~ Hearts and Flowers Border ~
by fingersmith
© March 2005


This is my first attempt at Uber fiction - so please be gentle with me. The characters do resemble a couple of ladies from a very well known TV show, BUT they are all mine ? eventually. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those fantastic writers out there who have filled my head with images, stories and fantastic plots for so long. I just hope you get a millionth of the joy I have received from them from reading my story.

Language: English! In the broadest sense! Be prepared for some good old-fashioned 'effing' and 'jeffing'. Put this down to me being a potty mouth, and, as I tell my students 'Not being bothered to think of something else'.

Violence: Some scenes are a little intense, but nothing bloody or gruesome - I'm too much of a pussy for that.

Sex: Yes please! This piece does involve very graphic scenes between two yummy ladies (and others), so if you are under the legal age to read such 'filth', or live in a place where this is illegal ? I'm sorry. Wait until you are a little older, or move, or both.

This story is set in the North of England ? that little island off the coast of France. If you find any spelling mistakes please put it down to one of three things. Firstly, I'm English. Secondly, I can't spell. Thirdly, I'm just too lazy.

Please let me know what you think about this story ? try not to be too harsh, as I am really sensitive and will probably cry for weeks.

Acknowledgements: I have quoted from various texts, especially poetry, throughout this piece. All music quoted has been used without the permission of the artist. This is not an attempt at plagiarism: just a tribute to their great words.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to the love of my life. Without you, I would still be clearing tables. Thank you. And also my little boys of the furry variety - The Border Terriers from Hell.

Part One

Present Day - 2004

Chapter One

Life, my life, had been turned upside down, inside out.

For a second time.

Yesterday, I was just me: marking, planning, teaching, and bawling at kids who jacked around in class. It was all I had. All I needed. But today ?

It had been an ordinary day, nothing special. I had even forgotten about my visitor until just before the tap on the door. But it was as if I knew, in that split second, deep down, that this was going to be different ? that this unexpected, forgotten visitor would hold something for me. You could say that I was apprehensive, prophetic and even a little bit manic ? but I knew ? about what God only knows.

I think the trigger was the way that time slowed down as the door opened. The groaning of the hinges announced the arrival of a hand ? a firm, grasping hand that choked the life out of the poor defenceless handle. The hand was connected to a toned, tanned arm. The arm, as arms tend to do, was attached to a broad shoulder which pinned itself to a body.

My eyes scanned the rest, noting the long legs and the slender hips. I snapped myself out of my trance and became captured by ice blue eyes.

Have you ever felt your stomach drop into your shoes only to shoot back up into your mouth? That's what it felt like. It felt like I had been transported back thirteen years to a time when those blue eyes began to be the centre of my world. Fear gripped me ? honestly. It gripped me right around the heart and squeezed the life out of it.

The room seemed to shrink - I seemed to expand. Not good.

That's all I remember.

In the blackness filling my head I could hear a concerned voice whispering my name, but it seemed too far away to be talking to me. The voice was familiar - too familiar. I wanted to shut it out, as I remembered what destruction it had caused. Slender, strong fingers gently patted the side of my face. I knew I had to open my eyes to see if it was all a dream.

Weakly, I forced my eyes to open, blinking away the startling light. Blurry images danced in front of me, as anxious blue eyes became my centre of attention - the centre of my world once again.

After thirteen long years ?

Out cold. Again. What a wuss.


Chapter Two

Thirteen years previously.

'Fuck off dyke!' I'd always had a way with words - hence becoming an English teacher. 'Clam smacking arse licker!'

I should warn you now. I tend to swear when I'm distressed, nervous, happy, sad, melancholic, watching telly - drunk, sober ? I could go on but I guess you get the picture.

I was sixteen years old and already had the voice of a sailor. My vitriolic display was aimed at Justine Russell - she got on my tits. She always sucked up to teachers, but was a complete bitch to everyone else. Finding out she had been caught with her pants down, literally, in the changing rooms with Ms 'Bulldyke' Wilkins had been a blessing. I vowed to put a 'SPECIAL' in the school magazine (Post It to self -don't forget the hearts and flowers border).

I hated school. School was filled with two classes of people: popular and unpopular. Guess which class I fitted into? I had the dress sense of a kebab, the social skills of an amoeba, and the patience of a dog busting for a piss. I was definitely not in the prominent social circles - the popular group. But then again, I felt I didn't deserve to be, and, more importantly, I didn't want to be.

My mouth had got me into too many scrapes and scraps. You see, I don't think things through before I speak my mind. Consequently, I had more black eyes and fat lips than Mike Tyson. This is the way of the Mancunian. Honestly. If I had been any other way my family would have disowned me. It's a pity they didn't.

I think I was repressed. Oppressed? Suppressed? Depressed? One of them - delete as applicable. You see, I wanted to be the one in the changing rooms with my ? (ad lib to fade).

Well. Not with Bulldyke. She was ? fuck ? a bloke! With tits and a mullet. No. I went more for the dark haired beauties - classic features: straight nose, long black hair, tanned skin, lithe body, tall ? In two words - Emma Jenkins. Now, she was a hottie ? and she didn't even know I existed.

It seemed as if she'd appeared at the end of Year 10. Where she had been until then God knows. Probably avoiding me.

You know when time slows down and everything moves in slow motion, like in the films? That's how it was when I first spotted her.

I was rushing to Maths - does that makes sense - does anyone really rush to Maths? I digress. Anyway, I was walking to Maths rather quickly (that sounds better) and she was coming toward me with the Bitches of Eastwick - laughing - head back laughing. Cue director. Begin to slow things down from here.

My legs seemed to belong to a puppet master. They lifted up slowly and then placed themselves on the ground, noiselessly. I took in the whole scene. Her head was back and she was laughing, but I couldn't hear anything. Her mouth was open, displaying beautiful straight teeth encased by lips that had been formed from red velvet. Perfect. Her head came slowly forward, her closed eyes began to bud open, leisurely. Fluttering black eyelashes blinked open, like she was taking in the world at that moment, to reveal blue eyes ? blue, blue eyes ?

I was transfixed. Rooted to the spot. My breathing was erratic ? my heart was pumping so hard it bruised the inside of my chest. Numbness engulfed me. My mouth was dry ? like cardboard, and I thought I was going to keel over.

Long, dark hair fanned behind her as she flicked her raven locks over her shoulder. It appeared to stop ? mid air (like in cheesy movies) and then fall behind her. A long sleek arm raised itself to finger stray locks into place. She had the poise and grace of a ballerina - strong, sure of herself. The complete opposite of me.

My eyes drifted down her frame, etching to memory every minute detail. Her skirt stopped a few inches from her knees. Tanned legs went on for miles and my eyes thoroughly enjoyed the ride, although my stomach decided it didn't like long journeys. Wuss.

Doc Martens! I shook my head to clear it. But ? Doc Martens! A complete revelation ? a complete contrast to what I was expecting. Did ballerinas wear Doc Martens? Well they do now. I looked back to her face and was captured by blue eyes. Her expression was hard to read, but she looked kind of startled.

Then they were gone. And summer arrived.

Six weeks of slob time. Perfect. And if hadn't been for spotting the 'Girl in the Docs' I would have loved every minute of it. The image of her in the corridor replayed in my mind like a BBC rerun. I guiltily embraced every shot of her, hands stroking her hair, the crooked smile, the parted, glistening lips ? Every time I thought of the 'incident' it got a little more interesting ?

The Bitches weren't there, obviously. Just her and me. The school was empty ?

No. I'm not going there. Not now. Not ever. I found that out the hard way.

Chapter Three

Summer had wheezed its way through July and August, plunging me back into school before I was ready for it. I'd finished all my coursework in the first week, leaving time to watch total khak on the telly for the remainder of the holidays.

I did enjoy outdoor activities like hanging around the park drinking cider and smoking rollups. The occasional drunken fumble with some unidentified person near the golf course (usually female - but I didn't leave out the lads - hey ? I was a teenager ? what do you expect?). Everyday activities for the slovenly girl. No. I had no morals.

Classes were the same. Teachers droned on about exams and expectations. All of them wanting you to do well so it would look good in the league tables. I spent most of my time staring blankly out of the window. And that's when I saw her again.

She was on the all weather pitch with a bunch of other girls. Short gym skirt reaching up to her panty line. Long legs, sleek, tanned and muscular. Yum. Her breasts were bobbing as she was explaining, and demonstrating, to some dip-shit how to throw a shot put. She looked so serious, so sexy, so ? hot.

'Miss Stewart!' My green eyes blinked, dismissing the image that had conjured up and turned to face the History teacher who had called my name.

'Yes Miss?' Be coy ?

'Is there something more interesting out there than learning about the Second World War?'

'God, no Miss. I thought I saw a prowler watching the girls on the pitch. I was concerned for their safety, Miss.' Good save. Miss came over and assessed the scene.

'I can't see anyone. Whereabouts?'

'Near the tall girl with black hair, Miss, just behind the bushes ?' I drifted off for effect.

'What? Near Emma Jenkins?'

That was her name. I held it in my arms, hugging it to my chest with the primness of a Jane Austen character. 'Oh Mr Darcy ? I shouldn't ? really ?'

I later found out she was the captain of the athletics team, and really popular. Shit.

Every time I saw her my stomach would put in a performance, dancing and spinning - how novel. She was perfect. Her eyes were the colour of summer. Her voice ? her voice was like angel's wings brushing tenderly against a harp. Mushy enough? Thought so.

I was truly a goner. She probably thought I had a stutter and a skin complaint as I used to putter 'Excuse mes' whilst imitating a bolisha beacon every time I saw her. And that was as often as I could muster. I was what you could call a semi-stalker. Where she was I seemed to be just casually walking past at the right time. I don't know why I did that - I didn't have the guts to talk to her, so why bother stalking her? And me, gob shite extraordinaire was lost for words for a change.

I became her shadow for the most part. Always hanging back, a face in the crowd, a nobody. She, on the other hand, was like a social butterfly. She flitted her wings, and landed, effortlessly, into any given situation. She was loved by all - especially by me. Wherever she went people smiled, joked, came to life. Emma had that effect on people; made them forget their troubles; made them feel special. The words to the old Police song came into mind, especially the line 'I'll be watching you ?'.

The first time she spoke to me I was totally unprepared for it.

Lining up in the dinner queue, waiting to get Listeria, or something just as appetising, I felt something, someone, behind me. I was just in mid rant at the dinner lady, the thin one with the moustache and an uncanny resemblance to Fred Astaire. There were always two kinds of dinner ladies: a fat short one who everyone loved and thought was a surrogate mum, and the thin evil one - the spawn of Satan - who you would avoid like school gravy.

'Call that a portion? You couldn't feed a gnat on that!' I was flowing. 'Don't be so tight ? put another scoop on!'

'Sorry luv ?' She didn't look sorry. Smug was the word. I was getting fired up now, skinny little ?

'Are you okay?' Cue angels' wings. 'Is there a problem?'

I turned around to greet blue eyes looking at me with concern. 'Yeah ? Sorry ?' I mumbled, embarrassed. 'Did my heart love till now? Foreswear it sight for I never saw true beauty till this night ?'

God. I was standing next to Emma Jenkins. She was talking to me. I was inches away from her and she had noticed me ? noticed me! I could smell her scent. Spicy, exotic, yet so familiar ...

'Hurry up Stewart.' Piss off! One of the Bitches had decided to speed us along. 'We only get fifty minutes for lunch.'

'Hey ? isn't that the stalker?' Chief Bitch chimed in. 'I thought you'd be following someone.'

'Why don't you just go fuck yourself? 'Cos with a face like yours ?' I didn't get to finish.

'Stewart! My office. One o'clock!' Shit. The Head.

I looked at Emma, humiliated, again. She looked at me with embarrassment, about what I don't know.

Grabbing my tray, I skulked off down the line, only to leave it at the end of the counter. How could I sit in the canteen knowing that she was in there after witnessing me make a total dick out of myself? I did the only thing possible - I left.

Nearly a month had gone by and I had avoided her like the plague. Yes, the plague. She was the plague. She plagued every thought I had awake or asleep; she plagued my conscience and my heart. Yes. She was a disease ? a disease I wouldn't mind dying from. What an agonisingly beautiful way to die.

How could I stalk her now? I felt like a fool, saying stuff like that in front of her. Everyone knew I had been internally excluded for 'using profanity' on school premises. I didn't care about that though ? she knew I had been stalking her ? I was well and truly mortified.

Trying to get in the Head's good books again, I signed up for mentoring duties. I was an excellent student (although I doubt you'll believe me), and was predicted to get all As or A*s. These duties were to help other students who were struggling with certain subjects 'attain a better understanding, thus a better grade' to quote the Head himself.

I was in charge of English Language and Literature. God, how I loved those subjects. I loved the creativity, the logic, the rationality, the uncertainty, the certainty, the ability to take an idea and go with it ? everything. I love the written word, you see. Grammar too - believe it or not - verbs, adverbs, abstract nouns, etc. Everything that made up language. I loved the way we begin to understand how we are influenced every second of every day: how writers affect us, sculpt us into what they want us to be. Yes, I know, I'm rambling? trying to put off the inevitable I suppose.

Mock exams were winging their merry way towards us, preventing us from having a life apart from studying. I was lucky. I didn't need to study as hard as the other kids. It came kind of natural to me. I'm not being arrogant ? I'm just fortunate I guess.

Anyway. School was in panic mode and everyone thought the end of the world was upon us. It was only the mocks but everyone thought this was the be all and end all, that our whole futures were linked to this set of tests. Mocks are there to show us how little we have actually learned in our time at school. That's the easy explanation for them.

Well. I had been assigned four students who needed extra coaching. One lad, Peter Levens, and three girls, Phoebe Dixon, Justine Russell (yes - Justine) and ? you guessed it ? Emma Jenkins. Obviously, I went straight to the Head of Year 11 and told him I couldn't take four students, as it was too much. Thankfully he agreed, and took Phoebe Dixon off the list. What could I do?

Grin and bare it.

I arranged for us all to meet in the library at lunch time the following Monday. Messages in the registers and all that. Then spent the weekend trying to catch a life threatening illness, get hit by a car, alcoholic poisoning. Anything. All I ended up doing was copping off with a girl up the golf course with a bad case of acne, the tongue of a serpent, and the sucking capabilities of a Dyson cleaner. My neck looked like it had had a close encounter with the Boston Strangler.

Monday arrived in all her glory and I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. Lessons dragged along, all the teachers sounding as tired as the students. Double Science kicked off my week with the most evil teacher in the school. Mr Mackenzie. Twat. He was rake thin and look like he lived in the prep room at the back of the Science Labs. You know - plugged himself in at night. To this day I can't stand science teachers: they make my skin crawl. Yes ? I know its unreasonable, and I also know they are not all like Mackenzie, but ? I'm rambling again.

He was malevolence personified and Monday was not his day ? nor mine for that matter.

It started wrong. I'd got up late and spent ages trying to cover the bite marks, opting for a polo neck jumper underneath my regulation school shirt. That was my downfall. Mackenzie liked uniform. He liked the fact that we lost our individuality everyday and became the automaton that he was.

Obviously I didn't agree.

'Is that school uniform, Stewart?'

I feigned innocence. 'What Sir? My tie?'

'No girl. That rolled up bandage around your neck. You know the policy on uniform. Nothing underneath your shirt.'

'Not even a bra, Sir?'

'Don't get smart with me girl. Go and remove the offending item, now.'

'But Sir ? my Nan said I must keep it on. It's on account of my condition.'

'Which is?'

'I'd rather not say in front of everyone else Sir.' Smart move. He'll think its women's troubles and leave it be.

'Well let's talk about it in the back then.' Maybe not.

After a lot of pleading and lying I ended up in the girl's toilets removing the 'offending' item of clothing even though I'd told him about my consumptive tendencies. I do have rather an overactive imagination. You should have seen his face when I got back to class.

'What is that around your neck Stewart?'

'What? My tie, Sir?' I knew I was pissing him off, but what the heck?

'No, stupid girl, the bruising.'

'Got my head stuck in a door, Sir.' The class erupted into cheers and wolf whistles. Me, being me, decided that a curtsey was in order - well I was the star of the show. That did it. Two detentions - after school - and a letter home. Fuck.

Geography was just as bad. You would think that they had never seen a love bite before. I was going to kill that bint who did this to me. She won't even be able to suck the froth off her coffee when I'm done with her.

One o'clock saw me sitting in the library with a stack of books, and the distinct smell of foundation in the air. Every time the door opened, my heart shot into my mouth (probably to have a look). Peter Levens was the first to turn up. Sweaty, and smelling of stagnant water. He had tried to cover this up with a liberal spraying of Lynx (or the some other prepubescent deodoriser that promised gorgeous women falling at your feet). Not a good combination. He had an aura faintly resembling stale cat's piss.

Then came the clam-smacking-arse-licker - Justine Russell - in all her glory. She wasn't bad looking. Granted. It was ? oh, I don't know, her fake-ness I think. 'Hi,' she purred.

Purred? What was all that about?

'You're sooooooooo sweet doing this.' She placed her hand on my shoulder and rubbed in a slow circular motion. She mustn't have know it was me who put the article in the school magazine. Lovely border.

I looked over her shoulder, expectantly, at the door of the library. No one else was behind her. My stomach was in knots, deciding it wanted to be a contortionist when it grew up.

'There should be someone else ? shall we wait?' Was that panic in my voice? No. Concern I think. Liar.

'We haven't got much time. Lunch is over soon and mocks are just around the corner.' Justine said in a little girl kind of way. Not innocently, but like you would expect prostitutes to talk to kinky clients. I shuddered involuntarily and agreed.

She didn't show up. Our first date ? I mean meeting ? and she didn't show up. Shit. Wasn't I even good enough to help her with her work? Was it the fact that I used to stalk her that had put her off? No ... don't think about it now.

Surprisingly, we all worked hard and achieved quite a lot in thirty minutes. At the end of the session, Peter just grabbed his stuff, shoved it in his bag and left with a 'Thanks' tossed over his shoulder.

Justine, however, was another matter.

'Are you free later?' Her hand was on my forearm stopping me packing my things away. 'It would be nice if we could, you know, get together apart from studying.' She gave me a half smile (more like a leer) and winked saucily. She reminded me of Moll Flanders, you know, Defoe's slutty heroine.

'No can do Justine. I'm so busy at the moment. I ?' I was beginning to get flustered, and she went for the jugular.

'But I thought you were like me, into girls, you know.' Fuck. I nearly choked. Yes I had the odd fumble but nothing ? nothing ?(audible gulp) ? nothing like that.

My green eyes looked into her brown ones - squarely. 'Well you thought wrong didn't you.' My expression was cold, steely. I saw her shrink back. She probably thought I was going to smack her. 'And even if I was into sex with girls, do you honestly believe I'd screw one of Bulldyke's conquests?'

Fuck. Talk about a change in a person. One minute she was on the verge of licking me out, the next, knocking me out. Her hand came out so fast I didn't have time to block it. Smack. Right in the eye. She about turned and stomped out of the library looking like she was the victim. Jesus. I'll never understand women.


Later that evening saw me sprawled on my back in my bedroom, gazing at the ceiling, which was covered in little lights making up the constellations. I was in pain ? spiritual ? emotional ? and physical pain thanks to fucking Justine Russell. Emma had rejected me. Before even knowing me ? she had rejected me.

A sob worked its way up from my gut to cling unceremoniously in my throat. I covered my eyes with the backs of my forearms trying to stave off the world and how I had been thrown aside ? unwanted yet again.

The sob broke free, leaving my mouth in a rush, forcing it to break apart in a staccato rhythm reserved for grief. I was grieving. Grieving for the chance to be someone else, to show someone else who I could be - someone different ? who wanted to be different.

The backs of my arms were beginning to get wet. Salty tears smeared themselves along the flesh like acid, burning, intensifying the anguish and despair that was running full pelt through every pore. Every inch of me felt it. Every hair, fibre and molecule that made up this degenerate ? this waste of space that was me.

Turning awkwardly onto my side I let the tears flow, accompanying them with a low key keening ? a breaking deep within.

Eventually, I fell into a fitful sleep.


Chapter Four

Tuesday greeted me in her pleasant way: sunshine bursting through the window in a radiant shower. I felt like shit. Eyes ached, as did my chest, from the previous night's exertions, and I wanted to curl up and die.

Eventually, I got my sorry carcass out of bed, got dressed, and headed downstairs.

'Morning,' Mum's voice greeted me from the front room where she was attempting the Cindy Crawford workout. Doesn't really have the same effect seeing a woman in her late forties, a beer belly and a half smoked fag hanging out of her mouth. Was she trying to kill herself? Not quickly enough, by all accounts, as she was still here.

Standing straight, wheezing (followed by hacking cough), she turned to face me. 'What's the matter with your face? You been gobbing off again?' Loads of sympathy there - thanks Mum. 'You'd better put a spark to it ? you'll be late for school.' A cough gripped her and she doubled over hacking up her lungs.

In between bursts of smoke induced coughing, she spluttered, 'Don't ? think ? you're staying off ? nursing a hangover ? 'cos you're not.' I could hear the phlegm rattling around her chest. She staggered forward to put out her cigarette, only to reach for her packet and light a fresh one. One more cough and a swallow and she was a good as new. She turned to face me, wrinkles standing out around her mouth, the telltale sign of an experienced smoker. 'Did you hear me lady? You're not staying off nursing a hangover.'

'No. Only Dad does that.' I shot back, totally pissed off now.

'We're not going into that again are we? He's having a few problems ? you know that.'

'So are we all but I don't take it out on the rest of you. One of these days I'll hit the fucker back.' I turned my back on her, snatched my school bag and did a prima donna out of the front door. Let her take Harry, my little brother, to school. It was about time she started acting like his mother. And I wasn't going to hang about waiting for her to make any more excuses for her husband, my father.

I nearly escaped too. If it hadn't been for that perverted postman trying to cop a feel, I'd have been clear away.

'You'd better watch that attitude lady!' came her gravelly voice bawling behind me. 'You should show us some respect.'

'Kiss my arse!' I shouted back. Turning to the postman I gave him one of my best smiles. I had him. 'And you can go and fuck yourself you paedophile. Touch me again and your tonsils will have the company of your nuts. Capiche?' Too many Robert De Nero films I think.

Then I was gone, like a bat out of hell, scurrying up the road. Sniggering. I felt better, believe it or not.


Chapter Five

The week flew by with no sight of Emma Jenkins. I met the other two in the library the following Monday. Peter was, well, Peter (cat pee Pete). He got on with things then went on his merry little way. Justine was another matter.

At first she was ? um ? a twat. She constantly questioned what I was doing, knocking my confidence in the only thing that I loved (you know what I mean). Then ? a complete turn around.

Peter had gone, and she was slowly packing her things away.

'Sorry about last week,' she mumbled. She did look sorry too, which was a surprise. 'I didn't mean to ?you know, and ? to hit you.' Yeah, hit - hit on - subtle difference there. 'I'd like to make it up to you. How about a coffee after school?'

I was on the verge of letting her down ? gently this time for obvious reasons. Then ? fuck it ? what could go wrong? It was only a coffee, right?


We met outside Café Rouge at six thirty. Yes, I know we said after school, but Justine said it would be better if we met later for some reason or another. I didn't care either way. I just wanted to get away from the arguments at home. Things were starting to get pretty ugly.

So. There we were, having a half decent conversation, drinking lattes escorted by little caramel biscuits, and putting the world to rights. I eventually let down my defences enough to agree to go for a stroll up by the canal. Big ? did I say big? ? yes - big mistake (I think you get the message).

It was secluded up near the canal. A number of reasons brought that to pass. Firstly, the canal path is where the winos, druggies and homeless people go to escape the coppers. Secondly, it was a little off the beaten path and you feared for your safety. Finally, and this is the biggy, the thing I forgot when I agreed to go there with her, this is where people went to get it on (or off). Swingers and doggers were regulars up here, but it really appealed to gays - especially those who were that far in the closet they couldn't see past last year's clothes.

We were still chatting amiably about school, Justine leading me into a false sense of security by asking about Ted Hughes, and I didn't see it coming. I swear.

Half way under the bridge she stopped, turned and looked me squarely in the eyes.

'Do you know how much I like you?' Her hand came out as she spoke. I didn't move away thus giving her a little more courage. She stepped closer and her fingers touched my cheek. The touch changed into a gentle caress. I swallowed. Hard. 'I've liked you for such a long time ?' Her face was coming closer to mine. She was taller than me. But then again, most people were taller than me ? and I'm going off the point.

'You don't have to do anything ? I'll just please you ?I've wanted you for so, so long ?' Her voice was gentle, massaging my broken ego, embracing my longing for connection with someone. She leaned closer. Her breath was uneven, ragged. I could hear it catching at the back of her throat as her fingers trailed down my face, across my jaw and then slowly down my neck.

My stomach decided to join in the fun and began to perform a little jig. A tiny flame lit in my pants, a tiny flame of expectation.

'Justine I ?'

'Shush, baby.' She was smooth - I'll give her that.

Her hand went lower until it was cupping my breast. A sigh escaped me from deep within and she took this as a green light and leaned in for the kill.

The kiss was soft against my mouth. Gently she circled my lips with the tip of her tongue, an unspoken question hanging between us. The opening of my mouth gave her the answer she wanted, and it slipped inside like a traveller looking for a place to rest. I sucked at it, delicately, enjoying the texture.

She increased the pressure of her tongue, long languid strokes that stoked the fire building in my gut. Her hand was rubbing my breast, tenderly at first, but with a building pressure that incensed my nipple making it spring to life under her touch. Wetness was building between my legs, my hips undulating against her thigh trying, to ease the ache.

Her mouth moved to my ear, and she flicked her tongue over the edge, a soft breath seeping in to torture my already burning need. My eyes fluttered closed. I inhaled deeply and absorbed the moment.

She moved down to my throat, licking, sucking, claiming me as hers, her body pressing into mine pushing me gently against the wall. Her body weight pinned me there, not that I was complaining, I had too many things going on to think about anything but her tongue, her mouth, her exploring hands that were playing with the hem of my top.

Pushing the material back, her cool hand ventured towards its goal, teasing the nipples back to life. My hips were grinding themselves into her; I was beginning to pant.

A soft moan escaped her lips and I captured its escape with my mouth, moaning in response as she pinched and rolled each nipple in turn. Fuck ? I was going to come at this rate. I wanted her inside me, pumping her fingers deep, deep inside ? oh god, I needed release, I needed to taste her, to take her, to fuck her so bad.

I released my hold of her soft brown hair and grasped her breast. Playtime was over: the big girls are out. I ground the palm of my hand against her, sucking the place where her neck met her jaw. She was humping me, grunting and murmuring sweet nothings in my over-sensitive ears. 'Ohh baby ? fuck me ?make ? me ? come ? please ? oh god ? angel ? fuck me, fuck me.'

What was a girl supposed to do? She offered it to me on a plate.

I roughly turned her round, never losing connection with her throat, and slammed her against the wall. My hands were manic, everywhere at once. I hoisted her skirt up to her waist and shoved my hand between her parted thighs. God. She was dripping. Her panties were soaked through: I had done that. I smiled smugly to myself. She leaned heavily against the wall, her legs becoming weaker by the second. I began my exploration.

My hand slid around the edges of her panties eliciting a guttural moan from her. 'What do you want me to do, eh? Fingers or tongue?' I licked her ear for effect, pretending to know what I was supposed to do.

'Fingers ? god yes ? fingers.'

I slithered my fingers into her pants, past soft pubic hair, and delved into a scorching pot of want. So wet. My fingers pushed past the lips and hovered near her opening, teasing. I pulled back to concentrate on her clit, the small hard nub was screaming for attention. She went rigid, then began to crush herself onto my upturned hand, groaning, moaning, whimpering, climbing up to the place where the world disappears into flashing, blinking lights. A world where nothing else matters. A world where you love and are loved in return. A world where it didn't matter if you were different.

I opened my eyes at this point and stared at her pleasure filled face. She was on the verge of coming hard. Her moans were disjointed, breaking apart, waiting for the big one. I stared; my hips had stopped, shortly followed by my hand. She cleaved to me, trying to get the rhythm flowing again. No. Not this time.

'Don't stop baby, I'm nearly there ?' Nothing. I had to see her eyes. Had to know.

As expected her eyelids pulled back slowly to reveal uncertain brown ones. Not blue ? brown.

'I'm sorry ? I can't ?' She looked confused.

'Come on ? don't worry,' she cooed, and grabbed my arse, pulled it towards her and began to pound herself into me. 'I don't have to ? let me taste you ? just one taste...' she murmured.

She began to lower herself, grabbing for my zip at the same time. I stepped back.

'Sorry ? Justine ? look, you're really nice and all but I can't. I just can't, okay?'

Confused eyes changed to slits of anger. 'What the fuck! What's your game? You were well into this too, and you know it. What's the problem? Is it me?' She trailed off. Hurt.

'No ? no it's me ?I ?' I didn't the get chance to finish. Wham. Smack straight in the eye. Again.

Then she was gone.


The next morning saw me toying with the idea of skiving off school. The last thing I needed was a confrontation with Justine Russell; I couldn't deal with her anger at the moment. I felt too fragile, and my face hurt like crazy.

I could hear them downstairs, a growing rumble highlighting that the storm was on its way. That decided it - school it was.

I stumbled out of my bedroom; half dressed. I saw my little brother, Harry, cowering in the corner of the landing.

'What's up squirt?' I knelt next to him and tried to smooth his ruffled hair, to no avail. 'What are you doing there?'

'Hiding.' An almost whisper. He began to shake, holding back the sobs that were rattling around his chest aching to break free to ease the pain. Like me, he had learned the hard way - that's not how you got them to notice you. Only the social services did that, and that didn't last either. The only notice they took of you was at the end of their fists.

'Come on pipsqueak. Let's get you ready for school.'

I don't know what little boys do in the bathroom, but I do know what they don't do. Wash. He was my brother and I loved him dearly, but the distinct smell of wee that followed him around like a puppy was sometimes overbearing. 'Back in. And this time WASH - with soap,' I chided.

Five minutes passed and out he trotted with an almost angelic glow about him, the smell of soap and toothpaste guarding him with its shield of cleanliness ? well ? as much cleanliness as Harry could cope with.

He finished getting dressed, while I rummaged through Mum's purse for dinner money for the both of us.

As we were leaving the house I heard the smack. He was hitting her again, and although I didn't see eye to eye with her on just about anything, that's one thing I didn't agree with.

A short stop at the phone box, an impression of a concerned neighbour and we were on our way again. That should sort him out for a while. They'll hold him until he sobers up enough to be let out. Bastard.

I left Harry at the school gates with a hug and a quick ruffle of his hair, and he was gone. He bounded up to his mates, the morning events almost erased from his mind. Almost.

I arrived at school twenty minutes late. Shit. I'd missed the beginning of Geography. No, I'm not a Geography lover, but we were sorting out places for the field trip the following Monday. It was a two-day sleepover at Whitby. Classy. ? not. But at least I could get away for a while. We had to be in class because we were being assigned our sleeping quarters and if we had any 'issues' with whom we were bunking with we had to sort it out now rather than later.

Oh well. As long as I don't bunk with Justine I'd be okay.

'Nice of you to show up Stewart.' Some teachers really had a chip on their shoulder. They should get laid more often. It might dislodge the stick that was rammed firmly up their ?

'Are you with us? Hello?' I'd blanked out a little at this point. Probably because I could see Justine Russell glaring at me from the back of the room. Cue scene, again:

I slithered my fingers into her pants, past soft pubic hair, and delved into a scorching pot of want. So wet. My fingers pushed past the lips and hovered near her opening, teasing. I pulled back to concentrate on her clit, the small hard nub that was screaming for attention.

I swallowed audibly, feeling a tingle in my pants. Don't go there, I chided myself. You couldn't even pull it off the first time.

'Are you going to stand there all day Stewart? Or are you going to sit down so we can carry on with the lesson?'

I stumbled to my seat, blushing furiously. The teacher seemed smug thinking she had embarrassed me. If she only knew ?

'As I was saying ?' a glare in my direction. Fuck off. 'If you want to find out more about the accommodation come and see me at break time. And for the people who couldn't be bothered to turn up on time?' Another glare. I looked out of the window. 'Check the notice boards at lunch. And please, please don't come to me with stupid reasons why you can't bunk with someone, or else you'll find yourself bunking with me and Ms Wilkins.' Fuck that.

I turned, and shot Justine a knowing look, then winked. She stuck two fingers up at me whilst mouthing 'Fuck you.' Charming words from such a delicate flower. I giggled to myself. I felt a little better now.

Lunchtime had me feeling completely different. I'd had my lunch (the Kamikaze Special), then went behind the gym for a quick fag with the rest of the miscreants, only to have my day shoved down the toilet again. Yes, you guessed it - the Geography field trip.

I stood in front of the notice board to check out the names and even laughed when I saw Justine's name next to Debbie Mitchell's. Even I knew they absolutely hated each other. Thank you God.

Still chuckling I hunted out my name. I blinked. Blinked again. Rubbed my eyes ? shook my head to clear it ? but it stayed the same. I was bunking with Emma Jenkins. No ? it must be a mistake ? she's not in my class, she can't be ? I can't share with her ? she thinks I'm a stalker ? she hates me (thoughts of laughing at Justine's and Debbie's situation flashed through my mind at this point. That's different. But why?) ? I can't sleep in the same room ? get undressed ? her get undressed. That stopped me. Emma Jenkins, naked, in a room with me. But she hates me. She didn't show up for mentoring, so I doubt she'll strip off and flash those fabulous ? assets.

'What's the matter Stewart? Deciding who else to fuck about?' Justine. Obviously.

'Just leave it out, Justine.' I began to turn, dismissing her with my back. She grabbed my arm pulling me round to face her. 'Get your hands off me,' I hissed.

'You didn't say that last night, did you? I thought you were quite partial to me grabbing your tits? you were moaning enough then. What changed?'

'I didn't like the view,' I spat.

'Really?' Her tone became almost playful, in a spiteful kind of way. A crowd was gathering by this point, but I didn't give a shit. 'Was that before or after you shoved your hand between my legs?' She smiled. She knew I was dying here. 'Didn't you like finger fucking me, eh?'

My face was burning. The anger I held inside was bursting. So ? I let it go.

'Actually, no. It was like shagging a dead pig.' I lied, I know. 'You should practice kissing the back of your hand more, Russell; you might pick up a few tips. And for fuck sake ? trim your quim.' A chuckle went around the crowd. Her face paled at this point only to flood again with blood as the anger returned with a vengeance.

I turned to go before she kicked off again and slammed straight into Emma Jenkins, who staggered backwards, taking me with her. We fell into a heap on the floor, me on top, my hands on her tits, my face inches away from hers. Blue eyes looked into mine ? click ? a connection ?a connection that felt so real, so familiar, like we had looked into each other's eyes thousands of times before.

It seemed like an age before I realised where my hands were. I tore my eyes from hers, swallowed and began to struggle to my feet. I felt exposed, cornered in some strange way, and didn't know how to react.

She held her hand out to me to help her up. Cool, elegant fingers wrapped themselves around my clammy hand, and I eased her to her feet. I must have brought her up a little more forcefully than I realised, as she tipped forward and landed in my arms. Bliss. It felt like I moulded into her, her scent inducing my senses to wake up and smell paradise.

'Are you alright?' A soft gentle voice caressed my ear and laid itself to rest in my soul.

I looked up, quite a way up for that matter. Six foot of pure sex appeal encased me in strong arms, staving off the world, and Justine Russell. Nothing existed around me apart from her body and those eyes. I had come home.

'Yes ? I ?'

'Stewart ? Russell. My office, now!' Shit.

A faltering smile graced my lips, and I became rapidly aware that I was still in her arms.

'Sorry.' She let me go, a shy crooked smile hovering over her perfect face.

'Don't touch her Jenkins. She's a clit tease.' Fucking Russell. So, I did the only thing I could do in that situation. I smacked Justine right between the eyes.

It felt great.


Chapter Six

Three days suspension with immediate effect. I'd expected worse, but after I'd explained, in detail, to the very homophobic 'but trying to understand' Head, about how we had nearly had unprotected sex the previous night, but I'd stopped because I'd realised it was wrong. I'd even put in the details about how wet she was, that she wanted me to 'fuck her' and then lick me out. He softened a little, then became flustered and was easy on both of us.

I was even allowed to go on the Geography field trip ? and so was Justine (unfortunately - but hey - you can't have everything), but we had to stay away from each other. As if I'd be going anywhere near that psycho.

It wasn't too bad being home for three days. The police had carted Dad off to the police station, kept him in overnight, and then released him. God knows when he'll be back. Usually at least a week. Mum, on the other hand, had liberally applied a ton of makeup and swanned off to bingo. We didn't expect her back anytime soon.

Three days filled with fun and games - just me and Harry. I kept him off school for company. Not good I know, but it was an opportunity to lavish him with as much love and attention he could handle.

His eyes began to sparkle once again. Fear was replaced by peace. It was the happiest I think either of us had been for such a long time. That is until the 'bastard' came home.

We'd been asleep for a couple of hours, curled up on the settee, hugging each other, totally content and relaxed. The telly was on low and the gas fire lit the room - really homely.

The front door opened with such a force it cracked the plaster behind it. 'What the fuck!' I shot up, pulling Harry protectively behind me.

'Where's that bitch?' Pissed. How unusual.

'We don't know.' I was scared. He didn't look with it. His eyes were vacant ? cold.

Slap. My face stung. He grabbed for the front of my pyjamas and I heard the rip and felt his nails dig into my flesh. 'Run Harry!' I shoved him away and aimed a kick at the bastard's crotch.

He caught it swiftly and shoved me back onto the couch. 'Fiery little fucker aren't you? I like that in a woman.' He leered at my exposed breasts and licked his lips. 'It's about time I showed you what your old man can do ? I think you'll like it.'

His drunken breath was turning my stomach, but not as much as the impotent thrusting of his flaccid dick. 'You need to be taught a lesson, bitch, and I can make it last all night.' He began to push my pyjama bottoms down, scratching the inside of my thighs in the process. A long thick tongue slapped itself on the side of my face and trailed down towards my mouth. I couldn't move. Fear gripped me and pinned me down as surely as he had.

He leaned back, one hand around my throat, the other clumsily undoing his pants. His eyes were on me, his tongue, full of spit, licked his chapped lips. 'You're gonna love this.' A short laugh shot out of his mouth, and he smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes.

Thud. I saw the glint of the ashtray as the light from the gas fire caught it. He fell, unmoving, on top of me, a slow trickle of blood coming down his temple. Harry stood behind him holding the large glass ashtray high in the air, waiting to strike again.

'It's all right sweetheart ? it's okay ? he can't hurt us now,' I soothed. Harry stood like a statue, frozen in time, posing in an almost comical way.

I gripped the bastard's shoulders and shoved him off me. He was a dead weight, granted, but I had the momentum now. No way was either of us going to be here when he came round.

'Come on squirt, let's get out of here.' We hastily went upstairs. 'Get ready, love.'

'Do I have to wash again?' I choked out a laugh that was shortly accompanied by slow torturous tears crawling down my face.

'Don't worry about that babe. Just get some warm clothes on, okay?'

In less than five minutes we were free, winging our way to Sarah's, Mum's sister, who lived a good walk away.

Mum and Sarah did not see eye to eye and we didn't see her much. It was probably because she lived with her partner Elaine and had a much better life than she did. Therefore, we were banned from ever going there. Especially since the show down in the high street two years before, where Mum had called Sarah a 'Fucking dyke' (now you know where I get my manners from).

Sarah hadn't flinched. She stared Mum squarely in the eyes, hatred oozing out, and spat 'Well at least I didn't plump for second best.' With that she turned, and blended in the gathering crowd, never to be seen again. Until tonight that is.

Now, we had nowhere else to go. And I quite liked Aunty Sarah - she was very much on my wavelength, and knew what a pair of bastards my parents were.

Shocked green eyes greeted us as Sarah opened the door. I think seeing two visibly upset relatives, with a mish-mash of clothing on nearly gave her a turn. She called the police as soon as we told her of the night's events, and we waited for them to visit us.

Two hours, three hot chocolates and a plate of biscuits later, the police had been given all the information they needed. They picked him up half way down the road bawling at the top of his voice for me to go back and 'get some'. Someone who specialised in rape cases counselled me. I stressed that I hadn't been raped, just assaulted ? but that was bad enough.

They left with the reassurances that we wouldn't be seeing that 'bastard' (their words) again for a long time.


Mum had been found with the help of Aunty Sarah. She knew that Mum would be at 'her fancy man's' in Stalybridge. She was shagging him when the police turned up, trussed up like a schoolgirl too. Fucking slut. Not surprisingly, she didn't seem to give a fuck about Harry, or me and said we should be safe at Sarah's. She'd changed her bloody tune - she hated Sarah - but when it was convenient ?

The police told Sarah (with Harry and me ear wiggling), that reports had been filed on both our parents with the courts and the social services. About bloody time. Only time would tell ... it being the great healer and all (I thought I'd go for more than one cliché).

Watching Sarah and Elaine with Harry made my heart ache. He sat, curled on Elaine's knee with his thumb pressed into his mouth. The fear had eased a little on his features, but it was still there behind his eyes. Elaine stroked his hair, painting him with soothing words, gently rocking him in a maternal rhythm. His eyes were drooping and sleep came for him like a welcome friend.

She still held him, stroking him, keeping him safe in her arms. Something his mother should have done.

'You both can stay here as long as you want you know. There's plenty of room ? it would be a chance for us to ? you know ? get to know each other.' Elaine spoke softly, her eyes alternating from me to Sarah, who nodded approvingly.

I feebly nodded, suddenly tired from all the exploits of the evening. I felt secure here: home at last.

After a hot shower and attending to my cuts and bruises, I snuggled underneath a thick duvet that smelled of springtime. I was exhausted: physically, spiritually and emotionally spent.

The constellations were gone. Funny, but I missed them twinkling and comforting me from afar. I missed the great bear and the plough that I used to trace with my finger with half closed eyes. Well. I could always get another one to lie underneath.

With that, I closed my swollen eyes and drifted into sleep.

Sarah and Elaine were perfect. Their constant attention over me and Harry made us feel like I had died and gone to heaven. We had gone back home on the Saturday to collect all our things, and I mean all. They decided that living with them could be a permanent thing if we wanted. All it needed was a court order and the permission of one of our parents.

I froze when I heard that. No way would either of them give up their meal tickets. Elaine didn't see a problem. She was a solicitor, a partner to be exact. Both her and Sarah were financially secure and more than prepared to take on a ready made family.

Harry was slowly coming out of his shell like a hermit crab facing the sunlight of their love and attention. It was a joy to watch. His little arms held aloft every time one of them passed, hoping for a hug, which was never denied. The ugly duckling turning into a swan. He no longer smelled of wee. He took special care of his hair, which he combed lovingly with only the tiniest amount of spit, and smiled easily, displaying a gap where his front tooth should be.

I still heard him crying out for his mum in the night, the nightmares were still coming thick and fast. But when I saw Sarah and Elaine in his room holding him and calming him down, I knew he - we - could get through this.

Fingers crossed.


Chapter Seven

Monday came quickly. I had forgotten about the trip, even forgotten about Emma Jenkins for a few minutes. I lugged my over-full holdall, through the school gates and skulked about the coach park waiting for the arrival of the others.

I could see Justine in the corner talking to a bunch of girls, whilst shooting sly glances in my direction. Like the drama queen I am, I kissed the back of my hand, and mouthed 'kiss my arse'. Such a lady.

Ms Davies strolled up, chatting intensely with Ms Wilkins. It became quite heated at one point, with Ms Davies grabbing the gym teacher's arm and stopping her in her tracks. More heated words, sly glances, a cupped cheek ? what the ?? A cupped cheek? It was so quick I think only Justine and me spotted it. We looked at each other in amazement, shrugging our shoulders, then shaking our heads. What business was it of ours ? maybe the teachers were taking my advice at last ? get laid and get rid of that stick up their ?

'Help me with this, Stewart.' I turned to greet the frosty expression of the Geography teacher humping ? no not the PE teacher ? her holdall and two rucksacks that looked to be full of worksheets.

'Can I help?' Cue angel's wings.

I turned. Slowly. My senses were in overdrive. My heart was thudding in my chest and my clothes seemed restrictive to the point of unbearable.

'Hi,' I squeaked out, alarming myself at the pitch.

'Do you need a hand?' Her eyes met mine. Click. There it was again.

'No ? yes ? whatever ?' God, I felt like a jerk. She smiled sympathetically at me and grabbed for the holdall at the same time that I did. Our hands grabbed each other's, and electricity sparked all the way up my arm, down my chest, to settle somewhere in my lower region. Jesus. I could get electrocuted - you should never mix electricity with water.

She seemed stunned. I hadn't electrocuted her, had I? Our hands flew apart and the holdall fell to the ground with a thump.

'Watch what you're doing girls!' Ms Davies shouted. I laughed - you know, the nervous ones that always get you into trouble, and that broke the tension. Although Ms Davies didn't see the funny side to it.

Coach loaded, names taken, and everyone on the bus - and we were off. It was going to take at least four hours to get there, so I opted for a double seat of my own and a good book. I put my headphones on and listened to the radio. Sinead o' Connor. What a load of sh? I stopped:

It's been so lonely without u here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby where did I go wrong
I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they'd only remind me of you

Why did that affect me? I turned in my seat to look at Emma Jenkins who was sat two rows behind chatting with a group of girls. Why do you affect me so much? I don't even know you. But you make me feel lonely ? it seems like ? years have gone by and I have eventually found you again. How stupid. I shook my head and began to turn back to the front, not noticing very interested brown eyes watching my every move.

The guesthouse we were staying in was quite nice. Not brilliant, or lush ? but nice ? homely in a seventies kind of way.

'Get into your pairs!' shouted Bulldyke Wilkins. I felt a hand on my arm.

'I think I'm with you.' Such blue eyes. I wish you were with me.

I swallowed, trying to get some moisture into my mouth. 'Are you Emma Jenkins?' Smooth operator.

She nodded and stuck out her hand. 'It's a pleasure to meet you, Laura.' She gripped my hand and pumped it up and down in a comical way. We both laughed, a genuine laugh this time. Almost relaxed.

'Oi! You two!' Bulldyke again. 'You've got the attic room next to Ms Davies and me. Serves you right for not paying attention.'

I found out what she meant by that soon enough.

The attic was eight flights of stairs away. The last two sets were designed for hump backed dwarfs with extremely small feet - did I mention nerves of steel too? By the time we had got to our room we were knackered and collapsed on candlewick-covered beds.

'I feel like I've stepped back in time,' Emma panted. So did I, but for completely different reasons. This was becoming creepy, but in a good way.

'Yeah? very quaint,' I answered.

'Beds are comfy though. How's yours?' Blue eyes caught mine, and I smiled at her. I couldn't help it. I was in a room with Emma Jenkins and as well as being really hot, and drop dead gorgeous, she had a great personality too,. And she hadn't mentioned the 'stalking incident'.

'I've been meaning to grab you for ages now ?' That had my full attention. 'You've been running the mentoring club right? For English?'

Here it comes. This is when she goes off at me.

'I'm so sorry I didn't turn up ?' Wait a minute. Sorry? 'I didn't get your message until I got back to school. I was on holiday with my parents. They're separated but were trying again for my benefit. Waste of time that was.'

'God. Don't worry about that ? I didn't notice you weren't there.' Liar. She, on the other hand looked a little upset. 'Well ? I did notice ?' Did she brighten up then? 'But ? well ? it doesn't matter ? if you're free ?'

'I'd love to,' she interrupted me, leaning over and patting my arm. 'Come on. We have to meet the others.'

This was becoming a good day.


The first two days were hectic. Death by worksheet, believe me. I'd only spoken to Justine once, and that was under duress. She had collared me as I was making my way to bed on the first night.

'If you want a little company later ?' Did that girl have no self-respect? 'You are more than welcome to come to my room. Debbie is shacking up with Jason after lights out, and ?' she trailed her finger down my arm. I shuddered and glared at her, trying to ignore the interested looks we were getting from Emma. 'For any reason ? you're more than welcome.'

I brushed her off. Obviously. That girl was a psycho - after all that had happened ?she still wanted to shag me.

The last night was a real laugh. We were leaving after lunch the next day and the teachers allowed us to have wine with our meals. A little too much for some. We ended up singing and pratting about until Ms Davies decided that we needed our sleep, all the while looking at Ms Wilkins.

Both Emma and I went to bed at the same time. Reaching our door I was surprised to see it open. I pushed tentatively and peeked inside. No one. Must have left it unlocked - or the chambermaid could have done it.

Emma used the bathroom first whilst I was sorting out my bag for the next day. My hand felt wet. 'What the ?' I pulled the covers back to reveal a big wet patch on the mattress.

'You could have gone first if you wanted,' chuckled Emma. Where did she come from?

'I don't understand ?' Oh yes I did. Fucking Russell had done this - payback, or she wanted me in her room. I told Emma this.

'Tell the teachers.'

'That's what she wants me to do. She knows I know it's her, but if I blame her ? shit ? the Head'll have my balls.' Emma looked surprised at this. 'Don't worry, I'll kip on the floor.'

'You'll do no such thing. You can bunk with me.'

She wouldn't take no for an answer so I had to agree. Honestly, there was no other option .

I spent ages in the bathroom, mainly out of nerves. I was going to be sleeping in the same bed as Emma Jenkins - shit, like real close, full body contact. I didn't really trust myself to keep my hands off her, and I really didn't know if I wanted to.

After we sorted the mattress out into prime drying position we got into bed. We looked like sardines in that small single bed. I was clinging to the side like a drowning man. I was stiff; scared to move in case I touched her, in case I couldn't stop touching her.

'You'll fall out like that. Scoot over here a bit ? turn this way. It'll be more comfortable. Trust me.' I trusted her - it was myself I had doubts about.

She was on her back, the lights from outside lighting up the side of her face, making her profile seem almost majestic. Blue eyes looked grey. Her lips looked dark, inviting. She must be able to hear my heartbeat, or even feel it for that matter.

'Night Laura.' She closed those perfect eyes, and fell asleep almost instantly. Her breathing was soft, even. Her chest imitated the rhythm and I was transfixed. I took it all in, etching it to memory to devour later in bite sized chunks. This was the closest I had been to her without an audience. I was loving it, although still slightly panicked, and just a little turned on. Her full body length was running down next to mine. I could feel the heat of it, the softness.

Thud thud thud thud. What on earth ?? It was coming from next door. But that was ? shit. The teachers were shagging.

'God yes ? just there ? fuck ? yes.' Bloody hell - Wilkins and Davies were at it. I sniggered. Emma turned on her side to face me, still asleep.

'Faster ? um yeah ?I need more ?' The headboard was thudding faster now, a manic rhythm taking up. 'Fuck me ? gods yes ? yes ?yesss ? oh fuck ? make me come ? harder ? please ?Mariel?' Mariel? I sniggered again - Emma snuggled closer. I was beginning to get hornier. I was in bed with the woman of my dreams, listening to two women fuck each other's brains out not ten feet away. I was in deep shit.

The moisture was building up between my legs, and I had an ache there that was steadily becoming unbearable. God. I needed to just slip my fingers ? Emma snaked her arm across my stomach, so slowly, and it felt as if she had stroked my skin along the way. Shit shit shit. How could I sneak out of bed now and manually get rid of this throbbing that was building, when she had me pinned there with her strong, muscular, tanned, toned ? fuck it - describing her is not going to stop me getting more turned on is it?

The two next door were going at it hammer and tongs by this point. The headboard would definitely need replacing in the morning. 'Fuuuuuuuuuuuucccccccckkkkk yesyesyesyes yesssssssss ?baby ? YES!' There you go. One, maybe two, satisfied women. I was clasping and unclasping the muscles to my anguish by this point. What I wouldn't do for a little pressure.

I spoke too soon. Emma's leg came up between my thighs and pushed itself into my need, sighing in her sleep. I gasped out loud, the pleasure from that movement nearly my undoing.

'Ssshhhh honey,' she murmured, pulling me to her until my head was underneath her chin and her face was buried in my hair. 'Sleep now. It will be easier in the morning.' What did she mean by that? I didn't care, couldn't think, and didn't care that I couldn't think. I was in heaven.

After about thirty minutes and loads of mental cold showers, I drifted off, totally content to be in her arms again. Again? Oh, it doesn't matter.


Sunlight trickled through the window, and illuminated the bed where we were wrapped around each other. I had spent a while guiltily watching her sleep, smelling her scent, feeling her soft breasts nestling into my shoulder.

Slam. The door burst open to reveal Justine Russell and her cronies. 'No wonder you didn't take me up on the offer Stewart - new conquest is it?'

I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I couldn't move. I looked guilty: I knew that. So when my gaze met Emma's confused expression, I nearly died of embarrassment. I did the only thing I could think of doing; I shot up; pushed past the sniggering bunch of twats in the doorway; ran down the corridor and locked myself in the bathroom.


Chapter Eight

The journey back seemed to take an age. I sat on my own, headphones on, and blocked everything out. My mind kept on sneaking back to images of Emma nestled next to me; the softness of her hair; the rhythm of her breathing; her scent. Then the image of Justine standing in the doorway would break through and I was filled with abhorrence for myself, and that bitch, Russell.

Jumping down off the coach I stalked off. I could hear Emma shouting me from behind but I kept on going.

As I turned the corner I could see her towering over Justine Russell, shouting something in her face, but I was too far away to hear it.

Home at last. I threw my bag in the hallway and stomped in to the lounge. I was greeted by a picturesque scene: Harry on Sarah's knee, reading a book aloud to her. My heart filled with love: past events forgotten.

'Laurie!' Harry bounded up to me, arms outstretched, a glow about him - just the thing to lift my spirits.

'Hey squirt.' I scooped him up into a giant hug. 'How's the main man?'

'Mum came today. She's not happy Laurie.' I looked at Sarah who shrugged her shoulders and sighed.

'She's pissed because they have stopped her income support and the family allowance. She should have thought of that when she let that monster keep coming back.' She stood and walked over to me, holding out her arms for a hug. I fell into her embrace and the dam broke. A sob that I had been keeping buried for God knows how long broke free. Tears worked their way from painfully closed eyes and thickly tracked down my cheeks.

'Hey ? don't worry. You won't be going back there again.' Her soothing voice made things worse. I started shaking, coughing out cries and gripping onto her all the more. She stroked my back, shushing me, caressing me with words. 'Come on ... there now ? get it all out.'

'You ? you ?dddon't un ..der ..stand. It's not that ? I'm ? crying ?a ? bout.' I panted out between sobs.

Sarah led me to the sofa, sat me down, and then went to the drinks cabinet. 'Not that I agree with drinking ? but I'll make an exception.' She gave me a brandy and ordered me to sip it and calm myself down so we could talk.

Forty minutes later I had told Sarah about Justine Russell (she agreed ? Justine was a psycho), and about Emma Jenkins. All of it. Even the nitty gritty. Even the 'wanting to do unspeakable things' with her.

Guess what she did? Go on, have a guess. She bloody laughed.

Not impressed. How could she laugh when my heart was breaking? I think my expression said it all, because she stopped.

'Oh Laura ? don't worry about things like that. You're only sixteen. You will fall in and out of love many times before you meet the one.' I hadn't said that I loved her ? don't know what's she's talking about.

She didn't seem surprised about me having a crush on, or having relations with, another girl. But why would she?

She's with a woman herself.

She patted my arm and gave me a reassuring smile. 'Whatever's meant to be will be.'


The next week went by without much happening. I saw Emma in the canteen again on the first day back and she waved from her table. I turned and left.

Monday came around again. I had already tried to get out of mentoring duties but I was still on probation for smacking the Psycho Bitch from Hell. Therefore, one o'clock saw me in the library, books out, hands twitching, and too many butterflies in my stomach to count. Yes ? I was shitting myself.

When you want everyone to turn up - nada - when you don't - they all turn up at the same time.

Peter was completely oblivious to everything. He just got out his books and pencil and waited to be spoon-fed. Justine was a total, and I mean total, bitch, to me, and to Emma too. I deserved it, I know, but Emma ? what had she ever done to her? It was the longest half hour of my little life. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

As usual, Justine lingered whilst we were packing away. But so did Emma.

'Could I speak with you a minute?' She dismissed Justine with a look. The look.


Justine snatched up her stuff, turned abruptly and left. Thank God.

'It's the English mocks next Thursday and I really need some help, especially with the poetry.' She looked almost bashful as she said this. 'Could you ? would you consider some one on one tutoring?' Some one on one - I liked the idea. Tutoring her didn't seem too bad either .

'Yeah sure. Whenever.' Thank you God.

'How does Friday night round my house grab you?' Right in the crotch. Sometimes I surprise myself with my crudeness. 'We could study for a bit then maybe watch a video ?'

I was ecstatic. Alone with Emma, round her house, invited by her. She wanted to be with me ? alone. Ditto. And no mention of Whitby - added bonus. Yes, I know it was to study, and yes I know there was nothing more to it, but I was euphoric anyway.

'Great. Give me the details, you know, address, phone number, etc, just in case something comes up.'

I quickly scribbled my details on a scrap of paper and she did the same.

'It's a date then.' She smiled at me. If only ?

The rest of the week dragged along at a snail's pace. Nothing of note happened. I didn't get into any scrapes, kept my mouth shut, even though Geography had taken on a new aspect. Thinking about Ms Davies and Bulldyke performing the beast with two backs made me smirk inwardly. Then I remembered what I was doing at the time - ooohhh be still my beating heart.

Having an overactive imagination took its toll on me, and by Thursday I was a simmering pot of carnal desire. I couldn't go round to Emma's like this. As soon as she answers the door I'd be on her like a sex starved dog. Now there's an image ? oh shut up!

Lying in bed, listening to the sound of the rain and thinking about the following evening, I began to twist reality into my own imaginings. Emma was the star of the show, of course, and I was her leading lady. I could feel the arousal seeping into my body. First in my stomach where it whirled around before venturing lower. My heart rate was beginning to pick up: my breathing becoming more laboured. God. What was I to do? The only thing possible.

Relieve the tension.

I slipped my left hand underneath my t-shirt and gently grazed the underside of my breast. The nipple, who was at this stage sleeping, bolted awake and stood to attention. Leisurely, I circled the outside. No, I didn't want to hurry this - my hand was now Emma's. I trickled my fingers over the pert stump, teasing, pulling, pinching lightly.

My right hand, hating to be left out, sneaked past the elastic of my pyjama bottoms to fondle soft downy hair that covered my most intimate place. Left hand circling: right hand travelling - a perfect combination. Emma's face hovered in front of me, her eyes full of desire, her lips slightly parted and glistening.

My right hand ventured lower, eager to fulfil its quest. Easily it slipped between my wet lips. A soft groan escaped my mouth as I unhurriedly pushed downwards, coating my fingers from the source of my wetness. I curled my finger slightly as I brought it back to the bundle of nerves at my core, and then back down again. Hips that lay dormant awoke, to steadily begin a rhythm of their own making, trying to accommodate the fire that was pulsating through my body. Both hands were on the go, one pushing, and the other circling. Hips rocking, quicker now, attempting to keep pace with the building climax and the overzealous hands.

The pressure wasn't enough, so I abandoned my breast and allowed the left hand to join its twin. I separated my lips and rubbed, softly at first, the slick folds that protected my innocence. I increased the pressure, using the flat of my hand. I needed release, and I needed it now.

I became more frantic. My eyes were beginning to glaze over. It was on its way. It started at my toes, the tingle that travelled up my legs to settle, raging, between my thighs. I could feel the walls deep inside me contracting, retracting, then contracting again. My hand was rubbing uninhibitedly. I didn't give a fuck about anyone catching me. Shit. This was good. The heat coming from me could toast bread.

More frantic now. I was on the verge. Up down up down up down - stroke stroke stroke - up down up down up down. I nipped my clit between my fingers and gently tugged. Every muscle in my body tensed. And over I went ? crashing, thrashing, not a sound coming out of my mouth. My face was contorting into frenzied poses, my teeth biting down on my lower lip to keep it all in. And it made it better. Much better.

I fell asleep, the smell of my orgasm clinging to my fingers. Thank you Emma.


Chapter Nine

Friday night arrived and I was beside myself with nerves. I stood outside her house in Heaton Moor - yes the posh end of town, and summoned the courage to knock on the stained glass door that separated me from her.

Tap tap tap.

So gentle. Unlike me. The images of last night were racing around in my brain and I was feeling a little guilty about what I had done ? who I had invoked to get me there.

'Hi Laura.' She was there, resplendent, looking like a goddess brought to earth for my pleasure. Her hair was freshly washed, a little damp at the ends. She wore faded blue jeans that hugged her hips and exposed part of her tanned midriff. Her t-shirt was trying furiously to connect with the waistband, but to no avail.

My eyes devoured the image. 'Are you okay?' Fuck.

'Yeah ? sorry about that ? hi ? I was just mentally (undressing her?) checking (her out?) that I had brought everything.'

'Well come in. You must be freezing standing out here.' She began to rub her arms and I noticed that her nipples were embracing the cold evening. Little devils .

'My mum is out for the night, some work social or something, so I'll be your hostess tonight.' Her smile was wide and mine joined hers. 'You look so pretty when you smile, Laura. You should do it more often.' My heart stopped in my chest and time stood still. 'Come on ? we'll never get done at this rate.'

With that she turned and walked down the hallway. Being your slave, what should I do but tend / Upon the hours and times of your desire?'

I waited a couple of seconds to get the blood flowing back to all limbs and away from that one special part where it seemed to go every time I was near her. Deep breath. Relax. Then, eagerly I followed.

In the kitchen we prepared sandwiches and drinks to take up to her room. It was fun. We chatted like we had known each other forever - really, it felt like I had always known her.

Two and a half hours later saw us slumped back on her bed, papers everywhere. Ben Jonson was exposing himself like usual. And me for that matter:

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine ?

Just one sip. I promise that would be enough to quench my thirst for you. Parched. I felt like I had been in the desert, and she came along - fresh, clear, refreshing, the only thing that would save me. But like the parched wanderer, too much water could be fatal.

'Ooo - I love that poem,' she gushed. 'Read it to me.' So there I was, reading Jonson's To Celia to the one person I wanted to read it to. Under ideal circumstances she would have had her head on my lap, and her hand would be stroking my arm in a slow circular motion. I was getting goose bumps just thinking about it. Then, my overactive libido was joining in and I could feel my senses becoming acute. I flushed furiously and jumped off the bed, nearly knocking her off it.

'Are you okay?' She looked concerned. 'The poem hasn't upset you has it?' If you only knew ?

'No ? cramp.' I rubbed my leg for effect.

'Here ? let me. I'm used to muscles tensing up after training.' Shit. She had both her hands on my calf and was kneading and digging her long fingers into the flesh through my jeans. 'It would be easier if you lifted these up,' she said, tugging at my jeans. I didn't answer, didn't move.

She continued up my leg and began torturing my thigh with her hands. God, it was heaven. I did feel a little guilty considering I didn't have cramp in the first place, and because I was enjoying it a little too much.

She was on her knees in front of me, rubbing, pressing her strong fingers into pliant flesh. I watched the top of her head bobbing with the force she was using. I could smell her freshly washed hair as it wafted up towards my over-sensitised nostrils, and I furtively inhaled her essence. 'How's that?' Heaven. I sighed, knowing I had to let her stop.

'Loads better. Thanks.'

'My pleasure.' No ? definitely mine I think.

We settled in the front room to watch a video. 'Horror or Drama?' she asked. I cocked an eyebrow at her that said more info needed. 'Silence of the Lambs or Fried Green Tomatoes.'

Silence of the Lambs it was. How can a girl resist Jodie Foster?

I was quite brave, honestly. I only jumped a couple of times. I didn't like the bit when they found the victim's nails stuck in the wall ? ugh ? to this day that still makes me shudder. I kept on stealing sly glances at Emma - she was totally absorbed in the film, her eyes wide.


The climactic ending was very nearly climactic for me. Jodie was in the basement and the killer was watching her through night vision goggles. Emma grabbed my hand at this point. Jodie's breathing became laboured as she swung her gun this way and that trying to aim at something. Emma pulled my hand to her chest (yes - where her very soft breasts were). Bang. Off goes her gun, Emma ends up in my arms, head buried under my chin. God ? she had a good grip, not that I was complaining. I snaked adulterous hands around her back.

'Did she get him?' A muffled voice came out from my jumper, her warm breath seeping through the corded wool to settle on my skin.

'It's okay.' I tentatively stroked her back, to reassure her of course. 'He's dead.'

Blue eyes blinked up at me, a look of embarrassment on her face, a sly crooked grin taking over her features.

'It's your film. Haven't you seen it before?' Her delightful head shook from side to side, an adorable expression on her face.

'Too scared. Mum bought it last week and I've been wanting to see it ? but not on my own.' A small smile graced her lips. I looked down at her arms about me, mine about her, then looked at her face again.

'Sorry ?' she scrambled back as if burned. 'Bet you think I'm a right baby.' Babe yes, but definitely no baby.

I shook my head. 'I would have hid too if I could have moved.' I gave her a cheeky grin, and raised one eyebrow. She laughed and relaxed.

'That's okay then.'

We said our goodnights shortly before midnight. Elaine was outside in the car waiting for me.

I shut the car door and waved vigorously at Emma as we pulled away.

'So. That is the mighty Miss Emma Jenkins?' I nodded, content. 'You've got great taste ? just like your Aunt.' We both laughed out loud.

'I think Sarah will agree with you there.'

I settled in for the short ride home, looking out the window, but my mind was solely fixed on a pair of twinkling blue eyes.

Chapter Ten

'Laura! Phone!' What a way to wake up.

I put my head underneath the duvet and ignored Sarah's voice. 'Phone!'

Leave me alone. It's Saturday for Christ's sake.

The duvet was yanked back, to reveal Harry grinning at me, his gap looking strangely bigger this morning. 'Aunty Sarah said you gotta get up. Someone's ringing you.'

'Tell them to ring back,' I grumbled, patting around, searching out the duvet. I pulled it swiftly over my head and shut the world out again.

'Up lady. Someone's on the phone for you, and you'd better take it,' Sarah's voice brooked no argument.

I threw the covers back, feigning irritation, and plodded down to the lounge. 'Hello.' I sounded pissed off.

'Laura?' My heart picked up the pace. 'It's me ? Emma. Look, if this is a bad time ?'

'No, no ? you're fine, it's fine ? go on ?' Was I rambling?

Elaine, Sarah and Harry were making faces at me, putting their fingers in their mouths to imitate gagging actions. Harry decided to play an imaginary violin. I glared at them and turned away.

'Do you fancy meeting up this afternoon? Grab a coffee - a little shopping?' She sounded nervous.

'Sure ? I'd love to.' I could hear air kisses behind me. They were so immature - honestly.

We made the arrangements and I hung up. The three of them sat on the sofa looking like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. 'Very funny.' I about turned and went to get ready - I only had three and a half hours! It would be a rush - but I'd manage .


Manchester Piccadilly was heaving. People were rushing from place to place. Mother's were dragging screaming kids behind them, threatening them with 'Father Christmas won't come to you at this rate'. Cars pumped out fumes making the air thick, and noises greeted us from every angle, penetrating deep within and vibrating through our bones.

But I didn't care. I was with Emma again - bliss.

The Arndale Centre was alive. Shops displayed promotions, luring the unsuspecting shopper in with ease, with promises of a new look, how to keep your man happy in bed, tips on feeding your kids (because - obviously - you hadn't fed them before) and how to change your mundane world into something straight from the pages of Hello magazine. I didn't buy it. No - not Hello magazine - I mean the whole shebang.

We wandered through shops, fingering the merchandise, and commenting on how pricey things were. Miss Selfridges had on a promotion - what a surprise - 20% off all t-shirts - in winter! Emma picked up a short crop top and held it against her. It was black, silky black. Nice.

'What do you think?' I nodded - completely speechless. 'I'd better try it on to make sure. Come in with me.' I nodded again. Shit. I was like one of those cheesy toy dogs in the back of a Ford Escort.

The changing rooms were nearly empty, just a couple of other girls in the corner, giggling. It was a communal one - everybody had to strip in front of everybody else. I swallowed the gathering spit from my mouth. I was going to see her in a state of undress and I, in turn, was in a panic mode.

'Maybe I should wait for you outside ?' I drifted off, embarrassed at my own inadequacy to think pure thoughts.

Emma was tugging at her top, arms over her head, completely oblivious to my condition, and to what I had said. I looked at the floor, unexpectedly nervous.

I looked around, taking in the carpet's entire pattern, and then slowly raised my eyes to sweep around the walls, making note of the posters of young buff men wearing jeans and a smile. My eyes landed on Emma's exposed back. Firm, rippling, tanned. It looked smooth and strong. I could see the line where she had worn a bikini top, because (deep breath), she wasn't wearing a bra now. Her left breast was showing a little. I could see the curve of it, a hint at the roundness that lay hidden. I was spellbound. My tongue poked out a little to moisten my sudden dry lips.

'What do you think?'

'Laura ? earth to Laura.' I shook my head to clear it and looked into her concerned blue eyes.


'I said what do you think? I quite like it. Do you think it fits okay?' More than okay - she was a vision.

'It's alright I suppose.' Well I couldn't tell her the truth now could I?

She was pulling it over her head by this point and I noticed the mirror in front of her. A full view of her chest greeted me like an offering. Full, round breasts bobbing about as she pulled her arms from the sleeves. Dark pink nipples sat pride of place ? just one taste ? touch. She was absolutely stunning, and my pants were soaked through.

'Ready?' I nodded, becoming a mime artist once again.

We had spent a few hours in the town and I didn't want it to end. I was in paradise and she was my angel. Well, for today anyway.

'It's been great Laura. I really wish I didn't have to go, but I've got a date tonight.' I froze, rooted to the spot. A date? Jealousy surged through me - who the fuck with? 'Rob Evans has been pestering me to go to the pictures with him for ages, and I agreed just to get him off my back.'

That bastard! He was known as Rob 'the octopus' Evans by half of the school. I fucking hated him -especially now. He prowled after girls, charmed them, shagged them and then left. What could I do? She was a free agent.

'That's nice.' Well come on - what did you expect me to do? Fall on my knees and beg her not to go? Or, better still, fall at her feet and tell her how I worshipped her, would die for her again and again, implore her to rethink this terrible mistake - that we were meant to be together ? we were always meant to be together? Didn't think so.

'I wish I could get out of it.' So do I. 'But I promised. I'm having such a good time with you.' I smiled, weakly.

Fifteen minutes later I made my excuses and left.


Totally pissed off - that doesn't begin to describe how I felt. I felt cheated on. By Rob Evans of all fucking people. Bastard. What were they doing? Was he mauling her, priming her to be his next conquest? Were they kissing? Was she offering him her mouth, lips glistening, tongue probing, sucking gently at his lip? Was he touching her perfect breasts, holding them, weighing them, softly squeezing before grazing the nipple with his fat fucking fingers? What if he ventured lower? You know, inside her pants. Fucking bastard. I wanted to tear his head off.

I knew I was being irrational. I knew it was none of my goddamn business who she was with, and I knew deep down she would never be with me. But I was in pain. Hollowness had set itself in my gut and my heart was ripping apart. I wanted to curl up and die before I went out to rip that bastard's dick off.

What if he forces her to do something she wasn't ready for? Fear enveloped me. What if she can't fight him off, and I let her go without saying a word? I sunk my head into my hands, trying to block out the image of a scared Emma fighting off the Devil himself.

Harry kept on coming into my room asking if I was okay. I snapped at him a third time. I felt like such a shit. He had been so pleased that his second front tooth had fallen out, with only a little bit of wobbling and prompting, and was eager to find what the tooth fairy was going to leave him.

His little face crumpled up and he began to shudder with hurt, hurt that I had caused him. 'I'm sorry squirt. Come here.' He raced into my arms flinging his own tiny ones around my neck and hugging me as hard as he could.

'I love you Laurie. Don't worry about Emma.' How did he know? 'She'll soon see how special you are and love you nearly as much as I do.'

What can you do, eh?

I agreed to watch telly with them in the front room. Boring, shitty Saturday night telly, with everybody grinning like idiots. You know the ones ? fake smiles, all teeth ? not like Emma ? Her smile was perfect, although a little crooked at times .

It was nearly nine o'clock and the phone alerted us to its presence. 'Get that will you Laura?' Sarah asked from her place snuggled up to Elaine on the sofa, and Harry nestled between her legs on the floor.

'Hello.' Totally pissed off.


I swallowed. 'Yes ?' I wanted her to say her name so I could roll it around in my head later.

'It's me ? Emma.' There we go.

'Is everything okay?' Was that panic in my voice? 'That bastard hasn't hurt you, has he?' The anger was up now and raring to kick the shit out of anyone who stood in my way.

'No ? no. Everything's fine. I just wanted to see if you were okay, you seemed a little out of it when you were going today.'

'Just exam pressure catching me off guard.' I lied. 'I bet Rob isn't chuffed that you are ringing me on your big date, is he?'

'He isn't here. I'm at home. God ? he was like a man with eight arms? (I did say octopus, right), 'He was forever trying to get a hold of me, any part - he didn't seem to care where. So, I blew him out and told him I had to get home early. And here I am.' Yes. There you are, my sweet sweet angel. My heart soared like a captive bird, finally given its freedom once again.

We chatted for another half an hour about everything and anything. Why was it so easy to talk to her?

'Are you free tomorrow? 'Cos we could get together and go to Lyme Park for the day ? if you wanted to of course.'

Of course I wanted to, and we arranged to meet, with our study books, at ten o'clock the next morning. Joy.

I skipped into the front room again to be greeted by three sets of eyes - two knowing and one tired. 'Anyone fancy a cuppa?' I was elated, a new lease of life thrumming through me. I knew this was only the start of Emma's dating escapades, and that this time she wasn't interested. What would I do when she did find someone who took her fancy?

I can't think about that today, I'll think about it tomorrow, in the words of Scarlet O'Hara 'Cos tomorrow is another day.' Corny, but true.

As I was skipping to the kitchen humming, I heard Elaine say 'Well, she's brightened up.' Yes I had - I bloody well had.


Lyme Park was beautiful. The weather was absolutely glorious, and I was in my element being with Emma for nearly the whole weekend. It was cold, but sunny - good weather for nearly the end of November. Mock exams started tomorrow, but I didn't care - today I was free.

We walked around the woods for a while, watching the deer roam majestically around in their natural habitat. The squirrels were getting prepared for the onslaught of winter, scurrying around in the leaves looking for stray nuts and berries to store away. It was perfect, and seemed like we had walked together this way thousands of times before. Strange.

Lunchtime saw us with sandwiches bought from the local National Trust shop - they must think of a price and double it. We sprawled on the grass, lying on our jackets that we had been carrying around all day. We did a little bit of studying but couldn't really concentrate on anything for very long.

The deer were fascinated with us and watched us from afar. 'So beautiful.' Emma said. I turned and she was looking straight at me, a weird look on her face. She looked away quickly.

'It was a nightmare last night.' Yeah - tell me about it. 'Rob acted like a total prick in the queue to the pictures. He was being rather personal to a couple of guys who were in line just ahead of us, calling them fags and the like.' She shuddered at the memory. 'I can't stand it when people are horrible about other people's life choices, can you?' I shook my head and played with a piece of grass that had suddenly become extremely interesting.

She lay down flat, her hands on her stomach, and gazed at the sky. I could see her eyes following a bird that had taken flight at the sound of a car backfiring in the car park. Such concentration. Her brow furrowed, and she broke her gaze away. A sigh broke free from her. 'Wouldn't you like to be as free as that bird, Laura? You know, do what you wanted, when you wanted and not worry about the consequences?' She looked at me, her eyes a dark blue.

'Well yeah ? I suppose ?' I chewed my lip. 'But you must remember that even though we think the bird is free it still follows the laws of nature. Everyday it is a fight - only the strongest survive. They can't cuddle up under the duvet and call in sick because they can't be bothered to get their backsides out of bed.' I fingered my hair. 'So, in a way, no, because I was only tempted at first because I imagined myself as that bird and nobody else knew me. So, I was free. Do you understand?' I turned over onto my back and stared into the powder blue sky.

Everything was quiet. Emma didn't answer straight away.

'But at least I could fly away when I wanted to.' Was that a sigh?

We lay like that for a good thirty minutes, completely quiet, but it wasn't uncomfortable, it was ? right.

'What's the story between you and Justine Russell then?' I nearly died. What had brought that on?

'What story?' Yes. Be coy ? don't let anything slip.

'It just seems that you two are always at each other's throats. Every time I've seen you together you have been arguing or throwing punches. Even in the library on Monday you could cut the air with a knife.' She laughed. 'And I don't think she likes me very much for that matter.'

'That's because of me.' Shit - what to say now ? 'Justine and I ? er ?have ? er ?' Emma was listening intently. 'We have ? er ? a history.'

'Obviously.' A crooked smile.

'Yeah ?well ?erm ? it's a little bit more than that.' Emma was more engaged than before, and leaned in closer. 'We ?' I couldn't believe I was going to come out to Emma Jenkins. 'We ? had a bit of a thing one time.' I was blood red by this stage.

'It sounded like a little bit more than a bit of a thing, Laura. If my memory serves me right, she mentioned something about, and I quote, 'finger fucking her'.' I nearly died. Again. How dramatic.

'But I didn't ? we didn't ?I couldn't ?' What? Couldn't what? Finger fuck her because she had brown eyes? Or couldn't give her one because she wasn't you? 'We only kissed a little and had a little fumble. That's it.'

'Hey. I'm not judging you, just asking so I know what I'm dealing with.' She smiled reassuringly. 'So why is she so bitchy?' I wanted to say because she's a fucking psycho, but that did sound rather harsh.

I explained how Justine seemed to think that there was something going on with the two of us. She had already told me that she had wanted me for a long time. I did feel embarrassed telling Emma this. I played it low key, and tried to brush it off, wanting to change the subject, but scared where it might lead.

'One more thing Laura.' I looked at her with expectation evident on my face. 'Does her quim really need a trim?' A laugh burst forth, and I joined her, seeing the funny side to this conversation at last.

After packing away, we decided to investigate the house and gardens, our conversation staying light and friendly. Thank God.

We said our farewells just before six because our first exam was after registration.

A quick hug (yum) a peck on the cheek (double yum), and she was gone. I was left feeling relaxed, happy and ready for anything.

Chapter Eleven

Monday. Library. Not good. Firstly Peter didn't show up, and I knew it was just going to be the three girls, together, alone. Shit.

The door to the library burst open to reveal a very harried looking Justine. This did not bode well. Emma arrived one minute after, looking decidedly worse for wear. And then there was me ? sat there all prim, my blonde hair tied back away from my face in a loose ponytail, a pencil behind my ear, and an aura of righteousness surrounding me. I had to keep my cool, act natural.

Big beaming smile to the ready. 'Hey girls ? glad you could make it.' This actually worked. They both stopped in their tracks and looked at me gone out for a second. Nice move Stewart.

'So what do you want to look at today?' Was that my voice or Mr Holmes the English teacher's? I sounded really calm, in control. It's a pity that no one mentioned that to my stomach.

They plonked down either side of me, like lambs. Ha!

The atmosphere, although strained, was okay. We all got stuck in discussing the novel we were studying.

'Poor George. He is tied to Lenny for obvious reasons. Can you think of his reasons for killing him at the end?'

'Well. Steinbeck uses the parallel storyline of Candy's dog.'

'Good Justine. Why do you think he does that?'

'I don't know.'

Emma sniggered. Not good.

'What are you laughing at, you slag?'

'Excuse me. You ? calling me ? a slag? That's a case of the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think? I'm not the one stalking someone in the hope of a good fuck.' Shit ? Ring any bells? Bloody hell Emma, where did that come from?

Then it kicked off good and proper. I just sat there ? frozen, pretending that I wasn't with them.

'Really? That's not what I saw in Whitby. You were stuck to each other like a couple of dogs in heat.'

'And your problem is ??'

'Everyone knew that Laura and me had a thing going, and YOU stole her away from me. How could you?' Her voice broke at this point and I did feel sorry for her, but only a little bit.

Emma's eyes were cold, like slits on her face, and her lips formed into a thin line. Uh oh ? here it comes.

Emma leaned over Justine, her face mere inches away. 'Stole her away?' she hissed. 'Stole her away from you? I didn't think you owned her in the first place, you fucking psycho.' Shit. 'If she did come to me, she would do so willingly. I don't have to steal anything. You got that?'

'So you're not denying that you two are fucking each other's brains out then?' Was that a sob in her voice? I'm getting soft. Although you wouldn't even think I was with them, never mind the centre of their conversation - if you can call bad mouthing, bad language and gross indecency a conversation - I didn't raise my head. Ooooh, look what Steinbeck has done here?

'What if we are?' That got my attention. 'What if we are fucking each other's brains out, and loving every goddamn minute? What the hell has it got to do with you?'

Justine was gob smacked. So was I for that matter, and slightly aroused at Emma saying the word 'fucking' in conjunction with my name. Yes - I am a pervert - and proud of it!

'Come on sweetheart.' Emma grabbed my hand, pulled me up and into her. She possessively wrapped her arm around me and led me out of the library. I didn't say a word. I was too stunned. So was Justine. And so was half of Year 11 who were studying in the library at the time.

Outside, Emma started laughing, hugged me close and then let me go. 'Sorry about that. But I think that might have done the trick - she'll leave you alone for a while at least. Got to go, see you later.' I could still hear her laughing to herself as she was hurrying down the corridor, taking my heart with her.


Chapter Twelve

Exams took over our lives for the next two weeks. English was pretty easy, but Maths was a bugger, let me tell you, but hey ? you can't have everything.

Emma and I had lunch together every day. I even stopped going for a quick smoke behind the gym so I could spend more time with her. Justine would glare at us whenever we would bump into each other in the corridors, the dinner hall, even in the exam room. If I didn't know any better I would have sworn that Emma was gloating.

Rob 'Octopus' Evans would hover near Emma all the time, trying to get her attention in some fuck-witted kind of way. I wanted to knee him in the under-crackers and be done with it, but that would mean explaining my actions to Emma. I couldn't reveal myself like that ? I couldn't bear to see the look of disgust on her face.

'I could fix him up with Justine,' my evil mind pondered - kill two birds with one stone (hopefully). But I doubted she would go for all the extra tackle. Pity. They would have made a perfect couple, and got them off both our backs.

I didn't know if Emma enjoyed the attention, or was just pampering his need. She was such a sweet person (except to Justine - snigger) that I didn't know what to think.

With all the pressure of doing well we didn't get the opportunity to see each other in the evenings or at the weekend. She had to see her father in Chester from Friday night to Sunday night. I was gutted, but understood why she had to go.

I still hadn't met either of her parents. She seemed to shy off when I asked about them, not wanting to go into too much detail for some reason or another. Answers like 'Oh, he lives quite far away now' and 'She works late most nights' were the norm. I didn't press the point.

Christmas was on its way in all its gaudy glory. Every shop I went into had crappy songs playing from an album older than the Queen mum. Bloody Band Aid. Yes! I know its Christmas and do they bloody care? I think they have more important issues going on than who is going to get the newest fad. Like famine, disease, AIDS, drought, etc.

No I wasn't a 'Christmas Hater' as such. But we have to prioritise. And my priorities came in a six-foot, dark haired, blue-eyed package labelled 'Emma Jenkins'. And I wanted to peel the wrapping off really slowly ? Where did that come from?

The results from the mocks were quite pleasing. I got an A* for English: Emma got a B. Not bad. She was over the moon with it though saying she had only been targeted a C. She wiped the floor with me in Maths - grade A to my C. I was quite pleased with it. Maths and me had a history - we did not get along, and we both knew it.

All in all life was good. Home was brilliant, with only the occasional drunken visit from the tart with no heart - our mother. Daddy dearest was serving three years in Strangeways for attempted rape and being a twat. The last one was my idea.

Emma and I were inseparable. We spent all our time with each other, and when we were apart we talked for ages on the phone, about what, I couldn't tell you.

Lads were sniffing around her all of the time at school and outside. Well, she was one hot looking woman. She seemed kind of embarrassed when she told me who had asked her out, and at times seemed expectant of a response. I had resolved myself to live in her shadow, my unrequited love sitting on my lap like an offering. I had no chance with her, but you have a reason to keep going if you have hope. That's all I had, and I had that in abundance.


Chapter Thirteen

Christmas Eve arrived, resplendent in icy rain and sleet. No snow. For God's sake - this is Manchester.

Emma and I were going to a youth disco at the Young People's Centre. Quite a few people from school were going, and it looked like it could be fun.

Seven thirty saw us trudging in, soaked to the skin, makeup deciding to turn into abstract art for the duration. We looked gorgeous to say the least. Ten minutes in the girl's loos and we were raring to go.

It was heaving. I think every teenager over the age of sixteen had turned up, and the place was packed out.

As the evening wore on, the temperature began to rise considerably. Music blared out from speakers all around the room. It was deafening. Soft drinks were on sale at the bar, but alcohol was in the building gratis the older kids. Therefore, the innocent coke held aloft could have any amount of concoction floating beneath its surface. Emma and I had mingled in the crowds, never at a loss for people to chat to, even though I had only one person on my mind.

'Hiya stranger.' Cassie Phillips. God. Cassie and me went way back. Actually she was one of my first inexperienced fumblings. She had skin of ebony and black shimmering coloured eyes. Long, thick black hair completed the ensemble. She was nineteen. Yes I know. Three years older than me, but at the tender age of fifteen, I pretended to be seventeen just to hang around with her gang.

'Long time no see. What have you been up to?' she asked, stroking my arm suggestively.

'Oh. This and that.' I was watching Emma on the other side of the dance floor chatting to the Bitches of Eastwick. 'Just had my mocks ? working hard ? you know how it is.'

God she looked good - Emma, obviously. She was wearing black loose fitting trousers and the black top. Her midriff was on show to all, a sheen of sweat gracing it. It was flat and well defined. I could just imagine my fin?

'Who are you looking at? Nice abs I must say.' Go away Cassie. Let me have my pervy little thoughts.

She was drinking a bottle of water, holding it aloft, pouring the translucent liquid into her parted lips. It was all in slow motion, like snap shots in my mind.

Action: sweat shimmering on her stomach; hand raised above her head, her head tilted back; raven locks cascaded down her strong back; eyes closed; the lustre of perspiration coated her top lip; the excess water sparkled on her sensuous mouth. I wanted to lick it off, taking with it the dusky lipstick, devouring the lips underneath.

She stopped drinking and turned to face me. Hooded eyes caught my gaze ? and I held it there ? willingly. She hypnotized me. Her eyes held a depth that I had not seen before, looking almost violet in the dim light. Her tongue poked out to capture stray droplets of moisture that had mingled with sweat, sweeping it deliberately around her mouth. Making me stare. Making me want her. Making my heart hammer in my chest for just one kiss ?

She began to walk towards me, a definite swagger to her gait. Her eyes didn't leave mine: mine didn't leave hers. Could this be it? Was this really happening? My legs were weakening; my mouth was dry. I could hear Cassie trying to get my attention but I disregarded her. Emma was my focus.

Damn. Fucking Rob Evans. Fucking octopus boy - bastard. I was seething. Rob Evans stepped right in her path as she was walking over to me ? for a chat. A fucking chat! Emma, being Emma, chatted back, her eyes coming back to rest on mine. But less ? and less. She was laughing now. He had his hand on her arm rubbing up and down like he was wanking it off. She looked comfortable with him, at home, relaxed, while I stood there getting angrier.

Jealousy, our green-eyed foe, reared up from deep within me. How dare he ? she ? he ? I couldn't even think straight. Who exactly was I angry at?

'Trouble in paradise, Laura? Your girlfriend sure looks happy chatting to Rob.' Justine. I should have known she'd turn up, Miss Fucking Bad Penny, 1991.

Cassie made her excuses and left. No surprise really. There was me, for the most part, ignoring her, and then looking like thunder. To top it all, up strolls psycho-stalker to piss me off even more. I would have left too.

'What do you want, Justine?' My voice sounded bored: my insides were on red alert. Evans was all over Emma like second skin. 'Why don't you just fuck off?' I turned and stalked to the Ladies room.

Inside the loos it was quiet, just me, alone with my thoughts. I was shaking, especially my hands. I just wanted to go outside and throttle the life out of Evans. How dare he! How ? dare ? he ? come and take what ?Take what, Laura?

Take what was mine, that's what.

My throat had a lump in it the size of an orange. Inside this orange nestled a sob. Inside this sob nestled a broken heart. How could I liberate this ache, this orange, this broken dream? I didn't dare. If the dam burst it could never be repaired. Unfortunately, I thought wryly, there wasn't anyone to stick her finger in the dyke until help arrived.

I gripped the edge of the sink, my hair tumbling over my shoulders and in front of my face. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts I didn't hear the door open and close behind me. Didn't hear the footsteps approaching. Only knew someone was there when I felt the hand on my shoulder. 'Are you okay?' Softly spoken, so soft, but not her.

'Yeah ? never been better, Cassie.' I sniffed.

She tilted my head back to look into my eyes. Her eyes shone with feeling. She touched the side of my cheek so tenderly it was nearly my undoing. Both hands cupped my face now. 'It will happen if it's meant to happen.' Yeah. Heard that before. Cassie was using her left hand to stroke the hair away from my face. 'Come on, precious. Don't upset yourself. Hey ? you've still got me.'

I looked her squarely in the eyes. She was serious. Who was I kidding? Emma Jenkins would never go for someone like me - not in a million years. Get over yourself Stewart. Get it into your thick skull - she doesn't want you that way.

Cassie leaned closer, expectant. I looked into her big black depths and began to get sucked in. My breathing hitched, a solitary hiccup and I was ready. My right hand reached up and snaked around her neck, only to grip on her hair at the nape, fixing her in place. I leaned towards her, closing the distance between us. A gentle brush of the lips, the meeting of tongues ?

'What the ?? Excuse me.' Emma. Shit.

'Emma ? wait! It's not what you think ? Sorry Cassie, I can't ? I have to ?'

'Just go.' She smiled, a truly genuine smile.

I ran out of the loos and back into the club. Frantic eyes sliced through the crowds searching for her, praying that she hadn't just left.

I wish she had.

She was in the corner all over Rob Evans. She actually had him pinned against the wall and he looked kind of startled. If I hadn't been so revolted, so despairing, I would have laughed. Her hands were all over him. She was grinding herself into him like two pieces of wood trying to light a fire. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach. I had to leave now or else I was going to make a bigger fool of myself than I already had.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all get what you deserve - just like I did.


Chapter Fourteen

Three weeks went by. Christmas and New Year had been a mixture of pleasure and pain. The pleasure came from watching Harry, Christmas morning, surrounded by a mountain of presents, eyes aglow, and a smile slicing his face in two.

He spent the whole day singing, 'All I want for Christmas is me two front teeth' and flashing his comical grin. I had tried, really, I had. I had tried to join in the fun, but my swollen eyes were a dead giveaway. I explained that I was coming down with a cold, but I doubt Sarah and Elaine believed me. Harry gave me loads of unexpected cuddles, throwing his arms around my waist whenever I was near. This only led to me going into my room for another session of sobbing, thumping the bed with my fist, anger and pain washing through me like a violent cleansing. I was wretched. I was in so much agony deep inside that I felt I wouldn't survive ? couldn't survive ? didn't want to ? survive.

Why had she kissed him? Why? She said she didn't like him in that way. The image of her grinding herself into him made my stomach churn, tie itself in knots and left me aching, yearning, craving that it was me underneath her and not him. Her mouth had claimed his. Her tongue had been thrusting into his mouth, possessing him. Her hands were pulling his hips into hers. You couldn't get a hair between them. Why did you do that Emma? If you wanted a quick fix I could have been there for you ? no strings, honestly. I would have done, been, anything that you wanted me to be. But no. You weren't like that were you? You weren't a pervert like me.

We had been back at school for almost two weeks, and I had only glimpsed Emma occasionally, mainly in assembly. She looked ashen, withdrawn. Blue eyes looked dead, her face was gaunt. She looked how I felt - lost.


It was mid January when the snow came. Fluffy whiteness coated the ground and hid the dangers beneath. But being Manchester it only lasted in its purity overnight, changing from an insulating bedspread of white to a sloppy mess of brown slush. Cars whizzed by coating unsuspecting people in the fragments of a city winter.

The air was icy. Hot breath mingling sent messages to the heavens in secret code. Layer upon layer of clothing were stacked on bodies to fight off the chill of the day, creating staggered movement with people becoming obese in their clothing. Heads were covered; eyes used peepholes to grope through the day, whilst avoiding the dangers that surround blindness.

I was blind. I didn't see it coming did I? I must have worn my blinkers so close to my face I didn't see it. Emma and Rob. Rob and Emma. If you say it fast enough, without feeling, it sounds right, don't you think? Emma and Laura. Say that fast ? no ? it still doesn't make sense ? nothing does anymore.

Chapter Fifteen

It was Saturday night and I was in my room, alone, again. Sarah and Elaine had taken Harry to Pizza Hut as a treat. I had opted, as usual, to stay at home. There was no reason to go out anymore. What was the point?

The shrill insistent ringing of the phone broke my reverie, and stopped my drawing of Rob Evans with eight arms, a small wrinkled dick, and a noose around his neck. Blackened teeth were also a nice touch.

'Hello.' No emotion.

'Laura.' My heart skipped. 'Laura ? it's me. Look, I'm sorry to interrupt you ?'

'No ? no ? you're okay. I was just sketching.'

Her sobs reverberated around my head. 'What's up? Emma ? love ? what's the matter?' Panic invaded my voice, and it wavered. 'Where are you?' I needed to get to her, be with her ? always.

'At home. Oh Laura, I need to see you. Something's happened, and I don't know who to tell.' I bet it was something to do with that bastard. I'd fucking kill him if he hurt her in any way. And I mean any way.

Twenty minutes later saw me outside her house, dressed in a combination of my bedroom floor.

When she answered the door I drew in my breath. She looked a mess. Dishevelled clothes and hair, red rimmed eyes and shaking like a leaf. I took her in my arms like it was the most natural thing in the world. 'Shhh baby. I've got you. Nothing can hurt you now.' She pressed herself into me, holding me so, so close, her body quivering. I stroked her back, her hair. I placed delicate kisses on her cheeks, her ears, whilst tenderly crooning words of love and shelter.

Eventually we got inside and I led her to the front room, sat her down on the sofa, and sat next to her. I held her hand and fixed my eyes on her angst-ridden face. I waited for her to speak. I didn't know what had happened but she looked as if her whole world had crashed about her, smashing her life into smithereens in the process.

'It's Dad,' she eventually said, eyes closed, squeezing back the tears. I waited. 'He's divorcing Mum.' Short and sweet but it was a start. 'I honestly thought they'd get back together. How stupid. He's been shagging his secretary for years, and I've just found out they have a child together.' She started crying again, her free hand angrily wiping away her tears. ' I thought it was Mum who messed around. Did you know I actually saw her fucking someone in her car? She saw me too, but just kept on going.' Her voice trailed off at this stage. 'She had the audacity to deny it. Said I must have imagined the whole thing. But how can you imagine that? It's not something a child would make up is it?' She squeezed my hand more tightly stopping the circulation to my fingers, but I didn't care. I just looked at her with all the love I had displayed right there on my face for the entire world to see.

'Funny. You always hurt the ones you love.' She looked deeply into my eyes. 'Usually without knowing it.' She looked away, looked down at our hands that were enjoying an illicit tryst.

My mind wandered. Where's Evans? Shouldn't he be here comforting his girlfriend? Bastard.

'Where's Rob?' It was out before I could stop it.

'Why? What's he go to do with anything?' She looked puzzled.

'But ? he's your boyfriend,' I said, surprised that I had to remind her.

A sharp laugh. 'Are you joking?'

I sat back and released her hand. 'Well, if my memory serves me right you were quite fond of him on Christmas Eve.' My voice was cold, distant.

Was that embarrassment, confusion, or disgust on her face? 'Well ?,' a dry humourless laugh, 'that was then ? in the past. Just put it down to spur of the moment. Better still, it was more like a reaction.' She glanced at me.

'To what?'


She turned away and I couldn't see her eyes. God, how I ached to see her eyes.


Chapter Sixteen

We were back on track. She didn't love Rob Evans - she thought he was a twat - like I did. I was floating.

Belated Christmas gifts were given. I had given her Sinead O'Connor's album highlighting Nothing Compares 2U - that just made me think of her, about the Geography Field trip, the snuggling. But since our break-up (platonic, obviously, but not for the want of trying) the beginning seemed more apt - 'It's been seven hours and fifteen days / since you took our love away'. That's how it had felt. That it had been taken away.

But now it was back!

Emma bought me a pen set with an engraving 'To My Teacher and best friend. Love as always Emma Jenkins'. I had asked her why she had put her full name on there, and she said 'In case you meet any other Emmas, then you won't mix us up.' How could I ever do that? They'll only ever be one Emma: one person who my heart cleaves to.

Anyway. It was on a Thursday, the second Thursday in February to be exact, and the reason I knew that was because that was the day the school magazine came out. Also, I knew because it was the Valentine's edition. It was so much fun reading through the messages the rest of the lovesick school had put in there.

Well, it was funny until I saw the massive announcement. Hearts and flowers border - the works:

Laura Stewart
Emma Jenkins

I nearly fucking died. I hadn't done this, had I? I couldn't remember posting it. Shit. What if Emma saw it? I'd be toast.

'Hey? what are you looking at?' Fuck! Emma.

'Nothing. There's nothing to see.' I sounded like the teachers when they were breaking up a scrap 'Move along now. There's nothing to see. Come on, move along' whilst the two protagonists were deftly kicking the shit out of each other - blood everywhere, teeth flying, fists coming from all sides. Yes. And that was going to happen here if Emma spotted this.

'Let's have a look then.' She leaned over and grabbed the edge of the magazine.

'No ? it's really boring ? honestly.'

'Let me be the judge of that.' A soft smile. She nearly had me, and the magazine. But, I pulled it away just in time. She lunged and seized it. We tussled around, me squirming underneath her, both panting out phrases like 'let go' or 'it's nothing', 'drop it', 'it's boring'. Then with a triumphant pull she had it in her grasp.

'Then why hang on to it like it's a life line then.' Crooked cocky grin, her eyebrow raised into her hairline. She smoothed the crumpled papers and got into role as a newsreader. Her eyes skimmed over the pages, until they stopped. Widened. And then squinted. Then widened again.

'What is it?' I timidly asked, pleading innocence.

Little by little, a smile formed on her face, her eyebrows raised, and then she laughed. Deep, guttural, sexy ? fuck was she sexy.

'Don't tell me you were worried about me seeing this?' I nodded. 'It's Russell. She's getting her own back.' Well that explains the heart and flowers border. She laughed again. 'Come on you. Lunch.' She got up and walked ahead, the magazine firmly in her grip. I would have to get a copy for my treasure box.

I sat staring after her, a sigh escaping me. I wish I had put the declaration in there ? just to let her know ? I did love her ? and I always would.


Chapter Seventeen

The real exams were done and dusted, and the school year had finished in a blaze of glory. All that was left was the school prom.

Emma was going with Richard Morris - Dick the Shit. He was a lad from her athletics club: tall, beefy, brains of a rabbit. I was going with - myself. I couldn't hoist up the enthusiasm to go with anyone else but Emma, so I thought I would have the pleasure of my own company.

We arranged to meet there. Everyone had scrubbed up nice for the occasion; even the school Pigpen, Tony Andrews, had sluiced himself. A blessing, believe me.

The hall was unrecognisable. Banners hung from the wall announcing 'Good Luck Class of 1992', and tables were set out filled with nibbles. The DJ was playing Lenny Kravitz's It Ain't Over Till It's Over, and the lighting was dim, with only a few laser lights dispersing the blackness at intervals.

I looked around and spotted Emma chatting to a group of teenagers, Richard hanging on to every word that she said. Twat. She looked absolutely stunning. I noted every nuance, every curve and swell. Her lithe body was coated by a luscious black dress that hugged her figure before touching the floor. I spotted a split from her ankle to nearly the top of her thigh, displaying delicate slip on shoes with a two-inch heel. The muscles on her calf and thigh stood out at the pressure, and my eyes trickled slowly up her bare leg, lightly licking my lips in the process. Spaghetti straps finished the top of the dress, but the front plunged just enough to see the swell of her breasts. The back was cut away revealing toned shoulders and back. Her hair was away from her face, clipped back with stray locks dangling down to caress her cheek. She was a vision. And I fell in love with her all over again.

I had made an effort - it was the prom after all. Sarah had helped me choose a full-length red dress - scarlet to be precise (yes - the scarlet woman - I know). She said that it would bring out the green of my eyes and reveal the strawberry essence of my hair. I just agreed - I just wanted to look special for one special person. I did look good, even though I say so myself. And the fact that the dress exposed quite a bit of my cleavage, and my breasts are my best feature, was an added bonus.

The DJ was now playing I'm Too Sexy by Right Said Fred. Emma turned and looked directly at me. She smiled as if smiling at a stranger and turned away. The smile fell from her lips, she scrunched up her face, thought about something and then turned back. Her eyes bugged out and she mouthed 'Wow', and came over.

'You look fantastic Laura. Wow! You scrub up good.' She hugged me hard and I could smell her perfume, musky and sensuous with a hint of spice.

'What about you?' I held her at arms' length and looked her up and down shaking my head from side to side. I pursed my lips and gave a low whistle. 'You are one hot woman Emma Jenkins, do you know that?'

She laughed at this and grabbed my hand. 'Come and dance with me?' Madonna's Like a Prayer was now blaring out around us and I allowed myself to get carried away with the mood. God ? she was a good dancer ? especially being so tall. She swayed her hips and clapped her hands just like Madonna in the video ? I was mesmerized, and a little turned on.

We danced for a few songs and finished on the Stone Roses Fool's Gold. She led me over to where Dick the Shit and the others were standing. He was not impressed at all. Livid is more the word. 'Emma, sweetheart.' He tried to put his arm around her and she shrugged it off. Nice move Jenkins. I smiled smugly at him ? he glared ? I smiled all the more, then put my arm around Emma's waist.

'How about a drink, honey?' Emma beamed at me and threw her arm about my neck. I led her away with Dick's eyes boring through my back. I smirked to myself. I knew it was Emma's way, and that it meant nothing to her, but it meant the world to me, that for five minutes it seemed like she was mine.

The night wore on. Emma and I got separated and spent the evening mixing with people we would probably never see again for the rest of our lives. It was happy and depressing at the same time. School is the biggest thing in our lives for so long and then it's over ? gone ? finished, and we are thrown out in to the real world to survive on our own. The rules of the game change and we haven't been told.

Eventually, the evening was drawing to a close. Emma was dancing with Dick (head?) to Jimmy Somerville's To Love Somebody and I was waiting in the wings, watching her every move. Jimmy was squealing 'You don't know what it's like, ooh baby you don't know what it's like, to love somebody, to love somebody, the way I love you'. No. She didn't. But I sure as hell did. It hurt like crazy. Dick was trying to feel her up and she was like a goalie deflecting every move. I had to smile at that.

I sat down at a deserted table and fiddled with a flower from the table ornament, stealing sly peeks at the woman who held my heart so firmly in her hand and didn't even know it.

'Fancy a dance Laura?'

'Fuck off Justine.'

'Suit yourself.'

The song was beginning to end and I could vaguely hear the DJ announcing the last dance of the evening. I felt someone next to me, waiting, and I was on the verge of telling Justine to fuck off again when my eyes were caught in a blue gaze.

'Dance with me.' Not a question, or suggestion, but a promise.

I held my hand up to hers and she took it gently, lifting me to my feet swiftly. She led the way. My heart was hammering in my chest, the rest of the room had faded away. I was going to dance the last dance with Emma. She had asked me.

Arriving at the centre of the floor she turned to me, her eyes dark, hooded, her lips moist and ripe. I licked my own in reflection. She pulled me to her, so close, I nestled the side of my face against her bare skin and breathed in deeply. My senses were overcome; I couldn't think straight; my legs were beginning to weaken.

Her arms were around me, holding me so tight. My own snaked up her arms and draped around her neck like we had done this a million times before. The music started, the first part drowned out by the dedication announced. 'And this one's for Laura. Thanks for being there, from Emma.'

Sinead O'Connor's voice echoed out of the speakers 'It's been seven hours and fifteen days since you took your love away.' I nearly passed out there and then. It was heaven. Emma snuggled closer. Did she just kiss my hair? No. Just wishful thinking. My heart was beating hard in my chest ? my mouth was dry. She pulled away, looking deeply into my eyes, her own looking violet, smoky with ? with what? I don't know, I can only hope - it was probably my overactive imagination again.

She began to sing to me, a soft voice, beautiful, melodic: I didn't even know she could sing.

Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby where did I go wrong
I could put my arms around every boy I see

But they only remind me of you

The same words that I had heard all that time ago coming from her beautiful mouth. She clasped me to her once again, like I was going to save her somehow. Her hot breath fluttered against my ear as she sang the refrain 'Nothing compares 2 U' over and over again.

You know, the funny thing was, I did not get aroused. No. It was something far deeper than that. It was like a bonding, a connection of sorts, like I had found my path in life.

The song was ending; I didn't want it to end. Then I felt it. A soft kiss on my ear, so soft you could mistake it for a loose piece of hair brushing past, but it was definitely a kiss.

'Thank you, Laura,' her husky voice breathed in my ear. Then she was gone: and I was left standing there, tingling in all the places that her body had come into contact with mine. I shivered.

Justine Russell was glaring at me from the sidelines. So, I did the only thing I could think of: I blew her a kiss, winked and skipped off the dance floor.

What a perfect end to a perfect night. Sigh.


That night was never mentioned between Emma and me. Not that we really had the opportunity to see each other as she was spending the summer with her father, his partner, and her little half brother. We were going to start at the same college in the autumn to do our A levels. Emma and Laura - Laura and Emma. Doesn't sound so far fetched now.

I couldn't wait to see her again, and wished away my holiday until I could drown in the blue ness of her eyes once again.


Continued in Chapter 18