<= Part 1
by Crème Brûlée
A Revelation in Several Parts
"You always were a difficult child." Dawn complained.
"Mother," Marjorie said. "It's a school day. I can't run off to a spa with you in the middle of it. Why not ask Jill?"
"I thought this would be something nice we could do together. I barely get to see you anymore you're always busy, always working."
"Can't we go on a weekend?" Marjorie asked.
"Heavens no! Dede Baxter's daughter Pearl is finally getting married this weekend. I'm not missing that."
Marjorie knew better than to get hooked on such an obvious barb. "Well then, we can do it another time. I'm sure one of your friends would love to go with you."
"Is it too much for a mother to ask? That you simply take some time out of your schedule, barely an afternoon, to be with me? Are you that selfish?"
"I've told you many times that I can't take afternoons off, especially on short notice and especially not to spend it at a spa. I will gladly go with you on a weekend. Would you like to plan something for the following weekend?" Marjorie tried not to clench her jaw it would only make it ache later and serve to remind her of a conversation she knew she'd want to forget.
"Pearl goes to the spa with Dede all of the time, they're the best of friends. I thought it might be nice if you'd pretend you wanted to spend some time with me that's all. I'll ask Jill." Dawn huffed.
Marjorie closed her eyes briefly for relief. "I'm sure she'll be delighted."
Dawn shot Marjorie a challenging look. "Your father will be home after his golf game with Burt Maxwell. He says he's been missing you too. Will you stay for dinner, or are you too important and busy to share a meal with us?"
Marjorie raced through any impediment she encountered to arrive at Adele's door. It was, after all, the thing she'd been looking forward to all day for the past several days. They'd talked only once on the phone, when Adele had had a spare moment during an exceptionally busy work week. Sitting through dinner with her parents had been an exercise in patience that had stressed every fiber of her being. She'd bolted before finishing her coffee her mother had been trying to convince her that dating her father's divorced golf partner, a man she'd known since she was twelve, was the least she could do to cheer up an old family friend.
Adele answered the door and with a great big smile, welcomed Marjorie in. "You're a sight for sore eyes."
Adele gave Marjorie a hug and took her coat. When she turned back around after hanging the coat, she found herself caught up in another hug. She laughed in surprise. "What's this all about?"
"You have no idea how much I've missed you," Marjorie said.
"Long visit with your mother at the end of a busy week?" Adele asked, relaxing into the embrace.
"Yes, but let's not talk about it. It will only spoil the evening."
Adele was impressed to have gotten even a 'yes' before Marjorie wanted to change the subject. She was not a woman who cared to dwell on what she called 'unpleasant details'. "I've just finished my dinner, how about some ice cream?"
"That sounds nice." Marjorie noted, and not for the first time, how it was that Adele seemed to fit perfectly in her arms.
"Okay then… Marjorie?"
"You'll have to let me go if you want the ice cream."
Marjorie smiled. "I suppose." She kissed Adele lightly and was on the verge of releasing her, when she thought better of it and kissed her again. And lingered while she was at it.
Adele nudged Marjorie away a little, "Keep that up and you're not getting any ice cream."
Marjorie's heart sank. "Was it so bad?"
Adele shook her head and pulled Marjorie back. "Don't be daft."
That look in Adele's eye, Marjorie had seen it several times. It had a singular effect on her person. An effect that had frightened her out of her skin, until quite recently. She leaned in and kissed Adele again, deliberately. She was fairly confident Adele enjoyed this kind of kissing, she certainly found it appealing.
After several minutes, having progressed no further than the coat stand next to the front door, Adele said: "Marjorie, are you trying to tell me something? And if so, what?" One couldn't be too sure with Marjorie, getting a verbal was always a good idea.
Marjorie took Adele by the hand and started leading her towards the bedroom. "I don't think I really want ice cream."
"Well that's a relief, because I didn't have very much left." Adele followed willingly. And was glad she did. Especially when it became clear that Marjorie had either forgotten about, or was not interested in, putting on her pajamas. Pajamas Adele had bought for her so she wouldn't have to cart her own back and forth.
Pajamas were the furthest thing from Marjorie's mind. The sounds Adele was making were front and center. Marjorie was making some sounds herself, but was only peripherally aware of them. There seemed to be a shift in her awareness when she was so close to and intimately focused on Adele. She became more physically aware of her than she was mentally conscious of her. And this physical awareness had a mind of its own. Or so it must have, because the next thing she knew, she and Adele were lying on the bed, clothes strewn every which direction, without so much as their faces washed.
Adele noticed a brief pause in Marjorie's ardor. "Everything okay?"
Somewhere between noticing the clothing and their lax hygiene, Marjorie's self-consciousness had crept up on her. Her insecurities surfaced shortly thereafter. It's not that she considered what she and Adele got up to in the privacy of Adele's bedroom to be the picture of ladylike behavior, but there was such a sweetness and caring to it. This, this was something different, something raw and needful in a way that was… new. It was new… And at this realization, something clicked for Marjorie - she had an "aha!" moment. She realized that she was reacting the way she tended to react to anything that was new and challenging by resisting it.
"I'm sorry if I came on too strong." Worried by Marjorie's silence, Adele apologized on reflex. She lay on her back, still embracing Marjorie. Had she thought before rushing to assure her, it might have occurred to Adele that it was Marjorie who'd escalated the kissing into undressing, and it was Marjorie who'd caused her knees to buckle and had encouraged her onto the bed, and it was Marjorie who lay bare skin on hers, simultaneously short circuiting her brain and causing every cell in her body to rejoice.
"No, no," Marjorie smiled shyly. "I'm the one who got carried away." She looked down to where their bodies touched and felt something akin to vertigo at the sight. She swallowed hard and admitted, "You still overwhelm me."
Adele raised an eyebrow. "Still? Well, that's encouraging."
"Is it?" Marjorie was finding it difficult to stay still, Adele had started to stroke her back.
"Well, if you were underwhelmed after two weeks, I'd have to reassess my allure, maybe bring it into the shop for a tune-up." Adele drew her nails down the skin of Marjorie's back as she spoke.
Marjorie's breathing hitched as far as she could tell, there was nothing wrong with Adele's allure.
"Now stop with the thinking. I want you focused on my touch I want you to feel me touching you." Adele pulled Marjorie closer and leaned up to taste her lips. Marjorie whimpered, and gave in to the rush of impulse and need.
Adele had given up trying not to fall more deeply in love with Marjorie. Her feelings of self-preservation had been trampled by that quiet determination and understated charm that Marjorie embodied. And, of course, there was always Adele's weakness for women with strong facial features and shapely legs.
Something rich, colorful and electric was coursing through every fiber of Marjorie's being. It connected her in a very real way to Adele. It grew so exquisite in its intensity that she wasn't sure her body could endure it. She called out as she was delivered from one plane of ecstasy to the next. And then nothing - a brief, light-imbued pause - before a wave of sublime sensation cascaded through her, cushioning her fall from the precipitous heights of her climax.
She became aware of Adele's voice, a gentle note, whispered into each of the places she was kissing. Reaching out, Marjorie gathered Adele to her.
She woke disoriented and chilled. There was enough light in the room to make out the time on Adele's alarm clock, 3:30AM. Not an hour for decent people to be awake. She'd certainly be hard pressed to find anyone she knew who'd consider her situation decent - clothes strewn about the room, she and Adele without a stitch of clothing between them, lying on the bed with only a corner of the quilt pulled over them. A shocking scene to be sure. This train of thought was extinguished by the sight of the soft curve of Adele's bare shoulder emerging from beneath the quilt in the diffuse light.
She watched as Adele's chest rose and fell with each breath. She'd watched Adele sleep, or doze, on several occasions; had watched her eyes close, her breathing slow and her face relax. Marjorie wondered at Adele's ability to sleep or doze as easily as she could. No sooner would her head hit the pillow, than she'd be out like a light. Adele had mentioned that she even took quick naps at her desk at work. She was at ease on a level that Marjorie sensed she could never be. The very idea of napping at work made Marjorie's skin crawl. If Rose walked into her office and found her head down on her desk - she'd call an ambulance. It simply wasn't Marjorie. But this was? Lying in another woman's bed, watching the rhythm of her breathing, as she lay sleeping peacefully.
Marjorie leaned forward and lightly kissed Adele's shoulder. She lingered, breathing in the warming scent, briefly bringing her cheek in contact to further drink in the closeness. Adele shifted and Marjorie withdrew guiltily.
"Don't stop," Adele murmured sleepily.
Marjorie felt a cool tingle flutter up her spine at Adele's request.
Adele was nothing but enthused by Marjorie's growing ardor. Her tentative and awkward first steps were becoming determined and thorough explorations - of a less cerebral and increasingly carnal nature. Adele gave her high marks for effort when she was of a mind to contemplate it but not when her senses were being beguiled by it.
Marjorie had made an intricate study of Adele's erogenous zones. Her reading had stressed the importance of this undertaking. She'd plotted them out with her hands, her lips, and finally, her tongue. What at first had felt a daunting undertaking had become a process of thrilling discovery. Or at least she'd assumed it was thrilling, it certainly thrilled her and, actually, Adele hadn't seemed to mind it either. Not if her urgent pleas were anything to go by.
Marjorie found that nothing excited her quite the way that hearing Adele's voice at the height of passion did. It drew a sharp response from the very core of her desire.
Adele's body strained, then shuddered, beneath her. Marjorie was surprised by the rapid conclusion to their unexpected nocturnal encounter. She couldn't recall a time when she'd been so awake this late at night… She wasn't sure she'd ever been so awake in her life…
Again, Adele called out as a heady wave surged through her body. Upon recovery, she caught and stilled Marjorie's roaming hands. "Marjorie Humboldt, your learning curve is going to do me in!"
Marjorie smiled into the darkness as she settled next to Adele. She drew the quilt over them and shifted, trying to maximize contact, then she pulled Adele closer still.
Adele breathed a languid sigh, kissed just below Marjorie's collarbone, then rested her head on an accommodating shoulder. Lying alongside Marjorie, but mostly on her, Adele's body hummed with satisfaction and she reveled in their closeness. With her hand resting on Marjorie's breastbone and her ear situated nearby, she could hear and feel Marjorie's still rapid breathing. Adele hadn't fully regained her own breath, so she wasn't surprised, but when Marjorie moaned quietly in response to Adele caressing her breast, Adele knew it was arousal, not exhaustion, that was taxing Marjorie. This was not an opportunity she planned on wasting.
A ragged breath followed by a tightening of the hands gripping her shoulders told Adele that Marjorie was enjoying her attentions. Feeling Marjorie responsive and increasingly desperate inspired an intense craving.
Marjorie, lost in a brilliant haze of sensation, vaguely wondered how it was that Adele had gotten down there? Her hips rose to the moist heat of Adele's tongue caressing the dip just inside of her hipbone. This new touch on that delicate incline further stoked the heated blaze. Additional thoughts were artfully extinguished by the insistent progress of Adele's oral engagement.
If the sublime had a feeling, this was it. To be so connected, this, Marjorie understood was the joy of being loved and made love to by the unexpected object of her desire, Adele. Who held and gently kissed her as her body drifted down from the iridescent heights.
The cause of the overpopulation of the planet was no longer a mystery to Marjorie. Why, she wondered, did anyone ever want to do anything else?
She woke to the smell of coffee and the sound of Adele moving about the kitchen. Marjorie glanced over at the clock and received a shock when the time registered: 1:30PM. She sat upright, eyes wide. "Good heavens!"
Adele peeked her head into the room, concerned. "What's the matter?"
Marjorie drew the quilt up to cover herself. "The time! Why didn't you wake me?"
"I couldn't bear to, you were sleeping so peacefully. You said you didn't have to be anywhere today."
"But it's so late!" Marjorie insisted.
"And?" Adele walked over and sat on the edge of the bed.
Marjorie blinked. "Well… I just… Is that coffee brewing?"
"Mmm," Adele answered, kissing Marjorie's bare shoulder. "Would you like some?"
"Very much so," Marjorie shivered, but not from cold.
"I think that can be arranged." Adele stood, but Marjorie caught her by the hand before she could go.
Marjorie didn't know what it was that she wanted to say, exactly, but she could feel it welled up in her chest.
Adele leaned down and kissed her gently, then stood, and smiling, left for the kitchen.
"I can't say that I cared for the way she was looking at you." Marjorie crossed her legs and stared out of the car window. It was dark, the pitch dark of a remote roadway. They were driving through the woods of a town several miles east on their way back from a night out.
"Nicole? You must be kidding." Adele looked over, momentarily taking her eyes off the road. That Marjorie was jealous was almost as much of a shock to her as whom she was jealous of.
"You did say that you'd had a relationship. She's obviously still attracted to you."
"I said we'd slept with one another a couple of times about ten years ago, and that it hadn't amounted to anything. There was more sex than substance back in those days - we practically felt it our duty to have sex with everyone we knew as a political statement. Though frankly, I think it had more to do with being twenty-something and horny, and less to do with politics."
"That's comforting to know. Exactly how many of the women that I met this evening have you had relations with?"
Adele didn't think Marjorie really wanted the answer to that question - she wasn't ready to give it in any case. She cursed her impulse to drag Marjorie to a pot-luck get together of her friends. A group of women, some of whom she'd known from school, political and social gatherings. It had been an on-the-spot decision, not well thought out at all. The curiosity factor had spiked visibly when they'd walked in, Marjorie would have had to have been deaf, dumb and blind not to have noticed.
Marjorie broke into what was becoming a lengthy silence. "Did you love any of them?"
"Charlotte," Adele admitted, mentally kicking herself why hadn't she thought this through?
"Were you together long?"
"Two years… almost." Adele wasn't sure how to extract herself from this conversation. It's not that she wanted to conceal her relationship with Charlotte from Marjorie, it's just that she didn't really want to get into to it... at all, if possible.
"Our priorities weren't compatible." Sure, maybe she'd avoided certain topics thus far…
Adele sighed. "She wanted to sleep with other women, I didn't want her to."
"She left you?" Marjorie found this difficult to believe.
"No, I left them." Adele glanced over to see the confused expression she'd expected. "Charlotte and Alex. Alex was the woman Charlotte brought home and expected me to accommodate. The amazing fact being that I did - for three months." Adele glanced over to see a shocked expression she'd expected that too. "Ostensibly, we were subverting the patriarchy, loving one another selflessly. Not possessing each other as objects of desire, but respecting one another's true personhood it was a free love arrangement. In actuality, Alex and I were competing for Charlotte, and I was losing or really, I'd lost. Probably before Alex had appeared. I don't think she would have otherwise. Charlotte hasn't had multiple partners since then, so I can only assume that's the case."
They drove in silence for some time. Adele repeatedly cursed her own stupidity for jumping the gun and dragging Marjorie to the gathering. Of course she should have mentioned the borderline incestuous history that existed in the group beforehand. But each time she'd considered it, the discomfort she imagined Marjorie would experience… and possibly the disapproval she'd express… had prevented Adele from addressing it.
"What I fail to understand," Marjorie began. "Is how Charlotte could treat you so poorly and you could still remain on friendly terms with her."
"I thought the ménage a trois would have been the sticking point."
"I'm getting to that," Marjorie said. "How could such a sensible woman put up with such nonsense?"
"Having an open relationship isn't nonsense. People using their politics as an excuse for things they're too chicken-shit to admit to, that's nonsense. Which was what I spent a good amount of time raging at Charlotte on my way out the door. I didn't go quietly. It's not a moment in my life that I'm proud of it wasn't pretty."
"How on earth can you still be friends?" Marjorie was nonplussed.
"Because once Charlotte was able to own up to what was really going on, and not what she wanted to pretend had been going on, she took responsibility for it. And we were able to work through a lot of the letting go in a less destructive manner. Especially after Alex dumped her to have a kid with a new neighbor's husband."
"Well I don't like her," Marjorie said defensively.
"Either of them."
Adele had no idea what to make of Marjorie's conclusion but felt it might be politic to let it go.
"You're shutting me out," Adele complained.
"I've been busy," Marjorie explained.
"Oh please, I invented that excuse. You've been avoiding me." Adele stepped past Captain Jack and followed Marjorie into her dinning room; she was determined to have this conversation.
"I hardly see how that's possible. We've seen each other every other night this week." In an attempt to keep her hands busy, Marjorie futzed with the flowers on the table.
"Exactly, we've seen each other, we've barely talked. You come over late, we go to bed. What's going on?" As if she didn't know. Adele cursed herself again for bringing Marjorie to the pot-luck before debriefing her on a few pertinent details.
"I felt like a fool!" Marjorie turned to face Adele. "I don't like walking into a situation uninformed."
"I'm sorry. I know I should have said something beforehand. I just… I choked."
"My past." Adele admitted. "Every time I thought about telling you, I developed a tick and put it off. Marjorie, you have particular views and I'm not sure my past is going to sit well with you."
"You've waited until now to tell me this?" Marjorie's voice rose. "Isn't this something we should have discussed ages ago?"
"We've not exactly been moving along at the customary pace. I didn't want to rush it!" Adele's voice rose to meet Marjorie's.
"That's unfair!" Marjorie glared at Adele.
"I didn't want to give you another excuse to walk away. You were coming up with enough on your own." Adele glared back.
Marjorie felt boxed in by the truth in Adele's assertions, she asked, "What is it that you're so ashamed of that you felt you had to hide it?"
"It was the sixties…" Adele began.
"Oh dear lord," Marjorie said. "Anything that begins with that, I know I'm going to have to sit down for." Marjorie lowered herself onto a chair.
"I lived on a commune." Adele blew out a frustrated sigh.
"What's so remarkable about that? Lots of people have done that." Marjorie felt relieved, she could be stodgy, she knew but she was often more receptive than people expected.
"If you were to gloss over the sex, the drugs, and occasional harboring of fugitives, nothing, really."
Adele took in Marjorie's astonished expression.
"We were a radical leftist co-operative - when we took time out from whatever else it was we were doing. I was more like a peripheral member, because I was going to school then. But I did participate."
"In anything illegal?" Marjorie asked.
"We helped several guys get up to Canada to evade the draft. And besides the drugs, there were a few actions that we organized. Not particularly effective or well-executed actions; we didn't rally many people to our cause or further the downfall of the establishment by much. But we did break and enter several times. I was arrested at a civil rights march, and again at an anti-war rally I was very nearly expelled from the veterinary program for that. Our zeal was mostly impotent a point that was not lost on me for long. I left and moved onto campus, where I finished up my degree. And joined a feminist collective. Our work seemed to have so much more purpose. Sisterhood was in the air…" Adele trailed off, she could no longer bear Marjorie's expression. "Should I keep going, or just leave?"
Marjorie shook her head, stunned. "But you seem… You don't act… What did Janine make of all of this?"
"Thought it was amusing, mostly. Janine was the very definition of apolitical - which must have been part of the attraction I'd burnt out on politics by the time we met. Or maybe I'm just more comfortable on the sidelines, I don't know. My practice has become more and more important to me, politics still is, the women's movement especially, but," Adele shrugged. "I love my work."
"This may not be an appropriate question, but I'd like to know if there was a woman at that pot-luck that you haven't slept with?"
Adele cringed. "No."
Marjorie's eyes narrowed. "I thought not."
"We should have had this conversation earlier, I'm sorry. I should have told you. It's a close group; we've known one another a long time. It's not like we have orgies… Well, there was that one time, but it was a solstice ritual or goddess thing or something, I don't remember, one of Beth's friend's organized it and I'd passed out from incredulity (or maybe it was the margaritas) before the fun started, so I missed everything."
"What a disappointment for you," Marjorie snapped.
Adele didn't care for her tone. "I've said I'm sorry. I'm not perfect. I haven't claimed to be. If this is too much for you, I suppose I can understand, I'll have to, but I won't be pilloried for my past. I'm not ashamed of it, anxious that you might be, yes, but I'm not."
"What do you want me to say?"
"I don't know, how about, 'Gee, Adele, you've led a colorful life. My rhododendron bloomed yesterday. Let's go get some ice cream'?"
"As pleased as I was about my rhododendron, it's not on par with this. I thought I knew you… I thought…" Marjorie looked at the woman standing in front of her. It felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under her feet, and it was Adele who'd pulled it - again.
The adrenaline pumping through Adele's veins had her on the defensive, until she saw that look in Marjorie's eyes. "Sweetheart, what is it?"
Marjorie felt as though she'd been slapped. "Don't call me that. Not if you don't mean it."
"Mean what? What's the matter?"
Marjorie couldn't bring herself to address it she felt idiotic for having let herself get in this position.
"Darling, it's lonely out here," Adele said. "Please tell me what's going on in that head of yours."
"What do you think is going on? You've just told me that you're some kind of radical activist with a string of women as long as my arm trailing after you. What am I supposed to think? How many of them did you call 'sweetheart' and 'darling'? How many of their lives did you turn upside down?"
Adele's jaw dropped. No one could accuse her of being chaste, certainly, but a callous seductress? Only someone with Marjorie's complete lack of experience in relationships could believe such a thing. "You think I've been insincere with you? You think I've been playing some game? Marjorie, you need to take a breather and think about what you've just said, because aside from the fact that you've just learned that I'm not shy about sex, I've not told you anything that should lead you to believe that my relationships were anything but consensual encounters that didn't blossom into lasting relationships. Some weren't about that, others just didn't work out, but not for lack of trying."
It was the calm in Adele's voice that began to reach Marjorie in the depths of her panic attack.
"I wasn't much of an activist, and I'm no Mata Hari," Adele continued. "I don't go around telling women that I love them every day. You're one of four that I've ever said it to, if that makes you feel any better."
It didn't. And with an unusual flash of insight, Marjorie knew why not that she wanted to dwell on her shortcomings... She did feel reassured also something she didn't like to feel - but she did. Chastened, silly, and reassured. Where once she'd stood confidently on solid ground, alone, she now felt herself balanced on a precipitous edge, in relationship; self-reliance was easy, relying on someone else, this was dangerous.
She sat back down. "My head is spinning. I've known people who were deeply involved in protests both for and against the war, I know people who died in that war I taught some of them how to spell, how to add and subtract. I know people involved in the civil rights movement you're talking to a principal who's dealt with the maelstrom of bussing. Extraordinary circumstances affect ordinary people in all manner of ways - I can understand more than you might think about what people are capable of. The Stephenson's and the Grimley's down the block are swingers, and I still talk to them on occasion. The world has gone mad - but you seem so… so sensible!"
Adele chuckled, and shrugged. "At the end of the day, no one's going to argue that I'm not a better vet than I was an activist. I wish I'd found ways to spend my energy more effectively to aid the causes I believe in, but I did what I could and I'll always believe that that's more important than having done nothing at all. As for my love life, well, I like women but then you knew that."
Marjorie sighed, of course she knew that but she hadn't known it was possible to like so many. "I wish you'd told me before we went to that dinner. I knew they were old friends, important to you…" A room full of women, each one accomplished in her own right, all of whom Adele had been with at one time or another over the years… some rather attractive…
"What is it?" Adele wasn't sure what to make of the look that had just come over Marjorie's face.
"Let's go get some ice cream." Marjorie said.
"Ice cream?" Adele wasn't following.
"Yes," Marjorie stood. "You just said you'd like some, let's go. I'll drive."
"Not that I'm one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I didn't say I wanted ice cream what on earth just happened here?"
Marjorie brushed a bit of lint from the table top and sighed, "I just pictured myself walking into that room of women knowing, well, what I do, and I decided that not knowing was probably better. So let's go, the ice cream stand on Baker street is open until five, I think I'll try the butter pecan today."
"I think," Adele stood in front of Marjorie as she tried to pass. "We need to finish this conversation."
"We have. I decided that though I would have preferred to have learned about this some other way, I'm not upset to not have known it the other night… while I was in that room… surrounded by those women. If you had any idea how I felt about Nicole's staring at you." Marjorie shook her head. "That's not a feeling I know how to handle. And I wouldn't have had a clue how to handle it or any of the rest of it, had I known that she'd actually… they'd all… I would have been a wreck!"
"You're not competing with them Marjorie. And you have no reason whatsoever to be jealous, I swear. We've backed away from the incestuous group dynamic it got a little too intense, not to mention confusing and I suppose, unhealthy. Occasionally, someone in the group, like Nicole, slips she's been having trouble meeting someone new. Let's face it, there just aren't all that many women out there looking for a relationship with a forty year old divorcee with two kids, who just also happens to be female. It's not easy, we try to be supportive though these days, we do it at arm's length."
"She can't be the only one having trouble meeting someone," Marjorie noted.
"What makes you say that?"
"When we walked in, the first impression I had was, 'These women are hungry.'"
"It was a pot-luck, we were a little late," Adele said.
"You know what I mean. And if I noticed it, it had to be pretty obvious."
"Oh all right," Adele conceded. "It's a very small community of women. And sometimes, some of us get a little desperate. Especially when a woman as tempting as you walks into a room. It's almost cruel, really, who could blame them for staring?"
"Stop it. You're just trying to charm yourself out of trouble. Which must be how you've ended up with such a trail of women in your wake."
"Does it bother you that much?"
"No, I quite like your charm."
"Marjorie?" Adele persisted.
"Yes, it bothers me. How could it not? It's not like I've lived in a bubble all these years, I know what goes on, it's just… I'm not comfortable with such relaxed social norms and… I feel at a disadvantage experientially."
"Oh." Adele's eyebrows rose.
"And I hate the thought of you with anyone else. I know it's silly and selfish, but that's how I feel."
"You don't have to think of me with anyone else, I'm with you. I thought I'd made it plain how much I wanted that. Maybe I'll have to work harder to convince you. Heaven knows if you work any harder it'll do me in."
"You're charming me again," Marjorie observed.
"Is it working?" Adele asked.
"Yes," Marjorie admitted sheepishly.
"Good." Adele stepped close. Lifting a hand she brushed Marjorie's cheek with her fingertips. "I've missed your touch."
"It's not like we haven't touched at all." Marjorie backed up a step and bumped into the table. Did Adele plan these things, she wondered?
"I think about you all of the time." Adele followed. "Your touch excites me."
Marjorie's breathing quickened, an involuntary response to the tone in Adele's voice. Adele's hands brushed down her arms, leaving goose bumps in their wake. She slid them around Marjorie's back and drew her close again. Marjorie stammered, "N-now?"
Adele smiled, lowered her head and lightly grazed the skin of Marjorie's neck with her teeth. Marjorie reached out and put a hand on the table to steady herself, she was afraid her knees were going to buckle. "In the middle of the afternoon?"