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             “I must say, Miss Adler, I was not expecting this visit, pleasant though it may be.”  

            Mary tipped the teapot to pour Irene a glass of the still-steaming beverage, the slight noise the china made as it brushed against the edge of the cup appropriately domestic for the act. Her hands were nearly as pale as the white base to the china itself, her slender fingers and carefully shaped nails echoing the delicate curves and lines of the small pink decorative flowers. She settled herself, the picture of conscientious elegance, on the sofa across from Irene, the gleaming tea set resting comfortably on the coffee table between them. 

            Even if Irene had not been in attendance at the former Miss Morstan’s wedding to the doctor, she would have known the tea set had been a gift. Holmes, Irene thought as she smiled and took a sip from the teacup cradled between her palms, might start drawing wild conclusions about the set being a joint parting and wedding gift from Mary’s former employer because it was quite above her price point, or of a more traditional fashion than the fashion-conscious Mary would select for herself, or because Mary had already had it out on the coffee table before she arrived because it did not yet have another home. But, unlike Holmes, Irene did not care in the slightest about the tea set and what it revealed about the woman sitting across from her. No, Irene cared far more about keeping her eyes on the woman herself.

             Reading people was far more interesting and entertaining than inspecting splatters of dirt or puzzling over a missing pocket watch. A mysterious smile here, an innocent flutter of the eyelashes there, a lilting witticism, a charming lie, and a quick hand for more material deceptions could tilt those of both genders and every social class to her bidding. She lived in a world of god’s most intelligent creatures that she slipped through and came out with the advantage. Sometimes it was a glittering diamond around her neck, others it was a ring on her finger, but on occasion she sought out a more personal gain. 

            “I would never have known, Mrs. Watson.” Irene said over the pale rim of her teacup, the stark whiteness of the china a devious contrast with her dark, painted lips. “You are a most gracious hostess.” 

            Irene did not miss the way that Mary’s eyes had slipped to her lips as she spoke, nor did she miss the newlywed’s automatic attempt to be even more of a gracious hostess in the woman’s next words. It was only human nature, after all. “Please, call me Mary. As I said before, my husband is out in the country with Mr. Holmes. There’s no need for such formality when it is just us women.”  

            “Then I do insist, my dear, that you call me Irene.” Irene set the teacup back down on its saucer, and casually reached up to ensure that her curls were all still securely pinned up on her head, tilting her face to the side as she did so, knowing the delicate curve of her neck was clearly visible.  

            “That is the most stunning necklace you are wearing.” Mary’s voice was soft and yet clearly audible in the stillness of the room. 

            “Oh, this old thing?” Irene slipped a finger under the strings of beads the hung over her collarbone, and trailed the line of the necklace with her thumb down to where the ruby lay nestled above her bosom. She brushed her thumb over the crimson-coloured gem, and looked up through her eyelashes at Mary, immensely satisfied to see her green eyes focused on where her fingers lingered. She felt a shiver of anticipation, and could not help but shift slightly, the rustle of her skirts impossibly loud. Mary seemed to recover her propriety at the noise, a pink blush blooming over her cheeks and her eyes now intently on where she was folding her hands demurely in her lap.

            Irene stood, her petticoats settling themselves around her legs, Mary looking up at her. “How about you try it on?” Irene gave her a winning smile, the kind that made Watson readjust his grip on his cane and Holmes to start mentally cataloguing nearby objects that could potentially be used as weapons. 

            “Oh, I couldn’t possibly.” Mary insisted, but one hand moved up unconsciously to her pale throat.

            “We are friends, aren’t we?” Irene moved around the coffee table and sat down beside Mary on the beige-patterned sofa, smoothing out her grey silk dress. 

            “I – well, yes, of course.” Mary said, but the hesitation was not at all surprising, and Irene’s smile in response was every bit genuine amusement. Their friendship was far from an established fact, if it had previously ever really existed at all. Irene expected Mary knew most of what she did about her from Watson’s case accounts, as they had only really met once or twice before.  

            The necklace was easily unfastened from her neck, and she held it out to Mary with an encouraging smile. “Here, turn around, Mary, my dear, and I’ll do the clasp for you. It can be quite tricky sometimes.”  

            Suddenly, Irene could see the wheels turning in Mary’s head, those quick green eyes steadily working her out as if she were a geometry problem. Irene was not particularly surprised – she had not thought that the doctor would fall for a young woman that was not in possession of at least some mental faculty. Sharp or not, if Irene had surmised correctly – and she was sure she had – a lifetime of refusing temptation of the female persuasion could be hard to overcome. She smiled encouragingly, and there was an answering curve of Mary’s pale lips as she turned away from Irene, and lifted the weight of her pinned hair off her neck. Ah. Success. It was sweet, and smelled pleasantly like rosewater.   

            The expanse of skin stretched from Mary’s neck down to the line of her light green dress. Irene leaned in as she rested the beads and gem on Mary’s chest, close enough to catch the slightest intake of breath as the already-warm necklace met her skin. She fastened the clasp of the necklace and smoothed the looped beads down on her shoulders. Mary’s skin was soft and warm under her touch, and Irene leaned in even closer, able to hear the even pattern of her breath as she followed the curve of the necklace under the pretence of making sure it lay flat against her skin. She was close enough to lean slightly around Mary and smooth one hand down over her collarbone, down the flat plane of her sternum, and, as she watched Mary’s face, fascinated and unconsciously biting just the edge of her blood-red bottom lip, slipped a hand over the blouse of her dress, the fabric rough under her fingers after the smoothness of her skin, and around the soft, glorious curve of a breast. 

            Mary gave a soft gasp, her head unconsciously tilting back under the sensation, and her upper back pressing against Irene’s chest. Irene felt her own breasts press against the hard line of Mary’s blouse and underlying corset, and wished immediately to have nothing between them but never-ending smooth skin and soft, delicious curves. One step at a time, she told herself, despite her impatience to have this, what she had thought about over and over again when she was alone in bed with a hand between her thighs, ever since she had first met the lovely Miss Morstan. But Irene had not achieved all she had through frivolous and impatient pursuit of pleasure. No, she played a far more accomplished game than that, and the results were all the more better for it.  

            “The cut of your jacket, darling, it just doesn’t quite fit with the line of the necklace, hmm?” Irene murmured into Mary’s ear, and, while she did watch as Mary’s lovely green eyes flickered open, did not bother to wait for a response as she slid her hands down over the fine curve given by bust and corset to where her short jacket was fastened. Mary moved her hands from where they had remained folded at her lap, and allowed Irene to gently tug the garment away. 

            Then, she turned to face Irene, her light brown hair still perfectly coiffed, a fine pink blush colouring her cheeks, and a decidedly devious glint in her green eyes. “Oh yes, that is much better. I had not realized how warm it was in this room, Miss Adler, and I do insist that you join me in removing your jacket.” 

            “Irene, please, my dear.” She corrected demurely, smiling sweetly but inwardly delighted at this turn of events. “Well, if you do insist.” She deftly unbuttoned her jacket, but before she could reach up to the lapels to drag it off, suddenly two pale, delicate hands were there, pushing it off her shoulders and, in the same movement, there were two soft lips pressed against hers, decidedly firm yet unresisting as Irene responded in kind and further, opening her mouth and slipping her tongue between those gorgeous pink lips.  

            It was easy, so wonderfully easy, for Irene to move her hands from Mary’s shoulders down her back, the lines of the whalebone familiar as her own under her palms, then tug her closer at the hips until Mary all but sat upon her on the sofa, their grey and green skirts all bunched between them, a mingled mass of colour and the cream of revealed petticoats. It was, Irene could not help but think, far too much fabric. Her fingers found the small hook and eye closures on the back of Mary’s blouse, and slowly started to unhook them one by one. 

            “You are far too good at this.” Mary said when she drew back to take a breath, eyes bright and laughing, her lips smudged with red lipstick not her own, and it was somehow as terribly erotic as the most indecent act.  

            “Pish posh. It’s just like undoing my own.” Irene assured her, finding it really much easier once she was no longer multitasking and ravishing the woman beneath her.  

            “You must often undress in a far more enlivening fashion than myself, then.”  Mary said, raising one fine eyebrow, her mouth carrying just the suggestion of an amused smile as Irene could finally pull the blouse away, revealing the corset-covering bodice beneath. Irene moved in to kiss her again, but Mary’s finger materialized on the other woman’s lips before she could reach her. “Perhaps a concentrated singular effort might hurry this along?” 

            And was not Mary just continuously taking Irene pleasantly by surprise. “I knew you were a brilliant woman, my dear.” Irene said decidedly, reaching to her side for the hooks of her blouse as Mary undid her skirt and the petticoat and bodice beneath. She stood to remove her own petticoats, her eyes caught by the haphazard pile the voluminous skirts and blouses made on floor, the messy scatter of lace and silk a playful satire of the neat domesticity of the rest of the drawing room.  

            She turned back to the sofa, her mouth already open to say something playfully provocative, but she found herself suddenly stilled, her mouth frozen in a small oh as she took in the sight before her. Mary sat primly on the sofa, her knees properly together, the loose fabric of her drawers about her legs, her hands resting gently on the cushions beside her, the necklace gleaming just above where her pale breasts spilled out of the top of her corset, the sleeves of her chemise low on her shoulders, her light brown hair tousled, her cheeks still pink, and Irene’s lipstick still mussed on her lips. Mary smiled, and it was as calculating as Irene had ever seen. Released a monster, she had, and Irene honestly could not bring herself to feel anything else than the desire that burned low in her abdomen as her breath caught and her heart beat against the whalebones at her chest. 

            “I have not possibly caught the infamous Miss Adler off guard, now have I?” Mary asked, tilting her head in contemplation.  

             “Oh, rest assured that I plan for every eventuality.” Irene assured her, blissful lies all, and within a heartbeat had straddled Mary’s so perfectly posed thighs, her fingers threading through soft brown hair, pins carelessly discarded, lips and tongue pushing against lips and tongue, pressing her down lengthwise onto the sofa.  

            When Mary pulled away, not nearly so adept and experienced at breathing through such matters, Irene was left with the very tantalizing sight of her heaving bosom, straining against the confines of her corset. No, this still would just not do. She moved to place her lips against the hollow of Mary’s throat, just above the curve of the necklace, then ducked down to her lovely full breasts, kissing each one, her hands slipping to Mary’s waist. Irene spared one glance up to where Mary had her head tilted back and her eyes closed, then licked up the side of one breast. On Mary’s sudden inhalation, Irene used the brief give to pull the corset apart from its hooks in front, and threw it aside. The chemise beneath was thin, white, warm and sheer with the dampness of sweat, but Irene pulled that off over Mary’s head as well. 

            Ah, there. Those lovely full breasts free at last. Irene did not waste any time lowering her head and drawing one deep pink nipple into her mouth, drawing her tongue around and sucking gently in the way that she knew felt so very good, her hand massaging the other, Mary giving panting gasps above her, rocking beneath in a way that promised Irene that her drawers were just as damp as her own, and made her long for the friction that she had been refusing them.  

            “Please,” Mary’s voice was more breathy and strained than Irene had ever heard it as she moved to the other breast, and it made the fire inside her burn even stronger, and her own breasts ache for contact. “Please, Irene, you must…” And her body arched under Irene’s mouth and soft, nimble fingers. 

            “I must do what, darling?” Irene said with wicked sweetness, drawing away slightly and looking up past the sweat-dampened collarbone and jewel-draped neck to the flush-cheeked face above, her own lips – surely reddened, her lipstick certainly smeared – curved in a smirk. 

            Mary positively writhed beneath her at the sudden loss of contact, her eyes searching out Irene’s supremely gleeful and unabashedly voracious expression and her hands slipping from Irene’s back to her waist. “Irene Adler,” She said with absolutely stern countenance, “if you do not proceed with the matter at hand and finish me off, I will refuse to have anything to do with you ever again.”  

            It was the governess come out to play, and Irene shifted uncontrollably, her eyes not missing the knowing gleam in Mary’s eyes that showed she had not missed the movement. “No tea?” Irene all but gasped out, and Mary used that moment to unhook the front of her corset and drag it aside. Her first gasp of breath without the corset almost made her dizzy, but then both of their fingers were on the buttons of her combo chemise and drawers until that was tossed to the floor and she was fully nude over Mary.  

            “Absolutely none at all.” Mary panted, her eyes fixed on the curvature of Irene’s breasts, the flat plane of her waist, the curve of her hips and the bare slope of her mound above the indent of her thighs. “Spent some time in France, have you?” Mary asked, her voice on the edge of laughter that dissolved into a gasp when Irene tugged open the laces to her drawers and slipped them down over her hips, past her knees and off entirely.  

            Conversation was forgotten entirely as their mouths came together once again, enlivened by the thrill of endless bare skin to bare skin, all sensitive and gleaming, lips and tongue, Irene’s body over Mary’s on the beige-patterned sofa, their hair mussed and spilling out of their careful coifs and tickling each other’s neck and breasts. Irene slid her hand down Mary’s abdomen, over the brown curls of hair, and nestled her fingers between the long, pale thighs. Mary gasped at the contact, tilting her head to the side in ecstasy at finally receiving what her body had been aching for after what had seemed like eternities, and Irene pressing herself against one of those wonderfully slender thighs, Mary’s hands tucked in the small of her back and on the curve of her buttocks. They rocked together like that, over and over again, Irene showering kisses into the curve of Mary’s neck, behind her ear, on her temple, against one sharply defined cheekbone, and Mary making soft noises as Irene deftly rubbed and caressed that extraordinarily sensitive part of her and Mary’s leg pressing up against Irene where it mattered most.  

            Irene let the building feelings wash over her, her mind narrowing to a singular focus on the task that was quite literally at hand – it was at this point when all her conniving and strategies went out the window, when pleasure became coincidental with pleasure and she thought of nothing to do with her greater schemes but only the wonderful here and now. Then, when she felt her self teeter on the edge, when it became almost too much and she could feel from the tension in the body coiled around her and the gasping breathes at her ear that Mary was there too, she slipped her fingers down and inside that warm, slippery enclosure and pressed two of her delicate fingers up against the place she knew so well. Once, twice, three passes against it and Mary’s body clenched around her and the woman gave a cry into her shoulder and her leg jerked against Irene and that was all it took for her to be pushed over the edge herself, engulfed by the force of it and carried away entirely.   

            “Comfortable?” Mary asked her presently, amusement barely contained in her voice as Irene reclined against her, resting her cheek above the curve of her bosom and lazily drawing two fingers – the two that Mary was quite well acquainted with, as a matter of fact – into her mouth and licking them clean. Irene’s eyes were closed, but she was absolutely certain that Mary was following the motion closely.  

            “Yes, quite.” Irene said, and could feel with ever inch of her still quite sensitive body how Mary was running her fingers up and down the dip of her waist. “You are quite the marvellous hostess to enquire after me so, my dear.”  

            “My husband would be so pleased with that reassurance.” It was said so conversationally, but Irene was not naïve enough to ignore it altogether. 

            “Oh dear,” Irene dragged her eyes open and tilted her head against Mary’s chest to look up at her. “Is this where we have a slight crisis about the ghastly sin of infidelity?” 

            Mary just raised a carefully trimmed eyebrow and regarded the nude woman lying against her with a look of slight disdain. “I am well aware that I am not nearly so worldly as you, Irene darling, but I will be forever mortified if you have mistaken me for a simpleton.” 

            “I would never dream of such a loathsome error.” Irene assured her pleasantly, certain that she would continue.  

            “My husband, wonderful man that he is, has been in love with his dear Mr. Holmes since before we even were acquainted. He loves me, doubtless, but I am not, and never will be, the most important individual in his life. I know that, he knows that, you know that.” 

            Irene smiled, wondering if Mr. Holmes knew that, but pressed her lips softly against Mary’s breast. “What an angel you are to tolerate such a thing and play the role of wife so beautifully.” It was edging on mocking, but that was Irene’s way. She was barely ever sincere, and even when she was it was tainted with sarcasm and witticism.  

            “Hardly,” Mary said with a small laugh. “He did, after all, have to endure the descriptions of you that I murmured in our marriage bed last week, as I was performing my wifely duties.”           

            Irene gave a delighted gasp, lifting her head to meet Mary’s eyes. “You could not have possibly!” 

            “Oh, I really rather did.” Mary said, her fingers still running lazily up and down the curve of Irene’s waist. “He inadvertently chokes out Mr. Holmes’ name often enough; besides, I think he really quite enjoyed it.” 

            Irene’s smile grew wicked, and a multitude of thoughts ran through her head involving the good doctor, the nude lady beneath her, her own self and a thousand tantalizing combinations thereof. And Mr. Holmes, well, if he were to enter into the equation – because god forbid such an infuriatingly captivating man ever be left out – well.   

            “If you are thinking what I believe you are,” Mary said, with as much natural poise as Irene could ever hope to accomplish with all her daring exploits. “John and Mr. Holmes return tomorrow afternoon. 


            John Watson was reading the newspaper when his wife brought him the tea, his travel-stained boots still upon his feet. He looked up, folding this morning’s edition of the Times as he did so, and watched as Mary sat down across from him on the beige-patterned sofa. Her hand drifted across the surface, her eyes tilted down towards it but a thousand miles away. His eyes moved up her lovely and trim figure to be caught by the exquisite necklace that she was wearing. Looped strings of fine black beads sloped around her neck and down her collarbone, and a dark red ruby dangled against pale skin at the end. 

            “Mary, my love, wherever did you get that necklace?”

            Mary looked up at him, her gaze bright and with a smile that kept more secrets than he could ever hope to learn. “Miss Adler came by yesterday for tea, and this lovely thing was a gift.” 

            Watson stared at her a moment, then looked back down to his newspaper, flicking it open with a decided snap, a thin line appearing between his eyebrows. “God damn that confounded man.” He muttered under his breath. 

            “Darling, whatever is the matter?” Mary asked, her voice kind.   

            “Nothing, dearest. I’ve just lost a ten pound wager to Mr. Holmes.” Watson admitted, his eyes on the headlines and not his wife. 

            “Oh, that wretched man setting you bets.” Mary said, but her voice was light and even. “I’ll have to have a few words tomorrow when we have him over for dinner.” 

            “Pardon?” Watson’s eyes met hers again, racking his brain for any earlier mention of such dinner plans.  

            “Irene and I decided at tea that she and Mr. Holmes just had to join us for a dinner party tomorrow evening. Will that not be just lovely?” Mary asked, her hands folded demurely on her lap, but her brown eyes glinting with a hidden mirth that he was sure that he saw. 

            “Yes, yes of course, dear. Lovely.”