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Cosima sits on the edge of the bed, her eyes hurt from squinting so much. Her gaze is fixed on the reflection of Delphine in the mirror, who is struggling to decide between a white dress... and a white dress identical to the first. She’s been trying on outfit after outfit during the time it took Cosima to take a bath— exfoliation, shaving, hair and skin care routine included, get dressed — accessories included and put on makeup.

She blinks and looks at the allegedly different dress she’s holding in her hands, then at the one Delphine is wearing.

She blinks again. “I know my eyesight isn’t perfect, but I swear they’re the same.”

A defeated sigh.

“Non, chérie, look. This one has a Peter Pan collar--” she insists,

Wine, Cosima thinks. I need wine.

“--and pearlier buttons, see?”

She genuinely can’t, because Delphine is taking off her dress and Cosima is unprepared for the full-on assault on her senses. Her peripheral vision barely registers the garment Delphine threw on her lap for her to give it a closer inspection.

Cosima’s attention could not focus on the dress and its fasteners if her life depended on it.

It only cares about the sight before her, enticing enough to almost make her moan out loud— Delphine is wearing a blue lingerie set she’s never seen before; the color rich and deep as the night sky accentuating her pale skin. The satin and lace bra that hugs the soft curve of her breasts, her round ass outlined by matching knickers, along with the suspender belt and black stockings made her pulse race. Her figure, encircled by the antique bronze frame of the mirror and kissed by the soft light of the candles and lamps, reminds Cosima of a baroque painting.

She shamelessly lets let her gaze wander over her, and Delphine, feeling the intensity of it warming her skin, doesn’t seem to mind. An eyebrow arching high in an inquisitive manner and a tiny smile ghosting her lips, she gives her a look from the mirror. The most goddamned flirtatious and suggestive look Cosima has ever seen in her life and, okay, she may be sober, but her head is spinning and her body is buzzing as if she weren’t.

She needs a drink. She needs a joint. She needs to stop thinking about what it would feel like to rip her underwear off with her teeth, to tease her where she wants the most only to retreat and trail a path of kisses from her feet up to her thighs, gentle bites marking her as she works her way up her stomach to nibble the soft creamy roundness of her breasts and then her neck, and move even higher to suck the smooth skin of her throat and then kiss her full lips and... Lips. Delphine’s lips are moving but Cosima seems incapable of hearing what she’s saying.

Realizing she’s perilously close to getting on her knees and worship her girlfriend right then and there, and cursing the fact that they had no time or surely she would, she is determined to put her mind where it needed to be.

Or try to.

Damn. Damn. Damn!

It takes every ounce of willpower she possesses to remember what they were talking about before Delphine nearly defied all logic explanations known to science by straight up getting her pregnant.

After a moment, “I’m sorry, did you just say pearlier buttons?” she says helplessly, and God, her mouth is dry.

A furrow replaces the arch of Delphine’s eyebrow and her lips turn down in a slight pout. “Yes. The color, it’s pearly. Or am I saying it wrong? I mean... you know, it has the color of a pearl.” She hastens to explain, her expression now one of quiet anxiety.

Cosima melts at her nervousness.

“Delphine,” she soothes. “It’s not like my parents are the fashion police. It’s just dinner.”

She stands and walks towards her, wraps her arms around her girlfriend’s waist. She hugs her tight, to reassure her, yes, but also because she simply loves holding her close. There’s uncertainty in her tense muscles.

“I want to make a good impression, Cosima.” Delphine’s voice is filled with worry but her body slowly relaxes into her embrace, lids closing.

“You will.” Delphine doesn’t reply so she nuzzles a gentle kiss into her neck and presses forward. “You will, baby. I’m sure they’ll love you almost as much as I do, pearly buttons or not.”

She watches Delphine’s lips spread into a grin. Her characteristic, absurdly sappy puppy-love grin, and can’t fight back a toothy grin herself. But then her face turns serious and Cosima feels her inhale deeply before exhaling slowly, her breath shaky.

When she speaks, her voice is full of emotion. “Je suis hereuse de t’avoir à mes côtés, mon amour. Je sais pas ce que je ferais sans toi. Rien que de penser à ça me fait sentir...,” she laughs softly, shaking her head. “C’est pas normal, Cosima. Je peux pas vivre sans toi, tu sais ?

“That makes two of us.” Delphine can’t see her, but she can feel the smile behind her whisper, the tenderness, the love.

When her lids finally flutter open and she meets Cosima’s gaze on the mirror, there it is again, the flicker in Delphine’s glossy eyes.

“And I bought it last week.” She simply says, her voice flirty.

It takes Cosima a moment to understand what she’s talking about.

When she does, the forgotten fire burning inside her seconds ago hits her full force again. Only this time, it devours her completely, engulfing her. It scorches her with heat, the flame so intense it is almost unbearable, and she thinks, God, with you by my side, it could never be extinguished. And it’s true, so embarrassingly, ridiculously true, but Cosima can’t do this right now because according to Delphine’s schedule, they had to be on their way to her parent’s house by now.

It is her turn to close her eyes this time and, Jesus, she can’t believe she’s doing this, but she is mentally transporting herself to Billy Conrad sticking his beer-flavored tongue down her throat in sophomore year, his clumsy hands trying to... it’s not working. She needs a better distraction. She tries to conjure up that feeling when you realize there’s no tea left.

Nothing.

Misogynists, people who are rude to employees, high school PE class, getting stuck on a level, that dude who kept checking Delphine out the other day at the park, Delphine’s uber tidy tendency to put her things away resulting in her not being able to find them, Delphine turning around in her arms. Her full breasts at direct eye level when she opens them, the tender flesh almost, almost spilling from her bra.

“Cosima, are you okay? You don’t like it?” Delphine pulls away, looking uncharacteristically shy. “You don’t think it’s too much, do you?”

Cosima would complain at the loss of contact if she hadn’t been so confused, both by her preposterous insecurity and her questions.

“Of course I’m not okay,” she says matter-of-factly. “You are, like...,” she gestures to Delphine’s body, her hands moving frantically, “right in front of me and we don’t even have the time to... And do I think it’s...? God, Delphine!” A full-body eye roll. “Come here.”

Delphine steps forward again, worrying her lower lip between her teeth, but lets Cosima rake her eyes over her body. She can tell her girlfriend is pleased with what she sees. Perhaps more than just pleased.

Still, Delphine has the strange urge to hear her say it, so she asks, “So you do like it?”

Fuck. She’d tried to resist doing this, she really did, but there’s only so much self-control a person can have. Before she knows it, she’s turning Delphine around by her hips, forcing her to face the mirror once again. She stands behind her, both bodies radiating heat where they touch, which is practically everywhere.

“The word ‘like’ doesn’t begin to encompass how I feel about this,” her breath is warm against her right ear as her gaze studies her whole body, and it tickles her skin and her insides. Delphine loves the flickering desire she sees in her eyes when they land at her breasts. “And this,” she loves it, even more, when Cosima’s hands move to squeeze them tightly to emphasize her point.

“Yeah?” she says, captivated.

One hand smooths her hair away to make room for her mouth, which she presses against her neck, and Delphine involuntarily leans into the touch, as she always does. The other is now traveling down her stomach, her eyes and Cosima’s following the torturing path she’s tracing, until finally, she cups her sex over her underwear and Delphine could weep.

“And this, Delphine?” She sounds breathless, and maybe she is.

“Oh,” the gasp escapes Delphine’s lips before she can stop it because Cosima’s fingers are moving her panties to the side.

Her whole body is thrumming with anticipation.

“I can’t even begin to explain how sexy you look and much I want you right now.” Slowly, Cosima strokes the tender skin between her thighs, a place she knows by heart. “Scratch that. I want you all the time, but, like, especially now.”

Her words prickle Delphine’s skin satisfyingly, seep into it like a tattoo, and had she believed in souls, maybe there too.

When she sighs Cosima’s name, it is hardly an objection. She can barely keep from squirming. “We need to stop,” she doesn’t sound convincing, not even to herself.

Of course, Cosima knows it’s a hollow protest because Delphine’s body language says otherwise. She can feel her muscles tightening under her palm with wry delight, her flats and ridges growing wet and slick with every flick of her fingertips. She may not be voicing her encouragement, but Cosima can feel it. She can feel her quickening heartbeat, can read her trembling and shuddering and breathing like no one else.

“We definitely don’t need to do that,” is all she says, drunk not on alcohol, but her scent.

She inhales slowly, knowing she would already notice the faint smell of her arousal in the air, mixed with the floral notes of the soap she uses. She is not disappointed when she does.

“We’re going to be late,” Delphine breathes weakly. “You need to sto...” Her complaint turns into a moan when Cosima circles her clit. She clears her throat and tries again. “Please, stop.”

"Not to sound like a fifteen-year-old boy, but I'm kinda having a hard time doing that." She high-fives herself mentally at the bad joke. Delphine would swat at her arm if she had the strength.

“We’re going to be late,” Delphine repeats, mostly chiding herself, and somehow finds a way to still Cosima’s hand with her own.

“Time isn’t real,” Cosima replies with her usual contrariness, but stops her movements.

“So now you’ve decided you’re an acosmist?”

The roll of her eyes, Cosima thinks, deserves its own Oscar prize.

“I had to give it try,” her tongue is poking between her teeth as she retreats her hands.

“Has that line ever worked with anyone before?”

It’s still warm, the phantom weight of her touch, but Delphine ignores it in favor of putting on her dress.

“Maybe,” she says with a provocative smile, and Delphine rolls her eyes again. On Cosima’s phone, the screen lights up with an upcoming call from her mom. She taps the red decline icon and checks the time instead. “But you’re right, we’re gonna be late and we don’t want that.” She furrows her eyebrows as she types a text. “I can’t believe I just said that.”

When she looks up, Delphine’s chin is quivering. “I...”

Cosima nearly panics. “Shit, baby, it’s okay. It’s okay. Here,” she sits on the bed and pats her thighs, inviting Delphine to sit on her lap. She sniffles a little but obeys, “look, I just sent her a text saying we might be running late because I spilled wine on myself and had to change, see? She’s typing, I’m sure she’ll be okay with--” she interrupts herself when the reply appears on the screen.

I was actually counting on you being late sweetie

“Wow, okay, cold as fuck,” Cosima says, making a resigned face, and Delphine laughs, which makes her laugh.

Another text immediately follows: I was about to season the salad and dad is checking the oven to make sure the bread isn’t burning. I accidentally called you while trying to send Brenda a text

“See? It’s okay. Nothing to worry about, baby.” She strokes her hair and watches a single teardrop track down her cheek, then catches it in its path with her thumb. “You were anxious too the first time we had dinner with all my sisters, but that time was so much worse. And you got over it and everything went well.”

She lowers her head. “I did?”

“You did, and I was so proud of you because I knew how scary that must have been, after everything that happened.” Cosima gently lifts her chin. “Look at me.” Her voice is firm. “You remember what we did to calm your nerves?”

She meets her gaze, and something softens almost imperceptibly in her Bambi eyes. Cosima’s chest tightens.

“No,” she answers.

“I had to distract you all day so you wouldn’t freak out. We went shopping because you insisted you had nothing to wear. Then we went for a coffee at your favorite café, which mind you, was not close to the store and I was wearing heels. The place was full so we had to leave and we walked some more. I remember, like, thinking there wasn’t a single bench or place to sit and then you said you’d never seen a squirrel in real life so I took you to the nearest park. You thought I was being sweet but the truth is, Dr. Cormier, my feet hurt and I knew I probably had blisters all over them. Squirrels and chivalry be damned, I just needed to sit down.”

Delphine gives her a little smile at that. “I think I remember the squirrels.”

“Then we came home, showered together and then, if I remember correctly, you took advantage of my kindness and asked me to give you a full body massage.”

“I did not!”

She’s almost laughing now, so Cosima continues, “I didn’t complain, naturally. I can’t exactly say no to you,” she says, mostly to herself. “Anyway, now that I think about it, I think you had it all planned out. I think you had even included palmarosa essential oil to our shopping list that week! Or was it peppermint?”

“It was petitgrain essential oil,” she supplies, biting the inside of her cheeks to keep from smiling.

“You cheat! If you remember, why are you making me tell you?”

As though she could ever forget for even a second everything Cosima did that day to relieve her anxiety. No, she remembers it well.

“You were so patient with me, mon amour.”

“Hmm. I was. And I think it paid off, you couldn’t take your hands off me that whole week, Dr. Cormier. You were sooo smitten.” Cosima coos and tickles her sides, admiring the blush that appears on her cheeks every time she teases her, loving the sound of her laugh. “Now, come on, babe.” She moves a little so Delphine stands and then she does the same. “Let’s get to the car and slay this dinner party.” She has to rise on her toes to give her a quick kiss on the nose.

“Okay. Don’t forget your phone,” Delphine says as she grabs it from the bed.

“Right.” But Cosima is already walking to the door. She stops before opening it without turning around. “Delphine?”

“Hmm?”

She pauses and turns to look at Delphine, who’s busy putting on her shoes. Cosima blurts out, “I know we’re, like, ten minutes late, but it’s fine because they’re my parents, which means technically we still have, like, five minutes to spare, considering they know I’m always a little late and the traffic, you always have to take traffic into account.”

Delphine narrows her eyes. “Is there something you’d like to tell me?”

She swallows before adding, “Okay, please don’t have a heart attack or anything but can we, like, hurry up anyways? I, um, forgot to buy the wine you asked me and we need to buy it on our way there,” she couldn’t let her words out fast enough.

“You didn’t...? Cosima--”, is the last thing Cosima hears before she opens the door and disappears, sprinting, to the safety of the hallway.

Inside their apartment, Delphine response to Cosima’s giddy laughter is a shake of her head, accompanied by a lopsided smile she could hardly suppress. There’s a slight flutter in her heart as she steps outside and closes the door behind her, a flutter that couldn’t be mistaken as anything but pure love. And okay, maybe a little bit of annoyance too. But mostly just love.