By R.F. Marazas

© 2000 R.F. Marazas

She would take the puddle jumpers from Buffalo into Setonsville airport and I wasn't surprised that the other passengers and whoever was meeting them never recognized her. She was uncanny at disguises, simple but effective. The famous blonde hair was sloppy-casual as if she hadn't combed it for days. The famous green eyes were hidden behind tinted glasses. She wore no makeup and dressed in loose fitting clothes. Nothing about her drew attention; she was just another traveler on her way to somewhere. Her carryon overnight bag had everything she needed for whatever time she had.

It was Friday morning, six long aching months since the last time. I wanted to touch her, hold her fragile looking body, but instead took her bag and managed a smile and said, "How long?"

"Sunday afternoon." She grinned, triumphant, as if she had accomplished the impossible. She probably had. I noticed that even her voice was different from that on camera sound that had helped make her a rising star on network news. Did she practice this bland monotone, or was it her real voice, the one I'd forgotten?

We left the terminal unnoticed. In the car she leaned back against the headrest, inattentive to the passing scenery, still tense but winding down. I gave her time. We had almost three whole days, enough for small talk and serious talk and everything else. My hands trembled on the steering wheel. I was not winding down.

Driving through Setonsville and into Axton I played back the panic since her call last night. Marie would run the bookstore today and tomorrow, the cottage was cleaned and stock, my house was locked up tight. I'd had little sleep after the last minute rush to rearrange my life; lying there alone in the cottage, wanting her, had blunted my exhaustion.

In Axton I glanced at every car hoping not to see the familiar Mercedes. How would I explain to her aunt what her niece was doing here, incognito, with me? I glanced at Beth, her lovely face turned toward the window and the slanted morning sun. I didn't have to explain anything, it was Beth's problem, and she seemed unconcerned. She had more to lose than I.

I speeded up as we passed the college, eyes on the road, no eye contact with other drivers. Just past the bent sign announcing that we were leaving Axton, come back again, I slowed and right turned onto the narrow rutted road that wound up into the hills above the town. Everything was spring blooming, overhanging trees already starting to droop with their new weight. Soon the leafy branches would brush the roofs of cars.

It was a mile to the first fork, then a right turn for another mile up the steady incline, then right again onto a dirt track. A quarter mile of slow careful driving brought us out of the woods into the open where the cabin squatted warm looking in the sun. I swung around the circular, pebbled driveway and into the shadowed carport attached to the cabin's side wall.

Beth opened her eyes, stretched, got out. I unlocked the side door. She stood just inside the doorway looking across the large center room with the picture window. I'd seen her stand just this way other times, not nearly often enough.

"I love this place, you know that? It was a great investment, I'm glad you talked me into it."

I dropped her overnight bag with a loud thud, startling us both. She turned, moved back to me, reaching out to brush back a wisp of my short dark hair.

"What's this I see, a little gray creeping in? Is it possible?"

My throat was tight. "I'll be forty in a few months."

She took off her glasses and tilted her head to study me mock critically. Looking deep into those green eyes I felt the familiar drowning sensation.

"I think you're going to look...fantastic!" She leaned into me, brushing her lips against mine, leaving warmth. I wanted more but she ducked down to pick up her bag. "I need a hot bath."

"Do you want some wine?"

"Bring it in," she said over her shoulder.

I went to the window and stared out across the sloping hill and down to the edge of the lake and across it to the campus and saw nothing, mesmerized by the welcome sounds of her in the bedroom. Six months. Before that, three months. Once it had been a whole year. And this time, after Sunday night, how long before she stepped through the side door and told me how much she loved this place?

Savor what we have. Hadn't I whispered that to her the first time, after she looked up at me in the dawn, astounded and delighted by us? Savor what we have, and we'll always have it.

Suddenly angry, I stomped into the tiny kitchen and got the wine, noisy about it to remind her I was here. I poured and took a large swallow, feeling the warm rush, then refilled my glass. At the bathroom door I knocked lightly.

Soft giggling. "Oh come in here, you idiot!"

A cloud of steam clung to me. There was a fine sheen of sweat on her face. Her pale breasts rose just above the water, the fawn colored nipples hardened. I bent to hand her the wine and she took it and grasped my wrist and pressed her lips to it. She put my hand on her breast. The nipple stabbed my palm and I spilled some wine.

"I'm horny," she whispered.

I pulled back, trembling. "After Washington? All that power and energy, it can't be too hard to find..."

"Don't believe all you hear about Washington." She lay back and sipped the wine. "The men channel all that energy into getting all that power."

"And the women?" I hated the shrewish sound of my voice.

She yawned. "The women are very careful, not a bad idea considering the times we live in. Anyway, who has time, I get the distinct impression I'm working twenty hours a day."

"It's hot in here." Suddenly I felt the sting of tears and then I was outside leaning against the door hearing her muffled voice saying something about being out soon.

What was wrong with me? I knew she'd probably been with men, had known it since the beginning and accepted it. Hadn't I? Other women? I wasn't sure I wanted to know that.

In the long dark tunnel of memories I heard the shower start, and stop, and still I sat on the couch staring into my wine glass.


The empty glass slid from my fingers onto the couch. She was naked, damp hair slicked back, the ends brushing the tops of her shoulders. She stood there in the bedroom doorway, legs parted, the blonde thatch nestled between her strong thighs. Her breasts rose and fell with her steady breathing, the nipples still hard.

I got up and rushed across the room to her, stripping off my blouse.

I watched her as she slept on her back in the weakening afternoon sunlight. Her hair was dry, and tangled. The studio people would have a hard time in her dressing room on Monday. Her breasts flattened high on her chest and her legs were splayed, one knee bent. At her smooth flanks her hands curled into loose fists. She lay exactly where she had drifted off to sleep after climax. Her little cries and gasps still echoed in my head.

What a contrast between the self-assured, smartly dressed, lovely woman whose face appeared five nights a week on television screens across the country, and this vulnerable looking, childlike nymph next to me. A celebrity in my bed! How many men had fantasized about her as they watched at six and eleven? How many women? What would their reactions be seeing her right now, sated with the pleasure her lover had given her? Knowing that she was mine today and tonight and tomorrow and tomorrow night and part of the next day...

I bent, kissed one nipple, gently sucked. It stiffened in my mouth. My fingers slid down her stomach, into her thatch, over the puffy lips. She stirred with a little shudder and sighed.

I left the bed and slipped on jeans and a tee-shirt with the local radio station's logo on it. She'd be hungry but instead of starting dinner I went outside.

It would be cool tonight; a steady breeze from the north was already chasing the day's warmth. I rubbed my arms, stepping barefoot onto the grass. I walked to the edge of the sloping property. Two sailboats idly sliced through the lake's smooth surface. If the people on the boats saw me, I was only a distant figure high on the hill. Most of the cottages were like this, isolated, tucked into the dense tree cover, hidden from the rutted roads that seemed to loop endlessly through the hills. Hideaways.

I sensed Beth behind me and began to turn but her arms snaked around me holding me still. She kissed my neck and her breasts pressed into my back. I shivered.

"Didn't you sleep?"

"Too keyed up, I guess."

"As usual, you exhausted me." She flicked her tongue at the skin behind my ear. "But you didn't..."

"It's alright."

"No. No, it's not alright." She popped the button on my jeans and slid her fingers inside.

"Not here!" My legs quivered.

"Right here, right now." She found me and I sagged back against her naked body. She moved her fingers, pressing, stroking, bringing me up on my toes. I'd never been as vocal as Beth but this time I cried out. My voice drifted out over the lake on the breeze.

We were hungry but in no hurry. I cooked and she helped. More wine but I barely touched mine. A headache sat on the edge of my temples, not demanding yet, but warning.

She wore an old flannel shirt which barely reached the tops of her thighs, the top two buttons undone so that I glimpsed her breasts whenever she moved. She seemed to be pushing the small talk, the gossip, the catching up. How was the book store, how was this Marie working out, did I miss teaching. Whatever happened to this one or that one we both knew. I was secretly grateful for her focus on my life rather than hers, or so I thought.

"So, anyone special I should know about?"

I frowned. "What was that you said about being careful?"

"Careful, yeah. Still, it must be hard, I mean..."

Suddenly I was shrill. "I have my damned vibrator!" I slammed a plate down on the counter, shattering it. My god, didn't she know by now that I didn't need to be careful because I didn't want anyone but her?

"Hey!" She embraced me and I stiffened but she just held me tighter. "Do you know what it means to me to get back here away from all that crap, be myself, just for a day or two or whatever I can manage, be with you, you don't know what it's like..."

Calm again, and cold, I pulled away. "Give me a break Beth, you'd have to be a moron not to know. You knew what it was like right from the start but you wanted it anyway and now you have it so please don't give me any of that success-is-a-curse crap."

Her look was sheepish. During dinner we were both subdued. I drank more wine; my outburst had chased the headache. She helped clean up. We moved around each other, familiar, almost at ease, close but not too close. The darkness cloaked the cabin and I switched on lamps and tuned the radio to WAXT's evening classical show. She brought the wine and our glasses to the coffee table and disappeared into the bedroom and came back holding up a paperback for my inspection. I had to smile; she was still reading science fiction for pleasure.

I settled on the couch with the latest issue of Victoriana but couldn't concentrate. She sat on the throw rug, her back against the couch just inches from my outstretched legs. I kept glancing down at her profile, at the way her unkempt hair swung forward as she read, at the wispy blonde hair on her arm as she reached for her wine, at the long shapely legs.

Was it really ten years ago, that first time? Who really did the seducing, I wondered. Go ahead, she'd whispered, I know you want to, I think I want it too. So vulnerable, just finished with Eric or Evan, trying to muffle the pain. And how vulnerable had I been?

Sometime later she closed the book and focused on me again. "I remember what you said after we met the first time, that freshman communications course you taught." She stared thoughtfully at the picture window. "The end of the first week of classes we were sitting having coffee and you said it was a myth that anyone could have it all. Sure, if you really wanted something badly enough you'd work for it, but the trick was learning that something else you wanted had to be put aside until you could come back to it later. It took me a long time to accept that but you were right."

I remembered saying it, and regretted it. She stood up, took the magazine from me and let it drop to the floor.

"Why can't this be enough for us?"

I gave her a wry smile. "Guess I want it all." Her eyes probed my defiance. "Guess it'll have to be enough."

She bent to me, her lips and mouth wine sweet. She licked my nipples through the tee-shirt, arousing them, leaving dark wet patches. I slid down as she tugged my jeans down. She knelt on the throw rug and spread my legs wide.

"Take that shirt off," I whispered, "I want to see you."

"Later." She nipped at my stomach, her chin grinding into my mound. Then she dipped her head lower and I arched my body to meet her.

She woke me with a hard smack on the bottom. I jumped and yelled.

"Comon lazy, let's go out for some breakfast!" She cracked me again and I scrambled out from tangled sheets, naked, shivering, sleep drugged.

She grinned behind the tinted glasses. Her hair was tied back, combed flat across her skull, and she wore clothes no one would associate with a nationally televised anchorperson.

I focused, rubbing my bottom. "Are you crazy, this is Saturday, what if someone recognizes you!"

"Get dressed, dummy, I'll be invisible."

I was still a beat behind. "I've got to shower..."

"Dammit, wash your face and brush your teeth and we'll shower later. I'll even scrub your back." She came at me with hand raised and I ran for the door.

I was so nervous I let her drive while I watched for trouble. She was totally relaxed, through Axton and Setonsville. Just outside town she pulled into a diner's parking lot. We were a half-mile from the new mall. We took a booth in the back and ordered but I was too anxious to eat much.

"Relax, Olivia."

Her confidence soothed me long enough to watch her devour her breakfast. Time was slipping; it was almost noon.

"What do you want to know?" She pushed her plate away, lit a cigarette and sipped her fresh coffee. When had she started smoking?


"About me. We never talk about me and that makes you feel like you're not a part of my life. So ask me, anything."

God, there were so many things. But all that came to mind was, "Why do you hate your aunt?"

Both her eyes and voice went dead. "My aunt. That pillar of the community. Put me through college, did you know that? Put me in touch with friends in Washington who had other friends who got my career started. Bought my silence."


"Oh she was shrewd, she taught me little by little, made me love it, made me need it, and all the time it was the lying I hated, our little secret, no one else must know, no one must even suspect, it was the damned sneaking around, the hiding and the guilt and the shame, we never even talked about it to each other, not once, we just did it and then pretended it never happened." She took a deep breath. "Christ, of all the questions in the world you had to ask that one."

I took her hand. "Beth, I'm sorry."

"Come on, we're going to the mall, I need to shop."

I followed her, dazed. I trailed her through the mall as she took her time window shopping and stopping in every store and buying whatever struck her fancy. None of it registered; not the crowd nor the danger of being recognized. Our ten years kept reeling back, our nights together, those too few nights, right to the beginning. Oh yes, she'd been vulnerable when we met for the first time in my class. And now I knew why she'd been so good at making love to a woman. And I wondered if she still hated the lying sneaking hiding. Isn't that what we'd been doing for the last ten years? Did she still feel the guilt, the shame?

We were in a bookstore and she had half a dozen paperbacks and her credit card out. I came out of my daze; she'd used the card in other shops and I tried to remember if any of the clerks had looked at her funny, or looked at the card, and I felt the panic start again. I took the books and stacked them on the nearest shelf.

She smiled wistfully. "You got me through those years, Olivia, only you, until I could get out."

I tugged at her sleeve. "Let's go, you're taking risks, if anyone sees you..."

"Hey, I want those books!"

"We'll stop by the store tomorrow and you can have anything you want."

She stowed her credit card. "Okay okay, let's go take our shower."

We hurried down the aisle away from the man watching us with his mouth open.

The water streamed down, slicking our bodies as we clung to each other. She broke the kiss but rubbed herself against me.

"What else?" she asked above the shower roar. "Ask."

I shook my head and kissed the hollow of her throat. But she pushed me back and held my chin, her head tilted back out of the downpour. Those green eyes glittered.

"Men? Is that what you want to know? Yes, there've been men, you knew that, there'll always be men, I like men. You and I are different but it doesn't matter, it shouldn't matter when we're together like this." She studied me for a reaction, then let me go and began to lather my body. Her fingers burned. Then her voice got girlish, spiteful. "Jealous? That I like to fuck men? That I like their cocks? Would you like to punish me?"

I leaned back against the tiles, my legs rubbery as she caressed me. "Yes! I'd like to spank you until your ass is bright red, I'd like to tie you up and tease you until you beg me to let you come..."

"That's not it, that's not what's bothering you." She pressed against me, grinding slowly. "Go on, ask me!"

"Were there other women!"

She stepped back leaving me panting. She aimed the showerhead at me and turned the water on full, blasting me. It followed me as I slid down the tiles to the tub, blinding and deafening me. At last it stopped. Dimly I heard her voice, the sadness of it unmistakable.

"You should know better."

Silence again while we ate and cleared the table and prepared for our last night. This time it wasn't awkward; we might have been sisters, both in robes too short and small, and with damp hair slicked back and beginning to curl.

I tried to read, to be as nonchalant as Beth on the couch concentrating on her book. But I got angry. How could she be so casual about something so vital to me? I spent my life in suspension, always waiting between her spur of the moment visits. I moved through my life like some sleepwalking zombie, sustained only by memories of our last time together and anticipation of the next time. And she strolled in and relaxed and read a book!

My sullen mood made me stupid. "Maybe you'd like to leave earlier, there's a flight out of Buffalo at ten tomorrow morning."

She gave me a maddeningly calm look. "Give up paradise? Spend a whole night in DC when I don't have to?" The quick grin told me how ridiculous she found the suggestion.

I went outside to stalk through the grass. It needed cutting; another chore for me after she was gone, something to fill the hours. The wind was sharp and cool. I undid my belt and let the robe fall open, shivering as the wind stung my flesh.

At the edge of the slope I stared out at the faint lights of Axton and told myself I'd been here too long. Maybe it was time to think about Iowa again, going back, re-planting roots I'd torn up. Where had ten years of my life gone, watching her leave, saying goodbye? Was it worth another ten years?

She hadn't followed me outside. My breasts and stomach and the front of my legs were numb, scoured by the wind. I hurried back to the cabin, moonlight spreading a path for me.

She wasn't in the big room. Her book was gone. Only one lamp was on. I stood just inside the door, shivering and burning at once, breathing through my mouth as if I'd been running. I slammed the door hard.

Then she was in the bedroom doorway, holding something. I stared at it.

"I bought this just for us. It's amazing what you can get in the mail."

She came toward me slowly but I couldn't move or react. She slid the robe back and off my shoulders, her fingers brushing my skin. "You're cold. Come here." She took my hand and led me back to the couch but she was the one who lay down, spreading her legs, one foot on the rug. She pushed one end of the dildo inside herself.


"Come on, you want to." She was pressing the other end against me and pulling me forward. "You want to possess me."

"Stop it..."

"Fuck me!"

She guided the dildo inside me and I leaned forward on my knees between her legs and suddenly I was thrusting frantically and she was trying to match my ragged, desperate rhythm, and at last we found it and settled into a steady motion. She grasped my bottom to draw me in even deeper. The friction built wave after wave of sensation on my clit. I didn't know who came first and didn't care. Our cries drowned out every other sound in the room, the cabin, the world.

Moonlight striped our bodies. We lay tangled, close. Her pale skin was in stark contrast to my dusky olive. Something about that contrast had always aroused me. My lips were bruised from her kisses but I sought her mouth again. We seemed to be swimming in slow motion, both exhausted, yet managing another moan, another gasp, another tensing and sweet shattering release.

Breakfast aromas dragged me up from drugged sleep. Almost noon! I leaped from the bed and stumbled outside.

"Why the hell didn't you wake me!"

She smiled, looking better than I felt, and held out a cup of coffee. "For your health, you were a wreck."

"Oh thanks." The coffee drew me. I sat at the small table close to her. The hell with it; I wouldn't waste precious minutes washing or dressing or even brushing my teeth. I attacked the bacon and eggs and toast while she watched me, amused. Her eyes lingered on my breasts.

I leaned back with a second cup of coffee, posing for her, not caring how bedraggled I looked. "So. What's the agenda?"

"Tuesday I leave for London, we'll be doing live segments for the show for two weeks, I can't wait, then it'll be a long hot summer in our nation's capitol, election year, and I'll be following that dream all over the country and into the convention, god I'm in it up to me ears."

I didn't look at her. "Don't suppose you'll have much time to yourself." Did I sound casual or was there a frantic edge to my voice?

"I won't have much time to pee."

"I've been thinking about Iowa lately, maybe I'll visit this summer, see if I'm still the black sheep..."

"Hey great! You should do it, it's about time!"

Her enthusiasm broke my heart.

We cleared the table. She was already packed. She followed me to the bathroom and watched silently as I washed. It made me uncomfortable. I dressed quickly, conscious of her gaze; panties and bra, tailored shirt and skirt, canvas shoes.

She wanted a last look so we went outside and spread a blanket on the grass at the edge of the hill, and we lay down in the sun, looking out across the lake, fingers touching. She yanked a blade of grass to trace patterns over my face and neck and bare legs. My skin was incredibly sensitive. Then she slid her hand up under my skirt and her fingers eased under the panties to find my wetness and slide inside me. I came, shuddering, and she held my chin with her free hand and sucked fiercely at my mouth.

"Can't this be enough for us?", she whispered.

I gave her a brave smile but couldn't, wouldn't answer.

I didn't stop at Books One and she didn't mention it. We were silent on the way to the airport; I sensed that she was already in the studio planning her opening. In the terminal she became the celebrity in disguise again, dark glasses, voice changing. She squeezed my hand.

"Olivia, it was wonderful."

She strode to the gate and I didn't watch her board, hurrying back out to the car to avoid hearing the engines revving.


Marie stood next to a battered subcompact. Her short auburn hair was windblown.


"Seeing someone off?"

"A friend." She'd been working for me since the fall semester and majoring in Victorian Studies, my old specialty.

Suddenly she laughed, a rich throaty sound. "I come out here just to watch the planes, stay for hours, I've been doing it since I was a kid."

The plane was moving down the tarmac. I didn't turn.

Marie mock whispered, "Don't tell anyone about my secret vice!" She had full lips.

"All your secrets are safe with me."

"You know, it's funny." She looked up as the plane lifted. Her throat was lovely. "I thought I recognized someone taking that flight, you know the knockout blonde on the evening news..."

I shook my head, raising my voice over the roar. "Unlikely. This is, after all, a small town."

She shrugged, then shouted. "Listen, would you like some coffee, there's a diner on Route 59 just across from the mall..."

"I'd like that very much."

Her smile widened. "Meet you there!"

I nodded. As she ducked into her car I admired the curve of her bottom, the slope of her breasts. My hands trembled as I started the engine and gripped the wheel hard.

Above us the plane banked northwest toward Buffalo.
© 2000 R.F. Marazas
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