The moving in didn't happen right away. Therese was still in the little apartment building she'd had before. Most of her newspaper salary had gone to clothes, to make her look like a journalist, rather than a shop girl. It took a couple of weeks to pack up everything she was keeping, give away the cheap little pots and pans and floor rugs that she'd accumulated in three years there.
But the actual transfer of boxes and bags from one building to the other only took an afternoon. Therese was relieved to discover that her life only took up two carloads, since none of the furniture was actually hers.
But with Carol unpacking her clothes and Therese arranging her photography equipment and books in the room that could have been an office or a nursery or what have you, they were done moving her in by five—hot, sweaty, exhausted, and dusty as they were.
Therese was torn between flopping down on Carol's beautiful linen couch and getting herself clean, so she lay on the floor. "I don't know why I'm so exhausted. I helped Millicent move just last month."
She was too tired to jump when she felt toes poking at her thigh, but she turned to see Carol sitting on the couch. Carol had changed to a green housedress from the trousers she'd worn to carry Therese's boxes and drive. "It's different when it's yours, because you've had to do the packing beforehand, the actual moving, and the unpacking. I bet you only helped Millicent with some of that. And, also, you got to leave and be somewhere…cleaner."
Therese rolled her head back so she was staring at the ceiling. "I suppose you're right about that."
"If you wash up, I've got tuna salad for dinner. I can't imagine eating anything hot now, can you?" Carol groaned as she stood, then walked to the kitchen.
Therese shuddered faintly at the thought of casserole or chicken. She said, "Thank you," as she rolled to her knees and stood up. "For thinking of that."
Getting ready for bed that first night was strange. Therese hadn't lived with someone since she'd left the orphanage. And living in an orphanage wasn't living with some one , it was being a small part in a larger project. Despite the lack of privacy, there was nothing intimate or loving about brushing her teeth with other girls and saying good night. It was making the best of a bad situation.
Here, in this apartment, watching Carol brush her hair out before she braided it away, rinsing the toothpaste from both their mouths out of the sink. That felt different. It was different even from that fateful road trip, because that had been all travel and distance, both of them passing through places that weren't really theirs.
Here, she was supposed to be at home, although she didn't really feel it yet. It was all so much Carol's: Carol's towels, Carol's sheets, Carol's rugs, Carol's bed. Therese had never had a real, heavy comforter before, but she was going to sleep under one tonight.
Therese stopped before the doorway of the bedroom, not quite able to step inside yet. It was overwhelming, in a way that it had somehow not been when she was doing the grunting and pulling of getting her boxes in the room. She went to the kitchen, instead, to drink hot water. She heated it in a saucepan, then poured it in a mug. Just water, not tea. She didn't know where the tea was.
She turned her head and saw Carol standing on the threshold. "I…was lonely. I feel so foolish, I only lost track of you for a few minutes, but…." Carol shrugged and stepped into the kitchen, then inhaled deeper and asked, "Did you want tea?"
Therese shrugged, shook her head. "I- I want to know where the tea is without asking; that's all." She put her empty mug upside down in the drying rack. "I didn't marry Richard because I didn't love him, but also because he made me feel…swaddled. I feel a little like that right now."
Carol stepped toward Therese, hands out, and then she pulled back. "Would a hug make you feel better?"
Therese walked up close and pulled Carol into her arms, hugging tightly. The powdery smell of fading perfume and the cool drag of Carol's cotton pajamas under her fingers, they grounded her, made her feel more at home, more whole. She knew why she was here, why she was doing this.
"Come to bed with me," whispered Carol. "I'll kiss you awake. You'll touch me and you'll know that…," she trailed off her arms coming up around Therese and drawing tight.
"That I love you. And you love me. I know."
Therese was warm and safe, still pleasantly drowsy when she woke up, softness over and around her. Carol was cuddled to her side, kissing her face, waking her up just the way Carol had said last night.
"Good morning," said Carol, followed by a kiss on the lips, just a soft press of lips against lips, Carol's body held lightly over top of Therese.
"Good morning," answered Therese and she pressed up, more insistent, a harder push, until she was granted entrance to Carol's mouth.
Therese sighed, felt something release in her core as Carol relaxed onto her, weight still half on the mattress. Then she shivered, as Carol caressed her side, teasing the skin under her nightgown, tracing her torso lightly, gently.
Therese wrapped her arms around Carol, snuck her right hand under Carol's nightgown to play down Carol's spine. Carol squirmed against her, clutching tight at the sensation. Therese did it again, with a heavier hand, and Carol melted, made a small mewling noise that Therese found precious. She stuck her nose in the crook of Carol's shoulder; night sweat had gathered there, concentrating Carol's scent and overwhelming the last traces of perfume. She liked the earthy, sweet smell of unfiltered Carol, so she licked there.
Carol made a small protesting noise, because, "That tickles."
Therese switched to nibbling with teeth, not enough to leave a mark, but firm enough that Carol pushed her neck into Therese's mouth, made little grunts of need and want that were music to Therese's ears.
Therese moved her hands beneath Carol's nightgown to the front, cupping her lover's breasts, pulling at tight, tender nipples.
Carol's hands moved lower, gripping Therese's ass through the nightgown, nails creating little pressure points that didn't actually hurt, but threatened to in a way that Therese found exciting. She asked Carol, "Touch me. Inside. Touch me."
"Help," said Carol, "here," pulling Therese's nightgown up with one hand and underwear down with the other.
Therese kicked free of the panties and spread her legs, impatient to be touched. "Come on," she said. "I want you. I need you."
"I'm here," said Carol, as she drew her thumb up Therese's slit, pulling slick up to Therese's clit. "I'm here," she said, and kissed Therese again.
It felt so good, to be touched by Carol, to be cared for and pleasured. Therese, not wanting to scratch or wound in her pleasure, gripped the sheets, dug her fingers in because she was being wound so tight with the fierce heat of arousal. "Faster," she said, because she knew there was a higher level, more joy to be found between their bodies, if Carol just pushed a little, just rubbed a little deeper.
Carol turned her hand and curved her fingers upward, placing welcome pressure inside of Therese.
Therese moaned in answer, a soft hum of encouragement. She kept closing her eyes, so she only saw Carol in flashes. Carol's naked face was a revelation, still beautiful without makeup but sharper, cheek creased from the pillowcase, tendrils of damp hair escaping the braid.
Carol's eyes were focused on Therese's face, direct like a rocket, color shifting between blue and gray depending on the angle Therese's head took. The looks went right through Therese, pulled at her heart and at her cunt.
She suddenly couldn't stand to have anything between them, even their thin, light nightgowns were too much. She ripped hers off, then stopped Carol long enough to pull hers off as well.
Therese rolled them over, so she was on top of Carol now, put two, then three, then four fingers inside Carol, thumb playing at Carol's clit.
Carol hissed, like a steam kettle on the verge of whistling, whoosh, and then she clamped her thighs around Therese's wrist and pushed and pushed back. "Come on," whispered Therese. "Come on, you're so close. Come for me."
And Carol did, practically vibrating on Therese's hand, fingers digging into Therese's shoulders, whimpering through her teeth. She came loud and long and hard, and then her body relaxed all at once, soft and liquid underneath Therese.
"Oh, darling," she whispered. "You're so good to me. Let me get you." Then she slid down Therese's body, dove face first in Therese's cunt.
The soft pressure, the slick slide of Carol's mouth, ratcheted Therese's arousal back up. She looked down her body, looked at the top of Carol's golden head, and it struck her, suddenly, that this was her life. A beautiful woman loved her, fed her, was making her come, had set aside space for her photography. She lived here now. "Oh," said Therese. Then she cried out, "Oh, oh, oh," as she came, as she got slick wetness all over Carol's face, and a little on the sheets, her sheets now, in her bed, in her beautiful apartment, tastefully furnished.
She had to blink against tears, take deep mighty gasps of air, and by the time she had calmed herself Carol was lying next to her again, head just a handsbreadth away. Therese turned and kissed Carol, deep and long, licking her own flavor from Carol's mouth. "I love you," she said. "I love you."
Carol smiled, and, like always, it drew Therese to her helplessly, hopelessly, endlessly. But now, that smile was a beacon home.