This is the second part of Erin and Bran’s story – the Valentine one. The one where I missed the deadline for the academy. Maybe you should read the first part
Disclaimers: This is a story based on two ladies who may or may not love each other. They may also swear, do things that they shouldn’t, overthink stuff, get jiggy with it between the covers, overcomplicate matters, misunderstand the simplest of things, and so on and so forth. Therefore, if you don’t want to read about women swearing, jiggling body parts and getting the wrong end of the stick please click away and look elsewhere for your reading pleasure. If you are too young to read about the above but desperately want to, who am I to tell you to wait? You will do as you please especially if you are a teenager. If it is illegal where you are to read this ‘material against morality and God, then there is not really a lot I can do about that.
If you want to drop me a line … email@example.com. But please be gentle with me – I’m a sensitive soul. Honestly. I only use swear words to hide my innocence and vulnerability.
©2015 Fingersmith AKA LT Smith
It had been two months since I had told Branwen Campbell I was in love with her. Two whole months. I want to say it has been the best two months of my life but I believe I would be lying if I wrote that. It is not because she isn’t wonderful, beautiful, charming, witty, or intelligent. It isn’t because I didn’t like being in her company as much as I possibly could be. It also isn’t because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life just looking at her, watching the way she moved so gracefully, the way her smile could make me smile in return, or about the impact her voice had on me as soon as she uttered one single syllable.
No. None of that. Although now I come to think about it, it did have something to do with her voice and syllables. Or lack of syllables. Three to be exact, especially if I am going for the bare minimum.
So, once again, it had been two months since I had told Branwen Campbell I was in love with her - more to the point ‘inexplicably, undoubtedly, resolutely and undeniably’ in love with her and she hadn’t returned it even with a simple ‘I love you, too’ … although that would make it four syllables and not three, the final one showing she had acknowledged my declaration of love for her in the first place.
When I had told her I loved her, she’d kissed me. Not just kissed me, but made me hers with just the touch of her lips on mine. From that moment I’d known I’d been forever lost to her, that kiss ruining me for anyone else’s lips, anyone else’s mouth, taste, or the sensation of just holding her in my arms and knowing it was her I was holding. I’d melted into her. Melted because of her. Melted and blended with what I knew would be the only woman I would love for the rest of my life.
I know that at that moment when we had connected everything was up in the air. Knew that we were actually standing in reception area of Alan Jackson’s office kissing with abandon and it wasn’t really the place to be spouting declarations of love and promises of forever. Us kissing each other at that time was a little more than company policy would allow, although at that very moment, for once, I wasn’t thinking about company policy.
However, I thought that in the following two months she may have said it at least once. Reciprocated my whispered ‘I love you’ on New Year’s Eve with those three to four words I was longing to hear. Alas, I had started to believe these words were apparently elusive to Branwen. At one point, a very childish part of me began to wonder if she actually knew the meaning of them at all, but I then had to silently recant when I heard her tell her mother she loved her when she had called her to wish her Happy New Year.
I wanted to ask her why she hadn’t said it. I’d even felt my mouth puckering up to form the question ‘Do you love me, Bran?’ before my bottom lip wrestled against my top one in order to smother the desperate words, even resorting to biting onto the flesh to seal my mouth closed. But then I had realised that I had told Branwen Campbell that I had loved her from our very first kiss and then again three weeks later. Just because I knew what I wanted, more importantly ‘who I wanted’, did not mean that she had fallen head over heels in love with me too.
She liked me. I knew that. When she kissed me, I could feel it by the way she responded. The way she would press against me, wrap herself around me, stroke my hair, my face, my shoulders … the way she would cup my breasts and groan into my mouth. The way she murmured how much she wanted me when our make out sessions became less than innocent fumbles; the movement of our bodies when she was over me or I was over her, pinning each other with weight and momentum, our want quickly devolving to its basest primal need. How eagerly her hands would delve inside my clothes, wrestling against any obstacle to touch flesh.
And how she looked when I stopped her. Just fleetingly. How that disappointment seemed to ache from her as if being with me was the only thing that mattered to her at that precise moment.
I think that is what scared me the most. The thought that maybe it was just that. For that precise sexually charged moment I was the only thing she wanted, the only thing that mattered. But I was terrified that if I gave in, allowed the continuation of our joining, would she still want me as much afterwards? Would that be the beginning or the end of our relationship?
Branwen didn’t say anything. Didn’t moan and groan or try to persuade me to give up my not too innocent innocence. She didn’t coax, plead, beg, cajole me into submission. There was no pushing of her luck at all. She would smile at me reassuringly and smooth our rumpled clothes before giving the appearance that everything was perfectly okay.
Don’t get me wrong. It was not because I didn’t want her. Far from it. It was absolute agony pulling myself away from her. The taste of her was divine, and that was only her mouth and skin. I desperately wanted to sample the core of her, that delicate pot that was situated between her legs, but I knew if I ever got anywhere near that area there would be no way I would be telling her no, even if my prophecy of her getting what she wanted and leaving me would then come to fruition. But it just wasn’t the promise of how she would taste that drove me crazy, it was … it was … everything. Just everything. The feel of her, the smell - God, her scent was intoxicating. Then there was the feel of her skin, like warm silk slipping against my fingertips, even when the touch was supposedly chaste.
All in all, I was completely undone. I loved her so much, longed for her to feel the same, ached for the time when we would not have to bid the other goodbye but just goodnight. It seemed as if all those years of me being closed off to the world of love and relationships had only made things even worse once I had allowed Branwen into my life.
And that takes me back to what I have been saying. I’d told Branwen twice that I loved her and she had not reciprocated - although she did kiss me within an inch of my life the first time I had told her.
Enough about what had happened. Enough about how much I wanted her to tell me she loved me. Enough enough enough.
Valentine’s Day was on its way and I had made a decision. I’d told Branwen I loved her and now it was time I showed her instead. Not just with flowers, chocolates or a well-chosen card. Valentine’s would be celebrated with the ultimate gift, one that I had put off until now.
Me. I was going to give her it all sans bow. And if that wasn’t enough to get her to tell me she loved me, then at least I would know once and for all.
Bran was still working for Alan Jackson, and even though I missed seeing her just outside my office, it actually had worked out for the best. There would have been no way on earth I would have ever been able to get any work done if I had known she was only mere feet away from me. I would have been too busy calling her in so I could kiss her senseless every five minutes.
So back to it being Valentine’s Day in four days time. This year it fell on a Saturday, which was ideal as I wanted to take Branwen somewhere romantic, somewhere I could show her how very special she was to me without the thought of us ‘being separate’ for the rest of the night, and, hopefully, weekend. We’d been away together once before but that was for Shannon and Leah’s wedding in Salisbury. Not the usual thing to do, take your new girlfriend to the wedding of your ex, but hey. Although, in retrospect, that may have been the reason why it seemed only right that we would sleep in different rooms. Either that or my morality gene had been pricked and I wanted to court Bran and not just dive into bed with her at the first opportunity.
Could that have been the reason why Branwen was reticent about saying those three one syllabled words to me? She had looked a tad disappointed when we had arrived at our rooms and her bags had been separated from mine. For a split second it had been obvious that Bran had not been paying attention at the front desk when I had signed us in and picked up two keys. Although my wanting to hide the second key and pretend we were actually staying in the one room had lasted longer than a split second, I still didn’t do it. There is a part of me, even now, that regrets not throwing caution to the wind, but, if truth be known, there was a bigger part of me that was happy in the knowledge that we had waited for the right time.
I was hoping that now was the right time. God. I really hoped it was.
Pressing the intercom button sharply, I was disappointed to not hear Chloe’s professional, yet sometimes curt, voice asking me what I wanted. So I pressed the button again more firmly. And then again, firmer still, my finger aching at the pressure it was delivering to the small button. Instead of the intercom being answered, the office door swung open to reveal Chloe standing just shy of the entrance, a sandwich gripped in her hand.
‘It is my lunch break, Erin.’ She lifted her butty and waggled it in the air, part of the filling dropping out and landing on the carpet near her feet. Amazing to note the difference in my secretary’s attitude and the shift it had taken in the two short months she had worked for me. ‘You know Tuesday is the only day of the week you are not allowed to contact me at lunchtime. You’re lucky I’m here and not with the girls like I should’ve been.’ Even though she sounded pissed off, I knew deep down that she wasn’t. Or I hoped she wasn’t.
I looked at her pleadingly, batting my eyes a little and pushing out my bottom lip just a little for an extra bit of sympathy.
‘Are you ill?’ The tone she used indicated she knew I wasn’t. Chloe cocked her head to the side, her sandwich looking more forlorn with each passing moment.
‘Never mind. Get back and have your lunch.’ I smiled a weak smile and turned my expression despondently to my computer screen, my hand slipping over the mouse in an agonised move.
It was so quiet I thought she had already gone, but then I heard her sigh dramatically.
‘This had better be an emergency, that’s all I’m saying.’
It was hard stopping the grin from splitting my face. Even harder to not pump my fist and say ‘Yes!’ But I managed. Just.
Thirty minutes later, Chloe left my office and I was feeling a little better about everything. Previous to these thirty minutes, I’d tried to put myself in Branwen’s shoes when it came to planning a romantic weekend away but had failed miserably. Everything I’d set out to do, or book, had lost its appeal as soon as I was about to click and pay. It wasn’t as if this was a complete spur of the moment thing. I’d asked Branwen if she would be free for that weekend and she had told me she was all mine - something that made me feel all tingly about when she said it - but it had all become too much and nothing seemed to live up to what I believed would be the pinnacle of our romantic tete a tete. I’d wanted our time away to be intimately tender yet perfectly passionate, but also something that didn’t suggest I just wanted to spend the whole weekend in the hotel room without a thought for the view or the surrounding tourist attractions. To be honest, though, I didn’t really care where we ended up. The only attraction or view I wanted was Branwen, but I didn’t want to make her think that’s all I wanted whilst we were away.
‘Why ever not?’ had been Chloe’s response. ‘A woman wants to feel loved, wanted, desired. She wants to think she is your sole focus, that everything around you both is just a scene filler.’
In a way, Chloe was right. All women want to feel that, me included. But I didn’t want Branwen to think that I was so wrapped up in becoming ‘wrapped up’ between her legs that nothing else mattered. Balance. That’s what I was hoping for. That, and a whispered ‘I love you’ from her to me.
It had taken Chloe less than half an hour to rally me into some kind of order, giving me more of a focus than I had had for the last fortnight. The way Chloe had organised me I wondered, more than once, why I was the boss and she was the secretary. When I had suggested London, because Branwen liked the theatre and we could have gone to the West End, I had been met with a look that indicated I was nothing short of being an emotionally stunted idiot.
I opened my mouth to defend my choice but Chloe had held up one hand and typed with the other. My face had changed from defensive to impressed within seconds. Stratford -upon-Avon had not even beeped on my radar of places to go.
‘Oh.’ Not the meatiest of responses from me, but at least it formed into a sound that could be interpreted as some kind of positive reaction, especially because the tone was highish and gave the impression of being pleasantly surprised.
With that done, Chloe had left me to continue to search for a decent hotel and places to visit. Even though she had pointed me in the right direction, I couldn't help but feel a semblance of achievement after I had booked a weekend stay in a luxury room at the Best Western Grosvenor Hotel AND tickets to see Love’s Labour’s Lost by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I was feeling positively smug.
All I had to do now was to sort out what gift I wanted to buy her. We had only given token gifts at Christmas, mainly because the relationship was so new and even without saying out loud the reason, I think it was because we both didn’t want to come across as all hot and heavy after only a week and a half of being together.
Not that blurting out I was in love with her previous to that wasn’t counted as hot and heavy. Fuck. And then again the week after Christmas. Double fuck with bollocks for toppings.
The feeling of being positively smug seemed to drain away and I was left staring at fucking Pandora bracelets, my teeth grinding together. I couldn’t understand why it was so important that Branwen told me she loved me. It shouldn’t have been as important as I was making it out to be. Just because I had told her I loved her did not mean she had to say it back.
With that thought, I pushed my chair backwards, the wheels careering over the highly polished floor, the soles of my feet dragging me to a stop. Then I was up, jacket grabbed, then my handbag, and I was out of the office.
‘Cancel all appointments for the rest of the afternoon, Chloe. I’ll see you later.’ I didn’t even pause in front of her desk. Just kept moving towards the elevator.
I heard Chloe grumble words that alluded to me being a tyrant, and worse, and I grinned stupidly at the elevator doors, my face looking distorted in the brushed metal doors.
Work could wait. I was going shopping for something special for my girlfriend. It was our first Valentine’s together and I wanted it to be perfect. Wanted us to be perfect. I know a gift couldn’t make someone feel something that wasn’t there, but that wasn’t going to stop me from being a romantic for once in my life.
Or, maybe become a romantic for the rest of my life.
With that thought, my grin grew wider, the doors of the elevator pinging open to reveal a very surprised man leaning on the back wall. He tried to return the smile, but I cut him off.
‘Don’t bother, sunshine. You’re not my type.’
With that, I turned my back to him, clicking the G button before directing my attention to Chloe who was staring at me from her desk. I grinned and waved but her response was lost on me as the doors slid shut. For that I am thankful, as I didn’t think her grimacing and raising her hand would end in anything but an obscene gesture.
Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich had a wonderful array of shops, one of which being Pandora. Considering I had spent so much time looking on the Internet at bracelets and charms I wanted to buy Branwen, it seemed the most obvious place to buy her Valentine’s gift. With Pandora, it was a gift that could keep on growing the longer we were together. I liked that idea. I liked it a lot.
To be honest, I hadn’t realised how difficult it was to select the perfect charm. Jewellery was not really my forte, both buying or wearing it. I was a simple woman with simple tastes, and I had the impression that so was Branwen. Surfing the net hadn’t helped me either. As I said previously, considering I had been looking on and off at the website since well before Christmas, I was still a charm virgin by the time I had entered the shop.
I wanted to buy the charm that announced ‘I love you’ but there was something that held me back. It was different saying it knowing the words could evaporate in an ephemeral puff of air in comparison to something as permanent as an engraved confession of love. That was something that couldn’t just be ignored or swept under the carpet, not when it was moulded from a precious metal and dangling from a bracelet. So I had a look at other charms, safer, less exposing charms.
Just over an hour later, I exited the shop toting a small, very expensive bag that held two charms and a silver bracelet. I was happy with what I had bought and was just about to allow a feeling of smugness overtake me when I was stopped short. Just ahead of me, seated at a table at BB’s Coffee and Muffins, was Branwen Campbell. I should have felt elated to see the woman I was madly in love with right in front of me, but I wasn’t.
She wasn’t alone.
It still amazes me how quickly jealousy can hit, how the force of it is as physical as if someone has balled a fist and punched hard into a stomach. Yes. I was being unreasonable, I was being overly sensitive, I was, most definitely, being an idiot, but I couldn’t help it. The green eyed monster had overtaken me and reason had flown out of the window.
Stepping to the side, I half hid behind the corner, my attention focused solely on Branwen. I couldn’t see the face of the woman she was with, but I gathered she was probably in her late twenties by the style of her hair and clothes she was wearing. Branwen was captivated by every word the woman was saying, by every movement of the woman’s hands. Her face was alive, her eyes alight with wonder. But it was when she threw her head back and laughed that beautiful laugh of hers that I felt the agony of it rip through my chest as if I’d been opened up with a carving knife.
The woman leaned forward and grabbed Branwen’s hand. Instead of Bran pulling away, she brought her other hand around and encased the interloper’s between her own before leaning forward and into her space.
Involuntarily, a gasp left my mouth. I honestly thought that Branwen was going to kiss the woman opposite her, but even if that had been her plan, the woman pulled back, before looking over her shoulder to give the area behind her a quick scan before returning her attention to Branwen. It was as if she knew I was watching and waiting, readying myself to either barge over and demand what was going on, sink to the floor in an agony of sobbing, or flee and hide.
My fingers gripped the small bag resolutely, the handle jabbing into my hand and digging deeply into my palm. I wanted to launch it at the woman’s head, but the grip I held on the bag grew firmer still. Anger was surging upwards and I knew it was moments before my vitriolic outburst would spew forth and cover the two women with words never intended to be aired.
But, something stopped me from my incensed display. Something that was so small most people would have missed it. Most people who were not having their hearts ripped out at the time, that is.
It was when the woman pulled her hand free from Branwen’s and placed her finger under Bran’s chin so tenderly, so gently, so fucking possessively, that I felt the fight leave me, then seem to drag itself through my ribcage as if coated in nails when the woman rubbed her thumb over Branwen’s chin in a slow arching movement. My heartbeat was going crazy, I could barely catch my breath, my chest was full of shooting pains and I honestly believed my world was coming to an end. As if on cue, my knees gave slightly, almost in accompaniment to the loss of control I knew I was experiencing.
Bran caught the woman’s hand and pulled it away, her eyebrows furrowing, her eyes looking from side to side of the woman’s face. Her lips moved, but from where I was standing I couldn't make out the words. The woman laughed, her head tilting back slightly.
However, it was when the lips of my rival touched the knuckles of my girlfriend’s hand that I forced myself to move, but not towards the newly discovered lovers having their romantic tryst. No. I didn’t need to confront and accuse Branwen with the audience of hundreds of shoppers. That was not my style. Whatever she had done to me, I wouldn’t return the embarrassment, the heartache, the complete devastation as worlds were crushed in front of faceless and nameless people. Either that or it was because I knew I would not be able to speak if I confronted her. All I would be able to do would be to stand in front of her and fall apart.
The weirdest thing is, though, the main thought flashing through my head as I was racing for the car park was this. Branwen Campbell had come into my life and made me feel, made me love, made me want to be part of the human race once again. I had spent years existing, not allowing anyone inside. How ironic, eh? The woman who had made me want to live had also been the reason why I wanted to curl up into the foetal position and die.
It seemed as if my body folded in on itself and I had no control over anything. My knees buckled, allowing me to slide unceremoniously down to the floor, my hands losing their grips on the work surface to find purchase in my hair. Pain seemed to balloon inside me, balloons too big to exit through my mouth with ease, and I felt myself choking on it as it fought for escape. Rocking backwards and forwards seemed to help in some fucked up way and acted almost as if it was trying to pacify and rectify the situation. A half strangled noise seemed to slither into the air, a low pitched keening of sorts.
To be honest, I couldn’t really say how long I spent huddled up on my kitchen floor. Couldn’t really put into minutes or hours or any other space of time between me slipping into a heap and breaking apart. It just happened and just was. Time was irrelevant, a little like everything else. I knew it was dark now but hadn’t been when I had first come home, but apart from that I didn’t really care.
Aside from all the images I had flashing in my head of Branwen, the ones where she moved from being devastatingly beautiful to just devastating, there was another thing whirling amongst the mess that was inside my head. One thing I just didn’t get.
Why didn’t she just tell me? If she hadn’t wanted us to be together, why didn’t she say something when I had told her that I wanted to take her away for Valentine’s? Or even before? I thought we were happy, thought she was happy with me, thought she wanted this as much as I did even though she hadn’t told me she loved me like I had said to her.
I lifted my head and stared into the darkness of my kitchen, my eyes not really focusing on the shapes of the cupboards straight ahead of me.
That was it. Me telling her I loved her so quickly had made me out to be impetuous and shallow, not the love struck woman I’d hoped to be. Telling her for the second time at New Year, at a wedding no less, was just as bad. Had I been the one to scupper my chance to be with the woman I loved because I had told her I loved her too soon or blurting it out in the wrong situation?
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, or ruing my admission of love to the one person I wanted to know I loved, I started to get angry.
Yes. Maybe me spurting out my feelings right away may have been a tad impulsive, but I had done so from emotion and not reason. Branwen had made me feel so much after years of feeling nothing that I had not been able to contain myself. She could’ve told me it was a little soon, could’ve told me she would rather we either took it more slowly or that we didn’t take it at all instead of having a dabble with an unidentified woman in the middle of a shopping mall.
I tried to stand, but realised my legs had gone to sleep, the sudden movement creating a spasming in my calves. Rubbing my legs frantically with one hand, I used the other to pull myself into a standing position, the throb of muscle reawakening screaming through me. I was not the kind of woman to take this like a bitch. If Branwen was cheating on me, then I would confront her with it, demand to know what the fuck she was playing at before I kicked her into touch. Yes. I loved her. God, I loved her, but I would not ignore the fact that she seemed to be very happy flirting with another woman in full view of the world. I didn’t know how long this ‘other’ relationship had been going on, but they seemed to be very comfortable with each other.
Then it struck me. What if I was the other woman and not the other way around? That would explain the not wanting to commit with terms of endearment, but not much else. If I was the mistress, then wouldn’t it seem odd for Branwen to be away for Valentines? For New Year? For the dates that we had shared at weekends?
Slam. I hit the side of my fist onto the solid wood work surface, the pain of it shooting up my arm. It seemed to be the only way to stop my brain from racing ahead with too many assumptions and situations tripping me up as it built up into a stampede of stupidity.
Grabbing my handbag, I rummaged through, retrieving my phone in the process. Two missed calls, three messages - two of which were voice mails. The text message was from Branwen, just words - mere words. Words that indicated she was missing me, words that said ‘Been thinking about you all day. Can’t wait until later. X’. Words, as it happens, that were lies. She hadn’t been missing me all day. I had witnessed the truth to that one.
I clicked reply, but stared stupidly at the whiteness of the space that waited for me to respond. Although there were many different things I wanted to write, I knew that putting them inside a text would not give me the same satisfaction as saying them aloud. It was also because I found it near impossible to phrase what I wanted to say within the limitations of a sms. Some things had to be verbally expressed to get the full impact.
Pressing the backwards arrow on my phone, I scrolled to voice mail. The first one was a surprised Chloe asking if everything was okay, and that although she had cancelled all of my appointments, she was still surprised to get a message from the main reception stating I would not be in for the rest of the day. I pressed to delete the message as I really didn't give a flying fuck what Chloe thought at that precise moment.
The second message was from Branwen, her voice sounding concerned as she asked if I was okay, that she had popped in to see me at work and been told by a very troubled Chloe that I had been a no show.
A sharp pain lanced through my lip and I realised I had been biting it as I had been listening to fake worried tones pulsating down the phone. I lifted the phone away from my face and checked the time. Six forty three. Branwen was supposed to be picking me up at seven thirty as we had a table booked for eight in the city. I was supposed to be telling her where I planned to take her on our special weekend getaway when we met tonight, but I think the plans for that one had changed quite a lot in the last few hours.
Placing my mobile onto the work top, I was surprised when it started to ring. I saw Branwen’s face appear on the screen of my iPhone, her smile genuine and aimed straight at me. The memory of when I’d snapped the shot flickered into my head making everything seem even worse. I’d been so happy then, so oblivious to the truth.
The phone was insistent, just like the caller, and I had no reason to put off the inevitable.
Snatching up the phone, I clicked accept call, Branwen’s rich timbre flowing from the small oblong shape gripped firmly in my hand.
‘Erin? You there?’
I stared at the profile picture of the woman I loved just a little longer before I placed the phone fully against my cheek.
Her sigh attempted to penetrate the wall I was desperately trying to erect.
‘Hey baby. I’ve been trying to get hold of you. Didn’t you get my messages?’ Her tone indicated she was worried but I knew otherwise.
‘Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing someone else?’ No preamble and straight to the problem. I’ve never been the kind of person to drag things out. What was the point of delaying the inevitable?
‘Seeing … What? Seeing someone else? What on … Erin?’
I closed my eyes as if this action would make the rest of this conversation easier. ‘There’s no need to deny it, Branwen. I saw you with her. Saw you together.’
‘I … what? No. You’ve got it wrong.’ Her voice was becoming less controlled. ‘How could you think I would be seeing someone else behind your back? I wouldn’t do that.’
A surge of anger welled up my throat that wanted to spew the words ‘I didn’t think you would either’ out into the air, but I reiterated ‘I saw you with her. Saw you together’ instead. I wanted to be as calm and cold as my voice, but I wasn’t winning on that front. Inside I was breaking apart, almost as if I had discovered a chink in my armour and now it could do nothing else but shatter into a million pieces.
‘Doing what, exactly, Erin. What am I being accused of here?’
Holding hands and letting that bitch kiss your fingers, that’s what. But I didn’t say that.
‘I saw you enjoying a tete a tete with another woman, Branwen. You both looked very comfortable with each other.’
It went quiet on the other end of the phone and I thought Branwen had ended the call, but then she spoke.
‘You saw me with Sonia?’ So that was her name. Sonia. I hated each syllable of it. ‘In Chapelfield today? You saw me with Sonia?’
‘Obviously. Unless there are more.’ Even the control of my voice and the filtering of the words that came out of it were beginning to leave me. I didn’t want to drag this out longer than necessary. I’d found her out and called her on it. End of. ‘I have to go. Good bye, Branwen.’
I heard the word ‘Wait’ before I ended the call, but it goes without saying that I didn’t. It seems as if I have shown this episode of my sad little life to be over and done with very quickly, nearly painlessly. But, I can assure you, the pain was very much evident and growing by the minute. It was tangible, palpable and defiantly agonising. Clicking end call was like clicking game over. I hadn’t acted this way because I didn’t want Branwen to know how much she had hurt me; I had done it because I couldn’t do it any other way. I knew if I tried to reason, tried to talk, told her how much her infidelity had broken me and left me fractured and spent, I would have forgiven her, would have let her see however many people she wanted to see as long as she stayed with me.
However, there was a little bit inside me that held onto some form of pride, some hope for my self-esteem, and if that made me come across as cold, hard and unfeeling, then so be it. I loved Branwen Campbell, was in love with her still, but I wouldn’t - couldn’t - allow myself to share her.
I wanted her and her alone and I wanted her to feel exactly the same way about me. I was not going to settle for second best.
I would have known it was Branwen even if she hadn’t shouted for me to ‘open the bloody door!’ followed by what I can only assume to be a kick to the base.
Pulling the door back, I expected her to seem remorseful, apologetic, or even a little bit apprehensive about her reception, but she was none of these things. Angry would better to sum her up. Or fuming. Livid - yes - definitely that one.
She didn’t wait to be asked in, she just barged at me, words flying at me as she came. ‘How dare you accuse me of infidelity. How fucking dare you.’ I tried to respond but she held up her hand. ‘And then have the audacity to hang up on me when we were discussing how fucking stupid you were being.’
Branwen was so close to me I had to tilt my chin inwards to look down at her. Brown eyes were filled with fire and a part of me wondered how she could be so angry at something that was so obviously her fault, a detail I spared no time sharing with her.
‘You were with another woman and you are angry at me for being upset?’ A sardonic laugh escaped my mouth. ‘Absolutely priceless.’
Branwen growled in response before turning around to close the door with a slam. When she turned back, I had the urge to open up the front door again and ask her to leave - either that, or leave her where she was and for me go. But, in the blink of an eye, her expression changed from terrifyingly aggressive to receptive. She held her hands in surrender and walked towards me, her eyes fixed on mine. I squinted, trying to make her out. I couldn't understand why she would come over to see me, come to my home to try to make amends. If she was involved with another woman, or women if I wanted to make myself feel even worse, then me telling her goodbye should have been her ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. She would have been let off the hook and free to do what the hell she wanted with whomever she chose to be with. Unless that is how she got her jollies - having a harem of women around her who were completely oblivious to the other’s existence.
The thoughts I was having, clearly, were not good ones. It seemed the more I thought of what had happened the angrier and more unreasonable I became. Seeing Branwen standing in front of me looking breathtakingly beautiful didn’t help either. It just made the reality of the situation sting all the more. I should have known she usually wouldn’t have given a woman like me the time of day. Yes. I was successful in my job, but apart from that I really didn’t have anything to offer her. However, I was not, and am still not, a doormat. Whether I could offer her anything, was good enough for her, attractive enough, compatible were all by the by. I did not deserve to be cheated upon.
‘What is going on, Erin?’ Branwen’s voice wavered slightly as she asked the question, her eyes almost black with emotion. Instead of answering her, I gasped in disbelief. Branwen threw her hands in the air in exasperation. ‘What the hell is going on here?’ She leaned forward, her face tilted to mine, those eyes even darker close up. ‘What makes you think I am seeing someone else?’ Her voice was lower in volume and seemed menacing at this proximity.
I stared straight into her eyes as if I was trying to read inside her, but all I could see was the woman I had fallen in love with, initially falling without even realising.
‘I saw you together.’ My voice sounded weak, timid, so I cleared my throat and started again. ‘I saw you today. Together. Holding hands, her … she …’ It was as if someone had rammed their fist inside my throat making it impossible for me to continue. Tears pricked my eyes and I blinked rapidly hoping to stave off what I knew was going to be the inevitable. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. I knew it was an indication that I was about to cry, something I hadn’t done in years - even longer if I counted crying in front of someone.
‘Holding hands?’ A pause. ‘Erin?’ Her expression showed surprise, an innocent, overwhelmed kind of surprise that radiates hurt and vulnerability.
That was it. I turned and walked away. I had nothing in my arsenal to respond to this. Nothing had prepared me for her to look at me that way and her expression to reflect the complete opposite of what I knew to be true.
She let me go. She let me move away from a situation that was slowly breaking me apart. I had been a fool to let anyone in, an idiot to allow myself to feel again after all of these years.
I can’t remember moving into the living room, can’t remember sitting on the sofa, can’t remember almost folding myself in half as the agony washed through me as I felt myself breaking apart. The cry that announced itself into the air was primal, animal, shapeless and harrowing. A pain gripped my chest and tore, the burn of it volcanic and unstoppable.
If this was what it was like to be in love, I wanted no part of it. No part of it. The disembodied noises throbbing from me seemed to reflect my inability to control the devastation of the moment.
But, I still felt her seat herself next to me. Still felt her arm around my shoulders. Still heard her voice thrumming words to pacify and calm. However distraught I was, I could not block her out. Weirdly, after everything I was experiencing, I wanted her there.
Her hand cupped my jaw and pulled my face to the side, her thumb arching over my chin, the action making me cry even harder.
‘Hey, hey, hey, baby. Come here. Come on.’
Yes. I am weak. I went to her. I had to. Just to feel her arms around me, smell her scent, hear as well as feel her voice shimmering over my skin and inside me - it was either that or go mad.
Soft lips touched my hair, my forehead; kisses that landed on my eyelids, my cheeks and nose; a nuzzle of her face in the nape of my neck before she returned to tilt my head to face her again, her words soothing, loving, deliciously bewitching that for a fleeting moment I forgot why I was in a million pieces.
She shook her head quickly from side to side as if to either negate what I was saying, or deflect it.
‘I …’ the breath seemed to judder from me and I coughed to clear my throat. ‘I saw you together. She touched your face …’ I lifted my hand and mimicked what I’d seen on her, but unlike what I had witnessed in Chapelfield, Branwen didn’t frown, didn’t pull my hand away. She just angled her face more so I could press my fingers more firmly onto her, her movement almost like she wanted to nuzzle even more closely.
A hiccup left my mouth and I openly stared at her. Branwen lifted her hand and caught mine, bringing it to her lips. The kiss was soft, yet it made its imprint on more than my fingers. After the kiss, she placed my hand along her jaw and leaned her head against it, brown eyes looking deeply into mine.
Another hiccup left my mouth, the jerk of it reverberating through me. A sad smile played over the fine contours of her lips and I ached to run my thumb over what I knew to be silken softness.
Branwen closed her eyes, dark lashes caressing her skin, and she inhaled then held her breath. I mirrored her, the swell of air inside my lungs the most real I had felt in a while. As she released the breath, a slow, seemingly arduous exhalation, Branwen opened her eyes and fully digested me in one absorbing look.
‘It was not what you think, the touch, the hand holding. Not what you think.’ Her voice was low, yet insistent. I shook my head not really understanding why I was shaking it. ‘Sonia was showing me something, something I had difficulty doing.’
A blush slipped over her skin as she spoke. I could feel the heat of it as well as witness the glow.
Once again, I shook my head. ‘I … I don’t understand.’ What was there to understand? I wanted to stand up, shout at her, accuse her of cheating, of not wanting me as much as I wanted her, but I couldn’t. All I could do was keep shaking my head whilst cupping her jaw.
Branwen lifted my hand from her cheek and for a moment I thought maybe she had read into my thoughts and decided it was time to leave. But she didn’t. She just kept on holding my hand, holding my hand and looking at me as if she was trying to pluck up the courage to tell me something, tell me something important.
Was it now that she finished me off? Was it this precise moment she informed me I wasn’t enough for her after all. Or maybe this was the moment that she fed me the old line ‘It isn’t you, it’s me’?
I wanted to jump in, tell her it was okay and that I understood. But, you see, I didn’t understand. How could I?
A solitary tear plopped over my eyelid and raced unhindered down my cheek. I tried to smile, tried to make it easier on her as that’s what people do when they love someone isn’t it?
‘Hey, hey, hey.’ Each word was a silken syllable and glanced over my skin like a caress. She lifted her hand and brushed the backs of her fingers over the spot where the tear had fallen, the action encouraging other tears to follow in its tracks.
‘I was asking her to tell me how to do something, how to say something.’ She continued to brush the wetness away, her eyes avoiding mine. I couldn’t respond as I had a knot of emotion clogging the back of my throat.
Then she stopped stroking my cheek, her eyes turning to meet mine, her expression serious. ‘Answer me , Erin. Do you honestly believe I would ever cheat on you?’ Hadn’t my actions to that point indicated that I did? ‘Ignore what has happened up to now. Look at me.’ She sat up straighter, but inclined her head slightly forward to make sure I was looking straight into her face. She was so beautiful, so devastatingly beautiful, my breathing hitched causing the ripple of it to vibrate across my chest.
I had always loved Branwen’s eyes. Always. They were so dark, so absorbing, so full of depth that I always felt as if I could slip inside them and drown in her gaze. Eyes showed the person, showed the soul. And by delving into those eyes at that moment, I saw something else. Something that didn’t indicate that she was going to leave me, didn’t suggest infidelity.
My jaw slackened in surprise and I felt a fool. Not in the way I had previously, but a fool nevertheless.
‘Can you see it, Erin?’ Branwen inched closer. ‘It is there if you know what you are looking for.’
A flicker of hope ignited in my gut.
‘Sonia told me it was written all over my face and couldn’t understand why I found it so hard to say it.’ Even at the mention of the other woman’s name, the flicker of hope wasn’t extinguished; it just grew bigger, started to spread and become more than just a small flame. ‘I have wanted to tell you for so long. Longer than you can ever imagine.’ She sighed, her smile slowly taking over the shape of her mouth.
My heart rate was building, the cadence of it almost audible. Expectation was palpable and I wanted the moment to drag yet fly at the same time. I knew now where she was heading, knew what she wanted to tell me, and I truly believed I would keel over before she uttered those words I had longed for her to say.
Branwen shifted, her body coming closer to me, her hands grasping both mine and bringing them to her mouth to kiss them alternately.
‘Erin.’ She paused, and I moved closer, watching in fascination as she licked her lips before continuing. I squeezed her fingers to spur her on, the action making her smile nervously. She nodded before clearing her throat in readiness for speaking the next part. ‘I have wanted to say this for so long.’ I wanted to tell her she had already said that but she rushed on with ‘I love you.’ I blinked, my head moving backwards.
‘What?’ Branwen seemed startled by my question. ‘Say it again. Please. Say it again.’
Branwen dipped her face, her eyes looking up and into me. ‘I love you, Erin. I’m so very much in love with you and believe it’s always been so.’ Her words melted into me, my eyes closing briefly to commit this moment to memory. When I opened them again, Branwen was staring at me as if waiting for me to respond.
Instead of telling her, I kissed her, my lips capturing hers firmly and leaving no doubt of how I was feeling. Her hands moved into my hair, her elegant fingers separating the strands and filtering through to caress my scalp. I moved closer, taking her mouth more fully, opening my lips slightly, my tongue tracing along her bottom lip. As her tongue touched mine, a sensation ripped through me, almost like a wonderful overwhelming bolt of love. With this, I pulled back, my hands cupping her face, and waited for her to open her eyes. Dark pools, virtually black, drew me in, my heart thudding against my ribcage in a bid to flee from me and into her.
‘And I am very much in love with you, too.’ The words came out quiet, yet full of how I felt.
‘Resolutely, too?’ her grin was wide by this point and I threw my head back and released a laugh into the air before returning my attention to her.
‘Definitely resolutely, love. And, for the record, I’m undeniably in love with you as well.’ I leaned forward, my nose brushing hers briefly.
Branwen pulled me to her, my face burying itself at the side of her neck, the scent of her totally intoxicating. Her hands moved down my back, slow rhythmic strokes up and down my spine, each journey feeding my love for her even more. When she spoke, her voice reverberated through her and I could feel as well as hear each word. ‘As I said, I asked Sonia to tell me how to do something, how to say something.’ I just nestled closer to her, my lips brushing against the glorious softness of her throat. ‘I’ve never said it before and … and … even though you had told me twice how you felt, I believed I would just cock it all up if I told you.’
I lifted my face from the wonderful sanctuary of her neck and peered at her. ‘How on earth do you think you could cock up telling me you loved me?’
She shrugged, a blush creeping up her throat. ‘I just felt that I would. I wanted to tell you as soon as you’d told me, but I kissed you instead. Then it seemed as if the moment had passed.’ A sigh left her mouth. ‘I thought you would think I was only saying it because you had said it - you know, like I’d thought about it and then added on an ‘I love you’ to pacify you.’
‘I didn’t think anything about it. I was just so happy that you didn’t tell me to sling my hook.’ A bit of a half-truth, but I didn’t want her to feel badly about anything. I smiled at her reassuringly.
‘And then you told me again New Year’s Eve …’ I felt my teeth clamp together. I hadn’t expected her to continue and point out the next time I had told her I loved her and she had not reciprocated. ‘See? I knew you were miffed at that one.’
I shook my head to negate her comment, but she started shaking hers too. ‘I knew. It was the way your face changed. I wanted to, God, I wanted to tell you, but I paused after you said it.’ She shrugged. ‘I have no idea why. Then your expression changed … If I had said it then, it would have seemed like I had said it to keep you happy.’
It seemed reasonable enough, but not quite the answer I wanted.
‘Okay. I was “miffed” as you say. But why did you have to, firstly … wait until I told you if you were bursting to say it? Secondly, keep on waiting after I spilled my all? You knew I was in love with you, knew I wanted you to say it back to me.’
Branwen pulled away and stood up, my body feeling the coolness of the room hit me as soon as she was gone, and I was uncertain why she had moved away from our cocoon. Even though I wanted to, I didn’t stand with her. I just stared at her back, watched the rigidity of her shoulders change as they slumped, her body twisting around to face me once again.
‘It may seem stupid to you.’ She grimaced, her mouth seeming to taste the words before she spoke again. I waited, unsure what was going on in her mind. ‘But, it just didn’t ever seem the right moment.’
I didn’t understand what she was saying. Never seem the right moment? I understood what she had said before about not wanting to appear to ‘add on’ to my admission of love, but I couldn’t quite get my head around it never seeming to be the right moment.
‘I knew you wouldn’t understand.’
Too right I didn’t.
‘God. I feel so bloody stupid.’ Branwen ran her fingers through her hair, a sigh releasing itself into the room. Troubled eyes met mine, followed by a slight shake of her head. Then both the question and answer hit me at the same time. Did her delay in telling me really matter? She’s told me now that she loves me and I was sitting on the sofa like a maiden aunt waiting for high tea.
With that, I was on my feet and in front of her, her face indicating her surprise at the speed in which I’d moved. Without preamble, I cupped the sides of her head and brought her face to mine, my lips capturing hers in an instant. The softness of those lips, the way they seemed to still and then respond under mine was perfection. The shape of her mouth fit faultlessly with mine and I felt myself become fully absorbed in the softness of her, the heat of her, the consummate deliciousness of her kiss.
My heart was thudding uncontrollably inside my chest, my legs were quivering through sheer rush of adrenaline, and I felt myself slightly fall into her, only to deepen the kiss even more. Branwen supported me with her body, that glorious body of hers that pushed back and into mine. The feel of her breasts against mine was gloriously wonderful and incited my kisses even more. Strong arms wrapped around me, a hand cupping around the base of my neck to hold me in place, whilst Branwen started to walk me backwards towards the sofa, a place I willingly wanted to get to.
Moments later I felt the brush of the cushion on my calves and the gentle insistent push of Branwen. Instead of allowing her to lower me to the sofa, I sidestepped, my hands still on her face, my mouth still claiming hers. She didn’t resist when I eased her backwards, her backside making contact with the seat as I slipped my knee between her legs, my body leaning forward even more as I pushed her backwards.
The feel of her body underneath mine was more than I had ever realised it could ever be. It was not as if we hadn’t been in this situation before, but it just seemed so much more than it had previously. This was an achievement in itself as every other time we had found ourselves engaged in this position, I had been hard pressed to stop us continuing and losing ourselves in the moment.
Not this time. I would not be stopping our relationship’s natural progression from kissing to lovemaking like in the past. Our joining had been thrumming under the surface from day one and now it was time to take that final step.
With that thought, I slipped my hand underneath her top, my fingers delighting in the heat of her skin, a moan slipping from me and into her. Branwen’s hands were on my back and pulling me even more closely against her. My thigh pushed more firmly between her legs eliciting a groan of from her, a groan I eagerly captured inside my mouth.
My fingers moved along her skin, the smoothness of the action assisted by the sleekness of her body, the curve of her deliciously womanly and totally inviting. One of Branwen’s hands dipped down and gripped my ass making me buck forward and into her, the contact making her groan again and lift her hips upwards and into me.
My hand curved against the underside of her breast, my thumb running itself across the stiffening nipple, whilst my other hand gripped her thigh and pulled her leg higher enabling me to sink even more fully between her legs. I pushed myself into her delighting in the noises she made, becoming more excited by the way her kisses became harder, firmer, more demanding. So, I pushed into her again, the action mimicking a taking, a claiming, but not. I didn’t want to own or possess her; I wanted to free her, liberate her, and in doing so, liberate myself in the process. With each thrust of my hips, I felt myself falling more and more into her, felt myself becoming one with her even though we were both fully clothed.
As soon as that thought entered my mind I felt overdressed, believing Branwen to be overdressed too. Breaking my lips from hers, I lifted myself away, my hands grabbing the base of my top and pulling it over my head in one seamless action. Branwen’s attention moved from my face to my chest, her eyes seeming to darken even more than they already were. Her hand tentatively reached out, her index finger gently tracing along the lace of my bra, the sensation of her touch radiating heat whilst causing goose bumps to spring up along my chest.
Her finger dipped between my cleavage only to reappear on the other side to trace the lace on the swell of the other breast. Branwen licked her lips making a jolt of want race through me. I hooked my finger over my bra and pulled it down, my nipple erect and waiting. Branwen lifted slightly, her eyes flicking from my breast to my face as if asking for permission. I leaned closer, the heat of her mouth landing on overly sensitive skin, the ache of contact so close. Her hand cupped the underside of my breast and she held it as if it would break if she made a wrong move.
Closing my eyes, I tilted my head backwards, pushing my chest towards her in offering. And then waited. Then waited some more. I could feel her breath, feel the expectation in the air ripening, but I didn’t feel her lips close over the readying bud, didn’t feel her tongue swipe over the rigid peak.
I opened my eyes again and leaned forward. Branwen was still in the same position, her eyes fixed on my nipple as if it was silently communicating with her.
‘Baby?’ Black eyes looked into mine. ‘Are you okay?’ Branwen blinked as if she had suddenly been brought out of a daydream and back into reality.
‘Yes.’ Her voice held a distant air as if she was unsure where she was, her hand seemed to spasm and cup my breast more firmly.
‘Are you sure?’ Was she regretting this? Regretting moving onto the next stage? If so, why? She had been so very eager to take our relationship into the physical level previously, although I had wanted an ‘I love you’ first. What had happened?
Branwen dipped her thumb and lifted the cloth to my bra over my nipple, the same nipple that seemed to scream in protest.
‘I don’t want to do this here, Erin. Not here on this sofa.’ Branwen tilted her face upwards, her eyes glinting. Was she crying? Had I gone too fast? Made her feel uncomfortable? ‘I want it to be special, love. Want more than a quickie on the sofa. I …’
I held my hand up to stop her talking, her expression unreadable. ‘Just a minute. You honestly think I was in for just a quickie on the sofa? To have just a quick fuck?’ I pushed back, my foot landing in the floor and allowing me to lift completely off her. I felt nauseous and had to swallow a couple of times before I could continue. Branwen tried to interrupt me but I waved both my hands in front of her telling her I hadn’t finished. ‘I love you. You said you love me. And unless yours were just words and you think mine are too, then this could never be just a quickie, wherever it may or may not have taken place.’ I think the main emotion racing around me was hurt. How could she believe that our consummation could ever be anything but perfection? I turned my back to her, the idea of her thinking anything different to me abhorrent.
‘For fuck’s sake, Erin. Stop being overly sensitive.’
Huh? Not really the reaction I thought I was going to get. Even an ‘I’m sorry’ would have been a start.
‘Stop jumping the gun and thinking for me.’ Branwen stood up and moved to stand directly in front of me. ‘I said that I didn’t want our first time to be on the sofa, that’s all. I wasn’t saying I didn’t want you.’ She cupped my jaw and tilted my face to hers. ‘Now take me to bed and make love to me.’
I stared at her, but only for a moment. A grin broke the stupidity that had been on my face and I held out my hand in invitation.
And as her fingers slipped across my palm, the tremors of expectation exploded inside creating a delicious feeling of not just arousal but the knowledge that this was the beginning of forever.
Even though I wanted to rush up the stairs, strip both myself and Branwen naked, I didn’t. We took the time to kiss, to touch, to caress each other, as items of clothes seemed to melt away as we neared my room.
I led Branwen through the door, my hand leaving hers for a second whilst I clicked on the bedside lamps. I wanted to see her as I made love to her; wanted her to see me as she made me hers.
Moving back to where she was standing, I grabbed both of her hands and gently tugged her to me. Lifting one hand, I slipped her bra strap from her shoulder, then the other one, before reaching behind her and unclipping it, the item of clothing falling to the floor. Branwen wasted no time in releasing me of mine either, leaving us both topless. The feeling of skin on skin was sublime, the softness of us melting into each other something my limited imagination had been unable to foresee. Our kiss deepened, and so did our contact, the heat of mouths and skin and breasts and hands ultimately decadent and desperately delectable.
Branwen’s hands dipped inside my trousers and cupped my backside before pulling me closer and into her. The jolt of sensations raced through me but I knew I wanted more. My fingers and thumb fumbled with the button to her trousers, and I sighed into her mouth as I felt the plastic disc pop out. As soon as the zipper was down, my hand ventured inside, then again inside her underwear to be greeted by heat and soft pubic hair. With my free hand, I grabbed her butt and pulled her to me at the same time as dipping two fingers between the folds of her, the wetness greeting me.
Branwen ripped her mouth away from mine, her face falling onto my shoulder, the groan leaving her to dance over my skin making my hips buck forward as my clit spasmed. I delved deeper, the wetness coating my fingers making her slick and my movement sleek.
‘God! Baby. Please.’ Her breaths were short, her hand pulling from the back of my trousers to grip my forearm and push my hand in further, and then backwards only to push down again. Dark eyes looked into mine, so fucking dark, so intensely full of us, full of this, pleading for me to give her more, begging for me to give her everything. Who am I to refuse such a plea?
Turning her slightly, I moved her backwards to the bed, my fingers still separating her folds, still collecting her essence, still staying shy of the place where they wanted to bury themselves.
As soon as her legs touched the mattress, I pulled my hands free and lowered her down, my hands catching her trousers and pulling them down her thighs in one fluid motion, only to repeat it with her underwear. Branwen lifted herself, her hands moving swiftly to unbutton and unzip me, my own trousers sliding effortlessly down my legs, leaving me to step out of them before moving back towards her. The heat coming from skin met my palms as my hands touched her shoulders, but instead of lowering her backwards, I fully digested the image of the woman in front of me. Branwen Campbell was a vision. Her skin was perfection, the curves of her delectably feminine, the swell of her breasts moving with each ragged breath she took. Tenderly, I traced a finger along her collarbone and dipped it between her breasts before trailing it along her stomach, my eyes avidly following the journey of finger to flesh.
‘Beautiful’ did her no justice. That word seems lacking as it didn’t express how breath taking she actually was, but then I looked up and into her eyes and my whole world spun out of control. An ache so strong thundered through me, my breath catching in reaction. Yes. Branwen was stunning, her body magnificent, but what I saw when I looked into her eyes was so much more than physical, so much more than flesh. It was if something clicked into place, something bordering on spiritual that connected me to her on a deeper level.
Branwen’s eyes widened, her mouth opening in surprise. ‘Did you feel that?’ Her voice held the same degree of wonder as I had felt. I nodded once, my action slow and sure. ‘I felt you … felt you …’ Her hand lifted and hovered over her chest. ‘I felt you here.’
‘Yes.’ My voice reflected how we both felt. The sensation we had experienced was as if I had climbed inside her to settle myself in her chest. I leaned forward, my hand cupping her face. ‘I love you so very much.’ I brushed my lips over hers, then lifted back slightly to rub my nose against hers.
A soft sigh released itself into the air and I wasn’t sure whether that came from me or her, but by this stage it didn’t really matter as we were one already.
Sliding over her, her skin like silk against mine, I relished the moment. One thigh parted her legs, and I pushed upwards. A groan elicited itself from deep within her and exploded into the air, the sensation of it making my stomach clench with anticipation. Tenderly, I stroked my fingers down her arm, crossing over and onto her chest, my hips bucking slightly into her, my pelvic bone teasing her mound. Branwen pushed back into me, the feeling delicious. My mouth sought hers and the kiss was less chaste than previously. My hunger for her was building, my hips moving into her more firmly, my other hand snaking around her buttock and pulling her into me as the one on her chest cupped her breast. I couldn’t help the groan that left me as we slotted together. We seemed to fit like two jigsaw pieces that had finally found the missing shape to fit in to.
Her hands slipped around my butt and pulled me into her, her fingers digging exquisitely into my skin. I wanted this to last forever but I knew the sensations raging through me would explode if they didn’t find an outlet, and I could tell by the way Branwen was pulling me into her whilst she pressed her hips upwards and against me that she felt the same.
Our kiss deepened, mouths open, tongues embracing. The rhythm between us was building, the jolts running through my veins charging me, firing the energy throughout me, my hand spasming against her chest as I thrust my hips into her.
Branwen pulled her mouth away, her eyes hooded, her breathing uneven. ‘Please, Erin.’
She didn’t have to say anymore as I knew what she wanted. My hand left her breast and made its way between her legs, pushing between her folds, the wetness abundantly perfect. I watched her eyes blink sensuously as I entered her without deliberation, her throat making a glorious noise, then again as I pulled my fingers slightly back and entered her fully again. It was as if I couldn’t control myself now that I had touched her in her most secret place. The softness, the slickness, the ultimate intimacy of being inside the woman I loved was divine and I was completely lost in her and to her.
The rhythm was building, the pace steady and sure, but increasing in speed. My fingers were relishing the sensation of being inside her, my body loving the commotion of skin on skin. Branwen fed her fingers through my hair holding my face steady, allowing my eyes to lock on hers. The darkening pools that looked back at me glistened with unshed emotion, the sparkle accentuated by either the lamps in the room or the light of her soul reaching out to mine.
Branwen lifted her legs and wrapped them around my waist, pulling me closer in the process. When her body arched into mine, I felt my hand press against both hers and my mound, the jolt making my hips jerk and thrust more forcefully against her. Branwen’s eyelids fluttered, but she kept her eyes open. Our bodies were pressed tightly against each other’s, pressing, pushing, thrusting against each other as we both rubbed against my hand, creating delicious spasms of want spurt throughout my body. Although my fingers were finding it difficult to move freely inside her, I didn’t think it mattered. Just being this close, being together, being with the woman I loved was definitely enough for me, and by the noises she was making, I was pretty certain I was enough for her, too.
‘Kiss me.’ Her voice was low, breathy, the timbre and pitch of it hitting my libido with abandon. Leaning down, I captured her lips with mine, the action reflecting the growing hunger building within me, the hunger I knew would soon be out of control. The softness of her mouth was accompanied by the inquisitiveness of her tongue meeting mine, a combination that was positively perfect.
I was thrusting now, the sensations of my cumming vibrating through me, racing to congregate at the place I most needed it; I knew I was close. Branwen’s hands once again gripped my backside, pulling me in before pushing me out, only to repeat the action, each time becoming a little harder, a little firmer, a little less controlled. Our bodies were so close, so wonderfully close that I felt totally consumed by her, totally and utterly absorbed by everything that was Branwen Campbell.
It was that thought that made me tip, made me fall, made me cascade over into the white, bright delightfully all-consuming place where reality ceases to exist and sensation takes over. Her mouth on my mouth, her body tightly packed against mine, the feeling of being jointly taken as my hand took both her and me.
I groaned long and deeply into her mouth, my action tipping her over and into me, her walls capturing my already imprisoned fingers. Branwen tore her mouth from mine and emitted a cry onto the skin of my shoulder, the action making me buck into her again. Our bodies thrust against each other with no regard for rhythm or pace, each push eliciting judders of sensation, almost feverish in their fervour.
Then I came again and so did she, perfectly synchronized and decadently absorbing.
When we slowed, it was flawless, our movements seeming to understand that it was time to just hold each other, time for us to just lie in each other’s embrace.
Slipping to the side of her, my fingers slipped from within her and across her thigh, the wetness leaving a glistening trail. Branwen snuggled closely next to me, her arms wrapping around my waist, my own arms circling her and pulling her even closer. Dipping my head, I kissed her hair, the smell of it totally her. Soft lips kissed my collar bone and I squeezed her even more tightly than before.
‘I love you, Erin.’ She sounded sleepy, and I felt a rush of protectiveness race through me. I pulled her even closer, as if my presence could protect her from anything and everything.
In this position, we fell asleep, totally at peace with ourselves and the world around us. For once in my life I felt a true sense of belonging, a true sense of connection, and a definite sense of forever.
We are about to leave to go to Stratford -upon- Avon and I can’t wait to see the sights with Branwen. Actually, just be with her for the weekend was the thing that made my heart skip and my feet feel as if they were walking on air - a huge change to the egg shells I usually found myself walking on when it came to relationships. I’m hoping that the way Branwen reacted to our getaway in the Bard’s county is for the same reason as mine. She knows we are to see a play but not really much else, and I haven’t given her the bracelet yet. That was something I wanted to give her on the day, especially now that I’d bought the charm I’d wanted to get her, the one announcing ‘I love you’. I didn’t go back and buy it because I’d been waiting for Branwen to tell me she loved me, it wasn’t that at all. I bought it because I’d realised I’d been the one holding myself back, I’d been the one limiting how I felt because I was too scared of rejection, too scared of her telling me that she didn’t feel the same. Now I wanted those three words to be something permanent like an engraved confession of my feelings and not just something that would evaporate in an ephemeral puff of air because now I knew for sure that the way I felt for Branwen was engraved within me, tattooed on the inside, and I believe it has always been so.
Valentine’s Day can be viewed in many ways. It can be classed as a day endorsed by florists, card makers and chocolatiers as the day they can totally cash in and exploit people by suggesting that if this day is forgotten, then God help the poor sap and her forgotten other half. However, this said, I’m not an overly flamboyant romantic by any stretch of the imagination, therefore Valentine’s does give us all a kick up the arse once a year to do something a little more special, maybe make the effort, even forget work and other duties for a short space of time - or just putting those other duties on a back burner for a few hours is a start. Well, that is what we are led to believe, isn’t it? Take time out, show the one you love you care by buying roses, chocolates, a huge card. Maybe a slap up dinner could be part of the day, but only if a table can be reserved that doesn’t tip into either the graveyard slot or the busy time where you’re expected to bolt down your meal so the next couple can sit in your still warm seat.
Although this year I am as guilty as the next woman, and have been sucked into the hype of the moment, I still don’t understand why people tend to make such a big deal about telling, or showing, someone they love them on only one day of the year. Shouldn’t that happen each and every day? Maybe not voicing the words continuously, but with actions, with a look or a gesture? Love shouldn’t come down to overpriced presents, quickly chosen cards, rushed meals out or any other bit of tat that accompanies the day. Love comes from how we feel, how we want to feel, how we want the person we love to feel 365 days of the year, 366 in a leap year, doesn’t it?
I know I started this tale in a quandary about what to buy the woman I loved, where to take her, what to do or say to her - not to mention my agonized lament focused on why she had not said the words I longed to hear her say. I’d jumped the gun, readied myself for defeat believing I was not worthy of her love, and even thought she was seeing someone else. So easily I’d believed that her feelings for me had been so shallow in comparison to mine that I had nearly lost the person I loved the most in the world begging the question ‘who, exactly is the shallow one?’. To me, hearing the words were more important than sensing them, feeling them, experiencing the impact of them. That is not what love is all about. Yes, it is wonderful to hear her say those three syllables, but it is not the be all and end all of our relationship.
Being with Branwen is the most perfect thing in my life and I honestly do not know what I would ever do if she was no longer with me. When I thought I had lost her, the pain I felt was beyond anything I’d ever felt before. It was a mixture of echoing hollowness, a tearing sensation, and a bleakness that seemed to engulf me completely. I’d known for a while that she was the woman I loved, but it wasn’t until I thought I’d lost her did I realise she was my other, better half, and the one who completed me. Branwen Campbell is not just my girlfriend, she is my reason, my all.
Now isn’t that something to celebrate?
I hope you enjoyed it. I am considering an Easter tale, but we’ll see. If you liked this one, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you didn’t, pretend I am LJ Smith who write the Vampire Diaries.