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Like A Secret Being Told

I climbed the steps to Colleen’s apartment with some trepidation. Which was ridiculous, when you think about it. Why should I be nervous? I’ve been up and down these stairs a thousand times. Colleen and I have been best friends since junior high school. Better than best friends; more like sisters. In fact, some of the girls on our high school basketball team used to call us ‘twins from different countries’.

The ‘twins’ referred to the striking physical similarities we shared (and still share). We’re the same height (5’6″), the same weight (135 pounds) and have identical slender, but curvy bodies. We’ve often swapped clothes back and forth with no difference in fit. Our facial features are also alike: our noses, the shape of our eyes and lips, even the curves of our cheeks and foreheads! Personally, I was flattered by the nickname, as I’d always thought Colleen was gorgeous.

The ‘different countries’ refers to Colleen having the fair skin, blue eyes and auburn hair common to her Irish ancestry, while I possess the olive skin, brown eyes and tresses so-dark-as-to-seem-black found so often in my Spanish heritage. But, I think, more than anything, the ‘twins’ moniker referred to the closeness of our friendship. Even now, at age 23, with school and sports no longer binding us together, we spent many of our weekends and after work hours together. We were still pretty much inseparable.

Which is why I was making my way to Colleen’s door. I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in nearly two weeks, which is unheard of with us two motor-mouths. We’d never been apart even half so long. But, the last few times we’d gotten together, she’d acted… odd… almost aloof.

I’m pretty sure I hadn’t done or said anything to cause a rift. Besides, even if I had, Colleen was no pale, delicate flower (well, okay, she actually is pale) too shy to speak her mind. If I had screwed up, she wouldn’t have hesitated to put me right.

When I asked her about her reticence, she blew it off, saying there was nothing the matter, she’d just been tired.

But, now it’s been nearly a fortnight since we last saw each other. She hasn’t returned my phone calls or my e-mail messages and I was getting pretty worried. So, here was the mountain, knocking on Muhammad’s door.

In answer to my rapping, I heard a shuffling sound coming from Colleen’s apartment. Her muffled voice called out, «Who is it?»

«Allie.» I responded. (I prefer my full name of Alejandra — pronounced Ahl-ay-HAHN-drah — but my friends refuse to use it, the lazy bastards).

More shuffling noises came from behind her door, then Colleen’s voice again, much nearer this time and sounding a bit… strained, «Allie, honey… this isn’t a good time.»

«Colleen? What does that mean… ‘not a good time’? You haven’t been answering your phone or your e-mail. I’ve been worried about you. And now that I’m here, you’ve got me standing out in the hall like a stranger. C’mon, sweetie, open up. I wanna talk to you.»

No answer.

«Colleen? You there?»

«Allie,» she sounded really shaky now. Had she been crying? «I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch, but this is a really, really bad time. I promise I’ll call you when I’m on my feet again.»

«Colleen, you’re starting to scare me.» My voice rose as I ceased being conscious of Colleen’s neighbors. «If you don’t open this door right now, I’m gonna kick the fucking thing in!»

No answer.


Still no answer.

I raised my jeans-clad leg and was honestly ready to do my level best to either break the door down or, more likely, mortify her into opening it. But, just as I was about to let fly, I heard her unfastening the chain and turning the deadbolt. The doorknob turned and the door opened slightly.

No sign of her, though. Weird. «Colleen?» No reply yet again, so I pushed the door open and went inside.

Passing though her foyer, I found Colleen in her living room, sitting in her pajamas, cross-legged on the sofa. Her face was tilted down slightly and her features were hidden in shadow. Her chestnut hair was a rumpled mess. She didn’t look up at me when I came in.

Outside was a bright, cloudless May afternoon. In here, though, there was no evidence of that. She had all her curtains drawn and no lamps were lit. The only light in the room came from her television. I glanced at the screen and immediately recognized the frozen image from one of our favorite Garbo movies, ‘Queen Christina’. We had watched it a zillion times, always crying at the same scenes, each scolding the other afterward for being a sap.

Apparently, I had interrupted her viewing and she had paused the film at this point. The motionless ghost of Garbo seemed to peer into Colleen’s living room.

On the coffee table in front her, a spoon leaned inside an empty pint container of ice cream. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I noticed dirty dishes and silverware littering seemingly every flat surface in her living room. Colleen had never been a neat freak, but this… this wasn’t right. Not by a long shot.

I finally broke the silence, «You wanna tell me what the hell’s going on? Why have you been avoiding me?»

«Nothing’s ‘going on’, Allie.» She seemed to be struggling to control her voice, «I just need some time to myself. Okay?»

Was it my imagination or was she purposely keeping her face in shadow? A sudden presentiment struck me. I strode across the living room to fling open the nearest curtain.

Brilliant rays of afternoon sun pierced the darkened room, pinning Colleen’s slumped form to the couch. Quickly moving back to her, I held her face up to the light. She squinted against the brightness and her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy from crying. Otherwise, her face was unmarked.

«Collen, have you been hurt, honey?»

«Define hurt.» she said in a flat tone.

«Godammit! This is no time to get cryptic!» I unfastened the top two buttons of her pajama shirt and examined her neck and shoulders. Nothing. I rolled up her sleeves and the hems of her pajama pants. Nothing there either.

Colleen didn’t resist my inspection. In fact, she seemed almost oblivious to it. It was like I was handling a rag doll. «Satisfied?» she asked when I was done.

The next moment seemed almost surreal. Slipping from the sofa to kneel on the floor in front of me, Colleen actually clasped her hands together, as if in supplication. With her head lowered, she whispered hoarsely, «If I beg, will you go? Please, Alejandra?»

My mind screamed «What the fuck!?» This was like something out of a cheap melodrama. First of all, only once or twice have I ever heard her use my full name. And even then, it was done mockingly. Secondly, the spitfire I’ve known most of my life would never EVER get down on her knees for anyone. Not even as a joke.

Cradling her face in my hands again, I turned it to look up at mine, but she refused to meet my gaze. «Colleen, am I your friend?» I never imagined I would have to ask her that question.

«Yes.» she said simply, with her eyes closed and a tear spilling from beneath her lashes.

«Do you love me?»

Her eyes suddenly flashed and the lethargy that had gripped her vanished in an instant. Sweeping her arm across the coffee table, she sent the ice cream container and spoon flying. «GET OUT!»

Hastily rising to her feet, Colleen careened around the living room, knocking dirty plates, cups and utensils from their perches. «GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!»

So far, nothing had shattered on the apartment’s plush carpet, but she was rapidly approaching the kitchen, where the harder surfaces would be less forgiving.


Her only response was more airborne receptacles.


She whirled to face me, standing in place, panting from her exertions.

«You win,» I said. «I’m leaving. For now.»

She did not move as I retrieved my purse and retreated to her front door.

I had been terrified she was going to hurt herself, but the minute the door closed behind me, I regretted my decision to go. She’s my friend. The dearest friend I have. I shouldn’t have abandoned her for anything.

In the hallway outside her apartment, I tried to figure out what to do next. Should I try to get back in there? She was unlikely to open the door again and my earlier threat to kick it down had been hollow. My legs were nowhere near that strong nor her door that flimsy.

I decided to seek my mom’s advice.

Twenty-five minutes later I was seated at the kitchen table in the house where I grew up. I poured out the day’s events to my mother’s sympathetic ears and spilled more than a few tears in the process.

When I had finished my tale and my onslaught of her kleenex, I finally asked, «What should I do? What can I do?»

Mom leaned on the kitchen counter and peered out the window into the dwindling evening light. «Did I ever tell you,» she asked, «about Laura Kelly?»

«The name doesn’t ring a bell.»

«Laura and I had been best fiends even longer than you and Colleen. And like you two, we were rarely one without the other. We did everything together, starting in kindergarten and lasting all the way through senior high.»

«After graduation,» Mom continued, «I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with myself, so I enrolled at a local community college until I could figure it out. Laura, on the other hand, knew exactly what she wanted to be: an architect. To that end, she decided on an out-of-state school that had a sterling reputation in that field.»

«Let me tell you,» Mom turned and smiled at me, «that last week before Laura’s departure, we threw ourselves one hell of a pity party. We’d been together for as long as we could remember, and it was difficult to imagine life without each other.»

«Laura had a tough time adjusting to campus life. The combination of homesickness and the increased workload had her on the ropes in a hurry. The stress was evident in her voice every time we talked on the phone and whenever she came home on break. She often confided in me how miserable she was, but she didn’t want to disappoint her parents by dropping out.»

«Nearly at the end of her freshman year, I got a call from Laura that was really weird. Weird and disturbing. We talked, as we usually did, for a couple of hours (my mother used to give me hell about the long distance bill). As always, our conversation wandered all over the map. Three or four times during our gabfest, Laura would interject something odd, something that seemed to make no sense in the context of our conversation. I thought I’d misheard her or something, but when I’d ask her to repeat herself, she grew annoyed. After a couple of more bizarre interludes, I finally asked her, ‘Laura, have you been smoking or drinking something?'»

«She said something rude and hung up. I was stunned. In all the time I’d known her, she’d never spoken to me like that. So, this was like a bolt out of the blue.»

«For the next few weeks, I wasn’t able to reach her and she never called me back.»

«Next thing I knew,» Mom went on, «she was home on summer break and I was rushing to her house to see her. Only, it turned out, I couldn’t see her. Laura’s mom answered the door and she seemed kind of apprehensive. When I asked to see Laura, Mrs. Kelly said she wanted to talk to me and asked if I minded taking a walk with her.»

«During the walk, Mrs. Kelly explained to me that Laura had suffered a breakdown while she was away at school. Her mom told me that Laura was undergoing therapy. Her doctor was trying her out on a medication that he hoped would help stabilize the chemical imbalance that was responsible for her erratic behavior.»

«Mrs. Kelly did her best to be encouraging, but I think that might have been for her own benefit as much as mine. She was clearly and understandably rattled and doing her best to hide it. Now that I have children of my own, I think back on what she must’ve been going through and it just breaks my heart.»

Mom was visibly moved as she recalled this terrible time in her life, «The upshot of my story is that I never did get my friend back. A few months after I talked with Mrs. Kelly, Laura called me. She was calm and rational, but politely distant, which hurt more than anything. She explained that she felt it best if she… ‘stayed to myself’… is how I think she put it. When I voiced my hurt that she was shutting me out of her life, she was apologetic, but firm. It was ‘for the best’, she said.»

«And that was it.» Anyone with ears could’ve heard the pain in Mom’s voice. «Just like that, I lost my best friend in the world. It seemed impossible. Like something out of ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ or those old folktales where wicked fairies replace a stolen child with a changeling.»

«For years after that, I held out hope that someday, when Laura got back on her feet again, she would contact me. I thought maybe we’d be able to resurrect our friendship. But, it never happened.»

«I later learned that Laura had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Apparently, it’s common for someone to carry this illness latently, only to have it triggered under duress. In Laura’s case, it was the strain of adjusting to college life and being on her own for the first time.»

«Jeez,» Mom gave me a forced smile, «even all these years later, it’s still hurts to recall it.»

I hugged Mom tightly. She stroked my hair and said quietly, «I don’t know enough to guess what’s going on with Colleen. I just pray that she’ll be okay.» Mom held my face in her hands and looked me in the eye. «I’ll say a prayer for you, too.» Taking one of my hands in hers, she gave it a gentle squeeze. «But… just in case, sweetie… you’d better brace yourself… for the worst.»

I tried to heed Mom’s advice, but I didn’t do a very good job of it. Over the next couple of weeks, I sent e-mail and left phone messages for Colleen every day. I even knocked on her apartment door a couple of times.

Her only response was a resounding silence.

At least until nearly a month after the confrontation at her place. One evening, I came in from work and found the following message on my answering machine:


«Please stop calling.»

«I know you mean well, but…»

«You’re hurting me.»

«Please stop.»


I don’t have the words to describe how haunted and haunting her voice was. I barely recognized it.

I played that recording over and over that night, crying so hard and so long that the world became a blur.

But, eventually, the message penetrated even my thick skull.

I resolved to do as she asked.

I would leave her alone.

What choice did I have?

I don’t want to suggest that I had taken Colleen for granted, but when someone has always been there for you, it’s easy to feel, unconsciously at least, that they always will be.

To say the next year and a half was difficult would be an extravagant understatement.

I quickly came to realize that my circle of friends were really acquaintances. I shared none of the intimacy or confidence with them that I did with Colleen. And it didn’t take a genius to figure out why. These were all perfectly nice people (God! that sounds so condescending!), but it was apparent that none of these companions possessed anything like the wondrous fusion of character traits that made Colleen such a rare and dear friend.

So, I managed to make it through the next eighteen months by staying busy, having a lot of long conversations with my mom (God bless her!) and doing quite a bit of soul searching.

Now, I don’t mean that I was ‘all better’ after that year and a half had crawled by. Far from it. But, I had at least gotten accustomed to my relative solitude. And maybe, I had begun to put a few of my broken pieces back into something approximating their original place.

Those pieces were given quite the jolt one crisp November afternoon as I walked through the local shopping mall. I was on an errand to find a suitable dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. I wasn’t a bridesmaid or anything, I just didn’t have anything in my closet right then that was nice enough for the purpose.

As I was browsing through a rack of dresses, I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard a familiar voice ask, «Allie?» I turned around to see Colleen’s mom, Mrs. Hughes, wearing a wide smile and her arms extended.

After a lengthy and welcome hug, she preceded to make a fuss over ‘how lovely you’ve grown’ and to say how wonderful it was to see me. She asked after my family, of course, but when I mentioned Colleen, she was suddenly less voluble. She was polite, but she made it clear that Colleen was still pretty much keeping to herself these days.

After several minutes more of chatting, we went our separate ways, with Mrs. Hughes extracting a promise from me to say hello to my mom for her.

I was thunderstruck, all thoughts of shopping driven completely from my head.

Somehow, I managed to reach the haven of my car in the shopping center’s parking lot, before I started to cry. And once the floodgates opened, it seemed there was no closing them again. All my pain and frustration and loneliness returned in an instant, as if they’d never been banished.

When I was finally spent, the emptiness I felt began to be filled with anger. I had a rare and precious friend. A friend the like of which I would probably never know again. What had happened to her? What took her away from me? Dammit! I had a right to know.

Right then and there, I turned the key in the ignition and started driving to Colleen’s apartment. Admittedly, there was no logic behind the decision, just an urgent need.

Just an hour ago, if asked, I would have said I was getting over the hurt, doing much better now. I would have said it and I would have meant it.

And I would have been wrong.

Though I knew I shouldn’t be doing it, I found myself in the hallway outside Colleen’s apartment knocking on the door. Did I mention the anxiety that had gripped me? No, fuck ‘anxiety’, this was out-and-out terror.

And yet, here I was, knocking anyway.

If you can explain the human heart, you should write a book.

After a minute or so in the corridor, I suddenly was aware of how thoughtless and impulsive I’d been. First of all, I hadn’t called ahead. She might not even be home. Or, she might’ve peered out the peephole, seen it was me and retreated right back into her apartment. Probably shaking her head, thinking to herself, ‘Damn, what a heard-headed girl!’

While this whirl of thoughts eddied through my head, Colleen opened the door. She had on an unbuttoned plaid flannel top over a white t-shirt with blue jeans and sweat socks, but no shoes.

We stood still for a moment, both of us staring intently at the other. The distant murmur of traffic seemed a tumult in the silence. I realized I could also hear the subtle sound of her breathing. I guess I really hadn’t thought about what I would do or say when I saw her. I finally collected myself enough to stammer, «May I… um… that is… I mean, may I come in?»

Without speaking, she opened the door wider, stepped back and made room for me to enter. Passing close by her, I sneaked a peek at her face and her glance met mine.

Even after all the turmoil I’d been through, I was surprised by the intensity of feeling that moved through me. I wondered for an instant if I was ready for whatever came next.

As soon as I walked into her apartment, I was aware of the contrast to my last visit there. All the curtains were open and her apartment was aglow with the late afternoon sunlight. And remember how I said Colleen had never been a neat freak? Well, you’d never guess it to look at her place now. It was immaculate.

As I looked around wonderingly, she must’ve guessed my thoughts. She’d always been good at that. «It’s easy to get things organized when you’ve got the time. And I’ve had quite a bit of time on my hands, Allie.»

Well, while Colleen had been busy mutating into Martha Stewart, I had apparently devolved into the world’s biggest crybaby. But, I was absolutely bound and determined not to start wailing and blubbering. I had wasted enough of the past however many months with that.

But not today.

So, why, if I was so resolved, had Colleen’s face gone blurry and who the hell was making that terrible sobbing sound?


I was so focused on not doing what I obviously was doing, that I hadn’t even seen Colleen move to get the box of tissues she handed me. Guiding me to sit at one end of her sofa, she then took a seat at the other end.

Hands in her lap, she patiently waiting for me to pull myself together.

When my torrent finally ebbed and my dabbing at my face and nose had nearly halted, Colleen spoke quietly, «I’m sorry, Alejandra.»

I wish I could’ve emulated her apparent serenity, but, not a chance. «Then why’d you do it!?» I exclaimed. «Why’d you dump me!?»

I’m ashamed to say I took some satisfaction in seeing her calm expression slip just a bit. She looked down at the hands in her lap, seeming to study them, as if they might contain the key to maintaining her composure.

When she looked up again, Colleen made sure she made eye contact before she said, «Alejandra, I’m gay…»

What was that I said about ’emulating her serenity’? I have got to learn to think before I act. Before I knew it, I had closed the gap between us and slapped Colleen in the face. Hard.

«That’s it!?» I wasn’t exclaiming now, I was yelling. «You abandoned me because of that!? Why? Why couldn’t you just talk to me? I mean, did I EVER… even once… say or do something that was homophobic? You should’ve trusted me. Instead, you shut me out like I was a stranger. Do you think I would have EVER done that to you?» This all tumbled out in a breathless rush.

Colleen got to her feet quickly, glowering at me, «I love you, Alejandra, but I won’t be your punching bag. Please don’t do that again.»

We stood, still and taut, until I took my seat on the couch again. «Well, at least I got you to say you love me. That’s something.»

Smiling at that, Colleen sat down too, and not so far away this time. «If you hadn’t interrupted me by trying to take my head off,» she admonished, «I was going to say ‘I’m gay… and… I’m in love with you’.»


«Yeah, ‘oh’.»

After a moment of awkward silence, I asked, «How long?»


It took a moment for that to register and sink in. «Years?» I whispered hoarsely, «Jesus, Colleen… years? I… I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like for you. Holding something like that inside, unable to share it with anyone for all that time.»

But, then the question occurred to me, «But, why? Why wouldn’t you confide in me? All those years I poured my heart out to you, told you every damn little thing that was going on with me. I trusted you with my deepest secrets. Why didn’t you trust me?»

Colleen placed her hand on mine, «You’re looking at this all wrong, sweetie. It isn’t that I didn’t trust you. I didn’t trust myself.»

My confusion must’ve been reflected in my expression, because she tried to clarify. «When we were in ninth grade, I had a dream about you.» Colleen’s cheeks colored faintly and I’m sure my own complexion deepened by a shade or two. «In the dream, we were kissing… and… um… well, you know… doing other stuff.»

I couldn’t resist giggling at her discomfort. She shot me a mock scowl.

«At any rate,» she went on, «it was a pretty intense dream. I had never had one like it. It scared me. I was just in junior high, for God’s sake. I wondered what was wrong with me… dreaming about another girl like that… and not just any girl, but my best friend.»

«I still don’t understand why you couldn’t talk to me about it.» I repeated.

«Oh, c’mon, Allie. Have you completely forgotten what it was like at that age? I mean, most of us are walking bundles of hormonally charged confusion and insecurity, anyway. And here I was, thinking there was something seriously wrong with me. I was terrified I was some kind of pervert. Don’t you remember how our classmates used to refer to ‘girls like that’? Dykes. Queers. Rug-Munchers.»

«But, you should’ve considered the source, Colleen. Just a bunch of fucking mental defectives who were scared shitless of anything that didn’t conform to the norm,»

«Yeah, well, of course I know that now, but back then, I was desperate to fit in, just like everyone else.»

«Don’t you remember Candace Ruggiero,» Colleen continued, «who was a year ahead of us at Roosevelt (that was our high school)? She had the audacity to be openly gay and man!… they heaped shit on her for the entire two years we were there with her. I’m sure the year before we got there was no picnic either.»

«Well, none of that for me, sister. No, thank you. So, I just kept my head down and tried to get my mind right. Tried to convince myself that I wasn’t really ‘like that’. Did my damnedest not to think those kinds of thoughts. You’ve gotta understand, Allie. I drank the Kool-Aid. I truly did believe there was something deviant inside me and I had to monitor it constantly. Keep it tamped down.»

«Worst of all were the nights,» Colleen went on, «when those teenage hormones over-rode my self control. Nights when my lust for you got the better of me and I would furiously masturbate with images of you burning in my head. And afterwords, I’d be unable to sleep for the shame that was eating me up inside.»

Unbidden, my imagination suddenly provided an intense vision of Colleen’s naked form sprawled across a bed, writhing in self-induced ecstasy. I nearly had to shake my head to be rid of it.

«The fact is, sweetie,» Colleen took my hand in hers, «that you were actually the very last person I would’ve confided in. Your opinion mattered to me more than anyone’s. I was so in love with you, I couldn’t have endured it if you were repulsed by what I was.»

I stood up and pulled Colleen into my arms. «Oh, honey, I would never have… «

«Yeah, I realize that now. But, back then… back then, I was in a state of constant terror that someone would find out.»

«Christ, Colleen. You should never have had to go through that on your own. It hurts me to even think about it. I wish I had known. I’d have done anything for you.» My tears spilled onto Colleen’s face as I kissed her cheek and squeezed her tighter. Too little comfort, given too late.

«No sense fretting about what’s done.» Colleen said. She returned the kiss on the side of my face and sat back down on the sofa. «Thanks for the hug, though. I’ve missed that more than I can say.»

«Anyway,» Colleen resumed, «things got a little better at college. There was a lot more tolerance of gays on campus. There was talk of gay pride, for Christ’s sake! I even had a few cute girls ask me out from time to time.»

«But… though you and I weren’t at the same school anymore, we were still spending most of our weekends and evenings together. And by this point, I had matured enough to know for sure that it wasn’t simply a schoolgirl crush or lust I felt for you. I was in love. And I knew exactly why. I had truly come to appreciate what a rare and wonderful person you are and how fortunate I was to have you for a friend.»

«Thank you. I feel the same about you.»

«I didn’t say it to flatter you. I said it so you’d understand. Hell, it would never do for you to actually see yourself through my eyes. Your head would be so huge, your neck couldn’t support it.»

We both chuckled at the absurd image her words had conjured.

«At any rate,» Colleen picked up where she’d left off, «so long as I was completely head-over-heels about you, no other girl stood a chance with me.» Colleen’s eyes seemed to look off in the distance. She murmured, almost as if to herself, «When the sun is in the heavens, no other star can be seen for its brilliance.»

«Is that a quote from somewhere?»

«No… no… just me… waxing poetic, I guess. My goofy way of saying that I couldn’t see anyone else while you were near.» The faraway gaze vanished as she fixed her sight on me. «The thing is, I knew, from your occasional reports of your dating experiences, that you weren’t gay. But, I told myself that I could deal with the whole ‘unrequited love’ thing. That it was worth it, just to have your company… to be close to you.»

«And I did deal with it. For quite some time, in fact. Oh, you were still providing the fodder for my masturbatory fantasies. And I can’t tell you how many times I came this close,» Colleen held up her thumb and index finger so they were nearly touching, «to risking everything by taking you in my arms and kissing you.»

As soon as the words fell from her lips, they fashioned an image in my head of Colleen and I locked in an embrace, kissing passionately. Again, the force of it took me by surprise.

«For the longest while I obsessed over that. Playing the scene in my head over and over. Dying to know what you would do; how you’d react.»

«But, ultimately, of course,» Colleen sighed, «I was a great, big fraidy-cat. Well… in a way, that’s not fair to myself. I was genuinely afraid of losing your friendship. I couldn’t take that chance.»

«It never would’ve happened.» I asserted. «No matter what.»

A smile of genuine pleasure animated the faint freckles on Colleen’s cheeks and nose. «Thank you for that.»

«I should’ve trusted you.» Colleen agreed. «I should’ve confided in you. But insecurity had me by the short hairs. The constant pining for someone I thought I could never have was making me crazy. So was the desire for romance and sex. I finally figured the only way I was ever gonna find someone was if I got you out of my system. I hoped I could make it up to you later and win your friendship again, after I’d dated other people. Hence, the melodramatic, angst-ridden break-up»

«Hence?» I teased. «Am I like company now, so you break out the formal language?»

«Fuck you too, Alejandra. That informal enough for you?» she giggled.

«Oooohh!» I shot back, «Is that some kinda proposition in dyke-speak?»

Colleen rose to her feet again, putting her hands on her hips, with an ersatz look of defiance on her lovely features. «Don’t get cocky, girl. I can still kick your ass, you know.»

«Still? What planet have you been living on? Since when could you ever kick my ass? Everybody knows all you artist-types are a buncha pansies.»

«Make up your mind, smart-ass.» she retorted. «Am I a dyke or a pansy? Which is it?»

«How about a dyke with the fighting skills of a pansy?»

At that, Colleen fell back on the sofa, laughing so hard that tears began to stream down her freckled cheeks. I joined in for a moment, then just watched her, elated to have ‘my’ Colleen back.

When she had collected herself, my next question couldn’t have been more serious, «Now what, Colleen? It’s been a year and a half. Are you over me now? Can we be friends? Or am I to be banished again until you’re ready?»

«Banished, huh? Wow, you make me sound like some kind of tyrant.»

«You may as well have been. You took my best friend away from me and never once asked me how I felt about it.»

She lowered her head, a look of genuine contrition passing over her features. Her voice was uncharacteristically meek when she said, «You don’t fight fair, Alejandra.»

«I’m sorry, hon. I’m sure not trying to extract any guilt from you. I just want you to realize that your actions have consequences beyond just yourself.» I got off the sofa and knelt in front of Colleen, taking her hands in mine. «I am not above extracting something else from you, however.»

«Oh?» she eyed me suspiciously.

«Yes.» I pressed my forehead gently to hers. «I want you to promise me that you won’t EVER do anything like that again. If you have a problem, come talk to me. Don’t shut me out. I couldn’t bear it.»

«I promise, Alejandra.»

«Good.» I kissed her on her cheek and lifted her chin, playfully chiding her, «And what’s with ‘Alejandra’ this and ‘Alejandra’ that? I tried for years to get your lazy ass to use my full name and now, all of a sudden, you’re saying it every other sentence. What’s up with that?»

Grinning mischievously, Colleen giggled, «Maybe now I’m more interested in pleasing you than teasing you.» She covered her mouth with her hand as if to put the words back where they came from. «I can’t believe I just said that out loud.»

«Oh, lighten up, sweetie.» I admonished, though I’m sure I was blushing every bit as much she was. «Relax and remember… it’s only me.»

The very last thing I wanted was for Colleen to get the idea that I was uncomfortable with her. But until I’d had some time to digest her revelations, I wouldn’t have minded steering the conversation to safer shores. And to tell the truth, I hadn’t had lunch yet when I ran into Colleen’s mom at the mall, and here it was, well past dinner time. «Wanna continue this somewhere we can grab a bite? I’m famished.»

«Would you mind if we ate in?» Colleen asked. «I’d be happy to rustle up something.»

I couldn’t resist giggling, «Dear heart… your mother raised a good woman… a thoughtful, sensitive woman… a truly lovely woman… but she sure as hell didn’t raise a chef. Why don’t you leave the cooking to me?»

«Hey!» Colleen’s voice carried a feigned indignation, «I’ve gotten better.» When I responded with a raised eyebrow, she shot back, «Seriously. I told you, that year and a half of solitude was spent productively. I bought some nifty cookbooks and tricked out my kitchen with all kinds of cool new gadgets… » When I gave her an even more exaggerated look of skepticism, she rolled her eyes, threw up her hands and said, «Fine. Fine. Whatever. Don’t trust your best friend, then. Go ahead and do your Julia Child thing.»

Ideally, I would’ve liked to prepare Colleen’s favorite dish, Cajun Skillet Beans. Before the rift between us, it seemed as if she used to beg me to cook it for her every other week. History, though, led me not to expect to find much in the way of ingredients in her kitchen. I have ridiculed her many times over the years for how poorly she maintains her pantry.

Imagine my surprise upon discovering that she actually did have black-eyed peas, fresh onions and garlic. But I was in disbelief when I found bell peppers and celery, as well. In fact, all of the ingredients I needed were there. Brandishing the celery in her direction, I asked, «Okay, who are you and what have you done with the real Colleen Hughes?»

She just stuck her tongue out at me and cracked, «Toldja. You just don’t listen.»

Once I had a pot of brown rice boiling on the stove, I began dicing celery, onions and garlic. Sauteing those ingredients in olive oil filled Colleen’s small kitchen with a zesty aroma. While I was chopping tomatoes, Colleen crept up behind me and rested her chin on my right shoulder. «God, that smells heavenly,» she said quietly.

It felt so good to have her near again. I turned my head to tell her so and found myself caught in the blue depths of her eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever held anyone’s gaze so long. As if hypnotized (See! It’s not my fault! I was mesmerized), I leaned over and pressed my lips to hers. The kiss held for a moment, soft and warm, but the instant I pulled away, I regretted what I had done. In fact, I was furious with myself. Once again, I had acted impulsively, thoughtlessly. God knows, I didn’t want to lead Colleen on when I didn’t know my own mind yet.

To hide my momentary confusion, I turned away, reaching into one of her overhead cabinets for herbs and spices. Adding the tomatoes to the pan, I also mixed in dollops of honey and mustard. Thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper followed. All the time, I was intensely aware of her proximity.

When I finally worked up the courage to look at Colleen again, questions were obviously on her lips, but she had mercy on me and asked none of them.

Black-eyed peas were the final ingredient. Once they’d been stirred in, I put the top on the pan, left it to simmer and began to toss a salad.

Colleen was always so appreciative of my cooking, that I loved preparing meals for her. It was easy to tell when she was enjoying her food, because her feet would rock in a subtle rhythm and she couldn’t help wiggling her toes with delight. I was pleased to note that as we ate and chatted, she couldn’t keep still for an instant. She put me in mind of an overactive little girl with an ice-cream cone.

As always, our conversation rambled over a wide range of subjects. But, as we were finishing our dinner, I asked how her work had been going.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, Colleen is a successful freelance illustrator. I can’t draw a straight line, but I had an interest in illustration even before I met her. It’s one of the many reasons we hit it off so well. So, even though I can’t do it myself, I do actually have an educated eye for color, composition and draftsmanship (if I do say so myself). And I can say, honestly and without bias, that Colleen is one of the good ones. Astonishingly good when you consider how young she is.

«As I mentioned,» she responded, «I’ve had more free time than ever for the past eighteen months, and I’ve been putting it to good use. Bicycling, swimming, cooking (she stressed that in a derisive tone) and, of course, tons of drawing and painting. I’ve been doing some experimentation on the rare occasions I’m not actually working on an assignment. I’ve really gotten into these pastel chalk sticks lately. They’ve got a lotta cool qualities that have forced me out of my comfort zone and made me think in new ways. It’s been my best therapy»

«Can I see?» I asked with genuine excitement.

«C’mon back,» Colleen rose from the table and headed in the direction of her studio. When I started to gather up our dishes, she called back, «Leave those, for now. I’ll get to ’em when we’re done back here.»

Hers was a two bedroom apartment; one room for sleeping, the other she’d converted into a workroom. When we entered her studio, she pointed to her drawing table. On its slanted surface lay a color-saturated pastel painting of a fantasy scene. It was not quite finished, so that a couple of small areas had not had color applied and the underlying pencil sketch could still be seen.

«This is the first time I’ve used these chalk sticks for an assignment. The art director seemed pretty happy with the rough I gave him and I’m pretty pleased with the way this is coming along.»

«I can see why. This is gorgeous, Colleen. Wow! You’ve really made some progress since the last time I saw your work.»


As I replaced the art on her drawing table, I noticed the folding door to her closet was open. What caught my eye were a stack of canvases that were mostly obscured by the door and the shadow it cast. But, what little I could see of the rich colors made me curious.

«What’s this stuff here?» I pointed to the hidden art.

«Nothing.» she answered quickly. «I mean, just some unfinished junk… ideas that never really went anywhere… failed experiments… nothing worth looking at.»

«What do you mean? You know I love that kinda stuff: the preparatory sketches, the under-drawing, the whole process. It’s like peeking into the artist’s head.» I headed over to take a look when Colleen caught my arm. «Alejandra… I’d… I’d really rather you let those be.»

I turned to look at her. Why in the world was she stopping me? We’d never kept anything from each other before…

And then, of course, the irony of that thought struck me full force. Colleen had been hiding one of the most important aspects of our relationship from me for years. I felt foolish and suddenly like a stranger, again. «I’m sorry, hon.» I said. «I don’t know where my head is at. I didn’t mean to pry.»

She couldn’t have missed the disappointment in my voice and on my face. «Don’t apologize. I’m the one who should be sorry. I’ve gotten so used to concealing certain facets of my life, I was reflexively guarded. But, I don’t ever want you to feel unwelcome with me. You’re not prying. Go ahead and poke around.»

«You sure?»

«Of course, I’m sure»

I turned back to the closet and took out the first canvas, holding it up for inspection. It was a portrait, in oils I think, of… me. It was a three quarter view, just the head and shoulders. «This is… positively radiant, Colleen — one of the best pieces you’ve ever done — and you had it stuffed in a closet!?»

«That wasn’t done for any other audience, but me, hon. But thank you for the praise.»

«Is this oil or acrylic?»


«I don’t remember sitting for this one. Did you work from a photo?»

«Nope. From memory.»

«Jesus! Seriously? I didn’t realize you had that kind of recall.»

«I don’t… not really. I almost always have to have some kind of model or reference material. I mean, you’ve gotta have a pretty good understanding of how something is made in order to draw it. I usually take all kinds of liberties with that reference — artistic license, I guess — but I need something to go on. But, c’mon, Alejandra. How many times have you posed for me? You used to bitch and whine about it, but you were actually a pretty good sport… letting me have my way, pretty much every time I asked… and I asked a lot.»

«At this point,» Colleen stepped disconcertingly close and placed two fingers gently on my temple, «I could draw this face in my sleep. I’m acquainted with every curve and contour,» I closed my eyes, caught up in a spell cast by her voice and her touch. Her fingertips slowly moved down the side of my face, over my cheek, along the sweep of my jaw. Goosebumps spread like wildfire, radiating from where her fingers caressed me and quickly moved outward. «Every subtlety and nuance is burned into my memory. When the light moves across these features, I know the shape of the shadows they’ll cast.» I caught my breath with a faint hiss. The exquisite strokes descended the slopes of my throat until her fingers came to rest in the hollow at the base. They lingered there, as if considering going lower.

My eyes opened to see Colleen studying me, gauging my reaction. «Um… Are you trying to seduce me?»

«I’m still a virgin,» her lips widened into an incandescent smile, «so I definitely don’t meant to sound like some woman of the world, but, I promise you, if I ever get the chance to seduce you, you won’t have any doubt about what’s happening.»

«But, it’s nice to know,» she continued, eyes playful, «that if and when the time comes, I have some hope that my advances might not be entirely unwelcome.»

I knew I was blushing furiously and Colleen made no attempt to hide her amusement at my discomfort. I changed the subject in unsubtle fashion by turning back to the paintings in the closet. She stage whispered, «Chickenshit.»

Without turning to look at her, I extending my right arm in her direction with the back of my hand facing her and my middle finger raised. «Sit and spin, sweetheart… sit and spin.»

The next thing I knew, she had soundlessly come up behind me and placed her hands on my shoulders. Her voice was at my ear, intimate and brimming with mischief. «You haven’t had much time to process all that I’ve thrown at you today. Or you might have realized that raising your finger at me and telling me to ‘sit and spin’ might not sound like such an unappealing invitation to me.»

Once again, she had crawled inside my head and planted a stirring word-picture. I flashed on an image of Colleen and I, both naked, me with my finger inside her and she with a look of rapture on her face. This time I actually did shake my head to cast out the vision.

Looking over my shoulder at her, my mouth hung open in shock. If I had blushed before, God knows what color my complexion was now. Colleen threw her head back and laughed lustily at my embarrassment. When she subsided to a chuckle, she said, with seeming penitence, «Okay, okay. I’ll behave now. I promise. But, girl, you make it so easy. If I’d known I’d have this much fun, I’d have come out of the closet years ago.»

There was a mad tangle of emotions swirling inside me — fear, lust, curiosity, confusion — each competing for my attention and consideration. I was bound and determined to ignore them all… for the moment, at least.

So, I moved, once again, into the closet to see what other treasures she’d stashed away. The first canvas, the portrait in oil, had surprised me with its loveliness. The second painting, a much larger piece, took my breath away. It was me, again — a full length nude this time — reclining across Colleen’s bed in the other room. The rich, burgundy comforter on the bed set off my olive complexion like a jewel in a splendid setting. My face, my figure, they were very specific, not idealized. Anyone who’s ever met me would recognize this in an instant. And yet, at the same time, she made me look like… well, like a goddess.

The love the artist had for her subject informed every brushstroke. You had to be blind not to see it. It took me a moment before I found my voice. «Is this really how you see me?»

Colleen simply nodded and beamed with obvious and well-deserved pride. «Toldja. If you could see yourself the way I do, you’d be insufferably smug.»

«But, when…? I mean, how…? I know I didn’t sit for this and it can’t be from memory either. I’ve never posed nude for you.»

«Alejandra, how many times since junior high has one of us spent the night over the others house? How many times have we dressed and undressed in front of each other? You may not have been paying much attention, but whenever I thought you wouldn’t notice, I studied what I saw. I committed it to memory and later, at the first opportunity, I put it on paper. How many times? I can’t count that high, can you?»

«When I said earlier,» Colleen went on, «that every nuance and subtlety were burned into memory, I wasn’t referring to just your face. I know how your calf muscles shift as you walk. When you raise your arm, I know how it changes the shape of your breast and how the sinews stretch over your shoulder blade.»

«I suppose that what I’ve done could easily be construed as obsessive or creepy. But, I’m hoping you’ll understand. I’m an artist. And a good one, too. Beauty moves me. It excites me, thrills me, inspires me. And you…» She caressed my cheek with the back of her fingers, «you’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.»

«Back in eleventh grade, when I first started to get really serious about my art, one of my goals was to be able to not just record that loveliness. I also wanted to infuse my work with some of how I felt about you. I wanted to communicate that clearly and immediately to anyone who saw it.» Colleen’s voice grew uncharacteristically reticent, «I, um… well, I felt like, um,» her eyes were closed, as if she were looking inward to find the right words, «I felt like I was so fortunate. I knew this amazing girl… and then, later… this amazing woman. And I thought that if I worked really hard… learned my craft well… that someday, I would be able to introduce this woman to the rest of the world.» Colleen’s lashes lifted and her sapphire eyes seemed to pierce me. Her words were almost a whisper now, but clear in the stillness of the room. «I had seen an honest-to-God miracle, and sooner or later, I would find a way to translate that miracle with my art.»

«I failed at first, but the willingness to try it over and over and over… eventually forced me to become a better artist.»

«You were my muse, Alejandra.»

Turning back to the closet, Colleen reached onto an overhead shelf, pulled down a large, cardboard box and removed the lid. «You were perpetually scolding me for being greedy when it came to asking you to pose. Yet, you were always eager to see the art that you modeled for.» Flipping the box over, she dumped a sizable stack of paper upside down onto the chair at her drawing table. «So, I guess it’s long past time that you saw these. They’re an important part of my progress. A part that you were never aware of.»

When I looked at her with obvious curiosity, she said simply, «Go ahead. Take a look, silly.»

I turned over the top sheet of yellowing newsprint, which had been at the bottom of the box. On it, was a quick, but lovely pencil sketch of a younger version of me. It wasn’t as accomplished as her work now, but it was still a good likeness. It was fairly close-up, done apparently while I was sleeping. My face was on its side, pressed into a pillow. My dark hair spread out on the pillow, making a perfect frame for my features. Colleen said, «It’s in a rough sort of chronological order. Keep going.»

As I flipped the pages, I discovered image after image of me… sleeping. In a hundred different positions and from a hundred different angles. It was amazing. As I advanced, it was like a diary of my coming to physical maturity at the same time Colleen developed artistically. Most were in pencil, some were charcoal pieces and there were even a couple in watercolor! «Watercolor!? You had time to do a watercolor!?»

«Well, sweetie, fortunately for me, once you’re out, you could probably sleep through an earthquake. And, those aren’t exactly super-refined watercolors. I actually did them fairly quickly.»

I continued making my way through the pile, witnessing the steady progress in her skills and sensibilities. «When in the world did you do all these?»

Colleen’s smile was tinged with a blush. «As I asked you before, how many times have we spent the night with each other? You sleep the sleep of the dead and I’m an insomniac. It was pretty easy, really. I always waited until you’d been in dreamland for at least twenty minutes so I could be pretty sure you wouldn’t stir. And, believe it or not, in all those occasions of you posing unknowingly, you only woke up once.»

«I did? I don’t remember that at all.»

«About three years ago, you were over here on a Friday night. We’d stayed up late watching an old movie and by one in the morning, you were knocked out. I had pulled up a chair on your side of the bed, put a small drawing board in my lap and was sketching away to my heart’s content. Suddenly, you raised your head, looked right at me and asked, ‘Whatcha doin’?’ I held my breath for a second, then answered, ‘Nothin’. I couldn’t sleep.’ You eyed me for another moment, then said, ‘Kay.’ and let your head drop back onto the pillow. You were unconscious again, almost instantly and I happily returned to my drawing. The next day, I hinted around to see if you recalled any of it, but it was pretty obvious you didn’t.»

«So,» Colleen chuckled, «my career as a clandestine artist continued uninterrupted. Jesus! Now that I’ve admitted all this out loud, it’s sounds like I was stalking you. Can you forgive the invasion of your privacy?»

«Forgive? Colleen, I know these are just sketches to you… practice, I guess… but some of these… especially the later pieces,,, belong in a gallery. When I think that I might have provided inspiration for this remarkable work… I can’t tell you how proud that makes me. In fact,» I grinned impishly, «you may have been right earlier. I may just have to become insufferably smug.»

A sudden look of consternation swept across Colleen’s features. «Oh, shit!»

«What’s wrong?»

«Do you have to work tomorrow?»

«Yeah, why?»

«Do you realize how late it’s gotten?» She held her wrist up to my eye level. Her watch asserted that we had talked until half past midnight. «Have we really been gabbing for that long?» I asked in disbelief.

«Fraid so.» Colleen seemed to be considering something before she asked me, «Why don’t you stay here tonight? It’ll save you the drive time and you can get to bed that much sooner. I don’t think either of us has changed our dress sizes, so I’m sure I’ve got something in my closet you can wear to work tomorrow.»

As Colleen mentioned before, we’ve spent the night with each other countless times. But, of course, In all those instances, I was unaware of how she felt about me. Did that matter now? I mean, did she… that is, would she…? Dammit. I’d hesitated too long to answer Colleen and she must’ve mistaken that pause for reluctance on my part.

She tried to let me off the hook graciously, «Honey, I realize I’ve dumped quite a bit of information in your lap today. You’ve had no chance to consider what we’ve been talking about. It’s perfectly understandable if…»

«Of course, I’ll stay.»

Colleen’s pleasure shone from her eyes. «Great. It’ll be just like old times. Why don’t you jump in the shower while I clean up the dinner dishes? You know where I keep the towels and the PJ’s.»

The shower’s steaming cascade was exactly what I needed. It had been an emotionally exhausting day, and yet, at the same time it had been exhilarating. From the moment Colleen had confessed her true feelings for me, that there had been a frisson of sexual tension underlying the rest of our interactions. I was surprised at how readily I had responded to her flirtations. I can’t believe I kissed her!

I kissed her!

Holy shit!

Just recalling some of the things she’d said and some of the explicit images they’d inspired, caused my nipples to stiffen and a warmth to spread between my thighs. If I was at home right now, I’d surely be getting myself off. Instead, I turned off the water, dried myself, and tried not to think dangerous thoughts.

When I stepped into Colleen’s bedroom, she was entering through the other door. Drying her hands (from washing the dishes, I presume), she gave me an appreciative glance that did nothing to slow my already rapid pulse. She asked, «Do you want any lotion on your back before you put on your pajamas?»

This was another longtime ritual (especially in winter, when the skin can get so dry) that suddenly seemed erotically charged in this new context. But, again, I didn’t want her thinking I’d become self-conscious or uncomfortable in her company, so I said simply, «Sure.»

Colleen brought a bottle of lotion from the dresser and had me sit on the edge of the bed. I felt a thrill of anticipation as she sat directly behind me, rubbing her hands together to warm the lotion. «Sweetie?» Colleen’s murmur was clear in the stillness of the room, «I need you to lower the towel in back a bit.» Modesty seemed foolish, so I simply let the towel drop altogether.

Her lubricated palms pressed and shaped themselves to the contours at the small of my back. Colleen had done this so many times before and yet I had been unaware of how intimate and sensual her touch was. How was this possible? Had her hands ever taken possession of my skin like this or was I simply newly awake to their desire?

The progress of her fingers was slow, smooth and sensual. Did I just purr? Did she hear it? Alternating massaging my muscles and gliding over the flesh, Colleen was drawing responses from my body that I didn’t think I could hide much longer. My back was to her, so she may not have seen how distended my nipples had become, but my juices were flowing freely now, and soon there would be no mistaking that scent. Whether or not I was hypersensitive tonight, I was fairly certain now that this was not how she usually applied lotion to my back.

Colleen said something in my ear, which helped to draw me out of the lustful fog she was creating. «I’m sorry, hon, what did you say?»

«I said,» Colleen repeated, «your shoulder muscles are knotted and tense. Why don’t you stretch out so I can give you a proper rub?»

The word ‘no’ had disappeared from my vocabulary, so I lay down on my tummy as she asked. My inhibitions seemed to have vanished as well. I didn’t even bother trying to adjust the towel or otherwise hide my nakedness. I realized I didn’t really mind that she could see me completely uncovered now.

Putting more lotion on her hands, she began working it into the soles of my feet. Paying attention to each of my toes in their turn, Colleen then crept over my ankles and up to my calves, where she used her thumbs for a deep rub. When she reached the backs of my knees, her touch softened. I began to squirm, completely surrendering any pretense of indifference to what she was doing.

She caressed the full length of my outer thighs, taking her sweet time in the doing. I gripped the comforter between clenched fingers.

Smoothing along the backs of my legs, her fingers reached the sensitive flesh of my inner thighs. My gasp broke the stillness sharply.

Slowly, certainly, she moved higher. My hips rose to meet her. I knew my dripping sex was lewdly on display and I didn’t care. I didn’t give a damn about anything but what she was doing to me. Just as she was about to arrive at that soft yielding center, her hands stopped. I groaned at the pause, «Why’d you stop?» Was that my voice pleading so unabashedly?

Colleen’s hand took hold of my right shoulder and pulled up to turn me over onto my back. I was panting, brazenly on exhibit for her. I wanted her to see my nakedness. She obliged, gazing slowly up and down the length of my form. Desire blazed in her eyes.

When she could find her voice, it was husky and low, «I want you, Alejandra. I’ve wanted you for years. I want you more than words could ever hope to tell. But not like this.»

«Why? What’s wrong?» I was on the verge of tears. Frustration and fear battled for ascendancy in my mind.

Colleen lay on top of me, the length of her still clothed body pressed to my nakedness. That hardly helped to quell the fire she had stoked. Her fingers stroking my cheek were helpfully soothing, though. «I’m sorry. I acted without thinking. Without considering the consequences of my actions. I had no right and I apologize.»

I was still puzzled. «Apologize for what? I still don’t understand what made you stop.»

«If we made love tonight, what would that mean for you tomorrow? Would you feel ashamed? Embarrassed? Regretful?»

When I opened my mouth to protest, she touched her index finger to my lips, hushing me.

«If we made love tonight,» Colleen repeated, «would that be it… or would it be the beginning of something?»

«If we made love tonight,» she said yet again, «and it turned into something more, how would your life change? Would that mean ‘coming out’? What would that mean to you? To your parents? To your friends?»

«I’ve had a long time to ponder these things. I know exactly what I want and why I want it. Can you say the same? I had no business rushing you into something you’ve had no chance to consider. Will you forgive me?»

«There’s nothing to forgive. You’re only looking out for me, honey.» Colleen’s face was so close, so beautiful, an angel might have been tempted by its loveliness. And I was certainly no angel. Raising my head, so that my lips met hers, I wrapped my arms around her and held her to me.

When the kiss ended, Colleen said, «Stay with me tonight and I will find some way to get you to sleep. But tomorrow, after you leave, I want you to stay away for a while.»

«How long?»

«That’s up to you, dear heart. A week. A month. A year.» She playfully interjected, «(Please, God. Not a year!) However long it takes. Come back to me the minute you have the answers you need.»

I chuckled, and the sound was laced with chagrin. «Do you really think there’s a hope in hell that either of us are going to close our eyes tonight?»

«Not if you don’t stop flaunting that sexy body.» Colleen rolled off of me and propped herself on one arm. Surveying my form once more, she asserted, «That is not a sight that I’m ever gonna find conducive to sleep.» She leaned over me and brought her lips to mine again. While we were kissing, I felt her finger press tenderly at the base of my pussy. I moaned into her mouth as she inched that finger the full length of my slit, gathering cream on the tip as she went. As she approached the sweet spot at the top, my back arched in anticipation. Reaching the sheath covering my clit, she slathered my juices in circles around it. My body shuddered and my groans transformed into a joyous scream.

Colleen took her finger away and let my raised hips settle on the bed again. I opened my eyes to see her displaying the thickly coated digit she had just used to drive me wild. She put it into her mouth, sucking theatrically. After she was done, she smiled, presenting the finger again to show me that it had been thoroughly cleaned. «Just a little something,» she practically purred, «to hurry you back to me.»

«Jesus!» I panted, «And you claimed I don’t fight fair!»

Her grin widened. Rising from the bed, she went over to the dresser and tossed a pair of pajamas to me, «Put these on and I’ll be right back.»

I lay there for a moment, legs still splayed, breath coming in ragged gulps. Looking up at the ceiling, I thought if and when we ever do make love, I’m gonna be in big trouble.

As I dressed, the sounds of Colleen moving about in the kitchen made their way to me. In short order, the shrill cry of a boiling tea kettle could be heard. She returned with a steaming cup on a saucer, which she handed to me, «It’s chamomile tea. It should help you relax.» While I drank, she undressed for bed. Her nakedness sent a pulse of desire through me that surprised me with its intensity. She glanced up at me as she dressed. I did not look away or try to hide the longing in my eyes.

When I had finished my tea and she had donned her pajamas, she instructed me to move over. Putting a pillow behind her, she placed her back against the middle of the headboard and opened her legs in a ‘vee’ shape. Patting the sheets between her legs, Colleen smiled, «Lay here on your back for a while and let my magic fingers carry you to sleep.»

She had already demonstrated just how magical her fingers were, though not in any calming way. Nevertheless, I trusted her and did as she directed. When I was nestled in the angle made by her parted legs, she brought my head to rest on her pajama-clad breast. Gently rotating her fingers on my temples, she kissed my forehead and whispered, «Close your eyes and let go of all your cares. You’re safe and warm here.»

‘Safe and warm’ was exactly how I felt as her fingers pressed in gentle, soporific circles at my temples. Colleen even sang a lullaby in a melodic whisper. The combination of being embraced in her warmth, the soothing rhythm of her fingers and the mesmerizing sound of her voice all worked a powerful spell. I was gone in mere minutes.

When I woke the next morning, sunlight flooded Colleen’s bedroom through open curtains. I could hear her in the kitchen again and an enticing aroma filled the apartment. As I threw off the covers, a piece of paper at the bottom of the bed fell to the floor. I picked it up to discover a fresh ‘night portrait’ of me in the very pajamas I was wearing. Colleen had used rich, charcoal shading to capture my likeness. A look of blissful peace had settled over my features. My hair spilled over the pillow in graceful lines. Resting on the bed near my face, my hand was palm up, fingers gently curled in repose. Colleen had ‘signed’ the drawing in the lower right hand corner with a string of X’s and O’s. I couldn’t help but smile at the childish flourish.

My growling tummy and the irresistible smell of Colleen’s cooking had my feet quickly kitchen bound. As I entered the aromatic room, she was just dropping an omelet onto a plate already piled with pancakes. Kissing her on the cheek, I thanked her for the drawing she’d left for me. I noticed a buttermilk carton on the counter and squealed with delight, «Buttermilk pancakes!»

«Since you voiced skepticism about my recently acquired cooking skills, I wanted to prove myself before you went away.» I slumped at her reminder of our impending separation. She gestured for me to sit at the kitchen table and then brought the plate of eggs and flapjacks over to me. «Besides,» she leaned on the table, her face close to mine, «As I’ve already demonstrated, I’m not above bribing you to hurry back soon.» It was then that I understood the double meaning in her words. Her pajama blouse hung open revealing her bare breast dangling within tantalizingly easy reach. I was shocked at the fierce pang the sight aroused in me. I finally pulled my eyes away to look up into hers, where I found a matching hunger.

It occurred to me how very far I had traveled in the space of a single day.

The omelet had been extravagant; cooked with onions, mushrooms, diced tomatoes and covered with shredded sharp cheese. The buttermilk pancakes were fluffy and tasty. I recanted my teasing and told her she could cook for me anytime. This seemed to please her inordinately.

When it was time for me to leave for work, I tried to procrastinate, but Colleen would have none of it. «I don’t expect to see you for at least a week… longer, if need be.» she admonished. «Like Pooh…» I grinned because I knew she was about to quote one of our favorite lines from ‘Winnie The Pooh And The Blustery Day’, «I need you to ‘Think, think, think’.» I immediately pictured Pooh’s drooping ear snapping upright with the strain of his effort to concentrate.

Colleen pulled me into her arms and kissed me as if she might never get the chance again. When we came up for air at last, she touched her forehead to mine and whispered «I don’t want you back here until you are absolutely certain you know what you’re doing.»

«When did you get to be such a wise old woman?» I grumbled.

Cradling my jaw with her fingers, she rested her thumb on my chin. «That ‘wisdom’ was bought and paid for with a year and a half of solitude. Now, I want you to have time to find some of your own.» She lowered her voice to add, «Just don’t take as long as I did.»

Removing my arms from around her, she took my shoulders and turned me around to face the door. With a pat on my rear, she commanded me to «Scoot.»

When her door closed behind me, I could hear her muffled voice say, «I love you, Alejandra.»

For an instant, I felt a surge of panic. I almost turned back, pounded on the door and begged her to let me back in. To tell her I didn’t need any time to know my own heart. But, for once, I resisted my initial impulse. She was right and I knew it. I had already admitted to myself that I lusted after Colleen. And while I certainly loved her, was I IN love with her? She wanted a committed relationship with me. Was that what I wanted and if so, was I ready for the consequences? I would certainly have to talk with my mom and dad about this. No way around that. And there were friends who would have to be told.

Sobering thoughts to counteract the high I’d been on for the past day.

Two weeks later, I was climbing the steps to Colleen’s apartment again. This time, with no trepidation whatsoever. In fact, I was taking the steps two at once. Knocking on her door with childish zeal, I took deep breaths to quiet the butterflies in my tummy.

The fourteen days since I had last seen her had crawled by at an agonizing rate. Every single bedtime of that fortnight had been spent pleasuring myself to thoughts of Colleen. Hell, I never masturbated that often even as a teenager! In fact, prior to this, I had always assumed I had a somewhat underactive libido. Apparently, it had only needed the right spark.

When she opened the door, I took a moment to drink in the sight of her, like a thirsty woman finally given water. It appeared that I had interrupted her while she was working. Her long, chestnut tresses were pinned up to keep them out of her way. She held a brilliant violet stick of pastel chalk in her left hand. An indigo smudge obscured some of the freckles to the left of her nose. Her shirt was a dark blue with a paisley design of cornflower blue to match her eyes. Her sleeves were rolled and the front unbuttoned to reveal a plain, white t-shirt underneath. Both the t-shirt and her well-worn sweat pants were speckled, here and there, with color. Her feet were bare. She looked at me expectantly, when I gave in to an impulse I’d had to repress for the past two weeks.

Slipping my hands into her open shirt, I placed them on her hips and pulled her to me. I enjoyed seeing the fleeting surprise in her eyes before I took possession of her lips.

At first, the kiss was slow and tender, just her pliant lips molded to mine, feeling warm and tender. My tongue brushed her lips, not demanding entry, but teasing her, inviting her to let me in. Her lips parted and my tongue slipped between them. There was a sense of exploratory wonder that ripened into something hungry. It became a kiss that said ‘I want you’. A kiss that said ‘I need you’.

My hand caught the small of her back and drew her closer still. I felt the warmth of her breasts and her belly through her t-shirt and my blouse. When I let her go at last, Colleen smiled dazedly at me and breathed, «Now that’s the kind of greeting I could get used to.»

Taking my hand, she pulled me through the doorway, saying, «You’d better get in here, before I ravish you in front of the neighbors.»

Once she’d closed the door behind me, I glanced down at the bright bit of color still in her hand. «Have I interrupted your work?»

«I was working, yes… » Colleen answered, «but the Earth will go spinning off into space before I ever think of you as an interruption.»

«You’re a shameless flatterer. Let’s see if you still feel that way twenty years from now, when I’m trying to pull you away from your art to make love to me.»

She studied my face carefully, as though she could read my thoughts there. «Do you plan on being with me twenty years from now?»

«Obviously,» I couldn’t resist the wide smile that took over my face, «or I wouldn’t have said so to my parents.»

Colleens eyes widened. «To your…? You’ve already told…?»

«Why do you think I’m here?»

«I was hoping you were gonna tell me you were ready to talk to them. I didn’t think you’d already… » Her voice trailed off and then she simply sighed, «Wow.» Her eyes seemed to be looking into the future. I brushed her auburn tresses behind her ear and whispered into it, «Earth to Colleen.» When she focused her gaze back on me in the here and now, I told her, «It didn’t take a lot of time to realize I needed to get back to you. And I was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that.»

«I thought about what you’ve gone through these past few years,» I continued, «and I knew that compared to your struggle, I had it easy.»

«But, what did they say?»

«Well, it took them by surprise, to say the least. But, they’re good people and they trust me. They want what’s best for me. Besides, they know you and love you, too. It’ll take some time for them to wrap their heads around it, but they’ll get there.»

I looked at Colleen with a bit of apprehension diluting my delight in having her company again, «It might help if you came with me to talk with them.»

«Soon.» I added.

With a wry look, she replied, » I suppose it’s the right thing to do, so long as you can promise they won’t kill me for corrupting their daughter.»

«I promise.» I moved closer to her, deliberately and provocatively invading her personal space. Adjusting my voice to the intimacy, I said, «As far as ‘corrupting’ me, that’s one of many reasons I’m here. You started something the last time we were together. I want to finish it.»

Fitting the palm of my hand to the side of her face, I went on, «I did what you asked of me, Colleen. I thought long and carefully about what it would mean if we were together. And, from every angle I could look at it, you are my best chance for happiness. It seems so obvious to me now, I feel like a fool for having taken so long to see it.»

I continued to hold her gaze as I breathed, «Now… are you going to make love to me or do I have to get on my knees again?» We still stood in the vestibule to her apartment.

She pressed her lips to the corner of mine. Planting light, fluttering kisses, she moved across my mouth a fraction at a time, as if tasting my love there. I slipped my hands inside her open shirt, brushing it back from her shoulders and allowing it to fall to the floor.

Colleen straightened and began to unbutton my blouse hastily. «Dammit, Alejandra, why couldn’t you have worn a pullover?»

I giggled at her impatience, but her eagerness sent an answering warmth coursing through me.

When she had my top off, I heard her mutter «Thank God.» after she discovered that my bra clasped in the front. I laughed again and admonished «Patience.»

Stripping the bra from me and tossing it heedlessly away, Colleen practically growled, «I’ve had a steady diet of patience for years now, when this…» she cupped my right breast in her hand and lowered her head to it, «this is what I craved. Better brace yourself, darling. I intend to make a meal of you.» Her warm mouth closed around my nipple and drew it between her lips, nursing like a babe.

My fingers tightened in her hair as she cupped the underside of my tit and sucked more of it into her mouth. My eyes closed at the sweet sensations she was eliciting. The warmth between my thighs was becoming heat and my panties were sticky with the result.

Colleen continued nursing, while her hands dropped to unfasten my skirt. I let her suck, as my skirt fell to the floor.

Someone moaned and I realized it was me. I whispered Colleen’s name passionately. She was drooling and sloppy. It felt too wonderful for words.

She kissed her way to my left breast. I drew in an urgent breath as her lips enveloped my nipple. She lashed her tongue across the sensitive nub. I squirmed, my sex spilling more of my excitement. My panties were positively sodden now.

Extending her tongue, she traced the swell of my breast to its underside, running it slowly along the crease. She busied her fingers, kneading the swollen buds of my nipples, pinching them, twisting them gently. I could hardly breathe.

Her lips and tongue moving onto my rib cage and over the curves of my fluttering stomach. She dropped to her knees as her attentions proceeded lower. When she reached my panties, Colleen kissed, sucked and nibbled her way just above the waistband, her eyes looking up into mine. I tried to hold her gaze, but at times my eyes clenched shut with the exquisite sensations. My knees were threatening to buckle, so I braced my hands against the walls of her foyer.

Colleen fitted the palms of her hands to the backs of my knees. Slowly they rose, curving to the backs of my thighs. Still watching me intently, her kisses began to travel down the silken front of my panties. We were still so close to her front door that any passerby in the hall could hear my increasingly unrestrained moans. But I didn’t have enough self-control left to do anything about it.

Her fixed stare had me hypnotized again, as her lips moved lower and lower. Hands rising to cup my buttocks, she helped steady my quivering legs. Colleen nestled her nose against the cushion of my mons, her mouth disappearing around its curvature.

Her tongue pressed against the base of my slit through the saturated material of my undergarment. I hissed, «Wait, Colleen! Wait until we…!»

Too late. She began to drag her tongue up the length of my sex, spreading me open and tasting me through the silk. I caught my breath with a strangled squeak, my toes curling. When she reached the top of my womanhood, she drew my clit between her lips and sucked.

«Oh, God… Yes… Right there.» was probably the last coherent thing I said. And you didn’t have to be just outside the door to hear the sounds I made after that. I opened myself up for her, casting off all restraint, completely focused on the pleasure she was giving me.

A frantic joy detonated between my legs and surged all the way out to my fingertips and toes. Muscles clenched, and released as starbursts of color exploded on the backs of my tightly closed eyelids. I threw my head back and screamed. My back arched more than I thought possible, my pussy thrust back and forth across Colleen’s face, soaking her from nose to chin. She did her best to hold on and keep drinking from the fountain.

When I finally started to come down, I slumped against the wall and tried to catch my breath. Colleen was breathing hard underneath me, as well. After-tremors shook my body, little shivers that came and went every few seconds. Colleen kept licking, gently lapping up my juices until I had to push her away. «No more,» I pleaded, still panting, «please …too much.» With reluctance, she gave my silk-encased sex one last kiss, and let me be.

I pressed my back flat against the vestibule wall, slid down until my bottom met the floor, murmuring, «Damn… damn… damn…» as I went. Snuggling up beside me, Colleen asked, «You okay?»

«No, but I will be.» I gave her a weary grin. «And when I’ve had a minute to catch my breath, it’s my turn.»

Putting her hand on my arm, she replied, «I hate to disappoint you, dear heart, but you can’t call what we just did a ‘turn’. I barely touched you before you went off like a firecracker.»

«Firecracker, my ass! More like a neutron bomb.»

«Firecracker… bomb… whatever. The point is, I haven’t waited all these years to settle for five minutes.» Colleen rose from the floor and extended her hand to help me up. «That was just a warm-up. I’m not done with you yet. Not by a long shot. You’ll get your turn… I promise.»

Guiding me through the living room, Colleen steered me toward her bedroom and said, «Why don’t you lie down and catch your breath and I’ll join you in a minute.»

I obeyed, shuffling into her bedroom and practically falling face down onto the same burgundy comforter that she’d reproduced in her nude portrait of me. I didn’t even have the strength to remove my last article of clothing… those saturated silk panties.

From where I lay, I could hear Colleen rustling briefly in the kitchen and then the bell of a microwave timer sounding. A moment later, she entered the room carrying a tray with a bowl on it. She was above me and I was too drained to move, so I couldn’t make out what was in the bowl. So, naturally, I asked, «Whatcha got there?»

«The last time you were here,» Colleen replied, «I began to give you a massage. I plan on finishing it today. So, I put a bottle of baby oil in a bowl of hot water. That ought to feel yummy going on… give the rub an extra zing. So, why don’t you relax and let me show you my idea of a ‘turn’.»

Colleen knelt on the floor at the foot of the bed. She squirted some of the heated oil on her hands and rubbed them together. As before, she began with my feet, working the oil in soothing circles. Her thumbs kneaded my left sole and I exhaled a blissful sigh. Again, she massaged each toe, then moved her attentions to my ankle and instep. Colleen’s fingers glided over my achilles tendon and around the front to my shin. When she arrived at my calf, she applied deep pressure again, slowly rotating her thumbs until even the ghost of tension had fled the area.

Spreading my open legs wider, Colleen climbed up on the bed between them. She leaned over and presented wet kisses and light strokes of her tongue on the backs of my knees. Back and forth she moved, until I was wriggling with pleasure. After pouring more warmed oil on her hands, she formed them to the curve of my hamstrings, spreading her fingers so that her thumbs were on the insides of my thighs. She stroked in a slowly rising circular motion, each upward movement bringing her nearer to my womanhood. I felt the touch of her hands with extreme clarity… each individual finger. They seemed to caress every inch of my flesh.

At that moment, for me, there was only one thing happening in all the world: the slow progress of Colleen’s hands coming closer and closer to my cunt. Closer and closer, until they began to probe the tender creases where my legs met my hips. Her thumbs eased up and down, squeezing the soft tissue of my outer lips together. Liquid began to seep from my inner lips, trickling down to darken her burgundy comforter. Every movement she made was transmitted to my sex. This was just a hair’s breadth away from out-and-out masturbation.

Then I felt the tips of her fingers brush the outer labia.

Colleen seemed oblivious to my gasp and the reflexive tensing of my muscles. Her hands eased up to my buttocks and caressed them gently. The fingers of both her hands slipped into the cleft between my cheeks and, like the finest gossamer, grazed my most secret place.

I screamed. Of course, no one had ever done that to me before, and I had never explored that area myself, not even when I masturbated. If I had had any idea what a wonderful cluster of nerves were located in that area, I would never have neglected it for so long!

The motion of her well-oiled hands was velvety smooth. Each time she moved over the firm globes of my naked ass, her fingertips just barely kissed that forbidden rosebud. I was stunned at how wickedly pleasurable it felt.

All the barriers in my head were crumbling. The ecstasy she was giving me was so all-consuming that any other thoughts, any «rules» were driven out of my head. Colleen took what she wanted and I… I let her have it. Stroking my perineum, then higher, her finger glanced over the edge of my tight little star again.

My body shuddered and I let loose a still louder cry of delight. She passed over the spot again, this time swiping a couple times over the entire opening, then circling it, moving inward.

Something that started as a grunt, unfolded into a moan, then spiraled into a scream.

«You like that, hmmm?» Colleen asked, though the answer was obvious.

«Jesus!» I panted, «You have no idea!»

«Actually, sweetheart,» she giggled, «I do. You’re not exactly wearing your poker face right now.»

I shivered with passion as she rubbed her oily finger in circles around my tight little anus. Everything felt slippery and wonderful. I gushed, «Oh God… Oh God…» and raised my hips to meet her caresses. «Colleen, oh God… Please…», then backed up, pushing the tiny pucker firmly against her digit.

«Are you sure?» she asked.

My body trembled as I pressed myself back onto her.

And then we were both pushing at the same time. She had to thrust hard, and I welcomed it into me… so oily and so tight.

I began to spasm, clenching my eyes and panting, «I love you… I love you…»

She wriggled her finger in just a little deeper, embedding it in me.

I cried out, «I love you, Colleen! I love you…»

She spoke softly, «I love you too.»

She pumped in and out of me as smooth as silk. Each entry and near-exit transmitted ecstasy to the farthest reaches of my anatomy. I’ve never felt anything like it.

Still sputtering, «I love you! I love you! I love you!…» over and over, my voice trembled as much as my physique. My fervent exclamations disintegrated into a stream of incoherent moans and cries.

I heard Colleen encouraging me, «C’mon, honey, I want you to cum for me. Do you want it harder?»

«Yes! Yes! It feels soooo good!» I wanted her to know what she was doing to me; the incredible pleasure she was bestowing.

She fucked me faster still, pressing her body against my hips. Reaching around my thigh with her left hand she brought it up between my legs and began to manipulate my clit while her other hand continued its assault.

I whimpered shamelessly, undulating my hips, begging her to fuck me harder

In and out, In and out, impaling me with one hand while the other massaged my pleasure button in a circular motion. It was indescribable. I rewarded her attentions with answering thrusts from my hips, and a sticky flow spilling onto her hand.

The circular massage of my clit evolved into a stroking of its length. I was nearly crazed with lust, trembling on the brink of something truly spectacular!

Suddenly, she increased the speed of the finger in my ass at the same time she amplified the pressure of the fingers on my clit. Everything was so oily, and so fast.

«Fuck!» I cried, «Don’t stop!… Oh… Oh… Oh… I’m gonna cum!…»

«Good girl» Colleen said in a soothing voice. She planted a kiss on my round, plump bottom. «Let it happen.»

Clawing the sheets, I raised my ass to give her more of me. «Ahhh, God… Colleen… yes! just like that!… I’m cummingI’mcummingI’mcummingI’m…» And after I uttered those words, she applied a bit more pressure on my clit and pumped her finger in my bottom like a piston. I thought I was going to levitate right off the bed. My hips and thighs shivered as shrieking, unbelievable pleasure assaulted my mind and body. Wave after crashing wave of it. I screamed in absolute joy. Colleen laughed with delight and kept stroking my clit with audible wet sounds, my tight anus wrapped snug around her oily finger. I bounced up and down on the bed, and she followed and took me over the top again. I gasped for breath and cried out, digging my nails into the mattress and rolling my head back and forth.

Colleen continued working her fingers in and out and on me as the rush subsided. She slowed her penetrating finger, pacing herself to the draining energy in me. I slumped forward onto the bed.

Faint tremors still rocked my body as Colleen slowly eased her finger out of me. Crawling up beside me, she covered my back and shoulders with adoring little kisses. My nerve endings were still on fire and even those minor attentions made me squirm. «Turn over for me.» she whispered in my ear.

«Ab-so-LUTE-ly NOT! No way in hell.» I protested «No more. If you do one more thing to me, it might just be the death of me.»

«Oh, stop being such a drama queen.» she scolded. «I just wanna kiss you. Now turn over, dammit.»

Tugging on my right shoulder, she pulled me onto my back. She gazed down at me so intently, I felt a bit self-conscious. I was flushed, sweating and my hair was everywhere. «Stop staring. I know I look a hot mess.»

Brushing stray strands of hair from my cheek, Colleen said, «You stop fishing for compliments. You’re breathtaking and you know it.» Fitting the palm of her right hand to the curve of my left hip, she lowered her face and brought her lips to mine. Her mouth was warm and silky, opening for me until our tongues were touching, lightly flicking at each other. She licked underneath my tongue where it was soft and slippery, It was heavenly sweet — intimate and sensuous.

Her hand slid up my rib cage and gently cupped and squeezed my left breast. Her lips abandoned mine and meandered over my chin down to my throat. I felt something stirring again in my belly and between my thighs. «Colleen? What are you doing, honey?»

«Nothing.» she murmured innocently between kisses that seemed to become more provocative. Light pecks and soft sucking along my collar bone led to her tongue pirouetting in the hollow at the base of my throat. The stirring in my nether regions became even more pronounced. «I don’t know,» I protested, «that definitely felt like something to me.»

«Just your imagination.» she purred just before her mouth enveloped my left nipple.

«Oh, fuck!» I cried out.

Drawing the tit deep into her mouth, she gazed up at me, puckered her lips and began to suckle. My fingers tightened in her hair, my back arching to move the nipple further between her parted lips. Colleen eagerly accepted my offering. One hand kneaded the breast as her tongue lapped at the erect tip. «Fuck.. fuck… fuck… fuck!» I panted. «I can’t believe you’re doing this to me again.»

She left my breast for a moment to bat her eyelashes at me and say with Shirley Temple innocence, «I can stop if you want me to.»

My only response was a lustful growl as I pulled her back to my tit… just where I needed her to be. She laughed with her mouth full of my breast. If possible, my nipples felt harder, tighter than before, declaring my growing excitement. The sensations radiating from my vulnerable buds shot through my over-stimulated body like lightning. I could already feel fresh moisture pooling between my legs.

I had been completely washed out. Definitely too tired and too sensitive to receive any more of her attentions. It was some sort of miracle that she had me hungry for more so quickly.

Her lips left my nipple to trace around the full swell of my tits. I was panting like a long-distance runner, now. Her tongue moved along the underside of my tits. Collen slipped down to my rib cage, caressing, kissing, nipping and sucking lower and lower. Whenever she came to a spot that extracted a sigh or a moan from my lips, she would linger there, giving it special care. She kept up the slow teasing until my back was fully arched and I was helplessly grasping and releasing handfuls of comforter.

Before she was done with it, her tongue must’ve surely memorized every aspect of my navel.

Then she followed the subtle swell of my lower abdomen. She treated my belly as if she were an acolyte worshiping at an altar. My torso and hips were already beginning to undulate delicately in response to her ministrations. Whenever she looked up at me, her eyes shone with a tenderness and lust that caused my pleasure to be laced with powerful emotion. I was brimming with a heady mixture of love, affection, and pure, carnal appetite.

Then she began to kiss along my sensitive inner thighs, which were coated with a viscous sheen that had trickled from above. Which meant she could smell and taste my excitement as she drew closer to my center. Colleen raised my upper legs and eased them across her shoulders, leaving her face inches from my now pulsing honeypot. She nuzzled the inside of my legs with the side of her face while I ran my fingers through her silken hair.

Turning her face, she pressed her nose against my pussy and gave it a teasing wriggle. I immediately felt myself opening and she breathed me in again. «Stop teasing and fuck me!» I begged.

«Fuck you?» Colleen mimicked, «I’m confused. ‘Cause just a minute ago you whined ‘Absolutely not. No way.’ In fact, you might have made some such claim that it ‘might be the death of me’. Well, Lord knows, we wouldn’t want to risk that. It’s a quandary, I tell you.» Kissing and lapping around my mound, she murmured, «What to do? What to do?»

After a few more minutes of this I was nearly crazed with frustration, «C’mon, Colleen, pleasepleasepleaseplease! Enough already!» I whined. «I need it NOW!»

«You need what, now?» she mocked.

«I need your tongue on my pussy! Do I have to beg?» A part of me couldn’t believe I’d actually said that out loud, but for the most part, I just didn’t care anymore. I was just one big bundle of frazzled nerve endings, all aching for release.

«My, my. I had no idea you were so greedy. You’ve had two crashing orgasms and here you are, pleading for another. Have I fallen in with some sort of nymphomaniac?» Little by little, she drew a circuit with her tongue on my body, lapped around my mound going down as far the crease in my thigh and up nearly to my navel. The circuit grew smaller and smaller, until she focused on my fleshy outer lips. She still steered clear of my inner lips.

When she did, at last, come to those tender petals, it was only to graze the edges with a series of light flicks of her tongue. I was so keyed up, I held absolutely still so that I could relish the throbs of arousal that this generated.

I lost all track of time while she continued with boundless patience. All the while, her fingers carried on their gentle massage of the backs of my thighs. My mind and body were taut with expectation.

Finally, she spread my legs wider and shifted to look more directly between them.

Colleen stammered, «It’s — it’s…»

«What?» I asked.

Colleen spoke carefully, so I would get the full impact of every word,

«Alejandra, I can see everything. You’re so wet and your vagina is opening up like a flower. I can see the juice leaking from your pussy lips and down between your cheeks. Can you feel it? The skin there is so incredibly smooth.» She ran her fingers across the area, obviously reveling in the sensation. It didn’t exactly feel terrible to me either. In fact, it made me breathe harder and move my hips, almost involuntarily, so now I was pointing my cunt up to her to give her a better view.

Colleen went on, «I can see your inner folds… they’re amazing! So lovely and intricate… like pretty, pink butterfly wings.»

She paused and slowly said, «And — and your…» and she couldn’t finish.

«What?… Tell me?» I asked.

Colleen seemed spellbound. She looked at me and whispered, «Oh Allie, I need to…» Leaning forward, she gently kissed my open girl-flesh.

I thought I might scream, the sensation was so fierce. She gave me a prolonged French kiss right on my sex, like she was kissing my mouth. My puffy outer labia bulged outward as she burrowed her face between them. She fastened onto the soft, pink flesh of my inner lips, licking and sucking with abandon. My muscles tensed involuntarily, and I gasped. My spasm had smeared some of my pussy fluids on her face, but she just kept exploring with earnest, careful caresses of her tongue. She slid between the folds, mapping out the delicate contours that I barely knew, even in myself.

Flattening her tongue, she used it to spread me open, sweeping up and down the length of my slit with broad strokes. Then she narrowed her tongue, gathering my cream on its tip as she traveled the extent of my cleft again and again. Delving into me, she probed every inch of me… every secret, delicate inch.

My vocabulary narrowed to a single word: an ecstatic «YES!» I willingly surrendered my body’s every secret to her.

She brought her fingers to my opening. My recent orgasms had left me supremely relaxed and Colleen was able to slide two, then three fingers inside. She slid them into the swollen, heated flesh, making slurping noises… the sound of a blissful cunt. I groaned, rocking my hips back and forth along with her as she stroked me from the inside with her fingertips and the outside with her tongue. I moaned louder, «God yes. Oh yes!»

I was hers now, bound to the addictive touch of her fingers and tongue. I panted wantonly, lifting my trembling hips to give her easier access.

My open legs trembled and twitched as she pumped her fingers inside me, buried them deep, twisting and curling them. «Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!…» I chanted, shuddering as her fingers worked their way inside me, where they belonged. She plunged them deep, gripping my thigh with her other hand to give her leverage for her thrusting. I pulled in a ragged breath, then exhaled, «Oh…fuck….fuck…fuck..fuck…» another litany, another lust-fueled song, urging her on.

Colleen had already brought me more pleasure than I’ve ever known. And still, something was building in me. Something powerful. Little by little, she woke it, fed it and stoked it. I felt this… this hunger… this need… growing within me… until it threatened to take me over completely. It controlled my limbs like a puppet’s. It offered my cunt to Colleen’s thrusting fingers. It submitted my freely flowing juices to her tongue. It held my legs open to her passion, and kept the muscles taut and trembling. It threw my head back into the pillow, and drew salacious sounds from my throat. It responded ever more fiercely to the silent language in which Colleen spoke to it, seduced it. It lit my whole body in ways I had never felt before.

Continuing to lave my labia, she slowly withdrew her fingers from my pussy. Before I could protest their absence, she slid one of them down between my cheeks, which were slick with juice that had trickled down. Her finger glided up and down, smearing the stickiness, swirling it around, but not entering that lower opening.

I had to see her. I had to watch what she was doing to me. Rising up on my elbows, I looked down the length of my sweating, heaving body and saw her beautiful face buried between my legs. Her eyes locked onto mine just as she did three things at once: she ran her hand up my belly, to cup my breast and pinch my nipple. A finger from her other hand slithered between my cheeks and entered my bottom. And her lips wrapped around my pulsating clit. The combination of all of these at the same time was just too much.

My body shivered, I screamed, «Oh fuck, Colleen! Suck me harder, baby. I’m gonna cum!» My cunt spasmed and bucked. My ass cheeks clamped down around her invading finger. Moaning in rhythm with her, my legs tightened. Little squeaking gasps were escaping me. Her finger slid easily up my tight, slick tunnel. I couldn’t hold her gaze anymore as I threw my head back and squeezed my eyes shut.

I thrashed on the bed. Hot tears streamed down my face as I surrendered myself completely. I grabbed my ass cheeks, spreading them apart for her, trying to stretch my anal opening wider for her ravaging finger. Suddenly I shuddered, my pussy contracted, pulsed and flooded juice over her tongue. For a second or two, I saw stars, then everything went black.

I was probably only out for an instant, but when I came to, my hips were still twitching, and her finger was still in my bottom. She was gently lapping up the fluids coming from my still pulsating cunt.

I didn’t have the strength to move. I simply lay there as she continued to preen my sex with her tongue. After a while, she touched my thigh to get my attention. I managed to raise my head enough to look down at her. Her lips, chin and cheeks gleamed with the nectar she had so skillfully extracted from me.

She smiled at me and said, simply, «I Love you.»

I watched her give my pubic mound sweet little adoring kisses, I had to swallow a couple of times before I could speak, «I love you, too. Do you think maybe I could have a kiss now, please?» Colleen crawled back up my body, trailing loving licks and kisses along the way. She stopped at my breasts, nursing each nipple. She lay on my body, her warm loins pressed against my own. If felt so good I wrapped my legs around her while we kissed. Her tongue invaded my mouth in a way that felt even more intimate than when she sucked my pussy. I tasted my own juices on her lips and tongue. They were pungent and heady. We kissed like that for a long time.

I smiled and said, «Well, you can’t claim you haven’t had a proper turn, now.» She grinned back at me.

Looking me in the eye, she wound her fingers in my hair and said, «You are so fucking beautiful, Alejandra,» her voice breaking. Her hands roamed over my body with an eagerness that suggested she still wanted me. I think if she hadn’t sensed that I was completely spent, she would have taken me again.


I realized right then that I was one helluva lucky girl.

It was the last thought I had before fading into a deep, restful sleep.

I don’t really need to tell you what Colleen was doing when I woke, do I?

«Jesus, girl! Don’t you ever sleep?»

«Let’s see…» she asked while her hand was still moving across the drawing board in her lap, «the most beautiful model I could ever hope to find is nude… and holding a great pose for an extended period. Do you think I would ever pass that up? You have met me before, right?»

«Is this what I have to look forward to for the next umpteen years…» I queried with a playful tone, «you stalking me relentlessly?»

«Pretty much… yup.» She studied my feet intently, then looked down at her drawing to record what she saw. She hadn’t bothered to put on any clothes. If I know Colleen (and I do), she would’ve considered that time wasted that she could’ve been using to capture the pose.

«Ugh,» I grunted, «I can see it now: «Alejandra At Her Bath’. ‘Alejandra Brushing Her Teeth’. ‘Alejandra At Her Supper’… Is it okay for me to move, now, or will that spoil your drawing?»

«No, no… go ahead. I’m finished… more or less.» But she was still focused, as if she wanted to record some last bit of visual information in her head before she lost the chance.

I stretched my arms and legs, arching my back while I was at it.

Colleen chuckled, «Girl, I pray to God you’ve got a streak of exhibitionism running through you. ‘Cause, as far as I’m concerned, you could walk around here each and every day without a stitch on and I’d be as happy as a clam.»

«You are such a perv.» I rolled my eyes and turned on my side to face her. «You mean to tell me, after everything you just did to me, you’re still trying to figure out new ways to get me naked?»

She grinned impishly, «You betcha!»

«You know, some of those things we did…» I felt my face flush at the thought, «I literally never even dreamed of doing. And yet,» I fanned my face with my hand, «you had me begging… again, literally… begging for more. So, um, if me walking around naked as a jaybird will you give you ideas about doing things like that to me again…» I blushed even brighter, «I’ll be happy to oblige.»

Colleen removed the drawing board from her lap and placed it on the floor beside her chair. Jumping up from her seat, she leaped the short distance to the bed and landed on the mattress beside me. Before I recovered from the surprise of it, she had straddled her legs over my waist. Her hands pinned my wrists as she leaned her face close to mine. «Alejandra… when you’re around… it doesn’t matter whether you’re dressed or not… you always give me ideas.» Raising my head off the bed, I closed the short distance between us so that I could taste her lips. She returned the kiss eagerly. As she bent over me, her breasts pressed to mine. Their heft… their warmth… their soft, fullness was pure bliss.

Our mouths moved hungrily together… tongues tangling, lacing, exploring… lips caressing, brushing, pressing, claiming ownership. When Colleen drew away, she looked down at me, eyes shining. Our gazes met and held, with nothing said. When she broke the silence at last, her voice was quiet and hoarse. «Do you have any idea what you do to me, Alejandra?»

I peered into the cornflower blue depths and counted the violet flecks within. My voice, when I found it, was trembling, «Yes, I do. I understand the power I have over you. But, I only have that power because you trust me with it. And, you’re right to, because you know… with absolute certainty… that I’ll take greater care with your heart than I would my own.»

«You’ve loved me for a long time,» I continued, «and though you’ve had a head start, don’t ever worry that this relationship might be one-sided. It’s not and it never will be. I really did think long and carefully for these past two weeks I’ve been away from you. In that short time, I’ve traveled so far from the fields I know, that I hardly recognize my surroundings anymore. But, I realized, so long as I’m in your company, I will eventually get my bearings, and the rest… well, the rest doesn’t really matter.»

«Oh, and by the way,» I added, «that ‘power’ I have over you? Don’t think for a moment that you don’t hold the same sway over me. It’s difficult to imagine the circumstances where I could gather the will to tell you ‘no’. Hell, long before I had any thought of romance in my head, I’ve always wanted to please you. You pointed out how easily you used to get me to pose for ridiculously long periods for you. I’m sure, with not much effort at all, you can recall any number of other times I went out of my way to satisfy you.»

«And now…?» I went on, «Well, let’s just say that I would go… to the ends of the Earth… to avoid disappointing you»

«Oooohhh! I like the sound of that!» Colleen purred, her voice filled with mischief. «So, are you saying that if I was to take you right now, you’d pretty much let me do what I please with you?»

«Well, I would…» Without warning, I bucked my hips and thrust my arms upward, causing her to fall onto the bed beside me. Before she could recover, I was atop her, straddling her waist and pinning her wrists this time. «I would…» I repeated, «if it weren’t so clearly my turn, now.»

My left hand let go her wrist and found a place in her chestnut hair. I stroked the silken tresses while considering the breathtaking beauty of her fair, freckled face. My fingers moved to caress her forehead, to stroke the soft, fine hair of her eyebrows. My thumb glided over the freckled bridge of her nose, the faint cinnamon flecks adorning her cheeks. All the while, her gaze held mine… and held it fast. I traced over the curving flesh just above her upper lip with my fingernail. When the pad of my finger pad skimmed those lips themselves, her tongue peeked out to wet it and smooth its journey. The intimacy of it made me shiver upon her.

Now that my fingers had become acquainted with her features, my lips hungered to do the same. I lavished a delicate rain of kisses upon that beloved countenance. Her face was honey to my mouth.

I paused in my attentions to look into Colleen’s eyes again, our faces scant inches apart, «Now that I’ve been relieved of my ignorance… now that I’m aware of what I ‘do’ to you… I want to do more. I know you have sighs and moans nestled inside you…» I fitted the palm of my hand to the contour of her belly, «…just waiting for me to bring them out. There are screams this lovely throat,» I stroked it lightly up and down, «has been hoarding for too long. I won’t be content until it surrenders them to me.»

Her throat… that shapely, bare throat… was made to bite. And when I did so, her lips formed a silent, amorous ‘o’ that communicated more clearly than sound. I looked up at her expression and whispered, «Not the outcry I want… but it’ll do… for now.»

I returned to the yielding, ivory column of her neck, feeling the pulsing of vein and artery beneath my mouth. I moved slowly, savoring each atom of trembling flesh, every whimper that hung in the air. The milk-white skin of her shoulders and upper chest were also covered with a fine dusting of freckles. I bestowed on them a flurry of butterfly kisses and intricate patterns painted with my tongue.

The flecks of color on her skin faded, then disappeared on the slopes of her breasts. The skin there was unblemished cream, save for the twin, pink rosebuds at their peaks. I stopped my wandering mouth for a moment and sat up to admire the beauty of her bosom. Curving my hands to her breasts, I cupped them both, delighting in their heft and suppleness. The sight of those shapely mounds of flesh, topped with puffy areolae, pulled at my heart and mind and loins, all at once. They were made to be suckled.

Who was I to argue with nature’s intent?

Lowering my head again, I circled the distended ring of flesh with my tongue. Occasionally, I gently nipped the proud bud at the center. Colleen arched her back, forcing more of her breast into my willing mouth. I drew in as much of it as I could, my cheeks hollowing with my effort. I gradually released it, letting it slip almost away, before sucking it back in again. I did this… over and over… with patient tenderness. Then repeated the performance with her other breast. She expressed her gratitude with a steady stream of gasps, cries and moans.

The curve of her ribs led me to her flank, which quivered under my attentions. I acquainted myself with the contours of her hips, grazed the smooth pasture of her belly and perused the suppleness of her thighs. My kisses alone covered her nakedness. The air in the room grew thick with the scent of our arousal.

Colleen opened her legs wider with the unvoiced eloquence of desire. My lips paid homage to the intimate white beauty of her inner thighs; my tongue savoring their flavor. Her flesh shivered under my mouth and pulled urgent, primal sounds out of her. As I drew irresistibly closer to her core, I placed my hands under her widespread legs, brought them together and raised them straight into the air. This caused her thighs to frame and slightly squeeze her sex. The outer lips bulged subtly and wore the sheen of her arousal. Her inner lips wept copiously. The folds of her pussy were a bright pink against her pale skin. The sight of it resounded through and through me.

The everyday flow of time was interrupted and I had a privileged moment in which I grasped a deeper, essential truth about myself. With the kind of complete conviction I don’t think I’ve ever had in regard to anything before, I knew this is where I belonged and she was who I belonged with.

Using lips and tongue in every way I thought would please her, I made my indolent way down the length of her still elevated legs. The nearer I came to her delicious cleft, the more agitated the sounds from her throat became.

My palms curved to her legs just above their junction. I flattened my tongue and swept up and down the swollen outer labia, lapping the film of moisture that had gathered on them. Pressing the flat of my hands against the backs of her thighs, I used her hips as a fulcrum, causing her womanhood to rock back and forth beneath my tongue. The intensity of her moans and cries heightened yet again.

As she was approaching fever pitch, I narrowed my tongue and speared it into her. «YES!» Colleen cried. Her outer lips parted and embraced me while I split the furrow of her inner lips. Hot liquid bubbled up from inside her, displaced by my plunging. I burrowed in and out of her. Whatever juices I didn’t swallow, smeared on my lower face and trickled down my neck. I loved it! And obviously, so did she. Messy, but exhilarating!

The wet sounds of my thrusting and the subtle, but addictive taste of her only heightened the eroticism of the situation.

Colleen’s head tossed frantically. Her hands had a vice-like grip on the comforter. The movement of her hips was frenzied and there was an unbelievable amount of fluid streaming out of her. It was obvious she was at a precipice. And, Oh God! — I was gonna love taking her over that edge!

I withdrew my tongue and dragged it up the length of her slit. My mouth reached the apex and took her slippery pearl between my lips and sucked for all I was worth!

Colleen screamed joyously, thrust her hips up at my mouth and clamped my face between her thighs. I felt every shudder that wracked her body. I kept nursing and her convulsions only intensified. It was the most intimate, erotic and intense experience I’ve ever had.

Cupping her buttocks with my hands, I helped her ease her hips back onto the bed. I kissed my way back up her body, taking my sweet time in the doing. When I reached her face, her eyes widened and she traced a finger through the juices still coating my face. «Oh my God!» she blurted, «Did I spill all that?»

«You most certainly did…» I answered with pride, «and a lot more that I swallowed, to boot.» I pulled her up onto her knees to face me. Wrapping her in my arms, I pressed my lips to hers. We knelt like that, breasts to breasts, belly to belly and loins to loins, kissing with rising fervor.

Untangling from her embrace, I advanced on her, forcing her back on her haunches. She leaned back at a 45 degree angle, holding her torso up on extended arms. Leaning in, I returned my lips to hers at the same time I brought my right hand to her cleft. Colleen gasped at the touch. She was still leaking her excitement down her thighs. And now, down onto my fingers, as well.

«Do you see?» she panted into my mouth. «Do you see how wet you make me?» Our mouths came together again and my fingers began to glide over her sodden slit. Moaning into the kiss, Colleen began to move her hips on my hand. My lips wrapped around the curves of her throat and she groaned right into my ear.

The combination of my hand at her pussy with my lips and tongue on her throat, soon had her undulating her hips rhythmically. Her voice burbled a rapturous accompaniment.

Lowering my head to her breast, I sucked in her nipple, and much of the surrounding flesh. Her back arched. My fingers increased their speed between her thighs, the middle one entering her. She cried out and the movement of her pelvis quickened. My hand cupped her sex, one finger up inside her, while the thumb rotated on her slippery clit.

I abandoned her breast for a moment. I wanted to look at her sweet face while I fucked her. Her big blue orbs smoldered with lust and her mouth formed a quivering circle. My fingers were busy between her legs. «Alejandra!» My name tumbled out in a shivery gasp.

«I love hearing you say my name.» I said, holding her gaze. «I’m gonna love it even more when you scream it.»

I brought my lips back to her breast. My fingers moved faster, in and out.

In and out.

In and out.

Short, hard strokes.

«Harder.» Colleen begged

Her hips and her panting kept time with my thrusts. So did my suckling at her tit.

«Faster.» she whined.

My hand was covered in her fluids. The juicy sounds of entry and withdrawal echoing from the bedroom walls again. As if my lust needed any further fuel.

«Fuck!» she sobbed.

Bucking her hips onto my hand, she clamped her eyes shut and threw her head back. Those perfect breasts fell slightly to her sides. I followed with my mouth, keeping her erect nipple firmly between my lips. Her long hair trailed onto the bed beneath her.

«Oh, yes!» she cried out as my thumb massaged her swollen clit. My other hand was underneath her ass, lifting her slightly off the bed.

«That feels so good, Alejandra,» she whispered. I felt her hands brushing through my tangled hair. «So… fucking… good… «

My thumb moved faster, gliding over the slippery nub. Her breaths were coming shorter.

The rise and fall of her chest was more pronounced.

Her groans were louder. More intense.

«Yes!Yes!Yes! That’s it… right… right there! Just like that!» Her head thrashed from side to side. My own excitement grew as she tightened her grip on my hair.

Colleen ground her quim on my hand, trying to meet each pass of my thumb with her clitoris. She arched her back again. I could tell she was nearing a crescendo. And it was going to be spectacular.

«Cum for me, honey,» I whispered in her ear. «Cum all over me!»

With a final scream of pure, unmitigated bliss, Colleen threw her head back, while her fingers clenched in my hair, pulling me tighter to her breast.

Her pussy gripped my fingers, flooding them with its juices. Flexing those supple legs, her ass came off the bed. Her body spasmed, then spasmed again. I nursed at her nipple for as long as her orgasm went on. It seemed like forever as she continued to cum, groaning and moaning.

Her gasping gradually subsided and I let go of her tit. My finger eased out of her with a liquid sound. I eased her onto her back, kneeling just above her head. The only sound in the room was her ragged breathing. From my vantage point, I was looking at her upside down. Cradling her beloved face in my hands, I leaned low and tasted her lips. I gave her kiss after upside down kiss, whispering «I love you» again and again between them. While I enfolded her in this intimate embrace, I felt her hands reaching up to caress my back, my neck and my arms.

After a few minutes, I unfurled from around her. Finding the pillow up at the headboard, I plopped down on it with an audible sigh. Colleen got up to lay beside me, shifting me slightly so that I lay on my side facing away from her. She cuddled up behind me, moving my hair out of the way so the nape of my neck was exposed. Slipping her arm over my side, she cupped my breast. She fondled it, caressed it, stroked the tip until it grew long and hard. At the same time, she nuzzled the back of my neck, planting wet, sloppy kisses all over it and on my shoulders, too. I felt a familiar disquiet between my legs.

«My God, Colleen. You’re insatiable. Aren’t you satisfied yet?»

She giggled in my ear and just before she took the lobe of that ear between her lips, she whispered, «Ask me that again in twenty years.»


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