A few weeks later and they were both back in Serena’s leafy, detached, suburban home. Bernie had come to the end of her current tour and had accompanied Serena home. Serena had been given extended leave from her role due to the extent of her injuries and she planned to make the most of it. She’d ended up in hospital, in South Sudan, for two weeks before she was deemed fit enough to be discharged and it was a further week before she was fit enough to travel. The length of time it had taken for her to start to feel like herself, had surprised Serena and had given her a new perspective on what it was like to be a patient. Still, Bernie had been there every step of the way and that had improved the entire ordeal.
Once home, it became clear that Serena’s wounds weren’t only physical. The nightmares had started as soon as she’d left the hospital. Each time she woke to the sound of a bomb blast. Bernie had taken to staying with her each night. Her presence seemingly the only way Serena could calm down enough to sleep. So intent on looking after Serena, Bernie hadn’t brought up their feelings for one another again although it had been playing at the back of her mind. Once it seemed that Serena was mentally in a good place for that conversation then they would have it, not before.
Having agreed to go back to counselling, once home, Serena had kept her word and gone a couple of days after their return. Time was a good teacher and Serena knew that, however the prospect made her feel, that it was the right thing to do. That didn’t stop her from asking Bernie to stay with her. The house was too big and empty for her to want to be on her own, and Serena couldn’t deny herself the comfort of having Bernie near. The feel of her hair, the warmth of her body, and her unique scent were enough to ward off any nightmare, at least for a while.
A few days later, they had got into a routine of sorts, very domestic in how they interacted with each other. The night was still and the stars shone brightly from the cloudless sky above. Serena liked to sleep with the curtains open now. The night sky was a soothing blanket from the horrors of reality. The two women slept, bathed in the gentle light that spread across the room like a slow moving stream.
It became clear that Serena was getting lost again in the darkness of her memories. Her body tensed and she groaned, agitated by what was playing out again in her mind. The sound woke Bernie and she quickly realised what was happening. Watching Serena, her heart broke at the pain and distress she saw playing out over the other woman’s face. She was about to call out to Serena, to wake her, when Serena suddenly woke with a gasp. Eyes flying open, she quickly pushed herself up as her body fought to readjust and remember. Bernie followed her to a sitting position and stayed close. Pushing the bedding off of Serena, Bernie tried to help the other feel less constricted, knowing that Serena’s nightmares involved being restrained by the rubble that had buried her in the treatment room.
Covering her face with her hands, Serena took deep breaths as she began to come down from the adrenaline spike that the nightmare had caused. Shaking slightly, she wiped the light sheen of perspiration from her brow before her frame slumped forward – elbows leaning on her thighs. Bernie was there immediately, long arms wrapping around Serena and holding her. Nuzzling her grey hair, Bernie rubbed soft circles into Serena’s back as they sat in silence, neither acknowledging nor ignoring what had happened.
Minutes felt like an eternity, but eventually Serena moved her head to face Bernie with a tired smile. Bernie guided them both to lie back down as they moved to face each other in the bed. Their intimacy in these moments was born out of their connection and obvious love for one another. It might, for now, be unvoiced but it was clearly there.
The night was so quiet that neither wanted to be the first to disturb it. Reaching out, Serena tangled her hand in Bernie’s hair as her eyes misted over with emotion that the blonde couldn’t read. So much so that she was surprised when Serena leaned over to press a kiss to her lips.
“Serena …” Bernie said sadly, knowing the other’s penchant for unhealthy coping mechanisms in times of emotional distress. Still, the pull to do more than just hold Serena was great, and the conflict and doubt shone heavily in Bernie’s eyes.
Pulling back just enough to see Bernie’s eyes shining in the starlight, Serena gave her a reassuring smile. It was undeniable that Serena wanted something to help her ignore the painful memories but this was more than that. This was about bonding, and love, and commitment, through everything that life could throw at them.
“I love you,” were the only words of explanation that Serena could give, the rest was up to Bernie.
Always one to show her feelings through her actions rather than words, Bernie lunged towards Serena. The force of the lunge pushed Serena onto her back and Bernie ended up settled half on top of the other woman. Their lips met in a heated mix of passion and love. Both of Serena’s hands ended up threaded through Bernie’s hair as a low groan resonated from Serena’s throat. Years may have passed but, in this moment, it felt like no time at all.
Spreading her legs a little, Serena allowed a gap for Bernie’s leg to drop into the space she made. Their hips rolled upwards at almost the same time, eliciting a moan from one woman and a gasp from the other as they pressed against the apex of each other’s thighs. The noises they made were swallowed up in their kisses which neither seemed to want to stop.
Serena nipped at Bernie’s bottom lip as she felt the other move to settle more directly on top of her. A hand drifted down to the hem of Serena’s pyjama top before Bernie’s fingers started to dance soft patterns against Serena’s stomach.
Opening her mouth, Serena pressed forward with her tongue to kiss Bernie more thoroughly before she felt the heat of the woman pull away. Feeling bereft, Serena moaned at the lack of contact and opened her eyes to look imploringly at Bernie.
“Are you sure? I need to know,” Bernie asked, needing Serena’s clear consent before she would continue.
“More than I’ve ever been,” Serena replied. “I want you, Bernie. Now. Here.”
As if to emphasise her point, Serena’s hands ran down Bernie’s back and dipped underneath the waistband of the boxer shorts that Bernie was wearing. Staring with darkened eyes up at the blonde, Serena spread her hands over Bernie’s behind before squeezing the other woman’s buttocks and pulling her to grind against Serena’s thigh. That caused a needy, almost desperate, prolonged moan to escape from Bernie, her mouth hanging open. Nodding her understanding, Bernie settled back down against Serena as she pushed back against the woman’s hands, wanting more than anything to feel Serena’s touch on her body.
Laying kisses and nips to Serena’s jawline, Bernie continued her exploration of the woman’s stomach before finally working her way up to brush against Serena’s breast. The pyjama top resisted Bernie’s attempts at travelling any further up Serena’s body. With a small huff of frustration, Bernie withdrew her hand in order to start unbuttoning Serena’s top. A chuckle escaped from Serena as she watched Bernie’s attempt at undressing her.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say someone was in a hurry,” Serena teased, twirling a strand of blonde hair between her fingers. Her tongue flicked out to brush against her bottom lip, feeling where Bernie’s lips had been not that long ago.
“I’ve spent five years wanting to do this with you again,” Bernie said, her voice low with desire. “Five years with just my memories and imagination.” As she finished the sentence the last button on Serena’s top popped undone and Bernie quickly pushed the two halves off of Serena’s body. Her pale skin called out to Bernie in the moonlight and she couldn’t help but lean down to press a kiss to Serena’s sternum.
“Reality is so much better,” Bernie managed to say against Serena’s skin before her lips were wrapping around an already puckered nipple. Arching up towards Bernie, Serena groaned, her voice jarring against the quiet of the night.
“So much better,” Serena repeated in complete agreement. Her hands had slipped out from Bernie’s boxer shorts when the other woman and slipped further down her body and now she was pulling Bernie’s t-shirt up so that her fingers could access the smooth expanse of Bernie’s back.
Feeling Serena pulling at her top, Bernie pulled back momentarily to hastily remove the t-shirt. Looking down at Serena, Bernie smiled, feeling lighter than she had done in years. Serena’s hands snaked up Bernie’s torso to cup the blonde’s breasts as she too smiled gloriously back up at Bernie.
Pushing her chest against Serena’s hands, Bernie was soon back down and kissing Serena. Torso against torso. Skin against skin. Bernie’s fingers ran up Serena’s sides as their breasts pressed together in their heated union. Serena’s finger nails were once again raking up and down Bernie’s back as they moaned their combined approval against each other’s lips.
Soon, Bernie was once again making her way down Serena’s body and Serena didn’t try to stop her. The throbbing, hot need, pooling between her legs had her squirming at every press of Bernie’s lips and every tug of her teeth. Smothering every inch of Serena in kisses, Bernie made sure to give the other woman’s breasts special attention. Tongue running up and over one nipple and then the other, Bernie revelled in the noises she could wring out of Serena through such a simple action. Serena’s fingers once again in blonde hair, Bernie teased as she sucked and nipped at the woman’s chest, only releasing her once she felt Serena start to pull almost painfully on her hair. That was the sign Bernie needed to know it was time to continue her adventure.
Pulling back, and giving herself time to calm a little, Bernie flashed a grin at Serena before tugging at the other woman’s pyjama bottoms. Serena didn’t need telling twice and she lifted her hips in order to aid Bernie with the removal of her last piece of clothing. Once naked, Serena lay back against the bed not at all embarrassed by her own nudity. It wasn’t even because Bernie had seen it all before. It just felt like the most natural thing in the world: to be there, naked, with Bernie.
Deciding it would be better to continue her own undressing now, Bernie quickly removed her boxer shorts before settling between Serena’s legs. Her eyes fixed on the curls beginning to glisten with Serena’s desire, Bernie ran her hands up the other woman’s legs – trying to decide what she wanted to do first. Noticing Bernie’s indecision, Serena reached out for Bernie and pulled her so that they were face to face again.
“I want to be able to see your face,” Serena whispered against Bernie’s lips before kissing her lover softly.
Bracing herself on one elbow, Bernie swallowed before nodding. Soft lips grazed soft lips as Bernie’s knuckles dragged up the inside of Serena’s thigh until she reached her goal. Both women shuddered at the first touch of fingertips to wet, hot, folds. Reacquainting herself, intimately, with Serena, Bernie rubbed their noses together as she looked down at the other woman. Love shone in her eyes and her touches spoke of care. Bernie wanted to take care of Serena and that was what she would do.
Keeping her eyes locked on her lover, watching for any moment of discomfort or that the other woman wanted to stop, Bernie pressed first one finger and then two into Serena’s entrance. With a steady, sure movement, Bernie felt the silky heat of Serena surround her and watched as the woman’s head fell back against the pillows. Delighting in the stretch, Serena’s face was a mix of relief and happiness. It had been too long for both of them.
“Okay?” Bernie checked, squeezing her own thighs together in order to provide herself with some relief from the sight Serena was affording her.
“More,” Serena almost begged, needing Bernie to keep going. Staring up at Bernie with wide eyes, Serena gripped one of Bernie’s shoulders tightly as she urged the other on.
Capturing Serena’s lips with her own, Bernie’s fingers set to work, creating a steady rhythm that Serena’s hips could match. Almost every breath brought forth a moan or whimper from Serena as she rolled her hips down against her lover. Feeling pleasure build deep within her, Serena reached to grasp Bernie’s hair and pull her head back. More than anything this was what Serena needed. Their connection. Their love. It heightened all the sensations that Bernie was producing within her.
“More,” Serena repeated, the urgency clear in her gaze as her body continued its climb to ecstasy.
A shudder ran down Bernie’s spine at the order she was given. Not wanting to tease Serena when she was so far gone down the rabbit hole of pleasure, Bernie added her thumb to Serena’s clit as her fingers curled within the woman’s passage. Serena’s world shrank until it was just Bernie’s eyes watching her and Bernie’s hand between her legs. Panting and moaning in the most deliciously desperate manner, Serena felt the coil within her tighten immeasurably before it released suddenly. White hot pleasure ripped through her and wracked her body. Luckily the windows were closed so the neighbours wouldn’t hear Serena’s ecstasy as her muscles contracted around Bernie’s fingers.
Watching what was, in Bernie’s opinion, one of the best sights in the world, the blonde groaned at the intimacy as she could see how blown Serena’s pupils were and how flushed her cheeks were even in the semi-darkness of the night. Keeping her hand moving, Bernie eased Serena through her orgasm until she was sure any more would have the woman flinching away, too sensitive to carry on.
Slumping against the bed, Serena finally let her eyes slip closed as she relished in how relaxed every part of her body felt. How loved she felt. A smile grew on her face as she let herself catch her breath and felt Bernie carefully remove her hand.
“You haven’t lost your touch,” Serena chuckled as she eventually reopened her eyes to stare adoringly at the blonde.
“You have that effect on me,” Bernie countered, smiling down at Serena before pressing a kiss to her lover’s lips. She had tried to keep it calm and gentle, knowing Serena’s current state of mind, but Bernie couldn’t help the hints of her own desire that communicated an urgency to Serena.
“Let me return the favour,” Serena murmured against Bernie’s lips, her hand, having let go of the blonde’s shoulder, travelled down the lithe body above her.
Bernie didn’t want to take the time to move and so stayed hovering over Serena as the anticipation grew in her stomach. Spreading her legs, Bernie rested her forehead against her lover’s and felt utterly safe in Serena’s arms for what was to come.
Pulling her own legs up towards her body, Serena cradled Bernie between her knees as her fingers gently probed between the other woman’s legs. Knowing the extent of Bernie’s need, Serena didn’t waste time. Gathering some of the wetness she found, she pressed gently against Bernie’s entrance, eyes looking to the woman for encouragement.
“Serena, please,” Bernie moaned as she pressed back against the finger and groaned when she felt the welcome intrusion start to stretch her.
Sliding two fingers into Bernie’s heat, Serena began to pump them in and out, continually monitoring Bernie for clues of what the woman needed. Cupping her lover as her fingers moved, she pressed up against the blonde’s labia and wasn’t surprised to find the blonde grind herself against the palm of her hand.
Panting, Bernie, already tightly wound from watching Serena fall apart, knew she wouldn’t last long. Nuzzling against Serena’s cheek, she couldn’t keep her head up as her body rocked back and forth, intense desire undoing some of her everyday reserve.
Feeling Serena curl her fingers within her was more than Bernie could take. A long stream of: “I love you, I love you, God, I love you,” fell from Bernie’s lips as she climaxed. Clenching around Serena, Bernie’s thighs trembled with the exertion as she rode out the sweet waves of pleasure that coursed through her body.
Caressing Bernie’s hair, Serena eventually withdrew her own hand before Bernie’s legs finally gave out and she collapsed, as carefully as she could, on top of Serena. Her head resting against Serena’s neck, Bernie felt her lover’s legs and arms wrap around her, cocooning her in warmth and comfort.
Feeling elated, Serena pressed a series of kisses to Bernie’s hair as she enjoyed the simplicity of holding the woman she loved.
“Sorry,” Bernie murmured, causing a frown to appear on Serena’s face.
“That wasn’t the way I wanted to say I love you for the first time again,” Bernie explained, pulling her head back to give Serena an apologetic glance.
“Oh, don’t be silly,” Serena shook her head and gave Bernie’s torso a squeeze. “It seemed like perfect timing to me.”
“I was just so overwhelmed …” Bernie started before falling silent at Serena’s insistent shushing.
“At your most vulnerable; most honest; most open, you said you loved me. What more could I want?”
At that, Bernie smiled and nuzzled back against Serena’s neck.
“Perhaps this time, we can make it work,” Bernie said a few minutes later, her voice muffled against Serena’s skin. “I want this to work.”
“I certainly want to try,” Serena said, unable to feel anything other than happiness in this moment.
“Then we will try,” Bernie stated, and in her mind the matter was settled.
It was settled too, in Serena’s mind. As sleep started to pull them back into its welcoming embrace, only one thought appeared in Serena’s mind: Perhaps, this time, love would be enough.