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“The destination will be on your right,” comes the artificial voice of Google Maps from the speakers of Dani’s smartphone. “Well,” she mumbles, parking the car right where she is because she wouldn’t know where else. “I guess I’ll just have to trust you on that one.”

Looking outside, she can barely see further than the headlights of her car are shining.

It’s not a blizzard, luckily, but the snow is falling so heavily that shortly after Dani shut off the car, the entire windshield is covered in thick, white snowflakes. 

Dani thinks about ditching pottery class and driving back home. 

She’s worried that she won’t find her car anymore or she’ll be stuck here for the night if no one comes to clear the roads. 

Logically speaking, leaving now would be the right thing to do. 

The snow hasn’t had a chance to settle on the main roads yet and it’d be safe to drive. In less than an hour she could be on the couch with a cup of tea and a book. 

Dani’s fingers are on the keys, her hand wrapped around the steering wheel and her foot on the clutch, but she can’t bring herself to start the engine.

Thing is, her heart has a say in this matter too. 

So, against her better judgement, she taps ‘exit navigation’ on her phone and throws it into her knapsack. 

When she closes the car door behind her, she thinks she can see the form of Jamie’s house in the distance. But in the midst of this upcoming snowstorm it’s hard to tell. 

The illuminating orange color of what she believes are the windows of the house, are the only thing that Dani can see for miles around. 

She locks the car, shoulders her bag and trudges through the snow toward the light source. 

You’d think Dani has an idea of where Jamie lives as she’s been there before, but she has a terrible sense of direction, even more so if she’s not driving herself. 

Last time Charlotte gave her a lift to class (because Dani had her car at the garage to have the winter tires installed and the heating fixed, which they didn’t and now Dani is half-way frozen already) and most definitely parked somewhere else. 

The snow crunches beneath her boots and she pulls her wooly scarf over her already-red nose, as she makes her way to what she hopes is not some creepy cabin in the middle of nowhere, where a strange dude just waits for someone lost to come around and ask for directions. 

Dani looks back to where she thinks her car is but she can’t see it anymore. She feels her throat tightening up as she turns around and walks on, hoping for the best. 

Slowly, more of the house comes into view. 

Now, Dani can see a porchlight, flickering in the dark, and oh, a bunch of snow covered cars next to the building. She must’ve messed up the house number when she entered the address in her navigation app. 

At least that’s what Dani tells herself. 

Dani’s cheeks sting from the cold and the wind is making it hard to keep her eyes open, but she could swear she can make out figures moving around behind the window now, and a--

Wait.

A dog? Sleeping outside whatever the weather? 

That can only be...

“Ninja!”

The dog's ears perk at the mention of his name and he jumps up, twisting around happily when he spots Dani in the semi-dark. 

Ninja rushes towards her, his little paws leaving prints in the snow.

Dani crouches down and ruffles through his black, thick fur even though her fingers feel like ice and might break off any moment. 

It'd even be worth it, she thinks, if it means there's one more happy dog on earth.

"That is not the weather for a dog to be outside, Ninja. It is minus ten degrees," Dani tells him, the strong wind almost throwing her off balance, "and I'm pretty sure there's a snowstorm coming."

In all the excitement of cuddling Ninja and the comfort that she has found the atelier after all, she didn't notice Jamie stepping out on the front porch. 

Dani's teeth clack together as the winter air bites bitterly in her lungs; an unpleasant reminder that they're still out in the freezing cold. 

"Let's warm you up, Ninja. And then I’ll have a word with your mum--"

Dani stops in her tracks when she sees Jamie, standing there, in a pair of Birkenstocks ( without socks) and no hoodie, jacket or whatsoever. 

Jamie doesn’t even wrap her arms around her body to preserve body heat. Just leans there, casually, against the post. 

There’s a big, warm smile on Jamie’s face and at once Dani thinks she knows what it must be like to die of hypothermia. 

You know, when you’re about to freeze to death, but then feel like you’re burning up and shed all of your clothes and burrow yourself in the snow to cool down?

Yeah, that’s what Dani feels like right now. 

"I didn't think you'd make it," Jamie calls out, her voice snapping Dani out of her thoughts. 

She knocks the snow off her boots by the stairs once she gets there, not wanting to bring any of it inside. 

Jamie holds open the door for Dani, and she quickly slips in. “But I am so happy you did,” Jamie says. 

Dani's cheeks burn and she isn’t sure if it’s from the harsh wind, the cozy warmth in the house or because of what Jamie just said.  

Jamie closes the door behind herself. “Not just for my sake but,” she nods to her dog, grinning, “Ninja's too.”

Ninja is busy shaking his fur on the doorstep, getting bits of snow everywhere. It quickly melts, leaving behind small droplets of water. 

Dani takes off her scarf and beanie, hoping her hair doesn’t look like a chicken’s nest. “Oh yeah?”

The dog pads over to the fireplace and curls into a ball in front of it. “He fuckin’ ignored me when I told him to come in,” Jamie says. “I think he was waitin’ for ya.”

Dani chuckles, sliding out of her coat. Jamie hangs it up on one of the hooks by the door, and hands her a pair of knitted wool socks. “So good thing you showed up,” Jamie says, “or I would have had a dead dog by morning."

Dani sits down on the little bench to take off her boots, and puts them down next to the other pairs of shoes. “And I wanted to turn around. Get home. Avoid the snow storm. Lucky for you, that I didn’t. ” 

“What,” Jamie asks softly, once Dani’s got her socks on, feeling warmer already, “made you come anyway?” 

Dani looks up, meeting Jamie’s curious gaze and smiles. 

“Wanted to.”

 

*

 

All the other students are already here. 

There’s her dear friend Charlotte with her daughter Flora. A very sweet girl that’s better at pottery than anyone else here. 

Safe for the instructor, maybe. 

Eddie, a young man with curls and glasses, who sucks terribly at everything that has to do with clay. 

And Viola, a stunning single mum who is definitely crushing on Jamie. 

Which makes them two. 

“Now, what is the most important step before we sit down on our wheels?” asks Jamie, once everyone has got their aprons on, sleeves rolled up and hair tied together.

Flora's hand shoots up and she stands on her tippy-toes to get higher as if she’s at school trying to get the teacher’s attention. 

Viola, Eddie and Charlotte chuckle, but Jamie takes her seriously like any other student, and Dani admires her for it. “Yes, Flora?”

“We wedge our clay, Ms. Jamie.”

Jamie nods, cutting off a chunk of clay with her wire. “That’s correct. Can you also tell us why?”

“Yes!” Flora counts on her fingers. “One, it helps to compact the clay. Two, it gets air pockets out and three, it makes sure that the…” Flora trails off, scratching her forehead. 

“That the clay is uniform in stiffness?” Dani asks, tying her apron tighter. “Is that what you wanted to say, Flora?”

Flora hums, starting to knead the small lump of clay Jamie has just put down in front of her on the plaster surface. “The words just didn’t want to come to me, even though I just thought of them.” 

The clay is too hard for Flora's tiny hands and the table is too high and she groans in frustration as she tries to wedge the clay.  

“Ah, right,” Jamie says, and walks into the backroom and comes back with a little stool for Flora. She puts it on the floor for the girl to step on. 

Now that Flora is taller it makes the whole kneading process easier. Jamie smiles at the girl and Dani melts like ice cream in the summer sun. “Sorry, I forgot. I got a bit … distracted.”

“Don’t worry, Ms. Jamie,” Flora smiles back. “It happens to the best of us.”

Curious to know, Dani leans over to Flora when Jamie has gone back to her own chunk of clay and whispers, “Distracted by what, Flora?”

Flora looks around to make sure no one watches them and says quietly and only for Dani to hear, “The question is rather, by whom, Dani.”

Dani hums noncommittally, turning back to her clay. So she wasn’t imagining it. Jamie definitely has a thing for Viola, too. 

Well, it would have been too good to be true if Jamie liked her back.

 

*

 

After about fifty kneading strokes Dani’s clay is fully wedged, and she shapes it into a smooth ball. All the others have completed this step as well. 

Jamie points to the wheels on the other side of the atelier. “When you’re done please check if all the tools are by your wheel: a potter's needle, a sponge, a trimming tool, a cut-off wire and a wooden rib.”

Doing as she’s told, Dani notes that the pots with water are there but the bucket for scraps that don’t make it, are missing. 

The moment she wants to tell Jamie this, Viola has beaten her to it and they disappear together in the back room, laughing about something Viola said.

Dani ignores the pang of jealousy in her chest the best she can and concentrates on getting started. 

She takes a seat and with some force she smacks the clay onto the center of the bat to help attach it to the surface. Then, she tucks her elbows into the crease between her leg and torso and starts to spin the wheel with her foot as fast as it can go.

Flora, sitting down on her wheel beside her mother, talks excitedly to her mother about how ‘perfectly splendid’ it is that they’re going to throw a vase today. 

And no, it is not the act of tossing a vase like Eddie had initially believed. Turns out he didn’t research one thing about pottery before signing up to this class. 

The thought of it cheers Dani up a little. 

Wetting her hands and the clay, Dani starts with the next step. Centering the clay. She uses her palms to apply pressure on both sides of the base and slides up slowly to create a cone. 

“Why do I need to hold my arms again like this, Dani?” asks Eddie with his arm tucked against the inner side of his thighs. “It’s so uncomfortable.”

“It’s to keep your wrists steady. The clay can move easily with just your hands,” Dani pinches her eyebrows in concentration as she lessens the pressure the closer she gets to the top, before finally releasing the clay. “And remember to wet your clay continually.”

“Yes, or it’ll begin to dry, Mr. O’Mara,” Flora fills in, pushing up her clay, “and will grab at your hands and throw the clay off-center. This can ruin everything.”

“But what if I get too much water? Isn’t that just as bad?” Eddi asks. Dani finds his tendency to overthink every step very endearing. 

“Eddie,” Dani laughs a little, looking over at him and he looks so lost, “there’s no such thing as too wet.”

“Listen to the teacher. She knows what she’s talkin’ about,” Jamie chuckles, as the two of them come back with a couple of plastic buckets. She flashes Dani a wink when she sets one down next to her wheel. 

“But clay,” Jamie continues, walking over to Eddie. She puts a hand on his shoulder, “can be. But for that you’d have to soak your entire clay in water.” Jamie laughs a little. “You don’t plan on doin’ that, do ya?”

Eddie bursts out laughing, and Dani grins as the two of them crack jokes. Then her face falls as her brain catches up. 

Jamie, as she stands there, live and in color, was totally flirting with her.

Completely and wholly flustered by this thought, it takes Dani a long moment to realize how her cone begins to crook at the top. 

Fuck, she even watches it droop for a few seconds.

“Shit,” she whispers, catching it just in time. Not even given the chance to deal with that, the next thing happens. 

Jamie is now sitting in front of her students on her own wheel. She has her legs spread, like she has to, duh, it’s pottery, but it makes Dani completely lose her train of thought.

“Fuck me,” Dani mumbles to herself, trying to look at Jamie’s hands rather than how she sits, but that’s not better either. Finds both distracting in a way it shouldn’t be. 

Dani shakes her head to clear her thoughts. “Get yourself together,” she tells herself, and goes back to centering the clay.

She places the left hand on the side of the clay and with her right hand she ‘karate-chops’ the clay, just as Jamie’s taught them. She puts the same amount of pressure on each side and pushes the clay down until it has the form of a hockey puck. 

Jamie catches up to her students in no time. “Feel free to push your clay up and down a couple times. It only brings advantages during the throw."

"Mum," Flora says, "did you know that doing what Ms. Jamie just said stretches and compacts the clay even more?"

“I know, Flora,” replies Charlotte. “I’m taking this pottery class with you, you know?”

Flora giggles, her piece of clay significantly smaller than the ones of the grown ups. “Just making sure you don’t forget.”

"Thank you, Flora," Dani says, trying to think of anything else but Jamie. "I totally wouldn't have remembered that."

Flora smiles sweetly. "You're very welcome, Dani."

And so, Dani pushes the clay to the center and moves up smoothly, keeps the clay lubricated as she goes, and pushes it back down again, and up and down again. 

As she’s getting lost in the flow of pottery Dani doesn't realize Jamie is beside her, watching her hands working. 

She does, eventually, because Jamie smells really really nice. 

“You’re doing so good, Dani.” 

Dani doesn’t dare to think about what the exact same sentence would do to her in another context, but her voice sounding strangely rough, betrays her. “Yeah?”

If Jamie notices she doesn’t say anything. 

She hums thoughtfully and places her finger on top of the clay. It doesn’t move in any way even as the wheel is going at full speed, which means the clay is centered and ready to be opened. 

Jamie smirks, wiping off her fingers on her apron. "Yeah."

 

*

 

Jamie’s making her rounds, checking on everyone’s process:

Eddie’s clay is almost at the edge of the bat somehow, and he has drops of slurry on his glasses. 

Flora is ahead of all of them, waiting for Jamie to explain the next step. 

Charlotte and Viola both look like they are stuck on opening the clay.

“I’m saying this again, because this is a difficult process.” Jamie sits down, starts spinning her wheel. Dani has already completed this step so she watches Jamie working, because how can she not?

She doesn’t really hear anything Jamie says. 

(“Lay a thumb across the top and push down on the end of your thumb with your other hand.”)

Jamie wears a clay-caked apron that has seen the making of at least a thousand vases and pots, it has beige stains in all hues here and there and it frays at the edges. Jamie’s trousers are old, worn with splats of color on every inch, and perfect for an activity like this.

(“Remember to keep one and a half centimeters of clay at the bottom as it forms the floor of your vase, and pull your thumb toward your body.”)

As she takes her in, Dani notes how a curl keeps falling into her eyes. Jamie blows it out of her face, even brushes it away with the back of her hand, but it keeps happening. 

In Dani’s jeans pocket should be a bobby pin she keeps there for emergencies.

This is one. 

(“Just like that, Viola.”)

Dani gets up to wash her hands by the old sink, dries them on the towel and digs for the pin. She walks over to Jamie, who explains again how to check the bottom thickness with the potter’s needle. “Here, that should help,” says Dani, when she finished talking.  

Jamie frowns and looks down on her fingers. When she sees the pin, her face lights up.  “Oh, you’re so sweet. Thank you.”

When Jamie doesn’t take the pin and Flora begins to giggle, Dani realises with a start that she can’t. Her hands are dirty. "Oh, how stupid of me." 

Jamie makes a move to get up. 

Dani blurts out, “I, uh, can do it for you. If you want,” and squeezes her eyes shut when she realizes what she just said. She takes a step back. “Sorry, I, uh, don't know why I  said that. Sorry. I’ll just leave it,” she holds up the pin, smiles awkwardly,“by the sink.”

She’s about to turn to go back to her place, hoping the ground swallows her whole and keeps her there forever, when Jamie stops her. “No, Dani, wait. I don’t mind. Really.” 

Dani tilts her head. “You sure? Because I’d love to--” She clears her throat, crossing the distance. “I mean, yeah, I’m happy to help.”

“Yeah, it’s quicker this way,” Jamie says. 

Taking a steadying breath, Dani twists the loose curl carefully around her finger and opens the bobby pin with her teeth. She holds the strand of hair in place and slides it deep in for it to stay where it is. 

“There,” Dani whispers, catching Jamie’s eyes. They crinkle beautifully at the corners when she smiles. “Thank you, love. I will,” Jamie points to her hair, “give it back to you later.”

Dani nibbles on her lip, entirely missing how Jamie’s eyes drop down for a fraction of a second. “You can keep it,” she says with a smile, “I don’t need it.”

 

*

 

“Now, when we want to throw a vase,” Jamie picks up a sponge, loads it with water and tucks it in between her last two fingers and her palm, “we need to make sure to start it off just like a cylinder.”

As Jamie begins to throw her vase, next to Dani Eddie swears something beneath his breath. About being barely able to keep up with anyone and not knowing what the fuck a cylinder is. 

“A shape,” Dani chuckles, not believing that a grown man has no clue what the ‘advanced’ geometric shapes are called. “A cylinder is a shape. You made one last week. You got this.”

Jamie’s already to the rescue. “I gotcha, Eddie. Everyone else can proceed.”

Dani’s left hand goes inside the cylinder, providing support with her fingers on the inner wall, and with the sponge in her right hand she creates pressure on the outside. Then, she pulls the clay from the bottom to the top. 

So far so good. 

“I think I might need your assistance, too,” Dani hears Viola say. 

Dani doesn’t believe a word. 

Last time she asked for Jamie’s help and she couldn’t come right away, Viola managed it just fine after another try. “I’ll be right there with ya,” Jamie tells her, as she shows Eddie how to hold his hands, so he doesn’t have to fight the clay. 

“Take your time,” Viola answers and Dani tries her best not to think about the tone she’s been using and what this means. “I can wait.”

Dani shakes her head, and goes for another pull. 

Starts at the bottom and moves straight up, all the while thinking about how she can take care of this stupid attraction thing or she'll have to quit the class. 

Another pull. 

Oh, and she makes a mental note to ask specifically for male instructors when she signs up for future courses. There’s no way she’ll let this happen again. 

And another. 

“Hey, it’s not the clay’s fault.”

Dani jumps, clutching at her heart. Great, now she’s got clay on her sweater. “Jamie. You startled me."

“Sorry, love," Jamie says, and Dani has already forgotten about her ruined clothes, "Didn't mean to. I’m light-footed, I know.”

Jamie is standing behind her now, gently massaging her tense shoulders. 

Dani’s eyelids flutter closed when she feels Jamie’s fingers brush her neck. “I can tell you’re frustrated, but please, don’t let it out on the clay. You know what happens if you squeeze too hard, Dani?”

It’s hard to think like this. “It’ll make my, uh, walls too thin?”

Jamie hums, pressing in with a bit more force, right there where it hurts. Dani gasps softly, leaning into the touch. 

It takes absolutely everything in her not to vocalize how good this feels. 

“I’ve got an idea. Wait. Ninja,” Jamie calls, and the dog comes from his spot in front of the fireplace in the living room, making those paw sounds Dani likes so much. 

“Come here,” she commands, pointing to the floor next to Dani’s stool. “Down,” she says and Ninja does as he’s told. “And stay.”

Jamie gets a treat out of her breast pocket, gives it to the dog. She crouches down, and scratches him behind his ears. “Good boy. Now give Dani some love.” 

She looks up to Dani who’s in absolute awe with this woman whether she likes it or not, “she needs it more than your silly, slimey chew toy.”

Ninja stares into the distance, probably thinking about his warm spot in front of the fire he gave up for Dani, wishing to go back, but he stays and closes his eyes. 

“Thank you,” Dani whispers, and Jamie, with her bobby pin in her curls, whispers back. “Sure thing.”

Jamie walks over to Viola to 'help' her and places her fingers on top of Viola's and gives her a one-on-one on how to pull to make the bottom of the vase. 

Dani doesn’t even care anymore. Dani has a support animal now. The rest of the world can fuck off. 

"Thank you, Ninja,” Dani says, looking down on him, “I really appreciate it."

 

*

 

When they all have the cylinder ready, it gets serious. 

“Whenever you make a bottle or a vase, you’re closing in the neck, which means you’re not able to get your hand down in there,” Jamie explains, gesturing to the opening of the cylinder. “So you’re gonna shape it in two sections: first the lower part and then the upper part.” 

Jamie draws something in the air with her hands. “Imagine it as a figure: the foot, the belly, the shoulder and the neck.” 

“Now, watch closely: Put your hand inside and make the belly by pushing out, and then, push in with your other hand when you get higher. To make the shoulder.” 

And just like that, the cylinder is gone, and in its place, a bottle shape. 

Jamie picks up the wood trimming tool. “Then, finish off the foot by removing the clay with the trimming tool and align it with the belly.” 

She throws the scraps in the bucket before her and gives the bat a quick wipe with the sponge. “Check if there's excess water at the bottom. If yes, soak it up. If you don't, it will make cracks when it dries.”

Once that’s done, Jamie carries on with the collaring. “Then with your fingers, make the neck at the top. To do so, squeeze the clay in and up.”

“Whenever you collar, the rim is going to get uneven,” Jamie points to the top of the neck, “and you’ll need to cut it with the potter’s needle. Do that every time.” 

Jamie puts the tip of her finger inside the neck at the very top and holds her potter's needle at a forty-five degree angle. She brings it in slowly until the needle hits her finger and she can remove the excess clay.

“When collaring you are wrinkling the clay up against itself, so you’ll have to pull through to compact it again," Jamie adds. 

In this moment Ninja shifts in his sleep and moves to lie on Dani’s wool-socked foot for warmth. His limbs twitch as he dreams, looking like he has dream-zoomies in the backyard. 

Dani smiles, wondering how lovely it must be to be Ninja. 

She should’ve continued doing that, because she was not prepared for this:

Jamie eases a clay-covered finger inside until she’s knuckles deep in, and pushes up against the inner wall to shape the neck and smoothly slides out again. 

It almost kills her.

This is without a doubt the sexiest non-sexual thing Dani has ever seen in her whole life, and she needs a fucking break. 

So, she watches Ninja sleep, imagining how he plays in the garden trying to catch an innocent butterfly. 

Or how he digs a hole under the fence so he can be with the neighbor's dog.

Or how he did not freeze to death as he waited for her on the front porch. 

Everything to keep herself from thinking how much seeing Jamie do this turned her on. 

(“To make the transition between the belly and the shoulder a little smoother, use your fingers on the inside and shape with your wooden rib on the outside.”)

Just as she’s about to look, Jamie does it again. With two fingers this time. And a lip caught between her teeth. 

Not to be dramatic, but Dani is so, so fucked. 

 

*

 

It only gets worse from here.

Not only is Dani now distracted by her dirty thoughts about the cute instructor and feels sick to her stomach because of the shame, but she screws up about everything. 

When she makes the belly of the vase she pushes too hard and has to try a couple of times to get it right. 

When she collars the neck she squeezes too hard and almost closes it completely. 

When she cuts off the rim she puts the needle in before starting to turn the wheel, and has to crop away more to fix her mistake. 

By the time she reaches the final step, shaping just the neck, Dani can’t even think about doing it without pictures of Jamie’s fingers flooding her brain. 

Speak of the devil. “Need help, Dani?” 

“Yeah,” Dani answers, playing it cool. “I’m kinda stuck on the neck?”

Jamie observes the slightly bulgy neck Dani has created. “I can see that.”

Dani desperately wants to get away with not doing this and does not want to see how Jamie does it, either. “Can you, uh, maybe do that for me? I’d need to go to the bathroom.”

Jamie shakes her head, pulling a stool next to Dani’s. She slides to the side so Jamie has better access to the wheel. “How will you learn, if you don’t watch?”

“Yeah, I mean yeah,” Dani nods nervously, swallowing around the lump in her throat. “I guess that’s true.”

Jamie lubricates the clay. “You can go after this. It won’t take long. You’ll see.”

Dani wonders if Jamie will notice if she looks away, but then decides against it. The last thing she wants to be is rude.

She’ll be okay. 

“Put your fingertips down to the shoulder,” Jamie catches her eyes and Dani’s breath hitches. “Hold your fingers on the outside and pull up gently.”

Turns out, watching Jamie do this in front of the class is one thing. Watching her doing this on Dani’s vase is something else entirely and …  strangely intimate.  

And she is definitely not okay. 

“Now you,” says Jamie, letting Dani sit in front of her wheel again. Dani’s hands feel like they’re shaking but they’re perfectly fine. “Go inside, as far as you can go, and then pull.”

Trying to think about shaping the neck and nothing else, Dani goes for it. Her mouth is dry as the desert. “Like this?”

“Yeah,” Jamie says quietly, as she’s come to the top. “Just like that, Dani. That’s so good. You know, you’re really great with your fingers.”

Dani blinks, confused. “I am what ... now?”

But Jamie just winks at her and kicks the stool back where it was with her foot. 

 

*

 

“When you’re done making finishing touches, cut off the vase with your wire and put your bat over there to air dry,” Jamie points to the shelves on the wall, “You can then start painting last week’s pot.”

Dani rotates her wheel very slowly, keeps the wire flush to the bat’s surface and as taut as possible and brings the wire towards her in one slow, continuous motion. 

She removes the bat from the wheelhead and places it out of harm's way. 

Flora comes to find her. "Want to paint our pots together, Dani? Ms. Jamie has already prepared the paints and brushes at the work tables."

Dani smiles and Flora smiles in kind. She can really use the distraction. "That'd be lovely."

"In which colors will you be painting yours?" comes Flora's question as they sit down at the work table, the pots before them. 

There are at least fifty different paints scattered on the table. The brushes, covered in dried paint, that peek out of the clay pots in the middle of the work surface are all sized and made differently. 

Dani hasn’t got a clue where to begin. “I didn’t have a chance to think about how I’ll decorate mine, to be honest. How about you,” she looks at the girl studying the paints, “any ideas?”

“I think,” Flora leans across the table to pick out the colors she needs, “I’ll go for a sunflower field. Therefore I need, uh, yellow ochre, caramel, emerald. And for the sky? Hm...” She turns to look at Dani. “What do you say to azure?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Dani watches her as Flora sticks her small hand inside the pot, dips the brush into the light blue and begins to paint the background while humming a song Dani doesn’t know. 

“Flamingo, mauve, phthalo blue and tuscan sun.”

Dani spins on her chair to see Jamie standing by the sink scrubbing the clay off her hands with a nail brush. 

She frowns. “Huh?”

Jamie rinses the soap off with warm water. “Flamingo, mauve, phthalo blue and tuscan sun. The colors your auras had over the course of the evening,” she takes the towel off the hook and turns around, flashing her a smile. “You should try something with that.”

Jamie’s smile is contagious. “My auras?”

She nods, drying her hands on the towel. “To me people as well as letters, numbers and words have colors. When I hear music I see shapes and forms. Some words I can taste.”

“You’re a synesthete?” Dani asks, surprised and delighted. “I have never met one before. It must be exciting to have this trait.”

“That, and draining. Still, I wouldn’t want to go without it, if I had to choose.” Jamie drapes the dirty towel across the sink, tapping it. “I gotta remember to toss that into the washing machine. I’ll, uh, tell you more later if you want?” she asks, “and answer questions if you have any?”

Dani presses her lips together to keep herself from smiling too much. “I’d love that.”

“I’ll find you,” Jamie promises, looking for the said paints on the table and slides them over to Dani. “Just gotta take care of something first.”

Telling by the chill of wind Dani can feel around her bare ankles moments later someone just went outside.

Dani looks around in the room. 

Flora is still sitting next to her, painting sunflowers. Charlotte still makes some finishing touches on her vase. Eddie is on the phone with his mother. 

The only ones missing are Viola and Jamie. 

Dani goes to the front door and peeks outside through the window, and there they are. 

Together. On the front porch. Sharing a cigarette. Freezing their butts off. 

Jamie slings an arm around Viola’s shoulder. Says something that has Viola shove her playfully and laugh so heartily Dani can hear it through the door.   

Dani looks at Viola and thinks about how she always hated the winter months, how it gives her seasonal depression every time. Thinks about how she let herself be talked into smoking as a teenager at a party, but never did it again. 

Dani looks at Jamie, and thinks about how Jamie could be the one person who makes the cold warm . Thinks about how she never understood why people would pick up smoking but wouldn’t mind getting a Kiss of Death from her. 

Dani looks at Viola again. 

Dani can’t help but wish this was her.

 

*

 

There’s a knock on the bathroom door. “Hey, are you okay?” comes Charlotte’s muffled voice from the other side. "Is it alright if I come in?"

If it were anyone else Dani would’ve said no. 

Dani came here to mindlessly scroll through Instagram for a while. She wanted to get her shit together so she can go out there again, because she'll have to at some point. But there’s no signal and she didn't want to ask for Jamie’s wifi password. 

To not die of boredom she tried to get out the persistent clay from underneath her fingernails. Which is harder than you think. 

“Is Flora with you?” This is no topic to discuss with an eight-year old around. Dani isn't even sure she should at all. 

“No," Charlotte says. "She’s, uh, making her another vase.”

Dani gets up, unlocks the door and goes back to sitting on the floor. Charlotte, still in her apron and dried clay on her hands, comes in and takes a seat next to her. 

After a moment of heavy silence Charlotte breaks it. “Why are we sitting on the floor, Dani?”

Dani blows out a breath. Looks like she's really about to do this. “She’s driving me crazy, okay?”

“Who? Flora?”

“No. Jamie.”

"What? Why?"

Dani swallows to keep her voice from wavering. "She's been flirting with me all night. Be it with words and looks. Little touches. But she's all over Viola, too. Laughs about her jokes, disappears with her in the backroom for way longer than it takes to get some stupid buckets. Stands really close to her, smokes with her outside in the dead of winter."

"Dani--"

"And I shouldn't even be saying all this. I've known her for two weeks. I have no business feeling this way. I mean, Jamie can do whatever the hell she wants but can she please leave me out of it if she's just playing?”

“Dani. Listen to me.”

"And I don't know for how long we will be stuck here. By now it has snowed at least a meter. If no one comes clearing the road then--” Dani buries her face in her hands, her neck hot with all kinds of emotions. “This is a nightmare, Charlie."

“Okay. Can I talk now?”

Dani nods. She just wants to go home and never come back here ever again. “Yeah, sorry.”

"Viola and Jamie are best friends. They're flirting with each other casually, that's all. Don’t queers do that with friends sometimes?"

There’s some truth to that. “But why would she when I’m around? If she likes me? Which I’m sure she doesn’t. And how’d you know for sure that there’s not more between them? Not that I care.” 

“Because I heard Jamie talk about you to Viola.”

Dani didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t this. “Oh?”

“About how adorable she thinks you are, especially when you do pottery. The frown on your face and the tongue you stick out when you concentrate. How she’s running out of excuses to talk to you and be close to you without coming off too strong.”

Dani’s heart jumps in her throat. “Oh,” is all she can think of to say.

Charlotte rubs circles on Dani’s back. It’s soothing. 

“I have known them both for years. They’ve always been like this with one another. Their flirting is light hearted and innocent. I can promise you that. And I am sure they wouldn’t anymore if the thing that’s going on between you two,” Charlotte says, like she has it all figured out, “becomes something more.”

Dani chews on her cheek, staring at the floor tiles. “You really think that?”

“I know it. By the way, it was Jamie who asked me to go check on you. She’s seen you disappear into the bathroom and wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

Dani hates to ask. “Why didn’t she come then?”

“Wanted to give you space.”

“Hm.”

It takes Dani a long moment to deal with all this new information, and how she feels about it, but in the end one thing stands out. 

“So she likes me?” 

Charlotte beams and Dani can’t help but do so too. “Oh yes, baby.”

 

*

 

Dani is sitting cross-legged in front of the fireplace scratching Ninja behind his ears, thinking about the events of the night, when Jamie joins her. 

“Hey, you.”

Dani can’t keep herself from smiling. “Hey.”

"Wanna know a secret about Ninja?"

Dani's smile grows wider. "Always."

“If you really want to win his heart,” Jamie leans in, whispering into Dani’s ear, “give him belly rubs. Go, ask him if he wants some."

 “ Who would like some belly rubs?" Dani makes a special voice. "Is it you, Ninja?” 

Watching how Ninja turns on his back, wiggling excitedly with his tail, Dani giggles, “Did you teach him how to do that?”

Jamie shakes her head. “He learned that all by himself. When he was a puppy I said the words ‘who likes belly rubs?’ whenever I was giving him pats there. After a couple of times he connected the words with the sensation he was getting from the affection."

"That’s so cute." Dani is caressing Ninja’s belly, his tongue sticking out of his mouth as he pants. “Love that for him.”

“Listen, Dani,” Jamie speaks after a little while when no one says anything. “I wanted to apologize.”

Dani’s looks at her. Jamie’s eyes are sad, and Dani can’t have that. “What for?”

“I know I hurt you with my behaviour tonight, and I’m so, so sorry. I really am. I was trying to find a way of saying ‘I’m kinda crushing on you’, but,”Jamie lets out a shuddered breath, “I totally screwed it up. I didn’t flirt with you all night just because I can. I did, because…”

Jamie trails off, staring into the fire. Dani shoots her shot. “Because you like me?”

“Mm-mm. It’s been a long time since I liked anyone." Jamie takes a log  from the pile next to the fireplace and throws it into the flames. 

"The idea of it made me a little anxious. To say the least. And things like fooling around with Vi. It gives me comfort. Calms me down. Distracts me."

Ninja, picking up on his owner's emotions, moves and climbs into Jamie's lap. She gives him a kiss on the head. 

"I didn’t want it to come this way, you have to believe me. And I -- I totally get it if this is it then, or if you don’t want to come to class anymore. I just wanted to put things right. It’s the least I can do."

Jamie gives her an apologetic smile. 

Dani opens her mouth to say something, closes it again.

She wants to say so much. That she likes Jamie, too. Like, a lot. That she has from the moment Jamie bumped into her as she walked out of the backroom of her atelier the first night. 

(“Oh,” Jamie says, when she accidentally lets all the buckets, sponges and utensils she had carried in her arms fall to the floor, “I didn’t,” she looks up, her lips parting when she meets Dani’s eyes, “see you. Sorry.”

“I would have been surprised if you did.” Dani teases, helping Jamie gather the items. She picks up the utensils and puts them into the stacked plastic buckets. "How do you even carry so many things?"

"Determination," Jamie smirks, giving Dani a once-over once they both stand again. "I'm late with my preparations, that's why I wanted to save a trip," she gestures behind her, chuckling, "to the back room. I, uh, totally miscalculated how much time I'd need to set everything up."

"Well, it's good that I am here then," Dani smiles, feeling butterflies fluttering in her stomach, "I'll gladly give you a hand."

"Oh, me too, Ms. Jamie," says Flora, coming into the atelier with her mum. She looks at Jamie with expectant eyes, "What goes where?"

Jamie laughs a little, handing her the buckets. "Please make sure that by every wheel is one of each. A bucket, a sponge, a potter's needle, a wire, a trimming tool and a wooden rib." 

After her daughter has taken off, Jamie hands Charlotte the aprons and the pots. "Could you fill the pots with water and put an apron on each of the stools, please?"

"And, what do I do?" comes Dani's curious question as they're left standing alone.

"You," Jamie flashes her a smile, taking her by her wrist, "come with me to the back room. We'll get the clay.")

In the end nothing comes out. 

Anyway,” Jamie checks her watch, seemingly looking for an excuse to get away, "See you in the atelier in five? I'd like to sit together like last time, talk about the lesson and share some ideas with you. It'd be nice if you're there too."

She makes a move to get up and Ninja hops from her lap.

"Wait," Dani says at last, touching Jamie's arm. "Don't go."

Still not knowing what to say to make Jamie's pain go away, but wanting to do something , to show her that everything is alright and they'll figure it out, Dani leans over and softly kisses Jamie's cheek.

Dani smiles, and Jamie's eyes are a bit less sad now, a bit more hopeful.  "We're good. I promise."

Jamie chuckles, touching her skin where Dani kissed her. "Okay."

 

*

 

And how fate wants it, they’re stuck at Jamie’s for the night. 

It has stopped snowing, thankfully, but the wind has become so strong that it almost lifted the door out of its hinges when Jamie took Ninja outside. The streets are being freed from the snow but until they come here to the outskirts of town it can take until morning.

Jamie comes back from upstairs, carrying a pile of blankets, sleeping bags, pillows so huge you can’t barely see her. “You'd rather risk letting everything fall,” Viola says, taking some of the stuff from her, “than go twice, huh? Or ask someone for help.”

Jamie laughs, and Dani doesn’t know what to do with the butterflies in her stomach each time it happens. She looks at Dani, winking. “You know me.” 

“Yes,” Viola jokes, hitting her with a pillow. “Unfortunately, I do.”

Jamie disappears into the kitchen to fix some snacks, while the guests decide where to sleep. 

Eddie insists on sleeping on the floor. Charlotte and Flora take the couch. The only options left are the other side of Jamie’s bed and the floor.  

“I’ll take the floor too, then,” says Dani, picking up the last sleeping bag. There’s no more pillows but her sweater will do. 

“Hey,” says Viola, nudging her. “I wanted to take the floor.”

“Then we both do, I guess,” Dani says, handing her the sleeping bag. She’ll be okay with just a blanket if she finds one. “You can have this, if you want.”

Flora is on the couch wrapped in a quilt ten times her size, stifling a jawn. “It’d be perfectly silly for you both to sleep on the floor if there’s space in Ms. Jamie’s bed.”

Viola smirks, not taking the sleeping bag from Dani. “Ms. Wingrave’s got a point. Let's let Jamie decide.”

Before Dani can even think of saying something to that, Viola has already called out Jamie’s name. There comes a " yeah?" from the next room.

“Who’d you rather sleep with?” Viola asks. “Dani or me?”

Dani’s jaw drops and in the kitchen Jamie chokes on a biscuit. Once recovered from her coughing fit, she asks, “What? I’m not sure I heard you?”

Viola stares evenly at Dani, looking like she loves this and Dani can’t stop the smile that’s appearing on her face. Maybe, just maybe, Viola isn’t so bad. 

“I was asking,” she says, tucking a loose strand of hair behind Dani’s ear, “if you’re okay with sharing your bed with Dani tonight.”

“Yes,” Jamie says after seconds that feel like hours, “But only if she’s not a blanket thief.”

 

*

 

Jamie comes back with a piece of paper and a pencil case. 

She sits down next to Dani on the couch and empties it on the couch table, “So, the characters always have the same color. The letter D for example,” she says, searching the colors as she speaks, “is a soft pink. Then, A is a very bright orange, N is grass green and I is ultramarine blue.”

Dani watches her as Jamie writes down her name in capital letters. 

“Can I write your name?” she asks softly, reaching for the sheet. “In the colors of the letters?”

Jamie nods, handing her the orange and blue colored pencil. “ A and I we know already. J is olive green, M is beige and E is red.”

Having picked out the rest of the pencils Dani writes Jamie’s name down next to hers. She loves how they look together even though the harmony of colors couldn’t be more off.  

“Names or words,” Jamie carries on, “take on the color of the first letter once I’ve come to know it. It annoys me when a word doesn’t match my idea of it. Take the Underground in London, for instance. Every line has a color. But they are displayed in the ‘wrong’ one. When I was young I used to get lost all the time.”

“Fascinating,” says Dani, keen on learning more. “You also said you can taste some words?”

Jamie nods. “Some have a taste, some a texture, sometimes it’s both. But that skill isn’t quite as developed as the others, which I am grateful for. The taste some words leave in my mouth is just awful.”

Dani tilts her head. “For example?”

“Uh, manager tastes what a tire smells like and robot tastes like bleach,” Jamie winces in disgust, shivering a little, “Oh, just thinking about it is gross.”

“She must really like you,” Viola looks up from her phone, sending Dani a knowing look, “when she goes through this pain for you.”

Dani chuckles, squeezing Jamie’s thigh affectionately. “Think about a tasty word.”

“Vi, help me out,” Jamie laughs a little, her hand finding Dani’s. “I can’t really,” she catches Dani’s eyes and Jamie’s voice drops, “ think right now.”

“Dragon, cactus, picture,” Viola says without a missing beat. “Puddle, cloud. Need more?”

Jamie shakes her head. “Just hearing them makes it better. Thank you.” 

She turns back to Dani, smiling. “So, uh,” she begins to count on her fingers, and Dani hangs on every word she says, “dragon tastes like a magical version of granola, crunchy and sweet, cloud tastes like a fruity smoothie with lots of berries. Picture tastes like apple pie like my mum used to make, puddle is chocolate milk through a straw and cloud feels like...” 

Jamie stops right there. 

“Feels like what?” Dani asks, her voice is hardly a whisper.

“That one is actually a secret I can’t tell you,” Jamie whispers, brushing over Dani’s knuckles, “Maybe you’ll find out yourself one day.”

They look at each other for a moment exchanging looks that are yet to be explored and Dani forgets how to breathe. 

Viola’s voice cuts through the silence. “Jamie?”

“Yeah, Vi?”, says Jamie, without looking away. They grin like idiots now, knowing how this must look like to an outsider. “What is it?”

“What does ‘get a room’ taste like?”

 

*

 

They’re watching Annabelle: The Creation on Netflix. 

Flora, in one of Jamie’s band shirts, is out like a light and almost falling off the couch. Charlotte tugs her closer as she cuddles her. Eddie, with his glasses on, snores quietly on the floor. 

Viola is sitting cross legged on the couch, dipping a biscuit into her tea. “Oh, my God, I can’t look,” she says, covering her eyes. Then ends up looking through her fingers, anyway. 

The demon possesses Janice by puking black goo into her mouth and Viola squeaks quietly, dropping the biscuit. 

Later, when the demon tries to tear Linda into the well when she tries to get rid of the doll, Jamie whispers against the shell of Dani’s ear, “Would you like to see my other works? I make more than just what you’ve seen so far.”

Dani’s hand balls the blanket in her hands and her heart is thudding hard against her ribs. And that’s not because of the jumpscare that follows seconds after. 

“I mean, if you’d rather watch,” Jamie draws figures on the shared blanket with her fingertips, almost brushing against Dani’s, “that’s okay. But I’d love to know what you think.”

“I don’t care about the movie,” Dani whispers back, her breath coming quicker when Jamie takes her hand in hers. “It’s good, but I’d rather sneak away with you.” 

Dani wishes she could see Jamie’s smile in the dark.

“Then come with me.”

 

*

 

The room Jamie takes her to is stuffed with all things pottery. 

Bottles, bowls, mugs and all the like. Little flower pots in the form of animals. A llama, a snail, a turtle. 

Kitchen utensils, like a cooking spoon, measuring cups and a citrus press. 

Decorative objects, like candle holders and windlights. 

Figures of naked women in all sizes, in all colors. Alone, in pairs, in groups. 

Each and every piece of them is one of a kind. There isn’t one piece that looks even a bit like the other. 

Dani is blown away and doesn't really know what to say. “This is … wow . Did you,” she smiles at Jamie, “make all of this?”

“Yes.” Jamie blushes a little, ducking her head to hide it. 

“That’s at least two hundred pieces, Jamie, if not more.”

"I got more in the basement, ready for shipping. I sell my stuff online and only keep one of each series."

Dani takes a closer look at the pieces. She couldn’t pick a favorite even if she wanted to. “You’ve got a talent, Jamie. Really, I have never seen anything like it.”

“I’m thinking," Jamie says after a little while, linking their fingers together. Dani is happy she did, because she’d have been too shy, "of adding a new line of products to my shop.”

Dani looks over at Jamie. “Oh, really? What is it?”

"It's over there,” Jamie points at the grand wooden chest in the corner of the room, “in the top drawer. I must warn you. It’s not,” she chuckles, scratching the back of her head, “what you’d expect.”

“Oh, is it sex toys?” Dani says without thinking.

“Yeah.”

“Wait, really?

“Mhm-mm,” Jamie says with a nod, walking over to the drawer. “Well, sort of. Just have a look and you’ll see.”

When Dani opens it she’s met with a stunningly beautiful collection of handcrafted dildos. For protection Jamie has laid them on thick, black foam. 

There's one in the shape of a tentacle with a glitter-y yellow and orange glaze. One, telling from the green colored scales on the shaft, must be inspired by a snake. Another one has a dark red, shining varnish. Its head as well as the texture reminds Dani of a dragon.

Next to the animal-inspired toys there is one in all colors of the rainbows that twists around itself like the lollipops you’d find on fun fares. There’s one in grey metallic that looks a lot like a screw, and another one in a dark glaze that has ridges on the sides and a rippled head. 

There’s at least twenty more.

“So what do you think?” Jamie asks after a little while. She sounds nervous and Dani totally gets it. But really, there’s no reason to be. 

Dani squeezes Jamie’s hand, hoping it’s reassuring. “Once you put them on sale they’re going to be sold out in no time. I love them all. You need to show me how you make them one day.”

Jamie sighs, relieved. "Do you have a favorite?”

“Tough question,” Dani says, leaning in so she can see better. “Can I touch them? See how they feel?”

“Yeah, just pay attention, please. Clay is sturdy but not unbreakable.”

Dani immediately misses the warmth of Jamie’s hand as she lets it go. She carefully picks up the one with the suckers, tracing them with her fingers. “So you can’t ... use them?”

Jamie shakes her head. “No, they’re purely for decorative purposes. For sex shops, swinger clubs and anyone else who’d like them. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to end up breaking one and losing half of it inside you.”

Dani puts the toy down, picks up the rainbow-twisted dildo, and wraps her hand around it, loosely, and squeezes experimentally. "You definitely need to add a big fat disclaimer under the product that it's not made for sex, and send a note saying the same thing with the box you ship it in, because damn, I'd get it if they did." 

Jamie chuckles, threading her fingers through her curls. "Noted. What do you think is an appropriate prize for one?"

"Well,” Dani muses, and picks up another toy and looks at it from all sides, “You’ll have to take in consideration not only the work hours, the material and the costs of the firing but also that each and every one of them is a unique piece, that took a lot of designing and planning. And I am sure it doesn’t work out like you want it to the first time?”

Jamie shakes her head. “Never does.”

Dani puts back the dildo and closes the drawer. “I don’t know the numbers but,” she turns around, leaning against the wooden chest. “I’d say at least 150 bucks. 200, maybe.”

Jamie purses her lips, thinking for a moment. “Sounds good. I think I'll make a couple more before I plan the advertising, the launch and the shipping.”

“Already got some ideas,” comes Dani’s question, taking a step closer. She plays with the buttons of Jamie’s lumberjack shirt, her eyes lingering on Jamie’s lips, “for future projects?”

“Yes, I, uh, have actually, yeah,” Jamie mumbles, obviously distracted by the closeness. Dani can feel Jamie's hot breath on her skin. “I made some … sketches a few days ago. But they’re upstairs,” her voice dips, “in my room.”

Dani gives her a daring look. “What exactly is stopping you ... from taking me there?” 

“Nothing, really,” Jamie says with a lopsided smile. “I could totally take you there and show you my sketches," she intertwines their fingers, "and whatever else you want to see.”

Dani is suddenly overcome with the strong desire to kiss Jamie, and she almost does it. “I'd love that.”

It's dark and quiet in the living room when they get there. Jamie whispers, “Maybe, you know, you have some suggestions on how to improve the designs…"

“You’re the artist, I’m not sure I’d know how," Dani answers in all honesty. Her voice is quiet but still a little too loud for the fact that there are four people sleeping in the same room.

Next thing she knows is Jamie gently pushing her against the wall next to the stairs, and Dani gasps softly in surprise. 

Jamie puts a finger on her lips, and Dani thinks it would be the perfect opportunity to catch her finger with her teeth and suck it into her mouth. 

“Shh, Dani, let's not,” she says, her voice thick with something Dani can’t quite name, “wake the others up. They're sleeping, you know.”

“Sorry,” Dani mumbles when Jamie lets her hand sink. She’s all too aware of Jamie’s hips still pressing into her, the warmth radiating from her skin, and how she can’t string one thought together because of it. 

“The floorboards creak,” Jamie’s lips are almost touching hers as she talks, and Dani isn’t sure for how long she can hold back, “so I’d suggest you walk where I do and," she curls her hands around Dani's waist, squeezing, "we should be fine.”

All Dani can do is nod.

Jamie goes before her, and Dani tries to match Jamie’s steps the best she can, but for one her legs are weak , and for two, after a couple of stairs, she completely miscalculates the spot where Jamie stepped because she can barely see in the dark, and the floorboard creaks, just like Jamie said.

Loud. 

Dani winces at the sound it makes, and she looks back to the living room, checking if she disturbed anyone.

Thankfully,  it’s silent. 

There’s a soft, quiet chuckle coming from Jamie, and it’s so damn adorable, Dani almost screws it up again. 

“We’re almost there.”

 

*

 

Jamie scrambles for the sketches in the drawer of her desk while Dani waits on her bed. “Ah,” she says, “there they are. They’re never where I put them somehow. Now,” Jamie scratches her jaw, “where did I see my good pencil last?”

The bed dips when Jamie sits down next to Dani, and she distributes the pieces of paper between them on the bed sheets. “Okay, so. I was thinking,” she picks one, and follows the lines of the drawing with the pencil, “a long, curved tongue of some mythical creature with pointy teeth at the base.”

Dani studies the sketch; it’s promising. 

“I want to make a transition when I glaze it,” Jamie carries on, and Dani tries to imagine how it’ll look when it’s made. “I’ll start at the bottom with indigo, then comes lavender and it ends in lilac. The tongue will be about twenty centimeters long.”

Dani hums, pointing to another drawing. “And this one?”

“Oh, this one is candy-inspired like the lollipop one you’ve seen downstairs. This one will be some sort of marshmallow? Three strings will wind evenly around the white stick, creating an interesting texture.”

Dani tilts her head. “Have you decided on the colors yet?”

Jamie smiles softly. “Why, got ideas?”

“I’d say pink, yellow and blue. All three in pastel tones. It’d look super cute. If you want something totally different, go for gold and white. Like that you’d combine the innocence of candy with the symbol of luxury.”

Jamie’s smile grows bigger. “I knew it was a good idea to take you up here.”

Dani listens as Jamie tells her about each idea, how she came up with the designs and the amount of drawings it takes for her to be happy with the result. Jamie turns out to be quite a perfectionist.

“Can I tell you something?” Dani asks, when they are looking at a sketch that’s going to be a magical unicorn-horn with lots and lots of glitter. 

Jamie perks up from the sketch, giving Dani a curious look. “Yeah.”

“It’s really, really attractive," she says, before she can talk herself out of it, "when you do that.”

Jamie licks at her lips, nibbling softly, “Do what?”

“You know, talk about something you’re passionate about," Dani says. “It’s wonderful to see how committed you are to it. To something you love. Tells a lot about you as a person.” 

Jamie laughs a little, a husky, wanting version of the one she heard countless times today. A strong wave of arousal shoots to Dani's core at the sound of it. 

“You think I'm attractive?"

“Oh, yes. Yes, you are,” Dani chuckles, staring at her hands. “I could listen to you all night long.” She looks up, finding Jamie’s eyes, holding them this time, “I can’t imagine ever being bored around you.”

"If that’s the case," says Jamie, smirking,"I better keep talkin’.” 

“Or you could not,” Dani dares to say, her gaze flicking to Jamie's perfectly kissable lips, “and kiss me instead? That's the only thing," her eyes dart back up, "I'd find even better."

Jamie’s eyes go wide and her lips part around a quiet "oh."

Then: “You want me to…?”

"Please."

 

*

 

It takes all but one second, and Jamie shoves all of the sketches away, sending them flying through the air and to the bedroom floor. 

Another second, and Dani quickly moves up the bed. Another one and Jamie is crawling on top of her, curls her fingers around her neck and--

Dani makes a sound of pure pleasure when Jamie finally, finally kisses her. 

Jamie's lips are soft, her tongue sweet, and an endless loop of Oh My God is playing in Dani's head as the tension that’s been building all night breaks at last. 

The kiss is dirty and desperate from the beginning and Dani, oh, she fails terribly at keeping her hands to herself. 

Jamie, thankfully, is not doing much better.

Dani threads her fingers into Jamie's soft curls, and Jamie slips a hand underneath her thigh and brings her closer in as she kisses her like she means it. 

Like she waited forever for this.

Like everything starts to make sense. 

Like she wants to say "Oh, there you are."

Dani feels that.

Her hands are smoothing down Jamie’s back then, right to where her shirt ends, the skin warm and smooth below her finger tips. 

Jamie moans quietly into Dani’s mouth as her hands slip underneath her shirt, her fingers exploring, touching for the first time. 

It's the most beautiful sound Dani has ever heard.

Dani’s fingers travel up and down Jamie’s back, dying to see her without this shirt, dying to find out what Jamie's skin feels like against her, dying to find out what other sounds she can make. 

Dani clutches the fabric between her fingers, tugging upwards. “Can this go?”

Jamie's needy "yes" comes as if shot out of a gun, and then her t-shirt is gone, on the floor with the dildo sketches.  And while they’re at it, they get rid of Dani’s, too. 

Her lips and tongue are on Dani’s neck, before the shirt has a chance to hit the ground. Dani's arches into Jamie, seeking more. 

“God, Dani,” Jamie whispers against her skin, “you have no idea how much I thought about this.”

Jamie pulls back enough to look at Dani. “Is it okay to say that?"

Dani nods weakly. "Yeah."

Jamie’s voice is thick with lust and Dani wants her so bad it is almost too much to take. “Do you,” comes Dani's question, “want to, maybe, do what you thought of doing? To me?"

Jamie swipes her thumb across Dani's bottom lip as she speaks. "I haven't ... thought about you in that way, just so you know. 'Cause I wouldn't do that. It's not… I mean, I…”

The end never comes. 

Dani’s tongue darts out, swirling around the tip of Jamie’s finger. She sucks it gently into her mouth, watching how Jamie’s eyes turn darker than they already are.  

She raises a brow. "And now?"

"Now," Jamie blows out a breath, her eyes closing for a moment, "I definitely am." 

Dani flashes her a playful smile. "Good. ‘Cause I want you to.”

Even in the state they're both finding themselves in, Jamie makes sure to double check. "You sure?"

A simple yes would have been enough. A nod, too. Dani is certain of it. Instead he puts it this way:

“What color has my aura right now, Jamie?”

Jamie’s voice is barely a whisper. “It’s a … deep red? Mahogany, if you will. Sangria, maybe. Can’t tell, exactly.” She clears her throat. “It, uh, pulsates, kind of. More and more.”

Dani swallows thickly. “Is that good enough for an answer?”

It is, because then Jamie is fiddling around with her belt buckle, and Dani gives her a hand with the button and the zipper. 

Jamie gets up then, not caring at all that she stands on her sketches, and yanks her jeans down, steps out of them and watches Dani do the same. 

It isn't long and the rest of the clothes are gone too, forgotten on the floor.  

Jamie picks her up, biting softly into her skin as Dani holds onto her, and carries her back to the bed. With great skill, she climbs onto the mattress and lets Dani softly down on the bed sheets. 

Dani, with her legs wrapped around Jamie's waist, is a bit flustered. "God, that was sexy. Just when I thought you couldn’t be any sexier."

"It was? Sexy, I mean?"

"Yeah," Dani whispers, pulling Jamie closer by her neck. " Yeah . It's good that you're so strong, so we can do this against a--"

Dani cuts herself off with a tiny moan, when Jamie gently tugs on a nipple with fingers. She does it again and Dani completely forgets what she wanted to say. 

Jamie just grins. "Let's talk about that later."

She is kissing every inch of Dani's body then, from her earlobe, to the small freckle below her chest, to the arch of her hip bone.

Whispers things like you're so pretty and I can't get enough of you and I wanna make you come. It turns Dani on so much, she coats Jamie's leg in warm arousal as she hovers above her, leaning in for a kiss. 

She moves a little against Dani, smearing her wetness across her thigh, and Dani's clit throbs . "Would it be okay," Jamie asks, "if we touched each other at the same time? 'Cause I,” she looks down at her leg, biting her lip, “don't think I can wait."

"Then don't," Dani whispers into the kiss, spreading her legs for Jamie. She nods, and kisses Dani deeply one more time, before getting in position above her.

With her knees on either side of Dani's thigh, one hand next to her head and the other ready to touch Dani where she most craves her, Jamie never looked so good

"You enjoying the view?" comes Jamie's question as she watches Dani trail the lines of her body with her eyes. She's all soft skin, toned muscles and cute freckles. A dream come true. "'Cause I," Jamie can't hide how much she loves being looked at like this, "totally am."

"That's good," whispers Dani, her fingers travelling down Jamie's body; from her neck to the valley of her breasts, to the dip of her bellybutton. There's a place and time for more talking, but that's not now. "Really good."

Dani's fingers are inches away now and she finds Jamie's eyes. Jamie licks her lips. "Are you gonna…?" 

She waits a moment, stringing Jamie along. Dani brushes a loose curl out of her eyes, so she can see her better. 

Then: "Yeah."

Jamie's legs stutter a little at the idea of what's to come. "Right, okay."

Dani waits another moment, wanting to enjoy this little longer. But she can't hold back any more, is the thing. 

And so: 

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Jamie chokes, when Dani’s hand disappears between her legs. 

Dani's fingertips are cool like they always are in the winter months and Jamie is warm and soft like a day at the beach.

"Yeah," Dani breathes, her fingers smoothly sliding around,  "I'd say so too."

"I can touch you, too, yeah?" Jamie grinds out, her hips chasing the touch, "We said-- God , I wanna touch you, love.”

“So do it,” Dani requests, seeing the exact moment Jamie lets go of the last bit of self-control, “I’m all yours.”

When Jamie’s hand goes where Dani has hers, drawing soft, slow circles into her, Dani feels all the bottled tension leave her body. She can't keep from moaning in relief. "Oh My God."

“Does this feel good for you?” comes Jamie’s breathless question, once she’s given Dani time to get used to sensation. “Or do you need…” 

“Yeah, it’s ... good,” Dani whispers, her own silky fingers working between Jamie’s legs, “just a little more, please.”

Jamie goes a bit harder, a bit faster. “Like this?”

“A bit more.” 

Dani hums in pleasure when Jamie finds the perfect mix of pressure and pace. “Yes, yes , that’s it. That’s it."

"Yes?"

" Yes, " Dani's nails dig into Jamie's shoulder, when the pleasure builds at an intensity she doesn't know of herself. "Yeah, no, I'm not gonna last long..."

"I won't either," Jamie husks, "that's for sure."

"We better take this seriously, then," Dani's arousal is trickling down on the sheets; she couldn't care less. "Wanna tell me what you like, baby?"

“I'm sure you could do anything with your fingers and I'd like it."

"How about this , " comes Dani's question, sliding through Jamie's folds, easing two arousal-coated fingers inside, "is this good?"

She's so wet, so ready, Dani almost forgets to breathe.

"Oh, yes, fuck," Jamie rasps and Dani crooks her fingers upwards, finding, teasing her lover's g-spot. "Mhm, yep, that's, oh, jesus. "

With each curl of her fingers Dani's palm drives up Jamie's clit, stimulating her both ways. "Think you can come like this?"

Jamie's arm trembles a bit. It has nothing to do with her strength, that much is clear. Dani curls her fingers and withdraws them before thrusting in again. "Yeah, you?"

With Jamie above her like this, naked and beautiful; with Dani's fingers filling her up, and Jamie's walls clenching around them; with Jamie's fingers smoothly sliding around her clit, wanting to make her feel good,

how can she not?

Fuck, Dani feels the beginnings of her orgasm already. 

It's been minutes, minutes, and she's right there, on the edge. It’s almost embarrassing how quickly she got there. 

Then again: it’s a compliment in a way, isn’t it?

There's no sense in trying to hold back, either, Dani thinks, because all the tell-tale signs of a nearing climax are already there. 

The moans, high-pitched and needy. The rhythmic twitching of her cunt, crying for the stretch of Jamie's fingers. The violent shaking of her legs that won't seem to stop. 

It's completely out of Dani’s control.

All Dani wants now, all that she cares about is to fucking come on Jamie’s fingers. And if Jamie keeps going like this , it's only a matter of time. 

Or words, in this case. 

"Fuck," Jamie's voice is a strangle in her throat, "are you gonna come for me?” Jamie smiles smugly. “You are. You are . God, Dani, you're so beautiful when you're 'bout to come."

“Jamie--”

“Just when I thought you couldn’t be any more beautiful,” Jamie says under her breath, “I’m making you come and it’s, fuck , the most beautiful you’ve ever been.”

And that’s it. 

Dani comes, and it’s so intense, so strong, that for a moment she feels like she’s floating. Maybe, Dani thinks, maybe she is.

Because how else would you describe the sensation of coming because of the woman you like for the very first time? 

Jamie gently tugs Dani’s fingers from between her legs and lies down on top of her, covering her neck in delicate kisses, softly caressing her skin. 

“Welcome back,” she mumbles, when Dani’s eyelids flutter open. Dani, still in a hazy after-glow, takes a bit of time to remember where she is. 

Dani can’t help the smile playing on her lips. “Hi.”

“Feeling good?”

“Oh yeah,” she says, liking how Jamie feels on top of her. “You?”

“A pretty woman is lying in my bed with me,” Jamie teases, gripping Dani’s waist tighter as she rocks a little against Dani’s thigh. “She's naked and I have just made her come."

Dani giggles. "So that's a yes, then?"

"Yes," Jamie says with a smirk.

Feeling Jamie's legs tighten around her thigh as something warm and silky coats her skin, Dani puts one and one together. “You didn't come, though."

Jamie grins. “I had other things to do. Which would be you .” Her grin gets bigger. “So no, I didn't.”

Dani hums, softly kissing Jamie's lips. "Can I change that for you?"

"Who the hell knew you could be so cheeky?"

"That," Dani pokes Jamie's chest, fighting a smile, "doesn't answer my question."

"Yes," Jamie chuckles, kissing Dani back, "yes, you can.” 

She sits up then, straddling Dani’s lap. Jamie takes her hand, tugging it between her legs, and Dani bites her lip as she sticks two fingers up.

"Are you gonna...?"

Jamie flashes her a playful smile, and grinds her twitching clit against Dani's fingers, before reaching down to guide them inside. 

"Yeah."

Jamie throws her head back when she sinks down on them, taking them inside her perfectly, whispering something Dani can’t make out. 

Then Jamie begins to fuck herself on her fingers, her tits bouncing softly as she moves, and Dani can’t think of a time she’s ever been so turned on. 

Looking at her now in a way that could make Dani come, Jamie licks her lips and pushes deeper down onto Dani’s fingers, holding onto her shoulder for balance.

It’s slow at first, but never shy, and then Jamie’s thrusts are becoming quicker, shorter, and there’s no point in seeing it as anything else than it is. 

Jamie is using her fingers to get off, and so it's unbelievably sexy that Dani doesn't know if she makes it out alive.

But damn, what a way to go. 

Jamie slips a hand between her legs to rub her clit, and Dani gently pushes it away and puts it back on her shoulder. "Let me." 

Dani’s hand finds its way to Jamie's thigh, squeezing affectionately, before swirling with her thumb over her clit. “Fuck,” Jamie swears, her nails digging sharply into Dani's skin as she almost falls forward, unable to hold herself up.  

With a lip caught between her teeth and a lust for this woman that is almost frightening, Dani watches how Jamie, now more willing than ever, fucks herself on her fingers. 

She makes those tiny, desperate noises, everytime Dani strokes her like she's trying to keep quiet but can't, and it turns Dani so much, it almost feels like a sin. 

It’s not long and Jamie tips off the edge, her hand shooting up to cover her mouth at the very last moment. It does little to quieten Jamie’s needy moans, but God, is it hot.

When Jamie comes down from her high, Dani curls her fingers a last time, liking how Jamie’s cunt twitches because of it and slowly eases them out. 

She can’t deny herself a little taste and sucks her fingers into her mouth. Jamie wets her lips, as she takes Dani in. 

“You know,” she says, brushing a drop of arousal from Dani’s lips, “I think, I can let you in on the secret now.”

Dani tips her head to the side. “What secret?”

Jamie licks the arousal off her finger, smiling, “Remember when I told you about the words that have a good taste?”

“Yeah,” she says, smiling back, “why?”

Next thing Dani knows is Jamie’s head is between her legs, and she looks up, saying, “It’s time you’ll find out why I like the feeling of ‘cloud’ so much.”

 

*

The winter sun, shining through the bedroom window, gently wakes Dani up.

When she opens her eyes, she notices Jamie is no longer in bed with her. Telling from the cold duvet she already got up a little while ago. 

Dani sits up in the bed, seeing that Jamie picked up the sketches from the floor and stacked them on the desk, the pencil on top of it. Draped over the chair next to the door are Dani’s clothes.

On the nightstand there’s a note. 

I'm snow shovelling. Say hi to me from the window when you're up.

With her fingers Dani traces the words, smiling like a love-struck teenager, before folding it and storing it away in her phone case. 

She slips into Jamie's lumberjack shirt and walks over to the window. 

Jamie, in a beanie and a sweatshirt (no coat, but boots, thankfully) clears the driveway from the snow with a big shovel. It makes a scraping sound as Jamie pushes it across the pavement, scooping up the snow. 

Dani opens the window, resting her elbows on the sill. The snowstorm is long gone, but it’s still pretty cold. The snow sparkles from the rays of sunshine,and it’s a perfect day. 

Jamie rolls up her sleeves as she works, the muscles in her arms flexing as she loads snow onto the shovel, throwing it onto a huge pile beside her truck.

"Hey, you," Dani calls, waving when Jamie looks up. She beams as she spots Dani in the window. "Oh, you're awake."

"I am."

"That's good,” Jamie says, leaning onto the shovel. “Get dressed, have a bite to eat and get your beautiful ass out here. If any of you want to get home today, we need to free the driveway from the snow."

Dani licks her lips, checking Jamie out. "What if I don't want to? Go home?"

"Then you can stay,” Jamie answers, flashing Dani a wink. “But you'll still have to give me a hand or this,” she nods to the never-ending snow around her, “will take the whole day. And I really just want to get back into bed with you. So, will you come?"

Dani tilts her head to the side. “I don’t know. Will I?"

"Later? Yeah, most definitely,” Jamie says, picking up where she left off. “If you get out here and shovel snow with me, that is."

Dani sighs, barely fighting a grin. "I don't really have a choice, do I? There's no one who could do it for me?"

"No," Jamie says with a shake of her head. "And I don't want anyone else to do it with me, so, get down here or…” 

“Or what?”

Or I'll have to come get you.”

Dani hums, slowly opening the buttons of the shirt, revealing a strip of skin. "If I were you I wouldn't do that."

"Why?" Jamie turns to look at her, her lips slightly parting as Dani pushes another button through a hole.

"Because you wouldn't leave the room anymore,” Dani teases, standing there now in Jamie’s open shirt. “And then no one gets home today. So yeah, I’ll help you snow shovelling.”

Dani --”

“Do you need anything?” comes Dani’s question, as she slides the shirt over her shoulders smiling, “Tea? A snack? Some mittens? God, your fingers must be frozen by now.”

Jamie blinks, seemingly at a loss for words. 

“Are you so cold that you can’t even speak anymore? Well, then you better come up,” Dani leans forward on the ledge, smiling some more, “so I can … warm you up.”

Then, Jamie’s shovel is stuck in the snow, her boots by the front door, and she’s upstairs, kicking the door shut behind her. 

“Looks like snow shovelling can wait, huh,” Dani states, walking over to kiss her good-morning. Jamie smiles against her lips, and Dani might be a little in love.

“Just you wait,” Jamie whispers, taking off her sweatshirt, “two can play at this game.”

 

*