, pleased with herself, but obeys—the warm line of her body sliding up Jamie’s until she’s settled beside her. Jamie sits up, opening her eyes finally, biting her lip at the sight of Dani lying beside her, breasts exposed and pale. She wants to touch them and kiss them and leave as many marks as she can on Dani’s skin, just to prove she was there, but there’ll have to be time for that later.

Somehow, lust-drunk as she is, she manages to get Dani into a seated position as well, leaned back against her headboard. Jamie sits beside her—half on her lap and turned so she can thread their legs together. Dani is looking down, enraptured by the sight of their skin sliding together, and Jamie knows the feeling, but she needs eye contact right now. Needs to know they’re on the same page.

She brushes her nose against the side of Dani’s face, nuzzling into her until she turns to meet her eyes.

“Touch me,” she instructs, “like you touch yourself. Like you did last night”

Jamie ,” Dani breathes. One of her hands lifts to cup Jamie’s cheek. She kisses her. “I can’t— I—” She pauses, cuts herself off to swallow thickly. Then, “Tell me if I do it wrong.”

Jamie laughs breathily. “I don’t think that’s possible right now,” she says and she means it because she thinks she’ll be surprised if the first touch doesn’t send her reeling with a second.

That hand trails down her neck to her chest, fingers brushing against each nipple as she goes. Dani adjusts herself a little, trying to get closer, and presses her forehead to the side of Jamie’s head, tilting her chin down to watch her own fingers slip beneath the line of Jamie’s panties, just barely touching her. 

Dani —” Jamie leans against her heavily, unable to keep the note of agony from her voice. “ Please .”

Dani pinches the elastic of Jamie’s panties between her fingers and tugs them down. Not all the way off, no, but just far enough that she has enough room to work. She doesn’t touch right away, content to just look down at Jamie in awe, at the glistening slick between her legs that she’s caused, and Jamie feels like she’s on fire. Her abdominal muscles quiver and shake in anticipation, waiting, trying not to beg.

“You’re so wet,” Dani breathes, kissing Jamie’s cheekbone without lifting her eyes. She strokes her fingers along the crease of Jamie’s thighs, light and teasing. “Is this how wet you were last night?”

She sounds confident all of a sudden, and Jamie almost wants to know what’s changed, but she thinks she understands without asking. It’s the same thing that had her so steady last night as she pressed her phone to her ear, listening to the sounds Dani made through the wall. 

“Wetter,” Jamie tells her, voice trembling. “Please, just—”

And then Dani touches her, slides her fingers against Jamie’s clit and makes her cant her head back, releasing a noise she hadn’t known herself capable of making. She bucks her hips up a little, can’t help herself, and rolls her head against Dani’s shoulder. 

“Look at you,” Dani breathes. “God, I didn’t think you’d be so…” She slips her fingers down, circling the tight ring of muscles and making Jamie squirm again, pant something like yes, yes, yes, against her cheek. “You’re even better than I imagined.” 

Given how wet Jamie is, Dani has no trouble sliding two fingers in immediately. Filling her a bit, a little, not enough but good for now. She lingers there for a beat, pupils blown wide with wonder, perhaps at being inside a woman for the first time, and she finally withdraws. Pumps back in. 

“Yeah, like that,” Jamie hears herself say, her voice not her own—too wrecked and electrified to be her own. She presses her heels into the mattress, trying to stay still, stay upright. “Just like that, baby, yes .” It’s perfect. So good. Better than anything Jamie’s ever—

Dani presses kiss after kiss to the side of Jamie’s face, and Jamie watches her expressions change and flutter with each thrust of her hand through eyes foggy with desire. Dani has imagined this happening before. She’s pictured doing this to Jamie—Jamie doing this to her —in this very bed. 

“You’re so good.” Teeth nip at her earlobe, then a tongue flicks against her jaw. Jamie rolls her head to the side, exposing more skin for Dani to attach her mouth to. Mark up and down and anywhere she can reach. She hums, the sound vibrating against Jamie’s throat. “ So good, Jay. Want you so much.”

More ,” Jamie hisses, thighs clenching and unclenching as the sides of Dani’s hand brush against them. “Another. Another finger. Please. ” Dani obeys, slipping a third finger inside of her, stretching her slowly and carefully before Jamie grunts a little, grinding down against her hand. “Harder. Don’t be gentle.”

Dan’s movements still for a second, like she’s trying to comprehend what she’s just heard. And then, just like that, she’s fucking Jamie even harder, the bed shaking and creaking beneath them with each thrust. Jamie moans, leaning back on aching wrists. Presses her damp forehead to the side of Dani’s. 

“Fuck, you’re so—” Dani cuts off, curling her fingers up, making Jamie gasp and then bite her lip to silence herself, eyes clenched shut. Dani swears against her cheek. “Are you—”

Jamie hums in agreement, nodding a little, hips chasing after Dani’s fingers every time she slides out. “Just keep—”

And there’s the edge, harsh and biting and flooding through every one of her senses like a blazing inferno. Dani’s clever fingers keep moving, thrusting in hard and tilting her hand so that Jamie can grind down into it as she comes.

Dani presses a kiss to the side of her eye, her cheek, whispering things fondly—quiet reassurances—as Jamie’s heartbeat and breathing even back out. She opens her eyes to find Dani watching her carefully, a gentle smile on her lips, fond and sweet, even with the touch of nervousness in her gaze.

Her touch pulls away and Jamie whines at the loss just before letting herself be wrapped up in Dani’s arms and pulled over so she doesn’t have to hold herself up anymore. Her elbows ache and throb as she loosens and bends them, but she doesn’t care. All she can care about is the way Dani’s chest feels as it rises and falls with each breath.

“Oh, my god,” she says weakly, some drifting time later. Her skin is clammy and cool from the air as it slides over her body. 

“Yeah,” Dani agrees. “That was...really something.”

Jamie chuckles and then sits up, sliding her legs free of Dani’s and adjusting until they’re facing each other a little more properly. “You’re a quick learner.”

Dani gives her a sheepish smile. “Yeah, you can thank all the lonely nights I spent picturing this happening for that.”

If it were possible, Jamie thinks this confession would wreck her even more. As it is, it just strikes embers alight in her veins, stroking a flame that hasn’t stopped burning. “Yeah,” she says. “Guess so.” She kisses Dani, deep and filthy, heat coiling in her belly at the sound it gets her—that moan vibrating her teeth. “S’my turn,” she mumbles, already guiding Dani into lying back on the mattress, but Dani stops her, pushing on her shoulder a little.

Jamie goes and there’s a brief hesitation before Dani says, “I love you back, by the way.” The way she blurts it out has Jamie grinning like an idiot, waiting for whatever is going to come next. “I...I didn’t say that before because I was too...But I wanted to say it now.”

Something like wings flutter in Jamie’s chest. She can’t stop smiling. 

“I thought so,” she says as Dani leans up to kiss her, to pull her body down until they’re pressed together. “But it’s nice to hear anyway.”

“Kiss me?” Dani asks and, asked so nicely like that, it’s impossible for Jamie to deny her. 

She adjusts herself, reaching down a hand to hike one of Dani’s thighs over her hip and settling down between her legs. When their skin meets fully like that, when she can feel Dani’s stomach rising and falling against her own with every breath, she can’t help but sigh a little. Part of her wants to rub herself against Dani like a cat or something and she sets that thought aside to be picked apart later because she’s never, ever wanted to do that with someone before.

Dani runs her hands up and down Jamie’s ribs, lightly scraping her nails on every other slide. It’s a wonder that Jamie is even still breathing given how she looks lying beneath her. So much better than she’s imagined—than she pictured just the night before. Hair haloed out around her head on the pillow, pale skin like white lightning, shocking flames down her spine and between her legs. 

Tilting her head down, Jamie kisses her. She isn’t actually sure how she’s gone so long without breaking down and doing that already, but she can’t hold it anymore. Dani’s lips part immediately and she digs her nails into Dani’s shoulder blades when Jamie licks into her mouth. Her hips buck up against Jamie’s hips, slotted between her legs. 

Jamie painstakingly slides her lips down Dani’s cheek and jaw, dipping even further down to press against the gentle thumb of her heartbeat at her neck. She licks the skin there, making Dani squirm again moan a little, her chest vibrating against Jamie’s.

“Jay,” she whispers. “Please just –”

“I’ve got you,” Jamie says, kissing the line of Dani’s jaw to her ear and nipping at her there. She leans on one elbow, resting it so that her hand is directly beside Dani’s head on the pillow so she can grip some of her hair, lightly tug and encourage Dani to tilt so Jamie can lick and bite down her neck with a bit more freedom. “Simmer down.”

She has to scoot back a little in order to reach Dani’s breasts, but, once she does, she pulls one of her pink nipples into her mouth. Dani’s nails are now scraping through Jamie’s messy curls, scratching her scalp. Her arm is tensed enough to guide Jamie’s head and mouth to where she wants it and she’s so wet that Jamie can smell her. She wants to slide down even further, tug those purple panties down Dani’s legs with her teeth , and set her mouth to work, but not yet.

First—

Dani groans, her eyes slamming shut as Jamie brushes a hand down to cup her through her underwear. Her hips jump up. “Oh, god ,” she whispers. “Please.”

“Hey, Dani,” Jamie says quietly, pulling back so they can look at one another, “is it all good if I finger you?”

Dani’s eyelids flutter dazedly at her bluntness. “ Jesus , Jay. Yes. It’s...It’s cool if you f-finger me,” she says with the exact same inflection as when Jamie told her she was pretty when she’s flustered—like she’s trying to come up with a good enough answer. “That’s, um, that’s...really cool— fuck , Jamie.” Her words fall into a groan as Jamie squeezes again. “Right, um. Yep,” she says and Jamie is really trying her best not to laugh. “That’s...Yeah, that’ll work.”

“Glad to hear it.” Jamie finally smirks—confidence blooming like white clouds in sunny skies inside her head and heart. She dots Dani’s cheeks with little kisses as she dips her fingers below the elastic at the crease of Dani’s right thigh. “Can I take these off? I...I’d really like to see you.”

For a second, she considers taking back the request because Dani is swallowing nervously. But then Dani lifts herself up a little and reaches down with one hand so she can wriggle around ungracefully, trying to pull them off. Jamie reaches down to help until Dani is finally, finally naked and holy fucking shit Dani is naked in her bed where she’s been touching herself to the thought of this moment. How in the hell is Jamie supposed to sleep in her own bed right there on the other side of the wall after this? Her hand curls around Dani’s thigh, guiding her to open up a little more. 

“Jesus,” Dani says quietly, her eyes so bugged out that Jamie has to press her lips together to keep from laughing.

“Just so you know,” she says as she presses another kiss to Dani’s cheek, “this is so much better than I imagined.” It’s supposed to be light-hearted—that not-confession that she’s already basically said—but Dani’s breathing is uneven, her nails digging into Jamie’s back and okay. 

Right.

Jamie sort of feels like she’s going to throw up because she wants so badly for this to go well and she hasn’t felt like this since uni—stumbling her way around in her dorm room those first few times, trying to make girls come. Dani is wetter now than she could have imagined last night and that should be impossible but it isn’t and she wants to lean down and husk, Do you have any idea how fucking wet you are into her ear, but this is Dani’s first time and she doesn’t want to force too much on her too soon. 

She settles for sliding her right finger down and in without warning, curling it, searching. Finding it.

“Jamie,” Dani groans, her eyes closed. “God, you suck .”

Jamie hums a little. “Would it be better if I stopped?” she asks, can’t help from teasing at least a little. She pulls her finger out and pushes her middle finger in with it next, her thumb reaching up to circle around Dani’s clit.

“Don’t you dare ,” Dani hisses and Jamie curls her fingers into that blonde hair again, tugging a little. Dani’s head tips a little to the side and, when Jamie leans down to kiss her, she gasps against her lips something that sounds like, “ Please .”

It’s the way she says it—the way it sounds —that makes Jamie close her eyes for a second. That word again. She’s said it twice already and Jamie swallows hard, trying to wrap her head around the fact that it’s aimed at her ; Dani is asking her to touch her like this. She’s practically begging. 

Ask her how she got to this moment, and Jamie wouldn’t know how to answer.

She drops her head down, twisting a little until she can kiss one of Dani’s nipples, lick around it. Dani’s breath is hot as she pants against the side of Jamie’s face, biting her lip to muffle herself. 

“Good?” Jamie asks. She circles her thumb around Dani’s clit and pumps her fingers a little harder, a little faster. Goes back up to kiss Dani breathless on the lips, kiss the corner of her eye, switches the circles her thumb is making to a back-and-forth movement. Dani bucks her hips up, trying to fuck herself with Jamie’s fingers, and Jamie thinks maybe she can come just from that .

“God, yes,” Dani gasps, her nails biting in harder. She lifts her head to press their lips together, but she’s too distracted and ends up missing Jamie’s mouth by a little. Something swirls in Jamie’s chest at that—some drowning fondness that catches her off guard—and she finishes the kiss. “Fuck, fuck,” Dani pants. “Fuck, yes, you’re...Holy wow , I love you so much.”

If she wasn’t so busy, Jamie thinks she wouldn’t be able to do anything but slump down into Dani’s arms at the confession. But she can’t. There are other tasks at hand. 

She speeds up even more, scissoring her fingers up and out, twisting her wrist, until Dani’s hips still against the movement and she gasps out a mix of curses that Jamie can’t even interpret. 

“I love you, too,” Jamie tells her as she presses a kiss to Dani’s parted lips.

“Love you, love you, love you ,” Dani babbles, loose and messy with an expression so serious it breaks Jamie’s heart. Jamie flattens her thumb against her clit and she adds in a, “ Please, please .”

“I will, baby, I’ve got you.”

Please .”

“You don’t have to beg me. I’m more than happy to—”

Jay ,” Dani says breathily, eyes shut again as Jamie adds a third finger into the mix. “Right there, right —yes —that’s gonna be so fucking—” She rolls her hips up harder and harder, each of the movements stuttering and disoriented.

“Dani,” Jamie whispers as she rests their foreheads together. “Dani, where’s the...where do you keep your—?”

Dani lifts a hand to gesture vaguely at the table beside her bed. “Top drawer,” she gasps. “It’s—”

It’s a struggle to stretch enough to grab it, to get the drawer open. She has to shift some of her weight to her knees so she can use her other hand. She grabs what feels like a pill bottle and the cover of a book before settling her hand on something small and cool . Lifting it out, she’s faced with the most adorable, pink metal bullet vibrator she’s ever seen in her life. With a push of the rubber button at the bottom, it starts vibrating furiously in her palm.

“It’s so...tiny,” she says, a little amused.

Dani nods and whines, making Jamie realize that, in her distraction, the fingers she has inside her are stilled. At once, she starts thrusting again and Dani whines again. This time, an answer follows:

“Discreet,” she says, “on planes. Less vibrating luggage.”

And, okay, apparently Dani takes a vibrator with her when she visits home which is definitely something they’ll need to talk about sometime. But right now is clearly not that time.

Gripping the vibrator between her fingers, she stretches her arm down and presses it against Dani’s clit with no fanfare. Dani arches again, gasping out a, “Motherfucker ,” before opening her eyes so she can find Jamie, frame her face and pull her into a heated kiss, whimpering into her mouth.

Jamie’s senses are completely overloaded again, her mind quiet and still in a way it normally never is and Dani is so close. Her back aches a little from holding herself up, but she can feel Dani tightening around her fingers.

Shit ,” Dani groans, a hint of frustration on the edges of the word. “I’m right there .”

“Okay, okay,” Jamie says and then she shuffles down on her knees before lying down on the bed. She has to lift the vibrator from Dani’s clit in order to lift one of her legs and loop her arm around—and then, of course, the angle is uncomfortable—but she doesn’t care. Needs to be touching as much of Dani as possible. 

Keeping the vibrator on the top of her clit, Jamie licks hard and fast at the bottom of it, pumping her fingers even harder. She swipes her tongue lower, right against her fingers, the way Dani tastes exploding on her tongue. Dani lets loose a loud whine and, yeah.

There it is.

It’s sort of like a grenade or a bomb going off. Maybe a volcano. She tightens around Jamie’s fingers, all of her muscles shaking like a goddamn leaf . Jamie keeps up her actions, licking a little lighter, to suspend Dani as long as possible before she finally comes down.

Finally, she holds the button on the vibrator down until it turns off and untangles herself, sitting up. Dani is staring at her, one hand pressed over her mouth.

“How was that?” Jamie asks, cheeky and proud.

“Oh, my god , Jamie.”

That’s all Dani says and it’s filled with hushed awe and so much gravity that it knocks something loose inside Jamie’s heart.

Jamie’s ears feel hot and she uses some of her dry fingers to flick a curl of hair away from her own eyes. “Yeah?” Pride balloons where her chest was once hollow because she’s managed to make this incredibly gorgeous woman she’s in love with completely speechless using just her fingers and tongue. 

This, she thinks, is surely an accomplishment to be celebrated.

“Do you really not know?” Dani asks and she sounds so completely wrought with disbelief at the thought. She’s grinning, though, and the whole thing is…

She doesn’t know what.

“Maybe I could tell a little,” Jamie says.

Instead of laughing, Dani grows serious again. “God, come here,” she breathes and she’s sitting up to pull Jamie in for a kiss, lying back and pulling Jamie with her. It feels different, Jamie thinks. Or maybe she’s just losing her mind. When she pulls away, she holds eye contact and says, “You’re not planning on keeping your distance anymore, are you? Cause...I don’t think I can go back to that. I might never let you leave this bed again.”

It hasn’t even been more than a few hours since she first felt Dani’s arms around her, and somehow it already seems like something she has known her entire life. 

Jamie smoothes a hand over Dani’s hip. “Oh, no way,” she says easily. “You’re stuck with me now.” She trails her fingertips up Dani’s side, loving the feel of her skin, trying to memorize it.

Dani grins at her, a little goofy. “I better be.”

..