Arcadia Bay. No matter where I am, or when I am, the town pulls me like the moth to the flame. It weighs my heart down. I am trapped within it though I walk free under the sky. It calls to me, accuses me, and lays bear who I am for all to see.
But no one can see except me.
And that’s all it takes.
I stand on solid ground surrounded by stones and crosses. Here are where people received proper burials. Here are laid to rest those who died of sickness, old age, accident. A few, perhaps, are here because of foul play.
Such the contrast to the throngs of people I see outside the cemetery. Cold eyes watch me as I wander among the graves. Arms stick between the iron bars, reaching for me. None of their faces are happy or at peace, like we hope is true of our dead loved ones, quite the opposite.
“Come join us,” they seem to call. “Let us repay you with the kindness you deserve!”
They should be here with the Arcadians of the past. Memorials to their lives should be among the rest. But they aren’t, they can’t, because of me.
The graveyard with its silent dead fades into the darkness of night. Kate’s breast is pressed against my cheek. I turn a little, but I’m stuck tight between she and Chloe. It seems wrong to be with the people I love when I took that from so many. The vision may be gone, but my heart is still within its icy clutches.
I turn to lay on my back, causing Chloe to move a little. She lays partially on my shoulder, her hand slipping down to my stomach.
The wonderful love I shared earlier with Kate comes to mind. It took so much for her to break past that inner armor to do that. And the fact she started it is even more amazing. The thoughts and memory causes my heart to speed up, throwing off some of the dread from my dream.
What will happen to them when I leave? Will Kate be able to find love with Chloe? Will both have the support and care they truly need?
Kate murmurs something in her sleep and draws closer to me. It’s very warm in the sleeping bag with them, only the tip of my head is exposed. And that tip is cold. I consider snuggling deeper into the bag but don’t really have room to move.
So, I lay there, eyes staring into the blackness of night inside a sleeping bag. When sleep does come, I’m not aware of it.
The three of us awaken at about the same time and for the same reason.
“Mmm, is that coffee I smell,” Kate says groggily.
“Fuck yeah,” Chloe says and starts to sit up. Our shrieks as cold, morning air hits Kate and my exposed skin causes her to stop. “Shit! Sorry about that.”
I poke my head out of the bag just enough to look around. Our pajamas are out of reach. Chloe sees what I’m looking for, and scoots out enough to grab the clothes and stuff them in the bag with us. “You might want to let them warm up first,” she says, then she slips from the bag.
My right side is immediately cold and I bundle the sleeping bag toward me to close off the space. Kate rolls into me and together we make a tight nest of the bag. The air inside quickly warms with our body heat.
Chloe puts her boots on, wraps a blanket around herself, and leaves the tent. After she zips it shut, we hear her tromp over to the campfire and talk to Lynn.
“Thank you for last night,” Kate whispers.
“You’re welcome,” I say, “and you too.” I turn on my side to more easily see her. Her cheeks are a little rosy, likely from the cold air. “How are you feeling… about having sex? I mean… what with your background and all…”
Fuck, Max! What a stupid question!
She bites her bottom lip before saying, “Guilty.” Her eyes don’t look at me. “Even though… even though I know what we did was wonderful and natural and I wanted to so much… I can’t shut down the voices that tell me God hates me. It hurts a lot…”
I study my Kate with her distant look and hints of shame in her eyes and feel nothing but love and compassion for her. “You deserve to be loved,” I whisper. “You deserve good things, like last night, and like this.” I run my fingers up her arm then draw her in for a hug. I want to kiss her, but fear that might be too much at the moment. Instead, I keep her in my arms and look at her.
“You are loved by me, by Chloe, by Lynn and others. Do you… believe that we love you?”
“Yes,” she whispers with her eyes downcast.
“Is it… hard to lay together like this, without clothes?”
She nods and I could swear a few tears form in her eyes. I want to pull her close again. “You often wear clothes that hide your body. That’s ok if that’s your choice. There’s nothing wrong with you or your body.” I slip my hand from the bag so I can brush hair away from her eyes. She smiles a little. “You’re pretty. I love your body, because it’s yours and you are a beautiful person.”
“Thanks,” she says hoarsely.
“I want to support you in this,” I say and wonder at what I’m saying.
If I leave who will give her this support? It seems she didn’t get it from Chloe? Or maybe she didn’t try? Maybe I should speak to Chloe about it.
If the thought occurs to Kate, she doesn’t voice it. She grabs my hand, pulls it to her mouth, and kisses my fingers. “Thank you, Maxie,” she says and my eyebrows lift.
“Is that the first time you’ve used a nickname for me?”
She nods, then scoots close until we are completely touching. A little thrill runs through me at the contact. “I began therapy a couple of months ago,” she explains.
Now my eyes are wide. I had no idea.
“Please don’t feel bad, Max… Maxie,” she says. “I… did tell you, but I think you forgot. Until yesterday, you’ve been in this… haze.”
With a hard swallow, I ask, “Has it been helping? The therapy, I mean.”
She nods with a smile and says, “After a lot of research, I found one that specializes in people that come from my kind of background, a high-control religion. She’s been wonderful and has given me several tools to help. But…”
Her eyes crinkle as does her nose and she gets a goofy smile. “You’re the best tool by far.”
“Wait! What? Are you… are you making a Chloe-type joke?”
Her hands are inside the sleeping bag and as I speak, one of them caresses my breast. “Yes, I am,” she purrs.
The outside air is crisp and encourages a good stretch when I step from the tent. Kate follows me and zips the tent closed. At the fire, Chloe sits on a log and looks at us with an innocent grin. “I bet you girls are hungry,” she says. “I hope you didn’t wear yourselves out before our hike today.”
Heat rises in my cheeks and ears. From the corner of my eye, I see Kate squirming. Her cheeks are flushed in different way than several minutes ago.
“Are they fucking done yet,” shouts Lynn.
“Oh, yeah, they’re done fucking,” Chloe calls back to my and Kate’s astonished gasps.
“What,” Chloe says with a shrug. “It was obvious and it didn’t make any sense to lie.”
Still, my face is completely burning and when I look at Kate’s I see what mine must look like: bright pink with red ears. “Couldn’t you say it… differently,” Kate sputters.
Chloe manages an apology that Kate accepts. Lynn comes stomping up the hill, a bundle of firewood in her arms. She piles it close to the fire circle and sits on the log near Chloe.
“Good,” Lynn says, “I need some coffee.” With a hot mitt, she pulls the blue and white metal camp percolator off the fire and pours some into a mug.
“I’ll take some too, if you don’t mind,” I ask politely. Kate also asks for some and soon Lynn has two more mugs filled. Kate wanders off to take care of business while I pull up my own log to sit on.
“What’s the plan for the day,” I say after a sip.
“There are some trails nearby, with great overlooks,” Chloe says. “I thought we could do a day trip. Maybe get in some good pictures.”
“Sounds good,” I say around another sip. “What about breakfast?”
“Got it cooking already,” Chloe says. “I started once I heard things settle down in the tent.” The heat immediately returns to my face and I try to avoid looking at Lynn. “I brought some of that fake meat you like for breakfast.”
“Are you cooking it separate?”
“Nah, we’re all eating the same thing for breakfast. We had it for dinner a few weeks ago. It’s passable.”
Kate returns a moment later, wiping her hands on her pants. We put on clean clothes before we left the tent so we at least feel a little fresh. I do anyway. The smoke in my hair makes me long for a good shower though. I take care of morning business before breakfast and thrill as I hear Kate singing.
I don’t recall her singing at all in the last few months. Or humming.
After breakfast, we sling some daypacks over our shoulders filled with supplies and set out. The trails are more like animal tracks that climb along hills and follow the stream that feeds the pond. The climb is gentle before leveling out, then it rises steeply to another level area.
We walk with minimal chatter at an easy pace that takes us through grasses and trees and stones as large as a car or larger. The forest and mountain around us are filled with bird song and animal calls. We take breaks when we want, whether to enjoy the view or catch a breath. Although my camera equipment isn’t with me, I capture many moments with my phone. The views are breathtaking, and not just of my girlfriends.
They seem to dote on me, showing me more than the usual attention. While Kate’s always been a little touchy-feely, she usually does so in rather chaste ways. Now, she’s bold, placing her hands on my waist or hips, holding me close and finding opportunities to leave little kisses on my neck or cheek.
One spot where we break provides a breathtaking view of the peaks marching away to the East. After I take a couple photos, I study the different peaks, phone at my side. A body presses against my back, hands slide around my waist to hold me, and lips lightly kiss the back of my neck. “I… hope this is ok,” Kate whispers. I lean into her, enjoying sharing this space, this moment with her.
“It is,” I whisper, then give her a quick, but awkward kiss. “You’re free to hold me, cuddle me, kiss me whenever.”
Her cheek rubs against my head. “I love you,” she whispers. “I want to be your girl and hold you forever.”
I lay a hand on hers and close my eyes. Pine and sunshine and water and honey and other scents mix together into a wonderful aroma. “I love you too, Katie, my Katie.” Her ahir tickles me as she rests her chin on my shoulder. It’s a moment I want to be in forever.
Chloe, well, she’s Chloe. When she stands close, she practically drapes herself over me. And while she’s not a kisser, at least in public, she has no problems putting her hands in places.
“This is a little different,” I tell Chloe at one of our first stops. Her chin rests on my shoulder and her fingers rest on my tummy. I’m trying to line up a view of some trees.
“You… and Kate. You’re both so… close to me today.”
“Do you want us to stop? To back away?” Her fingers begin to lift away and I almost drop my phone as I clamp a hand over them.
“No!” The thought of her no longer touching me raises my voice and quickens my heart. “No,” I say more softly. “I… I like it.”
She seems to take that as an invitation and slips her hands into my front pockets. Such as they are anyway. I lean back and switch the phone camera to take a selfie of us. Right before I touch the button, she turns her head to kiss my cheek. One of her hands quickly comes up and flashes a gesture.
We stop for an extended break at a place where there is a jumbled mess of stones, each larger than a car. They lean and balance precariously against each other, forming an alluring contrast of angles. The far side, opposite the trail, also affords us a sweeping panorama of the valley below.
“Isn’t it gorgeous,” Kate says as she stands next to me. I glance at her and decide to play their little game.
“Not as gorgeous as you,” I whisper.
She doesn’t answer, but from the corner of my eye I see red creep up her face. While she enjoys the view, I step behind her shoulder and slip an arm around her waist. She leans into me and a memory of me doing that with Chloe flashes through my mind. Kate is very different though, with her presence, the way we fit together. Not better, just different. Her arms go around my waist, she kisses my neck lightly, then lays her head on my shoulder.
“Thank you,” she whispers.
“Telling me I’m gorgeous. It means a lot to me.”
I lean my head against hers and say, “Just telling the truth.”
“Doesn’t matter,” she says. “After years of being told not to focus on yourself, that to think you are pretty or handsome means you’re vain and not God’s friend… well, it kind of messes you up.”
“Oh, Katie,” I whisper into her hair as I give her another kiss.
I can’t imagine telling such horrible things to a kind person like Kate.
Lips flit across my neck, little kisses from front to back. “You’re gorgeous, too,” she whispers.
We enjoy the view together, how the mountain plunges into a steep ravine with trees and boulders that break it up. We can’t see the foot of the mountain from here, there are too many trees and ridges and other things in the way. Beyond the tallest trees, Oregon stretches out into dark forest, glittering rivers, bright fields, and in the distance the smudge of civilization.
The trail takes us northerly, first along the eastern edge of the peaks, before swinging in a wide circle south. We break for lunch at a wide part of the stream, where a pool has formed with tiny falls and rapids. A curve of the mountain shelters us from the wind, letting only a light breeze disturb us. Despite the high elevation, we are hot and welcome the shade of the trees near the stream.
After eating, I lean back, cradle my head on my hands, and stare into the sky. At this height, the clouds seem to fly by. Too fast, certainly, to see any shapes in them. The sky beyond them is a brilliant blue that reminds me of a certain someone. I close my eyes to better become part of the world around me.
The low hum of conversation weaves into the rustle of grasses and shrubs from the gentle breeze. Water gurgles over rocks and there is the occasional plop from the pool. Birds and other animals make their sounds, perhaps conversing with each other.
Beyond the little dale, the Universe waits to pounce on me. The trip the three of them planned has bought me a break from the constancy of existence. It will soon come to an end and so will my peace of mind.
The vacation doesn’t budge the weight on my soul. It doesn’t heal the festering wound in my heart. From here, safe with Lynn and my girlfriends, I hear the call of the maelstrom and the truth it bears. It is Arcadia Bay and it wants me. I see it there, waiting, haunting me with its presence. It will do that until I give in or give up.
“Hey.” Chloe’s whisper brings me to myself and I open my eyes. Her head hangs over me, face in shadow by the overhead light. She moves to the side where I can now see her. Fingers touch my cheek and are held up for both of us to see. Sunlight sparkles off moisture on Chloe’s fingers.
“What’s on your mind,” she asks, but I don’t answer. After only a moment or two of my silence, she stretches out next to me. “Thinking about what you need to do?”
“Yes.” I breathe the truth into the air where it can take form and fly away, but all it does is crash to my chest with the weight of a thousand worlds.
Somehow, I am cradled against her side, my head resting on her arm. I don’t know when or how, but I’m holding tight to her shirt like it’s the only thing between me and a plunge into an abyss.
And maybe it is because the chasm looms between moments. I do know that Chloe’s coat is wet and sticky, presumably from me. Her arm tightens around me as I push myself against her side.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know.”
We’re silent for an age with the bubbling of the stream and our breathing the only sound. I watch her chest rise and fall and think about what was, what is, and what may be.
“I am afraid… of many things,” I breathe. Her coat creeps upward with each inhale. An urge to slip my hand inside takes hold, but I resist, curling my hand on itself. “Afraid of abandoning you and Kate again. Afraid that if I do leave a Max behind she won’t complete our family. Afraid that I’ll make the wrong choice. Afraid, afraid, afraid!”
I shift my eyes from her chest to her face. “Most of all,” I say, “I’m afraid that if I do what I’m supposed to that you and Kate and Lynn and… you’ll all vanish, like you never existed and I’ll…”
“You’ll be alone in a broken world,” she finishes for me. “And all this will cease to exist.”
I nod and hide my eyes from her. She holds me with the silence of friends and lovers on the mountainside in an Oregon that may never be. I lay against her, trying to imprint everything about her in my mind, in my soul. The way she sounds, the way she smells, the way she moves.
At last, she turns, which rolls me onto my back, and leans over me. Her hair falls around her head in a blue halo that scatters the sunlight. Her hat has fallen off, giving her hair freedom and life. She looks at me a moment, or an eternity, before her lips find mine. While there is a certain fire to the way she kisses, there’s also an element of carefulness like she too wants to capture everything that I am in herself.
Or maybe I’m overthinking it.
When we part, it’s so she can look deeply at me with her impish smile and twinkling eyes. “You are so goddamn cute,” she purrs. I reach up to tangle my fingers in her hair, enjoying the way the strands slip through my fingers.
“And you,” I say, “are a huge dork.” A grin spreads across my face.
“A dork, am I?” She rears up, her eyes slitting as that impish grin grows more mischievous. When her fingers attack, it’s direct to my belly, my most vulnerable spot! Laughter erupts from me and I try to swat her hands away. She grabs my hands and hold them away from me. Instead of tickling me again, she leans in and kisses me.
Her fingers return in dancing motions that coax embers into life. I press up against her and wrap my arms around her as that fire and heat spreads through me.
A leg slides over me so she lays atop me and she breaks the kiss again. “Is this… ok?” There’s a hesitation in her voice that isn’t quite her.
“What’s the matter,” I ask worriedly.
She looks at me, her fingers now circling my ear. “You are special, you know that Max? I think we don’t tell you that enough. I don’t tell you enough.”
“And you’re special, too,” I reply instead of the joke that springs to mind. “What’s brought this on?”
Her answer is to kiss my cheek and to descend in a blazing trail toward my neck. “Are you ok with this,” she breathes into my ear before she nibbles on the soft part.
My hands slide up her sides and beneath her shirt. Rock hard abs greet my fingers as they slide along her smooth skin and I whisper, “As long as you’re ok with this.”
“Hella ok.” Somehow she has her hands under my shirt, pushing it up in a throaty growl.
Fear stabs me and I push at her. “Wait! Aren’t Kate and Lynn-”
“They went ahead,” she says between kisses that descend my neck. She sits up a moment to shed her coat. With a deft move, she slips it underneath me. When she lays down, she shifts to place her lips on my chest and begins her kissing journey again.
Fingers slip under my bra and pushes it off my breasts. There’s a moment of cold that sends a shiver through me, then her hands cover them. Her palms against me feel so good, gentle and warm as she caresses my nipples and breasts.
Like her, my hands slide up her shirt, reveling in the shape of her muscles as I approach her breasts. Each ridge of firm muscle sends a shiver through me. Instead of pushing her bra off, I slip my hands under the band and into the cups. “What’s this,” I ask as my fingers find something unexpected.
“Mmmm,” she hisses, clearly enjoying what we’re doing. “I uh… umph I got them a few years ago.” Her lips are on mine, then my jaw and neck. They are a wandering fire that leaves arousal and a want wherever they touch.
“Ow!” A sharp pain shoots through my left breast.
“Sorry,” she apologizes sheepishly. “I… uh… it’s been a while and I’m a bit excited.”
“How long,” I ask as she tenderly massages my injured nipple. Her answer is to kiss me, to taste me as her fingers soothe and warm my breasts.
Between my fingers, her nipples are hard and inviting. I squeeze my fingers together firmly and she growls into our kiss. “You… remembered,” she pants as I rotate my fingers a little. The little bars catch on my fingers and make the turn easier and sharper.
Like her, I don’t answer. Instead I bite her lower lip and pull. The gentle pull breathes life into Chloe. With another growl, she kisses me hard, her tongue fully exploring me.
Under her shirt, I push her bra off and squeeze. Her fingers on my breasts fan the embers into a flame. There’s something about Chloe that’s so different from Kate. Slow and tender was our love making last night. Like Kate, I enjoy the soft touch of skin against skin and the slow burn of caresses and kisses. With Chloe, there’s a life and energy to what she does, to what she awakens.
And what she awakens wants attention now!
She growls and sits up swiftly, straddling my hips. With a quick motion she pulls off her shirt and bra and tosses them aside. She shakes her head once free of her shirt and for the first time I notice how long her hair is. Between chin and shoulder length filled with blues and purples, it hangs free and shimmers as it moves. Then she helps with removing my shirt and bra before covering my breasts with kisses and licks, and her whole mouth when she can.
It’s hard to get a hold of her breasts, or really do anything as she plays with me. Her growls and moans are all I hear above my heart and she’s stealing my breath away.
In a surprising move, I flip her onto her back and she cries out in surprise. I straddle her hips and look down at her. “My beautiful, Chloe,” I whisper. The bars through her nipples gleam in the sunlight and look quite inviting.
That’s a new look. I like it.
I lean down and lick a nipple, letting my tongue play with its softness. I avoid the bar though her hands in my hair try to get me to attend to it. Up and down her breast I kiss, my hand busy with her other breast.
“Fuck, Max,” I she grunts.
“Maybe later,” I say and she groans. That’s when I take the bar between my teeth and gently tug it. At the same time I pinch her other nipple just right and pull it. Again, the bar makes it so much easier.
Chloe cries out and throws her head back. She arches up to push her breasts at me. I move with them, bar caught between my teeth and pulling, pulling, pulling while my other hand pinches and twists.
When she lays back down, I let go of the bar. Quick as I can, I slide up and kiss her. The bars feel different against the tender skin of my nipples. They feel good.
She wraps her arms around me and rolls so she’s on top. “I hope you’re fucking wet,” she says, “cause I wanna fuck you so bad!”
“And I want you to,” I pant.
She sits up again and slides down to my thighs. Her hands fumble with my pants but for once she’s impatient or flustered or something because her hands can’t quite seem to manage it. Calmly, which is the opposite of the roiling emotions inside me, I place my hands on hers. Together, we manage to unfasten my pants and unzip them. She does the same with hers, then leans over me on her hands and knees.
I look up into her panting face, flush with our love. She’s practically shivering in anticipation. Her tongue flicks across her lips. “It’s been five years,” she hoarsely whispers, “because there is only you. I tried… even tried flicking the bean myself several times, but there is no replacing you, Max.”
Then her fingers are on my stomach and my breath and heart quicken. They slide slowly down my skin, a burning desire questing to engulf me. I open my legs slightly as they pass beneath the waist band of my panties. I gasp as they slide over the sparse hair above their destination.
When she touches me, she leans down and kisses me. Then my hand is in her pants touching her and we’re both drenched. Our hands burn with the desires of our hearts and the desires of our sex. Round and round they go with hips moving to capture the best touch, the best pressure.
My tongue is in her mouth, tasting her and I like what I find. She moans in me, quick and low like her breathing. We’re of like mind and heart and our fingers slide into each other at almost the same time. In and out they go, palm pressed against clit and fingers inside our lover.
It’s quick and beautiful and passionate and we burn with it. We groan together as joy floods us and legs try to lock around hands. She collapses on me, our fingers trapped inside. Not for a moment do we stop bringing each other the joy and love that we feel for each other.
It’s been five years for her, but it feels like an eternity for me. And I want her to experience an eternity of bliss.
She lightly bites my shoulder as another orgasm rips through her. It’s not something I like, but for now it doesn’t diminish the joy that rides me. It’s a cue though and I lean over and bite the base of her neck.
Chloe squirms and cries out as my teeth pinch her! It’s not enough to break the skin, but it will definitely leave a mark.
Our hands gradually cramp in the odd position we lay and they stop moving. With that, our orgasms slowly fade. The good feelings don’t leave though.
Carefully, we extract our fingers from vaginas and pants. Chloe, typically, raises hers to her mouth and makes a show of licking them. “Can’t wait til I have my mouth on the real thing,” she huskily whispers. My face burns, though I know we’ve done this many times in the past. I dry my fingers on her pants before I reach up and touch her hair.
Much like last night, I look into the eyes of Chloe and say, “I love you.”
“Oh you do,” she replies teasingly. “How much?”
“There is no quantity to love,” I pout. “It’s not like you can measure it with a ruler or bucket or something.”
She blows air out of her mouth, then leans in and kisses my cheek. “Some day, Caulfield,” she whispers, “you’ll have a better answer than that.” She licks my earlobe, then says, “I love you. I love you and Kate.”
“And I do too.”
With her on top of me, she keeps me warm from the slight breeze that begins to blow. I run my fingers over her back and shoulders to help keep her warm.
“I’m… glad you and Kate were together last night.”
“Together?” I tilt my head to peer at her. “You mean had sex?”
She grins and says, “That’s right.” Her face grows serious then and she says, “She loves you a lot and knowing she was finally able to break free of what her religion did to her? Well, it fucking makes my heart sing. I haven’t seen her this happy in ages.”
“She’s wonderful and I love seeing her happy,” I agree, “but I’d rather not talk about sex with other women. I’d rather talk about you, us.”
Her brows lower slightly and she looks at me. “What do you mean?”
“What I mean…” There are words I want to say. About my concern that she didn’t find someone while I was gone. About how I’m concerned that when I leave it will send her into a spiral. But I can’t voice them.
“… Is you are the fucking best, and I’m happy to be your First Mate.”
“Pirates forever, is it?”
“Forever.” Then our lips meet. She moves to straddle me again, but I break the kiss. “No,” I say. “There’s… something I’d like to do… I know… I know it’s something you’ve wanted to do in the past… and I think I’d like to… do it.”
“That’s hella vague,” she says with a frown.
“Lay on your stomach.”
She looks at me with a frowny face a moment longer and butterflies take flight in my stomach. I’ve always hesitated to do this in the past, but for some reason I want to do this. No. I know the reason, I just don’t want to admit it and I sure as hell don’t want to voice it.
Slowly, she moves until her front rests on her jacket. Her arms are clamped to her sides with hands under her shoulders. I move over her legs, knees on either side of hers, and ignore the shiver that claims me. It’s not from the breeze at all. With uncertain hands, I grab the waistband of her jeans and underwear and slowly pull. She lifts her hips so I can pull them over her butt.
The jeans slowly reveal her ass and my heart pounds, pounds, pounds at what I plan. Her panties peel off her in a way that makes my stomach leap. Inch by inch her clothes move to reveal her smooth ass. I lick my lips nervously and stop pulling once the jeans are below her cheeks.
Her ass is as toned as her abs, likely from all the work she does at the shop. Curved and inviting, the cheeks rise up from her jeans to curve toward her back. I flick my eyes to her face to see her head is turned to the side and her eyes are closed. There’s a cautious expectation to her, as if the moment is unreal and will shatter if she opens her eyes.
Soft skin and toned muscle greets my hands as I rest them on her butt. I flex my fingers, feeling their warmth, their incongruently hard softness. Carefully, I lean forward and kiss her spine in the small of her back. She makes a tiny noise, maybe a sharp intake of air, when my lips touch her. With little staccato kisses, my lips travel down her spine which shivers with anticipation.
The butterflies have settled into a warm churn inside me as my fingers play with her butt. They squeeze and spread and move them with firm caresses as my kisses continue their journey.
Then my lips are at the juncture where her beautiful ass begins. There are different directions my lips could travel: left, right, up, down, or something else. Both of us seem to be holding our breath and my skin is burning to match the flame inside me.
This is something she’d wanted to try before I left. The memories flood into me. There were other things I’d agreed to do instead, and I’ll likely do those too. The anticipation I detect in her, the tension as she tries to keep her body relaxed, I felt as my lips traveled up this part of her body. It sends a desire through me that confirms and affirms my decision.
Chloe’s body thrums with excitement as I pause and look up at her. Her eyes remain closed, but her mouth is open. Her body is still as she awaits the next touch. Along the backs of her arms and other places I see tiny goosebumps from her excitement.
The pause is only for a moment as I squeeze her ass and gently move my hands apart. My lips touch the last spot with a slight lick, before they continue straight down the center.
She tenses and air explodes from her as my kisses descend between her cheeks into the depths that hide there. I stop at the center and place several kisses to either side. Then oh so slowly, I extend my tongue and lightly lick her.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuck,” she cries and pushes her butt toward my face. I keep my tongue in place, licking and kissing as she pushes. Moans explode from her and her butt quivers as I lick. It’s strange and wonderful and different and fucking hot because it’s something she enjoys. I trace little circles with my tongue, not really sure how this is supposed to work, and kiss and tap and just try to find the things that her cry out.
After a time, I slide a hand around and under her where I can rub her pussy and clit. Hot wetness coats my hand as I press against her. She cries out what she wants and I do my best to do it. Over the curve of her butt, I see her face turned on the ground. Red cheeks and eyes screwed tight as she pants and moans. Again and again she pushes and gyrates as more sounds explode from her.
The excitement and pleasure she feels passes into me and I have a need to do something. My other hand slips into my pants to slide two fingers inside myself. Her butt grinds on my face and tongue as my hips grind against my hand.
Fingers slip into my hair to press my face tight against her. My tongue is licking and pressing and devouring this new experience. I’m so turned on I don’t know what I’m doing but it doesn’t matter because there is only Chloe and her joy and the knowledge that I’m making her feel things she’s never felt before but always wanted to!
Chloe shudders and cries out! She presses so hard in both directions it’s like she wants me inside her in an impossible way. At least like this. Again and again she cries out, some more like whimpers. My own orgasm is slow in coming this time, but that doesn’t matter because hearing Chloe caught in the throes of hers is amazing!
Then her butt is gone and she’s turned and is kissing me. Her tongue is all over my face, licking my lips and cheeks and diving into my mouth. “Get your hand out of your pants,” she playfully growls. “That’s where my mouth belongs.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” I pant into the next kiss. She has her pants and underwear off before my hand is out of my pants. She grabs my fingers and sticks them in her mouth. She sucks on them hard, tongue swirling all over them. When she lets them free, it’s only to slip them into herself. She shudders as my fingers enter her.
“I love having you fuck me with the fingers you just fucked yourself with,” she moans as she moves up and down on my fingers. Her eyes open and she licks her lips. “But enough about me.” My pussy is the target of her gaze.
When I move to lay on her coat, she shakes her head. “Nuh-uh! I want to do something different.”
“What,” I ask cautiously. We should have discussed this beforehand!
“Would you be ok sitting on my face,” she whispers.
That’s new, but not very different than what we usually do.
Quick as a flash, she’s on her back. I swing a leg over her then lower myself until I’m just above her mouth. “Um… I don’t want to smother you,” I say. “Push me or tell if you can’t breathe.”
“Will do,” she says with her eyes fixed on my pussy just above her.
I slowly descend the rest of the way with my eyes closed. Her mouth kisses my outer lips with a warmth and tenderness that makes me moan. Then her tongue is pressed at the bottom of my lips and I shudder.
Her tongue is so close to…
An image flashes through my mind of me eating Chloe’s ass. It inflames my skin and I pant as her tongue moves. The image is replaced with a curious question.
What if she did that to me?
But I can’t dwell on that question, mostly because Chloe’s tongue begins a slow trip up. It parts my lips, then presses deeper to part my inner lips. And still it moves, a slow lick that spreads my dampness to her, and up, up, up.
Her tongue pulls a moan from me as it slowly makes its way to press against my clit. It pauses there, a writhing pressure that turns the slow flame into an inferno! My eyes flick open and the sight of Chloe underneath me, her eyes peeking over the swell of my mons is beautiful!
I groan as her hands slide up to fondle my breasts. They caress my nipples while her tongue licks and licks like it will never stop.
And I don’t want it to stop.
I want her tongue there forever!
I want to look down and see her shining eyes while she fucks me.
But this position is new to me. The pleasure that surges through me takes control of my body. I thrust my hips, but nothing meets them and I’m disappointed.
“Push down,” she whispers, her hands now wrapped around my hips.
I push down, which helps her tongue to reach new spots. “Uhhh,” I cry, not caring if I make sense. The energy takes over and I begin moving my hips back and forth, back and forth.
My eyes close again as she brings new sensations to life. Her tongue laps my clit, presses against it. My stomach is doing weird things, moving in and out as I grind against her face. Then my eyes open and I lean down. Her hair, long and blue, feels good as my fingers slip around her head.
I fasten my fingers behind her head and push down with my hips. At the same time I pull up on her head, trying to drive her tongue deeper. I try to push her into me, like she did to me just a few fiery moments ago.
And the electricity returns. My skin tingles and my whole world becomes Chloe’s face between my legs, a lapping tongue, and a need for it never to end.
Air comes in ragged gasps as I want her tongue to go faster! I smash against her mouth. I need her inside me! I grind myself against her, harder, faster, as I can’t get enough of her! Her blue eyes smile at me between my legs as she eats me and my mind and body lock.
The world becomes a dull roar, a strange static in my ears. Wave after wave of pleasure sweeps me to new heights. Thought flees me and so does my vision. And the orgasm doesn’t end. It stretches into that eternity that I long for, filled with blue eyes and a smile and a tongue that just won’t stop.
Only, it eventually does. Or maybe I stop. I don’t know. What I do know is that when I can see again, I’m on my side. Our clothes are underneath me, protecting me from the dirt and the twigs I feel through them. Chloe holds me close to her, fingers lovingly stroking my hair.
“That was fucking amazing,” I pant. Each word is an effort.
“Yes you were,” she quips, then kisses me. I sink into the kiss, letting her fill me and love me. I touch her cheek, her hair as we kiss and I never want this moment of bliss to end.
Our lips part with a noise that makes her smile. “You are fucking amazing,” she echoes my words to me. Then she kisses me again.
The afternoon sun warms us despite the high elevation. There’s a certain way with Chloe’s smile, or the shape of her body snugged against mine. Her eyes wander over me; a warm glow lights them. Fingers trace lines on my bare stomach, up toward and between my breasts then down.
The last few months are lost to a haze and I look at them now with a sense of loss. Within a few hours, both Kate and Chloe have taken our relationships to new levels and I wish that I had been present enough for that to happen sooner. Not for myself, but for them. What these moments have awoken in them makes my heart sing just as much as we made our bodies sing.
I look at my Chloe and can’t hold back the thoughts anymore. They started last night around the campfire.
“What’s on your mind,” Chloe asks as her fingers stroke my breasts.
I hesitate for a moment. I want to be truthful, but am anxious that it will ruin this wonderful moment between us. “Kind of sad,” I say, my voice betraying it’s more than ‘kind of’. Her fingers stop and her eyes look at mine concerned.
“What are you sad about,” she asks slowly as if she doesn’t want the answer.
I squirm a little before I whisper, “You aren’t my Chloe and I’m not your Max. And… I…” I can’t bring myself to say the words. Her beautiful smile blurs into a mass of blues and pinks and whites.
Her fingers resume a slow march across my skin. They soothe and burn as they travel. “When you… are in another place,” she whispers. “What happens to the Max who… belongs there?”
My gaze moves from her to the sky. The tops of trees sway gently in a breeze only they can feel. The sky is deep blue with white clouds that hurry across it.
“In other places,” I hesitantly say, “she’s inside me, in my head.”
“Does she know what’s going on?”
“Kind of? I don’t know. I can’t talk with her, if that’s what you’re wondering. She’s more like a presence and I can sense general emotion from her, but that’s it.”
The fingers travel up and circle one of my breasts. They trace the edge of the areole before slipping around the nipple. A light shudder passes through me from her touch, but my mind and emotions don’t quite match the feelings. “What do you sense from her now?”
I tremble, both from her fingers and the question. “I don’t.” The words escape into the world to join this new reality I began to make last night; a reality where I open myself to my friends.
“What… do you mean?”
Her brow is slightly lowered, her eyes darting between mine. I place my hand over hers, trapping it against my body. “One of the reasons I thought this… place was home,” I slowly answer, “is because I couldn’t find a trace of a Max. You, Kate, and others have strong memories of her, but she simply… isn’t.”
She searches my face, her own face softening as I imagine her pondering the news I just shared. I can’t imagine what she’s thinking right now and am a little afraid to ask.
She knows I want to leave… need to leave. And I just told her that when I do, a Max won’t be waiting for her.
With that thought, I raise my hand to touch her face. I trace her jaw from her ear to her chin. Her lips are soft. I close my eyes a moment, just so I can better appreciate how she feels.
Her hand on my chest moves again, sliding from my breast up my neck and into my hair. Lips lightly press against mine and I open my eyes. She gives a little smile as she hovers over me.
We kiss again, a tender moment between lovers. It’s to reassure, to soothe and calm and it works. I look into her eyes, wondering what I can do so she won’t feel pain, yet knowing I may not be able to do that.
“Do you get her memories?” The question surprises me, especially because her hands have returned to caressing my body. Fingers explore everywhere they can, at least everywhere I’m comfortable.
“Usually,” I answer. “Sometimes it’s like they’re waiting for me. They flood me and overwhelm me. Other times, it takes a while for them to filter in.”
“And here?” Her lips are kissing my neck and shoulders. It’s a strange message she’s sending.
“They took a while.” It’s hard to keep my emotions in check. Her fingers and kisses are doing one thing, but my thoughts are doing another. They pull me in confusing directions and it’s so hard to think. As if to help me, her fingers move to my face where she brushes my cheek.
“I’m always your Chloe,” she breathes in my ear. The words draw a sad smile to my face.
“And… I’m always your Max,” I choke. “Now… Now I’m just sad.”
Her arm slips under my head to cradle me close to her. “Why are you said,” she asks.
“Sad… that we didn’t do this months ago.”
Her fingers resume their journey and her face softens. “It happened when we were ready,” she says as her fingers slide upward. “The last few months were about adjustment and survival.”
She means helping me live day to day… It happened when I was ready.
“I’m glad it happened,” I say as I gaze into her eyes. A strong urge to feel her again, the warmth of her skin, the hardness of her muscles, the softness of her lips. The urge fills me near to trembling as I look at my girlfriend.
If I stayed… would one of our couples get married? How does that work? Does it even matter?
“I love you,” I whisper. She smiles and a new star forms in my heart.
“I love you too,” she breathes.
I touch her lips with one finger, then slowly move it down. It crosses her chin, down her neck and between her breasts, questing southward. It slips between her legs to gently caress her. A slight flush starts in her face and I note that her breathing is a little heavier.
“Wanting a little more fun, are you,” She teases as she fondles my breast. My answer is to lean up and kiss her. When I come away, I use my other hand to pull her down to me. She shifts to lay on top of me and I wrap my arms around her.
“Love me like our first time,” I whisper between kisses.
Her brows furrow a little but instead of asking a question, she slips a leg between mine. Her lips sear a trail down my jaw to my neck, while her leg begins to do things.
Everywhere her body touches mine tingles. Her lips and tongue play on my neck and shoulders, with little licks and kisses that swell my heart. Her fingers in my hair draw my attention and I pull her hand to my mouth. I lick the first two before I pull them into my mouth to suck on.
Chloe moans as I taste a mixture of ourselves on her fingers. Long ago I gave up trying to understand why she likes it when I suck her fingers. She looks at me with parted lips and quickened breath. Blue hair lit by the afternoon light falls around her face.
Unlike earlier, our love making is slow and tender. She makes me the center of her universe as she works her peculiar magic on me, and I make her mine. The joy and love that swells in my heart and fueled by the burning in my core is tinged by an unshakable sadness. She holds me close to her, panting my name as she gives me a pleasure beyond description.
And when I’ve had my fill, I turn my attention to her. Hot, sweaty, and rather fatigued by the experience, I slip my arms around her and try to give her all that I have.
“Slide your fingers down,” she whispers. I slide one hand over her butt and slip my fingers to press against her without jabbing my leg.
“N-not there,” she pants and moves my head to press my fingers on the right spot.
I watch her unfocused eyes above mine as she pants with desire. Sweat has her hair in clumps, hanging over me or pressed to her head. We kiss a few times, but it’s more satisfying for both to leave our mouths free. Well, somewhat free. I nibble along her jaw, then down her neck, sometimes biting because she likes it. And the sounds she makes when I do! To me, there’s nothing like bringing such bliss to your partner.
Below, my fingers slide and press where she wants, where she needs them. She groans with each motion. My thumb slips upward as memory blooms within me. Another groan is my reward and she presses herself against my hand so hard I think something’s gonna break! The only thing that breaks is whatever held back her pleasure because it rips through her body and causes her to passionately attack my neck. Her lips are all over me, teeth nipping, and bringing me to another peak.
We groan loudly until our mouths smash together. The world disappears as we lose ourselves in each other.
When the world returns to me, or I to it, I find myself cradled against her again. We’re hot and sweaty and sticky, but a euphoric high has swathed my mind and body into a wonderful place. Her arm pillows my head. Fingers slide through my hair then trail along my body.
“You’re so fucking beautiful,” Chloe whispers before kissing my forehead.
Right now, I want to hold onto her and never let her go. My hands slip around her and I press against her. “Ready for more,” she asks with a raised eyebrow.
“No,” I answer before I snuggle my face against her, “just feeling good in the moment and never wanting to let you ago.”
She smiles and kisses me again. “I never want to let you go, either.” I close my eyes to be in the moment. The smell of sweat, old smoke, grease, our sex, and even a little weed cling to her. I don’t recall noticing scents before like I do now.
Chloe hums a little tune and I thrill to the vibrations that resound through her into me. I want to absorb everything about her: the smells, the softness of her breasts and the firmness of her muscles, everything she is and will be.
I am safe in her arms. I can’t resist planting little kisses on her chest. “Trying to start something,” she murmurs.
“No,” I whisper between kisses. “Just showing you how you make me feel.”
After a few more kisses, I stop and breathe her. “Can I ask you something,” I say as a warmth suffuses me.
“Sure,” she breathes. Her fingers continue to trail along my side and back. I think I’m in heaven right now.
“The five years I was gone after… the storm, you said there was only me. What about Kate?”
She sighs and the fingers rest along my side. “Kate and I…” She falls silent after that. I tilt my head to look up at her. “When you left… it wasn’t like when we were kids. I wanted you to come back, needed you to. We’d never had a frank discussion about how our relationships would work together. You and I had a lot of sex, despite our arguments. You and Kate were headed in that direction. Before it could happen you… she disappeared.
“It left me in this weird place where I didn’t feel right having sex with someone else. I tried, but it wasn’t the same. It’s not like I needed your permission, it’s just…”
She adjusts herself to better look at me. Unfortunately, that means I’m no longer cradled to her breast and I miss that comfort. Fingers touch my lips, then my chin, before sliding into my hair. “Without you in my life, everyone else seems so… flat and empty. I didn’t want to pursue anything with Kate because I was afraid to have the same experience with her. I didn’t want to find her empty, it wouldn’t be right. At least I don’t think so.”
Like her, I touch her lips, then trace my fingers along her cheek into her hair. For a time I let my world become Chloe and her presence. “When I go-”
“If you go,” she interrupts firmly.
“When I go,” I slowly repeat. “Please don’t… I want you to be happy, to have the same joy we just experienced. And I want you to feel free to enjoy that with Kate or someone else.”
“You want me to fuck Kate,” she mutters.
“No, I’m saying it’s ok to love her. I’ve seen the way you care for each other. The looks you give her when she walks into the room, or when she does something for you. And if that means sex, then that’s ok. You aren’t mine alone, and neither is she. I… I love you both.”
She pulls me back against her without a word and her hands resume caressing me. I snuggle down until my face rests against her chest again.
Kind of like Kate…
“We should… talk more about this stuff,” she says. “The three of us. It’s what we planned to do five years ago. Time to follow through.”
She’s ignoring what I said.
I decide not to remind her. Later, I’ll tell all of them. Instead, I press myself against her and will myself to enjoy being in this moment with her.
Mountain living means short days, even in the summer. The western peaks hide the sun long before it plunges the Oregon coast into darkness. Long shadows accompany Chloe and I as we walk back to camp. We never caught up with Kate and Lynn. But of course, that was Chloe’s plan. The entire afternoon was spent catching up with each other, much as Kate and I did hours earlier.
I wonder about that, the ease with which both of my girlfriends took us into new territory. Why now? And why on the same trip that I tell them what’s going on?
Only, I didn’t tell them everything. And maybe I’m overthinking it.
As those thoughts flit through my mind, a new thought rises that sends shivers through me.
What if they both want to have sex with me tonight? At the same time!
I look up at my blue-haired girlfriend who’s making a crass remark about the shape of a dead tree ahead.
No, I know I’m not ready for that. And I’m certain Kate isn’t either. What we did last night and this morning I think took her to her limits.
After our morning tryst, Kate was very uncomfortable even hinting at what we did together. That was especially true with her sister present. I’m positive she and Chloe have not progressed beyond hugs and cuddles with the occasional kiss.
Those thoughts fade away as I cling to Chloe’s arm. The camp is close. Smoke from the fire twirls through the trees and we can hear Kate singing. With that proximity comes the expectation that all this is temporary.
Maybe I should tell them the rest.
Or maybe I’m out of my mind with joy because of Kate and Chloe and it’s effecting my thinking. Why hurry what I have?
But no. I should tell them because keeping it to myself is one of the reasons I slipped into that haze. It’s bad enough that I expect the world around me to fade into another reality at any moment. The uncertainty that rules my life has put enough obstacles in our relationships. I don’t need to add more. I stop Chloe before we reach the path to the campsite. In the low light, she stands mysterious and alluring. I smile and give her a quick kiss.
“Not complaining,” she says, “What’s that for?”
“Because I can.”
“Ok.” She doesn’t let me turn away. Her hands go about my waist and slip into my back pockets. “Spontaneity isn’t really your thing,” she says. “That’s my specialty. What’s on your mind?”
With a sigh, I lean my head against her. “That was… to seal off the best night and day of my life before I tell you…” The images and sounds and feelings all rush back to me, choking me, squeezing my throat and chest until nothing can escape!
“About that promise you mentioned last night,” she says when I don’t continue. Still in the grip of memories, I nod my head. She holds me close, moving her hands to my back.
We stand there until the tension leaves me and I sag against her. Her arms begin to slide away from me and I say, “Please! Not yet. Let me… let me just be here a little longer.”
Her arms return and we stand in a tight hug. She sways gently and I let myself be part of the moment, part of her. I look up at her, framed now by mountain peaks and early stars and an indigo sky. “No matter what happens,” I whisper. “I will always remember you.”
“Well I certainly hope so,” Chloe says, completely unaware of why I say that. And that’s the way it should be. I step out of her arms, letting my hand slide down to grab hers, then turn toward the camp.
Food sizzles on an iron skillet set on a stone among glowing embers. Lynn stirs the contents with a long fork, or maybe it’s a stick. Kate looks up at our approach. She beams a smile at us, then makes room on the log. We seat ourselves, me in between them. Kate immediately leans close and kisses my cheek. Her hands take mine as she quietly giggles and says, “Welcome back.”
Neither of them asks what we did, though Lynn flashes us a look and Kate reaches up to brushes something from my hair. The smile she gives me tells me she knows. We chat a little about the area, the hike, the food Lynn is preparing, and other things.
Once dinner is done and everything cleaned up, the talk dies down until the only sounds are the crackles and pops of the fire and animals in the nearby forest. I shiver as I contemplate what I need to share and I move to stand. Kate places a hand lightly on my arm. “Please don’t,” she says with her big eyes and sad mouth.
And so I stay, though I do slide off the log to rest my back against it. My busy hands find some twigs to play with. Soon, little bits of wood flick from my hands to fly into the fire where they bounce and dance among the embers.
“One of the last things you… Chloe said to me before I went back in time,” I say to the flames. It’s easier that way and they provide a good analogue of my life. Always in motion, devouring and destroying, unpredictable.
“We have to save everybody, okay? And you’ll make those fuckers pay for what they did to Rachel. Being together this week… it was the best farewell gift I could have hoped for. You’re my hero, Max.”
Rain drenches me as I lean against the log and the wind blows my hair into my face. Beyond the fire I see Chloe, soaked to the skin, and so brave, so so brave to face a death that she didn’t deserve. It tears my heart apart again to know she volunteered to go back to a reality where she’d die alone in a bathroom thinking everyone in her life had abandoned her. My chest burns as I watch her bid me farewell.
A hand touches mine and through the fire I see the girl I made that promise to. “A promise I never kept. And when the storm came anyway… it broke me. She’d died for nothing and because I…” My voice cuts off as I see her again, the last time we were together that she would remember: fourteen at her father’s funeral. No one should have to go through something like that.
Fingers stroke my hair. My girlfriends are near. My girlfriends are dead. They comfort me without being too close as the flames blur and twist into columns that blaze into the air.
“I didn’t save anyone. It didn’t matter that Jefferson died in the storm, because everyone else did, too.” In the distance, the cries of the dead damn me.
“Max.” Chloe’s whisper finds me and returns me to the forest and campfire. She kneels before me, my hands held in hers. “It’s ok, Max,” she whispers. “It’s ok to go back and save everyone. I know you can.”
Next to me, Kate says something similar while Lynn remains silent. I shake my head vigorously. “If I go back,” I say to them, “I don’t know what will happen here.”
“You’ll go away,” Chloe says with a sideways nod of her head, “and the Max for this timeline will take over. It’ll be ok. And the… you’ll be back.”
I shake my head and look down. “No it won’t,” I whisper. “Losing you and the whole town… it broke me. I tried to fix it… or do something, but it all went wrong and time kind of exploded.” I look up at her, though I can barely see her now. Everything is blurry and smeared.
“All those realities I described? They aren’t permanent. They’re all disintegrating, short-lived. Wherever I am, I bring stability. And there is no Max for this timeline. She’s gone and I don’t know where!
“If I go…” I can’t finish it. I can’t!
They must know because despite the haze that descends upon my mind as I voice those words, arms wrap around me. Their touch breaks the dam. No tears fall, I think I’m all cried out, but I shake and tremble and scream at the cruelty of the universe.
I have been given a power beyond any comprehension.
To use it brings harm beyond belief.