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The morning after the night that never was

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She awakes on the dot of five, as with every other morning. A hangover from the army; Bernie doubts she’ll ever lose that one. But it’s not like every other morning. A hand, soft, warm, is curled around her thigh; deep, even breaths tickle the base of her neck; a foot is intertwined between her legs.

Bernie closes her sleep filled eyes, slow, luxuriating in the sensation. Serena. Skin against skin. A smile spreads across her face, as she begins to recall.

***

She’d hurried back from the ward; phoned in an order to the Lebanese restaurant down the road; her regular for sitting in as well as take out. Opened a bottle – Shiraz, naturally; she may have taken to keeping a bottle or three in stock on the off chance – to air. Cast a hasty glance around and prioritised the areas of mess to be tidied. First the breakfast bar – she didn’t have a kitchen table, hadn’t seen the need. It was covered in debris; unopened post, an empty bottle, carry out wrappings, mugs from the preceding mornings… The sofa, with its rumpled thick knit throw; less on it, just a couple of newspaper rags, a free tv magazine she’d glanced through in moderate disgust. She straightened the rug, plumped the cushions. The bed…was that being more than a little presumptuous? Bernie remembered back to their kiss earlier. No. She glanced at the clock. 7.30. Christ, she’d be here any moment. Grabbed the spare sheets from the press in the small apartment’s hall as she half ran through. It was done and changed with a cat’s lick and a promise - she’d barely drawn breath before the intercom rang. Damn, and she hadn’t had time to change, either.

*

“Hello?”

“It’s me. And our dinner, at a guess.” Serena chuckles.

“Busted! Ok, just push the door. I’m on my way up.” Grabbing her wallet, Bernie snibs her apartment door and takes the stairs two at a time, meeting Serena at the top – and the delivery lad, well laden. “Ah, thanks. Um. It’s straight downstairs, door’s open.” She looks at Serena, all eyes and dimples, and Bernie’s nerves melt away. She grins. “Don’t worry, it’s not a dungeon. The block is built on two levels. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Ok.” Serena speaks with the same breathy excitement, the same voice that makes Bernie’s stomach twist and her heart skip.

Bernie turns to the – now impatient looking – delivery lad at the complex door. “Sorry ‘bout that. Here, keep the change.” She hands over more than enough, and relieves him of the bags. “Thanks.”

“Anytime.” He smiles and winks. “Have a good meal, even if she does know you didn’t cook it.”

“My friends know I’m a lousy cook.” She replies, before turning away.

Downstairs. She flies, or floats, or something. Serena is standing in the open living area, looking, dare she think it, quite impressed.

“Nice place… Tidier than I expected.”

“Yeah, well…”

“…That would be why you’re out of breath and haven’t changed?”

Bernie saves the blushes and laughs outright. “Not that you can talk.”

“Well I just came straight from work. Or, rather, Marks’.” Serena pulls a couple of bottles from a carrier bag Bernie hadn’t noticed. “I thought these wouldn’t go amiss.” She glances over at the cooker. “Although I see you’re expecting me. I also…well, I didn’t know what I should bring…”

“…you didn’t need to bring anything!”

Serena rolls her eyes. “…So I got you this.” She produces a ceramic pot with a selection of succulents. “I couldn’t imagine you being all that good at keeping pot plants, somehow, but these take next to no looking after. Thrive on neglect, pretty much.”

“They’re lovely.” Bernie takes in the unusual arrangement, before setting it down on the coffee table. Fit right in. And you’re not far off. Green fingered I am not.” She laughs. “You can’t really see the patio at the moment, but suffice to say the only things that have survived my tenure so far are tough as old boots.”

Serena casts an eye to the floor to ceiling windows making up nearly two sides of the room. “It’s a lovely flat. Very minimal. Not dungeon-like at all.”

“Fantastic view over the river during the day. Not much room, but I’m used to small. It does.” She falters, realising this is nervous waffle. “Anyway, dinner! It’s Lebanese, I hope that suits?”

“Hot and tasty is music to my ears.” Serena’s eyes meet hers, glowing. “Can I help you, err…dish up?” She moves forwards, hands open to take a parcel from the bag. “Plates?”

“Oh, yeah…Um…” Bernie swivels round, to reach into the appropriate cupboard.

“Let me guess, you normally just eat out of the box?”

Bernie can hear the jest in Serena’s tone. Smiles back. “Saves on washing up.”

Serena has already glanced around and found the cutlery drawer, selected a few pieces, and, with plates in front of her, starts dishing out. “This smells gorgeous.”

“Oh, it is.”

They make small-talk with comfortable soft ease, over the meal. No big topics; as if by unspoken agreement staying away from the undecided issue of the secondment. After Bernie has served up the Baklava, leaking honey and dripping nuts everywhere, she feels a soft touch against her ankle. Serena is rubbing her leg, slow, rhythmic, with her own. Looking up, into her dark eyes, Bernie spies an undeniable ‘come hither’ gleam, as Serena slowly licks a dribble of honey escaping from her lips.

She’d picked the dessert on purpose, but now Bernie wonders just who is seducing whom.

Serena quirks her eyebrow, her chin shifts just a little; an invitation, daring comment to be made. Sips her wine, saying nothing.

“Er… Finished? Shall…shall we…?” Bernie points distractedly at the sofa.

“Let’s.” Serena moves with a grace that takes her breath away, and Bernie stands behind her for a moment, stock still, just watching the sway of her hips, the way the red shirt grazes them as she walks. Barefoot. She must have kicked her shoes off under the breakfast bar.

“You…are something else.” It comes out almost as a sigh.

Serena coils herself down on to the sofa, feet, then knees, leaning her side in so she can face Bernie. “It’s all bravado, I assure you. I’ve never been more nervous in my life.”

“That makes two of us then.” Bernie draws her knees up to her chin, looks over them at this glorious woman who she has pictured in so many mental scenarios over the last number of weeks; but none of them as rewarding as the experience they are now sharing. They watch each other in silence for a few moments, no sound but their breathing, and, Bernie fancies, her own heartbeat.

Serena takes an unsteady gulp of wine. “This is ridiculous. Look at us, a pair of mid life professional, single women, highly qualified and bloody good at what we do. And here we are, unable to even initiate a bit of canoodling. I feel like I’ve regressed thirty odd years.” She grins over at Bernie, disarming in her honesty.

“Aha…well, y’know, kissing in work might be the new sneaking out of class…I mean, not…not that...but…” In some part of her brain, Bernie is aware that she’s stammering, half trying to make a joke, half trying to lessen the distance between them with words. It’s dream-like when Serena leans in and gently prises her fingers away from the wine glass, takes it, and places it on the coffee table along with her own.

“it’s like you said. Before. I kissed you because I wanted to. I still want to. Do you?”

“God yes!” Bernie’s legs drop down as the words fall out, more gasp than speech.

Serena inclines towards her, reaching for Bernie’s shoulder. “Good.” She whispers, her lips barely half an inch from Bernie’s own. They’re soft but firm, when their two mouths meet, searching, open, tentative then vigorous. Bernie can hear Serena’s moans, and realises in a daze just how much the sound turns her on. Without even noticing, she leans in, until she can reach her hands round, to run up and down Serena’s spine, feeling her ribs reach out, her diaphragm heave and drop. Somewhere in the periphery of her awareness, Bernie can feel Serena’s fingers grasping her head, tousling her hair. She’s barely aware of falling backwards, of pulling Serena with her, liplocked, until, holding her steady, Serena pulls away just enough to ask,

“Is this…ok?”

“A little more than ok, I’d say, wouldn’t you?” Bernie is beyond grinning, but manages to push the pair of them upright again. “I…may I…?” She grasps at the tails of Serena’s shirt, touch finishing the question for her.

“If I may too?” But Serena has already anticipated Bernie’s heady acceptance, and her hands – smooth, warm, electric - have woven their way underneath her shirt, the tautness of its fabric limiting how far they can travel.

No such restriction on Bernie, though, and she relishes the new sensation; the delicate skin of Serena’s waist, the fine hairs on the small of her back, the fierce intake of her breath as Bernie strokes a finger under the waistband of her trousers.

The sharp ‘pop’ of a couple of her own shirt’s buttons just about enter her consciousness.

“Sorry.” Breathes Serena, for the second time that day. “I…”

Bernie blocks the apology with her mouth, tongue dipping in, exploring, stealing whatever words might be. This time, it is she who pushes Serena backwards; she may have let her win the arm wrestle, but this is a wholly different match. Her fingers are frenetic, trying to touch every part of the skin available to her; wanting, at the same time, to be held so tightly, so close… Skin to skin, yet to do that would mean putting space between them, and Bernie isn’t sure…shit. She forces their lips apart, heart sinking.

“Serena…” It’s not even a whisper. Something more guttural, more primal. “Serena…If I don’t stop now, I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”

The expression in those brown eyes, so close to her own, is almost tangible. “Do you want to?”

“No! Do…do you?”

“Not in the slightest.” Serena stares at her, pupils dilated, breath coming in heavy gasps.

“Perhaps we should… I mean, the sofa isn’t that comfy, and neither of us are…”

Serena pushes her back upright. “Gladly. Lead the way…”

Licking her lips, Bernie curls upwards, holding out her hands to Serena. “Come on then.” She pulls her up, but isn’t prepared for Serena staggering into her, almost landing them both on the coffee table.

“S..sorry…I…” Serena looks up at her, awed. “I…You...”

“Hmm?” Bernie holds her tight.

“I’m…struggling to get my legs to work.” Serena’s lips curve up, as she leans in to Bernie’s ear. “And it’s all your fault Ms Wolfe.” She cants her hips in, pressing heat against heat, catching Bernie unawares.

It takes her a moment to regain her breath. “Shall I carry you to bed?” She winks, before slipping an arm around Serena, and guiding her steps until she feels steadier. It only takes nine steps to the bedroom door, but in those nine steps, Bernie is pushed against the wall twice, and returns the favour once; with the result that it takes the better part of five minutes for them to actually reach it. She’d left the side lamp on earlier, and doesn’t bother with the main.

Bernie guides Serena towards the bed, stopping a foot short. She pauses for a moment, the corners of Serena’s blouse held between her fingertips. Hands shake.

“I…”

Serena silences her with a kiss, before taking Bernie’s fingers in her own to guide them. Once she seems satisfied, she leaves hold to tackle Bernie’s shirt instead. The poppers give way with satisfying vigour; in short moments Serena brushes the top off Bernie’s shoulders, pausing to stare, longing dripping from her eyes.

Hands trembling, Bernie undoes the last button of Serena’s blouse and pushes it back. With a soft whisper it falls back along her arms, and, as she drops first one arm and then the other, to the floor. Her eyes dip down to Serena’s breasts, enclosed in – unsurprising, she thinks – leopard print bra.

“I should have known.” Bernie glances down at her own utilitarian effort with disparagement. But Serena laughs, the sound bubbling up as she pulls Bernie to her, skin meeting warm, soft skin; hands running freely up and down her back, until they reach the clasp.

Bernie sighs, as she dips away from Serena’s lips, to kiss her jaw, her ear lobe, her neck… down, then, along her collarbone, and dipping further to the full mounds of her breasts, nose tickled by wisps of lace. She can feel, rather than hear, Serena’s moans in response to her teeth and tongue. Fumbling, Bernie unhooks the bra, and pulls herself back to let the straps of both her own and Serena’s fall to the floor.

In that moment, it all seems too real. Bernie stares at Serena, her eyes alight, skin glowing, nerves apparent by the bite of her lips, the rise of her chest… and oh, those breasts. She longs to touch them, properly, fully – but her arms have dropped, and she doesn’t know if she dares.

“Mm…may I?” Serena raises a shaky hand to Bernie’s clavicle, fingers straining towards her.

Please.” She almost growls the answer, tense and longing for – and it comes, a feather touch, tremulous but not uncertain; delicate and, like all of Serena, warm. Bernie has to resist the urge to grasp those fingers and push them down; instead she pulls Serena’s free hand up, guiding her to her breasts, before pulling their bodies closer. She smoothes her palms over Serena’s back, stretching her grasp to its utmost, raking her skin, unable to stop. One finger curves beneath the waistband of her trousers, and Bernie has already drawn them down an inch before she stops to look Serena in the eyes. Her unspoken question is answered with a crease and a sparkle; a jerky nod – and a reciprocal move towards her own jeans.

Serena’s trousers are easier moved, and once they lie crumpled on the floor, Bernie lends a hand to wriggling out of her own. Of course, Serena would be wearing matching knickers; her own short briefs look careless by comparison – but Bernie catches Serena grinning at the sight of them.

“You’re like a model!”

“Ha! Not likely.” Their laughter breaks her nerves.

Serena leans in, her lips almost touching Bernie’s ear. “Ms Wolfe, if you don’t put me to bed, my legs are going to give way.”

Her voice is shaking, partly, Bernie thinks, from the hilarity; but she can hear the need of desire as well. She cups Serena’s triceps, and guides her backwards, till they reach the edge of the bed. Serena swings her legs up with glorious supple motion, her thighs mesmerising.

“Well…?” She raises an eyebrow, quirks her lips. “What next? You do…have the edge in this department…”

Bernie clambers on to the bed, straddling Serena. “Careful, that sounded almost like a joke.” She strokes a finger along Serena’s sternum, watching the rapid rise and fall, echoing her own breath. Licks her lips, and dips down to kiss; first Serena’s mouth, then her earlobe – causing her to whimper – then her chest; tongue swirling and licking. She glances up, through her fringe, to see Serena, mouth open, eyes wild.

“D..don’t stop!”

“Oh, we’re only just beginning…” Bernie chuckles, before taking Serena’s left nipple in her mouth, sucking, then grazing her teeth along deliciously tender skin. Her hands have a life of their own, splayed over the softness of Serena’s belly, reaching up to the edge of her diaphragm. Tremors flicker underneath her fingers, and she traces them, stroking pressure points and relishing the little cries her touch provokes. Her previous experiences with Alex had all been so muffled, out of necessity… but nothing about Serena Campbell is quiet.

Bernie feels her hand grasped, and for a brief moment wonders if she’s gone too far, done something wrong…? But no. Serena pushes her fingers further down, till they curve around her pelvic bone, only the delicate fabric of those leopard print knickers a barrier between her fingers, and the damp heat she can feel there.

“Please!” She sounds needy, but not yet begging… and Bernie knows she can tease a bit further. Keeping her hand where it is, she rolls the pair of them sideways, and stretches up till their eyes are level once more. Slowly, she starts to stroke one finger over the pants, feeling the texture of her pubic hair in-between skin and silk.

Rhythmic, regular, Bernie keeps at it, watching Serena all the time, dark eyes shining, excitement having been replaced with sheer desire. She’s so focused, it is almost a shock when Serena raises a shaking hand to her hip, and starts to push – not entirely effectively – at her briefs.

“I want you.”

It’s a hoarse whisper, a tone Bernie has never heard Serena use before. She hopes this is only the first of many times.

Now.

“Are you giving me orders?”

Serena twinkles. “Will you obey me if I am?”

“Now you are joking.” Bernie smirks. “But…” She lifts her hip an inch to ease Serena’s work.

“You can take the Major out of the army, but not the army out…”

Bernie stops her with a kiss, hands grasping, pulling their bodies closer; breasts rub, tummies warm against each other; draws back only to gain breath. She wriggles till the pants are low enough to kick off.

“It seems to me you’re rather over-dressed…” Bernie twines a finger around the half inch of material covering Serena’s iliac crest.

“I’m sure you can assist.”

Something about the way Serena cocks her eyebrow causes a surge of longing, starting in Bernie’s abdomen, but moving swiftly lower, making her squirm with urgency. She shoves the knickers down with frantic brusqueness. Serena’s still in the process of pushing them off her ankles when Bernie slips into her.

She feels like silk velvet.

Serena whimpers, her lips touching Bernie’s. “May…I?”

Bernie pushes herself into Serena’s waiting, shaking hand. She may have said she’s terrified, but if she is, she’s covering it well. Bernie wants to carve the sensation of Serena’s finger stroking her clit for the first time into her mind with a scalpel. It is exquisite torture. So delicate, so focused.

“Y…you…”

“What? Is it…am I…ok?”

“Bloody hell woman, are you sure there wasn’t a girl in Stre…Stev… Wherever it was?”

Serena laughs, a gurgle from within. “Stepney. We should…visit…ohhhh…”

She trails off, Bernie reckons, due to the fingers that she just curled inside her. She reaches her other arm round, to grasp Serena’s buttocks, causing another moan, and her grin to deepen.

“Tease.”

“Oh, another order! Aye aye.” Bernie extracts her hand and starts to stroke Serena’s inside thigh instead, luxuriating in the shivers her touch causes.

“N…not…what…I…meant…” She can barely get the words out. “And you…know it!”

Bernie smirks, and considerately returns her fingers, this time edging inside Serena from behind, whilst keeping up a steady rub on her clit with the nearer hand. The mewling cry that results is almost enough to make her come then and there. Against her chest, Bernie can feel Serena’s heartbeat; against her neck, where Serena has buried her face; her breath, coming in fast, pulsating gasps. She’s not far off now, and Bernie softens her touch to feather light, all the while using two fingers to slip in and out, rhythmic and regular.

Nothing can prepare her, though, for Serena’s orgasm.

It makes her rather glad the bedroom is on the far side of the flat from the neighbours’, and that the apartment above is empty.

And her stamina.

Serena relishes coming; every sound, every frantic tremor. She leaves Bernie breathless, before rocking into her, gasping, gripping her shoulder and thigh like they might disappear. The curve of her lips widens against Bernie’s own. The way she buries her nose into Bernie’s neck, her grin tracing the lines of her clavicle; her fingers dig so deep that Bernie can feel her clipped nails. She should have known that Serena Campbell would be as extravagant in sex as she is in anything she finds pleasurable.

The moments in between are hard to gauge. Bernie finds herself panting, in sheer, heated enjoyment of Serena’s response. But, there comes a quiet pause, when Serena lifts her head to meet Bernie’s lips.

“My turn.” A small amount of pressure is all it takes for her to persuade Bernie on to her back.

If she remembers nothing else about this night, Bernie thinks, the one image that will stay with her, is Serena, holding herself steady over her, grinning like the Cheshire cat with the proverbial bowl of cream.

Her hand reaches back down along Bernie’s pelvis, fingers tangling in the hair that they find, tantalising in the way she holds back, just above her, the ghost of a touch. Bernie looks up to see Serena watching, reading every flicker that she can feel pass across her face.

“I…thought I wouldn’t know what to do… But you’re a good teacher, Ms Wolfe.” She dips her mouth to Bernie’s breast, trails her tongue languorously in ever smaller circles.

“N..nothing without…a…keen student…Oh!” Bernie loses concentration as Serena takes her whole nipple into her mouth and sucks. All the while, one hand rests millimetres above her cunt, the other stroking down the side of her ribcage. When Bernie is almost delirious, Serena moves to the other breast, and begins again.

“Please…” But the words won’t coherently leave Bernie’s mouth.

Serena lifts her head just enough to gaze up at her with glowing, wicked eyes. “Please what?”

Rather that attempt to form her request, Bernie wordlessly pushes her pelvis upwards, sighing with relief to feel Serena’s fingers against her once more.

“Oh, you’ve had enough with teasing, have you? But what if I haven’t?” Serena pulls back a little more, grinning broadly when Bernie whimpers in desperation. She edges up again, till her lips are at Bernie’s ear. “Sauce for the goose, and all of that.”

But she relents soon enough, sensing Bernie’s tremors giving way to frenetic writhing, and; oh, bliss, slips those fingers back inside, stroking and rubbing at the tender nub of her clit. Wordlessly, Bernie comes into her waiting hand, hips thrusting up, craving as much contact as possible; fierce, hard, grounding. She can feel Serena’s palm, slick against her; can see stars as she looks up into the face above her, through tousled hair.

Serena lifts the hand that had been holding her, and pushes Bernie’s fringe out of her eyes. Her own crease with exuberant joy, as she watches Bernie come back into herself.

“You…are so beautiful.” Serena looks almost stunned, like the thought had crossed her mind before, but hadn’t seemed real until now.

Bernie scoffs, when she can get her vocal chords to work again. “Nothing compared to you. Though…how…I’m going to face you over the operating table, when I know what else those hands can do…”

“I’m sure you’ll be the height of professionalism.” Serena’s eyebrow quirks and her lips shake. “After all…I don’t know about you…” But the thought is never finished, as she suppresses a yawn by the expedient method of dropping a kiss to Bernie’s lips.

“Charming! Now she indicates that I’m boring.”

Serena gurgles. “N..not…booooring…” This time, the yawn cannot be stopped. “Just… capable of wearing a woman out after a long day.”

“You’ll sleep well then.” Bernie can hear the smugness in her voice.

“I certainly will.” Serena murmurs, and makes good the words by rolling herself sideways onto the bed, and curling into Bernie. No time at all seems to go by before her breathing slows, and her hold softens.

***

Bernie glances over her shoulder, at the mop of hair, all spiked up and every which way. Serena’s lips smile in repose, a content look; Bernie's never seen her look so peaceful. With supreme care, she extricates herself from Serena’s grasp and stands up. At the foot of the bed, she spots Serena’s blouse; smirks, and pads cat-like across to it. It’s the work of moments to slip it on, breathing in the scent of her, all Dior and warmth. Bernie hugs the material to herself and grins as she tiptoes out into the hall.