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let's be lovers tonight

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“Vanessa! Hello? Earth to Vanessa? What is up with you today?”

Vanessa startles and almost sloshes her latte all over herself. She could blame the late call out to a sick calf for spacing out, but she sighs and puts her phone down and knows she can’t lie to Rhona.

Her phone vibrates again.

“It’s that bloke. He’s breaking it off.”

“What? The stud farm guy? I thought it was going great.”

Vanessa shrugs and worries her bottom lip with her teeth.

“Not really. He was nice enough but...I dunno.”

And Jack had been nice. He had a good job, and good manners. He liked the same things she did. Also had a kid. He was perfect on paper.

“And so handsome,” Rhona continues with an exaggerated waggle of her eyebrows.

Vanessa hums and shrugs again. Yes, Jack was fit. Killer smile. Broad shoulders. The works. There just hadn’t been any sparks. Like always.

“Yeah. It was just a bit boring.”

“What? Even in the bedroom?” Rhona asks in a whisper, like she used to when they gossiped at uni.

Vanessa snorts. He’d been alright. Standard. Eager to give her a good time but as always not enough to get her there. She’d faked it after one too many sad puppy eye looks.

“Well yeah, but that’s not new,” Vanessa replies casually.

Rhona frowns.

“I mean, it’s not like any guys have ever, you know...”

It’s almost comical how quickly Rhona‘s eyes go from confused to horrified. She leans forward until their faces are close.

“You’ve never had an orgasm?!”

Vanessa whips her head around but no one is listening to them in the crowded Hotten cafe.

“Shhhh oh my god Rhona I don’t think they heard you in Leeds!”

“Well excuse me for being shocked! We’re in our forties!”

Vanessa rolls her eyes but that feeling is back again. Like she’s broken. Or not normal.

“It happens! Not every woman gets there during sex you know! I read about it online.”

She hates how defensive her voice gets.

“But, what about when you, you know...masturbate?”

Vanessa flushes and looks away.

“Yeah, yes. I do, then. But never with a guy. I don’t know, maybe I’m just weird,” she says in a small voice.

Rhona’s eyes get all steely and she grabs Vanessa’s hand.

“You are not weird! You’ve just had crap guys.”

Then Rhona gets an odd, intense look on her face and Vanessa starts to worry. Nothing good happens when Rhona has that look.

“You know what? I think I have a solution. I’m going to call Paddy and we are going to set you up!” Rhona holds her hand up to stop Vanessa from complaining. “I know exactly the person, and she has a reputation for knowing her way around.”

Vanessa’s brain grinds to a halt.

“A woman? Rhona? I’m not gay!”

There’s a silence and Rhona seems to weigh her words before speaking.

“I know. I know. But don’t they say that gay women have the most orgasms? Right? Didn’t they say that online? So maybe one could...” and here Rhona waves in Vanessa’s direction “sort your problem out.”

Vanessa goes to protest but Rhona is looking at her like she wants to say a lot more about the situation. And Vanessa is not ready for a lecture or more pity. The dread in the pit of her stomach, that gnawing feeling that something is wrong with her, keeps getting bigger and bigger every time a relationship ends.

“Yeah, but I’m not…it’s not going to work is it? We’re both going to be sitting there looking like melons.”

‘’Well then it won’t be different from any other time now, will it?” Rhona argues right back.

Vanessa scoffs, incredulous. At least, she reasons, she won’t feel pressured to have sex. Not with a woman. Maybe they’ll have a nice chat. It’d be good to have another friend now that she’s moved to Hotten permanently.

Plus, Vanessa thinks, Rhona never backs down when she has something in mind and Vanessa knows she’ll nag and nag again until Vanessa caves in.

“Ok so smile, because I want Paddy to have a photo to show her.”

“Who is she?”

“Chas’ cousin.”

“Oh god, Rhona. Your ex husband’s new wife’s cousin? Really? How ridiculous am I going to look? How sad am I?”

Rhona softens and smiles.

“Not at all. Come on. She’s nice, Charity is. Well. She’s, I dunno, she’s good with the ladies.”

Vanessa doesn’t question the weird name.

“Good with the ladies? God,” she says instead.

What even is her life?

Rhona points the phone at her face.


She spends an inordinate amount of time choosing what to wear. How do you dress to meet a woman that’s supposed to give you orgasms?

Vanessa shakes her head. That’s not going to happen. They are going to meet, have a drink, and laugh at the whole thing. Vanessa is not gay, she’s just...well she’s like any other woman, surely. Likes men well enough, but doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Totally normal. And those books and movies and songs about love and passion, they’re all exaggerating to sell more copies. Vanessa wasn’t born yesterday. She knows a scam when she sees one.

That doesn’t help her decide what to wear. A pair of jeans and a jumper look too casual. A dress seems too fancy. Charity is meant to meet her at a bar in Hotten, but it’s hardly the Ritz.

In the end, Vanessa does choose a dress. She likes to dress up occasionally, and since having Johnny she rarely has the chance to anymore. It’s a wrap around, a grey soft knit that can work for conferences or work dinners. She decides on heels because they give her a boost of confidence, and she takes care to do her make up and hair right. So she won’t be having sex, but it doesn’t hurt to get dolled up a little, she reasons as she gets into a taxi.


The bar is just off the high street and is busy but not too loud. It’s a Thursday night, so Vanessa can find a table easily. The nerves she thought she’d left behind in the taxi come roaring back as she sits down. She orders a pint, and then second guesses herself and then rolls her eyes at how nervous she is. This is silly. She’s a grown woman. She can talk to this woman and then go home and put Strictly on and forget all about it. Rhona better be apologetic.

“This seat taken, babe?”

Vanessa looks up, annoyed at the interruption of her self pitying day dream, and then her eyes widen. The woman with a hand on the back of the chair is gorgeous.

“Vanessa, yeah? Charity.”

Charity is all smiles and ease and she’s absolutely beautiful in jeans and a white blouse open low. Vanessa can see three freckles and a hint of a bra and she has to shake her head to focus.

Charity’s smile is wider when Vanessa finally looks her in the eye.

“Yeah. I’m...Vanessa. Obviously,” Vanessa stutters.

She knows she’s bright red. It’s mortifying. She doesn’t know what she expected but it wasn’t this.

“Obviously. Got your photo, didn’t I? And, uh,” and here Charity looks her up and down slowly, her eyebrows rising as she goes along, her eyes burning a path into Vanessa’s skin. “The camera did not do you justice.”

Vanessa flushes.

“You too. I mean, not the photo. I didn’t get one, but you, you look better. I mean, good. Better than I expected. Even though I didn’t expect anything,” Vanessa gets out in a rush, ears red.

Oh she’s making a fool of herself. She looks down to the table, embarrassed beyond belief. Her belly is all nerves and her hands are shaking a little. She needs to get a grip.

“Hey, it’s all good. Lemme buy you a drink, yeah? Another pint?” Charity winks. “I like a beer girl.”

Charity’s voice is smooth and confident and it makes Vanessa sweat a little. She nods, afraid to say more in case she goes down any lower in Charity’s mind.

She watches as Charity goes to the bar, all sleek and charming. How does one get confidence like that? Charity seems so sure of herself, so natural and cool. Vanessa finishes her pint and almost chokes when Charity turns and smiles at her.

“There you go. Chose an IPA. It’s my favourite, brewed not too far from here and I know the guys who make it. Nice lads. Not too wankish for Londoners who upped it to the country.”

Vanessa accepts the glass gratefully, and the topic of conversation too. It’s surprisingly very easy to talk to Charity. She’s full of anecdotes about her pub and her family. She digs into Rhona and Paddy a little too much for Vanessa’s liking, but she does make her laugh a lot.

Vanessa tries to reciprocate with animal stories and manages to score a few laughs when she talks about funnily named rabbits and runaway snakes. It feels very important that she make Charity laugh. She wants Charity to like her. So when Charity smiles and chuckles, it feels like Vanessa has won a trophy.

After the first drink they decide on food, and more drinks. Vanessa doesn’t see the time go by. It’s like they’ve been friends for ever. She’s almost forgotten the reason why they are here in the first place. Charity doesn’t mention it, and so Vanessa doesn’t either.

When they refuse dessert and finish the last of their drink, however, Vanessa feels the tension come back tenfold.

Truth be told, Charity is very attractive and charming, and Vanessa likes the way she’s looking at her.


Maybe they could kiss. Just once. To see how it feels. The very thought makes Vanessa’s head spin. Suddenly she wants to get out of this bar and take Charity into a dark corner and press herself against her. She could chalk it up to the alcohol, but she knows she hasn’t drunk enough for that to be true.

Charity has got closer, seemingly to get heard better, but then there is the hand on Vanessa’s thigh. It’s warm and very real. And, Vanessa realises, welcome.

She only notices she hasn’t replied to Charity’s question when Charity takes her hand away.

“Look, I know this is a bit weird, yeah? You’re absolutely gorgeous. But if you’re not into it. No harm no foul babe, okay?”

Charity’s eyes are so green and her hair is golden and wavy and Vanessa wants to sink her hands into it.

“No!” She almost shouts. “No, I was just thinking, maybe you’d like another drink? At my place?”

She hopes she didn’t sound too hesitant. Johnny is at Tracy’s for the night, and the idea of Charity sitting on her sofa is very appealing.

Charity smiles and nods and the next thing Vanessa knows; they are in a taxi.


They are sitting at a reasonable distance from each other but Vanessa can feel the heat coming from Charity’s body and the looks Charity is giving her could turn her to ashes.

She breathes in and out slowly when she gets out of the car and walks to her front door, hands shaking with the keys in it. She misses the lock.

“Here, let me help you,” Charity whispers from behind her.

Vanessa shivers when Charity puts her hand on hers and turns the key with her, body pressed against Vanessa’s back.

The door opens and they stumble inside and before the door closes behind them they are kissing.

It’s not like any kiss Vanessa has ever had. It’s hot and messy and she’s almost feverish with want. There’s a pull deep in her belly as she surges against Charity in the dark of her living room.

If Charity is surprised, it doesn’t show. She grabs Vanessa’s waist and pushes her against the wall, her tongue wet in Vanessa’s mouth.

Vanessa moans when Charity moves to her neck, her mouth on Vanessa’s pulse point, her teeth sharp when they graze her skin.

“That dress is making me crazy,” Charity whispers, her hands roaming at Vanessa’s hips.

The words make Vanessa gasp. Her head thuds against the wall and all she can do is hang on to Charity’s shoulders.

She’s so turned on it hurts.

It has never been like this, just from a kiss, with anyone.

“Take it off then,” she hears herself say.

Charity’s hands and mouth freeze. Charity raises her head and looks at Vanessa with dark eyes.

“Are you sure? Like I said earlier, no harm no foul.”

And Vanessa believes her. She truly believes that Charity would nod and smile and leave without a trace of rancour. Not like the guys Vanessa has brought home over the years, the ones that felt they were owed something just because they insisted on paying for dinner.

“I’m sure. Please. Please take me to bed,” Vanessa answers firmly.

Charity smiles and kisses her, open mouthed and insistent, and her hands grab at Vanessa’s thighs and suddenly Vanessa is airborne and her legs go around Charity’s waist in one graceful movement.

The house is dark, and Charity doesn’t know where she’s going, which Vanessa only realises when they bump into a corner and then into a frame that crashes to the floor.

It doesn’t matter. Vanessa is in a haze of want. She can’t stop grinding into Charity’s belly, and Charity is encouraging it by pressing her hands into Vanessa’s lower back.

Vanessa knew it, Charity’s hair is silky and made for her hands. She pulls and Charity gasps in her mouth, her breath hot and damp.

“You do that and we won’t make it to your bed,” Charity says in a very low, gravelly voice.

Vanessa keens, stupid with desire and unable to form words, let alone give Charity directions.

When has she last felt like this? Has she ever felt like this in the company of somebody else?

Charity finds her bedroom after a few breathless minutes kissing in the hallway.

“You tell me if I do anything you don’t like, yeah? Babe? Anything. I mean it.”

Charity’s voice cuts through the fog of need and Vanessa nods, licking her lips and moaning at the taste of a lipstick that isn’t her own.

Vanessa blinks when she’s lowered softly onto her bed, Charity’s eyes black and scorching. Every inch of her body feels so sensitive. Her lips are buzzing against Charity’s; her hands burn when they touch Charity’s soft skin. So much soft skin. She slips her hands under Charity’s top and marvels at what she finds.

“Let’s see what we have here, mmmh?” Charity says teasingly, back on her knees and looking at Vanessa like she’s a longed for present under the Christmas tree.

Vanessa swallows, her breathing shallow. Her bedroom is still dark but Charity flicks her nightstand light on and her hair glows in the gold light.

“That ok?”

“Yeah,” Vanessa manages to reply.

Which is a first. Usually Vanessa hates to have the light on during sex. There’s nowhere to hide. She can’t fake it as well. But with Charity, she wants to see everything. She wonders if the freckles dot all of Charity’s body.

Charity smiles and she looks wicked and sexy. When she opens the belt at Vanessa’s waist, she does it slowly and her eyes widen with obvious pleasure at what they see.

So lingerie sets do it for men and women, Vanessa is very glad to know.

“Bloody gorgeous,” Charity mutters.

Vanessa has heard the compliment before, but it feels more genuine and heartfelt coming from Charity’s lips. It’s the intensity of her eyes coupled with the reverence of her hands. Vanessa feels treasured. Worthy.

And then Charity starts tracing with her tongue a slow path down her body.

“Oh god,” Vanessa gasps, hands bunched in the duvet.

“Hands in my hair,” Charity says against her breast.

The words fizz in her brain and for one insane second Vanessa thinks she’s already come, the sensation is that strong. She gulps and slides her hands in Charity’s hair.

Charity hums her approval. And licks Vanessa’s breast. Vanessa shoots off the bed.

“Sensitive, yeah?”

Vanessa tries to answer. Something along the lines of “well never to this extent”, but Charity is licking and sucking in earnest and Vanessa thinks she might pass out.

When Charity spreads her legs open, kissing the soft skin of Vanessa’s inner thighs, Vanessa can feel every lick of her tongue like a branding iron.

Her underwear comes off, and when Charity settles once more, her face close to Vanessa’s belly, Vanessa becomes uneasy.

“ doesn’t usually work for me,” she says, her throat dry.

Charity looks at her, eyes dark, and a delicious smirk appears.

“Oh yeah? Can I have a go?”

Vanessa nods and lies back down. Stares at the ceiling, belly tight with tension. It’s not going to work. She’s broken and weird and...

“Oh god. God!”

A bolt of pleasure zips through her. She feels Charity smile. Her tongue does something and Vanessa arches off the bed, her hands tight in Charity’s hair. There’s no time to catch her breath, to recoup, because Charity seems to have settled quite nicely between her legs and starts dragging her tongue in broad strokes.

Vanessa looks down and moans and gasps at the sight of Charity’s head bobbing. She sees a flash of tongue and then Charity glances at her and just like that, after no time at all, Vanessa comes with a startled shout.

Her limbs feel heavy and her head dizzy. She thinks she blacked out for a second. When she comes to, Charity is kissing her hipbones and caressing her thighs, a surprisingly gentle smile on her face. Her shiny face. Vanessa closes her eyes, her heart beating like mad in her ribcage.


She doesn’t know what to say. “Sorry I came so fast?”. “Thank you for this life changing orgasm?” What is the etiquette?

“Not done so soon, I hope?” Charity says, her fingers dangerously close to sleek heat. “I want to show you a good time, yeah? Gorgeous little thing like you, I bet I can make you come again and again.”

Vanessa’s breath hitches. She’s never been one for multiple orgasms. Stops at one before going to bed, like an oddly defined chore on par with brushing her teeth. But Charity seems eager and is looking at her with confidence and desire plain on her face.

She’s barely finished nodding when Charity slips two slender fingers into her. The ease of it takes her breath away, and her hips move instinctively.

“Look at you. Just perfect,” Charity says in a low voice.

Vanessa can’t tear herself away from Charity’s dark, burning eyes. She’s like a snake at the mercy of a charmer, willingly giving over the control of her own body. And Charity said she was perfect, and not broken, and that sounds so different to what she’s used to.

“That’s it, let go.”

The words curl in Vanessa’s belly until they bloom and make her cry out. Her body shakes and writhes and she comes, almost laughing at the ease of it. She’s never experienced so much pleasure at the hands of another, and Charity is gracious and not too infernally smug when she slowly licks her fingers. Vanessa gulps and flushes anew.

It’s then that she realises that Charity is still wearing most of her clothes. Her blouse is askew and her hair is all mussed but otherwise she’s almost as composed as she was in the bar.

Following the freckles that dot Charity’s chest, Vanessa feels herself stir once more. She wants to trace those freckles with her tongue. She wants to feel Charity naked against her. For once she wants to give and give and give until she can’t anymore. The feeling is so alien to her, after years of going through the motions and half heartedly touching men, that she is frozen to the spot, her mouth open and her hands shaking.

Charity slides back up Vanessa’s body until she’s kissing Vanessa, slipping her tongue into her mouth and holding her face like Vanessa is something to be cherished.

“No, wait, I…” Vanessa manages to mumble.

Charity stops immediately and drops her hands. She’s very serious all of a sudden and Vanessa instantly misses her body heat.

“I’m sorry. Too much, yeah?” Charity says with the air of someone who’s been told that before.

“No! No,” Vanessa replies, bewildered. “It’s just…I’d like to touch you, too. If, only if it’s ok with you, I mean.”

There’s a pregnant beat of silence where Vanessa isn’t quite sure what is happening. Charity looks almost surprised. But then Charity smiles and the sultry look is back in force. She’s on her knees in the middle of the bed and her hands go to the lapels of her blouse.

“I’d like that a lot, babe,” she whispers.

She goes to undo the pretty pearl buttons but Vanessa slides towards her and stills her hands with hers.

“Can I?”

Her fingers are shaking but it doesn’t matter because Charity nods and puts her hands on her bare shoulders instead.

In the low light of her bedroom, Vanessa gets her first look of Charity. She’s not much for religion, but Charity looks like those smooth statues one can find in temples. She kisses Charity’s neck and her shoulders. Presses her lips to her sternum and licks the freckles she’s been obsessed with. Charity sighs and hums in pleasure and Vanessa feels ten feet tall.

Her hands slide along Charity’s arms, her fingers curling around the biceps. Charity is strong. Vanessa likes that a lot. They kiss and kiss, until they are lying back down with Vanessa on top, their legs entangling.

“Your jeans are so tight,” Vanessa complains as she battles with them.

Charity isn’t much help, the way she’s laughing and squirming.

“Yeah, but I caught you looking when I was at the bar, didn’t I? Job done,” she says with a click of her tongue and an over the top wink.

Vanessa laughs with her. She can’t deny they flatter Charity’s figure. They do look even better on her bedroom floor, however.

Propped on her elbows and unabashed in her near nudity, Charity seems to await judgement with a quirk of an eyebrow. She looks amazing. Vanessa wants to touch her everywhere and she hardly knows where to start.

“Come here,” Charity beckons.

So soft, Vanessa thinks when they are pressed together for the first time. And warm. And smooth. Charity seems happy to let Vanessa take charge, so Vanessa tries to quiet her nerves by doing what she does best. She kisses Charity long and well. She drinks in Charity’s moans and lets her hands roam to Charity’s sides.

“Want me to show you? It’s ok,” Charity half gasps, her lips swollen.

Vanessa nods and can’t stop herself from moaning when Charity takes her hand and leads her to between her legs. She’s wet. Fantastically so. And all because of Vanessa. Her head feels all dizzy again.

Charity hisses as she shows what she likes. Another thing that Vanessa is good at? She’s a fast learner. She soon has Charity writhing beneath her, her legs hooked around Vanessa’s waist as Vanessa slides into her.

“That’s it. Right there, just like that,” Charity encourages in Vanessa’s ear.

When she tenses and moans and flutters around Vanessa’s fingers, Vanessa looks at her in wonder and realises that yes, there might have been a reason why men wouldn’t work for her.

The realisation makes her kiss Charity even harder as she comes down from her high.

“Well buttercup, that was a very impressive first time,” Charity finally says, still panting.

Vanessa preens and laughs when Charity swats her shoulder.


An hour later finds Vanessa clutching the head board and screaming against the wood as Charity is draped over her back and relentlessly using her fingers to bring her to another orgasm.

Vanessa has lost count of the number of times she’s come. She cries out as she shakes and slumps back down, her throat raw.

“Beautiful,” Charity croons softly in her neck.

Breathing laboured, Vanessa can only moan in her pillow. She’s utterly spent. There’s a languor in her limbs, a deep glow of content that warms her chest. Her mind is still and free of the anguish of being different and odd.

She’s just gay, she realises with a laugh. Very, very gay, judging by the state of her.

“All right, babe? Kinda laughing at nothing there,” Charity stays, face still buried in the nape of her neck.

“I’m good. Great, even. I’ve just…I just can’t believe I didn’t know,” Vanessa replies with wonder.

Everything makes so much sense now. The unsatisfying relationships, the dread of having sex, the detachment when love was mentioned.

“Didn’t know what?”

“That I’m gay.”

It feels wonderful to say it.

Charity huffs a laugh and it ruffles the hair on Vanessa’s nape.

“Yeah, I’d say so, babe. Got your shiny toaster when you saw me in those jeans,” she says with a smug grin that Vanessa can feel on her skin.

“Oh yeah? Feeling pretty up yourself aren’t you?”

Charity grinds her hips into Vanessa’s back and they both hum happily.

“You have no idea.”

They stay silent for a while, the sweat cooling on Vanessa’s back.

“But uh, you know, good for you,” Charity adds finally.

Vanessa snorts and turns, catches Charity’s lips in a kiss. She wants to ask how Charity views her own sexuality. If she has any advice. But they don’t know each other very well, and it feels too personal even though they are stark naked. So instead she kisses her and smiles.

“Thanks. Don’t worry I’m not going to cry all over you.”

“Good, because I think we could do something much better to celebrate,” Charity whispers against Vanessa’s mouth.


The next morning, sore and tired, Vanessa sees off Charity with a lingering kiss and a smile. There’s about ten texts from Rhona and she answers with a winking emoji. Let her have her secrets. And let her ignore a very smug best friend.

When she gets out of the shower she debates sending a message to Charity. A thank you, maybe. Or maybe an invitation for the weekend.

Now that she knows what it is to have good sex, she wants more. She worries her bottom lip as she dries her hair. Ponders what to do all the way to work. She finally decides to send a simple “hi”. There. Simple. Not too saccharine. Her phone buzzes back immediately.

“Already need more huh?”

Vanessa’s mouth hangs open in outrage and she’s about to seethe with anger and delete Charity’s number and forget the whole thing, gay realisation or not. Another buzz.

“Don’t worry little firecracker. I’m game.”

Well. Vanessa tries not to swoon with relief.

“Fancy a pint at the weekend?” She types, rolling her eyes at herself.

“I’ve got a whole pub, babe. Come and see me and I’ll sort you out.”

Vanessa snorts, puts the phone away in her locker. Looks at the blue sky outside the practice’s window. She wants to twirl and shout and scream.


When Rhona comes home from work that night, there’s a flower arrangement waiting for her on her doorstep. It’s a tasteful bouquet of sunflowers. There’s no card, but Rhona snorts with laughter anyway.