Betty isn’t asleep, quite. It’s all too clear and precise for a dream, all of the details fitting together the way they never really do in true dreams. But she’s so close to the edge—about to slip over, or perhaps she’s just waking—that her body is heavy and immobile. She can’t move or speak, but maybe that’s just as well.
It was the click of her bedroom door closing that woke her, maybe. Now soft footsteps approach her bed. The air around her stirs a little with the movement of a second body in the close room. If she were awake, really awake, she would jerk upright, ready to yell or fight. . . but she just lies there with her eyes mostly closed, listening to someone else’s breath, louder than her own, even though someone’s trying to be silent as a mouse.
She recognizes Kate by her quick and feathery breath and the tread of her bare feet and the way her weight makes the mattress dip as she lights beside Betty’s still body. Betty’s heart is trying to hammer its way out of her chest, but the rest of her is too limp even to tremble as Kate’s slender hand caresses Betty’s hair, the way a mother might touch her sick child.
The hand pauses there, but only for a moment. Then fingers—chilly, but warming fast—trace gently over Betty’s forehead and down her cheek and then. . .oh. . .over her lips, exploring the shape of Betty’s mouth until it opens to the touch with a sigh that Kate echoes.
Betty opens her eyes. In the near-black of the room, Kate is just a white silhouette bending over her, a ghost with soft fingers and a fall of hair that brushes Betty’s cheek as Kate leans closer.
Betty takes a breath to say You came back, but Kate’s fingers are still on her mouth and now one slips between Betty’s teeth, and Betty can’t help stroking it ever so delicately with her tongue—slow, soft, because any sharp movement could send Kate flying away again with a frantic beating of wings. Under the covers, Betty curls her hands into fists, clutching the sheet so she can’t raise them, can’t touch, can’t startle Kate, who is now pulling the thin blanket off her.
“Can I?” They’re the first words Kate has spoken to her, the first since. . .she refuses to remember Kate’s last words. Not now, when Kate is leaning over her, her breath warm and quick on Betty’s face. Not when she’s asking. . .
“Yes.” It doesn’t matter what Kate’s asking for. There’s only one answer; the only answer there’s ever been.
It’s too dark to see Kate’s face, but somehow, Betty can tell when she smiles.
And then. . .then Kate’s fingers are caressing her face, trailing down her throat, skimming her collarbones, her shoulders. . .sliding to the button at the top of her nightgown. Unbuttoning. . .oh Lord. . .the whole row, so slowly, tracing a line of fire down the center of Betty’s chest, and Betty’s trembling now, of course she is. Kate pulls the fabric aside to bare Betty’s chest; the brush of the cotton against her nipples sends a flare through her body, forcing a gasp out of her.
Kate’s hand hesitates over Betty’s heart, so close that Betty can feel its warmth, but not touching, not touching, and Betty grips the sheet and doesn’t move, doesn’t make a sound, except for her breathing, which rasps harshly in her own ears. What is Kate waiting for? Permission? But Betty’s given it to her. Does she just want to drive Betty crazy? Or. . .this can’t be a joke, surely Kate wouldn’t. . .
“I don’t know what to do,” comes Kate’s soft whisper.
“It’s no different from your body,” Betty whispers back, and why, even now, are the only words she can find such cold ones? She doesn’t want to fight with Kate, doesn’t, for the love of God, want to fight this. . .
“I don’t know,” Kate repeats. “I’ve never. . .”
And of course she hasn’t: pure, innocent Kate who’s known pain and betrayal and hatred but doesn’t have the first idea when it comes to hearts, never mind bodies.
“Show me?” Kate asks, and Betty arches her back, just enough to rub her breast up against Kate’s palm. They both gasp this time.
She reaches up, finally; takes Kate’s hands in hers and guides them to her nipples. Kate’s fingers touch tentatively, then stroke, circle, even pinch very, very lightly, moving more confidently as Betty starts to pant and tremble.
“Use your mouth,” Betty says while her voice is still under her control.
Kate hesitates—Betty can imagine the puzzled frown she can’t see—and then Kate’s hair spills over Betty’s face and shoulder, and her lips close over the nipple, and Betty groans through clenched teeth and feels Kate’s mouth stretch in a smile. Then Kate’s tongue is lapping at her, and Betty’s whole goddamned body is on fire, squirming against the sheets. Between her legs she’s wet and pulsing and yearning and she can’t go another second without a touch, she’ll honestly die, so she pulls Kate’s hand down, gets it turned around so her fingertips are. . .there, oh God, yes.
Kate doesn’t do anything, though; her mouth’s stopped moving, too. Jesus, is she waiting for instructions or what? Betty can’t talk about this—not now, not to Kate, saying the words would probably shock her senseless, even now when her fingers are resting against Betty’s hot, damp flesh. So Betty doesn’t say anything, just lays her fingers on top of Kate’s and presses, rubs, back and forth and around in a circle, and Kate’s breath comes quick and hot against her cheek as Betty moans and shudders and moans.
“Am I hurting you?” Kate’s hand tries to pull away, but Betty holds it in place.
“No, dummy.” God, there she goes again, but surely Kate can tell how much Betty isn’t angry with her. She smiles, hoping Kate will be able to hear it in her breathless voice. “Feels good.” She rubs herself against Kate’s fingers, and her sigh of pleasure isn’t just to make the point.
“It does?” Kate’s voice is full of wonder, like a little kid seeing a kite lift into the air for the first time.
“Yeah.” Betty nudges Kate’s hand back into motion, starting up that sweet tingling again. “Haven’t you ever. . .touched yourself. . .there?”
Kate shakes her head. “No. I mean. . .to wash, but not. . .not like this.” Kate sounds breathless too, now, and that gives Betty an extra jolt of pleasure.
“Can you feel it?” she asks, letting sex thicken her own voice. “Down there. . .inside you. . .do you. . . ?”
“Maybe?” says Kate hesitantly. “I. . .I don’t know what. . .”
“Put your finger there. On you.” Betty wants nothing more than to touch Kate herself, but she doesn’t dare move. She keeps Kate’s hand firmly in place, stroking and pressing, and after a moment, she sees the pale movement of Kate’s other arm as Kate obeys her instruction.
“Oh.” Kate sounds. . .perplexed.
“It’s. . .odd. . .” Betty wants to kiss Kate senseless, touch her everywhere until she’s burning up like Betty is, until she understands. . .but she also wants to lie here until Kate’s touch makes her fall apart completely.
“Feels better. . .if you get it wet,” she suggests. But she can tell that’s just going to confuse Kate, so she guides Kate’s fingers inside her where, yes, Betty is very wet, and Kate’s fingers are so small, Betty can barely feel their touch, but she clenches around them anyway, wanting, wanting. Kate makes a startled sound, but she doesn’t pull her hand back.
“You’re so. . .” Kate starts, but doesn’t finish.
“So what?” Betty gasps in spite of herself. Beautiful? Pathetic? Disgusting?
“. . .Warm. Inside.” That wondering voice again.
Betty bites back a whimper and draws Kate’s fingers back out to put them back, slippery now, where they can give her what she needs so desperately.
“Oh God, oh f—” She arches up against Kate’s hand, craving more, now, now. . .As it washes over her, she hears Kate laugh, breathless, beautiful. . .
“Feels good?” Kate murmurs.
Betty sighs agreement, her eyes drifting closed, Kate’s little hand hot under hers.
“Show me?” asks Kate, so soft Betty barely hears her. “I want to learn.”
I’ll teach you, Betty promises. I’ll teach you the secrets of my body and yours, I’ll show you everything I know, you’ll see how good it feels. Just stay. . .
She falls asleep with her fingertips pressed against her lips, breathing her own spicy, bitter scent.