Ashley's not sure when it started, or how. Like Sean, she feels as though she's known Ruby forever, but she doesn't remember how they met—at Granny's, probably, the same place most people meet Ruby—or why Ruby decided Ashley was worth paying attention to. She doesn't remember when she was hired; she's worked for Granny for as long as she can remember, as a maid mostly, with a short stint as a waitress that didn't turn out very well. And Ruby—Ashley's sure she found Ruby intimidating once, and she still feels that way sometimes, looking at the way she struts through the diner, the way everything she does is laced with a confidence Ashley's always wished she had.
And then, when Ruby looks at her—maybe that's the most intimidating bit of all, because Ashley doesn't know if she wants to hide or if she wants Ruby to come closer. But she doesn't have to make that decision, because Ruby always saves her the embarrassment of asking for less, or more; Ruby always steps forward and curls a hand around Ashley's waist, or her neck, or her arm, or tips Ashley's chin up with her thumb, and then Ashley closes her eyes and leans back against the wall of the hallway, her lips parting before Ruby even kisses her.
Ruby has keys to every room in the inn, and Ashley's half convinced she has a plan to christen them all, but it feels like a silly thing to ask, so she doesn't. She holds onto Ruby's shirt as Ruby walks her backwards onto a bed, and only lets go when she feels herself fall back. The mattress makes a funny squeaky noise, the way half the mattresses in the inn do, and Ruby gives Ashley a look that makes her flushed and joyful at the same time. Ashley smiles and leans back on her elbows, watches Ruby strip off her apron and her shirt and her skirt; she's wearing plain black underwear, no bra, and Ashley's hands go for her breasts when Ruby climbs over her.
There's nothing—there's really nothing better than watching Ruby react to all the little things Ashley's learned Ruby likes, like when Ashley twists her nipples just so, or bites at her collarbone, or slides a hand down the back of her underwear, lower and lower until Ruby's kneeling up and Ashley can feel wetness on the pad of her fingers. Ruby shudders and kisses Ashley with her entire body, doing away with her underwear as she does, and then Ruby's naked and Ashley's fully clothed and—and Ruby seems to get a kick out of that, too, judging by the way she stretches and grabs Ashley's wrists, holding them over Ashley's head. Her knuckles brush against the cotton of the pillow.
"Tell me what you want," Ruby says. There's always some variation of this, too, and it never fails to make Ashley feel hot in her clothes, close to sweating.
"You," Ashley says this time; sometimes she stays silent, too shy to say anything, and sometimes she's bold and asks for something. This is a middle ground: too shy to tell Ruby to go down on her, comfortable enough to be sappy and take Ruby's breathy laugh in stride.
"More specific than that, Ash," Ruby says, leaning in, her hair falling long and dark over Ashley's shoulder as she bites Ashley's ear.
Ashley squirms, reaching down to open her jeans, and says, "You know what I like." The sound Ruby makes—barely vocal, just breathing—vibrates over Ashley's neck, amusement and warmth and just want, that want Ruby lets Ashley see so openly Ashley barely knows what to do with it.
"Doesn't mean I don't like to hear it," Ruby points out, and drags Ashley's bottom lip between her teeth before letting go and sneaking long fingers under Ashley's top. Casual clothes, because her shift was over when Ruby cornered her in the hallway; Ruby's grandmother is nice, and she probably knows there's something going on, but Ashley wouldn't take payment for hours she hasn't worked, and she needs the money.
Ruby drags her jeans down, mumbling a thank you to Ashley for doing most of the work; Ashley bats half-heartedly at Ruby's shoulder, mostly concentrating on the quick way she goes from being fully dressed to completely naked from the waist down.
It's cool in the room, and she feels that on her knees; Ruby's nails are defined but well-filed, soft, and she feels that on her thighs; and her mouth—the way her smirk closes around Ashley's hipbone, first, before it slides lower, lower until Ruby's tongue is right where Ashley needs it, and it's—it's just perfect. Her hips rock against it, the pressure building between her legs, in her stomach, slow and lazy, relaxed in a way Ashley never feels when she's anywhere else, with anyone else, doing anything other than this.
She runs careful fingers through Ruby's hair, and Ruby responds by sliding two fingers into her, slowly but insistent, adapting as they go. She draws them in and out of Ashley as her tongue draws shapes a little higher, and it's not long before Ashley comes undone, with her knees drawn up and her fingers tightening in Ruby's hair.
When she opens her eyes, Ruby's looking at her with heavy lids, licking her lips in a way that almost seems unconscious, hungry. Ashley pulls her down with a hand on the back of her neck, careless enough that their mouths collide roughly. They share a quiet laugh, and Ruby smoothes the sting away with deep, wet kisses that taste like Ashley.
Ashley's hands make their leisurely way down Ruby's body as they kiss, stroking Ruby's sharp shoulderblades, running light fingertips down her sides. Ruby doesn't rush her; her body feels like waves over Ashley, breath making her chest and stomach heave, hips swaying lightly, stuttering when Ashley drags a firm hand down her belly and spreads her out with her fingers. She doesn't push them in, just rubs the right spot until Ruby's a quivering mess, cursing and shaking and biting Ashley's shoulder, her hands propping up most of her weight but her head buried in Ashley's neck.
They lie side by side for a while, catching their breath; their fingers touch between their bodies, playing with maybe holding hands, and sometimes their eyes meet and they giggle breathlessly. Ruby gets up to grab a blanket from the closet that she can toss over Ashley, and Ashley bites her lip and thanks her as the mattress dips under Ruby's weight again.
"I should get going soon," Ashley says, just matter of fact, because Ruby knows her hours; she knows when her stepmother expects Ashley home. She kisses Ashley's cheek one last time when Ashley's dressed and ready to set out.
Ashley doesn't know how this started, she really doesn't, but she knows it's the one thing that makes her feel hopeful, that Ruby's the one person she looks forward to seeing every day, and she doesn't question that. She doesn't want it to end.