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I dreamed Of Understanding The Sky (Or Touching Your Skin Somewhere Beyond The Bit Of Darkness)

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The snow that had been withholding itself during seven uniformly overclouded grey days had chosen a particularly difficult morning at ten o'clock to begin to fall. It's not a soft drifting flakes or even intermittent flurries, but a regular driving blizzard.

There are wet feet padding on the floor, confronting in a stubborn heap. There are high shrieks of utter innocence. There is a boy, not yet spilling into a teenager, no longer a child, and a girl; all too sweet to belong.

Outside, the horizon is monolithic and grey, like the weathered stone ruins of an extinct civilization. The town is laying in the distance, behind a hill, and people who are no doubt have better things to do than glancing at the sky, are not busy puzzling over unpredictable weather. Across the ocean, a woman you no longer belong to pads the crunching ground, not thinking about a daughter she hasn't spoken to in over two weeks.

Two weeks ago, when she picked the phone and rushed to finish the call, signed the conversation with love, the sort of love you no longer need and will no longer use. It's archaic, sadly ornate, kept for some obscure nostalgic reason, like a photograph of a dead person.

Some days, this is how the house is run; Hannah is swiping the floors, eyes too tired, shoulders too slumped, chasing a night of too many thoughts and not enough sleep. Owen stays in the kitchen, voice rising in restrained frustration when he thinks he overcooked the meat for the stew or cut the potatoes wrong. Jamie, scruffy and reckless and bleeding from one of her calloused fingers, stomp around the corridors, muttering under her breath, hissing in pain.

Miles and Flora picks up on those kinds of mood. Miles flicks his lighter too many times, Flora drifts in thoughts and you try, as hard as you can, to pick up their pieces, smooth Flora's hair with kind hands, listen to Miles' grumbling with as much attention as you can give, send a tired but thankful smile at Hannah, give Owen's arm a squeeze, and pull Jamie into an empty bathroom and kiss and kiss and kiss her.

Your hands are aching with the cold. The snow outside lies on the ground smooth and untouched, the trunks of the bare trees coming straight up out of the snow as though it's seven feet deep and the trees are stuck there like candles in the icing of a cake. Black candles. Horrible looking.

The stormy weather is getting to everybody, serving as a base of a dark-mood permission for the next week. Henry calls once a day, the ring flooding in helpless tones, and you force yourself to put a smile on your face, conjure a kind lie as to why Miles refuses to speak to him, standing three paces away, hands crossed tightly around his narrow chest, shaking his head with a fixed look of anger.

"He misses you," you tell him after you hang up.

"No, he doesn't".

"Of course he does".

"Why won't he visit, then?"

That's a good question, one you have no answer to, and one you're not ready to lie about. You smile a crispy smile at him, this sad heart-broken boy, twelve and already sinking.

"He's trying," you say in a soft voice and Miles sighs, a sigh of a much older man, and hugs you around the waist.

You wrap your arms around him and glance to the window. Outside, Jamie is a dark shadow, hunched over a plant, a cigarette glowing between her fingers. She must have been there for some time now because snow is settled on her hair and on the shoulders of her big green coat.

After Miles leaves, mumbling something about finding Flora, who is currently tucked at Hannah's side on the sofa, you find your coat and sit down beside Jamie on the ground. It's been a week since you had any type of connection, other than a quick pack on the lips at the beginning and the end of each day, the children, and recent events with the lake leaving everybody too shaken and too preoccupied to think beyond the immediate safety of the kids.

Now Jamie turns to you. You undo her coat and huddle yourself inside it, in a space that smells of home; the distinct smell that is Jamie – freshly turned earth and mowed grass and mango shampoo, with the tang of cigarette smoke that sticks to her hands and hair and jumper.

Jamie closes her arms around your back, sighing softly against the side of your head.

Today she's wearing a shaggy jumper under light denim overalls and you stoke the front of her shirt with one of your hands. Beneath it, you can feel Jamie's spare body, the gaunt shape of lean muscles and strong bones. Jamie nuzzles her wet face under your loose scarf and hair and coat collar, against your neck.

"Hi," you say around a big smile.

"Hi," Jamie answers without losing a beat.

You sit there without moving, the house and its tenants, the time outside the white circle of the garden, almost vanishes completely. You feel your flesh gradually numbing; your hands cease to ache. You press yourself deeper into the warm surface of Jamie's chest. Outside, the snow is falling. You can not begin the effort of getting up.

Jamie's close proximity is putting you in a sort of euphoric trance, the desire rising fast and hot in your stomach, shaking you into a hot mess of little more than limbs and eyes. You sway a little in her arms, hands twitching with the impulse to reach out and grab at her, any part of her you can reach.

"Alright, Poppins?" Jamie checks in a voice like she forgot how to breathe, arms strong around you, her closeness making your head spin and your heartbeat against the inside of your chest with excessive force. You think she can probably pick up on the crazy rhythm of the torturous muscle between your ribs, not that it's any secret, just how much you feel for her.

"Yeah, I'm good," you force out a hiccuped laugh. "Just… just missed you".

Your body begins to shiver at the truth of your statement. Against your neck, you feel a convulsive move of Jamie's lips as she presses her mouth to your overheated flesh.

"I miss you, too".

You give another shiver and wonder if you told your mother about Jamie, what sort of reaction will you get. There won't be her usual rather smug satisfaction, no elated glee. She might ignore it altogether, she might develop a quiet fear. You discover, with no amount of wonder, that you don't really care. The people you care about, the people whose opinions matter, already made up their minds about your and Jamie's new closeness, gently pushing you together with encouraging smiles and meaningful glances.

"We should get inside," you say, glancing at the darkening sky above you, trying to tear your eyes away from Jamie's hypnotic stare, from her pink mouth and flushing cheeks.

"Hmm." Jamie answers and in her tight embrace you think that maybe it isn't such a bad idea, staying outside in the snow, letting someone else, someone who isn't you to swath and pacify and arrange two moody children.

You know you can't and you know you wouldn't and you know that if you move now, the slightest muscle movement, Jamie; brilliant and wonderful and caring Jamie, will unwrap her arms from around you and will let you go, no protests voiced and no questions asked.

You don't move and Jamie nuzzles closer. Neither one of you is ready to let go just yet.

 

//

 

The house smells like maroon velvet and furniture polish and wood and somewhere on the second floor, there is a rustling and coughing.

You and Jamie were holding hands when you entered the house, but Jamie had to remove her mud-cooked boots to avoid Hannah's wrath and you shrugged off your coat and you had to let go of Jamie's hand. Once you're inside it doesn't seem right to take hands again, even though your palms itch to have Jamie close.

"Poppins," Jamie says and you turn to her, reaching out, steadying yourself on her shoulders. You kiss her, hand curling around her neck, Jamie's losing themselves in the fabric of your blouse. She makes a small noise against your lips. You don't try to deepen the kiss, even as you move your mouth on hers, shakily testing the new boundaries. Jamie puts her hands on your cheeks and guides you gently back.

"I'm gonna check on the kids," you tell her, eyes closed.

You climb the staircase to the left. the air is almost solid here, shafted with dustmotes when the weak winter sunlight is positive enough through the windows high above. You can still feel the press of Jamie's mouth to your skin.

Miles and Flora are almost ready for dinner and you glance down from the last step, to where Jamie is leaning against the wall, half-hidden behind the corner, engaged in some sort of teasing conversation with Owen. You can't hear what they're saying over Flora's excited chattering.

Your palms ache, not from the cold but from the need to press them to Jamie. Since the night Jamie stayed over, since she showed you the moonflower grove and you made a mess stumbling back into the house, you haven't touched her. It's all too complicated, with one of the children constantly lingering behind you; Flora attached to your hip more than usual, Miles sometimes slightly to the side but still too close, eyes searching the shadows for Quint or Miss Jessel or something darker, something meaner.

You meet Jamie with a kiss, a chaste embrace that is nothing if not unpremeditated, furtive, and much hampered by muffling layers of winter clothing. You say goodbye with the same sort of reserved energy, skin crackling with desire.

You can still taste the first time at the back of your throat. How Jamie tugged at you desperately, how she kissed you, how she laughed, soft and hushed, into your mouth. You can feel her, a phantom against your body, a heated memory, stuck inside your eyelids. There were tripping feet and grabbing hands and groans and moans and sighs, whimpering little sounds when you traced each other's fronts, dazedly plucking at shirts and pants, desperate but in no hurry. You remember searching, and finding hot skin beneath your hands. You remember Jamie's hot palm pressing under your breasts, splayed on your ribs, the other tracing down your spine. You remember when you kissed her inside your dark room, giddy and excited for what is sure to come. You remember how Jamie cupped her hands behind your head, fingers tangling in your hair, how she rocked against you with little self-control, how she arched her back, how she buried her face against your neck and held there, shivering, overwhelmed.

You look at Jamie now, one hand rubbing at her thigh, and you think of how you clawed at her bare shoulders, how you moved, rocking against her in a pace matching Jamie's, how you breathed hard, with relief and panic all at once, as Jamie reached down between your legs for the first time and slide two gentle fingers against you, stroking lightly swollen nerves, feeling bigger and stronger than you could've ever imagine by looking at her hands.

"Miss Clayton?" Flora pulls on your sleeve, hammering you back to the hallway, dim and freezing in comparison to the brilliantly hot picture in you head.

"Hmm? Yes?"

Jamie, you notice with colour rising high in your cheeks, is grinning at you, head cocked to the side, as if she can tell where you've been drifting off to. You wonder if she'd be grinning so wide if you were to reach out and touch her at this moment, or, more likely, would she make that broken plea against your mouth, that wild sound of desperation, followed by her urging hands, her strong fingers, her silent cry -

You shudder and turn away from her, to Flora, who has a concerned look on her face.

"I'm so dreadfully sorry," she breaths out, voice breaking in her haste to explain. "But I can't seem to tie the laces on my shoes. I'm sorry," she says again and sniffles. "I know you already showed me how to do it, Miss Clayton, but I really can't seem to remember how".

"Hey," you say with a bright smile, dragging the sound, and bend over her, sinking on your knees. You stroke lightly at Flora's narrow shoulders, trying to work up some warmth into her.

"It's okay," you pat your thigh for her to hoist her leg up, face brightening. "Here. Like this…"

 

//

 

Hannah spreads a white cloth over the table. Owen, still labouring at the stove, shifts sausages carefully in the frying pan, piling the crispy ones on a huge plate. Jamie, sunk in the depths of her chair with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other, jumps up when she sees you and snaps her fingers in Miles' direction.

"Oy, mate," she calls. "C'mere and help me with the plates".

"But you weren't doing anything – " Miles' face falls and then brightens when Jamie winks his way. You roll your eyes good-naturedly and arrange the silverware and the dishes when it becomes obvious Jamie has some small, rebellious conspiracy in mind to coax Miles out of his dark mood.

You all sit around the table, Owen whistling, Hannah pouring lemonade, Jamie, a strand of brown curl hanging across her forehead, makes herself useful and goes around the table, swaggering behind you, pouring wine in three glasses.

The dinner is lovely. Miles performs a truly wonderful trick, talking and eating at the same time, the intake of food and the output of words make an impressive rhythm only cut short when you gently remind him to chew before he swallows.

"Barbarian little thing," Jamie says fondly and Owen teases Flora for being a perfect little lady, cutting her food with the right hand, eating carefully in small portions as to not spoil the front of her dress.

"Much for you to say," Hannah gestures for Jamie's own shirt, where a splash of sauce decorating a massive rock-band print. Jamie makes a face, Miles shrieks with delight and the dinner dissolves into comfortable humming, where Jamie keeps teasing, Hannah keeps insisting and you do your best to focus on not sucking food down your windpipe, Jamie sitting so close you have your left side almost pressed into her right one.

Your fork finds your mouth in some mechanism or sense peculiar to yourself. The soup and sausages are delicious and the salad is, as Flora puts in her sweet little way, divine but it's hard to focus on anything, even Owen's amazing food, when Jamie's skin is singing hymns at your elbow, almost visibly vibrating with the same desire you nurse inside your chest.

When Owen's voice rises, swelling in volume, the kids' mild argument over something you don't quite catch become almost a chant, you bow your head to Jamie's shoulder and whisper into her ear, low and urgent, before anyone can catch you.

"I wish you could stay tonight".

Jamie's cheeks flush neon red. You smile at her and she sneaks one hand under the table, fingers seeking yours. You catch her hand, let her rest your joined palms against her warm leg.

"Another night," she breaths when you walk together to her car, the cold air biting into your uncovered face. The snow crunches under your feet. Jamie's palm is burning hot against yours.

"Yeah".

You lean against her when you reach her truck. Jamie lights a cigarette and puts her arms around you.

"You could," Jamie says around a puff of smoke, her voice raspy and somewhat strangled. "Move out. When our boss will finally get over himself and come visit".

You lift your head, stepping away, far enough to gaze into her face but not as far as losing her grasp around your shoulders.

"Where will I go?"

Jamie takes another drag from her cigarette, long and slow, and your lungs burn in sympathy.

"There's this flat, above a pub, not far from here," she begins and you can't help the idiot grin that spreads on your lips. Jamie tries to contain her smile, her lips twisting as she swallows it, making a stab at calm. You can't ignore the way she pointedly gazes away from you. "I mean… it's not empty, exactly – "

You surge forward with a strangled noise of utter glee and kiss her hard on the lips. Jamie staggers from the sudden impact, back hitting the cold shell of the green truck. She throws the stub of her cigarette into the snow and cups her hands on either side of your head, gentle and happy. You push into her, hands and shoulders trembling. Jamie is kissing you with such gentle eagerness your nerves spark with electricity.

Jamie is a solid shadow under your hands. You're so happy you're afraid your skin might crack apart.

"Sounds to me like you have it all figured out," you say against her lips, and you're both grinning too hard to properly kiss, now.

"Just an idea," Jamie says, and she stops trying to conceal just how big her smile is. It splits her face in a sunny expression, something huge and beautiful and mesmerizing. Something you can't get enough of.

"It sounds nice." You tell her in a gentle tone.

Jamie kisses you once more. The night is clear and crisp, and the stars in the black sky burn coldly. It had snowed earlier, fine powdery snow, and there are two sets of footmarks, from the front door to where you and Jamie stand now, shivering with cold and possibilities.

"Well, it's just a thought. Boss is nowhere near this bloody place. Not sure if he'll ever muster enough courage to set foot in here again".

"Maybe you should move in," you aim at playful but it comes out slightly more hopeful than you intended.

Jamie's smile is soft. You sink into her arms again.

Suddenly, you want to go down and run and jump into the snow. You want to make footmarks and mazes and irregular paths. You want to sneak your hands into Jamie's huge coat and delay her departure.

You lift your head, brush a hand through Jamie's hair. Her face is shadowed in places and yellow by the light from the house.

"I don't know how much longer I can do this," you whisper in a rush of recklessness.

Jamie stares at you, open and confused and the previous, happy light, dims in her eyes.

"Dani," she says carefully and it's obvious she misinterpreted what you meant to say. "I didn't mean – "

"I want to touch you," you breathe out and Jamie snaps her mouth shut. "I mean... I don't know how much longer I can go on without – without…"

A wild relief floods Jamie's face, and her eyes darken. "I know," she says and rests her forehead against yours. "I know. Me too".

 

//

 

Jamie opens the front door, immediately taking off her boots and puts them on the newspapers that are lying at the threshold for that purpose. There are also other pairs deposed there, small and big with thick soles and some with black fur tops. When Jamie goes past the entrance, shivering slightly, cheeks red from the biting wind, you catch her around the wrist and pull her aside.

Jamie's mouth is slack open, her eyes wide, her expression fixed, unblinking. Outside, the wind blows in a thunderous crash. On the walls, the ancient pictures of ancestors rattle in their frames.

You kiss her and Jamie's soft under your burning palms, shirt sliding between your eager fingers, crumbling in your hands.

"What's this, Poppins?" She mumbles into your mouth.

"Just," you say around a kiss. "Had a dream. Wanted to kiss you".

Jamie pushes into you with a small groan, and you can hardly hear it over the roar of your blood behind your ears. Jamie stokes an arc from your cheek to the base of your ear, desperate and gentle, guiding your head backward. Your pulse is a storm beneath your skin, pounding in your wrists, in your lips, in your teeth. You lean into Jamie's hot hands, enjoying the way her fingers twist in your loose hair, flexing with controlled desire, gently exploring every tilt of your head.

Outside, the snowy storm continues to rage, the estate a huge dimly-white island in the darkness of the day. Far behind the trees, you can hear cars struggle on the curved roads, the hostility of cold air slipping between the floor and the bottom of the heavy door, like a hostile ghost, coming into the house in some obscure way. In your dazed state, it feels like the cold is jealous of two embracing lovers, not quite brave enough to move from the entrance, not ready to lose the first real contact in what feels like years, just yet.

Days, you think wildly. Only been a couple of days since i touched her. A few hours since i last kissed her.

If Jamie's darkening eyes and the crooked arc of her lips and the burning sensation of her skin beneath your fingers isn't enough, Jamie rasps your name in a broken whisper, strangled and fighting, her hands still grasping at you hard enough to make you briefly worry for the state of your clothes.

"Yes," you murmur into her mouth and Jamie's smile is too big to keep kissing properly. You press closer, closer, closer still as if you're not already flushed together with little space between you. Jamie's front is pressed blazing to yours, her lips parting, catching your lips. Her tongue curls around yours, nothing sweet and nothing gentle in the way she's searching your mouth, pouring questions and mute answers into a hungry, insane –

"So sorry," Owen's voice showers down on you like a bucket of ice-water and you jerk back, startled and humiliated at being caught with Jamie's tongue in your mouth. You twist back, trying to smooth your jumper back into place, make Jamie's efforts, visible on your clothes and hair, disappear in a quick flex of fingers against the fabric.

Owen has his hands over his eyes, glasses dangling from between two fingers, a huge, sweet grin visible just so under his mustache.

"Haven't seen anything," he says far too quickly. "Practically blind without my glasses, which I have in my hand, mind you. And – "

"Owen," Jamie growls behind you.

"Yeah, right," he clears his throat. "It's just that… well, the kids were wondering if maybe Miss Clayton wanted to see their biscuits before they go into the oven. Honestly, it was - "

"Sure thing!" your own voice rings too bright and too loud even to your own ears. You give Jamie's hand a squeeze, trying to convey in a single press of skin on skin that everything is okay before you take off straight to the kitchen, where Miles and Flora are hunching over a flour smeared table, decorating the last pieces of their creation.

"Oh. Aww – " you hear Owen's good-natured chuckle and then a groan when Jamie punches him in the stomach.

"No violence inside the house," Hannah's clicking heels interrupt whatever is going on in the foyer and you, Miles, and Flora lift your heads in unison, like well-trained puppies.

"Wasn't doin' anything," Jamie's voice is innocent, so much so you're almost having trouble remembering where her hands were drifting to, not five minutes ago.

"You hush now. And you, Owen. We've talked about interrupting them. Heaven help me. Have some sense, next time".

Miles has a big smile on his face, as if he knows too much, or just happy not to be the one getting Hannah's scoldings. Flora is already back to decorating her cookie, oblivious to the world outside her baking pan.

Quietly, very tactfully, Hannah says; "Jamie, dear. Find some other place to kiss Miss Clayton. I just mopped the floors here".

Jamie's groan is loud enough to hear all the way back in the village.

 

//

 

Outside, the wind blows, leaves and branches drift along the lawn, and Jamie's single figure stands against the force of nature. When she comes inside, wild-haired and smeared with mud, you make sure to put a cup of hot brew in her outstretched hand.

"You made this?" Jamie checks with mischief in her eyes and you swat at her arm.

"No," you relent and she lets out a laugh, a raspy sound that settles low in your stomach. A comfortable, slightly feverish silence forms between you, desperation made flesh. Jamie watches you with a sort of nervous energy that resiprocates inside you, burning hot, a raging fire of want and need and Jamie and Jamie and Jamie.

"How you doin', Poppins?" Jamie bows her head, catching your eye. Her voice is low, designed only for your ears. She has a somewhat playful glint in her stormy eyes, the colours shifting from green to grey to light blue, and your heart, already beating fast, picks a dangerous pace. The playfulness, you notice, is only second to a much softer shine.

You slide your hand up Jamie's heaving chest, up the side of her neck. You touch the outside of her sharp jaw, her soft cheek, and Jamie shudders. Not the violent sharp shudder, but a much softer shiver, and for a long minute, Jamie shuts her eyes and leans into you, her smile shifting.

There's this smile again, you think dazedly as Jamie's lips curl into a crooked grin, her trademark troublemaker's smile. There it is again, and I can't even kiss her the way she should be kissed.

It makes your head spin.

The traces of mud and snow are still evident on Jamie's face as you move away from the door, matching each other's steps in perfect sync. You let the children's gleeful shrieks and Owen's laugh wash across your ears in a blur of meaningless syllables. Hannah pokes her head out of the corridor leading to the kitchen, dark lipstick immaculate on her mouth, eyes soft and motherly.

"Tracking mud again onto my carpet, you?" she point a warning finger in Jamie's direction.

Jamie, face glazed over with a look of innocence, is attempting to hide behind your back. There is a false lightness about her, false enough for only you to catch. Jamie is the picture of calm, but you stand close to her and you've seen the look in her eyes and you can feel the hot, dark, mad desire churning under her skin.

"It's a bloody blizzard outside, Hannah," she says as she kicks her boots off her legs, bending from her waist to collect them, almost losing her balance in the process. "Where d'you want me to leave them?"

You catch Jamie by the upper arm and she leans into you. You're staring at Hannah's amused expression and you're not prepared for Jamie's weight against your side. Your pathetic attempt at keeping her upright almost knocks you both down. Jamie makes a wonderfully wild little noise at the back of her throat and manages to set you back on both your feet, safe and sound.

"Careful, Poppins," she tells you with open, hungry delight. To Hannah she says. "Well?"

Hannah looks like she's actively trying not to laugh.

"Why don't you, Miss Clayton, do me a favour and make sure this one," she jabs a finger at Jamie. "Washes up before dinner".

You know what she's doing and you're about to protest, about to laugh it off, about to say something entirely too stupid, when Owen materialises behind Hannah, face split in a grin, a smear of flour on his cheek. He plants both hands on his hips and nods enthusiastically. You can feel Jamie's stare burning holes into the floor, skin vibrating with dark want and darker embarrassment at the not-so-subtle attempts of your peers.

"Brilliant idea," Owen's enthusiasm makes Hannah's smile grow into a full-blown grin. "And before you say anything about the gremlins, Miss Clayton, let me assure you. I have a special treat for them, this evening. Going to teach them how to make proper pasta".

Your heart is twisting in your chest. Jamie chuckles and the sound curls around you like smoke, folding you in. There isn't really anything you can do when Jamie's palm slides into yours. You want to say something, anything, try to explain how incredibly unprofessional this situation is, how you can't just vanish upstairs in the middle of the day, how you need to be where the children are, watching them and not hanging your responsibilities on Hannah's busy hands, Owen's too eager ones. But Jamie's fingers slip between the spaces of yours and you're high on her close proximity, on the mere sight of her unruly head, her darkening eyes, the distinct, focused smell that is Jamie.

Your breath is coming in hot, red and dark, and burning against your chest. You feel young and desperate and foolish, younger and more foolish than you've ever had the pleasure of being before you met Jamie. Before you escaped your little town. Before blinding lights took what was your set future and turned your world around.

Jamie tugs on your arm, skipping two stairs at a time, sliding on the parquet floor, her socks making it hard for her to stay glued to the ground. There is a reckless air about her and you notice she takes the wrong turn, not leading you to the bathroom at all, as Hannah's suggested, but to a dark wooden door you know all too well, a door that once closed behind your backs will serve as a dangerous trap. You're not sure if you'd be able to let Jamie go, once the key turns in the lock.

"Jamie – " you hiss and pear behind your shoulder. There is no one chasing you, no one following you. You can hear the distant voices of the children as Owen explains the delicate matters of a well-made pasta. You hear Hannah sigh, way too fondly, and Owen make a joke that sets two small, ringing voices, in a fit of laughter.

Jamie, to your complete surprise, has stopped. She's still holding your hand in both of hers, but she's no longer dragging you behind her. Instead, she's facing you, no trace of her goofy smile at the sight, eyes so dark they are almost black. Your own entertainment at her giddiness is gone now, and you're hammered into place, mouth hanging open, heart going wild.

"Look, Dani…"

Don't, you think in a wild desperation, the love in Jamie's eyes drying your mouth. Don't say my name like this. Like there is any chance this isn't exactly what I want. Like you don't already know this is what I need.

You touch gently beneath her collar, fingers cold and slightly shaking.

"I want to," you tell her in a breathed sort of whisper, barely audible at all. "If you want".

"Poppins," Jamie says before you can complete the thought. Her eyes are wide, full of emotion. "I want. Christ have mercy. I want".

 

//

 

Jamie turns to you, all big stormy eyes the colour of winter, all messy hair, brown and curly with surprising streaks of light woven through it, all sharp jaw and high cheekbones and shadowed smiling mouth.

She flips you around so your back is to the door. Your thighs hit the back of the heavy wood and Jamie is kissing you, all protests and questions and thoughts die before they've really formed in your mouth.

For a few blessed moments, you just kiss her. Jamie's hands cradle your face in a very gentle, very affectionate manner, no trace of eagerness in her fingers. You clutch the skin of her shoulders through her shirt and slide your arm around her neck, tangle your fingers in her hair to hold her against you as you kiss with a ferocity you haven't felt since your first night together.

Jamie coaxes your mouth open with hers and her tongue slides in, grazing over the back of your teeth.

You've made it this long without pouncing on her and you feel like every mature decision is crumbling into dust. You pull her close, time's slowing down into a crawl and Jamie presses her tongue against yours as it slides out of her mouth. You can feel the tension in her muscles, in the way her body is frozen against you, and you've never felt more in control, more present, less embarrassed.

There is something in kissing Jamie, you think as your hands are reeling themselves in her collar, all restraint flung out the window and Jamie's thumb grazes a slow-burning path along your jaw.

The urge to tell Jamie how incredible she is with her mouth risen to yours, with her hands all over you, is digging uncomfortable claws into your brain. You open your mouth, kiss her harder, rock slightly against her weight as she's pushing you back into the door.

In the back of your mind, you register Jamie's hands sliding down from your head to your back, lower still, settling on the curve of your hips. There is a hungry, alert quality to Jamie's touches and you're not conscious of breathing, not conscious of kissing, not conscious of anything but the close, intoxicating feeling that is Jamie.

It's not the soft, pliant kisses you've been receiving, not the soft, pliant kisses you forced yourself to give. The slide of Jamie's hands, the low noises she makes at the back of her throat, your own racing heart; all make it too hopeful and too thick and too rioting to keep soft.

You find yourself spiraling out of control, pushing into Jamie's mouth, Jamie's hands, with fever, with need, with something that takes you by surprise (something that seems to take Jamie by surprise, too) and you grasp at her hard enough to bruise, slightly worries you might tear her shirt apart.

Your hands move of their own ferocity, grasping at Jamie as you gasp into her mouth. She sallows your gasp in another bruising kiss and you pull her shirt up from where it's tucked neatly into her dark jeans.

Jamie's skin is warm as you slide your fingers up her spine until you hit her bra strap. Jamie's hands are busy with your blouse and she withdraws, making quick work of unbuttoning the front of it, not clumsy in the least. When she speaks, Jamie's voice is laced with lust, her usual rasp a low, burning grumble.

"Not how I wanted this to go".

"Oh, no?" you're dizzy with desire, lips stinging from Jamie's kisses. Jamie has finished unbuttoning your shirt and pushes it halfway down your arms. Then she presses a kiss to your chest, just the top swell of your breasts. You tangle your fingers in her hair as she drags her tongue up to your neck and bites lightly into your skin, careful not to leave a mark. You let out a shaky breath and she kisses the spot gently.

"No. had a whole thing planned".

You kiss her, chest pressed against hers and Jamie drags short blunt nails down your back. You moan appreciatively into her mouth and she smirks into the kiss.

"Tell me," you manage to gasp as Jamie's hands grope gently at your chest over your bra, making you arch into her palm. Your bodies are flushed together, moving in desperate rocking waves.

"The pub," Jamie says in a strangled voice as she slides her hand over your breasts, driving you insane. You wait for her to continue, but she just peppers kisses down your skin, keeping her distance as much as possible in your current position.

"We can do that," you say, your grip tight on her hair, breath quickening, and you try to smile. There must be, you know, some sort of reassurance. There must be some part of you still functioning, with the kids in the kitchen, with Owen and Hannah no doubt knowing exactly what you and Jamie's up to. "We can…"

"Later," Jamie groans helplessly and there is a glazed joy in her dark eyes.

You nod, drunk on her closeness, on her hands and kisses and scent.

"Yes," you say, "Yes," though you are not sure what exactly are you talking about.

"Sure?" Jamie asks in a voice like she's strangling when you dig your fingers harder into her hair and nod again. You can hear the echo of the unasked question and Jamie leans in, pulls down the cups of your bra, and takes one of your picking nipples into her mouth.

You sink into her with a low moan. Jamie rolls the pad of her thumb on the hardened bud, closer to you now than she's ever been before. You can feel her breath against your skin, sharp and warm, and then her face pressing against you, nudging into your flesh, almost hot enough to burn; like the nuzzle of an animal, curious and only slightly friendly

"Jamie…"

Jamie meets your eyes and you can't bring yourself to say anything, can't bring yourself to look away from the intensity of her gaze.

This is still Jamie, you remind yourself. Still Jamie and you trail a distracted hand through her hair. she looks at you and everything feels resolved, hunted in the best ways, greyish-green eyes absorbed into white revelation. It's clarity and joy submerged in lust; hot, crazy desire, and you try to concentrate on something, anything, though you don't have the least idea why or on what you should be concentrating, if not on Jamie.

So instead, you just breathe hard and press against her, cupping your hands to Jamie's ears. There is a wild air around the both of you, primal inability to stop touching and you thrust your hips, slowly grinding them against Jamie, seeking for the right angle for minimal friction, and illusion like blue light on the skin, just out of your reach.

Jamie says, "Tell me not to," as she trails kisses between your breasts, down your stomach, her tongue lingering just below your belly button. You slowly sag against the door, ignoring the stiffness of the wood underneath you, the buckling feeling in your knees.

Jamie pulls slowly your jeans down your hips with burning intensity, pushing gently your knees apart. You think for a moment she's going to tease you, but Jamie's pressing into soaked-through cotton, pushing her mouth right where you need her over a too-thin-but-still-present barrier and you throw your head back with a gentle moan, careful not to make too much noise. Your hips twitch against her face and Jamie's name is a dare and a plea and a prayer on your mouth when she darts out her tongue and you buck your hips to get more friction.

"Jamie… Jamie… " your lungs hurt. You're dizzy from too much air and you tug at Jamie's hair, white-hot pleasure splintering through you and hurtling over an unseen edge. You're begging, not sure for what. "Please... Please – "

Jamie looks up, hands splayed on your thighs. Your hips move in small jerky motions. You're not in full control over your body.

"Tell me what you want, Dani," Jamie says gently, as if in answer, and it's your name on her lips that make you hook one leg over her shoulder and nudge her forward with an ankle until her breath comes hot and crazy against the whole of you.

You furrow your brows, frustrated, too lost to form actual words, heart-squeezing at the sight of Jamie on her knees, mouth pressed between your legs, just waiting for an affirmation.

"I want – I want - "

There's a loud shout, and a cry, from down the hall. Then, Hannah's stern voice calling Miles' name and Flora's unmistakable howl of "Miss Clayton!"

You jerk back, further into the door, as Jamie pushes herself off of you, an involuntary gasp escaping her glistening lips. Flora's crying pulls the plug hastily on the hot, dizzy atmosphere inside your bedroom and Jamie scrambles off her knees, sliding aside, away from you. You pull your pants up in a hurry, fingers buttery, strapping the bra back on and struggling with your shirt. It all happens in a blink of an eye, Jamie poised on the bed, hair disheveled, mouth swollen, eyes still dark. Her fingers dig with visible force into her thigh. You're panting, but the panic that's climbing in your chest does wonders to your sinking lust.

You stumble into the corridor just in time for Flora to collide into you. Hot on her heel is Miles, with a grimace so ugly it makes him look older and meaner than he is. He has his hands balled into fists, a red and green frosting smeared on his face.

"Miles, stop that right now!" Hannah's flying up the stairs, eyebrows furrowed. When she spots you, there's an apology, sincere and sad, in her eyes. You smile at her, shake your head, hands wrapping securely around Flora's trembling shoulders.

"Miles," you say sternly when he pushes forward, ready to strike.

"She – " Miles points angrily at Flora. "Ruined my biscuits!"

You take a deep breath to poise yourself. Jamie pokes her head out of the room, the picture of calm.

"What's this, then?" she exclaims in a much steadier voice than anything you can produce at the moment, as if you weren't interrupted right in the middle. Jamie's light grey eyes make the dim-lit hallways diffusely bright, like a sun is concealed somewhere behind them.

Then Miles and Flora launched into a contest of screaming over each other in the haste to explain Flora's tears and Miles' balled fists and why there is frosting all over both their fronts, some in Miles' hair. You glance and Jamie, who smiles lightly, shakes her head fondly, fingers splayed on your back in a calming manner. Your skin is electric under her hand.

"They come first," she tells you in a raspy whisper, and you nod.

"Thank you," you mouth over two tiny heads and Jamie smiles, far too sweet beneath the dim light of the darkened corridor, and nod once.

 

//

 

Bly manor, from your window, is spreading below like a white island, too cold for this time of year. There are narrow paths and cold lights, the lake a distant horror behind the Chapple.

You bite on the side of your nail, digging your teeth into scarred flesh, the sting doing nothing to the rising fever in your stomach.

Perhaps it's a game, an agreement you and Jamie have made, that one first night, that one first time, whispered between you for an instant, hammered into you as Jamie eased gently her fingers inside you, as you looked at her, short of breath and vaguely damp at the brow, rumpled jumper, not quite focused.

Your bitten fingers hurt and there's a blooming patch of dark red in the corner, deep and ugly. You lick the blood, trying your best not to think how deep Jamie had looked into your eyes, kneeling on the floor before you, how overwhelming it was having her mouth on you, her hair between your fingers, drawing her ever nearer to the centre of you.

You feel empty, and cold, with Jamie gone. The shadow of a memory when you kissed her goodbye is a poor substitute for the real thing. Jamie in your head is not the same as Jamie flesh-and-blood.

Beside you, Flora is going through your drawers and overturning things on the bureau. She digs into makeup and earrings, happy with your collection, though you don't have much of either.

"Miss Clayton," Flora is bouncing up and down, tucking a shawl around her shoulders, mimicking someone you've never met. She spins, a huge smile stretching her cheeks. "Isn't it all just perfectly splendid?"

You laugh at how ridiculously mature Flora looks, a kid playing dress-up. You can already picture her in her wedding-gown, beaming at a faceless man, tall and proud and beautiful

"Yes," you tell her and she spins again, back to the mirror, back to painting her face, holding tubes carefully in the air, working methodically, comically, on her small face.

Miles is lounging on your bed behind you, reading a book he picked up two days ago. It has adventures and pirates in it, so he lets his imagination float. From time to time he taps on your back lightly, pointing at a difficult word, asking for proper pronunciation or clarification.

"Pieces of eight..." he chuckles. Then, muttering; "S'not bad," and you can't resist the strange urge to push his growing hair back from his forehead. He smiles at you, young and happy, a little boy once again.

It's morning and you hear footsteps ascending the stairs. Flora is squinting into the mirror, trying to find which particular set of muscles would produce the desired effect, not succeeding in getting her face to do what she wants. A moment later, Jamie pokes her head of beautifully arranged curls into the room, a smile on her face.

"Hey, you lot. Hiding up here?"

You remove yourself from the bed and go over to Jamie. The hallway is almost as cold as the outside air, and after the toasty warmth of your bedroom, it feels almost angry against your skin.

"Mornin', Poppins," Jamie's voice sinks into you smoothly as a knife through butter. You try to preserve as your last resort crumple like wet newsprint; the rest of you can't work up the energy to resist the all too lovely greeting.

"Good morning".

"Got the gremlins lined up, I see".

"Well, Miles seems to enjoy your truly magnificent taste in books," you grin at her. "Though Long John Silver can't seem to capture Flora's attention quite so much".

With a bright smile, Jamie turns and looks at Flora, who is still attacking your make-up with determined fingers. "Doesn't seem too sad about that".

"She isn't".

Jamie's smile widens. "Any particular plans for tonight?"

Jamie is pushing against the wall on which she propped herself. Her eyes are glinting with mischief but her tone is casual. Your breath is catching in your throat and you wonder if this effect she has on you will ever subdue. Standing so close to her, the temptation to sink into her arms is too big, so you move away, making some distance between you, stepping back inside your room for the kids' grounding force.

"Nothing special, unless these two will pull something unexpected".

Jamie smiles, a light crease of concealed desire appearing between her eyebrows. Blind ecstasy sweeps you at Jamie's smile. You tuck your thumb into your fist, squeezing hard.

"Why?" you make a stab at playfulness, though it comes out breathless. "You got any plans for tonight?"

Jamie's smile gets a darker tone, full of dangerous innuendoes and furiously hot truths.

"If you want," she says, breath coming in sharp little gasps. You let out a small sigh, hands clenched at your sides. You can feel the hot energy of terror and anticipation rising back up, a raging fire. You sink into Jamie's arms, hands still clutched at your thigh.

"Yes," you whisper into her skin. "Please".

 

//

 

You close the door to Miles and Flora's bedroom. Jamie is leaning against the opposite wall, one foot nervously tapping the floor, gazing hypnotically at you from behind her hair. You smile and take her hand before you can think better of it.

"Feel like having a brew?"

she asks, somewhat nervous, her breath smooth across her lips in a whispered sigh.

"Not so much," you say, trying to keep your voice steady.

"We can talk- "

You pause and turn around, facing Jamie. There is a vulnerable, open look on her face, eager and slightly wild. You can't tear your eyes away from her lips.

"I don't want to talk," you say in a desperate sort of whisper.

Jamie, to your surprise and utter relief, is nodding. There's a truly fascinating mix of tenderness and pressure in Jamie's eyes. Half wild need, half soft understanding, and you feel safe, even now, with your heart going wild and your hands shaking, and your head dizzy with insane want. This is how Jamie's always looked at you, knowing exactly how much weight to shift into you, how much pressure to apply, which button to push with measured force.

By the time you reach your bedroom, your skin is prickling with anticipation. Owen and Hannah are both downstairs, drinking tea and discussing something they saw in a movie they went to two days ago. You could be embarrassed, knowing Jamie's got a spare plate tonight at the table, knowing Hannah didn't bother with sleeping arrangements for her, knowing Flora had whispered to you after you kissed her goodnight, that she's happy you Jamie have found each other. But something in the way Jamie smiles, in the way her hand tucked neatly in yours, turn embarrassment to fresh lust, desire tipped over to complete need, an electric sensation under your skin. There isn't room for embarrassment with all the memories of yesterday and the day before, and your very first time, especially with Jamie tightening her grip on your fingers, guiding you slowly to the safety of your room.

"Jamie, I – "

The second the door swings shut behind you, Jamie is backing you into it, pulling you into a heated kiss and keeping you pinned against the door. Her hands land on your waist while your arms lift around her shoulders and your hands tangle in her hair, tilting her head slightly to the side so you can kiss her deeper. Jamie's hips stutter forward slightly when you brush your tongue against her bottom lip and she whimpers quietly into your mouth.

There's a pause in Jamie's kisses and you stop yourself from making some lewd, ridiculous comment when you see the look in her eyes. Jamie's pupils are blown wide already, her heated gaze raking hungrily over you. But there is something else hiding under all the lust, something deeper and more significant than you've caught sight of before.

"Jamie," you say and brush hair away from her eyes, curling your fingers and raking your nails into her scalp. "It's okay. We don't have to – "

"Not that," Jamie says quietly. "Just checking nobody's goin' to barge in on us again".

"Think I might not survive that," you tell her truthfully and Jamie laughs a wonderful open laugh. She smells of grass and turned earth and rain, with a faint lingering smell of cigarettes and mint and the clean, familiar scent that is unmistakably Jamie. It's intoxicating.

Jamie brushes your hair off your shoulder and presses a soft kiss to the side of your neck.

"You say that," she murmurs gently, holding into you, bent slightly at the knees.

"Some things... " you start and pause. Jamie cocks one eyebrow at you. You shake your head.

"They're important, Dani," she says heatedly, as if trying to hammer home a grave point. "Miles and Flora. Very important. I know it".

"So are you," you say. You don't say more than you realise because it's not the place and not yet the time and Jamie is solid and real, pressed against you, dragging her mouth achingly slow on your skin, and you can't ruin it with too hot truths. You're not going to say anything that will put an end to whatever it is Jamie is doing right now.

You make a quick work of your clothes, fabric hissing against skin, falling with a soft thump on the floor. You put your arms around Jamie's neck and start walking her backward toward the bed, both of you shedding the rest of your clothes as you go. Jamie leaves your underwear and your bra untouched, even when she's gloriously naked, your palms itching with the need to feel her skin.

You stare, wide-eyed, breath coming is sharp, scraping jabs. You look at Jamie and she gives you a confident nod, surprisingly stable for someone standing naked in the middle of a bedroom, with intention clear in their eyes. Your hands fly to her skin, roaming across her bare body. The backs of your knees hit the edge of the bed and you both tumble down onto it. Jamie kisses you deeply, and flips you over onto your back, trapping you against the mattress with her arms. Her tongue sliding against yours and her hands run over your bare, overheated skin, driving you insane with want. You drag your nails down her back, light enough not to leave a mark, and Jamie moans quietly, shuddering above you.

"If anything feels wrong, stop me".

You make a wild nodding motion, almost amused with complete mania, swaying under the sudden weight of fear. Wrong, you think, eyes open wide as Jamie moves above you, spinning your head around. How can anything about her be wrong? and still, you nod. You nod. You nod.

Jamie pulls back to catch her breath, and you reach up to brush her hair out of her eyes with one hand, the other gently tracing her cheek. Jamie's gazing down at you with the most wonderstruck expression, and something about the way she’s smiling down at you makes your heart thump in an unsteady and familiar way.

"You're so beautiful," you murmur without thinking, and Jamie's breath hitches.

It's not the first time, you remind yourself. Not your first time in her arms, under her body, arching and falling, your hips twisting, shuddering.

"You alright, Poppins?"

"Yeah".

Jamie leans down and kisses you softly, her tongue strokes languidly against yours before she sucks on your bottom lip and then tugs lightly with her teeth. Your head is dizzy, the kiss less sweet this time.

"Are you okay?" you breathe out, a whispered concern. Jamie's panting hot little pants above you, hands folding beneath your body, plucking at the waistband of your underwear. She smiles, her eyes crinkle at the edges, soft and right, vulnerable and completely trusting.

"'Course," Jamie says, her voice dark and low and threaded with barely contained desire. You yank her down, kissing her with a sort of out-of-control recklessness, your stomach tight with a dull, sweet ache.

Jamie spends ages kissing down your body, laving at your nipples with her tongue over your bra, before undoing the clasp and slowly pulling the straps down your arms, peppering your skin with kisses as she goes. She swirls her tongue over your bare nipples, scraping her teeth over them as she drifts further down, sucking light bruises into your stomach and kissing across your hipbones until your breath is coming in ragged gasps. By the time she settles between your legs, your underwear is sticking wetly to your skin, soaked with want, breath a helpless little hiss at the back of your throat.

"If something doesn't feel right, stop me," Jamie says again, desire written all over her face and you recognize through the daze, slightly light-headed with anticipation, that there is absolute truth in her. If you were to push her away, if you were to apologise and say you're not ready, if you were to make the slightest sight of discomfort, Jamie, you know, will move away. She will retreat and she will turn from this hungry, almost animalistic version of herself, into the soft, gentle, slightly rumpled woman you know and love.

"Alright?"

You sigh and close your eyes. "Alright".

Jamie's head sink between your legs, mouth a soft, hot spike of pleasure and you sink into her, melt into her practiced tongue. Your hands drift down to thread into her hair and Jamie lets out a noise of lingering arousal. You brush off a stubborn strand of curls from her face, tugging involuntarily with each swipe against your skin. You let yourself disappear into whatever Jamie is doing to you, slow and deliberate and almost delicate.

Something in the way Jamie's face is illuminated, makes your stomach turn. A new surge of wet desire flow down your stomach and Jamie makes a noise of utter pleasure against you.

"Jamie," you sigh when her tongue slides across you and destroys any semblance of rational thought. Your breaths are sharp, ragged little pushes of air against struggling lungs. A loud moan you are quick to trap behind your own hand escapes your mouth as Jamie's tongue begins to work against you rhythmically, dragging through abundant wetness, pushing inside ever so slightly, licking and flicking and sucking against you, slowly at first and then gradually quickening, pulling unrestrained filthy moans from you.

Before you can register it her hand slides down from your hip and Jamie slowly presses a single finger into you, followed quickly by a second. Your right-hand flails around, aiming for her head so you can cling onto her, but instead, it gets caught by Jamie's free hand reaching up to grab at you. She links your fingers together and rests your joined hands against your stomach, helping to keep your hips still, even as you roll them into her waiting fingers, eagerly working mouth.

Each swipe of Jamie's tongue and each curl of Jamie's fingers send sparks of white-hot pleasure coursing through you, building you higher and higher until you can barely breathe. You jump when Jamie hits a particularly sensitive spot, your breaths pitching gradually into a louder cry.

You let yourself go, riding Jamie in a way you might feel embarrassed about if you were completely present, but you don't feel it now. Your hands clench into fists around sheets and hair and you hear yourself whine Jamie's name as something spirals low in your stomach, clenches in the most wonderful way.

The feeling of Jamie's mouth sucking at you is enough to send you over the edge, thighs quivering and back arching up against the mattress, your eyes squeezed shut and your head tossed back against the pillows while you moan out her name, as quietly as you can manage with her mouth pressed hotly into you. You clench around her fingers, your body jerking out of control with each wave of pleasure, desperate and pulling.

"Jamie," you hear yourself cry. "Jamie".

Your stomach feels fluttery and your heart is racing between your ribs. Jamie raises her eyes and is looking at you from between your thighs with such an open expression that for a moment, to envoke something, some response, even if you could predict the thing that might emerge from beneath your seemingly passive surface, is impossible. There is a formless, quivering, unsubstantial darkness before you, shifting as your eyes shift, trying to appear to have temperature and odour and thickness, leaking from between your legs. There is no sound in the room. The only important thing is Jamie, icy desolation around her, skin hot and flushed, eyes wide with something worse than fear, something more wonderful than love.

"I – is this… I mean… am I – " you don't know what you're saying, can't breathe properly, can't stop, and you let your thought unravel into something that might resemble a coherent sentence. Jamie scratches her nails softly down your thighs, mouth, and chin glistening with smears of your want.

"Okay?" Jamie asks in a low voice, making your world white-hot and surprising as her wet fingers trail your skin. "Dani, was this okay?"

You recover enough to tug her up from between your legs. You yank Jamie into a bruising kiss, urging her close, your hand cupped around the back of her head. You're dizzy with the taste of you on her mouth, and when Jamie makes a low noise, strangled and wonderful as you slide your tongue against her teeth, you swallow her surprised gasp.

Jamie moves to straddle your lap when you sit up, searching for more contact, and your hands slide behind her, grabbing and squeezing and encouraging her to grind her hips down against you. She groans loudly into the kiss when she connects with your thigh, and you can’t help but whimper when soft curls brush against your skin. It's all too powerful, all too brilliant, realising just how wet Jamie already is. Her hands slip into your hair, tugging gently, easily, as if she can detach herself from the sharp breath, the raspy groan, the slightly trembling muscles. You duck your head, lips closing around one nipple, and Jamie gasps and arches her back, her fingers tightening in your hair as she curls into you.

"God," she whimpers, breath coming in short, quick jabs. "Dani".

This, you think with a pulse of hot glee. Keep saying my name like this.

You could spend hours just lavishing attention on Jamie's breasts and nothing else, but Jamie is a bit more impatient now, on the verge of losing control. She's dragging her bottom lip through her teeth, nostrils flaring around a soft breath. You've never seen her like this. Your first time was sweet and heated, slow in the most brilliant way. Jamie's been so composed, so present, so much like her day-to-day self, it was easy sinking into her. This, now, is different. The control is smeared into blurry lines, given to you with a loving, trusting, shifting vulnerability you can't do anything but cherish.

"It's okay," you tell her as she reclines under tentative, focused movements. "Jamie… it's okay".

Jamie nods, unable to form words and there is a bloom of pride inside your chest.

"Tell me," you say. "Jamie - "

Jamie reaches behind her and takes hold of one of your hands, pulling it down to between her legs with a mumbled I want you inside me, and the plea sends a pulse of white-hot heat through your body to throb between your legs.

Jamie is so wet against your fingers, you don't have it in you to tease her. The sensation of Jamie under your hand is maddening. Gently you sink two fingers inside her, enjoying the way she stretches and tightens around you.

"Yes," she sighs. "Yes..."

Through the haze of lust, you watch the varying expressions of pleasure flicking across Jamie's face, watch her as she whimpers and moans and squirms in your lap, stifling her cries against her own palm, tipping her head back, eyes rolling back in her head. You press yourself closer, eyes trained on the way her brows tighten, her eyelids flutter, her mouth falls open.

"Inside. Inside, I want – " Jamie's voice is shaking and you think she has no idea what she's saying, rocking with sharp, needy thrusts against your hand. You roll your hand instinctively in time with her, finding a comfortable rhythm.

There is nothing beyond Jamie, beyond this bed, beyond her rocking her hips down to meet your waiting fingers. There is nothing but this; Jamie with her eyes squeezed shut, sweat rolling down the side of her neck, meeting your fingers with fast, short breaths, tightening slightly around you when you curl just right.

"Good?"

Jamie's arms wind around your shoulders. She rests her forehead against yours as she gasps and pants into your mouth, nods frantically in time with the movements of your fingers inside her. You wrap your free arm around her, palm splayed out over her lower back. Jamie groans and you press your hand into her skin, encouraging her to roll her hips down to meet your weakening thrusts, your muscles burning with pleasant weariness.

"Dani. Dani. Dani," Jamie gasps your name like a prayer, her fingers, tangled in your hair, tightening when you angle your hand to brush your thumb against slick, swollen skin. She buries her face into your shoulder, her entire body shuddering with urgency, struggling, chasing a sensation just out of her reach.

"God - fuck, Dani - !" Jamie groans, staggering, and a surge of mad adrenaline of pure desire runs hot in your veins. Your heart rate is racing at full speed, a freshly wet heat throbbing painfully between your legs, surging hot into your lower stomach, clenching your insides.

Jamie bunches your hair around her fists.

"That's it," you murmur into her ear and your mouth is very dry. You don't know where this confident voice is coming from. Your hips are twitching beneath Jamie's comfortable weight. You turn your head and press your lips to her neck, right below her ear. "That's it. Ride it out with me. Jamie…."

There is a reckless grace to the way Jamie's hips jerk wildly a few more times, holding on tight, twisting in effort, before she goes rigid for a few seconds and then comes with a low moan, muffled against your skin, her entire body shuddering and shaking on top of you, a new surge of heat flooding your hand.

When Jamie's body stops trembling, stops shattering, stops falling apart, you slowly slide your fingers out of her. You wrap your arms around her, squirming down the messy sheets until you're lying in a sweaty heap, Jamie's chest pushing against you with every rise and fall of hard breaths.

Jamie presses a kiss to the side of your neck as you kiss her hair, eyes still closed. She sighs against your flushed skin.

"That was, ah…"

You laugh. "You tired?"

Jamie lets out a blissed-out, slightly panicked chuckle as your hands start sliding down teasingly toward soaked, swollen skin. Jamie shudders, still riding the crumbs of her orgasm. She reaches blindly to you, hand flailing before she settles on twisting shaking fingers into your messy hair.

"Not tired. Just need," a huff. A pant. "A moment".

You tilt Jamie's chin up and press an open-mouthed kiss along the underside of her sharp jaw. Jamie's skin is warm and soft and damp and she hums as she presses into you, blissed out. You have to force yourself not to latch into her just yet.

"Stay with me?" you whisper, rocking against Jamie's flexing thigh.

"Yes," Jamie says without losing a beat. Her eyes, when she finally opens them, are glazed with new lust, with a mild concern, with something neither one of you is ready to name just yet. "Promise. I'm not going anywhere".

"Neither do I," you say softly, pushing brown curls from Jamie's sleepy brilliant eyes. "I'm right here. You rest".