<= Part 1
by Crème Brûlée
A Revelation in Several Parts
"I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something different about her lately," Rose mused.
"Menopause, probably," Jim mumbled.
"She's too young for the change!" Rose admonished.
"She's too old to have to listen to your endless speculation," Marjorie said while breezing in through the front office on her way to her own, picking up messages as she went. "When it's as plain as the nose on her face that you'd rather be talking about one another. Would one of you please ask the other out on a date?!"
"What's in the bag?" Adele asked as she helped Marjorie off with her coat.
"Just some things." Marjorie smiled, and to distract Adele from further inquiry, she changed the subject. "That chicken smells divine, I'm ravenous."
"Good, because I ate a late lunch and I made too much."
After dinner they assumed what had become their customary places on the couch. They'd fallen into a loose routine that varied with their schedules and workload.
Adele chose an album that she thought Marjorie might like, Ella Fitzgerald's, "The Intimate Ella". She was determined to broaden Marjorie's musical horizons - there was only so much silence and classical music a cat and a bird should have to put up with. Marjorie didn't have much in the way of an extensive record collection, and Adele had heard most of it, except the musicals, which she refused to listen to.
"But they're so cheerful!" Marjorie had said.
Adele cringed. "Well, yes, but it's that kind of excessive cheer that precedes someone having a nervous breakdown."
"Oh, stop, they're lively and fun." Marjorie said.
"They're fake and gaudy, but since you enjoy them so much, I'll just have to put up with them."
"That's very big of you."
"You have no idea." And she hadn't been kidding.
Sitting on the couch, listening to the music and holding Marjorie's hand, Adele felt more peaceful than she had in a good long while. This was cherished time. A time without pressure, or mixed and confused emotions, they were together and at ease.
"You hardly touched your chicken," Adele noted. "Are you sure you liked it?"
"It was very good. I especially liked it." Marjorie replied.
"I thought you said you were ravenous."
"I wasn't as hungry as I thought, but I did enjoy it." Marjorie assured her.
"You sound convincing enough. But if you don't like something I make you're only hurting yourself by not telling me. You'll just end up suffering through it again - probably sooner than later. My repertoire, as you know, is somewhat limited."
"I'm being sincere," Marjorie said.
"That's a refreshing contrast."
"To when you arrived earlier and were being evasive. What's in the bag?" Adele asked.
Marjorie struck her less than comfortable pose. Adele had come to know it well, after all, she'd had practice - Marjorie was not difficult to make less than comfortable.
Marjorie was sitting upright, adjusting and smoothing her skirt. She folded her hands in her lap, swallowed and answered, "Pajamas."
"Pajamas?" Adele asked, baffled.
"In the bag - pajamas." Marjorie explained.
"Oh! Pajamas!" Adele said, a smile lighting up her face.
"I don't mean to presume, or just invite myself to stay…"
"Presume all you want. You know I'd love it if you stayed. It's not like I haven't tried everything I could think of to get you to. I hate you driving home late by yourself and, well… I have so wanted…" Adele realized that she was the one presuming now. This was Marjorie, a woman she'd been seeing for months and not yet had sex with. For all she knew, Marjorie had plans to sleep on her couch, not share her bed. And because of who Marjorie was, and how much Adele had come to cherish her it was something she'd try to accommodate. It might drive her to distraction, and probably to drink, but she loved being with Marjorie. She so adored and looked forward to sharing time and anything else she could with her, that she was willing to try to make this work, for as long as she could bear it. She finished her thought vaguely, "Well, I have so wanted… you to stay…"
"So have I," Marjorie admitted shyly.
Adele's heart melted on the spot.
Preparing for bed was a more involved process for Marjorie than Adele, or so Adele surmised as she lay in her bed waiting for Marjorie to emerge from the bathroom.
When she did, Adele's eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Pajamas."
Marjorie looked down at her outfit, "I bought them for Simon a couple of years ago. Then considered that purchasing sleepwear for my sister's husband might not be the appropriate thing to do. So I kept them, they're very comfortable."
"They're adorable." Adele extended an arm in welcome. "Why don't you join me?"
Marjorie's breath caught in her throat. Adele's arm was bare. Adele's shoulder was bare. There was a distinct possibility that the rest of her was bare as well. Why this hadn't occurred to Marjorie before, she didn't know. Didn't everyone wear something to bed?
Looking at Adele's inviting expression, Marjorie's anxiety was sidelined by something else. The shirts and blouses Adele wore didn't hint at the well-delineated arms, and sculpted shoulders they covered. One night while cooking together, Marjorie commented on Adele's effortless opening of jars, Adele had responded, "It's handy being of good peasant stock, especially when dealing with large dogs and the occasional goat at work."
Adele's light, sandy colored hair, her warm eyes, full lips, excellent posture (Marjorie was a stickler for good posture) and sureness - these things were not rare characteristics in people, but in Adele, they were something more. And now, Marjorie could see even more than that. She took a deep breath, and joined Adele under the covers, careful to avert her eyes as she did so.
Once Marjorie had settled in, Adele turned on her side to face her. "Did you find everything alright?"
Marjorie glanced at Adele, then looked away, "Yes, thank you."
Adele reached over and took Marjorie's hand and entwined their fingers. "It's not really all that late."
Marjorie made a grimace. "I suppose that depends on how you look at it. You've been very understanding unreasonably so."
"I enjoy being with you, so much. I don't have to tell you that I want more, you already know that. But I do want you to know that we don't have to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable."
Marjorie let out a frustrated sigh. "Well that's hardly practical, because right now breathing is making me uncomfortable."
Adele smiled. "Well, we can just be here, close, together. That's okay." Amazing even herself, Adele meant it. The enormity of the situation, of Marjorie's willing presence, was enough. And she felt fiercely protective of Marjorie, of her innocence, her courage, her pajamas.
"Yes?" Adele shifted, propping herself up on her elbow and resting her head on her hand so that they could talk more comfortably.
"There's something…" Marjorie looked at her, and glanced away again. "It appears… Well, I've come to understand that I may not be as I'd begun to believe given my tendencies but I may not be incapable of intimacy… of sexual intimacy."
Adele hadn't thought that Marjorie was not recently anyway. Exceedingly, excruciatingly, glacially paced, yes. Incapable, no. Anyone who'd spent the last few months kissing Marjorie, the last couple of weeks in particular, never would have dreamt it. What intrigued Adele, was how Marjorie had reached this conclusion. "How did you come to 'understand' this? Have you been to see someone?"
"Someone?" Marjorie asked.
"A doctor, or a therapist?"
"Heavens no! Nothing like that. I've just reached the conclusion." Marjorie evaded.
"How?" Adele was curious.
"I'd rather not say."
"You can be a frustrating woman, do you know that?" Adele shook her head.
"Me? I'm lying here in your bed, just having told you that I'm capable of sexual intimacy and all you want to do is talk."
Adele leaned further over to look Marjorie in the eye. "Marjorie, if this is your idea of seduction, we're going to have to work on it."
"It's not." Marjorie raised a hand to stroke Adele's hair. "It's my way of telling you that I think, despite, or perhaps even because of my discomfort, that I'm ready to…"
Adele leaned the rest of the way over and kissed Marjorie gently. She paused briefly to say, "Then I think you should stop talking."
Kissing was something they'd done a lot of, so Marjorie was relatively comfortable with the preliminaries. What caused her anxiety was anything she hadn't done a lot of ever. Her extreme self-consciousness and discomfort were only partially dispelled by Adele's tender encouragements. Adele, whose every touch seemed to ignite a fire somewhere beneath Marjorie's skin, who had from the very first been gentle and kind, inquisitive and insightful overwhelmed her. And Marjorie surrendered to it.
Adele hadn't expected fireworks. It was Marjorie's first time, and she was realistic enough not to expect a total character transformation, simply because Marjorie was in a horizontal position. So she hadn't expected fireworks. She hadn't expected tears either. She discreetly wiped another away as it rolled down her cheek. Marjorie lay next to her, sleeping deeply, still wearing her pajamas. Adele lay wide-awake, her heart swollen with feeling. Marjorie's sweetness, her responses and trust had touched her deeply. And all of this, without an orgasm.
Marjorie read and reread Female Sexuality and the Female Sexual Experience. She was finding it less intimidating. Some of the book focused on women in relationship to men, but for the most part, it addressed and stressed the importance of self-fulfillment. Marjorie had worked around children for too many years not to have had to wrestle with the issue of masturbation. On more than one occasion, she'd had to deal with hysterical teachers dragging bewildered children into her office for discipline. Myra Sikes, in particular, had found masturbation a "dirty and unnatural" act, worthy of extreme measures. Marjorie didn't understand how anyone who spent time with children could think anything of the sort. But then, she knew well, not all people who worked with children paid them close attention. And in the case of teachers like Myra Sikes, a case Marjorie regretted was less rare than she'd learned it actually was not all people who worked with children, liked children. As a teacher, then Vice Principal, Marjorie had had to admonish Myra for referring to her students as "unruly animals".
No one had objected more vehemently to Marjorie being considered for the Principal position than Myra she'd done everything she could to undermine Marjorie's chances. It was nothing personal, Myra had told Marjorie one day after school, she just didn't feel that Marjorie was qualified to run the school, and her lax philosophy regarding the students would be a disaster. Bernard Johnson was who Myra felt should be appointed Principal, Bernard understood the importance of discipline. And he was a man, and it was natural for men to be in charge even children knew that.
After thirty years of teaching, Myra retired. Janine had taken Marjorie out to her favorite restaurant in town to celebrate. "The wretched harpy's gone! Good riddance. Let's hope the bitch spends her retirement tied to a chair in a dark room." This was a reference to Myra's proposed method for disciplining hyperactive students. Tyrene Fletcher, who taught in the classroom next to Myra for ten years, told Marjorie that Myra had even done it to a student once.
"She tries it on your watch," Janine had said. "You tell me. I'll have her bumped off."
"Janine!" Marjorie had scolded.
"No really, I met someone at a party who knows someone, who knows someone, who does that sort of thing. I can arrange it. I tell you Marjorie, my mother's right! It pays to know the right people."
Oh, how Marjorie missed Janine… Janine, who would be doubled over with laughter if she could see Marjorie now "studying" for a date with Adele.
"That's fine, stay mired in convention while the world passes you by. This is obviously a vision we don't share." Timothy picked up the large flower arrangement and carried it back to the fridge. Marjorie held the door for him while he positioned it on the shelf.
"I'm sorry Timothy, it's just well, they're dead." Marjorie didn't like putting a damper on Timothy's ebullient mood, but she couldn't conceal her lack of enthusiasm for the arrangement.
"It's daring, I know." He closed the door and returned to his arranging table to finish another, more traditional arrangement. "They asked for something different, something new Eunice said to let my imagination run wild!"
Marjorie thought Eunice was in for a surprise. "It's certainly different."
"You hate it." Timothy sighed.
"It's not my favorite," Marjorie admitted. "It's amazing that you managed to build it though, I don't understand how you've preserved the shapes, the colors…"
"They're mummified!" Timothy interrupted gleefully. "Which is perfect, because the author doing the reading is an archeologist, whose book is on the mummification process!"
Marjorie left the flower shop in a cheerful mood. Timothy's enthusiasm was contagious. She'd picked out a bouquet that was considerably less daring than the mummified one Timothy had suggested.
"It'll be the next big thing!" He'd insisted. "You'll see."
"I'm sure you're right," Marjorie conceded - Timothy had a keen eye for trends. "But I'm going with the hydrangea."
She turned the corner onto Bolton Street, where she'd parked her car, and nearly walked into someone leaving Bolton's hardware store.
"Woah!" The woman she'd nearly walked into came to an abrupt stop, inches from Marjorie.
"Excuse me!" Marjorie apologized, stepping back.
"My fault, not watching where I was going nearly mowed you down!" The woman smiled, it was a broad, appealing smile that animated her paint-flecked face. She stood before Marjorie, holding paint cans by the handles in each hand.
Marjorie turned to see who'd called her and saw another woman exiting the store also carrying paint cans. It took Marjorie a moment to register the face. "Hello, Samantha."
Samantha glanced from Marjorie to the woman still standing a few steps away from her. "You two know one another?" Her tone was guarded.
The woman standing before Marjorie rolled her eyes, stepped around her and deposited the paint cans in the back of a pickup truck parked in front of the store.
Marjorie was struck by how different Samantha appeared. And it wasn't just that she was liberally speckled with paint, it was something else - she looked refreshed, she looked good. She sounded very much the same though.
Samantha deposited the buckets she carried in the truck and turned back. "Marjorie Humboldt, Rosa Pryce, one of the team at the gym."
Rosa smiled, wiped her hand on her paint-covered overalls and shook Marjorie's hand. "Nice to meet you."
"You, too." Marjorie smiled.
Rosa looked at Samantha. "Your old boss?"
Samantha nodded curtly. "There are more cans in there." She pointed into the store.
Rosa leaned her weight back against the truck and crossed her feet. "You'd best get them then, before someone else does."
Samantha fidgeted, then strode off in a huff.
Rosa grinned. "She forgets I'm not eight years old and in one of her gym classes. I need to remind her from time to time."
Marjorie didn't know what to make of the exchange, she smiled amicably and thought that she should be getting on her way if she was going to meet up with Adele for dinner.
Rosa ran a paint-specked hand through shoulder length dark hair, while giving Marjorie a considered look. "So, will you be signing up for any classes at the gym - coming in for a workout? You can't underestimate the importance of a good cardiovascular fitness regime."
Marjorie thought that anyone looking at Rosa's fit figure wouldn't. She was lean, stood tall, and her olive complexion seemed to glow from within.
Samantha exited the store in time to catch Rosa's question. "Marjorie isn't into fitness she gardens, has a cat."
"I have a cat and I work out." Rosa responded, winking at Marjorie.
"We're almost finished painting the place." Samantha said, gesturing at the paint cans.
Marjorie spotted a dog sleeping in the bed of the truck. "Is that Ike?"
Ike opened a sleepy eye at the mention of his name.
"Sure is!" Samantha beamed. "Hey Ike, come say hello to Marjorie. Come on old man, say hi!"
Ike scrambled onto his short legs and trotted over to the edge of the truck bed. He too was speckled with light colored paint.
"Ike's been helping out at the gym. Haven't you Ikey?" Samantha patted him on the brow and scratched behind his ear.
"Sure has," Rosa noted. "Trekked white paw prints across a freshly laid linoleum floor this morning."
"That wasn't Ike's fault," Samantha defended. "I told Susan not to leave that roller pan on the floor."
Rosa rolled her eyes again. "Sorry Ike, my mistake." She reached into her overall pocket. "Here's my card. I'll be a trainer at the gym. We'll be opening in a week. You should stop by."
"I told you, she's not into fitness," Samantha said.
"You don't build a business by chasing customers away," Rosa insisted. "It's a good thing you let Susan handle the marketing."
Marjorie cut in to stem the argument. "I'm afraid Samantha's right. But I've mentioned your gym to a couple of people and they've expressed an interest. If you've got a few extra cards I may be able to send others your way."
"That would be great!" Rosa shot Samantha a triumphant grin and handed Marjorie several cards.
"You don't have to do that," Samantha said.
"It's no trouble." Marjorie tucked the cards into her bag.
"Thanks," Samantha said, stuffing her hands into her pockets. "I told Susan we'd be back in an hour, so we'd better move it. Good seeing you, Marjorie."
"Good to see you too, and to meet you, Rosa."
"My pleasure," Rosa smiled and shook Marjorie's hand again. "You should still drop by, check the place out, it might not be what you're expecting. I'll be glad to show you around - first session is on the house, I'll definitely take good care of you…" Rosa reluctantly let Marjorie's hand go as Samantha led her off by the arm to the passenger side door.
"Marjorie's a busy woman. And we've got to get back to town." Samantha leaned in close to Rosa as she opened the door and said quietly, "Can it." Rosa waved at Marjorie and stepped in to the truck.
Samantha shut the door, looked at Marjorie and shrugged. "Sorry."
"It's good that you've got such an enthusiastic team member," Marjorie said. "Good luck with finishing everything up."
Samantha glanced through the window at Rosa, who smiled at them, shook her head and said, "Thanks."
Sitting at a stoplight, several blocks away, Marjorie's eyebrows rose slowly as she thought about her conversation with Rosa and Samantha. Could Rosa's friendly consideration have been motivated by something other than a good sales opportunity? And if it was, was that a good thing? A horn sounded from a car waiting behind her; she put her car into gear and headed home.
Adele flinched. "Ow!"
"What is it? Are you alright?" Marjorie asked, her breathing labored, her heart pounding.
"Shhh," Adele soothed. "I'm fine." She touched a finger to her lip to check for bleeding, there wasn't any. She leaned down and kissed Marjorie gently. "Sorry if I startled you."
Marjorie shook her head in an attempt to clear it. Between Adele's soft skin, and her distracting touch, Marjorie was having a hard time keeping track of anything else. She tried to focus on what Adele was saying, "Startled me?"
"I didn't mean to startle you. You nipped my lip."
"Nipped you?" There was something wrong with her brain, Marjorie couldn't follow what Adele was saying. It felt as if everything was being filtered through a vibrant haze of sensation. It was making her mind sluggish and reluctant to consider anything but more of the same.
Nuzzling Marjorie's neck, Adele clarified, "Bit me."
Marjorie's brain understood that. "I bit you?"
Adele felt Marjorie go stiff. "It's alright, I'm fine."
But Marjorie wasn't, she was deeply embarrassed.
"Don't be upset, Marjorie, please. It's alright, here, feel." Adele reached for Marjorie's hand and drew it up to her mouth. She guided Marjorie's fingertips to the spot in question. "See? Nothing."
Adele fought the urge to envelop Marjorie's fingertips in her mouth she was not just a little aroused after a half hour of Marjorie's tentative, but evolving explorations.
Marjorie withdrew her hand and nodded. She felt clumsy and foolish.
Feeling their moment slipping away, Adele sighed and shifted her weight so that she lay next to Marjorie. "I'm sorry I got carried away." That wasn't all she'd gotten minutes before, when Marjorie had reached up and unbuttoned her pajama top for the first time. Adele thought it was just about the sexiest thing she'd ever witnessed. She thought she'd given Marjorie enough space to acclimate, but had apparently pounced too soon. "I shouldn't have pushed like that."
"Pushed?" Marjorie battled the excruciating discomfort of the embarrassment that gripped her. She had so wanted to please Adele - not wound her. "I don't feel pushed, I feel inept, ill-prepared."
"Ill-prepared? This isn't a quiz, I don't expect you to have studied for it."
Marjorie let out a frustrated sigh, she had studied, but it wasn't doing her much good. She admitted, "I don't want to disappoint you."
"Trust me, you're not going to disappoint me. This isn't rocket science, you know. And even if it was I'd have complete confidence in you."
Marjorie didn't feel that she merited such faith. "Why would you?"
"Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm what you might call 'easy'. I'm not boasting, but you'd be hard pressed to find a woman who's easier to 'please' than I am. Not that I'm suggesting that you go looking," Adele tapped her on the nose lightly. "Just think of me as your lesbian training wheels."
"Adele!" Marjorie nudged her.
"You know," Adele mused. "A minute ago you didn't seem too worried that you were going to disappoint me."
"A minute ago I hadn't bitten you."
Adele realized that talking wasn't going to get them anywhere, so it was back to basics for Marjorie. "Well I've survived it so forget it, forget the bite, forget about pleasing me, forget everything else just kiss me."
"Yes, I want you to kiss me. It's a simple enough request."
Marjorie gave Adele a dubious look.
"Well?" Adele prompted.
When Marjorie realized that Adele wasn't going to move, she turned and propped herself up so she could reach Adele's lips with her own. Adele watched her with a half smile and a glint in her eyes. Marjorie often felt pulled to Adele by that glint, it opened something that was more often than not, shut tight. Marjorie leaned in and kissed her.
"Mmm. Nice." Adele closed her eyes to savor the kiss.
Marjorie began to lay back.
"Again," Adele said - not moving, but waiting.
Marjorie reversed direction and leaned in to kiss Adele again. Her eyes were still closed, her expression open, and to Marjorie, inviting. Marjorie hadn't known that you could grow so enamored of the feeling and taste of another person's lips the rush of sensation that greeted each new encounter. Surely, she'd thought, such a feeling would lessen with regular exposure. But even after what must have been thousands of kisses, it was there, each time, surprising her again. This time was no exception.
When she broke the kiss and leaned back, Marjorie felt the soft caress of Adele's quickened breath against her face. Warm and subtly changed, Adele's breath now had a tangy sharpness to it that inspired keen interest on the part of Marjorie's olfactory senses. The air between them seemed charged, as it sometimes does before an electrical storm.
Her eyes half open, Adele smiled. "Nice."
It was a smile Marjorie felt more than she saw. Much as she felt, more than she heard, the throaty quality of Adele's comment. Marjorie leaned into what registered as a request, if not a demand. Adele deepened the kiss, conveying warmth and heat, as she opened to Marjorie.
Adele encouraged their entanglement in a general direction - with a specific goal in mind. Marjorie had some inkling, however academic, of what Adele was up to she had, after all, read Female Sexuality and the Female Sexual Experience three times, and parts of it even more than that. And, of course, there'd been their first intimate evening together, which would have been more of an education had Marjorie not been quite so overwhelmed by the experience. So she wasn't completely in the dark. She was, however, easily swept up in the current of sensation that was generated by Adele's rhythmic movements and distracting moans.
When Marjorie felt Adele's body arch off of the bed into her own, and heard the guttural sigh that accompanied a tension throughout Adele's body she was astonished. Adele lay back on the bed, encircling Marjorie's waist and holding her close, she relished Marjorie's weight as she settled into the afterglow.
It wasn't what she'd been expecting. Marjorie hadn't touched Adele intimately… Well, that wasn't accurate, her leg had been between Adele's but surely there was more to it than that? And yet, Adele lay beneath her exhibiting clear signs of satisfaction.
"I must be crushing you," Marjorie said, moving her weight off of Adele.
"Not at all." Adele held Marjorie where she was, trying to pull her even closer. "You feel so good. Are you comfortable?"
Marjorie was, and yet, she wasn't. There was something that felt distinctly unsettled, or even, unfinished, in her body, but she had no idea how to address it - so she simply smiled and said that she was.
"Mmm." Adele hummed in satisfaction. "I tend to be a bit like a well pet cat after climax. No bones, lots of purring."
Adele's purring had a disconcerting effect on Marjorie's person, and she realized that she wasn't in any way as satisfied as Adele seemed to be.
Adele turned her head and kissed Marjorie gently on the cheek. "Thank you, that was wonderful."
Marjorie smiled shyly and admitted, "I'm not sure I had all that much to do with it."
"Believe me when I tell you, that would not have been possible without you."
Marjorie wondered if she ought to tell Adele that according to Female Sexuality and the Female Sexual Experience, it was but her thoughts were sidelined as Adele's hands began to caress her back and sides deliberately. She found herself looking down into sparkling eyes that seemed to have something else in mind.