Actions

Work Header

Christmas Triptych

Chapter Text

“Invite me round,” Carol said, rising from her seat with a tilt of the head and a little smirk that made Therese’s stomach flutter.

She watched Carol stroll back toward the Christmas tree and Rindy’s present on the floor. Therese didn’t know why she felt compelled to watch her hips sway, the movement rhythmic and sensual, the cut of her dress so… flattering. Therese was so distracted by it that she nearly jumped when, instead of kneeling down to finish with the present, Carol turned toward her again. Did Carol see her eyes leap up from where they’d been gazing? Therese blushed crimson, but Carol only said—

“Say, it’s Christmas! Would you like a rum punch?”

Therese had already had a glass of wine with dinner, red wine, the naughty kind, but she could not refuse Carol. She said, “Have you really got any?”

“Well, I’ve got rum, and I’ve got punch, so we ought to be able to figure something out!”

Therese giggled, and Carol grinned, and then Carol was striding toward the kitchen, and once again Therese felt powerless to do anything but watch her walk away. When the door swung shut after her, Therese shook herself, pressing the coolness of the back of her hand against her cheek. She was flushed, and more alcohol would not help. She turned back to the piano and muddled her way through a few more bars of Easy Living, but she played it even worse than before, because all she could think about was Carol’s hands alighting on her shoulders, of Carol’s fingers dragging across her back as she moved away. Carol had never touched her before. Just the thought of it made her a little dizzy.

She switched to another song, one she knew better: Silent Night. A few minutes later Carol came back in, carrying two tumblers of punch.

“Come and sit by the fire,” Carol said. “It’s such a Christmasy thing to do, don’t you think?”

Powerless to resist, Therese got up and watched as Carol lowered herself seamlessly onto the floor, legs tucked under her, still holding the drinks. Therese sat beside her and took one of the glasses and sipped it. It was good, and not too strong, which she found relieving. Carol raised her glass towards her, and the two glasses made a lovely clinking sound as they touched.

“Merry Christmas,” said Carol, smiling brightly.

“Merry Christmas,” Therese returned and took another drink just as Carol did.

“Hmm,” Carol assessed. “Not bad. You know I was just thinking—don’t all the young people go out to parties on weekends? What sort of party have you given up to spend you day in the country with me?”

Therese laughed. “No, I didn’t give up any party tonight. And besides, I’ve never liked parties very much.”

“Well, what will you do on Christmas, then?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Nothing, probably.”

Carol frowned. “Nothing?”

“Well… Richard wants me to come to his parents’ house, but I…” She trailed off, shrugging, eyes averted.

Carol said, “That’s very kind of him. Don’t you think you should be with people on Christmas? And if Richard’s family wants to see you, well—family, Christmas. It’s the right thing.”

Therese gazed into the fire. They were sitting close enough to it that it was warm, but not too hot. Yet she still felt a little flushed from before, and no, the rum wasn’t helping. But she took another sip because it tasted good and Carol had made it for her.

“Don’t you like his family?” Carol asked her, gently.

“Oh, yes. Of course, I mean… His mother is always very kind to me.”

Carol snorted, and Therese looked up at her in surprise. She grinned wryly. “That’s a boon, believe me. Harge’s mother has never liked anything so much as conveying her disapproval. I sometimes wonder if Harge and I would have been all right, if not for her.”

Therese frowned. “Really?”

Now it was Carol gazing into the fire, her expression distant, her thoughts clearly fading away into those places she sometimes went when they were together, those sad, distracted places. And then she said, “No. Not really.”   

Therese watched her, wishing that she could follow Carol to wherever she had gone, and take her hand and coax her back and say, ‘It will all be all right.’ But how foolish she would sound, if she did that.

So she asked, “What will you do on Christmas?”

“Oh,” Carol said, blinking and looking at her again. “Oh, I’ll be here.” She smiled. “With Rindy. Harge is coming to get her in the afternoon but I’ll have her in the morning, which is the exciting part, anyway. Then Abby’s coming over and we’ll probably get drunk and burn a turkey!”

Therese laughed. Carol laughed, and the storm passed. They drank from their cups again and a warm, comfortable silence fell between them. Therese took a deep, happy breath.

Then Carol said, “You could always come here… for Christmas.”

A thousand butterflies erupted in Therese’s chest, a swell of happiness and excitement that only banked when she remembered—

“Oh, I—I wouldn’t want to intrude. On you and Abby, I mean.”

As soon as she said it, she felt she had touched something awkward, had made some implication that she didn’t mean to make, because Carol seemed almost to wince. But instead of denying or assenting she asked, “Then you’d rather go to Richard’s?”

Therese blinked, confused. Of course, she wouldn’t rather go to Richard’s! But all she could think to say was, “I… I don’t mind being alone on Christmas.”

Carol blew a breath out through her nostrils. She said, “Well, I mind. I don’t like it. Of course, you must go and see Richard’s family if you like but… otherwise… I hope you’ll consider coming here.”

She sounded almost agitated, and was not looking at Therese, her gray eyes locked on the half-drunk tumbler of punch in her hand. One bright coral nail tapped against the glass. Therese could not see why she was so bothered about it, but if there was some way to reassure her then—

Therese reached suddenly forward, putting her hand on Carol’s to still the tapping finger. Instantly, their eyes met again, and Therese wondered if maybe they were sitting too close to the fire, because a wave of heat went through her. And Carol’s eyes were so pale but so vibrant, and they seemed to look right into her and pin her in place.

Yet somehow, she managed to get out the words she’d meant to say, “I—Carol, of course I’d like to come here. I’d rather that than anything.”

Carol’s lips parted. Then she smiled, and it was soft, and achingly beautiful.

“You would?” she asked.

“So long as it… doesn’t bore you. To spend so much time with—”

“It doesn’t bore me,” Carol interrupted. “You don’t bore me. You think I go Christmas tree shopping with everyone?”

Therese laughed a little. She shrugged. Somehow, her hand was still on top of Carol’s, and Carol’s fingers were warm and soft under hers. She said, “I—I don’t know, do I? I don’t suppose we know each other all that well.”

Carol’s eyes seemed to sharpen; a new tension entered her body, and Therese felt the same tension in her own. Carol moved her hand away from Therese’s, but only so that she could put down the glass of rum on the hearth of the fireplace. When she turned back to Therese again, her body shifted, and though it was just a little bit of movement, it brought them closer together. Close enough that she caught the intoxicating scent of Carol’s perfume.

Carol said softly, “Well, I… hope we can rectify that.”

Therese, who was still holding her own cup of punch, felt a sudden trembling in her fingers. She took a swift drink, and then she leaned away to put down the glass, and she leaned back, and shifted closer, her heart rabbiting inside her. She was now so close to Carol, but she was shy, and kept her eyes down, her hair slipping to curtain around her eyes. A moment later she nearly gasped, for Carol’s fingers were touching the ends of her hair, pushing one side of it back, behind her ear, and when Therese lifted her eyes again there was hardly a hands breadth between them. Carol was looking at her hair, and looking at her face, and looking at her mouth.

“My strange girl,” she murmured, low, with an aching affection that made Therese shiver.

She chuckled nervously, said, “You keep calling me—”

Carol’s kiss erased all language. The gentle press of her lips was like a dream. Therese’s eyes fluttered closed, and a small eternity passed in the tentative pressure. The chasteness of it took Therese’s breath away, and when her breath returned it was in a soft, trembling sigh. Their lips parted. Therese’s eyes opened to find Carol looking at her closely.

“Carol,” Therese whispered. She could see the question in Carol’s eyes, and what she wanted to say was, ‘Yes,’ and what she wanted to say was, ‘More.’ But what she said instead was, “I—I—”

Carol sat back, looking suddenly flustered. “Therese, I’m… I’m sorry. I—don’t know—I shouldn’t have—”

There was something in Carol’s body that made Therese think she was about to stand up, walk away, and in a panic, Therese grabbed her hand. Carol’s voice cut off. They looked down together at their hands, which slowly wove into one, fingers laced.

“Please,” Therese whispered, with all the courage she could muster. “Please, don’t… be sorry.”

A beat of silence. Then, “You’re not upset?” asked Carol cautiously.

Therese shook her head, and gripped Carol’s fingers tighter. She didn’t know what to say, what she wanted to say, and so it surprised her almost when she whispered, voice trembling, “I… don’t want to spend Christmas with Richard.”

She heard Carol’s swallow, and almost shuddered with relief when Carol leaned close again. She felt the fan of Carol’s golden curls, brushing her cheek, and when she lifted her head again Carol was there. The next kiss was just as gentle, but not so tentative. She felt a stronger pressure in Carol’s mouth, which was soft and warm and so much better than any other mouth that Therese had kissed. Slowly, carefully, their lips moved. Still chaste. A brush. A nudge. A sigh passed between them.

“I wouldn’t want to… to upset you,” Carol said.

Therese shook her head, and somehow this meant their kiss deepened. Carol’s lips parted, just a little, taking the bow of Therese’s bottom lip between them, and this was the most delicious thing that Therese had ever felt, in her entire life. She parted her own lips, kissing Carol back. She tasted Carol, a hint of rum and sweetness and warmth. 

Carol said, into their kiss, “I thought, perhaps—you didn’t like it… when I touched you at the piano.”

Without thinking, Therese answered, “I didn’t like it when you stopped.” Carol made a soft sound, wanting, and in a surge of her own want Therese said, “Carol… don’t stop.”

Carol moved closer still. Carol’s arm wound around her waist and pulled her in, and when Therese gasped from the sensation of their bodies meeting, Carol kissed her deeply. Carol’s tongue slipped into her mouth, against her tongue, coaxing. When Richard kissed her like this, Therese always felt as if she was being invaded; she became passive, motionless, let Richard do what he liked. But this—this was a welcome invasion, and Therese was not passive. She reached for Carol’s face, cradled it in her hands, and kissed her for all she was worth.

Carol lowered her onto the rug. It was the easiest thing in the world, to let herself collapse, to pull Carol down to her. Carol lay alongside her, leaned over her, and they kissed with a new intensity, a mounting need. Carol’s hand was on her hip and sliding down her thigh. The hem of Therese’s skirt felt so far away, and she’d never wished so much in her life that she was naked. Just the thought of it, of her bare skin sliding against Carol’s, made her whimper into her mouth. At that sound, Carol’s hand tightened on her thigh, then slid down to her knee. Too many clothes.

“Carol,” Therese mumbled, still trying to kiss her, still wanting more.

“Hmm?” Carol asked, almost distracted, as if all she could focus on was the pleasure of their kissing.

“Can we—” Therese swallowed, gasped. Carol’s hand was cupping the back of her thigh, just above her knee, and the pressure was making her hot and shivery all over. “Can we—go to—to your bed?”

At that, Carol whimpered, and somehow pulled her even tighter, and kissed her even deeper, until they were both gasping and moaning and devouring each other—

Until suddenly, Carol stilled. She stilled, and then groaned, and it was not the same sound of arousal but of sudden, crushing frustration. She had broken their kiss and pressed her forehead into Therese’s shoulder. Therese was confused. She felt a vibrating tension in Carol’s body, felt a need that seemed to echo her own, and yet the kissing and touching had stopped as definitively as a trainset that has its switch flipped.

“What is it?” Therese asked timidly. Nervous. Had she done something wrong? What would make Carol suddenly—

And then all at once, she knew.

“Rindy,” she said.

Carol groaned again, said, “Darling I’m so, so sorry. I—she gets nightmares and… most nights she ends up climbing into bed with me. I didn’t think this would happen, I—”

“Carol,” Therese interrupted, and though she was gentle she was firm, and the firmness seemed to surprise Carol, who finally lifted her head from Therese’s shoulder. They gazed at each other, and she was so beautiful. For a moment all Therese could do was stare at her. Her flushed cheeks. Her red and swollen lips. Her gray eyes turned glassy and hooded, but also, deeply regretful. Therese touched her jawbone with soft fingertips. Touched the curve of her brow. Carol breathed in and let it out, shakily, her eyes slipping closed. Therese touched her cheekbone and her temple, learning her by touch, until at last she lifted up and kissed her, gently, by her ear, and murmured, “It’s all right.”

Carol groaned again, muttered, “It certainly is not.”

And Therese laughed, soft and happy and so overwhelmed with joy, because Carol wanted her, and she wanted Carol, and even if it couldn’t be tonight then certainly it would be soon. And that knowledge, of soon, made her feel relaxed and content and like she could fall asleep in Carol’s arms right here, by the fire. But that would be a mistake.

Therese nuzzled against Carol’s face, her jaw, her neck, and heard Carol purring with pleasure. Therese said softly, “I should go home.”

Carol answered by cupping her jaw and kissing her again, sliding into her mouth and stroking her tongue with hers, languid, deep, and Therese could do nothing but kiss her back. Wrap her arms around her and whimper and sigh as they kissed. It went on for long minutes, neither banking, nor escalating, both of them breathing shallowly as they ran their hands across each other and kissed and moaned in a kind of dreamy ecstasy.

Therese knew that when their kissing ended, Carol would make little grumbling sounds of discontent. She knew that nonetheless Carol would sit up, and Therese would sit up, and they would stand. Carol would call a taxi, because she couldn’t take her to the train with Rindy in the house, and they would wait in the foyer for it to come. And they would touch each other, tentatively, shyly. And Carol would say, “Can I see you again? What about tomorrow?” and Therese would say, “Yes. Come to my apartment. I’ll show you my photographs.” And then they would hear the taxi pulling up in the drive, the rustle of gravel, the headlights spanning the windows. Therese wouldn’t want to risk it honking and waking Rindy, so she would reach for the door, and at the last moment Carol would grab her and kiss her, one more time, a promise, a promise of more—

All of this would happen in a few minutes. But for now, Therese lay in Carol’s arms and kissed her, the fire warm at her back, and Carol’s body warm against hers, and both of them dreaming of ‘soon.’

Chapter Text

Carol walks out of the kitchen carrying the plate of cookies and the glass of milk and stops short at the sight of Rindy and Therese. They’re both in their pajamas, lying on their stomachs in front of the Christmas tree. Their legs are kicked up behind them, and they’re talking conspiratorially about the presents on display.

“What about that one?” asks Rindy, pointing.

“The one with the kittens on the paper? Oh, I think that must be yours.”

Really?”

“Well, who else do you know around here who likes kittens so much?”

“I do wish we had a kitten,” sighs Rindy.

Carol knows for a fact that Harge is getting Rindy a kitten for Christmas—something she’s trying not to resent. Her own Christmas presents will never live up to it.

“Well,” says Therese sagely. “I certainly hope there’s not a kitten under this tree—how terrible to wrap a kitten up in a box and stick it under a tree!”

Rindy looks over at her sharply, startled—and then bursts into giggles at the idea. Therese laughs, too, and Carol walks further into the room, glowing with love.  

“Ho-ho-ho,” she announces. “It’s time to lay out the treats for Santa.”

“Oh, Mommy!” Rindy cries. “Therese just said the silliest thing about a kitten in a box and putting it under the tree, and—!” she breaks off, rolling over in a fresh fit of hilarity.

“Now you’ve done it,” Carol tells Therese. “We’ll have ourselves a giggle monster for the rest of the night.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” says Therese. “I think this one will be eager to go to bed and fall asleep.”

At once Rindy sits up again, looking indignant. “I will not!” she declares.

Therese rises to her knees with a carefree shrug. “Well, you know, Santa doesn’t come until you’re asleep. There’s no better night in the world to go to bed early. The sooner you’re asleep, the sooner Santa comes and morning comes and you get your presents.”

“It’s true, sweet pea,” says Carol.

Rindy looks momentarily mutinous, but then a pensive expression comes over her, and she says, “I think Daddy said that last year, too.”

“Well, there you have it,” Carol says brightly, even as her thoughts surge with something far from bright. Last year, Harge had Rindy. It was the beginning of the injunction and Carol didn’t even see her. She and Therese were already on the road, and had no idea how much worse things could get. Even now, a year later, thoughts of what Harge did to them are almost enough to crush any Christmas spirit she has.

But she’s determined not to let it. Rindy is with her this year, and Therese is with her, and this is all so much more than she could have dreamed for herself.

“Come help me bring this plate to the fireplace for Santa,” she says, smiling, “and then it’s straight to bed.”

Rindy comes over, accepting the plate of cookies, while Carol holds on to the milk. Together they carry them both to the hearth and set them down, and for a moment Rindy squats before the fireplace trying to look up the chimney. It’s a fake fireplace, all the apartments have them, though Rindy is unaware.

“Are you sure he can fit?” she asks. 

“Oh, don’t worry about him,” Carol says. “He’s wily. Now say good night to Therese.”

Rindy practically flings herself into Therese’s arms, getting an oof of surprise and a laugh.

“Merry Christmas, Rindy. I’ll see you in the morning, all right?”

“Merry Christmas, Therese!” Rindy cries, and kisses her wetly on her cheek and springs up to grab Carol’s hand.

“I’ll be right back, Dearest,” Carol tells her. Therese responds with a little wink, which momentarily flusters her, and then an impatient Rindy is dragging her away.

About half an hour later, having changed into her own pajamas, Carol returns to the living room to find Therese still sat before the Christmas tree, gazing up at the lights. Once again, Carol comes to a standstill, watching. Something goes through her then, a flood of sensation that brings tears to her eyes. Therese is so incredibly beautiful, an angel in every sense, and the fact that she is here, that they are here—it is enough to make Carol believe in miracles. Unsticking her feet from the floor, she goes to Therese, and sits down next to her. Therese keeps looking up at the lights, which reflect in her bright eyes.

After a moment, she says, “I never had a Christmas like this.”

Carol runs a soothing hand down her arm, murmurs, “No?”

“The girl’s home was always so loud, and so… crowded. On Christmas Eve, the children were excited and happy, yes, but… all the presents were hand-me-downs or from local charities. Sometimes they were broken. And of course, we had no families. Most years, getting a present only made me sad.”

Carol nods, still gently stroking her arm. She knows that in fact there was only one present Therese ever got at the orphanage that she cared about: a birthday gift of green gloves from Sister Alicia, a gift she’d treasured too much even to wear. Now, there are gifts under the tree for Therese: a new watch to replace the one with its fraying leather band; a sweater she noticed in a shop last month; a new book by one of her favorite mystery writers; and a half dozen other things that Carol hadn’t been able to stop herself from buying her. Therese is actually a little miffed at her for it, because she has not bought her as many gifts, but Carol can bear her disapproval. Spoiling Therese seems like the best possible use of her Christmas bonus.

“Are you sad this year?” Carol asks her, hoping she knows the answer, but still, after less than a year of reunion, she’s anxious sometimes to be reassured.

At once, Therese turns her eyes from the lights, and looks at Carol. Her smile beams; her dimples on full display. She says, “This year I am… unbearably happy.”

Carol’s heart swells, and when she reaches for Therese, Therese takes her face in her hands and kisses her.

They kiss deeply, slowly. There’s a kind of worship in it, a laying down before the altar of all her cares, all her fears. They kiss, and murmur, and moan, and when Therese reaches for the buttons of her pajama shirt, she does it smiling against Carol’s mouth. Carol shivers, sighs, desiring but also cautious.  

“Darling, I—I’m not sure—”

“Is Rindy asleep?” Therese asks, flicking her tongue against the seam of Carol’s lips, sliding inside at her first opportunity, a slow caress.

Carol moans, says, “Yes, yes she… she went out like a light.”

“Well then,” says Therese, and keeps unbuttoning, scooting closer to nuzzle at Carol’s throat. “You and I both know she sleeps like the dead for at least the first few hours. And I think she knows better than to cross Santa by coming out here.”

“Why don’t we—why don’t we just go to bed?” asks Carol, nervous, but unwilling to stop Therese’s fingers as they slowly strip her pajama top off her shoulders, leaving her bare-chested and covered in gooseflesh.

Therese kisses the tops of her breasts; kisses the notch in her throat; kisses her mouth and murmurs against it, “I don’t think you understand how long I’ve wanted this.”

Carol blinks confusedly; the barest pressure of Therese’s teeth on her shoulder makes her whimper. “What—what do you mean?” she stumbles.

“You,” Therese murmurs, “Under this tree,” another kiss, “Unwrapped.”

“Oh,” Carol says, softly, breathlessly.

Therese coaxes her onto her back, gentle, insistent, then reaches for the waistband of her pajama pants. Carol lifts her hips obediently, and a moment later she is naked, and Therese is crawling over her, straddling her thighs, bending down to kiss and suck her everywhere—all still fully clothed, herself.

“You—” Carol swallows convulsively, shivering at the sensation of Therese’s teeth scraping her throat, “You—you’ve wanted this?”

Therese groans against her; suckles her collarbone and says, “For ages—since that time I came to your house.”

“I—I—really?”

Therese lifts up enough to give her an amused look. “Carol,” she says. “You spent that night repeatedly stripping me naked with your eyes. You really think I haven’t thought about it since?”

She bends down again. This time she starts to slowly drift down Carol’s torso, lips on her chest, on the swell of her breast. Tongue flicking a nipple that hardens in a flush of aching pleasure. Therese cups her ribs, strokes her skin, licks the other nipple into a tight peak. 

Carol moans and arches under her. And yet she has to know— “After—after Harge came that night I was so—so terrible to you. I thought maybe you didn’t like to think about it anymore?”

Therese hums, continuing slowly downward. Kissing her belly, and her hip bones, and the tops of her thighs. “Well,” she murmurs simply, “you were wrong.”

Therese kneels between her thighs, coaxing them apart, and slides her tongue against her. Carol shudders, body rolling like a wave. She lays her head back on the carpet, blinking dazedly up into the lights of the Christmas tree as Therese’s mouth moves against her. It’s slow, but earnest, Therese making little sounds of pleasure against her that vibrate through her body. Carol reaches down to clench her fingers in the silky strands of her dark hair.

“I wanted this,” Therese moans, pausing to run her tongue in slow circles around her clit. “I didn’t even know that this was possible, but I wanted it.”

She trails down, licks inside her as deep as she can, fingers holding her hips to the ground. Carol’s body flexes with pleasure, she whines, eyes rolling back.

“Oh, honey, please—please.”

Therese says, “Tell me. Tell me what you want.”

“Your—your fingers. Oh, God, please, put your fingers inside me.”

A moment later she feels the gentle probing, and then two of Therese’s fingers slide inside, and Therese’s mouth covers her clit again, licking and suckling.

Fuck,” Carol hisses, and at the curl of those fingers, cries out—too loudly. She covers her mouth with her hand, trying to muffle her own sounds.

Therese pulls back enough to tell her desperately, “Want to hear you.”

“I—I—too loud—Rindy—”

Suddenly Therese’s free hand is sliding up her torso. Carol thinks she’s going to force her to stop covering her mouth, but instead her hand lands on her throat, settling firmly. Not squeezing, but feeling—the vibration of Carol’s sounds. The gesture makes Carol flood with excitement and need. Therese starts licking her in tighter circles. Starts stroking inside her with a more insistent pressure. Carol’s eyes flutter shut. She covers her own mouth but doesn’t otherwise restrain her sounds. Moans and whimpers and mumbles an incoherent stream of profanity, knowing that Therese can feel it all. Wanting her to feel it all.

And then something changes, a sharpening of sensation, a lift of pleasure. Carol’s hips start rocking harder, her bare toes pushing into the carpet in desperation. She’s trembling, and there’s sweat gathering across her body and she can hear the messy, wet sounds of Therese’s mouth between her legs. She can feel her own slick, covering her thighs and she—she—fuck—fuck!

Carol bites down on her fist, crying out as Therese lifts her to the heights, and carries her over the edge, into surging waves of bliss. Her sex clenches and ripples around her lover’s fingers. Her clit seems to throb in Therese’s mouth. It’s intense, powerful, and yet so sweet and easy she could weep. She comes for what feels like ages of pleasure, until at last the waves start to retreat. Therese is gentle with her, coaxes her back to shore. She removes her fingers so she can lick delicately at the spill she’s created, earning another little jerk of Carol’s hips. But it feels so good, soothing almost, until at last with a sigh, Carol melts beneath her, Therese’s hand still gently cupped around her throat.

Eyes closed, panting for breath, she reaches for Therese, helping her to climb back up her body and into her arms. Therese lies on top of her; her weight feels perfect, grounding and warm. She runs her hands across her back, slides under her pajamas to feel her satiny skin. They are quiet for long moments, breathing and touching.

At last, with a little breathless chuckle, Carol asks, “Was that my Christmas present?”

Therese giggles against her throat. “One of them, anyway.”

“Hmmm. And you accuse me of spoiling you!”

“You do spoil me,” Therese retorts, and lifts her head. Their eyes meet, both of them smiling joyfully at each other. They kiss. Therese’s mouth is hot and swollen, a delicious reminder of what she’s just done. When she pulls back, her green eyes shine with love. She touches Carol’s face, twirls a piece of her hair, says with aching sincerity, “You’ve made me so happy, Carol.”

Overwhelmed, Carol tightens her arms, wraps her close, and rolls, switching their positions in an instant. Therese squeaks in surprise, just before Carol starts kissing her, hard.

“Well,” Carol mumbles into her mouth, fingers reaching down to her buttons. “Since you got to unwrap one of your presents, I think it’s only fair that I get to unwrap one of mine.”

Chapter Text

Carol is wearing slacks.

It’s not unheard of, but it’s also not common. It’s a weekend thing. A party thing. A wardrobe choice that signals relaxation and confidence. Tonight, she’s paired the slacks with a crimson blouse and a hacking jacket, all trimly cut on her tall, lean body. She looks so fucking… handsome; Therese isn’t sure what she’s going to do with herself.

Luckily (or unluckily, perhaps) she doesn’t have the luxury of just staring all night. They’re at Abby’s for her yearly Christmas party, and the revelries are in full swing. There are women everywhere, laughing and drinking and dancing with their sweethearts. Abby takes great pride in these parties, in making a space where women like them are free to be themselves in public, even if only for a night. This is Therese’s third time (they skipped last year—and have not heard the end of it) and she’s well aware that attendance alone is insufficient. Staying past ten, drinking freely, and enjoying the company, are all requirements of one Abby Gerhard.

Abby has outdone herself this year, the old country house decorated to the nines, the bar stocked, the dining table laid with a decadent spread of Christmas treats and hors d’oeuvres. They stop at the bar first, Carol pouring them each a glass of mulled wine, handing her hers with a little wink.

“For you, Dearest.”

Therese accepts the drink, aware of Carol’s eyes flitting over her, tracking her from tip to toe with obvious appreciation. Therese blushes, looking down into her glass. If Therese is distracted by Carol’s wardrobe, Carol seems no better off. She hasn’t stopped looking at her like this since she came out of the bedroom dressed to go. Therese isn’t sure what exactly has Carol so taken with her tonight. She has settled on comfort rather than glamour. Her dress is a simple black frock, worn over a green sweater. It’s the sort of slightly bohemian thing Therese likes to wear on her own time, and she likes how she looks in it, but it’s nothing compared to Carol’s elegant suit. Yet Carol, drinking from her own glass of wine, shifts closer to her, putting a hand on her hip and sliding it around to the small of her back.

“Are you hungry, Dearest?” she murmurs.

Therese blushes brighter, then looks up at Carol from under her lashes, moving subtly closer, til their hips touch.

“Are you?” she asks pointedly.

Carol’s eyes glitter, her nostrils flare, and she seems just about to take some definitive action, when—

“There you are!” Abby cries, coming upon them with arms outstretched. “It’s already eight! I thought you were standing us up again!”

She and Carol kiss each other’s cheeks, Carol saying in fond exasperation, “I took Therese to Colorado last year—that’s not the same as standing anyone up!”

Abby waves a dismissive hand at her. She takes Therese in a warm embrace, then leans back beaming at her. “I’m so glad you’re here! I never see you! Between Carol and that job of yours!”

Therese can’t help laughing, while Carol rolls her eyes. “I think you’re already tight, Abby. We had dinner less than two weeks ago.”

“Eons!” Abby declares. “Now, come with me. Lou and everyone are waiting.”

She leads them away from the bar, toward the sound of music in the sitting room, where the biggest crowd is gathered. Abby takes them straight to a knot of familiar faces: Lou, and Joyce, and Joyce’s roommate, Dana. Lou beams at their approach, her bright blue eyes sparkling. Like Carol, she’s dressed in a suit, but hers includes a vest and has a slightly more masculine cut, befitting her lanky frame. Therese likes Lou immensely and is relieved to see her, especially because Joyce and Dana tend to get on Carol’s nerves.  

“There you are!” Lou cries. “Abby’s been in fits.”

“Oh, hush, you!” Abby grins, putting an arm around her girlfriend’s waist just as soon as the rounds of kisses and hugs hello are done.

“Carol Ross!” exclaims Joyce, grinning from ear to ear. “We had a bet going whether you’d bring your girl around or keep her all to yourself again.”

“Hi, Joyce,” Carol drawls. “Therese has a name, you know.”

“Hi, Therese!” says Dana, her smile bright and impish.

“Look at your dress!” Joyce exclaims. “You’re a vision! None of us could pull that off—we’d look like old maids. Carol, no wonder you’re so possessive of her. Be honest with us, Therese—does she ever let you out of her sight?”

Therese laughs, overcoming her natural shyness to reply, “Only when I let her out of mine.”

Everyone laughs. Then Therese notices that there is another woman in the circle, someone she’s never met before, and Lou exclaims, “Oh, say! Let me introduce you. Carol, Therese, this is Claire. She works with me at the club.”

“How do you do?” says Carol, smiling and shaking hands.

Claire smiles back, but when she turns next to Therese, who has proffered her own hand, something shifts in her expression, a subtle widening of her eyes; a relaxing of her jaw, as if she means to speak, but can’t.

“Hello,” Therese smiles at her. “It’s great to meet you.”

Claire blinks. “Uh, yeah, you, too.”

There’s a half beat of silence. Just a few years ago, Therese would have paid this no mind, would have interpreted it merely as the awkwardness of a stranger meeting someone new. But Therese has been walking in these circles for a while now, and to her own embarrassment, she recognizes very well the doe-eyed look of Lou’s friend, who seems to have forgotten anyone else is there in her temporary staring at Therese.  

“What do you do at the club?” asks Carol, cutting through that beat of silence with surgical precision. Her voice, her look, her entire air is utterly polite and relaxed. But Therese knows that she isn’t the only one to notice Claire’s appreciative gaze.

Claire, blinking back into awareness of the larger room, looks at Carol and says with a nervous laugh, “Oh, I—I work the bar.”

“She makes a mean martini,” Abby declares.

“How lovely,” says Carol, teeth flashing.

“It is,” says Claire. Then, looking at Therese. “Lou says you’re a photographer?”

“I am, yes, at The Times.”

Claire’s eyes widen, “Wow. You’re so young!”

Therese hesitates, never knowing what to make of this kind of statement. Joyce interrupts them with a crow of laughter.

“Don’t let that flawless skin fool you. Therese may be just a baby compared to us, but she’s a force of nature. How else do you think she tamed Carol Ross?”

Claire blushes. Carol rolls her eyes. Therese, reclaiming her confidence, answers boldly, “With persistence.”

More laughter, and when Therese glances up at Carol, her lover’s smirk is warm and proud and flirtatious.

Lou says, “Claire is just doing a swell job at the club, but she’s new in town. We wanted to bring her around, help her meet some new people.”

“And we, of course, are the only people worth knowing,” Abby says brightly.

“Thank you for having me,” says Claire. “Everyone has been so nice. It’s swell to make friends.”

Therese, sensing her nervousness, reassures her kindly, “You’ll find the best friends of all at this party, trust me.”

Claire’s answer is another of those wide-eyed stares. Dana says, “Well, some of us, anyway! The ones who aren’t bitter old hags! But of course, it’s impossible not to be friends with a girl like you, Therese.” To Claire she adds, “She’s a pure sweetheart. When Carol brings her around, that is.”

Carol scoffs. “I miss one party and you’ll never let me live it down!”

“We all know you’d miss more if I let you,” Abby retorts. “You’re both of you such home bodies! It’s important to get out, to see people. The world is bigger than your bedroom, you know.”

Therese blushes. Carol elbows Abby in the ribs, earning a yelp. Joyce says, “I guess we can’t all have a great romance like Carol and Therese.”

Lou kisses Abby’s hair. “Speak for yourself.”

Joyce ignores this. “Claire, look at Therese. Now isn’t she just as pretty as a doll?”

Therese blinks, startled and embarrassed. Beside her, Carol makes a low, irritated sound. Claire is blushing, but she looks at Therese and says, “Yes.”

“Well, you’ll never guess where Carol found her. At a doll counter! Carol, you have to tell her the story!”

Carol, who has shifted closer to Therese and who is exuding now a subtle tension that likely only Abby and Therese notice, says in a flat voice, “I’d rather hear about the time you made a pass at that senator’s wife and fell flat on your face.”

Crows of laughter all around. Therese slides her hand into Carol’s, squeezing gently. Carol squeezes back, the rings on their fingers clicking against each other, their hips bumping. A needful moment of contact. Claire finally stops staring at Therese and the conversation spins out from there, with all kinds of talk about their various jobs and friends and lovers. Dana regales them with a story about a date that went terribly wrong. Abby talks glowingly of a trip she and Lou took to the Adirondacks last month. Carol starts to relax, joining in the conversation, charming and witty.

But about half an hour later, Dana asks Claire if she’s seeing anyone, and instantly Therese can feel the stiffness returning to Carol’s body. Claire looks startled, eyes flicking unconsciously toward Therese. Therese feels rather sorry for her. She remembers quite well what it was like to meet a woman who stunned her into incoherence.

“Oh, no, no,” Claire stammers, “not—not right now, anyway.”

“Well, take a look around!” cries Joyce, gesturing at the room. “See anyone you like?”

Claire blushes and stumbles and Therese wishes she could deliver her from this teasing, if only because Claire keeps looking at her in that way that’s making Carol fidgety. Claire says, “I—I wouldn’t know.”

“Lots of pretty women,” Joyce says. “Unless you’re like Carol here and only go in for the younger models.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” exclaims Carol.

“What?” Joyce cries. “Who can blame you? Why, if we all had pretty young things like Therese on our arms, we’d miss all the parties, too! Isn’t that right, Claire?”

And Claire, looking bold for the first time, says, “Yes. Yes, it is.”

Dana, seeming to notice Claire’s admiration for Therese for the first time, and apparently disinterested in smoothing it over, cackles and warns, “Careful, honey! This one is look but don’t touch. No one wants a jealous Carol Ross on their hands!”

Therese sighs. Claire looks mortified. Carol, having apparently had enough, sets down her glass of mulled wine on the fireplace mantle, and does the same with Therese’s. She says, “And on that note, I think I’d like a dance.”

She pulls Therese away from the group, ignoring Dana’s and Joyce’s mocking hoots. She leads Therese into the center of the room, where quite a few women are already in each other’s arms. Therese lets herself be led, and then drawn in close. She wraps her arms around Carol’s shoulders and Carol wraps hers around her back, and as soon as their bodies come together, Therese melts with relief.

Carol, on the other hand, remains almost comically rigid. Therese pulls at the baby hairs at the nape of her neck, coaxing Carol to look down into her eyes.

“Carol,” she murmurs, smiling with amusement. “Breathe.”

Carol huffs, straightens her shoulders, relaxes them again and says irritably, “You’d think she didn’t even realize we’re together. At one point she was practically drooling.”

Therese teases her, “Not everyone can be as smooth as you when they find a woman attractive. And how many times have I had to scare away your admirers? Sometimes I think I ought to just carry a stick around to whack them off you.”

Carol snorts with laughter, sliding one of her hands low, to the small of Therese’s back. Then, remembering her ire, she grumbles, “Well, it wasn’t just her. It’s all of them. They’re always… clucking over you. And they treat you like a child.”

“Only Dana and Joyce,” Therese corrects her. “And they don’t mean any harm.”

Carol gives her a look. “It doesn’t bother you, the way they talk about you—like you’re some prize I won at a fair?”

Therese chuckles. “It bothers me more that they seem to be obsessed with how lucky you are to have me, rather than the other way around.”

At that, Carol’s eyes soften, the tension bleeding from her frame and a small, adoring smile curving her lips. “Well, I actually agree with them, on that count.”

Therese smiles back. “That you’re lucky?”

Carol’s eyes sparkle. She draws Therese closer, bends to murmur. “The luckiest woman alive.”

Leaning in to her, Therese revels in the warmth of Carol’s lips brushing her temple. After a moment she says, “I feel lucky, too. I feel lucky… when you wear this suit.”

Carol’s answer is a low, throaty chuckle; it sends goosebumps down Therese’s spine. “How interesting. I was just thinking the same thing about your dress.”

“Yes, it does have you rather distracted tonight, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine why. It’s not even a very nice dress.”

“Well, Dearest, if you must know—it reminds me of what you were wearing when we met.”

Therese frowns, surprised. She thinks back to that day in Frankenberg’s, but her memories of their first meeting are dominated by images of Carol—Carol’s fur coat; Carol’s gray gloves; Carol’s matching scarf and hat and nails. If Therese did indeed wear a black dress and green sweater that day, it’s lost to her.

“Really?” she asks. At Carol’s little hmm of assent, she ponders, “I must have looked so plain, compared to you.”

Another chuckle, almost sinfully low. “Sweetheart, I don’t think anyone in the world has ever looked at you and thought you were plain. Or don’t you realize why all the ladies here fawn over you the way they do?”

Therese scoffs. “Oh, Carol, don’t be silly. I’ll admit Claire was a bit obvious, but everyone else—they see me as their little sister.”

Carol draws back, giving her an incredulous look. For a moment they just stare at each other, something devious entering Carol’s eyes before she leans in again, nuzzling against Therese’s hair, murmuring near her ear, “Dearest, look around. What do you see?”

Confused, Therese obeys. Everywhere she looks there is laughter and smiling and chatter, women of all kinds enjoying the party in the freedom of shared affinity. After a moment, Therese says, “I see women… like us.”

“That’s right,” Carol murmurs. “You see women who love women. Women who… desire women. Women who are as distracted by a beautiful girl as any man is. Women who know that in this life, if they want to have that kind of love, they’ve got to strike where they can. Do you know what these women would do, if I wasn’t here, Angel? And I’m not just speaking of Claire. All of them. Do you know what they’d do?”

Therese hesitates, feeling inexplicably nervous. Finally, cautiously, she admits, “No…”

Carol’s lips brush her ear again, a graze of pressure that feels like electricity. Carol whispers, “They would descend on you, Darling.”

At those words, something warm settles between Therese’s legs, a weight of desire that’s like an overflowing bowl, just waiting to be tipped. She wraps her arms tighter over Carol’s shoulders, and pushes the front of her body a little closer to hers.

Carol isn’t done. “Yes, I suppose, there’s some of them who have their own sweethearts. But the rest? Why, they’d be like preying tigers. A beautiful woman like you? Those eyes? Those dimples? That mouth… Do you have any idea how many women here have probably wondered what it’d be like to kiss you, Dearest? To touch you? To make love to you? Why, if I wasn’t here, you’d have seducers from every corner.”

Therese makes a dismissive sound. She says, “That’s ridiculous, Carol, I—”

“And if they knew the rest? If they knew just how intelligent you are? How kind you are? How funny and clever?” Her voice drops again. “If they knew what you’re like in bed—”

Therese shudders. She begins to be afraid that someone in the party will notice. That they’ll take one look at her flushed cheeks and heavy eyelids, at her fingers digging into Carol’s shoulders, and know that she’s very close to making a fool of herself in the middle of Abby’s party.

“Carol,” she murmurs, half rebuke, half entreaty.

Carol holds her closer with one arm, using the other hand to trail fingers down her spine, like a slow-moving lightning strike. “The way you feel in bed,” she murmurs. Therese almost moans; chokes it off at the last second, thoughts overflowing with images of the two of them— “Your skin. Your breasts. Your lips. How hungry you are, for my touches. How hungry you make me, for yours. If any of them knew the half of it, why I’d need a stick to whack them off of you.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” Therese retorts, pulling back so she can look her in the eyes again. Carol’s pupils are dilated; her gaze is molten. She waits in obvious anticipation. “You’re forgetting: I’m not a prize at a fair. Any one of them could make a pass at me, and they’d be wasting their time. The best-looking women here don’t hold a candle to you, Carol, and if they made a move, I’d send them packing myself. I don’t want to be wanted by any of them. I only want to be wanted by you.”

Carol breathes in through her nostrils. The hand at Therese’s waist tightens in the fabric of her dress. Carol’s eyes burn, and for a moment Therese thinks that her refined and self-possessed lover is going to lose all control and start devouring her, right on the dance floor. The thought holds a certain bone-melting appeal. But then the song comes to an end. Some of the couples around them start to break apart; somewhere someone lets out a peal of laughter.

Carol asks, “Do you remember where Abby’s guest room is?” Therese swallows; her eyes feel big as the moon. She nods breathlessly. “Go there, now,” Carol orders. When Therese hesitates just a moment, stunned as much by the request as her own resulting desire, Carol repeats in a low, stern voice, “Go.”

She obeys. Eyes down, not wanting to be drawn into anyone else’s conversation, she hurries from the sitting room. There are women everywhere, including on the staircase, but Therese slips past them, wondering if it’s only Carol’s words that make her imagine eyes following where she goes. On the second-floor landing, she pauses to reorient herself, momentarily forgetting the way, and then she heads to the third door on the left.

Inside, she turns on the lights, shuts the door after her. The room has a queen bed, and a vanity. Therese pauses to look at herself in the mirror, amazed at the blown pupils that stare back at her, amazed at the flush in her own cheeks, though she shouldn’t be. Carol has always had this effect on her. Carol will always have this effect on her.

It’s only a couple of minutes later that the door opens again. Even though she’s expecting it, she almost jumps, almost fears that it will be someone else, even Abby, come to figure out what she’s doing up here. But no, it is Carol. Therese watches as she locks the door after her, then leans back against it, legs apart. To Therese’s surprise, she has brought her purse with her. That piques Therese’s interest, grabs her attention like an intoxicating scent. It’s one of Carol’s larger handbags, and she sets it on top of the vanity just before her eyes return to Therese. Her gaze moves like a caress, sliding across Therese’s body, lingering in her favorite places. With her back leaned against the door, arms crossed indolently over her chest, lips curving in a rakish smirk—she is almost unbearably sexy. When their eyes finally lock, Carol looks at her with predatory intensity. Therese feels suddenly small and helpless as a mouse— and starved as a lion.

“Come here,” Carol says.

Therese’s first instinct is to throw herself at her. To run into her arms, to grab her and kiss her and show her with an explosion of force what she needs, what she wants. That image she had before, of her desire like a bowl of overflowing sensation between her legs—well now the bowl is on a rocky foundation, and wants so badly to be tipped over, to spill and soak them both. But Carol is in one of her intoxicating, dominant moods, and Therese knows how she’d react if Therese showed her the fury of her own need. Coolly indifferent, maddeningly self-possessed. She’d let Therese wear herself out with her own desperation and excitement, and then, only then, would she make her move, take her apart, ruin her completely. Sometimes, this is exactly what Therese wants: to feel the power in Carol, to feel her strength and her control, to feel how weak and helpless she is in Carol’s hands.

But other times… she likes to make Carol weak, first.

So, Therese moves toward her slowly. She slinks up to her like a cat. Carol’s eyes widen for just a fraction of a second, before narrowing. Therese doesn’t reach for her face, grab at her body, or seek out her hands. Instead, Therese slips between her spread thighs, a leg either side one of hers, and brushes against her pelvis. Carol’s arms uncross, falling to her sides. Carol’s fingertips touch her waist, light as a feather. Therese molds herself against her, runs her nose from the dip of her throat, up her jaw, to one perfectly sculpted ear. She relishes the shudder that travels through Carol’s body.

“Carol,” she murmurs, her voice soft and low and exactly calibrated to make Carol lose her mind. “What’s in your purse?”

Carol chuckles, full of promise and threat. The fingers at Therese’s waist trail down, down, toward the hem of her dress. The leg between Therese’s leg shifts, til her thigh is pressing up, between Therese’s legs. She grinds gently, and Therese makes a soft, hungry sound.

“In the mood to play, I see,” Carol rumbles. The sound makes lust spark in every inch of Therese’s body. “That was red wine you drank. Are you feeling naughty, beautiful one?”

This time, Therese leads with her lips, brushing them featherlight down Carol’s throat, slipping her tongue against her clavicle, using her teeth next. Goosebumps erupt under her touch.

“Sometimes I like it,” she says, “when you’re a little… jealous.”

“Jealous?” Carol drawls, voice thick with her own desire, fingers inching up, under Therese’s skirt.

“Mmhm. Green… with envy.”

“Tsk tsk, Ms. Belivet. What shall I do with such a naughty girl?”

Therese groans, lifts her mouth to Carol’s and says against her parted lips, “Show me… what’s in your purse.”

They look into each other’s eyes. A moment of sharp connection, a dare, passed back and forth, and then with a growl, Carol kisses her.

It is instantly, overwhelmingly ferocious. A hand grabs her hair, pulling her head back, and Carol’s tongue is in her mouth. Carol’s free arm seizes her around the waist, lifting her and sweeping her around. Not against the door, but against the vanity. Little knickknacks scatter out of their way as Carol pushes her onto it, and Therese doesn’t resist, lets herself be set upon the surface as they begin to tear at each other’s clothes. The hacking jacket—gone. The blouse—almost torn open. Therese lifts her ass and Carol pulls her dress up over her hips and a moment later, over her head. The sweater next. The slacks drop from Carol’s hips. Therese feels the leather pieces of the harness and almost sobs with excitement. Carol’s been wearing it all night! Therese works Carol’s bra loose and Carol yanks down Therese’s underwear, grabbing desperately for her purse even as their mouths battle for control.

“Hurry,” Therese gasps. “Please, Carol, hurry.”

The toy in the purse is Therese’s favorite, thick, but not too long, the surface perfectly smooth and curved and Therese is almost frantic to have it inside her. Carol rushes to get it in place, all with Therese biting her and licking her and grabbing at her breasts. She’s too overcome to pay attention to the machinations of fitting the toy into the harness, too distracted with the sudden pleasure of taking Carol’s nipple in her mouth, sucking and biting until with a sharp gasp Carol grabs her hair again, pulling her head away. Their eyes lock. Therese reaches for the toy, trying to drag it between her legs, and Carol bats her hands away, grabs her hips and pulls her to the edge of the vanity.

“So impatient,” Carol chides her. “Let me get the—”

“I don’t need it,” Therese gasps, because she can feel how wet she is, dripping onto Carol’s fingers that slide between her legs to check. “Please, I don’t need it, please—baby, need you, please—”

Carol gathers her wetness on her fingers, smears in over the toy. Then she brings the tip to her entrance and all in one easy slide—she’s inside her.

Therese gasps, head pushing back into the vanity mirror as she jerks and ruts her hips forward. Carol holds still for a moment, holds her in place til their eyes meet again. The look in Carol’s eyes, animal, incensed, makes Therese whimper. And then, Carol starts to move.

It’s only been a few months since they introduced this to their bedroom. They don’t use it every time. Both of them have to be in the right frame of mind—Therese especially, for whom penetration has a different history than it does for Carol. But when she is in the mood, when she does want it, God—she wants it desperately. Wants the feeling of Carol’s hips, slotted between hers. Wants the power of Carol’s arms, pulling her close as she starts to piston in and out of her. Wants the look on Carol’s face, that half-mad, hungry look, that makes Therese’s body melt with shivering need. Wants, most of all, the hot thick pierce between her legs, the incomparable fullness, the feeling that somehow, it really is Carol inside her, fucking her, making Therese her own.

Within moments, they’ve found a fast and powerful rhythm. Therese wraps her legs around Carol’s waist as tight as she can, wraps her arms under Carol’s arms and holds on to her shoulders for dear life. Their mouths meld together, sounds sharp and aching as they kiss and gasp and fuck in a helpless torrent of need.

The mirror is cold against Therese’s naked back, and then slick with her sweat. The vanity knocks against the wall with every thrust. Thank God they’re on the second floor, thank God they can hear the music in the house, even all the way up here. Maybe it will drown out the sound of them. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe Therese doesn’t care. Maybe in some wild part of her driven mad by the sensation of Carol’s body, she imagines the women downstairs looking up, hearing the sounds, realizing all at once what is going on. Maybe Claire will hear it, and notice that Therese and Carol are gone, and understand in a flush of disappointment that she never stood a chance. No one else ever stood a chance. Therese is Carol’s, only Carol’s, always Carol’s—

“Fuck,” Carol gasps, every word punctuated by the force of every thrust, “Fuck—you feel—so—fucking—good!”

“Fuck me,” Therese sobs against her mouth, “Please, please, fuck me—”

“Mine,” Carol gasps, “Mine—mine—mine!”

In a daze Therese knows it has never been like this before, never quite like this, their inhibition reaching a new height, their need for each other taking on a wild, reckless drive. It’s only been a few minutes and yet Therese is already so close. Usually, she needs more, she needs time. Usually Carol has to start slow, building her up from smoldering embers to a flaming conflagration. But tonight, everything has been a perfect storm. Carol’s suit. Carol’s words. Carol’s body, up against hers as they danced. And now, every thrust of Carol’s hips brings a glancing pressure to her clit, and the toy is pounding against a white-hot spot inside her, and Therese is genuinely concerned she’s going to faint from pleasure.

Perhaps Carol doesn’t realize quite how far gone she is, because she breaks their kiss to whisper urgently, “What do you need, Darling? Do you need more? What do you want?”

In answer, Therese grabs her ass, pulling her tight against her. Now the toy is grinding inside her, and Carol’s pelvis is grinding against her clit, sweet as heaven, and Therese gasps into her mouth. “I want you to fuck me. I want you to keep fucking me, just like this. And after I come, I want to put you on that bed and lick you til you scream.”

Carol’s eyes widen, startled, amazed, and then she grins—a gleeful, delicious grin.

“All right then,” she says—and starts driving forward again.

Therese’s head falls back. Her eyes slide shut. Her breaths come in ever quickening gasps. Every stroke lances through her with pleasure, and each moment the pleasure is stronger, and now it’s as if Carol has found that bowl of sensation between her hips, inside her cunt. And Carol is toying with the edge of the bowl, tipping it a little and settling it down, then tipping it again, and settling it again, and the bowl is heavy, and full and overflowing, and every touch troubles the waters like a vibration across her nerve endings. And now it is harder and harder to steady the bowl, each touch rocking it like a storm, rocking it harder, sharper, the flood of her pleasure rippling across the surface, rising like a wave—

Until, with a flick, it spills.

Therese’s body seizes with pleasure. Her limbs locks, squeezing Carol to her. Her fingers dig into her shoulders. Her mouth drops open but no sound escapes beyond tiny, squeaking gasps. Carol keeps rubbing into her, not stroking so much anymore as grinding, and that grinding sensation keeps her at the height of bliss, keeps her coming in deep, wrenching pulses, that are somehow torture and release, all at the same time.

“That’s it, Angel,” Carol murmurs to her, voice thick with lust and pride and delight. “That’s it, good girl, let it happen. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

The highest peak floods past, and Therese’s limbs unlock, but now she can’t stop trembling. She is still coming in little aching waves, and her thighs are shaking, almost uncontrollably, and her shoulders, too, and her belly. She finds the strength to lift her head and push her face into Carol’s neck, needing to be held now, needing to be held so close and tight, before she shakes apart altogether. Her orgasm retreats into an echoing warmth, but her trembling continues. Half delirious she becomes aware of Carol slipping out of her even as she continues to hold her close. Dazed from pleasure she finds herself lifted off the vanity and carried over to the bed. To her relief, Carol covers her with her body, like a blanket but also an anchor, the weight of her necessary and grounding. Her warmth, her smell, her little murmuring sounds of comfort, are all that Therese can process.

It feels like ages before she starts to come back to herself. Longer before she can manage to open her eyes. And when she does, she finds that Carol has them on their sides now, facing each other. Therese’s arms are folded up against Carol’s chest, while Carol’s arms are wrapped around her. One of Carol’s long, strong thighs is slung over her hip. Like this, Carol can look into her face, and when Therese finally manages to focus on her, she’s surprised to see something like worry in Carol’s eyes.

“What is it?” Therese asks, voice hoarse. “Is something wrong?”

Carol gives her a wry look, the worry not entirely gone. “I was going to ask you. You’ve been practically unconscious for ten minutes.”

Therese blinks, still a little dazed. “I have?”

“We’ve never—it’s never been quite that intense before, Dearest. I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

A drunken giggle spills past Therese’s lips. She realizes that her body is stiff from trembling and she forces herself to stretch, gratified when Carol’s eyes track her movements with unambiguous desire. “Carol,” she moans, winding her arms around her neck. “You didn’t hurt me. I think you made me come harder than I ever have in my life.”

Instantly, the last of Carol’s concern vanishes, replaced by surprise, and then, almost childlike joy. “Really?” she asks.

Therese chuckles, noticing again the rawness in her throat. She doesn’t remember screaming, but then again—

“Really,” she smiles.

Carol reaches for her again, and they kiss, deep and loving. Therese relishes every press, every stroke of Carol’s tongue, every little sound Carol makes. She wants to roll her over, climb down between her legs—but she feels weak as a kitten, and it’s so good to be kissed and held by Carol. After a little while they break for air, both gasping. Therese manages to lift one arm to cup Carol’s face, but she’s still trembling hard.  

“God,” she laughs, “I can barely move! Just give me a moment, all right? I—just need a moment.”

Carol only smirks at her, clearly quite delighted with herself. Therese laughs again, rolls her eyes, says, “You won’t look so smug when I’m done with you.”

“First I’m jealous, now I’m smug. Next you’ll be calling me a brute.”

Therese gives her a wry look, and slides her hand down, between Carol’s legs. She slips under the harness, touching her where she is hot and wet and swollen. Carol squeaks. Therese grins.

“Mmmm, you are,” she purrs against her mouth, “such a brute.”

“Therese—” Carol gasps, shuddering, eyes sliding shut, head tipping back. The reaction alone is enough to charge Therese with new power, but when she whimpers, “Please!”

Well, it’s all over. Therese rolls on top of her, kisses her hard and deep and hungry, and with limbs still weak from the force of her own pleasure, slides down between Carol’s legs—and keeps her promise.