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(Author’s note: as so often, this one swirls around the categories a little. There is an element of the fantastical, but please don’t expect a fantasy in the sense of a full-on chains and orgies BDSM extravaganza. This is a tale of two people ‘most remarkable like you’, feeling their way towards a little spice. If you like to read about dungeons and racks, you will find it very tame; if you like to play a little at home, you just might find it strikes a chord or two.
My profound thanks, as always, to Lisa Jones for inspiration, advice and encouragement.)
“Tell Auntie Bev all about it.”
Anna was standing grumpily at the foot of the steps outside her office, wrapped in scarf and coat against the unseasonal April snow and carrying a heavy bag in each hand.
“Whatever it is that’s put you in such a pissy mood, sunshine.”
Bev took the larger bag and slung it easily over her shoulder. They began to walk towards the car park.
“Nothing to say.”
“Yes there is. What is it?”
“Just a pissy day, like you said; don’t imagine yours was any better. Had to go and see Jacqui Rhys.”
“Uh-huh. She try to sign you up again?”
“The posters just get up my nose, OK? It’s unprofessional …”
Bev attempted a noncommittal shrug under the weight of Anna’s bag. It didn’t matter, Anna was looking at the ground rather than her.
“… for fuck’s sake: the only person on that corridor who needs to ‘get over’ Jacqui Rhys being gay is Jacqui Rhys.”
“She’s just …”
Bev’s voice trailed off. She didn’t want this argument at any time, let alone tonight. As Anna had guessed, her own day had been fraught enough. And part of her agreed: a university music department at the beginning of the twenty-first century was as welcoming a venue in which to come out as there had ever been. There was something more than a little irritating about Jacqui’s smugness about her own courage. Then again, a university music department is hardly the place to find retiring introverts either. And on the third hand …
“… She’s just not ashamed of who she is.”
Anna stopped in her tracks, as if she had walked into a wall. She dropped her bag into a slushy puddle.
“And just what exactly the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
Bev sighed, perhaps a little too obviously. It was going to be one of those evenings. They were blocking the footpath in the middle of the five o’clock rush to the car park; across the road the bus stop queue was overflowing the pavement; it was snowing. Bev really wanted to get into a hot bath.
“It doesn’t mean any-“
Bev felt Anna’s hand at the back of her neck, as if to pull Bev’s mouth down to her own. Kissing in anger to prove a point was hardly Anna’s style. Bev’s shoulder tensed against it, but then Anna stopped with a sad, guilty look instead. Her voice sounded very small and vulnerable.
“Can we go home now please? I’m really tired.”
“Of course we can, sweetheart.”
They took a daytrip on Saturday, and did all the silly tourist things to cheer themselves up. Morning coffee in a nice tearoom; walking slowly round the cathedral as Bev enjoyed the architecture and Anna enjoyed Bev’s enjoyment; street market and feeding the ducks and lunch overlooking the river. Then they walked further along the path, past the moored boats and under the railway bridge until they were in the countryside, alone with each other and the curious cows staring at them from the opposite bank.
It was a beautiful afternoon, with sun warm on their faces and no trace remaining of Wednesday’s snowfall, but Anna’s mood refused to lift. She was down and tired and thoroughly fed up, and most of all she felt guilty.
“Anything I can do?”
Bev looked as kind as always. Anna did her very best to smile back.
“Sorry love, just feeling a bit blue this week.”
There is such a thing as love at first sight, Anna believed that even if she had never quite felt it, and there is sex that leads to love and thence to friendship. Then there is friendship that grows into something more, until eventually it feels a need to express itself physically as well as in all the other ways. Certainly Anna had felt no sudden revelation on the day, two and a half years before, when she had reluctantly slogged up the hill at the beginning of the academic year for her first meeting with the new faculty liaison librarian. She was predisposed to resent the new girl. She was almost a girl, after all — a good thirty years younger than the precise, obliging little man she replaced — probably with the idealistic light of ‘information science’ shining in her eyes as she tried to throw away all the books and conduct business online instead.
In fact she had turned out to be nothing of the sort, but a reserved and slightly gruff young woman with rimless spectacles and sensible hair. Their jobs meant that most weeks they saw each other more than once; they got bahis firmaları on together and in very little time discovered they shared a taste for the sort of historical fiction that serious academics are only supposed to read ironically. Beverley’s office was starkly businesslike: no personal photos or cuddly mascots, the only suggestion of an outside life was the current novel neatly stowed at the corner of her desk with its Burne-Jones bookmark poking out. Work turned to acquaintance turned to a genuine friendship over the course of the year. As Anna’s home life crashed into flames that spring she never spoke about any of it to Beverley, but the casual chats about anything else and the odd lunchtime drinks helped carry her through. She found the simple fact of Beverley’s presence reassuring and comforting.
Anna was out, although hardly given to flaunting her relationships; and Beverley was quite simply a mystery. She never spoke of lovers or children or even crushes on celebrities of either sex. Some of the signs seemed to be there, but then again they didn’t: Anna began to wonder if she was perhaps one of those slightly masculine asexual women who delight in boys’ hobbies. Not that it was a matter of practical interest to her, they were merely friends after all. When the summer vacation came they met for a drink at lunch, before Anna went to Portugal for a fortnight and Beverley travelled back to visit her parents. Without warning, Beverley put down her half-finished Guinness and walked out. Anna found her leaning on a pillar outside and staring wistfully across the square towards the newsagent.
“I could really do with a smoke.”
“What on earth’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Sorry, it’s entirely inappropriate. Sorry …”
“Beverley? Please, I’m supposed to be a –“
“Sometimes it’s all I can do not to kiss you, alright?”
“I don’t know what to say …”
“Don’t say anything. Look, I’m really sorry, I should have just … I’m sorry. Got to go.”
Anna spent two miserable weeks in the sun, constantly analysing and replaying her feelings; until she realised that she was a very long way indeed beyond ‘I’m very flattered, Beverley, but …’. Somehow or another it had crept up and taken her over without her even realising, and now the only thing that mattered was to get this bloody silly pointless holiday over and out of the way so she could once more see the only person she wanted to be with. She sent Beverley an email, inviting her round to eat on the first Monday evening they were both back. There had been music and wine and the best meal she could cook; and then there had been the hand hesitantly in hers, the quiet voice asking if they could go to bed now. As she turned out the light there had been ‘I really think you should start calling me Bev from now on’.
Bev’s tone pulled her back to the present.
“I said would you like to drag me round that antique place of yours?”
Anna looked at her lover, standing concerned on the path with her hands in the pockets of her jeans and her head a little to one side. Was there anything she could do? Of course there was everything and nothing, and Anna knew very well that Bev would anything at all. Whatever effort she could make to cheer Anna up would be given freely and unconditionally, that was simply how and who Bev was. Everything except the one thing that Anna really needed just now, because Anna could never ask her for it.
As they walked back into the city and Bev took her hand, Anna thought again how strange it was that Bev had taken Jacqui’s side the other day. They were so utterly unlike each other. But of course Bev had done no such thing, she was merely playing devil’s advocate. Simply being herself, laidback non-judgmental Bev, trying to see any situation from everyone’s point of view.
Anna could have easily spent a whole day wandering through the four-storey labyrinth of converted Victorian mill that housed the antiques market. Bev tagged along, flicking through the second-hand books and critically examining the Susie Cooper, but mainly just content to share Anna’s pleasure. Here, just as they had been in the cathedral, they were easy in each other’s company. Anna was looking at a stand of assorted statuettes when something caught her eye. It was a Deco flapper, teddy straps sliding down her arms and breasts peeking saucily out, both hands behind her back to grasp a riding crop. Anna found it absurd — the work of someone who didn’t have a clue — and very definitely not to her taste. Bev appeared at her shoulder, and she quickly looked at another piece. However much it didn’t appeal to Anna, she was sure Bev would like it less.
Anna had never been an enthusiastic fixture of the club scene. She went out at weekends, just occasionally when she needed the comfort of hiding in the crowd, but it had never been something she particularly enjoyed. She took Bev once or twice in the early days, she had a few friends and she was so hopelessly in love kaçak iddaa she wanted to introduce Bev to them all. It was a mistake: the atmosphere didn’t suit them as a couple; they bumped into a few university people, which embarrassed Bev. They met an old friend of Anna’s — an almost-lover with whom she had danced and flirted for a few years without anything coming of it. That in itself had not been a problem, but as the night and drinks wore on Helen became increasingly voluble about life with her Mistress. Bev sat quietly behind a tightly polite smile before making her excuses and leaving. She said nothing to Anna beyond a quiet shrug and a mumbled ‘not really my thing’, but it was clear enough that there was one subject on which she was a little less laidback and accepting than others.
Anna looked around to find Bev had wandered over to the other end of the stand and lifted down a bronze statuette. It was a running nude, athletic but unmistakably female, with a modest drapery wrapped ridiculously between its legs. Anna went over and looked at it more closely. It was rather lovely, although she would be quite lost to explain exactly why. The long hair and streaming ends of the drape gave it a genuine feel of movement. She was surprised, it wasn’t really Bev’s style any more than it was hers.
“You like that?”
“I do. What do you think?”
Anna couldn’t explain it to herself, but the idea of it in their home appealed to her.
“I think we should. How much?”
Anna sat back and looked out of the train window as she reflected on the day. It had, all things considered, been pretty good. She was certainly glad they had made the effort rather than sitting glumly at home. She felt the comforting presence of the best friend she had ever had beside her, felt the hand gently in hers under the table. She knew, with complete confidence, that Bev would show her love in any way she ever asked for.
Anything I can do to help?
Sometime I feel so tired of it all, my love. Sometimes I just want to kick back and have every single choice made for me; sometimes I want to be a silly naughty child with no responsibilities. Sometimes I would so like to be nothing more than your submissive, obedient whore.
You don’t choose to fall in love, or who to fall in love with. Sometimes it just happens out of the blue. You don’t meet in a club, or on a march, or after you’ve ticked the ‘I’m a kinky slut’ box on the dating agency form. Sometimes you realise you are deeply, permanently, swept off your feet by The One before you get round to having that uncomfortable chat and realising not everything is quite as compatible as it seemed.
Anna looked out of the window at the flat countryside whirling past, and squeezed Bev’s hand. She felt Bev squeezing back.
Anna woke with a start of disgust at herself. She took a deep breath before looking to her side. There was enough light through the thin curtains to make out Bev soundly asleep against her shoulder; she could hear that soft and infinitely cute snuffling almost-snore she knew so well, could feel breath on her neck. She could remember no other emotion in her life that came close to the intensity of her love for Bev.
But now she desperately needed to come. It had invaded her dreams, and thankfully it had dragged her sweatily awake before they carried her all the way and woke them both with her shattering spontaneous response. Now she was awake, and unable to get back to sleep, and simply needing. The irony of it all made her want to weep: Bev had taken her early to bed and spent a luxurious candlelit evening being soft and patient with her; Bev had been selfless and giving until her own tongue must have cramped beyond endurance and Anna’s frustration tipped over into actively painful. Then Bev had hushed her apologies and kissed away her sniffles, and given her loving arms to fall asleep in. None of that had worked, except when her mind had wandered to other thoughts and she almost came to them, but pulled herself back to the here and now in time. And dear sweet Bev had been understanding throughout, as she always was.
Anna thought back to other times: to Bev just as caring but more vigorous; to Bev’s thigh between hers and Bev’s body moving on top of her. Most of all she thought back to the feeling of Bev’s hands on her wrists, pushing them down against the mattress with all the power and weight of Bev above her …
… and on beyond that, to the things that had never happened between them but were so real in her imagination. It made her feel dirty and ashamed. Not of the desires themselves, but because Bev didn’t share them. Anna was far too worldly to be disgusted at anything other than her own selfishness. It was as if she had woken in the night desperate for a man inside her: a betrayal of Bev’s trust; infidelity in her own mind.
She was so bloody desperate for it. The need drew her hand guiltily downwards despite her self-loathing.
“What do you think kaçak bahis you’re doing?”
Bev hadn’t moved, her head was still on the pillow and her eyes closed.
“I’m … err … Nothing.”
Anna had never heard the tone before. It wasn’t anger or disappointment, or even that gruff voice Bev used on people before she got to know them. It was a flat, almost bored, monotone.
“… you were going to play with it, weren’t you?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what I –“
“Well go on then, don’t let me stop you.”
Bev pulled the duvet back over herself, exposing Anna, before reaching over to switch on her bedside lamp. The sudden flare of even that small bulb made Anna shrink against the white sheet. She felt utterly embarrassed, guilty at being discovered. Bev pulled herself up on one elbow and looked down at her. Anna reached for the corner of the duvet, but Bev slapped her hand away.
“Do what I say, Anna …”
Bev’s fingertips stroked for a few sensuous seconds across Anna’s breast, and then fixed on her nipple. Anna met her eyes; saw the coldness in them as she exerted the faintest promise of pressure.
“… I won’t be so gentle if I have to tell you a second time.”
Anna couldn’t help closing her eyes as the shock of it all tingled down through her body and settled in her groin. Oh please, yes. As she reached between her own legs, Bev let go of her nipple. Once more Bev slapped her hand down.
“But I think you should ask nicely, don’t you?”
“Please, Bev. Please may I touch myself.”
“Not like that. If I’m not good enough for you, I think you deserve a proper treat. Go and get your vibrator.”
Anna felt the fantasy running out of control as it crashed into their real world. Fantasies are fantastic, after all, not every one is something you want to play out for real. She’d written a book about that very subject for heaven’s sakes! She realised that part of her shame and reluctance was deliciously pretended, but as much of it was suddenly true. She couldn’t look at Bev. She found herself shaking her head.
Bev’s hand cupped her face, then slid round the back of her neck. Fingers caressing in her hair. She wanted to burrow into Bev’s shoulder and …
Bev pulled her hair firmly back and looked into her eyes.
“You can go and get your vibrator now … Or you can go and get your vibrator after I’ve slapped your face for you.”
Anna wanted Bev to turn the light back out and cuddle her; wanted it to stop; wanted to pretend she couldn’t feel herself throbbing desperately for more of the same.
It wasn’t even her vibrator. It wasn’t some selfish secret she hid in her bedside drawer for solitary self-indulgence. It was theirs; kept with a few other things in that box at the bottom of the wardrobe and bought out once in a while to tease and play together. It wasn’t what Bev made it sound like at all. She got out of bed and walked across the room, feeling Bev’s gaze on her bare back.
“Bring me your dressing gown first …”
For the first time in eighteen months the easy comfort in being naked around each other deserted her. She rooted about in the wardrobe and retrieved vibrator and lubricant.
“… I don’t think we need that.”
“Leave it there. Unless you want to come over here and prove to me that you’re not wet enough already.”
She felt small and unclean. What had she thought yesterday on the train? A silly naughty child? Caught out being dirty with herself, and now it was time to be punished and entirely humiliated. She wished she could return to the bed by walking backwards; she didn’t want Bev to stare so disapprovingly at her breasts and groin. She felt thoroughly ashamed to be watched so calmly as she walked around the room with a sex toy in her hand. She sat back down on the edge of the bed and didn’t have the first clue what to do with herself.
“On your back, knees out …”
She did as she was told, feeling as if she had no choice in the matter. Bev reached out to the toy in Anna’s hand and switched it on full. Anna choked on her shock as it buzzed up to her elbow. Making love with Bev was sex, there was no doubting that, but it was a soft and romantic thing: kissing and stroking; tongue and lips and the gentlest of vibrations lightly on wrists and areolae and back of the neck; slow sharing along the winding route to intense orgasm in each other’s arms. It was not, had never been, feeling like she had a masonry drill in her hand.
The command was clear in Bev’s eyes, but she obviously had no intention of giving Anna the easy excuse of verbal orders. Anna laid the buzzing length along herself. The first touch arched her spine and drew a deep grunt from her throat: it was so gloriously, brutally different to anything she was used to.
“Beg for me.”
“Please. Please, Bev … Please …”
She didn’t even know exactly what she was begging for. She was simply following the orders; surrendering entirely to the sensation between her legs and the voice beside her head.
“Open your mouth. Grunt and beg and gape for me while I watch you doing yourself, be my nasty private porn star …”
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