It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least, it ought to be) that when two adults with sexual histories are together in the same bed, they are never really alone. The participants may think that they are focused solely on each other, but their pasts will surely return to haunt them, whether in a flash of memory at a particular touch from this newest partner or (most embarrassingly) in the wrong name called out at an inopportune moment. It is equally possible that the ghosts floating voyeuristically and virtually above the bed in question are not from the past, but from fantasy: wishes and dreams and longings rather than fact. These fantasies, too, can intrude on what should be an intimate and joyous moment between two people. For almost always there will be more than two people in, on, and around, any bed or floor or other surface where a couple chooses to… well, couple.
Thus it was in the hotel room of Christine Dale, recently returned from London, late at night when she returned from dinner. She had met Carol (whose last name she had not yet learnt) on an official visit to the White House, and, being newly arrived in Washington DC, and without a social circle, Christine had invited Carol to join her for dinner. Carol had agreed, and they had spent a pleasant hour or so over nicely cooked food and two quite decent bottles of wine. The wine was strong and Christine was feeling uninhibited when she let her own leg brush Carol's more than once, and then put her hand on top of Carol's, and smiled invitingly at her. Christine's hand shook only a little as she signed for the bill.
They had mostly kept their hands off each other in the elevator, apart from a couple stolen kisses and a quick, shameless caress of each other's backsides, but the result of that restraint was that Carol was barely through the door when Christine began to pull at the sleeves of Carol's jacket to take it off. As an omniscient narrator it is (or so I believe) expected that I inform you of the thoughts running through the heads of each of our protagonists. As you will no doubt comprehend, however, in a situation of heightened passions – such as this – the thoughts become as confused and difficult to separate as the limbs that are tangled together in an attempt to gain the utmost pleasure from the exercise. Suffice it to say, then, that each thought the other the most beautiful woman they had seen, and each was now longing to touch and caress and kiss most, if not all of the other woman's naked skin.
But I began this narrative by borrowing shamelessly from Miss Austen, and by telling you of the ghosts in the bedroom – the ghosts of the past and the ghosts of fantasy. And in this particular situation, while Christine – who had finally managed to strip Carol of all her clothes but for a bra and panties – was gently kissing and licking the top of Carol's bare thighs, I am able to tell you that at the back of her mind were the times she did the same thing to the woman she left behind in London: Zoe Reynolds. Carol, meanwhile, lay back and thought – not of England, for she had never visited that country's shores – but of Claudia Jean Cregg. It was because of Claudia Jean (the President's press secretary and known to all the country if not the world as CJ) that Carol accepted Christine's invitation, for Carol knew that her obsession with CJ was not helpful, and she knew that she needed to try to drive CJ from her mind. It would be easy to judge Carol for deciding that the way to do so was to engage in a one-night stand with a woman she had met only that morning, but Christine's legs went all the way to the ground, and her hair and face reminded Carol of a china doll, and the way that Christine was using her tongue and fingers at that very moment were enough to convince Carol that she had made the right choice, and that a night's pleasure was worth whatever pain it would entail tomorrow.
So, if Carol was here both because of and in spite of CJ, was Christine merely trying to wipe Zoe and her London past from her mind? In part, yes. She had left England, left a man she could have loved, left the woman who had shared her bed on a regular basis, and left the only job she'd known since graduation. She had no idea what the future held for her, and experience had taught her that sex with a beautiful woman would help her to forget, for a while, the state of the world around her. I am bound to say that the one thing Christine hadn't tried was sex with both Zoe and Tom, which was a scenario that some in their workplace had contemplated with a combined sense of guilt and lust. There was a frisson of tension between Zoe and Tom, which had never been helped by the fact that Christine was involved with both of them, and had loved each of them deeply (although cautiously, as was her nature). But Christine was conservative in her own way, and right now it was both Zoe and Tom who she wants desperately to forget. Carol had long dark hair, and an open, curious face, and the point on that particular night was that Carol was nothing like Zoe, and nothing like Tom, and Christine could forget both of them for a while she kissed her way down Carol's body.
Carol arched up under Christine's touch, and she bit down on her tongue to keep from calling out for CJ, but when her shudders had quietened the face she saw was still CJ's, and to chase it away she pushed Christine onto the pillows and lowered her body over her. She focused on hair that was blonde rather than CJ's reddish-brown; on the fact that Christine was small and delicate, rather than Amazonian. She thought for a moment how much Christine looked like the blonde, leggy Republican Ainsley Hayes, and that helps, too, although it made her wonder why she always distracted herself with blondes. And she lowered her mouth to Christine's breasts, first one and then the other, and when a whispered 'Zoe' escaped from Christine, Carol doesn't mind, because she knew the truth: that there are always more people present than the two who are there in the naked flesh.