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It wasn’t part of the plan to tell Tabatha about Gerri, but really, there hadn’t been a plan to begin with. After everything imploding at Waystar and the building dirge of dread ringing in his ears constantly (to the tune of his Dad’s erraticism), she wanted to bring him out, get his mind off things and let him know they were still friends. He was nearly catatonic, browbeaten, which was to be expected. And yet...in spite of all that, still suspiciously smiley, which led her to poke and prod for an explanation. He managed to keep his secret tucked away through dinner, but with the lights and the music thumping around their VIP booth, and enough booze to jostle the truth out of him, he admitted that the story about Gerri’s bathroom at Tern Haven was true, and that there were a few other stories she hadn’t heard.

“I’m just...my mind is fucking blown right now, Roman. It all makes sense. God, that’s why you’re so extra and weird around her. ”

“You’re not...mad? I mean, we were pretty clear about not being exclusive. And this doesn’t have anything to do with how I...feel about you.” Or couldn’t make himself feel. Tabitha was a good friend, and would make the perfect, corporate-approved partner for business shit, if it came down to that for him. He didn’t want his hang-ups leading to any amount of pain for her.

“God no, Rome! This is the best news. You know what they say: you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the whole world and someone would still rather fuck a bossy MILF in pantyhose...or something like that.” Her sly grin told him that she was genuinely pleased; she wasn’t the type to lie to protect his ego, which could drive him truly insane sometimes, but also made her an invaluable friend to keep around.

“You don’t think it’s...I dont know, gross?”

“Are you kidding?! Of course not. She totally has that ‘mean english professor caught me cheating and bends me over her desk to punish me’ vibe. I get it, Rome. I would go there for sure.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I definitely got to skip the English classes. But I wouldn’t have if I’d known that was an option.”

“She must be an incredible lay. Shit, the ones in skirt suits and pearls always are.”

His mirth downgraded to an awkward giggle as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean, we actually haven’t…”

“Seriously?! Why not?!?”

“Ask her, I don’t know!”

I fucking know, Roman. God, sweetie, you can’t actually be so insecure that you manifest your paranoid inadequacies into reality.”

“Are you seriously talking about manifesting right now?”

“I know you have issues. And I’m glad she seems to be helping in some way. But you have to actually move forward, Roman. That’s the difference between us. I would actually do something about it, not jerk off later so the hot, mean lady can’t see my little-”

“All right, fine, I get it.”

“Sooner or later, she’ll want to be pleased, no way around it, and you’ll have to show up.”

“Right...so that’s how this all ends, yet again. With a whimper and absolutely no bangs.”

“No, Roman,” she intones with the sage clarity and force someone only ten sheets to the wind can conjure. “If there is one thing I can share with you, as a friend, it’s my ability to make a woman come.”

“Tabs, we tried this…”

“Not me, you idiot. I would be the one demonstrating.”

“Okay, sure. Which one of your little friends would actually go for it and not tattle to the Post?”

“She’s more your friend than mine.”

“...Oh, fuck off, she would never go for it. She’ll probably send a body man after me for telling you at all.”

“She’s a smart woman, Roman. I think she’ll understand how I can benefit her. Directly.

It’s impossible for him to imagine the classic. dick-in-vag sex between the two of them without coming out of it with an utterly scrambled brain. In the fantasy, it’s always some Cary-Grant-motherfucker fantasy version of him, and even that version would never live past one minute of Gerri’s scorn (when she’s the one fucking him, he can picture perfectly, but that image burns too brightly to stare at for too long). But this, maybe this, he could handle.

“She fucking terrifies me, Tabs.”

“But that’s what you like about her, isn’t it?”

He can’t summon an answer with words, but his eyes try their hardest to say of course, that’s my problem.

“It can’t hurt to ask.”

“Oh, it definitely can.”

“Still,” she smiles, “just because something scares you doesn’t mean you need to run away.”

***

 

The both of them are dead sober when they show up to Gerri’s townhouse the next weekend. He thinks that was probably his first mistake, the night still rife with opportunity for plenty more.

“Roman, relax. She already said yes, remember? And it’s not like you have to worry about any performance.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He’s more jittery than usual. “But, still. I don’t understand how this is really happening”

Tabatha furrowed her brow. “She did say yes, right? This isn’t an ambush?”

“Of course not." It’s the truth: the usual spontaneity of their encounters wouldn’t have ended well under these conditions. “And I can’t believe I’m too nervous to even make a good bush joke right now.”

“Just remember: the worst thing that can happen is that she is absolutely disgusted and never wants to see your face again.”

He texts her instead of ringing the doorbell, half-afraid to leave fingerprints at the crime scene.

She opens the door, wearing loose sweats and a crisp, burgundy Yale sweatshirt; it doesn’t look incredibly worn, he thinks, must’ve been a freebie from a daughter’s parents weekend. He knows (is lucky enough to know) that her usual loungewear is much more glamorous, that she must have dug through to the back of her closet to find the frumpiest possible option. Everything she does is on purpose, he thinks.

He tries to imagine what she could possibly do that wouldn’t turn him on, and even his expansive, disturbed mind comes up blank.

“So glad you dressed up for the occasion, Ger.”

She scoffs, turning away from the door but leaving it open, clearly expecting them to follow. Which they both do, eagerly.

“Well, I called your bluff, and now you morons are here. What now?” There’s anger in her voice, not the sexy kind he’s come to crave.

“I know that you two have some sort of...mean-slash-horny dynamic going on, and I totally respect it, but I’m gonna need some confirmation that you actually want us here before I’m party to anything.”

Her ‘sure.’ to Roman via text was curt, no elaboration on either side. He’s also keenly aware that, no matter the circumstances, Gerri Kellman would never admit to not being sure of what she wants.

“I understand the benefits to me personally, but the more I think about it, I don’t think he really deserves a front-row seat to a live girl-on-girl fantasy, do you?”

“It’s sweet that you think he fantasizes about anything as basic as girl-on girl.” Roman lets out a squeak of protest, to which Tabitha replies, “It’s okay, Rome. If anybody asks, you’re just a normal, red-blooded American pervert.”

“That’s the scheme isn’t it? Gerri snaps her focus back. “You get dinner, he gets a show? I knew you’d have the balls to show up, but him...I had to say yes, just to see if he would.”

“There’s no scheme, Gerri: you’re the one he comes to for business advice, I’m the one he comes to for, well...come advice, I guess.” Gerri grimaces, thoughts of how her life choices could have possibly led to these foul, bisexual millennials in her living room flashing before her eyes.

“I think we should be clear on the terms here,” Tabatha continues. “Correct me if I’m wrong, Rome, but....he’s not interested in this being a cuck situation. At least not at the moment. Unless that’s...what you’re interested in?”

She remains stoic, claiming her power by not even justifying the question with an answer.

“He wants me to teach him. How to please you. And sure, that involves him watching. But Gerri,” she moves closer, trying to convey some sense of warmth he knew Gerri wouldn’t take to or fall for, “I promise you, woman to woman, this will be a bland and efficient corporate training for him.”

“And what will it be for you, exactly?”

“Me? Well, just the love of the game, I suppose, the game being eating a beautiful woman’s pussy.”

“How selfless.”

“Now that we’re all on the same page, I’d say we get started. Roman, your first and most underrated step: clean hands. Gerri, bathroom?”

“Down the hall, on the left.” Tabitha’s gazelle legs carry her through Gerri’s living area quite quickly.

“Little does she know, no one in Waystar’s hands are ever really clean…” He does that uncomfortable, fidgety thing with his shoulders, his body disallowing him from making full eye contact with her.

“Roman,” she whispers conspiratorially, even though Tabatha is clear down the hallway behind a closed door. “This entire situation is precarious enough, do you think it’s a good idea to bring her into it?”

“If that’s what you’re worried about....she’s still under the NDA she signed when we were seeing each other. And there’s no bad blood, certainly not half-a-million dollars worth.”

That clearly doesn’t provide the degree of security she was hoping for.

“Gerri, she’s my friend. She knows I’m trying to...improve myself.” He stops short of saying for you. “She’s one of the only people in this town, this fucking hemisphere, that wants to see me happy. And, I mean, she wants to fuck you, duh."

This is what would make you happy?! Not, I don’t know, getting your dick put through my pasta sheeter?”

He sighs. “Gerri, why did you-”

“That’s done,” Tabatha cuts them off with her return, slowly dragging her jacket sleeves down her long, toned arms. “Now, Ms. Kellman, aren’t you a little warm in that sweater?” She strides forward, grasping for Gerri’s waist, but the other woman bats her hands away.

“No, no. What happened to boring and efficient?”

“I don’t know we can show him anything useful if I can’t even...get inside, Gerri.”

“I have the warm-up part taken care of.” Roman could see them exchange looks, speaking that secret language between women, the one that would make his brain melt if he ever tried to really understand.

“Well, you can’t blame a girl for trying.”

“Can you...distract him, please? If I have to deal with him staring like this I’ll kick him out before we even get started.”

Tabatha steps directly in front of him, only able to see around her torso if he cranes his neck in either direction. In the sliver or periphery, he can see Gerri folding her pants neatly, leaving them on the end table next to her couch.

“Roman, if you are going to be privileged enough to take in the beauty of a woman, your expectations should be realistic. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t find a porn star pussy. No actual woman looks like that.”

“That’s a bit presumptuous,” he hears Gerri interject, still just out of view. “I could be plastied from here to midtown for all you know.”

“You don’t seem like the kind of woman who would waste money to fix something that isn’t broken.”

“You don’t have to try so hard, my pants are already off.”

When Tabitha moves out of his way, he can see that Gerri’s naked from the waist down, waiting casually on her sofa. He might think it an objectively ridiculous image if it was anyone else, but anything Gerri does can snap him into earnest consideration, despite the circumstances. He hadn’t noticed until this very moment that she must have laid out a blanket on the couch in preparation for what was to take place; if she really had thought they were bluffing, her forethought would have alleged otherwise.

“You’re not going to learn much from over there, unless you brought a magnifying glass.” Tabatha hums from the floor, long limbs curled into an effortlessly elegant pile.

He drags the armchair closer to where both of these gorgeous, terrifying women are perched, displaying not an ounce of grace and almost tripping over a rug. One set of eyes tell him relax, everything will be okay, while another say if you make this even weirder, no one will ever find your body; only one made his dick even harder.

“Everyone’s clit is different.” The vibe is a little bit like dirty Barney & Friends, but he’d be lying if he claimed an ability to take on anything more advanced. “Do you remember my clit, Roman?”

“Yes!” he shouts, finally happy to know the answer to a question on this fucked-up quiz show, even though he’d shoved most of their attempted encounters far into the back of his shame vault. “Small, tight, kind of like a pale coffee bean, except for coffee beans aren’t actually-”

“See,” Tabitha cuts him off, mercifully. “Gerri’s is bigger than mine, but her lips are shorter”

“Do you think that’s because of the height difference, or-”

“Rome. Focus.

The problem is that if he focuses too much on what’s in front of him, he will implode; his dick, sure, but also maybe his brain and entire existential concept of the universe.

“It appears Gerri wanted to rob us of the opportunity to see what gets her worked up.” She feigns a pout,

“Some overpriced supplements and half a bottle of red did the trick just fine. Didn’t want to waste your very valuable time.” Gerri’s face is still terse and humorless, which Roman knows is par for their course. Tabithat knows it too, but how much is for show and how much is genuine displeasure remains Gerri’s personal secret.

Tabitha stage-whispers from below her, “If you don’t want him to come all over that nice chair, you might want to be a little nicer to me.”

“Why don’t you get started, hmm? So we have time on our side in the race against my ruined furniture.”

Tabatha’s starts to massage Gerri’s clit with the pad of her thumb, rotating in slow circles. If it weren’t for Gerri’s arched brow, she might be able to plausibly deny even realizing there was a tall, blonde woman between her legs.

“I know clits can be…mysterious, and scary, but it’s very similar to a cock in principle, just smaller and more concentrated. And not as messy.” He was, even this early on, too dialed-in to make a joke about his expertise in the field of small cocks.

“Now, going at everything all at once might seem like the right strategy, since it’s all so conveniently located.” Tabatha leisurely drags her thumb down through Gerri’s slit, opening her to the cool air. “But you want to take your time, create some build up, savor each part.” While her fingers circle the entrance, Gerri seems to be listening just as intently, but there are many decades of practice pretending to absorb shit you already know behind that gaze
.
After (what Roman considers) long minutes of teasing, the tip of Tabatha’s index finger finally slips inside. “Most men don’t realize this, but hardly any women can come from penetration alone. The clitoris and the g-spot are in this...kind of...symbiotic relationship.” Gerri rolls her eyes at the unnecessarily elaborate vocabulary. “You can finger blast all you want and get absolutely nowhere. And, obviously, a tongue and a cunt are a match made in heaven, but the added pressure of your fingers can really drive it home.

Before her mouth can make its descent, Roman interjects, “So, in theory, I’m supposed to focus on the individual components while simultaneously multi-tasking?”

It’s the first time tonight that he’s seen Tabatha begin to lose patience with his nonsense; he forgets that she’s just as eager for a taste. Gerri, for her part, does seem mildly amused by her frustration with his constant interruptions.

“It’ll make more sense if I just show you.” She pauses one more time before diving in. “I know it seems complicated, but I believe in you, Roman.”

“You really shouldn’t.”

Gerri’s face gives nothing away once Tabitha’s tongue finally makes contact with her clit, one finger still working inside gently.

“So how do you know if she’s...enjoying it?” Given that she doesn’t plan on saying a word to either of us, he thinks to himself.

“There are all sorts of different bodily signs. But since I started, Gerri here has gotten just a bit tighter around me. And wetter.” She extracts her finger, showing him how it glistens with her ‘wine’ and ‘overpriced supplements.’

“She tastes really fucking good, Rome. You want to try?”

“Like he fucking deserves that.” Both of them snap to attention when she speaks, any flirty repartee Tabitha had attempted to create nuked by her authority. “Keep going. Don’t speak to him. If he wants to learn anything, he’ll pay attention.”

Tabatha goes back to work quickly, the look of enthralled lust in her eyes so utterly familiar to Roman. The fact that Gerri can so easily cast her spell on others makes him feel a little less special, but also a little more sane. That he (as far as he knows) gets the brunt of her powers these days is something to tuck in the back of his mind and address when he isn’t witnessing Manhattan’s greatest one-night-only engagement.

He can’t feel Gerri, but he spends enough time staring at her to understand the language of her body, what the smallest changes might mean. Even though her face remains nonplussed, the tendons in her neck are tight; he can tell the difference from the amount of time he spends wishing desperately to taste that particular swath of skin in his mouth. She must be clenching her teeth in the back, stifling moans that the rest of them don’t deserve to hear.

At some point, while he was distracted, eyes darting absolutely everywhere on her body besides where he’s supposed to be looking, Tabatha must have inserted a second finger. She’s moving them with more purpose now, but still with a gentler hand than he realized was necessary. Tabatha’s fingers are long and elegant, just like the rest of her, and perfect for shit like this. And the sheer fact that she deigns to remain his friend means she has the patience necessary for sainthood and bringing other women to satisfying, languid orgasm.

Gerri is still stoic, but the cracks have started to show in her facade. Her wardrobe choice was perhaps an early mistake, as beads of sweat are now visible beyond its bulky neckline; he can also see them on her temples, the hair there coming to the slightest curl.

Tabatha’s fingers still suddenly, and Gerri’s back goes faintly rigid. When he sees her nails dig into the arm of the couch, he can’t help but imagine what the pain might feel like if those same fingers dug into his scalp.

Only when Tabitha begins to extract her mouth and hands does he realize his gross misunderstanding of the grand finale: there were no wails or curses or absurd expulsions of bodily fluids. Anything that could have made it easier for him to interpret, know the right moves to make, was decidedly absent.

“You’re done? How do you know?! She’s still practically a nun in vow-of-silence mode.”

“When a woman climaxes, you can feel her clenching and spasming around you. It’s easy to fake, especially when your partner is more concerned with their own pleasure. But when you feel it for real...you’ll be glad you made the effort.” She turns back to look at Gerri, lewdly licking both of her fingers. It gets her an eye-roll in response.

“Laying it on a little thick, aren’t you?”

“Only because you did, sweetheart.

Tabatha gets up from the floor, smoothing out her skirt while again blocking Gerri, who puts her pants back on at lightning speed. He wonders if they used their woman-to-woman telepathy to negotiate maneuvers that would keep her from his full view.

“It should be easy enough to guess, Roman, that the last step is the same as the first.” This time, she knows where the bathroom is, and doesn’t stop to ask while she glances between the woman she just brought to orgasm and the man who watched, smug smile on her face all the while.

“Was that...good?” he asks, his ever-present confusion at her motivations on display once again. “Because it looks like you, I don’t know, just filed a fucking expense report.”

“If you want to find someone who will moan and pant just to make you feel like a man, I’m sure Tabitha would make a great wing woman.”

“It’s not that, Gerri.” He sounds simultaneously frustrated and resigned. “I still don’t know why you said yes to this. Why you would make yourself...vulnerable like this if you don’t even give a shit.”

She considers for a moment before replying. “Has it ever occurred to you that I have a vested interest in you being good at this?”

“How do you mean?”

“If I ever, and I mean big fucking if, let you get anywhere near me, and you flopped around like a dead fish, I wouldn’t be able to look at you anymore.”

Blood pulses between his ears, drowning out the sound of Tabitha running the sink down the hall. It’s all he can think about. She wants me to be good. With her. For her.

“I don’t keep it a secret that I think you have potential, Roman. Some of it comes naturally. And some of it...decidedly does not.” He might be a little hurt if he weren’t still riding the high of her belief in him. Tabitha’s footsteps can be heard returning to the living room, and Gerri continues to speak, letting her have more insight into their true feelings than she’s ever gotten from seeing them both undressed, albeit separately.

“Your ego is still a fucking nuisance, but it’s not so big that you’re afraid to defer to a woman who knows what she’s doing.” It makes Tabitha beam. “The one thing you have on your siblings is that you aren’t set in stone, not yet. You’re willing to learn, maybe even listen from time to time. Don’t lose that.”

Responding in earnest is too much for him in the moment, so he says, “I thought it was my chiseled jawline,” and he sees her lips hold back the smallest smile.

“Come on, Rome, we’ve bothered the woman enough for one night.”

“We? I was on my best behavior. You’re the one who couldn’t keep your tongue in your mouth.”

“She’s right, Roman, I would really love it you two both got the fuck out of here.” He’s never been more content to be banished from her presence.

“You know, Gerri,” Tabatha coos, “we can’t expect him to learn everything from just one lesson can we? I’d be happy to come back as many times as he needs to really...take it all in.

Before Gerri can reply, she adds, “No need to schedule anything right now. You just reach out whenever you’re ready. Have a great evening, Gerri.” While they pad down her front steps, Roman just looks back with a sheepish smile.

Roman thinks that he and Tabitha might just deserve each other, in a weird, platonic and non-traditional way. What Gerri deserves, he’s not sure of, other than the fact that it’s more than who he is right now. But after tonight, there’s hope that he can stick around long enough to find out.