She is leaning over the counter when you walk into the hotel bar, stretched up on the toes of one boot as she reaches for something on the other side. You’re getting an eyeful of derriere clad in tight jeans and the flash of a tattoo where her shirt has ridden up. Your eyebrow lifts and a smile curves your lips. Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t head straight to bed when you got back today. It’s been a long week and you’re tired but with the eye candy and the thought of the Manhattan you’re about to order – things are looking up.
She’s stretching as far as she can, and her fingers finally graze the top of the salt pot she’s been trying to reach. She grabs it with a triumphant smile then waves at the bartender. He shakes his head at her, returning the smile. “If you’re not careful people are going to think you work here you know.”
“What?” her voice is indignant. “You were busy, and you forgot to give me salt. A girl does what she must when it comes to her alcohol. No one would confuse that with actually being insane enough to choose bartending as a career!”
“You’re right of course,” he pauses for a moment. “Except you gave me very detailed directions on how to pour those ridiculous shooters the ladies earlier asked for, and dressed Mr Grabby Hands down so subtly I don’t think he’s sure why his hands were suddenly very firmly buried in his pockets.” His tone is amused and the corner of her mouth curls just a touch, her voice almost mocking. The teasing lilt takes the sting out of her words.
“Sunshine, I’m female. Keeping grabby hands off my ass is something I learned to do a very long time ago.” The smile widens into a sudden grin and she adds. “But I did work that side of the counter for a long time, so I had to teach myself to do it without bloodshed.”
She hears your laugh as you step into the open space near her. It is throaty, light, the warmth in it reaching for her, making her turn to look at the source. Heat flares in her gaze for a moment, but she tamps it down so quickly you’re not sure that’s what you saw. Her eyes flick to the bartender as he clears his throat and you turn to face him. There is definitely heat in his gaze, and you smile a little in response. The woman sees the smile and the grin turns wry, and you feel more than see the shoulder that lifts in an amused shrug. “Looks like you have a customer, and I’m sure you can handle whatever the lady needs. You know where to find me if you need this.” She turns and starts walking away. Her step falters a little as she hears you placing your order.
“Tell me know how to mix a Manhattan perfect and we’re not going to have to call the little lady away from her drink to help you out again,” your voice is soft, sultry without trying, as smooth as that bourbon sliding over the ice in the cocktail shaker as the bartender starts pouring. She reaches her table and slides into the booth, flicking her long plait back over her shoulder as she gets comfortable. She’s the only one sitting there, but it’s late and the bar isn’t busy so she doesn’t feel guilty about taking up the whole thing to herself. Her gaze is drawn to you again, surveying you as you survey the small crowd.
Your blouse is a soft white material that just barely hugs your figure, a tapered waist accentuating the soft flare of your hips and the tiny buttons holding it in place cause her fingers to twitch. If just one more were undone she’d be able to see the bra hugging the soft swell of your breasts. Her eyes watch how the downlights from the bar catch fire in your hair and she wonders if your nipples are as pink as those fiery curls tumbling onto your shoulders promise.
The thought paints a delicious picture in her mind. Your skirt is just a touch too short, catching your long legs at about mid-thigh. She grins, not bothering to hide the heat in her gaze this time. You won’t be able to see it from across the bar. She loves a woman who is confident in her sexuality, flaunting everything that is feminine about her.
Your head is turning slowly, eyes scanning the crowd. You seem to be looking for someone and she sighs softly, head bending back to the notebook she’s been scribbling in all night. Women who look like you are always meeting someone she thinks. Suddenly remembering the whole reason she went to the bar in the first place, she drops her pen back on the table.
The soft clatter catches your attention and you finally see the face you’ve been searching for in your slow perusal of the bar. You watch as she sprinkles salt on a slice of lemon, downs what you assume is tequila with barely a shudder, then bites into the lemon, sucking it softly before slowly stripping the flesh from the peel – all without looking up from whatever is lying on the table in front of her.
A smile curves your lips, unformed thoughts about talented tongues dancing through your mind. You take a slow sip of your drink with a look of gratitude in the bartenders' direction. Exactly how you like it. You give a little sigh of pleasure. His answering smile says it was more than just a pleasure but your eyes have already gone back to the woman. She’s made herself comfortable you see.
One foot is tucked under her thigh, pointed toes of the other just barely touching the ground. She is writing furiously, her pen moving so quickly you wonder if it’s ahead of or behind her clearly racing thoughts. The booth is dim and her face is in shadows, but the light catches the sun streaks disappearing into her plait, warm honey among the dark strands. It also highlights the tendrils of hair that have escaped the plait, curling onto and tickling her cheeks as she huffs out a frustrated breath, trying to blow them out of her face.
The pen stops moving and she’s back to scanning, making notes here and there as she flips a page back over. She lays the pen down, her hand reaching for the glass you didn’t notice sweating on the table in front of her. Her head tilts back as she arches her back and now the light catches her face. Pretty, you think. You weren’t just imagining it from the brief look you’d gotten just now. A strong jaw softened by a gently curving cheek and the hint of a cleft in her chin. Her naked lips a dainty cupids bow in a dusty pink rose.
Your eyes linger on them as she releases the full bottom lip she’d caught between her teeth when she stretched. You remember large gentle aquamarine blue eyes, intelligence glinting behind the laughter that danced in them. Her head is still leaning against the back of the booth, her fingers absentmindedly tracing the condensation on the glass. You notice a faint scowl of concentration when she tilts her head back down and takes a sip of her drink. You wonder if she’d welcome a distraction.
She grimaces as she swallows, the ice has melted and her drink is more water than anything else by this point. She glances toward the bar, hoping to catch the bartenders attention because it would be easier than going to get a replacement for herself. He’s occupied with the ridiculous shooter ladies and she smiles, wondering what they’re looking for this time. Are they a bridal party? Girlfriends bar hopping their way across town? Work colleagues celebrating the end of a stressful project? She flips to a blank page in her notebook while watching them, making quick notes. Their body language as they laugh about something with each other, flirt with the bartender, boisterous but not overly loud.
She stands, picks up her glass and crosses back to the bar. To the same spot she was when you arrived. “You might be waiting a while,” she hears you say and her glance flicks to the flirting women before she turns to you. Her eyes meet yours for the first time and she’s caught by their emerald shade. Right now they’re warm with silent laughter, but she can imagine them cold and sharp with anger. Do they darken with passion she wonders? Or blaze?
“That’s alright,” she answers. “I’ve nowhere to be right now and who am I to deny someone the chance to flirt with a pretty woman?” Her voice is the same light honey that streaks her hair, sunshine warm and sweet. She has an accent you realise, listening to how it rounds out her words as she speaks. It suits her you think. You take the last sip of your Manhattan, your tongue darting out to catch an errant drop while you fish the cherry from the glass. Gripping the stem you lift it to your mouth, glancing at the woman as you do.
Her gaze has dropped to your lips and this times there’s no mistaking the heat in it. You can feel it burning them. Your confession that it’s the best part dies in your throat and you hesitate a moment, breath catching. Her eyes lift to yours, the smile she gives you is slow and slightly shy. “Especially when it means I get to talk to a beautiful one.”
For a moment you’re confused. Then you remember what she said before and her smile widens in response to yours, the cherry finally completing its journey. “You always this smooth Miss Sunshine, or am I getting the special treatment tonight?”
“Yes,” she replies. Her expression says she’s not sure what came over her before, although her eyes dance with the nervous laughter that follows her answer.
“Definitely smooth,” you say as the bar tender comes over and she orders another tequila and the biggest cup of coffee they have. She looks over at you, indicating your empty glass with a tilt of her head.
“Will you let me get you another one?” she asks. You look at the glass. At her. Considering. You notice the very light flush that has painted her cheeks and you smile again. Interesting you think.
“Yes. Please. I’d like that very much.”
She orders and sees the slightly bemused shake of your head when she turns back to you. Her eyes turn inquisitive. “Something funny?”
“No. Well – just. Tequila…and coffee?”
“Oh.” Her shoulder lifts. Her flush darkens. “I have a tendency to get distracted when I go out. Forget about my drink.” She points to the clearly watered down drink she’d returned to the barman. “So instead of spending money on something alcoholic that I’ll only have half of, I order something non-alcoholic. But I still want alcohol because why on earth not, so I have a shooter as well.”
“And what could be so distracting that you forget about a perfectly good drink?” you ask, curious.
“People.” Your brow furrows in query and she rushes to explain. “I people-watch. All the time. People fascinate me. How they interact, talk, their mannerisms, funny little quirks. How they communicate when they don’t say a word. You can tell a lot about a person from those things. Their mood, how they feel about someone…a lot really. So I people-watch.”
She falls silent, stirring sugar into her coffee. Her flush has darkened again and you wonder why she would be embarrassed by the explanation. “People watching is a good distraction,” you say contemplatively, your eyes drifting to the group that has moved back to their table. “I do it often.” There’s gratitude in the look she gives you, maybe some scepticism as well. Her mouth opens to say something but you interrupt. “I’m going to guess you’re an artist.” You glance at her hands, the short nails. They’re surprisingly small you muse. “Artists are forever people watching.”
“Not an artist,” she says. “Well, not the kind you mean at least. I’m a writer.” She flushes yet again and her laugh is self-deprecating. “Trying to be a writer anyway.” You frown slightly. She tries for an unconcerned shrug but her shoulders are too tense. Her eyes drop to her coffee. She stirs it again. “So not art.” You almost don’t hear her next words, disguised as it is by the huff of air she aims at the flyaway strands of hair haloed around her face. “Not a real job either. Apparently.” Understanding dawns. So someone had given her a hard time about her dream. Career?
“So words are your medium. Artist. Like I said,” you say matter-of-factly, your voice silencing any argument she might have had.. “Observant. Always questioning. Fascinating perspectives,” you pause and your hand reaches to brush back a wisp of hair you’ve been watching tickle her cheek. “Sensitive.” Her eyes fly to yours. “Passionate.” Your voice is low and husky. Your eyes move from watching your finger tuck the unruly strand behind her ear to hers. The heat is in your eyes now, a slow burn as they trace the flush that has darkened her cheeks for a very different reason this time. Good, you think.
Your finger doesn’t touch her skin but she can somehow feel the heat of it burning a line along her already flaming cheek. Dear lord she thinks, swallows and somehow manages to drag her eyes away from yours. She picks up the spoon, puts it down. If she stirs her coffee anymore it’s going to turn into butter. Her eyes flick to the booth where she was sitting, back to you. She curls her fingers through the coffee cups handle. Turns slightly to grasp the shot glass between the fingers of her other hand. She’s moving carefully, eyes trained on her hands even though she knows it’s not necessary. She did this for nearly a decade after all.
She bites a lip, doesn’t quite look at you and asks, “Would you like to join me?” She’s aiming for casual with her tone. But she wonders if you can hear how not casual the question is.
“Yes,” you say. She quietly exhales the breath she didn’t realise she’d been holding. Your tone is teasing when you continue, “I thought you’d never ask.”
“I didn’t think I’d have to,” she replies immediately. She watches you pick up your glass, notes your raised eyebrow as she indicates for you to walk ahead of her. She marvels at herself for a moment, wonders where her awkwardness disappeared to. Ah, she thinks, glancing at the beverages in her hands. She wore a different persona when she was a bar lady. False confidence at first, but eventually it had become so natural it was a part of her.
She’s watching your long legs walking in front of her, the subtle swaying of your hips. The movement is natural. The sexy sway that only a woman wearing heels can achieve. She hums appreciatively under her breath, bites her lip when her imagination wanders for a moment. She grins and gives herself a mental shake. She tells herself that there’s no need to be self-conscious – she’s smart, can hold her own in a conversation, is apparently not bad to look at. She can be confident without needing to fake it. Just one woman wanting to enjoy the company of another. A casual conversation over drinks. You reach the booth, slide in on the side where she’d clearly been sitting. Her eyebrow lifts, she glances at her notebook and pen still lying where she left them. So…maybe more than a casual conversation. With a beautiful woman, her mind insists on adding.
You shift over, just past where her things are lying. Your invitation is clear and you turn your head to watch what she’s going to do as you set your glass on the table. You see the moment of hesitation, her eyes flicking to the opposite side of the booth, back to her belongings. You let a little bit of challenge show in your eyes, but stay quiet. She meets your look, lips curling into a not-quite smile. You don’t hide your satisfied smirk when she slides in next to you. Not just a blushing Betty you think.
You take a sip of your drink and ask her about her writing, watch her eyes light up when she answers. She uses her hands to punctuate her words and you alternate watching them with watching her while she explains her hobby of creative writing and her job as a copywriter. The way her fingers curl around her cup as if seeking its warmth, brush those bothersome wisps of hair out of her face only for them to fall back to where they were. The way she absentmindedly plays with her abandoned pen when she listens to you speak about your job as a business software trainer. The way her hand rests unconsciously on your arm when she has a question but doesn’t want to interrupt what you’re saying. The gentle strokes her fingers make when you unnecessarily expand your point because you don’t want her to remove her hand.
The conversation has been flowing, full of flirty innuendos and casual touches. The sparkle in her eyes each time one of those subtle hints are dropped and her bubbling laughter when it catches her off guard lets you know that she’s well aware of them. And enjoying them as much as you are. Her cheeks don’t darken with that pretty flush nearly as much but you make a note of every time they do. Finding yourself looking forward to it, wondering if this time you’ll catch her off guard, maybe even trying a little extra hard and smiling triumphantly each time she does.
“You know, if you hadn’t told me you were a trainer I’d probably have figured it out…eventually,” she smiles. She’s turned her body to face you, one leg lifted onto the seat, toes tucked behind the knee of the other, elbow propped on the table, her chin propped on her hand when you talk. Her eyes drift to her tequila and she reaches for it.
“So you think I’m that easy to figure out then do you?” you ask, amused.
“No. You’re just very good at explaining. And changing the way you’re explaining when someone doesn’t understand. At least…that’s what I’ve seen.” She doesn’t take her eyes off yours as she goes through the ritual of licking the salt from her hand, swallowing the shot and biting into the lemon. “Actually, I’d probably have guessed teacher first. But then there’s that skirt.” Her eyes drop to your legs, tracing the line of it across your thighs.
“Urgh,” she gives a theatrical shudder, she looks up at you. “Warm tequila. Your fault. You keep distracting me.” Her smile, when she returns the lemon to her mouth and once again strips the flesh from the peel, is a clear sign that she knows exactly who is distracting who right now.
“Warm tequila is no good,” you say. Your voice has turned husky. You turn, slide your arm along the table and under hers, fingers gripping its edge. Your gaze stays locked on her lips as you shift forward. “We’ll just have to get you a cold one then.” Her eyes have widened slightly, darting glances between your lips and your eyes as you get closer. You pause. She swallows. You lean forward, hear her breath catch when your lips just barely graze over hers before you murmur in her ear. “And I’ll even show you a better way to drink it.”
You’re so close to her she can feel the heat of your body against her skin. And if she drops her eyes she’ll be able to get a glimpse of that bra she was itching to see earlier. She can’t see your face but she can feel the smile on your lips as your silky words breath into her ear. She swallows again, unsure for a moment what to do about this turning of tables. And then she smiles. She slides her hands forward, one along the table and the other along the top of the bench. Leaning into your space as much as you’re leaning into hers. She turns her head. “Only if you join me,” she murmurs back before sliding slowly all the way back off the seat. Her eyes drop, unable to resist peeking. She exhales softly, watching the goosebumps break out where her breath tickles along your cleavage. That hadn’t been intentional. Not exactly anyway. But she loves the result.
She stands, reaches out a hand to help you to your feet. Not stepping back as you do so you’re only inches apart. You’re taller than her and she’s smiling when she looks up at you. Pleased to see there’s a light flush dusted along your collarbones. She’s knows you’re not blushing. That it’s heat. And her smile widens as her eyes darken slightly in response. “Shall I go get them,” she asks, “or would you prefer we go together?”
“I’ll go,” you say. “You wait here.” You step forward, and she shivers when your bodies brush together before you move around her. She stays standing, hand braced against the table to give her suddenly weak knees a moment to recover before she sinks back into her seat.
“Ho-oooohhhh-leee hellfire,” she breathes, watching you talk to the barman. She couldn’t tell who had won that intense exchange and decided it was a draw. Definitely not a casual conversation. And definitely a VERY beautiful woman, she thinks as you return. She simply slides over, letting you take her seat this time. She doesn’t exactly trust herself to stand right now. And she doesn’t trust you to make that situation any easier when you sit down either. Although she’s facing the other way now, she pulls her leg up into the same position. You turn your body to face her, crossing your ankles, letting your knees brush against hers.
“So you said you have a better way to drink this,” she says, shifting the shooter glasses in front of you both. Your hand takes hers and tingles explode across her skin, causing her to inhale sharply and look up to see if you felt it too. From the expression on your face, she’d say you did. You pick up the salt shaker and turn her hand sideways.
“It’s almost exactly the same,” you say. “Only you exchange hands.”
“Exchange hands?” she asks hesitantly. You keep your eyes on hers, tilt your head forward and bring her hand up to your mouth. Your tongue darts to wet the skin between her thumb and index finger, before you shake some salt onto it.
“Exchange hands,” you repeat.
“Oh,” she inhales a slow deep breath and you’re pleased to see that the rosy flush is back.
“Your turn,” you murmur, handing her the salt shaker. She holds it for a moment, not quite sure.
“Ohhh,” the word is a soft realisation. She reaches for your free hand with hers and the smile she gives you is somehow both provocative and guileless. Her head bends forward and the lap of her tongue against your hand sends a frisson of heat shooting up your arm before spreading through you and pooling…lower. She shakes salt onto the wet patch and you both pick up your shooter glasses.
“Cheers,” you say softly, clinking your glasses together while you stare into her eyes. Your heads bend in unison, you feel her tongue echoing yours when you lick the salt from her hand, that same frisson of heat. You don’t let go of her hand when you swallow the tequila or reach for the lemon, keeping it cradled in yours, your thumb brushing her palm. She holds her lemon in her hand, not moving. Only watching your thumb as it moves.
“Your way is much better than mine,” her voice is breathless, her breathing shallow when she drags her eyes to yours.
“That it is,” you agree. You lift her hand to your mouth, press your lips to her palm in a lingering kiss before laying it back in her lap. “The barman told me that they’re going to be closing soon.” She looks around, seems to notice for the first time that there are only a couple of other patrons besides the two of you. You watch the disappointment flicker in her eyes. Maybe she’d like this evening to continue as much as you would. You tilt your head towards the elevators. “I have a room…?” you leave the sentence hanging, making it a question. You keep your voice neutral, no censure, no pressure. Just a simple invitation if she wants it to be.
Her gaze follows yours. Her smile only a little uncertain. “So do I.”
Your answering laugh is light and warm and soft, wrapping around you both, the sounds of the bar disappearing until it’s just the two of you in this moment. “The benefits of travelling on the company dime. Mine is a suite,” you pause, your voice drops, “with a queen-size bed.” Her smile turns attractively shy and she inhales deeply. She nibbles on the side of her bottom lip, head tilted to the side as she thinks about your offer. You’re holding your breath, hoping. But don’t make a move of any kind. The choice must be hers.
“Then lead the way,” she finally responds quietly. You can’t stop the grin that spreads across your face.
Jesus. Not a casual conversation anymore. The litany repeats in her head while she packs her things into her shoulder bag. She moves slowly. She can feel the flutter of nerves in her stomach. She looks up at you standing beside the table. Okay, not just nerves she admits when a tendril of heat curls around the fluttering. You hold out your hand. She looks at it, looks at you. Her eyes close for a moment and she takes a deep breath she hopes you don’t see, then puts her hand in yours. Jesus. The fluttering turns into a raging storm and she’s not sure her legs will support her. But they do.
You keep hold of her hand as she slings her bag over her shoulder and follows you to the elevator. Are you afraid that she’ll run off if you do? Probably a wise decision. Because if it weren’t for the heat of your palm against hers, grounding her, holding her in place at your side – she probably would have made her excuses and scurried to her own room. And regretted it as soon as she left because the ache of wanting would only have worsened as the night passed. And she would have gotten no sleep. Even if she’d decided to try relieve the ache by herself.
The elevators doors open and you step inside, press the button for your floor. The flutters are still raging and she feels how shallow her breathing is. She’s going to pass out. Oh god. This is a bad idea. What is she doing? How does she – the tumble of questions almost drowns out the sound of your voice.
“Hey,” you say quietly, lifting her hand and pressing a kiss to the knuckles before releasing it. “We can say goodnight here if you prefer.” The kiss tingles against her knuckles. Yet somehow those tingles are as calming and gentle as your voice. She looks up at you, eyes wide. She wants this. Wants you. She shifts a little closer to your side, lets her hand slide down the inside of your arm before it slips back into yours.
“I know.” That quick deep breath again. “I don’t want to.”
Jesus. She’s going to be the death of me, you think. The elevator doors open and you walk down the hall to the door of your room, her hand still in yours. You stop, pull out your key card and show it to her. “I’m going to be honest with you,” you say quietly, “we can say goodnight right here if you want to.” You indicate the door. “But once I open that, once I have you inside.” You pause, lift her chin so her eyes meet yours. “Conversation is not what I have in mind.” You let the heat that you’ve been tamping down all night blaze to life in your eyes, infuse your voice and turn it low and smoky.
Her eyes close, her fingers tighten on yours. For support against weak knees you realise when she plucks the card from your fingers and slides it into the slot. She steps around in front of you, her hand on the door handle behind her back. She pushes it open, steps back over the threshold.
Now it’s you fighting weak knees as you follow her through the door, still keeping hold of her hand. She’s been nibbling on and biting her lip all the way from the bar and it is bruised, invitingly swollen. You close the door, tug her gently against you. She stumbles a little, not having expected that and her hands find your hips, bracing her. “Well hello Sunshine,” you whisper. “I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I walked into the bar and saw you, and your cute little ass, leaning over it.”
Your head bends and you press your lips oh so gently against hers. You move slowly, gently exploring the fit of her mouth against yours. Sipping kisses of that deliciously plump bottom lip, a soothing swipe of your tongue before you pull away. Her eyes are closed, she’s leaning into you and you can feel where every inch of her is touching you. She exhales softly, opens her eyes. You’re drowning in those brilliant aquamarine pools and you don’t care.
Her smile is slow, languorous. A flirt of sensuality that has you wanting more.
I’m on fire she thinks. I’m going to disappear into cinders in the wind and it is all this woman’s fault. And I don’t mind one little bit. She smiles, leans back to meet the emerald gaze looking down at her. She can feel it tracing the lines of her face, resting on her lips, and her smile widens. She remembers something then.
“Sunshine?” she asks. She sees you blank for a moment and sees when you remember.
“You might have not realised it, but we sort of skipped over the introduction part of the evening. It’s what you called the barman earlier,” your fingers move to her face, curling one of those wisps she normally hates around them. “You also have sunshine in your hair.” Your hand trails down the side of her neck, to the hollow at the base of her throat, strokes gently. “And sunshine in your voice.” You feel her swallow.
“Oh,” she sighs. It’s all she can manage. She swallows again. “My name is – ,” you interrupt her.
“No.” Your fingers cover her lips. “If you don’t mind…I prefer Sunshine.” You kiss her gently and she can feel herself melting into you again. “Besides, names make this…real. Too real maybe. And I’m enjoying this fantasy too much to let it end.”
“Ohhh,” her sigh is soft against your lips when she raises herself up to kiss you. “I like it,” she whispers before stepping back. “But I like us getting out of this entryway even more.” Your laughter joins hers but you don’t let go of her, your hands moving to curl around her hips, pressing quick kisses to her lips between words, walking her back through the sitting room and in the direction of the bed located through a second doorway.
“I think I like that plan more than a little bit.” Your voice drops, “Although taking you against the door would be just as hot.” She feels the back of her legs meet the bed, but her hands are in your hair, pulling your face down to hers, her mouth covering yours and she’s drinking in the taste of you. The tang of the sweet vermouth from your Manhattan, the warmth of the bourbon and through it all, the sweet taste of cherries.
“Maybe later,” she whispers and your knees almost buckle with the thought. You kiss your way along her mouth, to her jaw and down her neck, your hands slipping under her shirt and raising it in a slow glide while you kiss your way back to her mouth. Then her fingers are undoing the buttons on your blouse and she’s kissing a line down your chest as each one pops open, and you can’t think. Just revelling in the feel of her soft lips, her slightly shaking fingers popping buttons, revealing you to her and the cool air brushing over your too hot skin.
“Jesus,” you hiss. The last button is undone and she leans back to take you in. Hands sliding over your shoulders to push it off, trailing a finger along your strap, following the line of the cup to the centre of your chest before she lifts her eyes to yours.
“So,” she kisses you. “Damn,” her voice is low. “Beautiful.” You finally pull her shirt over the top of her head and now it’s your turn to stare. Her breasts are small but full, giving her just a hint of cleavage. The perfect size for a woman’s hands, you think as you move to cup them, your thumbs brushing over the nipples still hidden beneath silky black material. She gasps, her hands flying to cover yours and you do it again, smiling at the shudder it elicits. You slide your hands round to her back, unclasp her bra and let it fall to the floor. Her skin is not quite olive, not quite mocha. Warm honey, you think. And sun-kissed, of course. You bend your head to kiss the untanned line over her shoulder before kissing your way back up to her mouth.
“Yes,” you agree. There’s laughter in your voice when your hands reach for her belt, slipping it lose. You pause with your fingers on the clasp of her jeans. “I thought everybody tanned nude these days?” The flush painting the swell of her breasts, the tops of her shoulders and her cheeks darkens.
“People who tan nude are insane,” she manages to say. You’ve undone her button and slipped your hand into her pants, cupping her through the material of your panties. Your fingers flex, the tips pressing against the damp spot you can feel and you hum softly, taking her mouth with yours in a slow drugging kiss while you slide the jeans down over her hips. She toes off her boots and steps out of them, all without breaking the kiss and you’re more than a little impressed. She laughs at your look. “Practice,” she mutters. “I walk in the door, usually with hands full and start stripping immediately.”
“Good for me,” you laugh in return and then your breath catches, your eyes roving down over the narrow waist and the flare of hips, the lean legs and the hint of curls covering the heaven at their apex. You skim your hands over her ribcage, over her back, her hips, her butt, feeling the play of muscles under her skin as she lifts herself onto her toes and wraps her arms around your neck. “You’re so beautiful,” you whisper and claim her mouth again.
She slips her fingers into your hair, the cool silken strands tumbling over her fingers belying their fiery shade. She presses against you, feeling the material of your skirt and bra scratch against her sensitive skin and emits a disapproving sound. She unzips the skirt, lets it slip to the floor and leaves you to push the lacy thong over your hips because her hands are already reaching to unclasp your bra. Your breasts spill free, full and round and delicious and she cups them, kneading gently. She barely has to bend her head to take your nipple in her mouth and she hums when she does, her tongue lazily circling the pebbled peak.
She feels how your skin jumps and reacts under her hands as they trail restlessly over your stomach and back to cup your breasts, watches how your nipple hardens even further under the ministrations of her tongue and her fingers. And then you’re lifting her, only long enough to lay her on the bed, your hands under her back and your thigh between her legs moving her higher. She almost sobs when your thigh moves away and she can feel the cool air of the room between her legs. She reaches for you, for your warmth, for the heat of you pressed to the heat at her core and then you’re covering her with your body and she sighs softly in your ear.
She feels you pause. “Cherry?” the question is a husky whisper and she’s sure it’s because your throat is as thick with feeling as hers is. She flushes again, and this time you kiss the flaming line it paints across her cheek and for a moment she can’t breathe from the emotions welling in her. Your arms are under her shoulders, your hands framing her head, your fingers tangled in the curls that she doesn’t remember you freeing but is glad you did because it makes her feel as wild and free and uninhibited as a sea nymph, which is how she wants to feel with you. No holding back, no second-guessing, no wondering if this is a bad idea.
“Cherry,” she nods almost shyly. “You said no names but I need something to call you when I remember this night. When I remember you.” She brushes your lips with the tip of a finger and smiles. “And you taste like cherries.” She raises her head from the bed to taste you again, giving a satisfied hum when she feels you smile against her lips.
“Then Cherry I am.”
Her fingers are trailing over your back, exploring the line of your spine, the dimples at its base, the curve of your butt. Tendrils of desire spiral out from everywhere her fingers touch, pooling low in your stomach and you’re throbbing with want when you lean your head down to explore her mouth once more. She’s shifting restlessly against you and you know she must be aching just as much as you but you keep your hands in her hair, simply rocking gently into her while you ravish her mouth. Her hands are moving more restlessly now, fingers digging a little into the same muscles they traced gently before. They move to grasp your butt and she pulls you against her as her hips strain towards her. Your body is pressing her into the bed, positioned just so that she can’t move to get the relief she obviously so desperately wants. Neither can you, but the waiting is worth it.
“Oh Cherry please,” she gasps. “Please.” Her eyes open and she gives you a pleading look made utterly enticing by her kiss swollen lips and the flush of desire evident on her face. “Please Cherry…I need you.” You nip at her still bruised bottom lip, distracting her from how you’ve shifted your body. Your fingers brush over her stomach and she gasps a yesss, her legs falling open. Your mouth moves to her breast, tongue tracing the edges of those tempting pale triangles, circling but not quite touching the sensitive nipple. Your fingers barely graze the folds between her legs and she gasps again, opening them further. You tease with light touches and she jerks each time you do, soft breathy moans that drive you wild. Your teeth graze the swell and the curve of her breasts, first one and then the other getting the attention of your mouth. But not the attention she’s craving. It’s torture for her, but for you as well because all you want –
“Please,” it’s a broken whisper. Finally. You slip your fingers between her folds, she’s so wet and you groan as you draw her nipple into her mouth, finding her clit and pressing hard, rolling it under your fingers.
“Oh!” her cry is sharp and her eyes fly open and her hands are in your hair, holding your mouth against her. “I can’t…Cherry, wait…Stop…I can’t…Oh god!!!” she cries out and arches into you. You feel her coming apart, how her muscles tense up and hold her bowed and she’s shuddering against you while your fingers circle her clit, gentling with each touch. Finally, her muscles release her and she sinks back to the bed with her eyes closed, breathing hard. She shakes her head and you see a drop of moisture trailing from the corner of her eye into her hair. “I’m sorry.” You catch the tear with your thumb.
“Why are you crying silly girl?” you murmur with a soft kiss. Her eyes open and they’re shining with unshed tears, she shakes her head again.
“Because that was…I’ve never felt…wow,” she breathes. Her eyes widen suddenly. “No wait!” there’s guilt in her voice and a little anger too. “You were supposed to stop! You weren’t supposed to…I wanted us…,” her voices trails off. “What about you?” she asks softly.
Your laugh is light, your voice gentle, “Oh Sunshine, you didn’t think that was the end did you? That was just to take the edge off. Because my plans for you involve a whole lot more of touching and kissing and exploring and tasting and more. And I didn’t want you dying from the unrelieved pressure.” You can’t resist another kiss. “And I got as much out of that as you did.”
“Oh,” she says a little breathlessly, pleased. And then her grin turns wicked. “I hope you don’t have any important early morning plans. Because I don’t plan on letting you sleep any time soon…if at all.” She loves the sound of your laugh. Still as warm as the first time she heard it, warmer maybe. And still drawing her in. She raises her head to kiss you. She can’t get enough of the taste of your mouth. “Thank you,” she says simply when you look at her inquisitively.
“It was,” more laughter and another kiss, “entirely my pleasure.” You’re still lying on top of her, your body warm and soft against her and she shivers a little with delight.
“So about tomorrow…?”
“Tomorrow I have nothing urgent. A late afternoon video call, dinner and then I fly home. And you?”
“Nothing,” she says. “Nowhere I need to be but in this bed with you.” She’s still smiling when she braces her foot on the bed, using her hip to roll you over onto your back and settles on top of you. “Now I believe we have some evening of the score to do.” She dips her head to the hollow behind your ear, pressing a wet kiss to it before catching your earlobe between her teeth and tugging gently. “I owe you for that mind-blowing experience just now, and I always pay my debts,” her murmur is bewitching, laden with wanton promise and she can feel the shiver of pleasure it sends down your spine. Her lips return to your neck, finds the pulse thrumming in your neck and nips it, chuckling softly when it begins to race. Your hands move across her back, stroking over her ribs, hands finding her breasts.
“Uh uh uh,” she admonishes, lacing her fingers with yours, pressing your hands back onto the bed, sliding them over your head as she shifts to straddle you. “My turn.” She rocks forward, head bending once more to your lips. Soft sipping kisses while she lazily explores it, her tongue tracing the shape of it, seeking entrance and getting it. She hums softly in the back of her throat while your tongues tangle, your hands entwined. She kisses her way along your jaw back to your pulse, nips at it again, soothes it with her tongue. Her mouth closes over the tendon in the curve between your neck and shoulder and she sucks before moving lower, teeth scraping lightly, the heat at her core gliding over your stomach. She hears you moan, feels you pressing up into her and grinds against you, pressing you back down into the bed.
Her mouth closes over your breast and she spends some time there, drawing it into her mouth, murmuring her pleasure with the light sound every time she draws her head back and it pops free. She alternates between both, circling your aureole with her tongue, scraping gently with her teeth, rolling each nipple between her fingers, tweaking them until they’re rock hard and aching if the small jerks of movement every time she touches them are anything to go by. Your moans are soft and breathy, your legs moving restlessly against the bed, your hands either gripping fistfuls of her hair or fistfuls of the blanket as she drives you wild with desire.
Her smile is wickedly soft against your lips when she shifts up to kiss you. Her tongue tracing over your mouth, darting into it, and you feel like she is drinking you in, sucking every breath from your lungs in a torturous dance that you want more of. Eventually, she has to stop because both of you need air and you’re panting too hard to draw enough in when her mouth is teasing yours. Her hands move to brush the strands of hair that have stuck to your cheeks out of your face.
“Like fire,” she whispers. “All flaming copper and rich dark cherry heat.” You feel her fingers running through the strands. “Like you.” She shifts again, nibbling, kissing, licking her way down your body, apparently fascinated by the dusting of freckles along your shoulders and almost disappearing between your breasts. She is still straddling you and you can feel the heat of her against your stomach, so wet, so hot, and you groan softly. She’s fascinated now by the hollow of your hips, and she suckles for a moment, humming softly as her rough soft tongue laps at your skin, still straddling your legs. She lifts her head, braces herself while she gently pushes your legs apart, moving between them. And now she’s exploring with soft touches and softer kisses up the inside of first one thigh and then the other.
Your hips are straining, toes pointing as your muscles pull taut, a soft litany of ‘oh Jesus, oh fucq, oh please, Sunshine, yes’ tumbles from your mouth in a breathless stream. A particularly loud plea for relief has her chuckling softly and she looks up, her heavy-lidded eyes locking with yours. “I told you I always repay my debts,” she murmurs and presses a teasing kiss to your mons.
“You’re trying to kill me,” you mutter, your back arching slightly off the bed, sheets twisted in your hands. Her laughing denial is lost in the rushing of blood in your ears, the heavy drumming of your heart, the rasping of your heavy breaths, the throbbing between your legs. Keeping her eyes trained on yours, she turns her head to flick her tongue along the crease of your thigh, pausing to blow a soft warm breath over your dripping, swollen, aching folds. You grip a handful of her hair and tug, none too gently. “Now,” you demand and she finally, slowly, obliges. Her tongue flicks along your lips and you feel the heat pooling in the pit of your stomach, the clenching of your muscles. “Now,” you repeat, hands gripping her head, pressing her mouth against the ache that she has caused. “Now,” you moan when her tongue finally slips between your folds. She presses it flat against your clit, then sucks it into her mouth, rolling it gently with her teeth. You feel her fingers circling your entrance and hiss, “Yesssss.”
And then her fingers are inside you, curling and twisting to find that sensitive bundle of nerves at your core, driving in to you, her tongue circling, pressing and sucking on your clit in the same rhythm. Your hips lift, pressing you closer to her mouth, taking her fingers deeper and your hands are buried in her hair, your eyes closed, and you feel yourself begin to splinter when she groans against you, your passion flooding her mouth and she’s drinking and swallowing, lathing and suckling, wringing every drop you have to give with her tongue and her fingers.
Only when you have nothing left does she bring you gently down, her fingers slowing, soft lapping and then finally she’s still, her head against your thigh, the air as she tries to catch her breath blowing across your too sensitive folds and sending aftershocks rolling through your body. The breeze in the room is chill against your passion slicked body and you feel her shiver slightly. You lift her up to cover you, your hand cupping the back of her head as you bring her mouth to yours for a languid kiss. You can taste yourself on her lips, a pleasing blend of your passion and her unique flavour and you hum softly in approval. Nothing has ever tasted better you think.
“If that’s how you repay your debt,” you murmur, still a little breathless, “then where do I sign up as an official credit provider?”
She laughs, tucking her head into your neck. “You just want to charge me interest.”
“You mean that wasn’t with interest?” you feign shock. “Then hell no because your repayment plan would probably kill me!!”
That pesky cool breeze brushes across her back and she feels the rush of goosebumps it leaves in its wake. And how the soft chuckle you give echoes in your chest and she wonders if you can feel the sudden heat that flushes her cheek where it’s resting against you.
“I get cold easily,” she mutters, hoping her flustering is endearing and not as embarrassing as she always thinks it is. She feels you reach for the corner of the duvet below you, flipping it out of the way. And then she’s laughing as you roll her over before flipping the covers back over the both of you.
“Can’t have that now can we?” There’s a twinkle in your eye and she shakes her head, cupping your cheek, her thumb brushing your smiling bottom lip.
“I get the feeling you’re all kinds of trouble. You keep this up and I might just have to smuggle myself home with you.” She’s lying in the curl of your arm, your heads sharing a pillow, faces just inches apart. Yes, she thinks. A girl could easily fall in love with you. That serious demeanour with the hint of mischief, the legs for days and the body to drool over, the coiled passion just waiting to be released evident in everything you do. And then when it does and you’re touching a person, kissing them, whispering their name, making –
“And how would you do that exactly?” your voice interrupts her thoughts and she’s glad because that’s a one-way track to a bad destination. It’s her turn to laugh now.
“I’m pretty small. Fit right in your luggage and you wouldn’t even have to pay excess weight fees,” she’s grinning innocently, but can’t hide the less than innocent expression in her eyes. “I hope you won’t mind needing to replace all the clothing you brought with you. I’m small but I don’t think we’d all fit. And it would be such a pity if you had to walk around naked thanks to my taking their place.” Now it’s you laughing and it’s as throaty and warm as the first time she heard it, trailing fingers in a melting path down her spine. Or are those your fingers? She can’t be sure right now because the thought of you walking around permanently naked has sent licks of heat spiralling out through her body from every point where it's touching yours and it’s all she can do to breathe, never mind think.
She moves her head, not breaking eye contact, closing the distance between your mouths, hand drifting along the curve of your breast, down to the soft curve of your hip, fingers tightening there when she tastes the rich cherry flavour of you on her tongue. She can feel your hands on their own lazy exploration of her body and her eyes flutter shut, a soft sigh of bliss escaping against your lips.
“They blaze,” she whispers.
“What blazes?” she hears you ask before she feels your lips on her neck and she’s so lost in the sensation that it takes her a while to answer. She feels you pull back to look at her and her eyes open to the gem bright fire in yours. Her finger traces your eyebrow, a cheek, touches the corner of your eye.
“Your eyes,” she answers. “I wondered earlier if they darken with passion or blaze. And they blaze.” There is no shyness in her words, no blush gracing her cheeks, just pleasure at having the answer to her question. You feel that blaze ignite, watch her eyes darken in response. And then you’re leaning over her, fingers buried in the wild tangle of her hair, cupping her head while you claim her mouth, tongue invading the inviting warmth. She doesn’t fight it, simply melting back into the bed beneath the onslaught, legs tangling and you can feel the heat of her against your thigh when you press it into her. She gives a choking gasp of surprise. She’s already wet and you groan into her mouth, knowing you are too. Her hands move restlessly over you, fingers digging entreatingly into your hips when she clasps them, rocks into you with a soft moan of wanting. “Please,” she whispers.
You know you could never deny that soft plea, not that you would ever want to and you oblige, pressing into her again. And then you stop thinking because you’re moving together, mouths giving and taking in a passionate dance of tongues and teeth and lips and soft sounds of surrender. Bodies grinding together, glistening with your shared passion. Hands roving and touching, exploring and her fingers slipping between your swollen folds and your fingers gripped by her velvet walls and her back arching, your nipples catching while you take her to that precipice, coaxing her to let go with every kiss, every touch , every stroke and every thrust. You can feel it in every movement of her body against yours, hear it in the soft sounds she utters as you drive her closer and closer, feel it in the quivering of her legs, the clenching of her stomach.
“Give yourself to me,” you manage to say, your voice a hoarse whisper in her ear, “give yourself to me now.” Because you can feel that you are on the brink of the abyss and you’re about to tumble headlong into the oblivion and there’s no way you’re not taking her with you. You need her, need to feel her splintering and shattering around you, feel her surrender to the twisting and curling of your fingers the way you’re about to surrender to the intensity of her in you and you in her and the taste of her, the smell of her, the sound of her.
“Cherry,” your name is a sobbing cry. You know it’s not your name but it’s the name she gave you and you know that in that moment she is yours. All yours, all of her and you follow her over the edge with her name spilling from your lips. Sunshine. Because in this moment, you are all hers.
Eventually, you return to yourself to find her head pillowed on your shoulder and her leg drawn up across your hips. If you tilt your head just so you can see the sated smile on her lips, and yours curve in an echo of the expression. She feels you moving and her arm tightens around your waist with a small mewl of protest. Your chuckle is almost silent and you press a kiss to the top of her head, keeping your arm curled around her while you reach to pull the blanket up over her shoulders.
“Just don’t want you getting cold again Miss Sunshine, because I don’t know if I have the energy to warm you up this time,” you say, smiling. You feel her smile widen when she turns her head and presses a kiss to the hollow at the base of your throat with a sleepy murmur that sounds something like a thank you. Your hands strokes over her hair, catching the few strands that were tickling your cheek and she somehow manages to shift even closer. You feel her breathing deepen, the warm weight of her on you becoming heavier as she relaxes into you. The sensation lulls you to sleep and you notice the slight lightening of the sky that means dawn is about to break as your eyes drift shut.
Good thing you have nowhere to be today.
Her eyes blink slowly open and she shifts, then freezes for a moment when she finds herself still draped over you. Then she remembers and her body relaxes again. She doesn’t move for some time, simply basking in the warmth of the memories and the splash of sun that has crept across the bed and is painting her back in its warm glow. She is about to drift off again when she hears the muffled ringing of her phone and realises that must have been what woke her. She wants to ignore it, but if whoever it is has already called twice it’s unlikely they’ll give up and she doesn’t want it to wake you. Moving carefully, she reluctantly gets up from the warm circle of your arms and goes in search of her bag.
The ringing has stopped when she finds it where she dropped it next to the couch in the adjoining sitting room but she digs it out and looks at the screen. Muttering a curse when she sees the multiple missed calls and messages, she glances over her shoulder at the door through which she can still see you sleeping, the sun taking the place of her body and bathing you in inviting light. She groans softly wanting nothing more than to accept that invitation. Maybe kiss you awake and continue from where she’d left off the night before. Instead, she moves further away from the door and returns the call.
Keeping her voice low, she tries to argue with the person on the other end. But her words fall on deaf ears and she hangs up, staring out the window in defeated silence for a moment. She curses softly again, then turns and quietly begins gathering up her clothes. You still haven’t moved by the time she’s dressed and she can’t decide if she’s relieved or not. She stands in the doorway for a moment, just staring at you. The burnished copper highlights in your dark cherry hair fanned out on the pillow, the rise and fall of your breasts with each sleeping breath, the soft pout of your lips just begging to be kissed one more time. She can’t resist and she crosses to the bed, her fingers just graze your cheek and she leans down. The kiss she brushes across you lips is feather soft and you make a soft sound that causes her to freeze in place. It will be better all-round if you don’t wake up right now to find her fully dressed and on her way out the door. She steps back silently, moves to pull a curtain across the window so you don’t wake with the sun on your face later, takes one last look at you from the doorway and leaves. Hanging the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, she pulls it quietly shut behind her and heads for her own room.
It’s probably better this way.
You’re more than a little confused when you wake up. You can tell from the angle of the sunlight coming through the window that it’s late – possibly afternoon already. You shake your head slightly and a faint citrus scent wafts up from the pillow, and then you remember it all. Every delicious, heart-pounding, bone-melting moment of last night and the woman responsible for every single one. You put out a hand with a smile. It turns into a slight frown and you turn your head when you realise she’s not there. The sheets are warm to the touch but if the coolness of the pillow is anything to go by, the sun is responsible for any heat you can feel.
You turn your head toward the bathroom door, listening intently for the sound of anyone moving around in it or in the sitting room – maybe she woke up and didn’t want to wake you. You hear nothing and the stab of disappointment is slightly unexpected. She ran. You feel like you should have expected it, considering how easily she blushed and how often self-doubt had crept into her eyes and her voice. But somehow you hadn’t. You lift yourself onto your elbows and turn to look at the clock. That’s when you notice the folded note propped against it, one word scrawled in dainty looping letters across the front.
You reach for it, fingers brushing indents of the letters on the page that seems to have been torn from a notebook. You open it hopefully. Maybe she’d left her number. A quick scan reveals no numbers and you sigh softly before reading it properly.
I’m sorry you’ve woken up alone. Please know that it definitely wasn’t my plan, but my boss called and there’s a client who is insisting on a face to face meeting so they bumped up my flight home. It’s a new client and we’ve been bending over backward trying to land them and this project could turn into lots of long term work. I’m rambling. I’m sorry.
The important thing is that I wanted nothing more than to kiss you good morning, spend the day with you in that bed and then give you every reason to skip that dinner you had planned. I can’t now because life has intervened, and I wish I was brave enough to give you that morning kiss at least. But I’m not and the memory of last night’s kisses will just have to do.
Thank you Cherry, for the most amazing night in a very long time. Possibly ever. And please don’t hate me too much when you finish reading this.
You read the words again. See where the pen hesitated as she wrote, where she crossed out something so well that you can’t read what was beneath it and suspect that it might have been that number you were hoping for. You sigh. Her scent still lingers in the air, on the pillows, on your skin. You get up and head to the shower, muscles pulling delightfully, reminding you of everything you did together and you feel a pang. You were both just guests here though, both killing time before your flights home. A day together wouldn’t have changed that. You reach into the shower, the spray rushing out in a hiss when you turn the tap on. You catch sight of your bed mussed hair, your lips still a little swollen from her kisses.
Maybe it’s better this way.
It’s almost two months later when you’re sitting at your desk and an email from an unknown sender pops up with the words READ IT in the subject line. Thinking it’s unusual that it wasn’t caught by your spam filters, you click it open. It’s nothing but a link and you’re about to delete it when the URL catches your eye. Intrigued, you click on it. First, you see the title.
“Cherries Will Never Taste the Same”
And then you see the authors note below it.
I will never taste your namesake without thinking of you…and I will never think of you without regretting not waking you up before I left. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to do more than just wish I had.”
Your breath catches and it feels like the air has been sucked from the room. You hadn’t forgotten her. Not one single inch of that sunkissed skin and how it had flushed with heat under your hands, how the honey in her voice had melted into breathless cries with every touch of your lips.
Finally, you’re able to draw a deep breath. You have a good idea what’s coming but knowing and knowing are two different things. Heart pounding, a slight shake in your hands, you start to read…
“She is leaning over the counter when you walk into the hotel bar, stretched up on the toes of one boot as she reaches for something on the other side.”