Category Archives: annika and jess

Part 1

We’ve been friends for about 4 years now. It feels like we met light years ago, like we’ve known each other forever. We were both signed up to work for a new department store that was opening up just outside the city, one of those megastore profanities that were sprawling out all over the suburbs. They had an induction week (“indoctrination” more like it) and we had to go out to a school for five days and learn all about this magical company we were going to be married to and spend the rest of our lives with. There were videos and even singing. Thinking back on it now I wonder how I managed not to throw up.

Annika was there and I noticed her straight away. There were a lot of company losers at this week long party who were so into it all it was scary. Annika hung back, with a half sarcastic smile on her pretty face and I found myself noticing the perfect bow shape of her mouth, thinking how soft her full lips must be. She was like one of cool kids at school in the back row, smoking and making out behind the bike sheds. Half the time these stupid motivational videos were on I’d catch her eye and she’d wrinkle her perfectly straight nose, both of us already telepathically communicating our revulsion. I was desperate to talk to her, to be near her, near that smile.

On the last day of the induction week we were having a barbecue (light beer of course) and I found myself nervous to be standing so close to her. She was dressed in her typically cool way with vintage op-shop stuff mixed with things she’d made and stuff picked up from her travels. She was one of those effortlessly stylish people and it made me feel clumsy being near her. We got talking eventually, something completely inane about how bland the salad was. Annika was always quick with comebacks and wisecracks and soon enough we were in our own little bubble, heads leaning in close making up our own secret language about the rest of these creepy company freaks.

Turns out we had a bit in common. We’d both done Fine Art degrees, I’d majored in sculpture and she had done painting. We joked about the glorious path to retail we had ascended to after art school and how, in the flurry of first year with all the Inspiration we really had thought We Were Going to Make It. We compared notes on all the other crappy jobs that we’d done after graduating and how there seemed like little chance of a review at the National Gallery anytime soon. When she talked she had this way of moving her very long fingers, twirling her sandy blonde hair, fiddling with some random loose button or playing with the “I love Berlin” badge on her jacket. There was something about her fingers that made me ache and I’d often find myself imagining her casually touching me and how I’d have to hide the blush that was already starting to rise in my cheeks. Annika lived miles from the city in the mountains where she had grown up. She was into conservation stuff and knew the names of a thousand native plants and where they originated. I got the impression that sometimes the city upset her and she disliked all the noise and commotion. I guess I was the opposite in that sense, I was born in a big city and loved the pulse and hum of it.

The weeks until the opening flew past. We’d been hired and trained and now had to set up the store, installing the racking and then unloading endless pallets of plasticky tacky shit. Annika and I had been put in the same department; I remember the day they announced the lists, my heart was thudding loudly in my chest as they read out first my name and then hers for Home Decorating. I remember thinking at the time if we were in separate departments I would quit, I didn’t think I could go this alone.

Store Opening was looming large and the company losers were so amped. There was this palpable electricity in the break room and it was all they ever talked about. I remember walking in and seeing her, sitting under some massive “Store Opens in 3 Days!” poster, reading Bukowski, totally ignoring the frenzy of paper streamers and enforced excitement. She looked hot just sitting there and I didn’t realise I was staring till Tom slammed into me in the doorway. On the way past he said something about drooling and that’s when it all started. They were such a gossipy bunch and they loved the scandal about Annika and Jess being lesbian lovers.

Secretly I didn’t mind the joke either. I was mid way through a long overdue break up with a guy who couldn’t care less. I was amazed to find out that Annika was single, I’d have thought boys would be crawling all over her. The ones at work certainly were obsessed with her, I’d heard them talking about her a thousand times on my trips to the recycling compacter. She was kind of intimidating though, tall and aloof, with a veiled threat in her laugh. I guess these losers were probably too chicken to talk to her.

Store opening was a blur of cheering and clapping. I remember us standing at the store entrance while the ribbon was being cut. We were squashed in next to each other and every time someone clapped she’d pinch me. I screamed once because she got me in a ticklish spot but luckily it coincided with a round of cheering so I must have looked very excited about the store opening. Our uniforms were horrible, yet somehow she still looked beautiful, almost as though she was being pretty just to spite it. I’d been watching her get dressed in the locker room before, and the thought of her pink polka dot bra under that hideous shirt made me bite my lip. Even seeing the strap when she rearranged her hair over her collar was somehow intoxicating. During one agonisingly boring speech she leant down to whisper to me about being a good company girl. Her lip brushed my ear and I felt a burning blush spread from my ear, across my cheek and right across my chest. I was suddenly grateful for the baggy shirt that was hiding my peaked nipples.

Soon enough we settled into the swing of it. “Day shift, evening shift, morning meeting, store close” and other inane words took the place of conversations. I would have died from boredom if it weren’t for the little brushes with Annika that still burned my skin. We’d be lifting heavy boxes together, checking if things were straight, looking over files, always finding little reasons for a touch on the shoulder, or a flicker of those long fingers. We leaned against each other once behind a huge pile of terracotta pots we’d been stacking and the familiarity of it took me by surprise. I’d moved out from the house I’d shared with my ex and was now living on my own. I missed having someone touch me in a familiar way and when her weight pressed against my shoulder my skin nearly melted. “Hey Jessie, you got something in your eye, hold still.” Her voice purred my name and as she brushed my hair back from my face I felt giddy. She leaned in close to have a look, hand still holding back my fringe and I could feel her breath on my face, warm with a hint of cinnamon from the chai she was always drinking. She took her time looking at my eye before stepping back, messing up my fringe for fun. “You’re hair is always so tidy Jessie it drives me crazy.” No one else called me Jessie nowadays, I was always ‘Jess’ or the boring ‘Jessica’ that was on my stupid name tag and hearing the way her tongue rolled over it always pulled me into that special bubble we had made for ourselves. I imagined her tongue teasing the syllables against the back of her teeth and found myself contemplating exploring her pink mouth for the thousandth time.

Monday raced around the calendar again, not that it mattered being on a seven day rotating roster. Annika had the weekend off and I had missed her so much, especially on Sunday when it had been frantically busy. We worked well together, anticipating one another, always keeping an eye out for each other, and covering our overly long coffee runs. That weekend I’d been rostered with Elizabeth, a full on company champion who didn’t bother with lunch breaks. When Annika strolled in on Monday morning hung over from the weekend I found myself being bitchy to her, pissed off that she’d been out and picked up some guy. After she got through telling me in detail about the bass player with the tan and the muscles and the rock hard cock who cooked amazing breakfasts, I decided I had just about heard enough. I spat out something about having so much to do after Sunday’s craziness and stormed off to the loading bay. I couldn’t believe I was acting like this, jealous about some guy she picked up.

I heard someone coming down the metal staircase. It was bloody Chris, who had a knack for finding me on my own. He was good looking enough but was all Eyes for every girl that walked past, always ready with some cheesy line. For some reason when he stood extremely close I didn’t move. I was still simmering with irrational jealousy and feeling reckless. Chris leaned in a little closer, made some typically stupid joke about the new sale catalogue and I made my response barely audible, mentioning the noisy car park so he would step a little closer. I tilted my head to one side and stretched my arms behind me casually, trying to do my best to look alluring and show off some curves in this ridiculous clown suit of a uniform. Chris wised up when I moistened my lip and let my mouth stay open slightly. I commented on how much I appreciated him helping me unload stock last week in a bizarrely breathless tone. I couldn’t believe I was hamming it up this much and I couldn’t believe it was with Chris but at that moment I really didn’t care. I was angry in a way I didn’t understand and flushed from thinking about her with that man.

Chris thought my perfume was nice so I leaned in and pulled my shirt to one side so he could put his face near my collarbone. He smelled like men like him do, a mix of grass and sex topped off with an underachieving deodorant. He took his time breathing in my perfume and I gazed at his curly hair. I knew he played football and I imagined his butt would be tightly muscled and pert in those tiny shorts they wore. When he straightened up his face was close to mine and he slipped his hand on my waist casually. “I never noticed how beautiful your eyes are” he breathed back. I tried not to laugh at the well-worn line, but a part of me responded and I arched, cat like making more of a hollow for him to rest his hand and conveniently pushing my breasts forward. “This uniform does nothing for you, you’re gorgeous underneath.” I’m not sure if it was that he had told me that I was gorgeous under my loathed uniform or that I enjoyed the feeling of his hands on my waist but next thing you know my face was millimetres from his and I was staring straight into his eyes. Chris had been with a lot of women and enjoyed the game. He held my chin and teased a kiss out of my lips, staring straight back at me. I hesitated for a second with our eyes locked, feeling the dare drain away from me but Chris was already leaning forward, pressing his weight into me, and pinning me up against the wall. I had a sudden flash of Annika and her bass player and felt the jealousy flare as Chris’ mouth spread over mine. Our kiss was tangled and messy, forceful with lust. His hands roamed all over my body and the way he rubbed my breast bordered on painful. A sudden sound of a truck reversing broke us apart and I hurriedly smoothed my skirt as I stumbled out from under him, practically running up the metal staircase. He yelled out something along the lines of ‘see you later’ and mumbled something to the truck driver before they both cracked up laughing. Chris’ kiss stung my lip and the sensation wasn’t unpleasant, it had been a while since I’d had a man touch me like that and I felt uncomfortable admitting it had felt good. Damn Annika, her face and touch were melding with pictures of Chris as I straightened my skirt for the hundredth time. I couldn’t get the thought of her out of my mind and I played back images of how he would have touched her, kissed her and taken her.

I barrelled around the corner, my mind lost in my home made movies. I didn’t see her until it was too late and we collided hard. It had been entirely my fault as she had been struggling with a huge box of plastic coat hangers and could barely see over the top of them. One loud explosion and a cascade of plastic later and Annika and I were a pile of limbs and swearing. We untangled gingerly, crunching plastic as we rolled off each other. “Sorry Jessie baby, you ok?” Annika brushed a hand slowly over my shoulder. “Yeah Nikki, you?” Her eyes loomed large and she gave me that look that quietened all the growling in my head. She brushed my hair again, slowly and tenderly. I felt vaguely ridiculous standing in a pool of mangled coat hangers but would have done anything to prolong that moment. “Come on missy, if Big D sees this we’re fired.” She laughed and we both stood staring at the floor, enjoying the thought of getting fired. Big D was our manager, a quiet and fastidious German, always polite and stereotypically efficient. One day at a casual function he was wearing jeans that fitted a little too tightly. I’d poked Nikki in the ribs and after she registered the size of his package he’d been christened Big D. We crawled around on the floor collecting coat hangers and bits of plastic and joking about Big D as my eyes wandered over her curves. She was taller than I was, with long limbs and gorgeously round hips. The way her waist tapered and flared mesmerised me and way too often we’d casually stroll around the store room, her arm draped around my shoulder, my hand around her waist, stroking those lines that curved and curled about her. The lower half of the uniform was meant to be a black skirt with black stockings and black shoes but Nikki always managed to be wearing some ridiculous knee high socks and her beaten up Converse One Stars. In all my fantasises about Annika I was always touching, caressing and kissing her waist and the little mound of her belly, feeling her smooth thighs and tickling the tiny blonde hairs on the small of her back while she was wearing those insane socks.

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Part 2

Nikki’s Birthday was coming up and I had no idea what to get her for a present. Some of the others girls were putting in for something together, but I wanted to get her something special, just from me. On Friday night we were going to this restaurant to have pancakes, it was a tradition with Annika to have pancakes and ice cream with fudge for her birthday and this year she decided to invite us all along and then head out for drinks later at Weekender. Annika loved Weekender, it played brit-pop and 80s alternative classics and she was always going on about how she thought the Dj’s Manchester accent was sexy. I thought he sounded like an arrogant prick but that pretty much summed up Annika’s taste in men.

Pancakes, candles and present unwrapping later we made our way to Weekender, the whole group of us strung out in pairs on the pavement. Annika and I were walking together and I couldn’t stop gabbling about how beautiful she looked in her retro dress and smudged black eye shadow. She was beautiful in the way only Annika could be, sexy as hell in all black and then with one little thing that would take the edge off the almost icy perfection and melt my heart, like a chip in her nail polish or a run in her stockings. I had made her a necklace and ear rings for her birthday and she had put them on at the restaurant. Seeing the red crystal and pearls glowing against the lush skin of her neck was painful. All I wanted was to be alone with her, to run my tongue across the nape of her neck, her throat, her collar bone and down to her breasts that fitted so perfectly into her slim fitting dress.

We filed into the club, piling coats into the cloakroom. A lot of her friends who hadn’t come to have pancakes had turned up and I found myself gazing at her from across the room as she was swept away by a hundred hugs and happy birthdays. I ordered vodka and soda, and then a double, starting to feel a little edgy, as I didn’t really know the other people here. The music started to pick up and I caught her eye as her Mancunian dj blasted out the Dandy Warhols. She waved me over, pointing to the tiny dance floor. I slid through the sweaty crowd of op shop zip up jackets, airline bags and bowl haircuts up to where she was already rocking her hips in time to Bohemian Like You.

We were back in our tiny bubble again, on the dance floor making a mess of ourselves. It was hot in that overcrowded bar and we were both shiny with sweat. Vodka had made us both brave and we slid closer to each other. I loved the feel of her moving body and as Nikki rolled her hips with her arms around me, butterflies exploded into my stomach.

“Jessie, thanks for coming to my birthday.”

“Thanks for inviting me baby doll.”

“Can we go to the bar? I want another drink.”

We threaded our way back through the crowd. More than a few guys were staring as we sidled up to the bar and ordered shots and then another couple of drinks. Nikki chatted to a few friends but I could sense she was trying to make it as brief as possible, keeping her hand locked over mine. On the pretext of going to go and get her bag, we slipped behind a curtain near the dj booth. Our drinks had gone down easily and Nikki twirled the ice around with her straw. She raised an eyebrow before scooping ice in her long fingers and pushing it down my top. She pressed her hand down on the neckline of my dress so I couldn’t pull it out. I wriggled from the burn of the ice melting on my neck. Ice mixed with sweat and a channel of water dripped between my breasts onto my stomach. Annika laughed as she ran her hand down from my throat, pressing the cold water into my skin. My nipples stung from the sensation as my skin flushed.

“My turn birthday girl.” Nikki shrieked as I took an ice cube and held it against the tiny hollow in the centre of her collarbone. At first she tried to shrink back from it, then she straightened, leaned closer and held my hand down over hers. When that ice cube disappeared into her skin, I reached into my glass again, slipped an ice cube between my teeth and pressed it against her lips. She held her lips closed as I traced ice over the outline of her mouth. When the ice melted and trickled down into my throat, she leaned forward, and kissed me. Our lips flushed and warmed as Annika gently pushed her tongue into my mouth. If she hadn’t of been holding me right then, I would probably have collapsed. I had thought about this moment a thousand times as I watched her lips on the edge of teacups, sucking on the end of pens, and puckered in concentration and imagined the feeling of that perfect mouth on mine. As we kissed my hands rested on her waist and I ran my fingers down over her round hips, tracing over the fabric of her dress, exploring the curves I had looked at through her uniform at work. Her hands on my shoulders pulled my body close to hers and the heat of her swelled into my stomach and thighs. She leaned into me, with her breasts pressing into mine as her leg slid between my thighs. Those long fingers I had fantasised about went from my shoulders to my face, resting on the curve on the side of my breast. Sensations ricocheted all over my body and I craved her mouth with intensity. Annika was soft and feminine to kiss, taking gentle nibbles of my lip and licking the inside of my mouth shyly with her tongue. Her hands were bolder and I felt her sigh as her finger passed over the cup of my bra. She pulled back slowly, kissing my forehead as she stood up straight.

“I want to look at you Jessie.” Her hand traced a line from my forehead, down to the hair that had spilled out onto my neck. She ruffled it again then continued onto my throat, my collarbone and my chest. Slowly with her index finger she ran a line over my breast right over my hardened nipple. I stopped breathing as she continued over my stomach and onto the top of my thigh. She inched my hem up my leg in beckoning movements, kissing me as her fingers guided the rest of my hand onto my knickers. I was completely enthralled by this woman and my mind reeled as her fingers tugged playfully at the waistband of my underwear. My hands moved of their own accord from the back of her neck, over her shoulders, grazing her armpit and the contour of her breast. I pulled her close to me, our arms curling around each other and kissed her with more intensity. When we eventually came up for air I kissed her cheek then slid my tongue towards her ear. “Happy birthday Annika.”

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Part 3

After the night of Annika’s birthday I knew I was hooked on her. Hooked on those dreamy eyes, those full lips and that velvet skin. I thought things might be weird at work, but somehow we managed to accommodate it, like a secret that grew inside of us, that we tended with affection. We developed a sixth sense for each other, finishing each other’s sentences and becoming ever more enmeshed in our language and rituals. Looking back now it must have been pretty obvious to everyone else that we were nuts about each other but we were so oblivious to other people that we never even noticed. The jokes about us still did the rounds every so often and someone had gotten a photo of us with our arms around each other at the Christmas party and drawn a love heart around it.

In some ways though I think we were a bit nervous about it too, anxious about how we felt about each other and what it meant. I’d kissed a few girls before and been more intimate with one, a girl I lived with in my first share house years ago. At the time Elly and I were eighteen and had adored each other from the beginning. She played violin and had long hair that fell over her face when she played, lost in the intensity of the music she was so passionate about. I loved listening to her practice and some mornings I would wake up to the sound of her playing Tschaicovsky. We ended up working on a theatre show, playing music together, sharing a house and being totally inseparable. One summer we slept in my bed because Elly’s room got all the afternoon sun and was unbearable at night. We were really comfortable with each other and it started off as fun at first, kissing each other and fooling around tickling and wrestling, ending up in a heap on the bed laughing. I think the first time anything really happened was after Elly had been with a guy who she thought was terrible in bed. She said something along the lines of wishing he knew how I kissed her, how I’d touch her gently but firmly, loving her with my hands. At that point I’d climbed on top of her and was tickling her belly, teasing her for liking boys who were such beasts when she’d looked at me in a different way, holding my gaze as she talked more about how good it felt when we were together. We kissed again but she had more in mind and for the first time for both of us we went down on each other, making each other come with our fingers and our mouths. A few weeks after that we ended up in bed with a guy who came to a party at our house but I just wasn’t that into it so I left them to it. After that summer we grew apart, got boyfriends, and went travelling to different places. We didn’t have a falling out; we just unravelled from the tight cocoon we had made for ourselves and drifted to separate countries, to separate worlds. Last I heard she owned a juice bar, was living with some guy and thinking of buying a house. I forgot to ask if she still played violin.

Annika told me about a girl that she had really liked at university. This woman had been really intelligent, had travelled everywhere, done a lot of cool experimental art stuff and was really confident and comfortable with her sexuality. They’d had a few evenings together getting stoned, kissing and exploring each other. In the hazy days of art school it ended up blurring with other stuff that was going on at the time and it didn’t go much further than that. Annika said with me it was different, intense yet light hearted, we were always playing tricks on each other and teasing each other about the boys we supposedly liked. It was summer time and it felt like we would stay this way forever.

One Thursday while sitting squished up next to me in the break room Annika broke off a piece of the muffin we were sharing and was sprinkling crumbs in my hair. She had a peculiar look on her face as she perched bird like next to me and crumbled muffin in those long fingers.

“Jelly Jessie.”

“Yes Princess Annika?”

“What you doing on the weekend?”

“Oh you know, maybe some sky diving and then I might write the greatest screen play ever written that becomes a Hollywood blockbuster starring Johnny Depp. Why? What are you doing?”

“Well you know how we have the weekend off together…”

“Yeah, what you thinking missy? You want to come sky diving?”

“Come to the beach house with me, we’ll stay for the weekend. Its five seconds from the beach.”

Annika’s family had a holiday house on the coast at Blairgowrie. It was a gorgeous little house, and being there gave me a real sense of Nikki’s childhood. There were photos of her and her sister as babies and baskets of shells from a thousand beach expeditions. Nikki’s grandmother had been pretty stylish and the house was decorated in the best of the 70s, including bamboo handled cutlery and rocket lamps. I noticed when we got there that Annika relaxed considerably, she seemed noticeably happier. It was a side of her I hadn’t seen and it was quite a transformation. After we dumped all seven bags that we had packed for one weekend away, Nikki hurriedly started peeling off her clothes and slipping into bikinis and cut off denim shorts.

“Come on Jelly, hurry up.”

‘Okay, okay Annika I can’t even find my bathers!”

“Just go naked, I don’t mind.”

“I know you don’t mind Nikki, but other people might.”

I finally dug out bathers and a sarong to wrap around my waist. I wriggled into them as Nikki was collecting towels. I looked so pale next to her long golden legs. I wasn’t much of a tanner and Annika laughed as I sprayed sunscreen everywhere.

“Come on Porcelina, let’s gooooo.”

We wandered the short walk from the house down to the trail to the beach. The afternoon sun was dipping in the sky, hovering fat and lazy above the horizon. It was warm with a light breeze coming in off the sea. The wind ruffled Annika’s curls as she skipped ahead of me, gabbling about rock pools and seashells and how I really must hurry up. In that moment, in the warm afternoon light, with her curls framing her face and those long tanned legs racing her across the sand she looked incredibly beautiful. I held my breath as my eyes wandered from her ankles, up her calves, the back of her thighs, to the torn fabric of her cut off shorts.

Close to the shore Annika threw the towels in a heap, kicked off her sandals and whirled around to grab my hand.

“Come on Jelly, you have to come in the water with me.”

I had barely unwrapped myself from my sarong before we stumbled into the water in a tangle of flailing arms and legs. The water felt cold at first and the shock made my nipples rub against the fabric of my bathers. I was waist deep and backing towards the warmer shallows, conscious of tingling shivers rocketing up my thighs. Annika had dived under the surface and in fluid long strokes was swimming out to deeper water. She turned back to look at me, flicking her hair in a shower of water drops that caught the light like crystals. She was laughing as she changed direction to chase me, half swimming, half running on the soft sand underneath.

“Not so fast Jelly you have to at least look like you are having fun.”

“I am! I am, I promise.” I squealed as she lunged at me, wrapping her arms and legs around me. We sank in the shallow water, her on my lap as I sat down in the sand. She leaned her forehead against mine as our arms entwined around each other. Annika smelled like salt water and sunshine and I could have sat there in the warm water locked together, breathing that scent for hours. Annika blew a raspberry on my forehead and laughed, leaving her lips close to my face. Inching her lips down my forehead, over my nose she nibbled her way to my lips as I leant back and tried to bite her. With my hand resting on her neck Nikki smiled and kissed me. Our tongues flicked over each other’s teeth tasting salt. I ran my fingers through her hair and held her face close to mine. Annika’s hands wandered over my pearly skin, my pale shoulders contrasting with her honeyed hands. Down past my shoulders, onto my arm, she slipped a hand up inside my olive green bikini top and cupped my breast, squeezing me gently. I felt her mouth smile as she stroked the bud shape of my hardened nipple and pinched it. My other hand moved from holding her legs in my lap, onto her knee as under the water’s surface my fingers moved up her thigh between her legs. Annika shuddered as a light breeze licked around us and I continued sliding my hand up. Her breathing tensed and our kissing slowed as I could feel her focus on her thigh. My fingers found the fringe on her shorts as she planted a firm kiss in my mouth, encouraging me with her tongue. I slowly crept a finger under the frayed material until my fingertip found her bikini bottoms. First I gently stroked the mound of her pussy with my finger, tracing over the smooth fabric. Her eyes were locked on mine as a faint nervousness gave way and she gave in to my hands teasing and feeling her. As her breathing grew heavy she looked at me one last time and closed her eyes as I pried the fabric to one side and touched her bare skin for the first time. Her pubic hair flitted around the tip of my finger in the current as I stroked first her mound and then her lips. Leaning her head back towards me for more kissing she nibbled my lip with increasing pressure as I edged further down, curling my finger at the entrance of her pussy. She bit down hard as I pushed my finger inside her and stifled the sound of her pleasure. Gently rocking my hand back and forth my finger explored her insides as my thumb brushed against her clit. I pushed my second finger deep inside her as my thumb made more insistent circles. Her breathing was ragged and her hands clumsily slid over my breasts as her nails dug into my skin. More circling, more stroking and I made a beckoning motion inside her that made her muscles ripple around my fingers. Her eyes snapped open as she stared at me with an almost pained look on her face. I held her tightly with my other arm as she arched her spine and tilted her head back and her hips began thrusting down onto my hands as she showed me her rhythm. I kept my finger on her swollen clit as she pushed against my hand and came in waves that exploded from inside her. As she subsided she slumped into my arms, gradually regaining control of her breathing. I gave her a little nibble on the ear and she looked at me shyly and rested her head against mine. The water lapped around our melded form as the sky darkened and the sun nestled in orange clouds closer to the sea.

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Part 4

Summer had long gone and everywhere heavy coats and scarves muffled prickled skin against the cold. The pace at work had dragged to a slow trickle and we had plenty of spare time to think up new tortures for each other. Things were about to change though as Annika was due to leave for Europe in a few days, backpacking for nine months, starting in Scandinavia and ending up in London. I was happy for her to be getting away from work and the winter here but knew I was going to miss her like crazy. I’d lent her my backpack from when I went to South East Asia and ironed on a little cat shaped badge in the corner. Scandinavia sounded so impossibly far away and being Annika she’d planned hikes and camping through just about every remote mountain trail you could imagine. As she was packing I slipped the photo of us with the love heart drawn around it from the Christmas party into the bottom of the bag.

Annika had promised to write and I knew she would, but part of me didn’t want to see postcards from exotic locations or photos of her overlooking sparkling glaciers from some impossibly high mountaintop. I knew she would love England in the summer time and imagined her wandering through the impossible green of Canterbury or sitting at some Tube station listening to Beatles records through her headphones.

We went out for dinner, just the two of us. It was lovely nestled in there, in the cosy corner of a little Japanese restaurant. We’d managed to get a booth out in the tiny back garden of the restaurant, overlooking the gravel beds and maple trees. We sat cross-legged on bamboo mats at a little low table, surrounded by delicate paper screens. Little plates of tempura, sushi and agedashi tofu arrived, as well as soba salad and yakitori. I’m not sure if it was the heater or the saki that we had gradually stopped wincing from but slowly we unravelled out of our many winter layers and sat like butterflies in split cocoons.

“Nikki?”

“Yes Jelly bean?”

“You’re coming home aren’t you?”

“No Jelly, I’m going to fall in love with a Finnish ski instructor and I’m never coming back. We’re going to become St. Bernard breeders and live in a log cabin. Then we’ll have blonde babies with blue eyes that will terrorise the local village.”

“Nikki, that is very unfair as I have already planned our very cool inner city art loft and gallery where we will put on weird performance art shows of us rolling around naked covered in chocolate.”

“Jessie that is so 1990s. No one does chocolate any more, these days you have to writhe around in something vegan. But if you ask nicely I’ll roll around naked in chocolate just for you.”

I contemplated that as I sipped more saki. Chocolate with caramel sauce would suit her complexion, I would probably look better in raspberry syrup with lemon sorbet. I suggested to Annika that we could save on cleaning if we just licked it off each other, to which she heartily agreed. With a cheeky smile she asked if I wasn’t sure that I’d rather have Chris suck it off my toes, seeing as he was so earnest about such things. I giggled as I pinched her under the table and then it was all on, tickling and pinching and wrestling in that tiny booth in the garden.

A rather timid waiter coughed and we paused like cats trapped in the glare of headlamps. I was pinned under Annika desperately trying to prize her slender fingers out of my armpit. With little resistance on my behalf she had straddled me and was poking all my tender places, eliciting barely stifled yelps. She leaned back on my legs bent at the knee like she was sitting in a throne, barely batting an eyelid.

“We were just discussing if we would like some more saki and green tea ice cream.”

The waiter shot a concerned look at the fragile paper screen inches from my elbow, then nodded quietly backing away. When he was out of sight Annika leaned back and helped me sit up, our legs wrapped around each other and hips nestled together.

“Don’t worry Jessie, I’ll come back.”

Her momentarily serious gaze gave way to more tickling as we uncoiled and resumed a less scandalous seating position. We didn’t say much else until dessert arrived, and I toyed with chopsticks as Annika fiddled with the bamboo matting, both of us lost in thought. After making a considerable amount of noise on the stairway the same waiter arrived with a small flask of saki and green tea ice cream in two black ceramic bowls. Apparently relived to see all the screens intact he smiled and wandered back inside.

“Open your mouth Jessie” I duly parted my lips as Annika’s silver teaspoon heaped a mound of pale green ice cream in my mouth. The coldness stung my tongue and the roof of my mouth.

“Is it nice?” My mouth was too full to reply so I smiled and nodded. Annika leaned her face closer. “Can I try?” Her lips melted over mine, her tongue flicking at the corner of my lip, snaking its way inside. Her warm tongue caressed the puddling ice cream and curled like a cat’s drinking milk. Her warmth flooded over the coolness left by the ice cream and the traces of rice wine burned between us. We alternated spoon-feeding and kissing each other, marvelling at the texture as quick fingers caught the trails that spilled onto our chins. We ate ice cream kisses as the heater blazed and reddened our cheeks.

The restaurant started closing up for the night as we gathered up our discarded layers and regrouped the fragments of our minds scattered from the saki. A little unsteadily we climbed the narrow staircase and wobbled through the neatly stacked nests of tables. As slowly as possible we inched towards the street corner that marked our separate directions. Annika had the look of someone about to travel far away, the expression of someone whose mind was walking foreign streets long before their body was. Despite the late hour her pulse was quickening and her eyes shone. One last night on her mother’s couch before the drive to the airport and she would be catapulted into the clouds, into a million different scents, sights and sounds.

We stood on the street corner to say good bye. She curled my fingers into hers and leant her head against mine, as we had grown accustomed to doing. I breathed in her perfume as she stroked my hair, gazing at the flashing neon streetlights. Our breath made vapour clouds as she kissed my cheek.

“Good night Jessie, I’ll see you very soon.”

“Bon voyage Annika, have a wonderful time.”

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Part 5

I hadn’t lasted a month without Annika in Furniture Hell before I was scanning the job ads looking to escape. Spring was around the corner and the lack of windows was playing tricks with my mind. I’d been feeling like I wanted to paint again and thought I’d go for something part time. Then there was that warehouse place to share with a bunch of other people, I’d probably regret it in a week but the rent was cheap and there was room for setting up easels and the like. I turned it around it in my mind. Annika’s leaving had made me restless and I was seeking new avenues.

I ended up getting a job in a bar in the city. It was mainly night shifts and I relished the chance to go back to the hours I preferred keeping. I had always been more of a night owl, happiest when the light trickled out of the sky. It was late at night amidst a pile of incomplete academic assignments that I had done my best writing and felt the urge to paint stirring inside. I was usually tidy but there was something about painting that unleashed a miniature cyclone, and when I’d regain consciousness I’d be covered in splashes of paint and shreds of paper.

The bar job worked out well, I’d enjoyed trading in my ugly uniform for a tight black singlet and slim fitting jeans. The rest of the staff seemed cool and it didn’t take long to get into the swing of it. On weekends when the place was packed and the music pounded the whole team moved like one machine, flinging bottles, cracking tops and flirting with customers. I was single and enjoying the display of boys and bands that paraded every Saturday night.

Painting was also coming along slowly, I’d gotten through the frustrating part of coaxing my hand back into half forgotten actions and was finally starting to see those shapes and lines appear. A few life drawing classes had really helped out and I’d moved on to painting women in various states of undress, languidly leaning on elaborate chairs and unmade beds. Sometimes their faces resembled Annika’s, but more often than not they were dark haired with long dark lashes framing luminous eyes.

A couple of months on and I settled into the routine of working till late right through the weekend with a few nights off during the week. Working those kinds of hours made it hard to see my other friends and the staff at the bar became my extended family. We’d finish in the early hours, have knock off drinks and wind up sitting at a café picking over breakfast, still caked in eyeliner from the night before. A couple of times we’d take the party indoors and often end up at my place, mixing elaborate drinks and smoking joints to unwind. Sia and Toby were regular attendees at these informal parties and pretty soon we got to be close friends.

One particularly hot morning we were lying on the concrete floor of the painting area fending off the heat of the day. We were on to our third joint hoping it might send us to sleep after we had gotten so wired the night before. Sia had peeled off about a kilo of jewellery, a studded belt and her black boots in an effort to get comfortable on the floor. Toby was drifting in and out of sleep, one sinewy arm flung over his face. I had a water spray on the floor next to me and Sia and I were taking turns to spray our faces, spreading mascara down to our cheek bones. Sia was sexy and knew it, dark haired, tattooed and tough acting but once you got past that she was really sweet. She was a genius behind the bar and made magic out of bottles. Toby was the opposite, quiet, young and reserved, he’d been bussy for about a year while studying at uni. Toby liked weird sports like orienteering and read a lot of books. Sometimes he was so gorgeously naive I felt bad for the way Sia and I terrorised him.

We both looked at Toby lying on the floor, his arm still shielding his eyes from the light, his t- shirt inching its way over his flat belly, exposing a tiny curl of hair shyly snaking towards his navel. His rib cage rose and fell rhythmically and his mouth had softened in sleep. Light from the skylight caressed his jawbone and highlighted the delicate tracery of veins that fanned out over his arm. Sia broke my reverie with a knowing smile and as his breathing deepened and became more even we soundlessly rolled onto our feet, crept across the floor and emptied bottles of water on to him. Poor Toby writhed around from the shock, grabbing our legs and swiping at us to stop. Sia wrestled his hands and I held his feet down as we continued pouring water and rubbing it all over him, soaking his clothes. Toby eventually lay still and surrendered to our torture.

I looked up from where I had been engrossed by saturating Toby’s socks to see Sia leaning over Toby’s chest, peeling his shirt up his stomach with her metallic varnish fingernails. Sia gave me an intense stare, locking her eyes onto mine as she undressed Toby further. I was dimly aware that I was still holding Toby’s feet as Sia’s gaze burned, never once leaving my face. She pulled his t-shirt over his head and trapped his arms in it then dragged a nail from his belly button to his collarbone raising a faint red line. Challenge and provocation issued soundlessly from Sia’s darkly lined eyes and her plum lips drew back over her teeth as she offered his pale flesh. Toby seemed blithely unaware of the transaction taking place above him, sure that this was another of our torturous punishments.

Sia beckoned me to where she perched imperiously above Toby’s tangled arms. I slid forward on my hands and knees until my face neared hers. Sia reached out and drew my hand up to her mouth, sucking on my index finger. As I gasped quietly I felt Toby wriggle underneath us, unsure of what was happening. After withdrawing my glistening finger she guided my hand onto Toby’s chest, tracing a circle around his nipple that bristled in response. My hand rested on his chest as I kissed Sia’s beautiful dark mouth.

Sia pulled Toby’s t-shirt off as we kissed and he lay beneath us watching our bodies collide. Sia kissed with intensity and aggression, as though a rage had built up inside her that pounded the shore of her mouth. It was all I could to hang on as her lips snarled and devoured mine. Clothes were torn and red fingernail shaped crescents patterned my skin as her fever engulfed her. She pushed my face towards Toby’s and I took his startled mouth with mine, infected with Sia’s burning.

Sia had fired something inside me, and my nails and teeth dug into Toby. I could feel him shiver slightly as I pulled his head to one side and bit his neck. Sia was sitting back, leaning on the couch; eyes still focussed on Toby and me. She sucked her finger as she spread her legs, one hand pulling at her tight black jeans. I was straddling Toby, painfully gripping his shoulders as his cock hardened. He couldn’t see Sia behind him and focussed instead on undoing the zip on my trousers. I rocked forward on my hands to help him ease them off my hips and then I tore his loose fitting jeans and boxers away in one motion. Sia was mostly undressed by now too, her singlet pushed up over the rise of her purple pin stripe bra. One hand slid down her stomach as I kissed Toby again and I could hear her moan softly as I held his cock in my hand, stroking it gently. I rubbed the pearl of milky fluid onto the head of his cock as Toby writhed, the look of concern on his face dissolving as he bit his lip and exhaled. He raised his hand to the space between my legs as I straightened my back. Upright I watched Sia’s fingers slide over her lips as she pulled them upwards, letting the gentle rolling action stimulate her clitoris. Toby spread the wetness that his fingers coaxed from inside me over the edge of my pussy, gently darting a finger inside as I opened up. Her razor blade stare met mine as we sucked the colour from each other through snake like eyes. Ragged inhalations scrawled across the humid air while Toby lay between us. Sia’s fingers darted over her clit as I smiled at her and pushed Toby’s cock between my legs, butting the entrance of my swollen lips. I barely even registered him as I let my weight force his cock deep inside of me. I was completely mesmerised by Sia as she showed me how she pleasured herself.

I let Sia’s rhythm guide us as I followed her fingers. I rocked my hips back and forth as Toby moaned underneath me. Whenever I tore my eyes away from Sia I looked down at Toby as his face contorted and his mouth moved soundlessly. His pulse pounded and I could see the bluish veins near his neck flicker under his skin. I tightened myself around him and watched him contract in response, sensation engulfing and overwhelming him.

As Sia’s fingers became more frenzied and her moaning more intense I shut my eyes and focussed in on the feeling of Toby inside me. Rolling my hips over him I dropped forward so my face was close to his, my hair making a curtain around us. I could hear Sia and imagined her working herself to climax with those shiny painted nails. Toby held my waist and tensed his stomach as I felt the first vibration rippling from my clit ebb and then flow and with a few more thrusts finally amplify in waves right through me.

I looked up to watch Sia come, her mouth open and eyes wide as both hands worked her over the edge, fingers plunging inside of her as she released loudly. She jerked violently as the after shock gripped her and then slumped back on the couch breathing heavily. I watched her tremble and melt and softness overtake her face then looked down as Toby worked my body back and forth over him before holding me tightly as he arched and arched again in orgasm.

As he slid out of me I staggered off him onto the floor, sweating and breathing hard onto the concrete. I curled onto my side and shut my eyes as my heart slowed down, dimly aware of the sound of the fan whirring in the background.

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Part 6

I came home from work to find the place empty. There was a note on the table from the rest of the housemates who had taken off to various locations for the long weekend to escape the heat of the house. I flopped down in a chair and peeled off my singlet, glad to finally be able to feel air on my sweat-slicked skin. I stank of booze and cigarettes and the smell permeated the room, reminding me of work. I’d done a double because Lucas called in sick but we were all pretty sure that he was still wasted from the night before. It was always amusing seeing how girls would fall in love with his angel face and later be surprised to see him shovelling cocaine up his nose and fucking in the toilet. I’d partied with Lucas a few more times than I should have and I could start to feel it affecting me.

Two days ago a postcard from Annika had arrived. It was the first in 3 months, scrawled in her girly writing and all about how she was excited to be coming home soon and showing me her photos. I felt a long way from how things had been before she left and wasn’t sure what it would be like when she came back. Every now and again I’d think about her sandy blonde curls and those long tanned legs but that day on the beach seemed so far from this tangle of half remembered nights spent getting fucked up with Lucas and the rest of them.

I decided to file thinking about that for later and was relishing the quiet of the house and the knowledge that no one would be home until Monday night. I’d taken the rest of my clothes off on the way to shower, dumping them in the hallway. As steam filled up the room and misted over the broken mirror in the bathroom I relaxed and let my thoughts drift away from work. Showering was the best way for me to unwind, and in a communal house it was the only time I really had any privacy. I scrubbed vigorously until my skin turned pink and then washed my hair, massaging my head under the scorching water. I felt like I had to rid myself of every trace of the madness of the past few weeks, like somehow cleaning my skin would clean my insides too.

I stood still and let the water wander over me, watching as water channelled over my breasts, down my stomach and coursed over my thighs. My muscles still felt tense so I detached the showerhead from the bracket on the wall and directed a spray of warm water over my shoulders, feeling the delicious tickle of the water pressure as I rolled the showerhead in lazy circles. As I moved it closer to my chest the thousand tiny jets of water prickled my nipples and they peaked in response to the stimulation. I guided the showerhead lower over my stomach, carving pink circles into my skin as my mind wandered back to Annika. Would she still want me?

I thought about how we had kissed and how she had let me touch her, how gently circling her pussy had persuaded her to let me explore her further. We’d both been so innocent, with our secret obsession hiding under our uniforms, stuck down with heart shaped stickers. What would it be like now?

As the showerhead moved over my stomach I thought about how I’d kiss her perfect mouth, slide my tongue down her neck and take little bites of her soft skin. I’d breathe in her scent and cup her breasts as I would whisper how since she’d been gone I’d learnt some new tricks. I’d tell her how I would please her, how I would make her ache and scream and then how I’d make her come.

I moved the showerhead down over the curve of my belly, gently teasing my mound but not going any further. I wasn’t in any hurry. I wanted to take it slow, like I would with Annika. I thought about how I’d lay her down on my bed, her hair spread out on my pillow like a halo and how I’d wrap that scarf around her pretty face just over the bridge of her straight nose. Then I’d tie one wrist to the bed head, and then the other, leaning over her so my breasts brushed her face. She would try and kiss me but I’d pull back, not letting her have more than a tiny nibble. She would be nervous but as I planted tiny kisses on her cheek and neck, holding her head still with my hand she’d relax slowly. She’d be lying still as I moved to the end of the bed tickling her toes with my fingertips. I’d slip my hands up between her legs, taking hold of the inside of her knees. Then I’d part them slowly, spreading her out on my bed. After tying her ankles I’d tell her she was mine, that I would do what I wanted with her for as long as I wanted to. Then I’d suck her toes and bite the arches of her feet. She’d wriggle but she wouldn’t be able to move away from me and I’d alternate between feet. Then I’d kiss my way up her legs, my hands caressing her skin, sometimes I would scratch her, marking where I’d been on her beautiful body. When I got to her knees she would start to shake, that’s when I’d sit up, move to her mouth, let her kiss me a little and then pull back again. I’d kiss her chest and then each breast, tracing the curve on the side, making smaller and smaller circles with my tongue until I got to her nipple. She’d moan as I licked her nipple then blew on it and with my knee right against her pussy I’d feel the first of her wetness soaking out of her. After I’d moved onto her other nipple she’d be trying to grind against my knee but I wouldn’t let her, checking to see she was till tied up securely.

I’d slide my tongue down her belly, stopping to lick little circles on her skin like I was doing now with the showerhead. I’d race kisses all over her thighs and back to her belly, all the while telling her she would have to wait, have to be good. A few little bites and pinches and my mouth would be moving over her mound, my tongue tracing either side of her lips as she sighed loudly and tugged against her binding. I wouldn’t suck her clit straight away; instead I’d flatten my tongue against her and pull up slowly, making her hood roll over her clitoris. She’d be swollen now and very wet. As I sucked her I’d run my finger up her thigh, scratching a little red line from her knee to her pussy. Very gently I’d moisten my finger with my mouth then stroke her lips and ease my finger near the entrance of her. I’d wriggle my finger gently as I alternated sucking her clit and blowing on her. She’d be trying to push herself onto my face, to feel my mouth on her pussy and push my finger inside her, but I wouldn’t let her. Then when she’d been good and laid still I’d put my mouth over her and feel her throbbing as I sucked her and let my tongue roll between her lips, all over her clit. She’d scream out as I pushed my finger inside her. I’d let her get close, then I’d slow down, then bring her slowly back to boil again. Then when I felt her muscles widen as I pushed another finger in her I’d keep my hand on her as I leant up, opened the drawer by my bed and pulled the vibrator out I had put there for just this moment. She’d be confused by the noise until I’d turn it on and trace it over her nipples, telling her I was going to fuck her with it. I’d race it down her belly as she’d be biting her lip and arching her back. Underneath where her perfect butt had been resting the sheets would be crumpled and the bed would be wet from the way I had teased her with my tongue. I’d cover the head of the vibrator with a tiny bit of lube, then I’d make circles with the tip of it around her lips. I’d lick her a little more as the vibrator buzzed at her opening. Then when I thought she was ready, I’d open her up with one hand as I pushed the tip of it inside her. She’d be moaning so loudly now and the bed would be shaking from all her contorting and struggling. I’d tell her she’d been so good as I pushed it in a little further. After that I’d bend down to lick her again, pushing the vibrator in and out, watching her soft lips roll and close over the taper of the head of the vibrator. I’d focus my tongue on her clitoris, flicking at it in rhythm with my hand pushing the vibrator inside her, fucking her. Annika would go quiet and I would feel her body tense. Her breathing would be hoarse as she tried to close her thighs around my face. When she arched her back and pumped down onto me with her hips I’d push the full length inside and suck on her. As she came she’d scream and I’d keep my mouth closed over her as she exploded. Then as the waves of her orgasm rippled through her I’d slide the vibrator out and lightly buzz her clit, making her contort and pull away from me. I’d tell her she’d been so good as I blew on her glistening skin, watching the tiny hairs prickle and waver.

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