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A Modern Arrangement

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Dot taps lightly on Miss Phryne’s bedroom door, her lips still tingling from Hugh’s goodnight kiss. Her Miss rarely precedes her to sleep, and sometimes Dot can bring her cocoa before she retires to her own bed. If Miss Phryne’s not otherwise engaged, that is. Dot always listens outside for signs of visitors (they’re almost never silent) — out of delicacy, of course.

“Is that you, Dot?” she hears. Dot cracks the door and peeks around it. Miss Phryne is lifting herself up in bed, her face strangely flushed.

“Are you all right, Miss?” Dot’s brow furrows in concern. “I didn’t wake you?"

“No no, please come in.” Miss Phryne nestles into her throne of pillows and pats the space beside her.

Dot perches next to her on the mattress and kicks off her shoes. She angles herself away from the expanse of bare shoulders exposed by Miss Phryne’s silk slip.

Dot has awoken her Miss on countless mornings, wafting in with a tray of coffee and scones. When she opens the curtains, she tries to avert her eyes discreetly from the scene in the bed — whether it’s Miss Phryne alone or tangled up with a guest — usually wearing far too few nightclothes for Dot’s comfort, in either case. She might have caught a glimpse, though, once or twice. It doesn’t seem proper how her eyes linger on the unladylike vistas of skin.

“How was your outing?” Miss Phryne asks, with a hint of mischief.

Dot smiles despite herself. “Lovely,” she says. They had been to the pictures. In the dark theater, she can coax Hugh to kiss her a bit less chastely. “It was a romance.”

“Oh, and did you feel romantic?” Miss Phryne snuggles closer.

Dot sighs. “Well,” she starts. She has no other friend to gossip with about such things, it’s true. And her Miss is so wise and worldly when it comes to male attention. “I do like kissing him while the lights are out.”

“Good for you, Dot.” Miss Phryne beams at her, and Dot blushes under the approval. “I’m sure Hugh was a perfect gentleman.”

Dot bites her lip. She turns to face her Miss, safe in the circle of her arm. “Sometimes I wish he’d be a little less of a gentleman.”

Miss Phryne never teases her about delicate matters. She draws Dot tighter against her side, all warm silk. “Have you told Hugh what you want?”

Dot hugs her knees to her chest. “It’s just, I wouldn’t know what to tell him, Miss.”

“Dot,” Miss Phryne’s tone is gentle. She seems to hesitate, which is unusual. “Have you explored by yourself, perhaps, to see what you like?”

A hand comes up to pet Dot’s cheek, soothing her blush. Her eyes go wide, and she only blushes harder. Dot is sure she’s more acquainted with the smell of sex than Father Grogan would condone. Maybe she had been interrupting something when she knocked?

Still, Dot leans her head into the touch. It’s quite a lovely hand, really, and a lovely scent. She ventures a slight nod. “Only because I knew you’d think it was all right, Miss.”

Miss Phryne lets her hand fall to Dot’s clasped fists, tracing circles with her fingers. “You were such a help to me on our last case, Dot. I believe you’re becoming a very good detective.” Dot doesn’t know if she’s relieved or disappointed at the change of subject. “Can you tell me some things you’ve learned?”

“You’ve taught me so much, Miss Phryne!” Dot tries to think — the circles are distracting. “I’ve learned to observe and remember details, to investigate and follow clues.”

“You have indeed.” Her Miss smiles at her, proud and fond. There’s an odd softness around her eyes, and Dot wonders if she was given something to observe on purpose. “In my opinion,” she continues, “investigating can be much more successful with a partner. Don’t you agree?”

Dot swallows. “Do you mean like you and Inspector Robinson?”

Miss Phryne laughs. Dot’s not quite sure what’s funny, but she likes how the sound vibrates against her ribs. “Well, certainly. But you’re a wonderful partner too, Dot.” She pushes back the covers and gracefully shifts her bare legs, turning toward Dot while keeping her close. “Do you know, ladies can help each other with all sorts of investigations.”

Dot feels a flutter low in her belly. “Even that sort?”

“Only if you want to.” Dot is warmed by how Miss Phryne is watching her, so seriously.

“But did you — did someone teach you how to... investigate?” Her Miss smirks, then. Dot squeaks, “Dr. Macmillan?”

“It was a long time ago.” Another arm comes around Dot, settling her head onto Miss Phryne’s shoulder. She smoothes a kiss on Dot’s forehead. “What do you think?”

Dot takes a breath. The flutter is crescendoing to a drumbeat at her core. She had considered it Hugh’s drumbeat. It would be handy if she understood what comes next, wouldn’t it? “Yes,” she says. Miss Phryne usually knows what’s best, in any case. “I mean, I’d like to try.”

Dot is glad not to meet her eyes, though, when Miss Phryne slides behind her. “Come here,” she says, and sinks back with Dot cushioned between her knees. Her Miss pulls the pins from Dot’s hair, gently, and rakes through the waves. It’s rather heavenly, if she overlooks how the nude thighs have set her trembling.

“Now Dot,” Miss Phryne says, “I’m going to touch you.” Her fingertips are tingling up Dot’s wrists like a current. “We’re going to learn some things together. But if you want to stop or go back, just say so. Can you do that?”

Dot’s face is hidden in Miss Phryne’s neck, but she nods.

Her dress opens at the front — not an entirely accidental choice for her date, if Dot’s honest — and Miss Phryne traces her throat to the first button. Her fingers paint gooseflesh down Dot’s sternum in intervals fixed by the placket, venturing along her collarbone and across the restless plane of her chest. And then the touch is no longer on the flat, but touring the yielding swell of her décolletage, making Dot quiver.

“Does that feel nice?” Miss Phryne’s voice is pitched lower, like it’s stroking Dot too. Alight with some new boldness, Dot presses her lips to her Miss’s skin, just below her ear. She is enveloped in French perfume. She senses Miss Phryne’s smile before she sits Dot up, saying “there’s a good girl” as she sweeps sleeves and straps off her arms. A dainty lacework of kisses drifts over Dot’s shoulders, and she hardly notices her Miss loosening the sides of her brassiere.

Dot should be embarrassed — falling back in Miss Phryne’s embrace, her dress and slip gathered at her waist — but the caresses leave her too molten to manage it. Her bra is still draped over her, but now it’s less encumbering to her Miss’s hands. They come up underneath to cradle her bosom — (Dot tries it out in her head) her breasts. A thumb brushes over her nipple and Dot squirms.

Miss Phryne’s fingers hover on the sensitive underside, teasing. “Go ahead Dot, tell me what you like.”

Dot gives a little whimper. “More,” she says. “Harder.”

“Well done.” Miss Phryne’s mouth whispers against Dot’s shoulder. As she pinches both nipples, her tongue flicks out to taste the tender medallion at the border of Dot’s neck. When Dot arches, her Miss bites — not too hard, but hard enough to make Dot moan.

Miss Phryne’s fingers stay busy. “Like this?” she says, trapping a bud between her knuckles. “Like this?” She licks her thumb and forefinger, uses them in a slippery twist. Dot says “yes” too many times, each time bunching her dress higher up her thighs.

Dot doesn’t register that Miss Phryne has stilled until she feels her suspender graze along her leg. Her Miss’s hands are splayed across the window of skin between her stocking and her girdle. She’s tugging at one of the clips. “More evidence to collect,” she says, sounding unexpectedly bashful.

“Together,” Dot says, and her hands go to the fastenings up the hip. Miss Phryne doesn’t favor the more supportive undergarments, but Dot has plenty of practice. With the hooks open and one set of suspenders undone she can shove the thing aside.

“Dottie Williams,” Miss Phryne says, charmed. Dot is in French knickers of fine silk — her Miss’s gift. It’s not that she expected Hugh to see them, not anytime soon, but a lady dresses to please herself. She does love how it feels to wear them, a secret pressed close against a secret. The silk is damp. Miss Phryne skims her palm up Dot’s thigh and lets her fingers rest there.

“Do you know why you get wet like that?” Her Miss’s voice has a glow.

It seems unbecoming to twitch toward her hand, so Dot attempts to find words. “I think so, Miss.”

“Shall we test your theory, then?”

Dot shakes into action, wriggling out of her dress, her girdle, her stockings, her bra, her knickers. She leaves the slip pooled around her waist — she likes that their attire matches.

Miss Phryne must too, or she wants to make Dot comfortable, because she shimmies off the straps of her own slip. Her breasts are soft on Dot’s back, her nipples two pricks of heat.

Dot’s arm comes up to cover her chest, but her Miss’s hands are there first. “So lovely,” she says, mapping the unfashionable curves. And then her touch trails down, tangling in Dot’s curls. She presses right at the top of the seam and makes a slow circle.

Dot licks her lips. “Lower,” she says.

Miss Phryne listens, dipping her fingers to make them slick and swirling up around that silvery nub. Dot is surprised when she strokes just above it, back and forth on a swollen cord of flesh. “Oh,” she says. And then again, more resonant. “Oh.”

“Come,” Miss Phryne says, “feel what I’m doing.” She places Dot’s hand over her own. Dot bends her fingertips right onto her Miss’s nails to learn their movements: a glide, a patter, a figure eight. Faster. Her hips start to surge, electric.

Miss Phryne stops, leaving Dot gasping. “Which way?” she asks. Her lips are at Dot’s ear, the lightest kiss. Dot guides her Miss’s fingers in the shape that enflamed her.

“What a talented girl.” Miss Phryne frees her hand from the middle. “Your turn.”

Dot doesn’t know if she can, but Miss Phryne’s questing motions make promises below, and she knows she can’t not. She keeps fondling herself, focusing to one sharp spike through the center as her Miss dips inside.

Dot feels taut, pliable yet strung like a harp. The upward pressure at her entrance is strange and delicious, an impression that quite unforeseen events might unfold. Miss Phryne goes deeper, and every tiny advance is a landscape of sensation. Dot senses her Miss shifting, fitting her other arm between them. Her head is still pillowed on the elegant shoulder, and Miss Phryne’s sigh of satisfaction glimmers on her cheek.

Her finger finds some mystery, a webwork that connects to Dot’s own hand, pulling her harder, lower, sharper against her pleasure. Dot hears the word she’s saying: “There.”

She hears Miss Phryne: “Let go, darling. I’ll catch you.”

Dot falls, spiraling into a maelstrom that swallows her whole. Dimly, she perceives Miss Phryne finishing herself, going rigid and holding Dot tight between her thighs.

After a long moment, Miss Phryne kisses Dot’s temple and helps her back into her slip. Dot curls up to her knees and reaches for her dress. She’s raw all over, seized again with uncertainty.

“My Dot.” Miss Phryne is so sweet in her amusement. “Will you stay here with me?” She tosses the dress to the floor and steers Dot under the covers. With the lamp out, cuddled to her Miss’s side, Dot drifts. Before sleep takes her, she thinks of how it will look in the morning: the familiar debauched scene, but with her at the center. Her clothes strewn about the bed, her immodest skin emerging from the sheets, her limbs wrapped around Miss Phryne. She might just have a peek.