Anne was struggling. Her legs trembled as she raced up the stairs, her door key wouldn’t fit in the lock, her hands wouldn’t comply with her brain as she willed them into action. The cause? Ann Walker. Pure and simple. After Ann’s filthy promises in the restaurant, Anne had ushered everyone out, politely of course, in record time. Marian and Cath had left soon after and by the time Anne locked the heavy doors behind them, she was so wet she didn’t have a single coherent thought left in her head.
“Come on, handsome.” Ann purred, standing at the bottom of the staircase with her hand held out.
Anne bit her lip. God, she was beautiful; standing there in that dress, with that expression on her face, waiting patiently for Anne to take her bed and ravish her. Anne made her way over to Ann before taking her face in her hands, bringing their lips together roughly. She moaned as Ann’s tongue flicked her bottom lip, tilting her head to deepen their kiss immediately. Anne whimpered as Ann ran her fingers down the front of Anne’s shirt, over her tight stomach to paw at her belt. Her legs began to shake as Ann tugged her by the buckle and stood on the bottom step.
“Take me upstairs.” Ann husked as she wrapped her arms around Anne’s shoulders.
Anne growled as she lifted Ann up, revelling in the feeling of her legs wrapped around her waist. She’d done this numerous times before over the years, it was no big deal, especially since Ann weighed so little. Except, tonight, Anne’s legs weren’t working properly. The result of being teased and worked up over the course of the evening, the dirty words Ann had dripped in her ear at regular intervals between the glasses of champagne, the fact that Anne knew her girlfriend wasn’t wearing underwear.
She finally stumbled through her front door before pressing Ann into it as it closed. Anne lost herself to the feeling of Ann’s warm mouth, her insistent tongue, her wanton whimpers until Ann successfully shuffled herself free and placed her feet back on the floor. Anne swallowed thickly as she switched their places and dropped to her knees.
“I’ve been thinking about this all night.” Ann licked her lips before slowly undoing Anne’s belt and unbuttoning her trousers.
Anne sagged back into the door, her head tilting up to the ceiling. She’d been on edge all night long, torturously turned on, aching for Ann’s touch. She exhaled deeply as Ann pulled her trousers down her legs and unlaced her brogues. Ann placed a kiss to Anne’s right knee before standing up and holding out her hand.
“Ann.” This wasn’t quite Anne begging for it, but it was close.
“I know.” Ann took Anne’s hand and gently guided her to the sofa.
She kissed her before pushing lightly on her shoulders, letting Anne topple back onto the plush cushions.
“Oh.” Anne nodded as Ann kneeled in between her legs.
“I want to take care of you.” Anne’s legs widened as a reflex. “Are you ready for me?” Ann ran her teeth over her bottom lip as she toyed with the hem of Anne’s black boxers.
Anne nodded, lifting her hips as Ann tugged the material down her strong thighs. Ann hummed as she inhaled, her eyes darkening a shade further at the tangible proof of how worked up her girlfriend was. Anne flexed her hips impatiently as sweat gathered at her temple, her whole body tingled with anticipation as Ann leaned forward.
The broken cry that ripped from Anne’s throat was loud, desperate and needy as Ann placed a singular kiss on Anne’s hard clit. She immediately threaded her long fingers through Ann’s golden hair, desperately trying to calm her racing heart.
“You taste so good.” Ann hummed as she pulled away a fraction.
Anne wished she had the capability to lean forward and bring Ann’s lips to her own but all she could manage was to breathe heavily into the room with her eyes firmly closed. Ann’s mouth, her skilled tongue, her perfect ministrations were all consuming. Anne groaned loudly as Ann sped up, she always knew when Anne was on the edge, she knew her body so well, knew what each shudder meant, how the pitch of her moans would change, she knew just when to increase the pressure and when to ease off.
“Fuck.” Anne sighed as her hips pressed upwards. “I’m almost there.”
“I know.” Ann giggled as she tightened her grip on Anne’s thighs.
With just a few more strokes, Anne’s body tensed as she held Ann’s head firmly against her. Pleasure radiated through her veins as she curled upwards, a low groan rumbling from her throat. After what felt like an eternity, Anne sagged back against the sofa with a loud sigh. Her heart was racing in her chest, her brain so full of endorphins she couldn’t even form words. Ann sat back on her heels and smiled at the state of her girlfriend, there wasn’t anything better than this, she was sure of it.
When Anne finally returned to her body, she smirked, biting her bottom lip as Ann returned her gaze with a grin.
“Come here.” Anne beckoned with an outstretched arm.
Ann slowly stood, pulling her dress up a fraction to straddle Anne’s strong thighs. Anne smoothed her palms over the fabric before raising her eyebrow and tilting her head.
“What?” Ann breathed.
“You said something.” Anne slipped her right hand underneath the fabric. “Earlier.” She continued to smooth her hands over Ann’s skin. “About not wearing any underwear.”
They both groaned in unison as Anne’s fingers brushed Ann’s clit lightly. She was so wet and had been all night. Watching Anne as she commanded the room effortlessly only made it worse, not to mention how hot it made her to break Anne apart with her tongue. Really, it was a wonder she’d lasted this long at all.
Ann’s thoughts soon evaporated as Anne gripped her left hip firmly before her right hand sped up between her legs. Anne was so good at this, the angle was awkward and Ann’s dress hampered her every move but Anne’s fingers never faltered. They kept perfect rhythm, perfect pressure, perfect everything. Anne found herself mesmerised, her lips parted and her eyes firmly on the woman above her. Watching Ann come apart was not only a great privilege but it turned her on more than anything else. The way Ann would tilt her head back and moan before gripping onto Anne at the last minute, bringing them as close as physically possible before she came.
“Fuck.” Anne whispered as Ann’s hips sped up and her breathing deepened.
Anne hissed at the pinch of Ann’s fingers clutching onto her shoulders tighter and tighter. She was so close, so on edge, so perfect. Anne felt her own arousal surge as her hips shifted restlessly. As Ann’s cries increased in pitch, Anne only worked harder until, after a few more strokes, a few loud gasps and a few tender words, Ann came with a shudder. After a few moments, as Ann hummed with her eyes closed, in that satisfied way she always did after an orgasm, Anne smiled. Her heart was so full of love, she almost couldn’t even believe it.
“You’re a sap.” Ann mumbled as she peeled her eyes open slowly.
“What?” Anne giggled.
“Tell me you weren’t just thinking about how much you love me.” Ann grinned smugly.
Anne looked up at the ceiling and laughed loudly.
“Oh, Miss Walker. I do love you.” Anne shuffled her legs over her lap. “Come on.”
Ann giggled brightly as Ann picked her up bridal style and carried her to the bedroom.
“I’m absolutely knackered.” Anne gently put Ann down against the sheets. “I’ve never been so happy to curl up with someone and fall asleep.”
“Told you.” Ann called out as she watched Anne pad to the bathroom.
“Sorry?” Anne turned.
“You’re a sap, Anne Lister!” Ann threw a pillow in her direction as she chuckled.
It was true, Anne didn’t even try to deny it.
While the night of the critics was fun and the mini break delightful, Anne was itching to get back to work. The restaurant had been closed for a few days longer than Anne had originally planned and although she needed the break, she had bills to pay.
“I think we should open tonight.” Anne tapped her finger on the table as she mused to herself.
“Tonight?” Ann frowned.
“I need to get back on with business, we’ve missed out on takings these past few days.” Anne tried to be casual about it but she was worried, she needed every penny she could get right now.
Ann reached over and squeezed her hand, smiling softly as Anne’s head lifted.
“I understand.” Ann’s voice was soothing. “But we haven’t ordered in supplies, started prep or taken any bookings for tonight.”
Anne registered Ann’s use of the word ‘we’ as she talked about the restaurant, it never failed to warm her heart. She was just about to open her mouth and protest when Ann squeezed her hand again.
“Let’s do it properly. Tomorrow. We’ll post on social media that our books are open again and we’ll spend this afternoon getting everything we need from our suppliers.”
Anne nodded slowly, not entirely convinced this was the best idea.
“We need to have this meeting with Marian and then we’ve got a lot of planning to do. You can’t start spreading yourself out again too thinly so soon after having time off, Anne. You’re going to run yourself into the ground.”
Anne chewed the inside of her cheek. Ann was right, of course, only she didn’t know how else to function. She was so used to running on fumes, just about making it to the end of the day before collapsing into bed only for the cycle to start again as soon as the birds started singing.
“We also need to advertise for a new sous chef.”
“Why? What? You’re not leaving us, Ann? No! Why!” Marian had just stepped through the front door to hear the tail end of the conversation.
Ann looked up and giggled, gesturing to the spare seat at their table. “Sit down, Marian. We’ve got a lot to discuss.”
“I’m refusing to sit down until you tell me you’re not leaving.” Marian said dramatically before looking over at Anne. “This is all your fault isn’t it? What did you do now? Why can’t you ever hang on to a good thing.”
“Marian.” Anne warned, not even looking up from the newspaper she was reading.
“I’m not leaving anyone.” Ann said with a smile. “Come on, your coffee is getting cold.”
Marian pulled the chair out and sat down with a bewildered look on her face. Anne and Ann were in good moods. Suspicious.
“Ann made cinnamon buns.” Anne said with a grin as she folded up the newspaper and placed it on the table.
“Why do I get the feeling you’ve got a surprise up your sleeve?” Marian raised her eyebrow as she pinched the biggest bun on the plate.
“We have something we want to discuss with you, that’s all.” Ann said nonchalantly as she sipped her coffee.
“Come on then, out with it!” Marian gestured with her mouth full.
Anne and Ann looked at each other before Anne nodded.
“Firstly, I want to thank you. Both of you. For the opportunity and for letting me a part of this restaurant.” Ann said genuinely. “The truth is, I’m not really a sous chef. I mean, I can do that but that’s not what makes my heart sing.”
Marian nodded gravely as she took another bite of her cinnamon bun.
“However.” Ann squeezed Anne’s hand gently. “I find myself connected to these four walls more than I ever expected to be. I love what you and Anne have built and if you’ll have me, I’d like to stay.”
Marian looked at Anne entirely puzzled.
“Ann’s got a good business idea and I think, with careful planning and execution, could really work for us.”
“As you know, I’ve done extensive training in Italy and that’s really where my heart is.” Ann ran her thumb over her coffee cup. “It’s what I want to keep doing.”
“Okay.” Marian said slowly, not quite following. “Are you going to turn Vignemale into an Italian restaurant?”
“Not exactly.” Anne cut in.
“Not at all, actually.” Ann corrected. “I want this restaurant to continue to trade exactly how it is. You just won a Michelin star for fuck’s sake! You do you, don’t change a single thing about the food you serve to your diners.”
“Then? How? I mean, what?”
“Think of it as a sister company. I’d fund it entirely.”
“But how?” Marian exclaimed a little louder than she meant to.
“It doesn’t matter right now.” Ann shook her head. “What I’m proposing is, I work out of this kitchen with Anne. I run my own side arm of the business doing high end Italian food for people to order online for delivery.”
“Like a takeaway?” Marian’s forehead was so creased it was threatening to make her sister laugh.
“Not quite. It’ll be for people to order and cook themselves, so I’ll make everything and then our customers can finish it off at home. It’s quite popular right now, I’ve done a lot of research into it. Think about it, top end restaurant quality food but at home, delivered to your door. I’d include all the instructions about how to cook it yourself, where the recipes come from, wine pairing ideas. I mean, it needs some honing but I think the idea itself could really work.”
Marian nodded thoughtfully, trying to imagine how this could work under the same roof.
“Here.” Ann pulled out her sketchbook and pointed to some of the logo ideas she’d been working on. “This is what I was thinking, sleek logo with my trading name but then incorporating Vignemale’s too.”
“Walker’s at Vignemale?” Marian tilted her head. “It has a nice ring to it.”
“See? I’m trading as me but under your umbrella. I want everyone to know it’s got the stamp of approval from Vignemale: the award winning restaurant.” Ann gesticulated grandly in the air. “Plus, I’d split the profits fairly, I’d pay kitchen rental fees, whatever you both want. I’m not really in it for the money, I just want to do something I love.”
“Think about it, Marian.” Anne chimed in. “You’re wanting to impress someone but you want a night in, you know.” Ann swatted her arm as she raised her eyebrows suggestively. “But you want to have something really outstanding for dinner. This is where Ann comes in. They can go on the website, once it’s built, and choose between her dishes. It arrives the following day, complete with all the instructions, ready to be finished off and served by the customer. It’s kind of genius, actually.” Anne smiled warmly at her girlfriend.
“So you’ll be business partners?” Marian hesitated.
“No, well, yes, well…” Ann stumbled. “This will still be 100% a Lister restaurant, I’m not interested in coming in and mixing that all up.”
“Anne and I will be partners in the mail order side of it but I’ll run it entirely.”
“You both really have thought this through carefully, haven’t you?” Marian smiled.
“I think it could really work for us, Marian.” Anne said sincerely. “We’ll be so busy with bookings we won’t have time to get involved, I’m hoping, but it’ll be a nice way of expanding the business in a clever way. What do you say?”
“Oh, Miss Walker.” Marian sighed happily. “I’d be delighted to have you aboard! Although…” Marian’s face dropped as she leaned towards Ann. “You know you’ll have to put up with her?” Marian tilted her head towards her sister. “She can be quite the task master, grumpy too.”
Ann giggled before smoothing her hand down Anne’s tensed forearm. “I think I can handle her.”
Marian rolled her eyes. “So when are we back in business? You know we have ten thousand voicemails on our answerphone about bookings.”
“Really?” Anne’s eyes widened.
“Of course we do! You just put Vignemale on the map, Anne.”
“Tomorrow.” Anne looked over at Ann and smiled. “We’ll reopen tomorrow night.”
“Right, I’d best get on the phone and get our books open then. Unless there was anything else?”
Anne and Ann both shook their head before Marian pottered off towards her makeshift desk at the back of the dining room. Anne exhaled, Marian had agreed, Ann was going to stay, the business was going to evolve. How life could change so quickly.
“I’m going to chat with our suppliers now, get restocked for tomorrow.” Anne kissed Ann on the top of her head before breezing off towards the kitchen.
“Don’t forget, we have an appointment at 3PM.” Ann called out behind her.
“Of course, darling.” Anne replied before winking and disappearing through the swing doors.
The way the car salesman looked Ann up and down made Anne’s blood boil. He wasn’t even trying to hide it as he raked his eyes down to her chest and back up again for the second time. His suit didn’t fit him properly, he was wearing so much aftershave it was making Anne’s nose sting and to top it off, his shoes weren’t even polished. The dull, dirty loafers poked out from his ill-fitting trousers as he marched Ann over to the most expensive SUV in the showroom. Anne grimaced and followed wondering how Ann was so blissfully unaware of the effect she had on people.
“Oh this one’s nice, isn’t it Anne?” Ann’s excitable voice cut through Anne’s thoughts.
“It is, but we have to consider the whole picture, not just what it looks like.” Anne said, holding eye contact with Rich. Ugh, Rich. Couldn’t even put his full name on his name tag, how vulgar.
“I’ve done a lot of research on this, you know.” Ann commented quietly as Anne sat in the passenger seat.
“I know, I know.” Anne held her hands up in surrender, she was only really here for moral support – and to make sure Ann wasn’t taken advantage of.
“Wanna take her out for a spin?” Rich poked his big head into the car, right next to Anne.
“Yes, we do.” Anne answered stiffly. “Preferably alone.”
“Ah no can do I’m afraid, I’ve got to accompany you. I’ll make you a tea if you like, we won’t be long.” Rich winked at Ann.
“That won’t be necessary.” Anne bristled. “Come on then, if you’re coming. The back door is open.”
Ann rolled her eyes at her girlfriend’s peacocking but deep down, she loved that Anne had the power to just put people in their place. Rich muttered to himself as he climbed in, clipboard in hand and handed Ann the keys.
“We’ll go a few laps round the block, I’ll give you directions.”
“Hm.” Anne muttered under her breath as Ann started the engine.
Half an hour later, Ann was sat at Rich’s desk filling out paperwork while he casually flirted with her. In the back of Anne’s mind she knew it was all part of the sales pitch but she struggled to keep her jealousy in check. Ann played along, laughing at his awful jokes, thanking him for pointing out the frankly obvious places she needed to sign her name and engaged in inane conversation about where she was going to drive first. As if she wasn’t going to throw the keys over to Anne and let her drive her home the second the dotted line was signed. Anne scoffed, she’d allow this man to enjoy Ann’s company, at a safe distance, for the next few minutes. She pitied him really, how lucky she was to get to spend the rest of her life with Ann. Wait. Calm down. Alright, her present days with Ann. This poor schmuck only got to spend an hour with her before she’d disappear from his life forever.
As Anne drove them both back into the city, Ann stretched her arm out, resting her elbow on the back of the driver seat. She softly tickled the downy hair at the nape of Anne’s neck as she effortlessly weaved in and out of traffic on the motorway.
“What do you think?” Ann said sleepily.
“It’s lovely, it’s probably the nicest car I’ve ever driven.” Anne chuckled. “How much was it?”
Ann shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Okay.” Anne nodded, knowing it really wasn’t any of her business anyway.
“It’s ours though, Anne.” Ann turned her head towards Anne. “I mean it, it’s ours to share.”
“Thank you.” Anne said sincerely after a few seconds of silence. She never found accepting things easy but she knew how important this was for Ann. How talking about her money made her uncomfortable, how sharing it was the only way she could deal with the responsibility of having it.
“There’s just one more thing on my to-do list.”
Anne looked over at her quizzically.
“I need to find an apartment.”
“Ah, yes.” Anne nodded.
“Maybe, I don’t know, that could be ours to share too?” Ann smoothed her thumb over the delicate skin on Anne’s neck.
Anne was momentarily lost for words as her mouth opened but no sound came out.
“I just mean, if you want it to be. I know you like being so close to your restaurant but maybe I could find somewhere big enough so that if you wanted to, you could spend some time in both places? I’m not asking you to change but, if you wanted to, we could make it our home together?”
Anne’s eyes prickled as she nodded thoughtfully. Looming on the horizon was everything Anne had ever wanted; a successful restaurant and a fledgling relationship with a supportive partner who wanted to start a life together, who had never asked Anne to shrink herself or change, who had only ever encouraged her to be true to herself, who wanted her to succeed in everything she did. She gripped the steering wheel tightly as she battled to compose herself.
“I hope you like dogs that snore all night because I’m afraid Argus and I come as a pair.” Anne laughed before turning to meet Ann’s serious gaze.
The pair of them struggled not to cry before Anne finally managed to get her words out.
“I’d like that. A place to make our own.”
Ann exhaled as her grin widened.
“I love you.” Ann said softly.
“And I love you.” Anne’s eyes danced with mischief.
“Eyes on the road, Lister.” Ann scolded before she settled back into her seat with a smile.
As the bright lights of the city appeared on the horizon, Ann sighed contentedly. She’d never expected her life to turn out like this, to have found everything she had ever wanted right under her nose and so quickly. How did she ever get this lucky? There was no way her life could get any better right now, she was sure of it, this was her peak, the ceiling had been reached.
Just as she’d closed her eyes at the realisation, the husky voice of her handsome, perfect, thoughtful, successful, insanely hot girlfriend interrupted her with the greatest five words in the history of the world:
“Shall we order pizza tonight?”