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The first time...

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The first time Bliss felt her heart race — really race — wasn’t when she saw Oliver in the crowd that first night. And it wasn’t even when the three skaters from TXRD rolled into the head shop looking strong and confident and sexy as all get out (though her mother would have had a heart attack to hear Bliss say so). It certainly wasn’t the time J.T. Culver kissed her in the closet as part of Seven Minutes in Heaven, because good looking did not equal good kisser.

No, the first time her heart raced — really raced — was when she was fifteen years old and sitting on Pash’s bed while Pash started pulling out some of the shirts she’d bought to celebrate her weight loss. Bliss never did understand why Pash thought she needed to lose the weight. To Bliss’s eyes, Pash was pretty much perfect the way she was, but then Pash took off her blouse and her bra, and at that point, Bliss’s heart started pounding so hard it was a wonder Pash couldn’t hear it for herself, even standing ten feet away.

Bliss sat there and couldn’t stop herself from staring, and thank God Pash wasn’t paying attention, because what kind of friend stares at another friend’s boobs like this? It took another moment or two, but Bliss finally looked down at her lap, her face hot, and her heart still going too fast. There was a word for girls (hey, lesbo!) who stared too long at other girls, and even though Bliss didn’t much care what anyone else thought, she cared about what Pash thought, and Bliss absolutely didn’t want to freak her out, no matter how much she wanted to get her hands (and lips and tongue, oh God) on Pash’s breasts.

It just wouldn’t do.

*****

The first time Bliss made love with Oliver, it was okay. Sure, it was a little painful at first, but that was to be expected, and the way Oliver’s dick moved in her, the pain seemed to get rubbed away. She’d wanted it to be more, because God, Oliver. But it wasn’t, and she was never sure she would have gotten anything at all out of it if she hadn’t unexpectedly thought of that never-to-be-forgotten eyeful of Pash’s breasts. Two years later, she could still picture how heavy and perfect and round they were, the deep dusky rose of her nipples, and the way they stood up in the cool air of a climate-controlled house. She remembered wanting to lick around each nipple and suck it into her mouth to play with it a little, wanting to lick Pash’s belly to see what she might taste like further down, and God, the thought of it made a shudder roll through her like nobody’s business.

That shudder must have been what Oliver was waiting for, because he sped up a little, whispered in her ear, “Yeah, baby. Felt good, didn’t it? Gonna make you feel good some more.”

He didn’t, not that night, and then he went on tour. But any expectations of it getting better when he returned were dead in the water as soon as Bliss saw a picture of that girl wearing her t-shirt. There was no way in hell she was letting Oliver anywhere near her after that.

*****

The first time Bliss had sex with another girl (woman, she reminded herself over and over again), it was with, of all people, Maven. And it wasn’t a conscious decision, either — it was more along the lines of getting into yet another tussle with her after a match. Well. It was a tussle if tussle was defined as a knock-down, drag-out fight, complete with hair-pulling and getting pinned and gasping at the feel of Maven’s leg pressing against her pussy and Maven realizing what was happening before Bliss did and easing up a little just before kissing Bliss, complete with tongue.

It wasn’t romantic, and it was honestly kind of gross on the locker room floor, but Bliss couldn’t bring herself to care, because having sex with Maven was about a thousand times better than making love with Oliver or having sex with the three guys who followed him. Maven taught her Sex With Girls 101 that night, and for the next two months, she brought Bliss up to speed on the rest of it.

Bliss might have been okay with it, except whenever she and Maven had sex, she couldn’t stop feeling like she was somehow cheating on Pash, which was pretty ridiculous, all things considered.

This was probably why, when Bliss got a call from the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, she didn’t hesitate to say sure, she’d be happy to help them out with a little fundraising, and hey, would there be any chance of helping her find a job? She’d always wanted to live in Michigan. She hadn’t, not really, not until Pash called last March to scream about getting accepted into the University of Michigan Law School. That was when Bliss started thinking about Michigan (ignoring completely the fact of snow and ice and actual winter). New York was too big, too crowded, but from what she’d heard, Ann Arbor was a lot like Austin, and that was something she could honestly consider.

She was just about to tell Razor she was leaving town when it occurred to her that maybe she should tell Maven first. Bliss tracked her down in the half-assed gym they’d cobbled together the year before and said, “Hey.”

Maven took one look at her and said, “Oh, Jesus. Don’t tell me you’re breaking up with me.” She whipped her arm up and across her forehead like some demented maiden on crack and said, “Oh, me! Oh, my! Whatever shall I do?”

“Asshole,” Bliss muttered, as Maven staggered around in her version of seemed to be a fainting spell.

Maven laughed at her and said, “You heading up to Ann Arbor?”

“What? How did you —?”

“Who the hell you think gave the Dimes your name, moron?”

“God, I hate you.”

Maven grabbed her in a headlock — Bliss would not miss the stench of her armpits — and gave her a noogie. “You love me, and you know it, bitch.”

Bliss twisted out of the headlock and said, “Like hell I do.”

Maven just grinned harder and slapped her ass, saying, “Send me a postcard when you get up there and find your one true love.”

“No, really. I hate you,” Bliss said, but she thought the message might have been lost, considering how hard she was smiling.

*****

The first time Bliss saw Pash in Ann Arbor, she was standing in line at Zingerman’s waiting to pay, and Bliss was behind the register, waiting to take her money. It wasn’t exactly the stuff reunion dreams are made of, and it took about two weeks of groveling on Bliss’s part before Pash would even agree to talk to her.

“At the Starbucks on Liberty, and you’re buying. Asshole.” It was more than Bliss deserved, because she’d been in Ann Arbor since August, arriving roughly the same time as Pash.

“I’m sorry,” Bliss said again, holding out the double half-caf soy latte that Pash had demanded.

“If you’d told me you were up here, I wouldn’t be stuck with the roommate from hell.” Pash blew on her drink, took a sip, and after a long moment, nodded slightly. Bliss took this for what it was — an acceptance of her apology — and sat down across from Pash.

“If it’s any comfort, I live in a shithole down near Eastern’s campus,” Bliss said.

“Anything has to be better than putting up with Miss Trust Fund 2014.”

Bliss frowned. “Wait. If she has a trust fund, then why —?”

“Daddy cut her off last year,” Pash said with a certain grim satisfaction. “The only job she could find was flipping burgers at a McDonalds, and she has to keep the job if she wants her rent to get paid on time.”

“Oh God.”

“Tell me about it.” Pash gave her a lingering look. “And while you’re at it, tell me why you moved to Ann Arbor without saying a word to me.”

“I —” Bliss felt her face go hot, and for a brief, horrifying moment, she thought she might burst into tears, but then she got her shit together enough to say, “I’ve, um, I’ve — there’ve been some —” She swallowed hard and said in a rush, “Girls. I like girls.”

“Duh,” Pash said, taking a bigger drink of her coffee.

“No. I mean — girls. Not boys.”

Pash raised an eyebrow. “And you think this is news, because why?”

Bliss blinked. “It was news to me about five months ago.”

“Really?” Pash started laughing before she noticed that Bliss wasn’t grinning. “Shit. How didn’t you know this?”

“Well —” Bliss was embarrassed and honestly would have preferred to fall through a hole in the floor, but that wouldn’t work either. She took a deep breath and started again. “There was J.T. —”

“Culver, right?” At Bliss’s nod, Pash shook her head. “God, you were just thirteen when you kissed.”

“Yeah. And then there was Oliver, Andrew, Eric and Jim-Bob.”

Pash rolled her eyes. “I still can’t believe you dated someone named Jim-Bob, let alone slept with him.”

“He was cute,” Bliss said, though in her more honest moments, she freely admitted that Jim-Bob was a colossal mistake, one that she planned to use as an object lesson for Shania as soon as she was old enough to hear more of the details. In the meantime, she continued to polish that little speech so that she could give it without wanting to die of mortification.

“Whatever.” Pash finished her coffee and waggled the empty cup at Bliss.

“I just bought you that.”

“And now it’s gone, and you still have a bunch more making up to do.”

“Fine,” Bliss sighed, though she was actually relieved at the brief reprieve.

When she returned with a new cup of coffee, she sat down and waited for Pash’s seal of approval. Instead, she got, “So who was she?”

“Um —”

“Come on. I want to know who it was that opened your eyes to the fact that you’re totally into the joys of woman-on-woman loving, since clearly, my tits didn’t do the trick.”

Bliss froze.

Pash narrowed her eyes.

“You, um, you noticed that?”

“Kind of hard not to,” Pash said, with an evil smile that should have been a warning to Bliss years ago. “There was a period of about six months there when you couldn’t even look me in the eye.”

“I was fifteen!”

“More than old enough to figure it out,” Pash said, apparently unconcerned that she was dismantling Bliss’s world view with every word she spoke.

“You knew? You knew even then?”

“Sure.”

“And you didn’t say anything because —?”

Pash shrugged. “I figured you would get around to it one of these days.”

“And — and you’re not upset?”

“What can I say? I have awesome boobs.”

Bliss looked — she couldn’t not, because Pash’s boobs had been the stuff of her dreams for a while — and when she finally looked away, it was to see Pash smirking at her. For a disturbing moment, Pash reminded her of Maven, complete with predatory intent, and Bliss wondered if maybe that meant something. She wondered if she’d recognized Pash in Maven, and that was why she’d reacted so strongly. In any event, Pash’s comment hung out there, and Bliss refused to respond.

Honestly, she couldn’t respond. If she did, she was certain it would involve lips, lots of tongue and inappropriate groping in public. She doubted the two of them making out would raise too many eyebrows, since they were just a stone’s throw from Central Campus, but it was a pointless discussion, since she wasn’t interested in offering a free peep show, either.

If anything, Pash’s smile deepened as she leaned forward to whisper in Bliss’s ear, “It’s a shame you never said anything back then. We could have had all kinds of fun.”

*****

The first time Bliss made love with Pash, it was a good seven months after Bliss bought her all that coffee in Starbucks. The delay wasn’t planned or even discussed, but Bliss was pretty sure Pash was on the same page as she was — it was better to wait and be sure than to throw away a life-long friendship. One Thursday night in early May, though, Bliss got home from her last league match of the season to find Pash stretched out on her couch wearing pretty much nothing but a wicked smile while she played with her nipples.

Bliss whimpered and only just barely remembered to close the door behind her before stumbling toward the couch and trying to get undressed at the same time. She tripped over a stack of books and very nearly picked one up to throw at Pash, just to get her to stop laughing so hard.

“Damn it!”

It wasn’t that Bliss was all that tidy a housekeeper, but for a brief, horrifying moment, she honestly thought it was more important to pick up the books than to finish getting naked and dragging Pash back to the bedroom. Fortunately, the world turned rightside up again, and the correct priority asserted itself long enough to get Bliss moving again. This time, though, she headed for the bedroom, leaving Pash to follow.

She didn’t dare look back, not if she wanted to get to the bedroom in one piece, so she kept her eyes facing forward and called out, “If you want it, come and get it.”

For once, Bliss thought she might have the upper hand with Pash, and she heard her get off the couch and start moving fast — which wasn’t a great idea, because Bliss had a short hallway, but whatever. The point was that Pash was following where Bliss led, and where Bliss was leading was, she hoped, straight to bli —

God. She really had to stop hanging around Brad. His cheesy one-liners and pick-up lines had obviously started to infiltrate her brain, and — and that was the last chance Bliss had to think for a while, because Pash was finally pressed up behind her, her hands moving around her waist and meeting on Bliss’s belly.

She nibbled at Bliss’s ear for a moment, then said, “I’m done with finals, and I don’t go home until Tuesday. Any ideas about how to keep occupied?”

In response, Bliss moved Pash’s hands down far enough to get a little relief from the sudden, dizzying arousal. Pash murmured something — Bliss didn’t know, didn’t care — and got to work teasing her with just enough pressure to make Bliss gasp and shove forward some. Not that it helped much, because Pash kind of liked being in control and had since they were kids.

“Damn it, Pash, do something,” Bliss said, trying to get Pash to use her fingers instead of just the heel of her hand. When that didn’t work, Bliss tried to turn around, but Pash just said, “Nope. Like this.”

“Like this” apparently meant Pash sending Bliss completely around the bend by working her up and then refusing to help her over the edge. It happened three more times before Bliss finally started to take matters into her own hands, which was apparently what Pash was waiting for. With her chin on Bliss’s shoulder, Pash told Bliss, “Faster, hold it, stop, go again,” all the while playing with Bliss’s nipples and making her want to grind into whatever she could to get some relief. What finally sent Bliss over the edge was a combination of Pash twisting one nipple to just this side of too much pain and saying, “It’s okay to come now.”

Bliss took her at her word, and it felt like her orgasm was pretty much rolling through her body like an endless roll of thunder. For long moments after, she barely managed to stay upright in Pash’s arms, but gradually, her legs seemed to remember what they were used for, and Bliss was able to stand steadier.

Generally speaking, coming hard like that wasn’t a bad thing, but Bliss wanted a hell of a lot more than a quick finger fuck (that she had to do mostly on her own, damn it), so she used a move that Smash taught her right after she became a Hurl Scout and managed to flip Pash onto the bed without any real trouble beyond Pash’s reaction.

“You jerk!” she said, breathless and laughing, her arms and legs splayed on the bed. “After what I did for you just now, this is the thanks I get?”

“What you did?” she asked on a laugh. “As I recall, it was mostly me that did the work.”

Pash threw a small pillow at Bliss and missed by several feet. “If it wasn’t for me, you never would have gotten there.”

“I call bullshit. Also? It’s my turn.” And God, Bliss intended to stretch it out as long as she could. Orgasm was always a good way to send her into energy overload, and with Pash laid out before her, naked and warm and willing with about a thousand or so freckles to inventory, Bliss had a pretty good idea of how the next couple of hours were going to go.

There must have been something of that in her face, because Pash’s eyes darkened, and she said, “Get over here, then.”

For a moment, Bliss could only stare, because even though Pash was unhappy with the twenty pounds she’d put on since arriving in Ann Arbor, Bliss was pretty damn thrilled with the way the extra weight softened Pash and made her curves even more rounded. This was the first time she’d had much of a chance to look her fill, though, because Pash had been stupidly shy, and Bliss was sure that if she screwed this up, it would be another long period of time before Pash would be willing to let Bliss look her fill.

“You’re so beautiful,” Bliss said, finally stepping close enough to touch. She ran her hand up Pash’s leg. “So soft.”

Pash swallowed hard, twitching a little under Bliss’s light touch. She tried to laugh it off with, “Yeah, right,” but her voice choked up.

“I’ve always thought so.” She spoke softly and kept running her hand along Pash’s leg with a gentle rhythm.

“Right. Even when I was the fat kid?”

Bliss didn’t like the hint of bitterness in the question and answered, “I’m not him. Whoever he is, I’m not him.”

Pash bit her lip and didn’t say anything, and Bliss thought maybe it was time for her actions to speak, because clearly, Pash wasn’t all that happy with the words. She pushed at Pash to get her to move further up the bed, and when she was in a better position, Bliss crawled up to finally, finally start mapping Pash’s body, starting with those perfect boobs with their perfect nipples. And as she was finally allowed to do all of the things she’d wanted to do forever — to use her lips and tongue, to feel Pash move underneath her asking for more, damn it, move your tongue, to know that she was the one responsible for Pash making those ridiculous demands — Bliss decided that it was well worth the wait.

*****

The first time Bliss felt like she had found her one true home, she was settled on the couch with Pash stretched out between her legs, back to Bliss’s chest, hand idly massaging Bliss’s knee (Pash knew it had felt like crap since the last match). It didn’t matter to her what else might be happening in the world, because she had everything she needed in her arms.