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   ‘Her room is just down here, dear,’ Mrs Wilson announced cheerfully and led Myka down a hallway decorated with garish flowered wallpaper.  She stopped by a door and turned to look up at Myka, peering over her spectacles, ‘There’s a no guest in the room rule – but that only really applies to male callers for our female guests, or visa versa, obviously.’

  ‘Obviously,’ Myka agreed, trying her hardest not to smile.

  ‘My husband – god rest him – he would never allow shenanigans of any sort under our roof and I’ve stuck by that rule all the years since he’s been gone.’  She smiled up at Myka, ‘But a young lady visiting her friend … well that’s just fine, isn’t it?’

  ‘Absolutely.’

Mrs Willson nodded and waved cheerfully before shuffling back down the hallway. 

Myka allowed the smile that had been threatening and knocked on the door.  She heard a bed creaking and then the door opened inwards.  HG stood framed in the doorway, the light from the window behind her giving her an ethereal glow.  Myka swallowed past the sudden dryness in her throat and lifted the two takeaway cups in their cardboard carrier, ‘Coffee?’

  ‘Myka …’ HG breathed with delight and stepped back, ‘… come in, please.’

 

The room was half the size of the one she had had at the B&B.  The walls were decorated with the same wallpaper as the hallway.  The only window was opposite the doorway, small and covered by a net curtain that had seen many better days.  The furniture was old and dusty.

Myka cleared her throat and handed HG one of the cups.  She took it with a nod of thanks. 

  ‘So, what happened?’ Myka asked.

HG laughed softly as she peeled the lid off the cup, ‘Right to the point then, darling?’

Myka lifted her eyebrows, ‘Well?’

  ‘Leena and I had a to do … Artie decided it was best if I move out of the B&B for a while so …’ she glanced around the small room, ‘… here I am.’

  ‘A to do?’

  ‘It will blow over,’ HG replied and blew gently across her cup as if to back up her statement.  She sipped the liquid and grimaced, ‘And what, pray tell, is this?’

  ‘A soya milk latte with hazelnut syrup, a sprinkling of cinnamon and extra foam …’ Myka replied with a laugh, ‘You like?’

HG was pretty sure her expression had been enough of an answer.  She looked around the room.

  ‘What are you doing?’

  ‘I’m looking for a potted plant and then I plan to distract you for a few moments …’

Myka laughed loudly and HG smiled at the sound.  ‘Save the plant,’ she held the other cup out, ‘Americano, half fat milk, one sugar.’

HG’s smile widened and her eyes shone with gratitude as she swapped her cup for the other.  She peeled the lid back and inhaled the steam, sighing softly.  She took a delighted sip and then waved to the bed – the only option for seating.  HG watched Myka sip the other coffee and shivered.  ‘You’re really going to drink that?’

  ‘I was just trying to expand your horizons,’ Myka chuckled.

  ‘Myka, darling, I was born over a hundred years ago … I think my horizons are sufficiently wide!’ 

Myka leant sideways, bumping their shoulders before straightening as they drank their coffees in companiable silence.

 

Myka finished her drink first and put the lid back on the empty cup.  ‘I miss you.’

HG snorted softly, ‘It’s only been two nights, darling and I’ll be back at the Warehouse ether tomorrow or the next day.’

Myka set her cup on the floor and leant over, allowing her lips to gently brush HG’s, ‘I haven’t seen you since …’ a flush crept up her throat, ‘… well … when we were in the stacks.’  Myka’s hand came to rest on her thigh and slowly slid upwards.  With a sigh of regret, HG put her hand over Myka’s, stopping her.

  ‘HG?’ Myka asked, she smiled but there was a sudden nervousness there.

  ‘So, you missed me?’ she asked softly, her eyes on Myka’s hand.

  ‘Yes … I did,’ she used her finger beneath HG’s chin to gently lift her head and bring her face round, ‘Is that a bad thing?’

  ‘Perhaps …’ HG sighed, her dark eyes pinning Myka.

  ‘Okay.  What’s going on?’ Myka asked sternly, turning  and resting her leg on the bed so she could face HG properly.

  ‘I am incredibly attracted to you, Myka, you know that, don’t you?’

Myka was caught between delight and concern, ‘Yes – and I am attracted to you.’

HG smiled softly, ‘But I need you to know … well … that’s all I have to offer you.’

Myka sat back slightly, frowning, ‘I’ve never asked for anything more … what you’ve already given me … shown me …’ she lifted her hands uselessly, ‘… HG, where is this all coming from?  Is this about what’s happened with Leena?’  Myka flushed suddenly, ‘Oh god!  Does she suspect something is going on between us?’

  ‘This is about us,’ HG announced, carefully sidestepping Myka’s question, ‘I think your amazing and the things you make me feel …’ she sighed softly, closing her eyes for an instant, ‘… but it’s just sex, I need you to understand that.’

Myka was silent for a moment.  A strange feeling settled in the pit of her stomach, disappointment?  Did she want more from HG?  Had she been hoping that their attraction would lead to something more?

  ‘You were hoping for more from me?’ HG asked softly, as if reading her mind.

She shook her head, unruly curls falling over her shoulder.  ‘No … maybe …’ she sighed and bit her lip, ‘I don’t know.’

HG took a breath, ‘Darling, I can not love you,’

Sadness, disappointment, shame, regret … so many emotions flashed across Myka’s eyes, like a gathering storm.  Her lips thinned as she nodded slowly, ‘Okay.’

HG reached out to take her hand, holding it in both of hers.  ‘And it’s not because of you, it’s –’

  ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ Myka sneered, pulling her hand back, ‘Well, HG, you might not like modern coffee but you have certainly got the hang of a modern brush off!’

HG was genuinely confused by the comment but continued, ‘I haven’t loved anyone for a very long time, Myka.  I made a choice and I have stuck to it.’

  ‘Because of your daughter?’

HG shook her head quickly, ‘No, my daughter has nothing to do with it.  I made the decision long before she was born.’

  ‘So, her father … you never loved him?’

  ‘God, no,’ HG responded with a soft laugh, ‘he was merely a … donor, I suppose.  I wanted a child.  He was … available and had all the right qualities.  He agreed to help me have a child but he knew he would never play a part in her life and we were both fine with that.’  HG waved her hand, ‘But that’s beside the point.’

  ‘So what is the point?  That you are incapable of love?’

Annoyance flashed across HG’s eyes.  It wasn’t Myka’s fault that she had so closely echoed Leena’s words but she had to bite down on the anger that rose like bile in her throat.  ‘I made a choice when I was young and I have stuck with it.  It is who I am and it isn’t going to change.’

  ‘Why?’ Myka asked softly.

  ‘What?’

  ‘Why did you make that choice?’

HG inhaled deeply and her eyes focused on something Myka couldn’t see, ‘To love someone is to give them your soul … without question, without hesitation.  Every breath that you breathe in, it’s for them.  You live for their life.  Breathe for their breath.  And, consequently, would die for them.  Wouldn’t you?’

Myka didn’t answer immediately because the words had struck so very close to home. Eventually she whispered, ‘Yes, I suppose you would.’

  ‘You felt that way about Sam?’

Again she paused, this time because she didn’t trust herself to answer right away.  Eventually she nodded, ‘I did …’ she sighed sadly, ‘… I’ve never told anyone this but …’ her fingers picked at the seam on her jeans, ‘… I was going to leave the Secret Service.’

  ‘Because of Sam?’

Myka nodded, ‘We’re trained to take a bullet for the President, and you know that means really, not figuratively?’

HG nodded silently.

  ‘You hear people say stuff like that all the time, that they’d die for a loved one.  But we learnt in training that a person’s sense of self-preservation is always their first instinct.  Given time to think, yes, people may well put themselves in the firing line for someone they love.  But if there’s no time to think, no time to consider – then self-preservation usually wins out, even if it ends in regret.  We’re trained to override that instinct.’  Myka sighed and shrugged, ‘The more I fell in love with Sam, the more I realised that he was the person I would protect above all others.  If someone had fired a bullet, with the President and Sam both in the firing line … I would have instinctively protected Sam, even if it was over the President’s life.’  She looked up, tears glinting along her lashes, ‘The moment I realised that was the moment I knew I had to leave the Secret Service.’

  ‘And when did you realise?’

Myka heaved a breath, ‘The last time Sam and I made love … the day he was killed.’

HG took Myka’s hand again and this time she refused to let it go, ‘I’m so sorry, darling.’

Myka dipped her head as a single tear rolled down her cheek. 

  ‘Then you can understand why I made the choice I did and why I have stuck by it?’ HG asked carefully, ‘I refused to allow myself to be put in that position, to let someone have that kind of power over me …’ she sighed as Myka looked up sharply, ‘… it was the late eighteen hundreds, darling, every man thought that he had power over me!  I simply turned it back on them.’

  ‘You turned it back on everyone,’ Myka sighed sadly, ‘Haven’t you ever cared about anyone?’

HG’s eyes flashed with sadness, ‘I have cared about a great many people, including you … but love … the jump in front of a bullet kind of love?’ she shook her head, ‘I would not, and still will not, allow it.  I suppose my sense of self-preservation is too strong.’

  ‘It sounds like a lonely, unfulfilling way to live your life,’ Myka said softly.

HG laughed, ‘And that, my darling Myka, is where the sex comes in!’

Myka was stunned into silence, eyes widening.  She shook her head in disbelief but her lips quickly curled up and she laughed along with her. 

 

Their laughter drifted off as they slowly leaned towards each other.  This time when their lips met, it was filled with desire and need.  Myka’s hand ran up HG’s thigh, reaching the top and squeezing the flesh.

  ‘I believe I still owe you …’ Myka mumbled against her lips as her hand lifted to her waist and pulled her shirt up. 

HG quivered as Myka’s fingers pressed against her skin and she allowed herself to be pushed backwards.  The sound of the bed creaking echoed around the small room.  The two women pulled back from the kiss and stared at each other.  It was not unlike the rattling of the shelves at the Warehouse.

  ‘I think we should move these shenanigans to the floor …’ Myka whispered as she stood.

  ‘Shenanigans?’ HG queried, staring up at Myka who held her hand out.

Myka smiled, ‘Mrs Wilson’s words, not mine.’  She hauled HG to her feet and took half a step back, looking down when the floorboard creaked.  Her eyes were twinkling with amusement when she looked up, ‘I think we might have to forget all about it … I don’t want you getting in trouble with your landlady.’

HG’s hand slipped around Myka’s neck and pulled her close, bruising her lips with her own.  She paused to whisper, ‘No way you are getting out of this room until I’m fully satisfied.’

Myka moaned against her lips – HG’s tone had sent a heat straight down her spine.  She shivered and took HG’s hand, pulling her round to the space between the end of the bed and the wall.  There was just enough room for the pair of them and Myka guided HG’s hands back until she was holding the iron bedframe.  ‘Don’t let go,’ Myka commanded and slid her hand under HG’s shirt, searching upwards.  Her fingers closed over the smooth material of her bra and she violently yanked the cup down, making HG groan and tip her head back.  Myka dipped her head to where HG’s nipple was pressing against the cotton of her shirt.  She closed her lips and sucked hard, soaking the material.  When she lifted her head, she blew gently across the wet patch and HG sighed at the pleasant chill.  She continued to blow as her hand slipped up and yanked the other bra cup down, palming the freed breast and squeezing hard.  HG gritted her teeth and closed her eyes.  Myka’s teeth closed over her nipple and she bit, just as the nails of her other hand dug into the smooth flesh.  HG hissed through her teeth, eyes slowly opening to fix on Myka as she looked up, eyes full of lust.  HG groaned at the sight, whispering, ‘Myka … please …’ 

Myka smiled and bit a little harder, eliciting a tiny cry from HG and her hands shot up to slide through Myka’s hair, pulling her closer.  Myka’s teeth let go and HG groaned with disappointment.  ‘Hands …’ Myka whispered.

With a groan, HG returned her hands to the ornate iron frame and was rewarded by the feel of Myka’s teeth closing over her other nipple.  She arched her back, pushing her chest forward.  Myka continued to bite, harder than she ever had before and HG whimpered.  Myka’s hand slipped down her stomach and HG tensed, whispering, ‘God … please … touch me …’

  ‘Like this?’ Myka asked, sliding a single finger down the outside of HG’s trousers, hard enough so that it could be felt through the material.  She kicked HG’s legs apart and slid her finger down and between her legs.  She pressed on the seam of the trousers and HG quivered.  ‘Like that then?’ she rubbed against the seam and HG’s knees bent as she sank down, desperate to feel more.

  ‘Myka …’ HG drew her name out as a desperate sigh, ‘… please …’

Myka’s finger traced it’s way back up and slowly unbuttoned HG’s trousers and then lowered the zip.  She placed her hand flat against HG’s stomach and then slowly slid her hand down, pushing into her panties.  She forced her hand into the restriction of HG’s trousers and cupped her sex.

  ‘God!’ HG groaned and then gasped as Myka pressed the tip of her finger to her clitoris.  HG sagged again, rocking her hips.

  ‘You wanted me to touch you …’ Myka announced hoarsely, her free hand lifting to pinch each of HG’s nipples in turn, ‘… the rest is up to you!’  She adjusted her hand and pressed two fingers against her clitoris but made no further movement.

HG shuddered and started to rock her hips back and forth, gasping at the pleasure she took from Myka’s immobile fingers.  She gripped the iron tightly, knuckles white.  Her lips pulled back in a grimace as she felt her pussy contract.  A hiss escaped her, eyes tightly shut.  Her body quivered, hips moving with desperation.  She came with a rush of hot breath and an arched neck. 

Myka straightened, slowly retrieving her hand from the front of HG’s trousers.  They locked stares and Myka smiled, ‘Are you fully satisfied?’

HG swallowed, ‘I think you know the answer to that.’

Myka smiled devilishly and grabbed HG’s shoulders, spinning her round and slamming her against the wall.  She kissed her hard, tongue searching and ruthless.  And then she stripped HG’s lower clothes.  Pulling and yanking at whatever needed to be discarded until HG was standing in front of her, naked from the waist down.  Myka’s nails drew lines across her hips and then, as HG arched her back, she slipped her hands round to cup her arse.  Her fingers kneaded the flesh, nails pinching and digging in. 

  ‘Put your arms round my neck …’ Myka commanded and once she had, she added, ‘feet … on the bed …’

HG’s eyes widened but she didn’t argue as, with surprising strength, Myka held her buttocks firmly and she lifted her feet to press against the iron frame.  The bed was sturdy enough that HG could hold herself up, her back flat against the wall.  Myka slid slowly down, adjusting her position so she could help to support HG’s legs with her shoulders.  Her hands circled her thighs and she stared at the glistening flesh of HG’s sex, swollen and aroused.  She wasted no time and feasted furiously.  HG’s head smacked back against the wall, her wrist hard against her mouth as she stifled a scream.  Her thighs quivered uncontrollably and she could feel her juices, too much for Myka to lap up, dribbling between her buttocks.  Myka must have noticed too because her hand slid beneath her and smeared the juice around her tighter entrance.  Myka half lifted her head, eyes flicking up as her tongue slipped out to flick at HG’s clitoris.  The feel of Myka’s finger circling her anus was incredible.  They locked stares and Myka slowly slid her index finger in as far as her first knuckle.  HG’s eyes fluttered as she moaned, deep and loud.  She held her hand against her mouth and pushed hard against the bed as her body slipped slightly.  Myka returned her tongue to her slick opening and pushed inside, shuddering at the rush of juice that met her.  HG’s other hand pressed hard against the back of Myka’s head, her body tense.  And then, as she started to quiver, Myka slid her index finger in a little further and HG screamed against her hand as she climaxed.  Eyes rolling and chest heaving.  She quivered and shuddered and when she could hold herself up no longer, Myka somehow managed to stop her from falling completely.  They half collapsed into the gap between the bed and the wall and fell sideways.  Myka grabbed HG’s leg and pulled it over her hip so she could slide her fingers between her thighs.  She kissed her, swallowing the cry that her fingers wrenched from HG. 

 

Minutes later, when HG had recovered enough to climb unsteadily to her feet, she turned Myka and had her lean over the iron frame.  Myka pressed her hands flat against the mattress as HG lowered her trousers and pants.  She made a point of rubbing her fingers over the soaking lips before slowly moving her fingers to Myka’s buttocks.  Myka tensed, unsure.  HG mumbled reassurance before she pressed her thumb to her tight hole as her other fingers slid easily into her open pussy.  Bringing HG to her long delayed climax had brought Myka so close to the edge that it only took a few strokes before she started to come, head thrown back, teeth gritted as she tried to stay quiet.  But as HG continued to fuck her, it was clear that her next climax would not be as quiet.  HG paused and bent to pick up Myka’s discarded panties, reaching round to push them gently between her lips.  Too far gone to care – Myka bit into the material and tossed her head with abandon as HG continued to fuck her, drawing every last drop of pleasure she could from her quivering body.  As Myka’s convulsions slowly eased, HG leant forward and pulled her up, wrapping her arms around her.  She buried her face in Myka’s hair, whispering, ‘You are the most incredible woman I have ever met.’

Myka was sure that HG hadn’t intended her to hear and she was too breathless to say anything in return.  ‘And I wish that was enough …’ she whispered in the confines of her mind.  Her eyes stung with tears that she would surreptitiously wipe away before HG noticed them. 

 

They dressed quickly, worried that they might have attracted the attention of Mrs Wilson.  Since neither of them had the energy to perform CPR, it was probably best to avoid giving the octogenarian a heart attack if she walked in.  Once dressed they sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the door – as of expecting it to open at any moment.  Silent minutes passed before HG turned, ‘Do you think we’re safe?’

Myka nodded, ‘Unless we find her collapsed outside the door …’ she waved at the open keyhole.

HG stifled a laugh and shook her head, ‘I bloody hope not!  Artie would surely find a way to make the Regents believe that I had done it on purpose just so I could come back to the B&B.’

Myka half smiled and leant over, ‘Artie can be a bit …’

  ‘Stubborn?  Thick-headed?  Obnoxious?’  HG half smiled, ‘You know, as a sometime writer of literature, I can make the list go on and on.’

  ‘Please don’t,’ Myka sighed and placed her hand gently on HG’s thigh, ‘He’ll come round.’

  ‘He hates me, Myka, he thinks I can’t be trusted near the Warehouse.  What do I have to do to prove myself to him?’

  ‘You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone!’ Myka half cried and sighed again.  She bent to pick up the empty coffee cups, stacking them together.  ‘Fancy walking me back to my car?’

  ‘End of discussion then?’

Myka stood up, ‘To be honest, my brain is a little too addled to deal with this right now, I’m sorry.’

  ‘Very well then,’ HG slapped her hands on her thighs and stood up, ‘Does one normally walk their sexual-partner back to their car following a bootie-call?  We didn’t have such things back in my day and …’ she waved at the cups that Myka was holding, ‘… just add it to the list of things I’m learning about.’

Myka stared at her, ‘This wasn’t a bootie-call, HG!’

HG’s lip quirked into a smile, ‘Wasn’t it?’

  ‘No,’

  ‘I’m not complaining if it was.’

  ‘It wasn’t.’

  ‘So what was it?’

Myka huffed an exasperated breath, ‘It was two friends having a coffee and …’ she was lost for the rest of the words.

  ‘… a bootie-call?’ HG finished with a sweet smile.

  ‘Shut up!’  Myka groaned and put her hand over her eyes.  Eventually she sighed and sat back on the bed, ‘What are we doing here?’

HG frowned and sat next to her again, ‘What do you mean?’

She took a breath, ‘What we’re doing … all this …’ she waved her hand uselessly for a moment before dropping it heavily again.

HG shrugged, ‘We’re having fun – is that so terrible?’

Myka stared at her hands, ‘I just don’t know if I can be like you.’

The amusement fell from HG’s eyes, replaced by caution, ‘In what way?’

  ‘You are just so … you!’ she replied, frustration at not being able to explain herself making her voice lift, ‘You have this … independence … you don’t need anyone.’

HG nodded, ‘And it suits me to be that way.’

Myka smiled sadly, ‘But I don’t think it’s going to suit me.’

HG took a breath, her eyes studied Myka carefully, ‘You want me to need you?’

She nodded slowly, regretfully.  ‘Maybe not right now but … in time, I think I will.’

HG was silent for several moments – she respected Myka enough to not just react to what she was saying.  The strongest similarity between them was the fact that they were both so cerebral – they were ruled by their minds, not their hearts.  But Myka had revealed a deeper side of herself.  And it was a side that HG just didn’t share.  She found herself thinking about Leena and what she had said as HG had been leaving the B&B.  She sighed softly, ‘You have much to offer me and I … have nothing to offer you in return.’

Myka frowned at the way HG spoke, as if repeating something she had heard elsewhere.  There was a truth to them though and as much as she wanted to argue, what was the point?  ‘Are we breaking up?’ Myka asked softly.

  ‘We were never together,’ HG replied and placed her hand gently over Myka’s.

  ‘I guess not,’ Myka sighed.  She gently pulled her hand away and stood up.

HG moved with her, her hands lifting to rest on Myka’s shoulders, her eyes sincere, ‘Myka, you will never lose this friend.’

  ‘Good,’ she smiled and leant forward to peck HG on the cheek, ‘Will you still walk me to my car?’

  ‘Of course, darling,’

 

They had almost walked the length of Univille main street, chatting amicably about a first edition of a Conan Doyle mystery that Myka had found in the Warehouse library.  HG listened politely but then couldn’t resist going one better by describing how she had charmed the author into letting her read the first draft of that very novel.

  ‘And how exactly did you charm him?’ Myka asked.

  ‘A Russian Sandwich,’ HG replied simply.

Myka spluttered a cough and when she didn’t recover immediately, they had to stop.  HG appeared to nonchalantly peruse the window of a small, family owned jewellers, while Myka tried to catch her breath.  ‘You … what …?’ she gasped eventually.

HG flicked an eyebrow as she turned back, ‘Russian Sandwiches, they were his favourite little dainty … a boozy little chocolate slice … you would probably call them pastries.’  She looked Myka up and down, ‘Are you okay?’

Myka took an experimental, deep breath and when she didn’t start coughing again she rubbed her chest and glared at HG.

  ‘What?’ she asked innocently.

  ‘You did that on purpose!’

HG chuckled, ‘Now why would I do that?  That would be as bad as dragging someone several streets past where they had parked their car.’

Myka coughed again, ‘You noticed?’

  ‘Yes, darling, I noticed.’

  ‘I was enjoying our chat and didn’t want it to end,’ Myka replied guiltily, turning from HG to save her blushes. 

  ‘We can chat anytime you want, Myka, we’re friends.’

  ‘Yeah … I guess …’ Myka replied distractedly, her eyes on the window of the jewellers.

HG laughed softly, ‘Darling?’

  ‘Sorry, sorry …’ Myka responded, waving her hand at the window display.  A display of silver jewellery had been tastefully arranged in front of a red velvet curtain.  ‘Look at that bracelet!  Claudia would love that!’

HG leant closer, ‘The one with the flowers?’

Myka turned her head, responding sarcastically, ‘Yes, of course, the one with the flowers!  Do you even know Claudia?’

HG smirked and took another look, immediately spotting an attractive silver bangle decorated with tiny little skulls.  ‘Ah,’ she commented.

  ‘I’m going to buy it for her, she needs cheering up,’ Myka announced.

  ‘She’s still upset about Todd?’ HG queried.

  ‘First love,’ Myka sighed, ‘first broken heart.’  She smiled up at HG but her eyes had grown distant, ‘You okay?’

HG forced a smile, ‘I’m fine darling.’

  ‘Sorry, I know you don’t do love …’ she had meant it as a joke but a shadow passed over HG’s eyes.

  ‘She’ll love it,’ HG told her, blinking the shadow away.

Myka took a breath and pressed her hand gently to HG’s arm, ‘Come on, let’s check if they have anything  else that’s better.’

HG tensed strangely before responding, ‘You go, I’ll be there in a minute.’

  ‘You sure you’re okay?’

  ‘I’m fine.  Off you go, darling,’ she smiled and this time it reached her eyes. 

 

HG watched Myka enter the shop.  Once the bell above the door had tinkled for second time, HG turned.  ‘What do you want?’

  ‘You were supposed to stay away from Myka,’ Leena announced by way of an answer.

HG crossed her arms, ‘She brought me a coffee, it might have seemed a bit suspicious if I just sent her away.  Don’t you?’

  ‘if it keeps her safe, then I don’t care.’

  ‘Myka is perfectly safe with me …’ HG growled angrily.

  ‘Really?’ Leena asked, her tone immediately putting HG on guard, ‘Would Polly Taylor agree?’

HG’s body went rigid as her eyes darkened.  Her voice was low and dangerous, ‘How do you know that name?’

Leena tilted her head, ‘Does Myka know about her?’

HG sighed angrily, her only response.

  ‘I didn’t think so,’ Leena smiled humourlessly, glancing pointedly towards the door of the shop, ‘Is she buying something nice?  Maybe I should go and see if she needs any help.’

HG took a breath, ‘I told Myka that I could never be the person she wants me to be – that I will never need her.  We’re going to be … just friends.’  She looked down for a moment and then lifted cold eyes, ‘Are you happy now?’ 

Leena narrowed her eyes, trying to detect a lie.  She nodded slowly, ‘It’s a start.  But you are dangerous, as a friend or a lover.’

HG snorted and looked away.

  ‘I think I’ll go and see how Myka’s getting on,’ she announced.  She brushed past HG and headed for the shop doorway.  HG rushed after her. 

 

The tinkling of the bell over the door was irritating and HG moved quickly to the side so she wouldn’t be under it when the door closed.  She heard Leena gasp and turned, the sound of the door slamming mixing with the ringing of the bell.  A skinny, greasy-haired woman grinned madly at HG as she pulled Leena towards her and pressed a gun to the side of her head.  A movement behind the counter and HG spun to an equally greasy looking guy who was fumbling uselessly as he tried to get to the gun tucked into his belt.  HG was much quicker and she had her own gun pulled from the back of her trousers and aiming at him, making him freeze.  Her gun was a small calibre, easily hidden but threatening enough just the same.  He stared at her – eyes wide.

  ‘Oi, bitch?’ the greasy woman sneered, ‘Did you forget about your friend?’

HG turned slowly, her gun left unwaveringly on the man.  She looked at the woman coldly before her eyes met Leena’s.  They locked stares.  HG’s empty.  Leena’s terrified.  And they both knew what HG was thinking.  Leena’s mention of Polly Taylor had created a problem.  That was a name that HG could never allow Myka to hear.  Unfortunately for Leena, the solution to HG’s problem was right there in front of her, at the end of a stranger’s gun.

  ‘Connie?’ the man behind the counter asked nervously, his large hands in the air.

  ‘Don’t stress it, baby,’ she smiled at him and then focused back on HG, ‘You!  I’m gonna count to three and if you are still pointing your gun at my man …’ she jabbed the gun barrel into Leena’s temple, making her whimper, ‘… then this pretty one’s brains are gonna spray everywhere!’

Leena swallowed as HG stared back, impassive and unmoved. 

  ‘One …’ Connie announced in a sing song voice, ‘… two …’

Leena closed her eyes. 

  ‘HG!’

The voice pierced the dark veil that had fallen over HG’s mind.  Her eyes narrowed angrily and she slowly lowered the gun.  She half turned.  Myka was staring at her, eyes wide and disbelieving.  The gun hit the floor and Myka shook her head, confused and angry.

  ‘Told you not to stress, Billy,’ Connie announced with a laugh and pushed Leena harshly in the back, forcing her over to where Myka and the owner of the shop were standing against the wall.

Billy lowered his hands and walked round the counter, successfully pulling his gun from his pants.  HG watched him impassively. 

  ‘Think you’re tough, do ya?’ he demanded and growled angrily when she didn’t answer.  He brought the butt of the gun round in a wide arc and smashed it across HG’s cheek.  Her head snapped sideways and she dropped silently to one knee, bright lights blurring her vision. 

  ‘And that’s why you don’t mess with me and my man!’ Connie laughed and moved to stand next to him.  ‘Get her up, Billy, put her over there with the others.’

He nodded and bent to grab HG’s arm, hauling her up.  He grinned maliciously when he saw the deep laceration across her cheekbone and the blood that was running down her face and neck.  Billy pushed her and she stumbled towards Myka who caught her and helped her regain her balance.

   ‘I’m fine,’ HG growled and pulled her arm away, turning to lean back against the wall, closing her eyes.  Myka touched her chin gently so she could look at the cut but HG pulled her head away, ‘I said I’m fine.’

  ‘Yeah?’ Myka sighed angrily, ‘You sure?’

HG opened her eyes, ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

Myka stared back, as if she didn’t recognise the person in front of her.  ‘You weren’t going to drop your gun, were you?  You would have let that psycho shoot Leena.’

HG looked away without answering.

  ‘Why?’ Myka gasped harshly and when HG didn’t respond she sighed angrily, ‘I guess you really aren’t the self-sacrificing type, are you?’

  ‘Can we talk about this later?’ HG asked, pressing her fingers to her forehead.

  ‘No, I don’t think so,’ Myka replied with a tired, lost tone, ‘There isn’t going to be a later.’

  ‘What does that mean?’ the shop owner squeaked.

Myka quickly turned to him, ‘Sorry, no … I didn’t mean …’ she tried to smile, ‘It will be alright, just, stay calm, okay?’

He looked at her as if she had just grown a second head but didn’t say anything.

  ‘Myka …’ HG said softly but she couldn’t finish the sentence and she stared at the floor.

Myka shrugged, she didn’t sound angry, just tired and lost, ‘You are who you are … I just wish I had known that a little sooner.’

HG sighed, ‘Yes, I suppose so.’

Connie was watching them, an amused grin splitting her pock-marked face.  ‘You two having a lover’s tiff?’ she laughed and then called to Billy who was busy stuffing trays of jewellery into a large holdall, ‘We don’t ever fight, do we, honey?’

  ‘No we don’t!’ he called back and held up a tray of rings, ‘Reckon I might have to put one of these on that finger of yours!’

She mock swooned, wafting her hand in front of her face, ‘You say that every time!’

  ‘Yeah, but maybe I’ll actually do it this time!’

Connie laughed and watched him as he stuffed the last of the trays into the bag, ‘You about done there, honey?’

  ‘Sure am,’ he hefted the bag into his shoulder and came back round the counter, pulling his gun from his jeans again, ‘It’s time to go.’

Connie nodded at his gun, ‘Put that away, honey, you promised it was my turn this time.’

  ‘Alright, alright, just choose quick so we can get out of here.’

Myka was quick to realise what they were talking about and she tried to make herself sound reasonable, ‘Don’t do anything silly – we can all get out of here in one piece.’

  ‘Myka,’ HG hissed, ‘shut up.’

Myka glared at her but carried on, ‘Just take your bag and don’t make this any worse for yourselves.’

Connie lifted her gun and bent her head slightly to she could kiss the barrel.  ‘You a cop?’

  ‘You can leave right now, no one is going to follow you.’

The gun barrel swung towards her, ‘I said … are you a cop?’

  ‘Myka …’ HG warned.

  ‘I’m a Secret Service Agent,’ Myka responded calmly, ignoring HG’s growled curse.

Connie squeaked a laugh, ‘Really?  Is the President in town?’

  ‘It’s time to go, sweetie-pie,’ Billy told her, leaning over to kiss her shoulder, ‘Get done and let’s get gone.’

Connie nodded and pointed the gun at each one of the four in turn.  ‘Now, this part of our little robbery is what you call a tradition …’ The barrel pointed at HG and worked back again, ‘… it’s all part of the fun for me and Billy  … and choosing is the best part!’ she giggled inanely. 

The gun kept moving.  Pausing on each of them in turn.  Her finger moved to the trigger and started to squeeze.  HG closed her eyes and stepped in front of Myka.

 

The sound of the gun shot was deafening.  Myka was slammed back against the wall, pain tearing through the side of her chest.  She blinked.  HG had been thrown back against her and their bodies pressed together for the briefest of moments before, with an awful groan, HG’s knees sagged and she collapsed to the floor.

  ‘No!’ Myka screamed, falling to her knees.  Her hands ran over HG’s chest, yanking her jacket open.  An agonised sob seared her throat as she watched the dark stain spreading across her shirt.  ‘No!  No!  HG!’

Tears rolled slowly from HG’s eyes, her face etched with agony.  She gasped for breath, hands clenching into fists by her sides.

Myka’s head dropped to HG’s chest as she sobbed and screamed.  She could hear HG’s heart, pounding erratically but quickly weakening.  Myka lifted her head, pressing her hand over HG’s heart.  She stared into the dark eyes.  Pain and fear flashed through them as she fought for breath.  Myka sobbed her name, over and over.  And then the pain faded from HG’s eyes and Myka could no longer feel anything beneath the palm that she was pressed to HG’s motionless chest.

 

 

~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~

 

Myka glanced towards the open window and wished that the air was not so oppressive.  She lay back and cursed the damned heatwave that had gripped South Dakota for the last month.  She had stripped down to her pants and bra but that had given little respite.  She crossed her arm over her chest, fingertips playing idly with the scar just beneath the elastic of her bra.  Her fingertips traced the line of the groove that the bullet had carved.  She felt familiar tears stinging her eyes.  Even now, nearly twelve months later, the memory of HG dying right in front of her was almost too much to endure.  She bit her bottom lip to stop the sob that she could feel building in her throat.

  ‘Darling?’ HG stepped from the bathroom, followed by her usual swirl of steam.

Myka swiped at her eyes, ‘Dear lord, how can you still have a hot shower in this weather?’

She shrugged one shoulder and tightened the towel around her chest.  Her skin was flushed pink and Myka was unsure whether it was beads of sweat or water from the shower that glistened across her toned shoulders.  HG moved to the bed and sat beside her with a sigh.  She reached out and gently lifted Myka’s fingers from the scar.  She leant forward and gently pressed her lips to the raised line, ‘Have I ever said sorry for this?’ 

Myka shivered and laughed softly, ‘Yes … many times … and as I have always said, it wasn’t exactly your fault.’

HG smiled and kissed the scar again.  Myka sat up and her fingers slowly untucked the towel and pushed HG back onto the bed, opening the towel and revealing the beautiful body that had been hidden withing.  Myka leant over her, lips finding the circular scar high up on HG’s ribs and kissing it.  ‘Have I ever said thank you for this?’

HG laughed and nodded, ‘Many times.’  She sighed as Myka rolled her over and gently kissed the larger scar on her back.  The scar that lined up perfectly with Myka’s.

 

The moment that HG collapsed to the floor of the jewellery shop, Myka had forgotten about the pain in her side – nothing had hurt more at that moment than the tearing of her heart.  And when she had seen the life go from HG’s eyes, she had wanted to follow her into that darkness.  Had never wanted anything more in her life than to succumb and follow HG into death.  But Leena had grabbed her and shaken her.  Ordered her to press her hands to the wounds.  Myka had fought her – had screamed and told her to leave her alone.  To let her lie with HG and be done with everything.  But then Leena had yanked a necklace from around her neck and placed it over HG’s heart.  Placing both hands over it she had started chest compressions, ordering Myka to try and stem the bleeding.  Leena never explained about the necklace but Myka guessed that it had, in someway, aided her actions.  And whatever it was, it was enough to bring HG back and keep her on the edge of life until the paramedics got to them. 

HG had expected to die.  Had been willing to die.  She remembered the fear and the pain.  But worse – she remembered Myka’s screams.  She had suffered haunting nightmares for months afterwards.  At times she worried that she was still lying on the floor of that store and that everything that had happened afterwards was just a figment of her dying mind.  Even when she had been released from the hospital and Leena had shown her to her old room at the B&B, HG had felt her chest constrict with fear.  When the door had closed she had spun to face Myka.  ‘Is this real?’ she had cried, tears streaming down her cheeks.  Myka had gone to her and held her as she crumpled to the floor, sobbing.  ‘I’m going to wake up and then … I’m going to die.’   Myka had hushed her, rocked her gently and told her it would be okay.  But it had taken a long time before HG could truly believe in the life that had been given her.  And when it did – when she finally accepted that her life was not going to be stolen from her – she found the courage to accept that she had fallen in love.  And it was a love gratefully returned. 

Agreeing with Leena’s advice, they kept their relationship private.  After everything that had happened, Myka and HG agreed that it would be for the best all round.  It suited them too because, HG especially, needed the time to learn about this new way of feeling and since it was unclear how the others would react, it seemed the safest option.

 

Myka moved so she was sitting astride HG’s legs, her hands running delicious patterns over her hot skin.  ‘It’s so nice to have the B&B to ourselves,’ she sighed as HG groaned her agreement.  ‘You can make as much noise as you want.’

HG turned to look at Myka over her shoulder, ‘Well, that sounds like a challenge, darling.’

Myka leant forward and gently kissed her before whispering, ‘More like a promise …’ 

HG sighed softly and let her head drop back onto her arms.

Myka’s hands were like tools of magic, working her muscles and firing her arousal.  She rubbed her flesh, dug her fingers in and massaged leisurely, with no haste.  HG drifted in a pleasant, relaxed daze.  Breathing deeply and savouring Myka’s scent. 

Her fingers pressed a little harder into HG’s shoulders.  The skin of her back, still flushed from the hot shower, rippled beneath fingernails that left feint white lines in their wake.  HG groaned.  A long, decadent sound of approval as her body involuntarily squirmed, making Myka chuckle.  Her fingers reached her buttocks and the twin orbs tensed under the delightful, sharp slide of nails.  Myka traced her nails under her buttocks and across the very tops of HG’s thighs before sliding her thumbs up to gently slip between her buttocks.  HG buried her face in the mattress and mumbled something unintelligible.  Myka slipped her fingers lower, leaning forward so she could find HG’s centre.  She slipped her thumbs between the plump lips and squeezed HG’s clitoris between them.  HG turned her head, eyes tightly shut, mouth open.  Myka continued to rub and squeeze, quickly drawing little whimpers from HG.  She teased her, slowly building her arousal. 

 

The intimate times spent together had changed in the time since HG had been well enough to exert herself in such ways.  Perhaps because of her injuries or because of the change in the way they felt, their love making was just that – a sharing of love.  Their earlier frantic, passionate couplings had given way to gentle, slow build up and shattering, heart-stopping, thought-robbing climax.  They no longer took stolen moments of lust – now they took time to explore and worship each other.  It meant that their intimate times were fewer but so much more deserving after everything they had been through.  Perhaps, if they ever told the others, then things would change again.  But for now – everything was as it should be.

 

Myka lay over HG’s back and pulled her hair away from her neck, kissing gently at the skin that she revealed.  HG turned her face and they kissed awkwardly, smiling into each other.  Slowly, Myka slid off and rolled HG with her. She slipped her arm beneath and pulled HG tight against her chest, her hand caressing her breasts.  HG sighed as Myka’s knee gently pressed against her thigh, sliding between and then hooking her shin.  She pulled her leg back, opening HG to her other hand.  She held her like that, fingers touching softly at her sensitive lips and bud.   HG’s head fell back against Myka’s shoulder as she sighed loudly and opened her legs a little more.

  ‘Myka …’ she whispered, voice quaky and hoarse, ‘… make me scream …’

The shiver that ran through Myka rippled them both.  HG felt rapidly hardening nipples press into her back and she rolled slightly, brushing against them.  Myka’s hand lifted and moved HG’s hair again, exposing her neck to her lips once more.  And then, as she kissed and sucked at the skin just below HG’s ear, she slowly slid two fingers into her.  HG’s gasp ended in a low moan as Myka pressed deeply.  Her hand teased her breasts, stroking and pinching her nipples.  She moved her fingers slowly.  Sliding them almost free before slowly gliding back in.  HG sighed and moaned through every stroke, her tongue flicking out to wet her lips.

  ‘That feels so good …’ she whispered and then Myka bent her fingers to press her knuckles against her inner walls, ‘… mmmmmm, yes, like that … oh, Myka …’  She huffed a breath and shivered, ‘… god … yes …’  The speed of her breath increased slightly, her expression, no longer relaxed, became tense and she squeezed her eyes shut.  ‘Myka …’ she whispered, ‘… please … oh …’  A spasm ran through her legs and Myka felt her clench around her fingers as warm fluid ran over her hand, ‘… oh god, don’t stop!’  Myka had no intention of stopping.  She moved her lips lower and captured her neck between her teeth.  HG gave a small cry, tilting her head slightly, encouraging Myka to do it again.  And she did, harder.  Then her lips moved to the juncture of HG’s neck and shoulder and she sucked until blood appeared beneath the surface.  Her tongue flicked the bruise and then her teeth bit down either side as her fingers started to move faster.  ‘Ah!’ HG cried, ‘God … please!  Yes!’  Her climax crested, tensing every muscle in her body, ‘Myka … I … I … oh Myka … I love you!’  The words, still so hard for HG to say, filled the air around them as she quivered and sobbed, gasping against the rush of pleasure that left her breathless. 

Myka gave her no respite.  She gently slipped her fingers free and rolled HG onto her back before moving between her thighs.  She took an ankle in each hand and lifted HG’s legs, pushing them together and moving them towards her chest.  HG stared up through teared eyes and slipped quivering arms around her knees, holding her legs as Myka was silently commanding her to.  Back curving, buttocks and pussy raised, Myka rested her hands on HG’s thighs and slowly licked along her sex.  She licked the juices she had created with her fingers and then set about causing more.  Her thumb pressed against HG’s clitoris, pushing hard against the bud.  Her tongue slid in – the angle she had put HG in opened her to the thrusting organ.  She buried her tongue as deep as she could, sucked at the labia lips that her mouth pressed against.  And then her tongue was replaced by three fingers and her teeth closed gently over the swollen bud of HG’s clitoris.  HG jerked, almost throwing Myka off.  She sucked and nibbled, thrust her fingers and crooked them at just the right moment.  HG’s eyes widened, teeth gritted.  Her head nodded frantically and then suddenly her hands fell from her legs to slap down against the mattress.  Myka used her shoulders to keep her up, even as her legs flailed.  HG screamed, head thrown back, hands gripping the sheet.  Her pussy contracted and spasmed, her hips rocking madly.  And Myka continued to slide her fingers in and out, not satisfied until HG screamed again and rolled onto her side as juice flooded from between her pussy  lips.

 

HG rolled onto her back, laying limp and languid, an arm thrown across her eyes.  Her breath slowly returned to normal, chest gradually slowing its rapid rise and fall.  Myka lay beside her, elbow bent and head resting on her hand.  ‘You said you love me,’ she announced softly.

HG nodded and moved her arm, turning to look at Myka, ‘I did – you didn’t say it back.’

Myka’s lips curled, ‘Would you have heard me if I did?’

HG considered that for a moment and dropped her hand back over her eyes, sighing softly, ‘Probably not.’

  ‘I like it when you say it,’ Myka whispered.  HG turned, hand falling away and Myka straightened her arm so they could lay face to face, staring at each other.  ‘You don’t say it much,’ Myka added.

  ‘Does that bother you, darling?’

She shook her head quickly, ‘Not at all.’  She leant forward to kiss her gently, reaffirming her response.  Her fingers trailed up HG’s chest, making her quiver as they played over her scar.  ‘You saved me, that’s saying it enough.’

HG was quiet for a moment and slowly shook her head.  ‘I moved in front of you on instinct, I didn’t think about it …’ she swallowed, ‘… but I realised I loved you when I was lying there …afterwards …’ her voice caught.

  ‘We don’t have to talk about this,’

  ‘No, it’s okay …’ she gave a small smile, ‘… it was when you were crying, that’s when I realised … the moment I was caught between being grateful that you were okay and wishing that I hadn’t stepped in front of that bullet and caused that look of despair on your face,’ she blinked, sending small tears rolling down the sides of her face, ‘Seeing you like that was as unbearable as anything I have ever faced.’

Myka leant over kissed HG’s tears away, even as she felt her own tracking warm streaks down her cheeks.  ‘I love you too,’ she whispered.