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This Precious Time When Time Is New

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When you were driving, it was a good time to think, and Jamie found herself reflecting that what she felt for Dani had grown like a weed. It wasn’t the most original metaphor, but it was apt enough, at least. At first, she hadn’t put any effort into cultivating it - hadn’t fed it or turned it to the light.

It thrived anyway, shooting up from the earth the more time she spent with Dani. When she moved from London to take the job at Bly, she pictured a monastic existence, living comfortably alone with her plants. She grew friendly with her colleagues and a couple of the locals she met at the pub, and that was enough. Then Dani showed up. She was so pretty she couldn’t help staring whenever she got the chance. Jamie had thought her to be straight as an arrow, but it couldn’t hurt to look. Engage in the occasional guilty fantasy. Then before she knew it, it was becoming real.

The affection had grown wild, but contrary to what many people thought, weeds were good for a garden. They improved the soil, making it better, just as Dani brought out the best in her. The fact that Dani was so good for her was part of why she was all in.

They’d crossed the ocean together, and she still couldn’t believe they were here. Everything about America tickled her, especially the people. At least once a day, she repeated some strange turn of phrase she’d picked up while in earshot of a stranger. She loved driving in the beat-up car they bought with the money from selling her truck, a white Ford Escort with blue racing stripes. They slept in cheap motels and stopped whenever they took a fancy. Even the diners, with their booth seats and greasy food, were like something out of a movie for her.

Jamie yawned. It was getting late. They should hit one of the small towns they’d circled on their map soon, but they’d hoped to reach a motel before then. If they didn’t, she’d have to talk to stay awake.

Dani stared out the window from the passenger seat. She was quiet like this sometimes, lost in her head while the landscape slipped past. But the driving meant they had all the time in the world, and when Dani was in the right mood, they used that time to talk about their lives from before they met one another.

Jamie loved hearing about what Dani was like growing up. She found out how Dani decided to become a teacher and all about her mother, who sounded like a fucking nightmare. Jamie told Dani about her upbringing, too, wrapping her stories in dark humor and self-deprecation. Dani hung on her words, fascinated even by what Jamie always thought of as the ugly parts and never judging.

This adventure was what Dani needed, that’s what they’d agreed, and Jamie was confident things would keep getting better. Dani was starting to smile more often than she had before they left Bly. Nothing made Jamie happier than finding the right words to light up that beautiful face.

Jamie glanced over when Dani turned on the overhead light. She was fiddling with the knob on the radio, twisting through static until she found a country station. They’d discovered a mutual love for Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton.

 Even looking at Dani’s hand filled Jamie with longing. She flashed back to those fingers touching her, their first night together haunting her. Dani was so enthusiastic, hands and mouth desperate to learn every part of her body.

If you’d told her that night that they’d go this long without being together again, she’d never have believed it.

She’d been trying not to think about it too much. It was only a few weeks. It hadn’t felt right after they found Hannah’s body. They were both too sad and focused on being there for Owen. Now they were navigating something they never could have expected in Dani’s Beast.

They’d kissed - she couldn’t imagine not doing that – and there was still a lovely sense of romance between them. They held hands all the time and curled up in bed together, sleeping in one another’s arms. Always touching, but when things started to heat up, Jamie picked up on Dani’s preoccupation. She’d begin to hearing Dani’s description of what it was like in her head, the coldness, and confusion of it. She hated the idea that Dani might be feeling that when they were being intimate.

So, Jamie would slow to a stop as subtly as she could. The last thing she wanted to do was to push. If Dani wasn’t wholeheartedly into it, then she couldn’t be either.

Being by Dani’s side was enough for now, even if holding back wasn’t always easy. If she was the first to wake, she’d watch Dani sleep, wanting her with such intensity it ached. Her plump lips, made for kissing, and her soft skin. One morning she spent a solid twenty minutes staring at Dani’s stomach where her sleep shirt was riding up.

It was dark again. Jamie watched the yellow line on the road and told herself to be patient. She’d never take sex with Dani for granted anyway, and it didn’t hurt her to wait. Dani was still attracted to her; she knew by how she looked at her. They’d get there when she was ready, and she was prepared to wait as long as it took.

“Really thought we’d be at that little town by now,” Jamie said, to distract herself.

“Do you want to change over? I’m not too tired.”

“Let’s give it a little longer. I’m sure we’re close.”

“Okay,” Dani said, and then she put a hand on Jamie’s leg.

The weight of it, even through her jeans, made her shift on the seat. There was something about it that made it different from other touches. When Dani rubbed her thumb back and forth, it was enough to put her on edge.

“That’s a bit distracting.”

“Is it?” Dani said, and Jamie heard a welcome lightness in her voice.

Dani slid her hand higher, shifting it to her upper thigh. What did this mean? Were they going to fool around when they stopped driving for the night? Just the thought of it made her mouth go dry. Maybe she shouldn’t get her hopes up.

At that moment, headlights came out of the darkness from over the hill, and she jumped. “Dani!”

Dani pulled her hand away as though burned, but Jamie was still laughing. Of all the times for a car to appear. There’d been nothing for miles and miles.

She wanted Dani to put her hand back. Instead, she was turned away from her, looking out the window again.

“Are you okay?”

“You didn’t have to snap at me…” Dani trailed off.

“What? I didn’t mean to. I just panicked, that’s all.”

Dani didn’t reply, and Jamie pulled over so fast the tires crunched on the gravel at the side of the road.

“Hey. I didn’t mean to sound short with you. I liked it when you put your hand on my leg. Just got caught by surprise with the car,” she said softly.

Nothing was worse than seeing Dani in pain, except for the idea that she was the cause of it. She’d always had a sharp tongue, but she didn’t even have to try to be careful with Dani. Still, she hated that she’d given her the wrong impression.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“What’s wrong? Is it bad today?” she asked, reaching out to stroke Dani’s arm.

“It’s not always about that.”

Jamie’s hand stilled. “C’mon. Talk to me. Please?”

There was a long silence. The upholstery creaked as Dani finally turned back toward her.

“Why haven’t we been together again? Since that night?”

Jamie searched for words, trying to piece it together. Weren’t they waiting until Dani was ready? Her face was hot, shame seeping in. She’d misunderstood something. Badly.

“I don’t know,” she said feebly.

In the moonlight, she could make out how Dani turned to look at her.

“You pull away. When we were still at Bly, I figured it was because you were sad about Hannah and everything, but it’s still happening.”

Jamie put a hand on the side of Dani’s face. Her stomach dropped at the idea that Dani could ever feel unwanted.

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I didn’t want to rush you.”

“But we’d already…I don’t get it.”

“I thought you weren’t up for it. Because of how you were feeling. Did I get that wrong?”

“I know I haven’t been myself exactly, but yeah.”

Jamie tried to think of how to explain without hurting Dani’s feelings. It wasn’t like their kisses were bad. She didn’t want to give the impression she thought so. They were still as sweet as candy, and she felt lucky for each one.

“I got the feeling you were distracted.”

“Maybe a little, in the beginning. It takes a second to stop thinking about her but then it feels good. When you’re kissing me is when I feel most like myself.”

Jamie shook her head. How had she misread things so completely?

“I’m sorry. I’ve really messed up.”

“No, I should’ve said…” Dani said, leaning forward and putting her forehead to Jamie’s. They were so close she could feel breath on her lips.

“I wish we’ve talked about this sooner,” Jamie said, thinking of all that they could have been doing. What wasted time. Time that Dani didn’t believe they had.

“I didn’t know how to bring it up.”

Jamie closed the gap between them and pressed her lips to Dani’s. It was heaven – Dani’s lips velvet soft, the smell of her hair surrounding her. There was nothing hesitant in it now, she could sense that Dani was with her, and it flooded her with want. In some ways, it was like their first kiss when she understood how mutual their attraction was. Only she had a feeling that this time, she wasn’t going to wind up disappointed.

Dani’s tongue was in her mouth, and her hands were in Jamie’s hair as they leaned into one another, their kisses desperate. She loved how Dani moaned when they kissed, little noises that told her to keep going. She was grabbing Jamie’s shoulders like she never wanted to let go.

Finally, they took a break, breathing hard.

“Fuck, I’ve missed you,” Jamie said.

“Me too.”

They came together again, Jamie burying her face in Dani’s neck and kissing her skin. She pressed her lips there softly, again and again, the relief indescribable. Things were right again.

“Do you know how hard it’s been to keep my hands off you?”

“I think I have a pretty good idea.”

Dani’s fingers dug into her arms, while Jamie ran her tongue along the column of her neck. She smelled amazing and tasted even better.

They were leaning into one another over the gear stick, kissing furiously, when headlights passed them, lighting up the car interior.

They wrenched apart, Jamie trying to catch her breath.

“Hope we gave them a good show.”

“Let’s find that town and get a motel. Now.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jamie replied, giving a mock salute.

She couldn’t wipe the smile from her face as she turned the key in the ignition. With the cars passing, she figured they must be getting close to town. Dani’s hand came to her leg again, and she put her own hand on top.

“Can’t believe you thought I wasn’t interested,” Jamie said, laughing.

“Same with you! I didn’t know what to think.”

“Well. I don’t know what I was thinking. But who knew I was so good at hiding my insatiable lust? Seriously though, I thought it’d be obvious.”

“So, you’ve wanted to?”

She could feel eyes on her. Dani knew how hot Jamie was for her, especially after those kisses. But if she wanted to hear Jamie say it, that was fine with her.

“Of course, I’ve wanted to. I’ve thought about it all the time.”

“All the time, huh?”

“Yeah. Yesterday morning, you were curled up to me, and you kept moving. It was making me lose my mind.”

“I was doing that on purpose. Trying to give you a hint.”

Jamie tightened her grip on the steering wheel. “Oh my god. I thought you were doing it in your sleep.”

“Nope. I wanted you to turn around.”

It had been delicious torture, the way Dani brushed against her back, her pelvis pressed into Jamie’s backside. It was all she could do to not grind into her. To think she could have had her then, that even if she’d turned her head just a little, they could have kissed.

Jamie scanned the horizon, looking for lights. She could not find this place fast enough.

“What would you have done? If I’d turned around?”

“Kissed you until you couldn’t stand it anymore, then I’d be inside you. I loved that.”

Jamie hadn’t been sure that she would answer, at least in such detail. She cleared her throat.

“Well. That’s certainly a good plan. Let’s put that one into action. Immediately.”

Dani was giggling, and then so was she, and she wanted to cheer when they finally crested a hill and saw they were here, that they’d reached the outskirts of town. A motel’s vacancy sign was lit up against the sky.

“This place do, you think?” Jamie asked.

“Absolutely.”

It was a single-story motel painted aqua, just on the right side of a dive. At the front desk, she asked the old man for a queen room. They never checked in together, so they didn’t have to deal with any questions about beds. A twin room was out of the question. He slid the key across to her, not taking his eyes off the flickering television in the corner.

“Ice machine’s over there.”

She dangled the key from her finger as she walked outside. Dani stood by the car with her backpack on, Jamie’s suitcase already at her feet. She went to her and picked it up, then nodded toward their door.

“Number seven.”

She tried her best to be laidback about everything, but she fumbled the key in the lock. Why was she so nervous? They’d done this before—only one night but more than once. First times were supposed to be awkward, but there was little of that, only a sense of closeness she’d never felt with anyone else.

Still, things were different now. That first night, she knew they were on the cusp of something special, and she was thrilled about the idea of dating while they both worked at Bly. She pictured Dani sneaking into the greenhouse before the kids were awake to steal a kiss or spending Dani’s nights off at her place.

That imagined future disappeared in one fell swoop. There would be no playful courtship, no stolen kisses in the halls of Bly Manor. In its place was a tenderness for Dani that was dangerously close to love. The stakes were so much higher, now.

They got inside, and she put her case at the end of the bed, Dani shrugging off her backpack and looking around. It was like every motel they’d stayed in so far with its ugly carpet and landscape painting over the bed. But they were here, and they were together.

Jamie took off her coat, draped it over the back of a chair, and then stuck her hands in her pockets. “I’ve been driving all day. I should shower.”

Dani came closer, pulling her into an embrace. She was a good hugger. The best, actually. She pressed herself against Jamie so that there was no space between them at all, her arms tight around her waist. They swayed together.

“Have one later.”

“I’m trying to tell you I’m worried I smell.”

“I like the way you smell. You always smell good.”

Jamie pulled back, grinning. She was still getting used to the color change. She loved that brown eye despite its strangeness because it was a part of Dani now.

Lately, she’d seen too much hurt and fear in those eyes, more than she could bear sometimes. But now, the pain was wiped away. There was only desire.

It was still hard to believe that the desire was for her. The shock kicked in the first time Dani held her hand. That instant, when she’d figured that this stunningly beautiful American girl was attracted to her, seemed to happen on a loop.

At the same time, they both leaned forward and shared a long, unhurried kiss. It went on and on, Dani’s sweet lips playing over hers, Jamie framing Dani’s face with her hands.

Dani kissed her like she had in the beginning, so focused, and like she’d been waiting for it her whole life. Jamie had been waiting for it too, she thought, smiling into Dani’s mouth.

It didn’t take long for the atmosphere from the car to return, for the kiss to turn toward something hungrier. Soon they were clinging to one another. Jamie slipped her tongue into Dani’s mouth, and it was met enthusiastically. When they connected, it sparked more fire down low. It was unbelievable how much Dani could get her worked up with a kiss.

She pushed Dani back against the door, feeling them thud into it, Dani grabbing her by the hips.

Jamie put her hands on Dani’s hips, too. After a while, she moved her right hand under Dani’s top. The skin on Dani’s stomach was like silk, and she ran her palm over it for a moment before pushing it upward. She already knew that Dani wasn’t wearing a bra.

It had been driving her crazy all day, being able to trace the line of her breasts through her sweater. When her hand closed over Dani’s breast, Dani broke their kiss, inhaling sharply.

Their faces were close, but Jamie could see enough to read the expressions on Dani’s. As she brushed her fingers along the underside of her breast, then ran a thumb over what she’d discovered to be a very sensitive nipple, she took in the effect on Dani’s features.

It was the look she’d been yearning for. It was hard to describe, but if she had to say the overall idea, it would be a hot kind of glee. Like she was having the uncomplicated but exciting thought that I can’t believe I actually get to fuck you, and I can’t wait.

The feeling was, of course, mutual.

Dani kissed her again, and Jamie kept touching her breast under her sweater until Dani was rocking her hips into her. Soon they were grinding against one another, Dani putting a leg between her thighs, straining to get closer. The friction was amazing, and she found herself pushing down and into Dani’s leg.

Together, they pulled Dani’s sweater over her head. Dani stood in front of her half-naked with lips swollen from their kisses. That sight meant she didn’t want to wait another second.

“Shall we?” Jamie asked, nodding toward the bed.

Dani nodded back. There was no need to ask, this time, if she was sure. She’d felt it, in every touch.

While Jamie slipped off her shoes, Dani turned on the nightstand lamp before crossing the room to turn off the overhead light. With them living like this for the past couple of weeks, Jamie knew how Dani liked to organize the room before bed. Tonight, she strayed from her usual routine of putting glasses of water on their nightstands.

Instead, she smiled shyly at Jamie and unzipped her jeans, pushing them down her legs and kicking them off. Jamie took a beat to stare at her shapely thighs and beautiful breasts, then did the same. They each stood at the end of the bed, Dani in cream-colored underwear and her in black, still wearing her David Bowie shirt.

There was a thick tension between them, definitely not the unpleasant kind, but it made her think Dani was as nervous as she was. She broke it by jumping onto her so they’d tumble onto the bed together, making Dani laugh, which soon died away when Jamie landed on top of her. She straddled her hips, careful to not put too much weight on her.

Jamie admired how perfect her lamp-lit face was. Blonde hair fanned out over the pillow, her full lips slightly parted.

“How did you get so pretty?”

Dani’s nose crinkled when she grinned, then she grabbed fistfuls of her shirt, pulling her down.

There was no sound in the room save for their heavy breathing and their lips coming together. Dani’s hands ran up and down her thighs, lighting up goosebumps on her flesh.

It wasn’t long before Dani grabbed for the hem of her shirt. They paused while Jamie sat back to take it off, the air cool on her skin.

“God, Jamie,” she said, fingers tracing Jamie’s stomach, eyes roaming.

Dani had stayed sitting up and drew Jamie closer to her, arranging things so that Jamie was in her lap.

The way Dani rubbed her thumbs down Jamie’s sides while they kissed made her shiver. She was conscious of how hard her nipples were already, and she remembered how much Dani seemed to like her breasts, how endearingly determined she’d been to figure out what kind of touch worked best for her.

When Dani palmed her breasts through her bra, she arched her back, pushing into her.

Waves of pleasure hit as Dani kissed her way down Jamie’s neck, mouth hot, moving her up by the hips so that she could taste the skin that showed above her bra. She licked and sucked while Jamie’s head fell back, the cup of her bra tugged down so that Dani could press her lips to her breast. Dani flicked her tongue over Jamie’s nipple, and she let out a moan, putting her hands on Dani’s shoulders to steady herself.

Dani shifted back, reaching behind Jamie to unhook her bra.

Jamie watched her face while she did it. There was that hot glee again.

Last time, when they were lying in the dark afterward, Dani said it drove her crazy when Jamie did things like taking off her earrings or bra. Things that only women did when she’d denied her attraction to them for so long. Dani liked everything about being with a woman and especially about being with her, she said, her softness and smells and taste. Jamie enjoyed hearing her talk about it so much that it drove them toward another round.

Now, Dani worked her bra down her arms and threw it off the side of the bed. Her eyes searched Jamie’s body as though she wanted to memorize every curve and muscle. After long moments, when she was at the point of begging Dani to touch her, she finally did. She skimmed her hand along Jamie’s stomach then over her breasts.

It felt like it went on for hours, the pressure of Dani’s hands light then firm, her tongue and lips exploring. She buried her face in Jamie’s chest, sucked her nipples, pressed her mouth to her neck while she caressed her.

“God, Dani. You’re good,” she said. “You’re so good.”

Without being conscious of it, Jamie’s hips set into a rhythm; she moved them forward into Dani’s lap, again and again, seeking.

She put a hand behind Dani’s neck and drew her nearer for a searing kiss, their bare breasts brushing deliciously against one another’s.

Her heart was racing, her stomach liquid heat. She could do this all night, but at the same time, if she didn’t get some relief soon, she was going to explode.

As though reading her thoughts, Dani reached between them, fingers lightly brushing against her underwear. Then she ran her fingers more firmly against the cloth, their foreheads together. She liked that Dani must be able to feel how very wet she was.

Dani slipped her fingers down, pulling her underwear aside. She was already so sensitive that when Dani found her clit she saw bright lights behind her eyes.

“Jesus,” she said.

“Oh, Jamie…”

Dani reached down lower, gathering wetness then drawing it upward, smooth strokes that made her moan.                                                                                       

Dani was panting against Jamie’s lips. It drove her crazy to know that she was turned on just from touching her.

“You feel so beautiful,” Dani said.

Jamie wrapped her arms around her neck, rising up on her knees so that Dani could move her fingers more freely. She followed her lead, drawing circles on her clit. Jamie cried out when she leaned close, licking a nipple at the same time.

“You’re going to make me come without even taking my pants off if you keep that up.”

“Good, I love making you come. Watching you.”

Jamie closed her eyes. Discovering how free Dani could be with her words, how very not-shy she could be in the moment, was one of her favorite things.

“Take them off?” Dani said, motioning toward her underwear.

Jamie moved fast and stood beside the bed, loving how Dani looked so intently at her while she did it, staring between her legs with an expression that she never wanted to forget.

 Before they’d met, she’d never given much thought to her body. She liked that she’d built muscles that made her job more manageable. Aside from that, she didn’t much care about how she looked. But Dani made her feel beautiful, like her body was something special.

Dani was still sitting on the bed. They hadn’t pulled down the quilt, and she was leaning up against the pillows propped up against the headboard. Her skin was flawless, a simple gold chain hanging over her breasts.

She looked so beautiful that Jamie was struck once again by the improbability of this scenario. It was a while since she’d been with anyone, but before she went inside and learned that searching for intimacy in the wrong places was a problem for her, she’d never had any trouble finding women to share her bed.

 Nothing could compare to this. Nobody had ever looked at her with that amount of tenderness. Nobody had ever just fit like this.

Jamie nodded toward her. “Feels a bit unfair. I think you should take yours off, too.”

“Okay.”

Jamie eyed her drawing her underwear down her legs, then shifting forward and motioning for Jamie to come back.

Jamie returned to her lap, and Dani didn’t waste a second. She went right back to rubbing her with two fingers, Jamie’s thighs shaking and her hips thrusting in time. She braced her hands on Dani’s shoulders while they looked into one another’s eyes. Any other night it would be more than enough to satisfy her, but she craved something different.

“Can you…what you said in the car?”

“Huh?” she said, still stroking, her fingers electric.

Jamie dropped her head onto Dani’s shoulder. “Inside. If you want, I mean.”

“Oh, I want,” Dani said, in a tone that somehow managed to turn her on even more. Their lips joined, and Dani put one of her arms around her waist. She kissed her deeply, teasing her with one finger before gently pushing it into her.

Jamie moaned, her eyebrows shooting up. If she was honest, she’d never been that into this particular act, not before. It wasn’t that it was a no-go zone; it just wasn’t her favorite, not the first thing she’d want. But like with everything else, it was different with Dani. Dani could never be near enough, but this bought her closer.

Jamie needed to be filled with her.

Dani remained gentle at first, waiting for her to be ready before she added another finger.

“Is that okay?” she whispered, and Jamie nodded.

Dani kissed her softly now, holding her like she was a precious thing.

Then, Dani looked down between them, her mouth slack. When Jamie realized Dani was getting off watching her own fingers slip out and then back inside, she thought she might not last much longer.

Their gazes locked again. Dani was frowning in concentration, eyes like fire, the hand around her back pulling her close. It was bliss the way her fingers were sliding in and out, but still, she needed more.

“Harder. Please,” Jamie said.

Dani licked her lips and sped up her pace, starting to thrust.

There was a sweet burn to it, and she wanted to cry when Dani’s hand stopped moving. But then, she understood that Dani was pushing her onto her back, climbing on top of her.

She worked her fingers inside again, straddling Jamie’s thigh, rubbing herself against her. She couldn’t wait to turn the tables, but right now, she couldn’t do much but focus on her own building pleasure. Her toes curled as Dani started using her thumb on the outside to play with the sensitive nerves.

Before long, she came so loudly that later she’d wonder how many of their fellow guests heard her through thin walls.

Dani was staring at her face, mapping every reaction, but she didn’t stop. A moment later, Jamie had to reach down and move her thumb away.

“Too sensitive,” she said, but then grabbed at her when she started to withdraw her fingers. “Sorry, I meant just the, you know, the outside. You can keep going with the rest, though. Please.”

“Yes. Whatever you want,” Dani said.

She withdrew her fingers most of the way and then glided them in again, agonizingly slowly. Jamie gasped and wrapped her legs around Dani’s waist. She felt so wet and open and desperate for more, and Dani gave it to her, moving them in a perfect rhythm.

Clutching Dani’s shoulders, her eyes became unfocused. Dani leaned over her, kissing her neck, using her own hips to drive her hand forward.

Jamie lifted her head enough to reach her lips, their tongues meeting in a messy kiss.

They must’ve been crazy to wait this long when it was like this between them, when nobody had ever made her feel this broken apart. She could weep with relief at how lovely it was to have Dani’s weight on her, to have her inside.

Time stretched out, endless. They had so many nights to make up for.

“Keep going,” she begged. “Please.”

Not that Dani seemed inclined to stop. She was ruthless in the best way, cradling Jamie with one hand and fucking her with the other. After a while, she seemed to sense that Jamie could take a thumb resting on her clit again, not stimulating too much, but just enough to bring her higher.

“Faster,” Jamie rasped.

“Okay, tell me if I hurt you?”

Jamie nodded, then while Dani drove into her, she clawed at her shoulders.

Dani was looking down into her eyes. She felt so safe in Dani’s arms, able to surrender, completely giving herself over.

At last, Dani curled her fingers just the right way, and another orgasm tore through her. Dani slowed her fingers but kept them inside, and she felt herself contracting around them for so long she wondered if it was ever going to end.

She clung to Dani. She was overcome, affected in a way it was best to hide. Because as her climax rolled over her, she had to bite back a confession about how she felt. It’s too soon, she told herself.

Dani’s lips were on her cheek and neck while she floated back down to earth. They lay together breathing hard, until Dani’s withdrew her fingers, pressing her palm flat between Jamie’s legs.

She moved down and rested her head on Jamie’s chest, Jamie trailing fingers through her hair. She felt eyelashes brushing her skin when she blinked. She’d never felt so close to anyone. Maybe it was the relief of knowing they were okay, but there was a lump in her throat.

“Wow. That was…I’ll be right with you, just give me a sec,” Jamie said.

“It’s okay. Go to sleep if you’re tired.”

“Not on your life. I’ve waited this long. Not waiting any bloody longer.”

“Ha. It did feel like a long time, didn’t it?”

“Years. A century, at least.”

“We’re silly. So silly.”

Jamie pressed her lips to Dani’s temple. “Very. But it’s okay, now. We worked it out.”

“Yeah. But I don’t want that to happen again. We should talk about this stuff.”

“Totally agree. I’m sorry again that I didn’t. Just scared, I guess.”

“Me too. Of a lot of things,” Dani said, trying to sound light, but Jamie had the feeling she meant it.

“I know you’re scared. I’m right here.”

Their hands drifted toward one another’s, and they clasped them together.

“I bet I haven’t been too much fun to be around, the last couple of weeks. I’ve been worried that I must’ve turned you off. God, I’m so sorry,” she said, burying her face in Jamie’s neck. “This is the worst time to bring all this up, isn’t it?”

She squeezed her hand. “It’s alright. And no, absolutely not. You mustn’t think like that, please. You’re amazing, Dani. You’re the most beautiful, wonderful person. There’s nothing that could make me not want you.”

“I know you think that now, but…I don’t know. This is all so new. I’ve been so worried that I’ll be a burden. You have to promise me that if I am - if I become that for you - you’ll go.”

Jamie flinched. It was like a sharp punch, even hearing those words.

“That’s not going to happen. I can promise.”

She weighed how much more she should say. All she could think was how she was more than half-way in love with Dani, and she wanted to be with her no matter what. She’d almost said as much, not five minutes ago.

She would’ve followed her to the end of the fucking earth, really, which maybe she had.

“Come here,” she said, guiding her up, so they lay on their sides, facing one another.

 She tried to pour them into the kiss, all the words she couldn’t say yet. Dani’s lips were warm, and so unbelievably soft and sweet that she wanted to kiss them for as long as she was allowed to. And in truth, she didn’t believe that anything was going to happen to Dani, not really. She wouldn’t allow it.

***

Dani’s head was rushing from their kiss, and she wondered how many times they’d have to do this before she’d stop swooning. Right now, she couldn’t imagine it feeling like anything other than the most beautiful kind of dream.

She wanted to forget the last couple of weeks with the dread she’d had of losing Jamie, even if there were times when she felt almost normal. Those parts happened when they were cuddling or joking over a meal, or she forgot herself as they held hands looking at a roadside tourist attraction.

But if she went too long without distraction, if she was staring out the window not seeing, corrosive doubt crept in. She speculated about why Jamie was so reserved. It wasn’t like this before.

There could only be one reason. When she explained the Beast to Jamie, she marked herself as a person needing to be looked after, she thought. It wasn’t exactly sexy. Jamie was open-hearted and caring, but maybe she could only be pushed so far. What if Jamie offered to stay with her on a whim, and she regretted being saddled with her?

After the last few hours, she was sure that Jamie still wanted her, and their connection was even more intense than it was before. The sense of rightness she had when she sank into Jamie was something she’d never even known how to want before they’d met. Now, she couldn’t imagine ever wanting anything else.

Only moments ago, Jamie lay beneath her with her legs curled around her, looking up at her with complete trust. Dani’s fingers were drenched, and she’d been able to feel the little earthquakes when Jamie came long and hard, seeming to hold onto her for dear life.

It was mind-blowing that she could make her feel like that.

And yet, here she was, acting like a total basket case.

Jamie put a hand on either side of Dani’s face, and Dani clasped her wrists. Jamie was studying her face with a creased brow. So much concern. Why couldn’t she have waited until the morning to say this stuff? They were having such an amazing time until she’d gone all serious.

“What a mood-ruiner, huh?”

“Stop. Listen. I’m not going anywhere unless you want me to. I really like you. A lot.”

“I like you, too,” she said, heart leaping. How did Jamie always know exactly the right thing to say?

“Didn’t suggest we stay with one another because I just wanted a good time. But you’re not hard to be around, ever. I love being around you. Okay?” she said, kissing her lips.

It was strange to think that it could be this simple, but she was starting to understand that with Jamie, it was. Typically, she spent her time looking for the gaps in people’s words, never quite believing they meant what they said. When she was really struggling, a change in someone’s expression or a harsh word could have her ruminating for hours. Her whole life, she’d been told she worried too much.

Jamie was honest, and she was brave, in a way that made her feel safe. When Jamie said something, she believed it.

She was dropping kisses all over Dani’s face now, on her cheeks and jaw, and the tip of her nose.

“Thank you, Jamie,” she said, her stomach flipping.

Although Jamie’s kisses were sweet more than sexy, they were having a particular effect on her. How could they not? They were naked and facing one another, their legs tangled and hands joined.

“Mmmm,” Jamie said. “Shouldn’t I be thanking you? That was the best sex of my life, after all.”

“Really? That good, huh?”

“Are you kidding? That was…I don’t even know how to say, what that was,” she said in that smoky voice, biting her lip.

Dani couldn’t help smirking. Jamie was anything but prudish, but she was delicate about what she said. Tonight, she’d used euphemisms to steer Dani toward what she wanted.

“You know what I’ve noticed about you?”

“What’s that?” Jamie said, propping herself up on an elbow.

She’d never looked more stunning than she did right now, her skin glowing, a little sweat dampening the hair above her forehead. I did that, Dani thought, ballooning with pride. She put a hand on Jamie’s collarbone, then trailed it down over her chest.

Dani loved looking at her curves, how they contrasted with the muscles on her arms and stomach. They were such a beautiful shape, soft and round with pretty pink nipples. She ran a finger over one of them, fascinated by how it stiffened again under her touch.

Dani should be getting used to it by now, but there was a little shock when she looked at Jamie, a fluttering. The magazines her mother read called guys like Matt Dillon or Rob Lowe heart-throbs, but as far as she was concerned, that word was a better fit for Jamie. Dark good looks, and hands that could carry a shovel or a gun, but switch to heart-melting softness instantly.

When Jamie passed her fingertips over Dani’s stomach, she sucked in a breath, and when she spoke, her voice was shaky. “You swear like a sailor, but you’re a bit shy about dirty talk.”

“Am I? I’ll work on that.”

Dani rolled onto her back, and Jamie kissed her neck. She closed her eyes, getting lost in it. When they first met, she’d spent a decent amount of time wondering what Jamie’s bee-stung lips would feel like on her. They’d never disappointed. They were soft and plump, and they felt like velvet on her skin. Her kisses were always perfectly judged, never too wet or dry.

Jamie ran the flat of her hand between Dani’s breasts and over her stomach. When she drew that warm palm over one breast and then the other, Dani shifted on the mattress.

She’d been so determined to make Jamie feel good that she hadn’t thought a lot about herself, even if there was a moment where she’d thought if she just kept rubbing herself on Jamie’s thigh, she might come.

Now her whole body was kindling, on the brink of flame. Her nipples were hard, and Jamie brushed them again, a light caress that made them harder.

She struggled to remember what they were discussing—dirty talk. Who cared what she said? She just wanted Jamie’s hands and mouth on her. She tried to keep up with the conversation anyway.

“I don’t mind. I think it’s cute.”

“Cute? I don’t know about that. Not a word people usually use for me.”

Dani shook her head. Of course, she was cute. She was everything. “You are cute, though. And sexy.”

“That’s better,” she said, giving her a lingering, open-mouthed kiss. While she did it, she scraped her fingernails over Dani’s stomach. They breathlessly pulled apart.

“You are. You have no idea how much you are.  And it was the best I’ve ever had, too.”

In her mind, Jamie was the only one who counted. She’d had crushes on other women her whole life, but it was still crazy to her that the first time she’d acted on her feelings, she’d struck gold. There was nobody else who could ever excite her like Jamie did, who could make her weak at the knees with a look.

Even if Jamie had more history with women to compare them to than she did – even if Dani had no past at all – she could confidently say that Jamie was the best. And she wasn’t about to waste time worrying about Jamie’s sex life before her, because as she’d just been thinking a little while ago, Jamie didn’t lie.  

“I haven’t even touched you yet,” Jamie said, pleased but amused.

Dani took her hand and guided it downward.

“Holy fuck. Dani…” she said, in an awed-sounding moan.

If only she knew. She’d started getting this wet back when they were in the car. It was something she was swiftly getting used to after noticing it the first time they kissed in the greenhouse.

The way her body reacted to Jamie was a revelation; it responded more to a kiss with her than it ever had from going all the way with Edmund. But she turned her mind quickly away from him because Jamie was looking at her like that.

Jamie explored, deliberately, her clear eyes staring into her own. Dani whimpered when she swiped the pad of a finger over her clit once and then again, kissing her softly at the same time.

When she took her hand away, Dani instinctively caught her wrist. “Wait…”

“Patience,” she said, bending close to breathe hotly, close to her ear. “I’m going to fuck you slowly.”

That made her tingle all over, a flush creeping across her chest, but she tried to play it cool. “I thought you weren’t into dirty talk.”

“Didn’t say I wasn’t. You just hadn’t heard it from me yet. And I think you wouldn’t mind it if I teased you a bit. Am I right?” she said, running the back of her hand down Dani’s torso lightly, Dani shivering and proving her point.

“Yeah. You are.”

They were grinning at one another now, like what they were about to do was another great adventure for them. It was one of the many things she loved about being with Jamie. They had fun together. She’d never known how joyful sex could be, how you might find reasons to laugh, and it’d pull you even closer together.

Jamie had a leg hooked over her thigh. She took her time tracing her fingers over her breasts and stomach and thighs, and kissing her neck. Now and then, she skated a hand between her legs, never making full contact.

At last, she leaned down toward her breasts. She lay her cheek against them, her soft hair trailing over Dani’s chest. She could smell Jamie’s shampoo, and it made her draw in an extra breath. Yesterday morning she’d buried her face in this hair from behind Jamie, feeling so much longing she thought she was going to burst.

Finally, Jamie’s hot breath was on Dani’s nipple, and she skimmed it with her tongue, then sucked it into her mouth. Dani arched her back, and Jamie released it, licking again.

Dani had never liked too much stimulation there; she was too sensitive, and it either hurt or felt uncomfortable. It turned out that Jamie knew how to apply just the right amount of pressure so that the sensitivity became a gift.

Jamie took the peak into her mouth again, gently scraping her teeth over it. Dani gasped, taking hold of a handful of Jamie’s hair. It sent a jolt through her like there was a direct line to between her legs. She was grateful when Jamie did it again, grazing then rolling her tongue over it. She was squirming, one of her hands balling in the sheet next to her.

“Your breasts are so beautiful,” Jamie said, between kisses.

She ran the flat of her tongue over Dani’s stomach and traced her ribs, still reaching up and caressing her breasts.

At last, Jamie moved down further, settling between her legs and laying feather-light kisses on her inner thighs.

By now, her intentions were unmistakable, and Dani looked down at her with hooded eyes, a hand lightly on the back of Jamie’s head.

They’d done this before, that first night. It was hot as hell then, and she’d thought about it since, with embarrassing frequency. The sensations were one thing, but what really captured her was how Jamie had just seemed to want to so much.

It was like that again now, Jamie looking up at her eagerly. “Is this alright?”

“Yes. Please.”

She was resting on her elbows, raising herself up to see Jamie’s face. The visual of Jamie between her legs, one hand wrapped around a thigh, was almost too much. Jamie made her forget any self-consciousness about that part of her body. With Jamie looking in wonder at her like that, how could she worry about anything?

She trembled, and she shook more when she could feel Jamie’s breath on her as she drew near. For a while, as Jamie began, she thought she would keep that lovely but maddening pace going. But before long, Jamie parted her with her fingers. The first press of her tongue – Jamie running it right to where she needed it – was enough to make her moan.

It was light, her tongue stroking gently, and Dani’s stomach fluttered at the feeling. Dani could only stay up on her elbows for a beat before she dropped her head back onto the pillow. Jamie kept on like that for a long time, sweet as honey.

“God, you taste good,” Jamie said.

Jamie was starting to use her mouth in earnest. The sensation was intense, Jamie’s mouth worshipping.

A few minutes of that meant that she was finding it hard to stay still, and Jamie pressed a hand down flat across her stomach to keep her in place. She was painting circles with her tongue, zeroing in.

Jamie paused. “Does this feel okay for you?”

It was sweet of her to ask, but Dani couldn’t believe she had to. The whole time she could hear herself saying Jamie’s name. Her “yes” turned into a handful, and Jamie continued, adding a delicious suction between licks. Dani threw an elbow over her face, doing her best to keep quiet.

It built and built. Jamie splayed her hands under her thighs, pulling her up toward her mouth.

It crept up on her. One minute it was a steady thrum of pleasure, and the next, her stomach was drawing so tight she had to push the back of her hand to her mouth so she wouldn’t scream. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she came, shuddering.

Jamie’s head rested on her afterward, and now and then she lifted it enough to lay a soft kiss on her belly. Dani was so warm and sated; she never wanted to leave this room.

“Come up here?”

Jamie cuddled into her, kissing her cheek like she thought Dani wouldn’t like it if they kissed right afterward. She set her straight by grabbing her chin and kissing her full on the mouth. Tasting herself didn’t bother her, not when it was on Jamie’s lips. Jamie let out a sigh when she did it.

“That was so good,” she said, rubbing her feet along Jamie’s legs.

“Glad you liked it.”

“I loved it.”

They lay still, holding one another, and Dani realized how tired she was. There had been so much tension in her body, but now she could finally rest. They still hadn’t pulled back the covers, and she hated going to bed without brushing her teeth, so she willed herself to get moving.

“Just getting ready for bed,” she said, slipping off the mattress then rummaging through her backpack to find her toiletry bag.

She passed by the bed to get to the bathroom, and she smiled at how Jamie was hauling herself up, grumbling that she couldn’t be bothered all the way. It was hard to take her seriously when she was naked.

When they’d both used the bathroom, they turned down the bed together, Jamie taking the side of the bed closest to the door like she always did. They fit themselves neatly against one another, Dani lifting her arm so Jamie could rest against her shoulder.

She closed her eyes, listening to the sounds of a car pulling up outside, a room door closing. The sheets were cool and soft against her naked skin. Neither of them had bothered with putting any clothes on, and though they hadn’t talked about it, she guessed it was for the same reason. Feeling Jamie’s skin against her own was divine.

She sensed that Jamie was still awake. “What are you thinking about?”

“I was thinking about how careful you’ve got to be with sexy talk. There’s nothing worse than when you’re in the moment right, and the other person says something that turns you off. It’s a real minefield. People can have strong feelings about some words.”

Dani burst out laughing. “That’s really what you’re still thinking about?”

“Oh, absolutely. And then we have our cultural differences to worry about. Like we call it a fanny, but that means something different here, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, your fanny is your butt.”

“See, that could lead to all sorts of miscommunication. Quite dangerous, really. What word do you like?”

“I’m not sure. My mother always said private parts.”

“No danger of me using that one. How about pussy? What are your thoughts on that?”

She laughed hysterically now because Jamie was droning on in that dry tone, knowing exactly how funny she was being.

“Normally, I think it’s gross, but it doesn’t sound too bad when you say it.”

“I’ll remember that next time I want to lick your beautiful pussy.”

She giggled. “Oh well, you can do that whenever you like. Any other questions?”

“Yes. Do you want to hit the road first thing tomorrow? Or will we spend the day here?”

“I don’t mind. Let’s decide in the morning. But we’ll sleep in?”

“Good plan,” she said, pressing her lips to Dani’s chest. “I think we’re both going to sleep well tonight.”

She agreed, and it was quiet again. After a while, she realized she didn’t hear Jamie’s breath slowing like she’d expect.

“Can’t sleep?”

“Am I keeping you awake?”

“No. Keep talking to me, if you want?”

Jamie took her hand. “I know we’re not planning too far ahead, but I keep thinking, maybe we should settle somewhere for a little while and get some work soon? Could be temporary. Just enough to keep us going, I mean.”

Dani closed her eyes. It was so painful to think of a future with Jamie that might not exist. It didn’t make sense – none of this did - but she worried that talking about it would upset a delicate balance. Jinx them somehow.

“One day at a time, remember?” she said, brushing her fingers through Jamie’s hair to soften her words.

“No, of course, I know. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize.”

She kept touching Jamie’s hair, and it was so quiet she heard her swallow. After a while, Jamie kissed her softly on the lips. “We should get some sleep. Goodnight.”

“Night,” Dani replied.

Her eyes had adjusted to the dark enough to see that Jamie was rolling onto her side, facing away. She watched the back of her head, going back over the conversation. Jamie didn’t sound upset, but she wanted to be away from her, like someone licking their wounds.

She scooted closer to spoon her, running a hand down her arm. Jamie didn’t pull away, but she didn’t cuddle into her, either.

“Hey. I’m sorry if I upset you.”

There was a long silence before she answered.

“I shouldn’t have said anything. I didn’t mean to pressure you.”

Her heart sank. Jamie’s voice was flat, like all of this was wearing her down. The guilt was hard to take. Jamie was in a foreign country, and if something happened to her, she’d be all alone. She didn’t want to think about it, but Jamie had to.

“You weren’t. I should’ve answered you.”

“I don’t want you to talk about it, not if you don’t want to.”

“No, listen, it was a good idea. If things are still okay with me in a couple of weeks, we should get some money together. We’ll go through the map and the financial stuff tomorrow. Figure out how much we’ve got left. Does that sound okay?”

“We don’t have to…”

Dani kissed her cheek. “I want to.”

Jamie let out a long breath. “That would be good. Because Dani, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

She frowned, confused. Wasn’t that the whole problem? “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m on board with not planning too far ahead, and I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut, but you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said gently. “We don’t know anything about this thing. It’s not like we can ask anyone. It might go away tomorrow. We don’t know.”

She was rubbing Jamie’s arm, chewing it over. Living one day at a time forced you to be present in the moment, which Jamie had been trying to get her to do since they got here. Sometimes being present might mean putting down roots, just a little, she thought cautiously.

“Maybe you’re right.”

“Course I am.”

Dani laughed softly and squeezed her tight. On a night like this with Jamie by her side, it was hard to believe that anything bad could ever happen.

Jamie turned her head enough for them to share a deep kiss. Then Jamie snuggled into her, pulling Dani’s arm around her.

“The future is a mystery to us all. Before you came to Bly, I had no idea that one day in the not-too-distant future, I’d have a hot blonde American girlfriend. Didn’t see that one coming.”

 The words took a moment to sink in. “You’ve never called me that before.”

“Do you mind if I do?”

There was a vulnerability there, hesitation in her voice that Dani would do anything to take away.

It was so unfair that they were having this conversation with this thing hanging over them. It was heart-breaking, but maybe there were worse things in the world. With Jamie, she could have experiences she’d always believed could never be hers. Jamie was the first person who’d ever really got her, and the film that separated her from other people was broken down.

If she thought about it that way, she was lucky. She could have lived her life without ever having it. Even with her worry, and her fear of committing to anything, she wanted to put a name to what they were, too.

Dani shifted back and pressed lightly on Jamie’s shoulder to get her to lay flat on her back, so she could look down at her. She pushed hair behind Jamie’s ear.

“I love the way it sounds. I’d love to be your girlfriend.”

Jamie put a hand behind her neck, playing with her hair. They sealed it with a kiss, languid and warm. She was half on top of Jamie, and as they kissed, she grew more aware of Jamie’s bare skin underneath her, brushing against her breasts and belly.

She’d been so satisfied by Jamie not long ago – thought she had everything she wanted - but already she was frantic to be with her again.

She moved her leg, thigh going over the top of Jamie. Their tongues were in one another’s mouths as they kissed fiercely, and a low moan came from Jamie. She grabbed Dani’s upper thigh, angling her body so that their cores met, creating friction and heat.

They both sighed at the contact. They ground against one another, Dani gasping into Jamie’s neck until Jamie abruptly turned them and climbed on top of her.

She didn’t know what she’d do if Jamie teased her again. She was prepared to beg her if necessary, but she knew she couldn’t take it if Jamie didn’t touch her this instant. She wanted to be taken by her. Needed it.

It happened without a word between them. There wasn’t a sliver of doubt in her mind that If she betrayed the slightest discomfort, Jamie would stop. But like always, she seemed to read what worked for Dani in the moment and set about giving it to her.

She thrilled when Jamie took her arms and held them over her head, pinning her by the wrists with one hand. Dani spread her legs, inviting Jamie in. She was slick and ready, but Jamie put her hand to her own mouth, wetting it before she reached down between them.

When Jamie entered her, she buried her face in Jamie’s shoulder. Jamie’s fingers were heaven, and being held down made her feel anchored, safe in a way that she never could have imagined. It struck her that there were so many different ways to be with one another, and she wanted to try them all.

It was an old bed, and the frame knocked against the wall with the beat of Jamie’s movements. She laughed breathlessly at the sound, and so did Jamie, but they quickly grew serious again. Jamie was sucking on her neck, and Dani’s thighs fell open further.

Jamie rode her leg, and they moved in time together as one. Dani felt tethered to her in the most beautiful way. If there was anything more erotic than Jamie’s strong arms holding her down while her fingers worked their magic between her legs, she had no idea what it was.

“More,” she said, until Jamie had three fingers inside of her. She was thrusting her hips in time with Jamie.

It didn’t take long, and as soon as she came, Jamie released her wrists. They went right around Jamie’s shoulders. They were touching from head to toe, warm bodies wrapped tightly around one another.

“That was amazing,” she said when she’d recovered enough.

Jamie kissed her forehead and moved onto her back, still holding her hand. “Agree. And now, we really should get some sleep.”

Dani glanced over at the digital clock on the nightstand, the red lights showing it was well after midnight. She was deliciously tired, her muscles loose, and her eyes heavy.

Since they left Bly, she’d had a terror of falling asleep, because what if she didn’t wake up in the morning, or woke up not herself? Tonight, however, she felt the tug of optimism. Wasn’t there just as much of a chance that she’d wake up fine like she had every other morning for the past few weeks?

When she did, Jamie would be beside her. They were sleeping in, and after tonight, she knew that she could touch her whenever she wanted. Maybe they’d make love again before they had their morning coffee in bed. Jamie always derided the motel room instant coffee, but she drank it anyway.

“Goodnight, to my girlfriend,” Jamie said, a smile in her voice, already sounding half asleep.

Dani smiled softly. She really did love the sound of that. “Goodnight.”

It was quiet in her mind, like there was only room for Jamie. She would wake up alright in the morning; she was sure of it now.

As she drifted off, she dreamed that she was telling Jamie she was falling in love with her, saying the words quietly into the dark.

Jamie said them back.