Chapter 1: Chapter One
She turns around to find a woman watching her. Damn. She thought she’d found a spot where she’d get peace and quiet for a few precious minutes, away from all the forced pleasantries of Peter’s campaign. Apparently not.
“Are you hiding?”
She laughs ruefully. “Is it that obvious?”
“You’re the only one out here.”
“You’re out here.”
“I got lost. You don’t look lost.”
“No. I’m not.”
She looks curiously at her visitor. She looks slightly out of place, the main hall filled with middle-aged men in dark suits and their smiling, conservative wives. She’s wearing high-heeled boots and a black evening dress that’s just a little more revealing than any other she’s seen tonight. Very dark hair, deep brown eyes, a serious face. An accent she can’t quite place.
“I’m Alicia, by the way. Alicia Florrick.”
Alicia smiles sheepishly. “Right. And you are?”
Alicia waits a beat for the surname. It doesn’t come.
She finds herself grinning at her for no apparent reason. Kalinda grins back.
“Are you having a nice time Kalinda?”
Alicia laughs at her bluntness. “You’re supposed to at least pretend a little.”
“Am I? Why?”
“I...well, because...it’s polite.”
“This whole party is for my husband. Aren’t you worried about offending me?”
“You’re hiding, but I have to pretend?”
“Yeah, OK, OK. Fair point.”
Alicia takes in a breath of the fresh night air. “So do you work for the campaign?”
“Sort of. I’m an investigator. Well, that’s my day job.”
“And what’s your other job?”
“My night job’s more interesting. You might have heard of me, actually. Some people know me by my professional name.”
“Are you an actress?” You’re beautiful enough for an actress, Alicia thinks.
“No. My professional name’s Leela. Have you heard of Leela?”
Alicia stares at her, dumbstruck. Leela. Boy has she heard of Leela.
Coffee and cake with her girlfriends, five-bedroom houses and manicured lawns. Conversations about growing children, and workaholic husbands, and their weight. And scandals that were waiting to happen. All kinds of affairs: with secretaries, colleagues, mistresses and prostitutes. Husbands deep in the closet for their day jobs and cruising the gay bars at night. Men who liked to be tied up, to be spanked, to be dominated. A whole spectrum of sexual temptation.
And Leela. Leela, who was rarely spoken of, but famous anyway. Infamous. Because Leela wasn’t a scandal that belonged to the husbands. Leela belonged to the wives.
The first time Alicia had heard of Leela she hadn’t believed the story, had thought it was a silly urban myth. Women don’t pay for sex, and they certainly don’t pay to have sex with another woman. But then the stories kept coming...frustrated, neglected, unsatisfied women, all falling for Leela’s charms. Paying thousands of dollars for a single hour and not regretting it. Recommending her, even. Saying that she’d saved their sanity.
And then finally, after years of rumors that could never be corroborated, she had met a woman who’d admitted to being with Leela herself. A woman whose husband was banging his secretary and who hadn’t had good sex in years, who met Leela at a party and found herself unexpectedly...infatuated. Who went to bed with her one night and forgot that she was supposed to be straight. And woke up the next morning and asked for more.
The famous Leela.
“I’m guessing from your reaction that that’s a yes.”
Alicia’s blushing bright red, gaping stupidly. She turns her face away. “I have to get back to my husband.”
“I’m assuming you don’t approve?”
Something about the question, the casual tone of her voice, makes Alicia angry.
“You assume correctly.” Don’t you dare judge me, she thinks. You’re the one sleeping with strangers.
“That’s a pity.”
“I thought you might like to come home with me tonight.”
Alicia tries to stop the shock from showing on her face, but from the spark of triumph she sees in Kalinda’s expression she knows that she hasn’t succeeded. She feels embarrassed and angry, almost humiliated, and she starts to walk away.
“Hey, don’t go. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to...”
Alicia meets her eyes and is surprised by the new sincerity that she sees there.
“You didn’t meant to...what?”
“To upset you. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not upset.”
“Then stay and talk to me for a while. Please. You know you don’t want to go back in there just yet.”
Alicia weighs her options. She warily steps towards her again.
“Why did you say that? About...”
“Because you’re the most beautiful woman in the room.”
Alicia raises her eyebrows. “That’s quite a line.”
“It’s not a line. It’s the truth. I’ve seen you before, at these things. I was hoping for you tonight.”
She gapes at her. “How can you...you can’t just assume that I’d...this is a ridiculous conversation.”
“I didn’t say that I assumed, I said I was hoping.”
“I’m married, and straight, and I’ve known you for all of five minutes. This is still a ridiculous conversation.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. How long does it usually take you to know you want someone?”
Alicia shakes her head in disbelief and tries to regain her equilibrium.
“No? Well it doesn’t take me longer than 30 seconds, usually. And like I said, I’ve seen you before.”
“Then you’ve seen me with my husband.”
“I’ve seen you on the talk shows. I’ve seen you in the flesh. I’ve wanted you every time. Just like I want you now.”
She can’t quite catch her breath. “You must get a lot of practice at this kind of talk.”
“You think I’m lying?”
“I think it’s your job to lie.”
“I never lie. I never sleep with someone I’m not attracted to. I can afford to be very, very selective.”
Alicia thinks of her friend, the one who’d confessed that she’d slept with Leela. Her beautiful, slim friend with the intelligent green eyes, whose thick, dark hair she used to envy.
“You think that makes it better?”
“Of course. Nobody loses.”
“You’re selling your own body! It’s...appalling!”
Kalinda touches her for the first time, a small, warm hand on the inside of her elbow. “Is that what you really think?”
“Is that what your friends thought when they were begging me to touch them one last time?”
Kalinda’s gaze holds her captive for 10 seconds...15...20. She’s lightly caressing her arm with a rhythmic touch, fingers barely brushing her skin. The whole world has gone quiet, the whole world’s stopped. When she eventually manages to wrench her eyes away she sees a few party guests walking to their cars and it jolts her back to reality.
“I need to go.” She pulls her arm away and smoothes her dress down. She’s horrified to see that her hands are shaking.
“It was lovely to finally meet you, Alicia. I hope we meet again.”
She looks into her eyes one last time before she returns to Peter’s side. For the next hour she makes small talk about politics and the weather and movies and the campaign. She doesn’t hear half of it. She pointedly refuses to look around for Kalinda – Leela. At midnight she makes an excuse and asks Peter if they can leave.
When they arrive home she changes into her nightgown, brushes her teeth and studies her flushed face in the mirror. You drank a lot of wine. It’s the adrenalin from the party. You were bound to be curious, it’s only natural. She splashes water on her face once, twice.
She gets into bed and waits impatiently for Peter. When he joins her and says “Goodnight” she reaches over and takes his hand.
“You were great tonight,” she says. “I need...”
She guides his hand down.
“Jesus,” he says, grinning at her. “I really must have been great tonight.”
She moans as he strokes her. For the next few minutes she fights hard against her body; she’s not usually so fast, so ready, but there’s nothing she can do as he repeatedly brushes his thumb against her clit, and the shuddering moan that is released from her puts a triumphant look on her husband’s face.
“Wow,” says Peter. “I should take you to these things more often.”
She smiles faintly at him, brushing her hair from her eyes, trying to recover her breathing. She caresses Peter’s face, and after a few minutes she reaches down to touch him.
“If you’re tired...”
“I’m not tired. I want you inside me.”
He pauses for a few seconds, unused to such a direct request, but then does exactly what he’s told. Her second orgasm hits her as quickly and as hard as her first. When it’s over she watches her husband fall gently into sleep. One restless hour later, she finally follows him.
Here's Chapter two - sorry for the wait! Any feedback is very gratefully received, I don't always manage to reply to every comment but I read and digest every single one and I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to comment, it's wonderful to read all of your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
It's a fundraiser this time, but with all the same people, the same conversations, and Alicia’s bored out of her mind. She makes as much small talk as she can, smiles for as long as possible, and then excuses herself.
She looks for an escape route, somewhere to just stand for a while and watch the world go by without anybody making demands on her, expecting her to be supportive and adoring and devoid of all opinion. As she does so she can't help but look around, scanning the room, searching for a glimpse of her, assuring herself that she’s hoping Kalinda won’t be here, hoping she won’t run into her...
It's been a long month. Filled with journalists and political wrangling and all of the stultifying campaign commitments that come with being a politician's wife. She's dealt with it as best she can, but in all honesty she's exhausted. And there’s something else too. A growing sense of…absence. Something missing. Something important that has eluded her for so long now. A connection; a link. An intimacy.
She felt it with Kalinda. After 30 seconds in her presence, she felt it, and she’s felt its absence ever since, despite everything Kalinda had told her, despite everything Alicia believes in. For a month she’s pretended to herself that she could have wholesome, satisfying sex with her husband and that would be enough. When what she was really fantasizing about was...
You cannot keep going there. This has to stop, and it has to stop tonight. But the images keep coming, in flashes, in waves...soft, velvet skin. Small, graceful, knowing hands, deep brown eyes. Full lips. Someone who’d watched her, wanted her for months...
Unless she was lying, says a voice inside her. Unless she just wanted your money. And of course she just wanted your money, you fool. You’re just like all the other wives.
She’s almost out of the hall when she sees her. Twenty feet away, talking to one of Peter’s colleagues who looks like all his Christmases have come at once. She doesn’t notice her at first, which gives Alicia enough time to see that she looks even more stunning tonight: another tight evening gown, her dress at least four inches shorter than every other dress in the room, and the heels on her boots an inch higher.
She looks up suddenly and catches Alicia staring. A smile spreads over her face, and she nods in recognition.
Alicia gets out as fast as she can without calling attention to herself. She searches for a hiding spot, eventually ending up in a side room that looks like it hasn’t been dusted for 20 years. She sits gingerly on an antique desk and tells herself that her rapidly beating heart is because of the quick exit she’d made.
The knock on the door makes her jump. She stares at it, and then the words “Come in” leave her mouth before her brain has time to stop them.
“Hi.” She almost hates her.
“You’re hiding again.”
“From me this time?”
Kalinda closes the door and surveys the room before leaning back against an old bookcase.
“How much have you raised?”
“We don’t know yet, not for a few days. Probably a lot.”
“He’s a born politician.”
Alicia studies her expressionless face. What the hell does that mean? He’s good at his job, or he’s good at lying? She doesn’t respond.
“I’ve thought about you a lot,” Kalinda says quietly.
Alarm flashes through Alicia’s mind. She instinctively looks for the exit, and then feels silly – it’s not as if she’s trapped here.
“Have you thought about me?”
“I said, don’t. Or I’ll leave.”
The question hangs in the air: Why aren’t you leaving anyway? But Kalinda doesn’t ask.
“What am I allowed to talk about?”
Alicia shrugs. “The weather. Politics. How wonderful my husband is.”
“I don’t think he’s wonderful.”
There’s something in her eyes now, that nuance that makes Alicia feel like she’s hearing the truth. Maybe she’s acting that, too. Watch your step.
“You could say that I don’t agree with some of his policies.”
“Daycare places for all three year-olds?”
Kalinda smiles faintly. “Yeah, that’s the dealbreaker.”
There’s silence for a minute, broken only by the buzz of the party outside. Despite her nerves, despite the electric charge in the air, Alicia feels an odd sense of safety.
“You know, don’t you?” she says.
Kalinda waits a few seconds before simply saying, “Yes. I know.” And then, after a beat, she says, “I’m sorry.”
Alicia reels back in shock. “You’re sorry? Jesus, you’re not telling me-“
“No. No. Not me. But I’m sorry anyway.”
Relief floods through Alicia’s body. Why the hell does it matter who it was with? Why the hell does it matter that it wasn’t her?
“Well I appreciate your concern.”
“How long have you known?”
Alicia stares at the carpet. “A while,” she says softly.
“He’s a prick.”
“He’s my husband. Don’t talk about him like that.” She doesn’t sound very convincing.
“I hope you don’t think that it’s the same. What I do.”
Alicia raises her eyes. “How exactly is it different?”
“I’ve already told you part of it. And I have my own rules. My own...policies.”
“No happy marriages. No spiteful women. If the husband’s womanising, if he’s a drunk, if he’s a bastard, then I’m available. If he’s just dull or bad in bed, that’s not for me.”
“So...when you...approached me the other night, that was because you knew about...”
“How long have you known?”
“Only since last week.”
“How long have you-” She cuts herself off.
“Watched you? Wanted you?”
Alicia nods slightly, listening to the beat of her heart.
“Years.” She says it nonchalantly, casually, but her eyes tell a different story. Alicia glances towards the door again. 10 steps, she thinks. 10 steps and you’re back to the real world.
“I still can’t figure out whether you’re lying.”
Kalinda gracefully pushes her body away from the bookcase and takes a step towards her.
“I could prove it.”
Kalinda takes another step, and another. “I could prove it. Give me your hand and I will.”
It takes her a few seconds to work out what she means, but when she does she feels the blood heating her face.
“You’re not serious.”
“Give me your hand.”
Alicia can’t move. Can’t think. Can’t breathe.
Kalinda reaches out and takes hold of Alicia’s left hand. She guides it slowly underneath her dress, watching Alicia’s face the entire time. When she slides the hand into her underwear Alicia watches enthralled as she gasps softly and closes her eyes for several seconds.
She’s very, very wet. Alicia’s breath comes in shallow bursts. She moves her fingers slightly and Kalinda gasps again, louder this time, and tightens her grip on Alicia’s wrist. “Do that again,” she whispers.
A thrill runs down Alicia’s spine at the breathy desire in her voice, the almost desperate look in her eyes. “Only if you ask me nicely.”
“Please,” whispers Kalinda, her eyes locked onto Alicia’s. “Please.”
Alicia gently strokes the hot, slick flesh under her fingers, and Kalinda moans quietly, leaning into Alicia’s body. Alicia’s right arm slides around Kalinda’s waist, and then, without conscious thought, drawn in by a magnetic force, she leans down to kiss her.
A loud knock at the door makes them fly apart. Kalinda rearranges her dress while Alicia stands dumbstruck, gazing at her own wet fingers.
The door opens and Alicia musters enough brainpower to hide her hand behind her back.
“Oh, I’m sorry, wrong room, my mistake.” The man leaves.
The only sound in the room is their uneven breathing. Alicia feels like she’s thinking through a fog; she continues to stare at her hand. She doesn’t have a handbag with her, there are no pockets in her dress. No handkerchief. No tissues.
“Here,” says Kalinda. She takes hold of Alicia’s hand, and then raises it to her mouth. She licks it slowly, taking one finger into her mouth, then two...
A synapse in Alicia’s brain finally explodes, and she runs. She hears Kalinda calling after her, but all she knows is that she has to get home, to somewhere she understands, where she knows who she is and what she feels.
She finds Peter and begs him to take her home. He does, reluctantly, and on the way home she picks a fight about a campaign issue that she doesn’t remotely care about. She sleeps in the spare bedroom that night, her body electrified, tense, aching to be touched. She refuses to give in to her feelings, refuses to touch herself, just to prove that she’s still in control.
She lies awake for hours, her left hand burning.
Peter loses the election. She’d never admit it to anyone, but she’s pleased. The journalists fade away, the phone stops ringing at 6.00am, and everything around them calms down. Peter starts considering job offers – private law firms, political consultancies – and Alicia rededicates herself to Lockhart Gardener.
It all feels a lot like relief.
Except...the loss means that there are no more parties, now. No more fundraisers, no more ballrooms. She’ll never be in a room with Peter’s political colleagues again, because Peter no longer has political colleagues. It’s over. As it should be, of course. It’s all over now.
She goes back to her old life as best she can, but sometimes...sometimes her control slips. She thinks about trying to find her. How hard could it be? Peter’s probably got her number, or he’ll know someone who does. Thirty seconds, it would take her. Less.
But she can’t do it. Because she’s faithful to her husband, always faithful. Because she’s good. A good wife, a good mother. Because she’s straight. Because she really does disapprove of Kalinda’s choices. (But mostly, if she’s honest, because she’s scared.)
She limits herself to fantasy, although the fantasies themselves are not limited at all. Kalinda going down on her in that dusty side room. Touching her for hours, not letting her rest until she’s licked every drop of sweat from her writhing body. Fucking her over and over.
She takes her frustration out on Peter when she’s not angry with him; touches herself when she is. Neither option helps very much. She’s not used to this: having a sexual longing that invades her mind and her body, with such an obvious solution that is so obviously out of reach. It’s driving her a little crazy, but there’s nothing she can do to fix it, so she does what she always does – carries on, quietly, and endures.
She’s in a meeting with a potential client one day when Courtney interrupts her.
“What is it?”
“A phone call, a Miss Sharma? She says it’s important?”
“I don’t know anyone of that name, take a message.” Courtney’s slight flinch tells her that she’s sounded harsh again. She seems to be taking out her problems on everyone around her, which just makes her all the more frustrated at her lack of control.
When she returns to her desk an hour later there’s a note waiting for her: Kalinda Sharma, Call me any time. 773-338-7786. Her pulse quickens immediately.
She reads the note three, four, five times, reaching out a hand to touch it, check it’s real. A heady rush of excitement runs through her, filling her whole body with adrenalin and starting a strong, steady pulse between her legs. And then reality crashes back in. What the hell is she doing calling me at work? Who does she think she is?
She grabs the phone and dials the number. One, two rings, and then...
“What the hell are you doing?”
“You cannot call me at work, it’s totally unprofessional! I work here, this is my work, I’m a professional lawyer and you cannot be calling me at work!”
“Is this your work number?”
Alicia’s rage feels like thunder. “Of course this is my work number, you know this is my work number, you...you...you’re making fun of me!” She sounds petulant, a three year-old child who’s being teased. She rubs her temples and tries to get a hold of herself.
“Just a little. What’s got into you?”
You. You. You. “Nothing. You really shouldn’t call me at work.”
“Give me your cellphone number.”
Damn. Walked right into that one.
“I’m not going to do that.”
“Why are you calling?”
“I want to see you.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“I need to see you.”
“You heard what I said.”
“I need your hands on me again. I need you to touch me.”
Her voice is serious, quiet. She sounds a little breathless, although that could just be her over-heated imagination. Alicia sits ramrod straight in her chair, looking out through the glass at the busy office before her. The pulse between her legs has intensified and she can feel wetness starting to dampen her underwear.
“You want me as badly as I want you. In that room, you would have kissed me. You would have made me come so hard I wouldn’t have been able to stand up. You had me halfway there already just from a few strokes of your hand.”
One of the third-year associates walks past her office and waves at her vaguely. Courtney’s taking a phone call. The whole office is buzzing with life as Alicia fights to stop the memories of another woman’s wetness burning on her hand.
“I want to see you.”
There’s an urgency in Kalinda’s voice now; an undisguised longing. Alicia closes her eyes. With great difficulty she fights against her body, all of the sexual frustration of the past month, the aching need she feels for this woman’s touch.
She summons up a picture of her husband. Her lying, cheating husband. But then...she sees her kids. We’re getting a divorce. I’m moving out. Things will never ever be the same.
“I can’t.” Her voice is barely above a whisper, but she’s relieved that she’s able to speak at all. “I can’t.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. You have my number. Will you call if you change your mind?”
“I can’t,” she says again. “It can’t happen.”
“Then I’ll just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last month. For the last four years. Fantasize about you while I’m touching myself. It’s never enough. You can always call.”
Alicia places a hand over her eyes and tries to block out the vivid images that have invaded her head. It’s 10 seconds at least before she realizes that Kalinda has hung up and she’s listening to dead air.
Her hand is shaking when she finally puts the phone down.
The scandal breaks on a Monday. Photographers outside their house, journalists on their doorstep. Peter’s face all over the news. The kids come home from school early, frightened and confused.
But Alicia’s been planning for this for years. She tells them in no uncertain terms that everything’s going to be OK. She tells them that she’s going to get an apartment of her own and that they can both help her choose it. She tells them that they will always be a family.
And she tells Peter that it’s over. They can be husband and wife to the outside world, at least for a while, but it’s over now. He tries to persuade her otherwise, but she can see from his face that he knows he’s finished.
She cries, that first night, for the frightened faces of her children. But not for herself. She’d left him long ago, or he’d left her.
Two weeks later, she sits in her new apartment, alone. Zach and Grace are at the house with their father, and she has the entire weekend to herself. She sits at the kitchen counter, holding a piece of paper in her hand.
She picks up her cellphone and quickly dials a number, a light film of perspiration from her fingers rubbing off onto the keys. The phone rings once; twice; three times. She almost hangs up in a nervous panic. And then...
Alicia sits, frozen.
Hang up what the hell are you doing what the hell are you thinking hang up hang up hang up.
“Alicia?” It’s said very softly, gently, and the almost innocent note of hope in her voice calms Alicia’s racing heart.
“Yes. Hi. Sorry, I was...hi.”
“Hi. How are you? I’ve been...concerned.”
“I’m good. You know, OK.”
“I’m glad. It can’t be easy.”
“No. It’s not. But not...unexpected.”
There’s silence for a few moments, broken only by the steady thump of Alicia’s heart. Kalinda speaks so suddenly it almost makes her jump.
“I’d thought about calling you again. I was hoping we could meet. To talk.”
The sense of disappointment that Alicia feels at the word “talk” does nothing for her nerves. I don’t need to talk. I need your hands, your mouth, a month in your bed...
“Sure,” she says. "Where did you have in mind?”
“There’s a Starbucks near your office, you know it?”
Alicia’s heart sinks a little further. They really are going to talk.
“I know it.”
“Tomorrow, about five?”
“Sure. I’ll see you there.”
And that’s it. She suddenly feels sure that Kalinda’s luring her to Starbucks to break up with her. But can you dump someone after 60 seconds of sex? Who knows. It’s not like she has experience in this area.
She spends the rest of the day keeping busy, cleaning, cooking, writing emails. At night she dreams that a beautiful, dark-haired woman is undressing her slowly, whispering in her ear, exciting her with gentle, soft hands. She wakes up hot, perspiring and thoroughly turned on.
She takes a cold shower and reminds herself that Kalinda just wants to talk, so that’s all she’s going to do. She’s not going to ask for her. Not going to beg.
It takes an age for five o-clock to come around. When it’s finally time to leave she looks at herself in the hall mirror, checks her make-up and her hair. Wonders what the hell she’s doing.
When she arrives at the coffee shop she’s 15 minutes early. She orders a latte and sits down in a window seat. She plays out scenarios in her head, following both possible paths. Well, you’re either getting dumped or getting laid. It’s not exactly a standard Sunday afternoon. She sips her coffee too quickly and burns her tongue.
Five minutes later she spots Kalinda through the window. They look at each other, Alicia raising a hand in greeting. Kalinda watches her for a few more seconds before entering the shop and buying a coffee.
When she sits down opposite her Alicia takes her all in. She’s never seen her in anything but an evening dress, and she looks very different. A tight leather jacket, short skirt, and long, high-heeled boots. She looks simultaneously completely professional and highly seductive. Alicia tries not to stare.
“I’m glad you called.”
She tries to analyse the situation, searching for any clues in Kalinda’s face. She’s not giving anything away.
“I hope you’ve been OK. I didn’t expect it to be such a big story.”
Alicia shrugs. “Sex sells. I’ve been all right. It’s the kids that have...” She looks down at the table.
“I’m sorry,” says Kalinda gently, reaching out a hand to cover Alicia’s. “They’ll be fine.”
Alicia watches as Kalinda strokes her hand with her thumb. It feels like the first time that anyone has really cared that she’s hurting.
“Thank you,” she says. “They will be fine, I’ll make sure of it.”
“Of course you will.”
They sit quietly, Kalinda finally removing her hand. Alicia feels the loss of it so greatly that her need makes her brave.
“So. Things have changed, now.”
Kalinda studies her intensely, and she holds her gaze, trying to make her understand.
“Are you going to divorce him?”
“Not now. For the kids, mainly. Maybe in the future.”
“Right. But you’re...free, now?”
“Free?” Her breath hitches. She’s not being dumped, she realizes, she’s being...
“Yes. Free. For me.”
“Yes,” she says. “I’m free for you.”
She’s delighted to see an expression of thrilled surprise play quickly over Kalinda’s features before she manages to school her face into her usual calm control. She grins at her. I saw that, Miss Sharma. You don’t fool me.
“When?” says Kalinda. The urgency in her voice sends another thrill down Alicia’s spine.
“Before we do that, I have one, uh...one condition.”
“I thought you might. Agreed.”
“Wait, what? You don’t know what I’m going to say.”
“Yes, I do. No payment. Right?”
“How did you...”
Kalinda shrugs. “Wasn’t exactly hard.”
They look at each for a few seconds, Alicia’s mind whirring. “You said...agreed. It’s agreed.”
“Don’t you need, I mean, that was a pretty fast decision.”
Alicia’s amazed to see Kalinda break eye contact and look down at the table. She almost looks a little embarrassed.
“You don’t need a little more time?” Alicia teases, grinning.
Kalinda glares at her. “Could always change my mind.”
Alicia keeps grinning. She was expecting at least a discussion, the opportunity to state her case. Kalinda’s quick capitulation makes her feel dangerously powerful. But then she remembers that she’d promised herself two things. One: no money changes hands. And two...
“I have one more question. And this is going to sound totally ludicrous, under the circumstances, but do you have a...a girlfriend? I don’t mean, um, business, I mean someone you care about? Someone who’d get hurt?”
Kalinda shakes her head. “No. No girlfriend.”
“OK. OK. Well then. I guess that’s it.”
They gaze at each other.
“When?” says Kalinda quietly.
“I thought...the weekend after next? The kids will be with Peter...”
“OK. Friday...um. Friday night? About eight? And could we, um, could it be, you know...your place? Because the kids have keys and they don’t usually come back without calling but sometimes they might forget something and Zach leaves his books sometimes or they need to pick something up and then they don’t tell me-“
“My place it is.” She’s smiling at her. Alicia tells herself to calm the hell down.
“Well then. OK.” So that’s all arranged then. Her place, Friday night at eight, lesbian sex. Nothing to see here.
“There’s no need to look so worried.”
“Sorry, I just...I’ve never...”
“I know. I have, though. We’ll be OK.”
Alicia can’t help but smile at her; that strange, simultaneous sense of electric excitement and total safety.
Kalinda reaches into a pocket and takes out a business card, handing it to Alicia. ‘Kalinda Sharma, Investigator’. The address of an apartment has been handwritten on the card.
“So I’ll see you Friday?” says Alicia.
“OK.” Alicia exhales. She feels like she should go now; they’ve done what they came here to do. “OK.”
Neither of them moves. There’s an awkward pause; Alicia runs through a hundred topics of conversation in her head. Did you see the new Bond movie? Did you vote for Obama? Any advance requests, sexually speaking?
After a few more moments, Kalinda breaks the silence.
“Well. I’d better get moving.”
She doesn’t sound like she wants to move in the slightest, but Alicia’s mind has run through another hundred topics and still drawn a blank.
“You want another coffee?” she blurts out. They both look down at Kalinda’s full coffee cup.
“I’m good. Thanks.” The confident smirk is back. It makes Alicia want to kiss it off her face. When Kalinda stands up she beats back the urge to grab onto her arm and keep her.
There’s one final, intense moment of eye contact, and then she leaves. Alicia inhales slowly and watches her walk away. No going back now.
She’s early. Insanely early, actually. She knew she would be. She sits in her car in the underground car park and anxiously watches the clock.
It’s been a very long fortnight. There’s been no word at all from Kalinda, so she’s been left entirely alone with her thoughts. Which hasn’t been easy...
But she knows that she’s doing the right thing. Or at least, she knows that she’s doing what she wants to do, and at this point in her life, that seems plenty good enough.
When the clock refuses to go past 7.45 for what seems like three days she gives up and walks to the front of the building. Pressing the button for apartment 3B she steels herself, straightening her spine, nervous arousal already building inside her.
“Yes. Hi. Hi. I’m a bit early.”
“Come on up.” She was expecting to be teased about her promptness, but there’s no hint of humor in Kalinda’s voice. She takes the elevator and then walks along the corridor, counting down the apartment numbers and wondering why Kalinda chose a building with foliage all over the walls.
As she knocks on the door she feels a wave of panic flood over her, a sudden urge to run; but then the door opens, and she calms. Kalinda looks lovely – she’s wearing jeans this time, with a tight black tank top and bare feet. She seems at least two inches shorter without high heels. Alicia wants to put her arms around her.
She does. The apartment is smaller than she expected, sparsely furnished. She stands awkwardly next to a chair.
“Do you want a drink?”
She really, really wants a drink.
“I shouldn’t. Driving.”
Kalinda looks up at her sharply.
“You’re not going home tonight.”
A statement of fact, not a question. The whole night, she thinks. In her bed for hours and hours.
“Then I probably need a drink.”
Kalinda smiles at her, relieving a tiny bit of her tension.
“Sounds great.” She’s never had tequila before in her life.
“I like your apartment.”
“It’s a nice area, actually, I thought about renting here, there are some good buildings around this area although it was a little too far away from the schools and I wasn’t quite sure about the prices, seemed a little bit steep for the space you get, but this seems like a nice place and it’s quieter than you’d think from the...”
She trails off as Kalinda approaches her, placing a shot glass of Tequila in her hand. She then slides one arm around her waist and reaches up to kiss her. Her eyebrows rise up in surprise, but the kiss isn’t remotely gentle and there’s nothing she can do but kiss her back with equal passion. When Kalinda eventually pulls away they’re both breathless.
“Drink your tequila. And then follow me.”
Alicia watches, dazed, as Kalinda walks into the bedroom. A tiny voice inside her objects to the arrogant assumption that she’ll follow, but her body reacts far more positively. She takes a small sip of her tequila, finds that the likes it, and drinks the rest too quickly.
Last chance, she thinks. Last chance to come to your senses.
She walks slowly into the bedroom. Kalinda is standing on the far side of the bed.
“I like tequila,” says Alicia. Jesus.
“I’m glad,” says Kalinda. “I like you.”
Alicia smiles despite herself. “I like you too.”
“Well then. It’s probably time we did something about that.”
Kalinda climbs onto the bed. “Come here.”
Alicia does. Kneeling on the bed she fixes her eyes on the pure white sheets. Kalinda inches closer to her, putting one hand around her waist and the other on the back of her neck. She moves closer, closer, until their lips are almost touching, and then stays there.
She can’t take it, the agony of anticipation after all the months of yearning. She closes the gap between them, sinking into the kiss, thrilled by the low moan that comes from Kalinda’s throat. They kiss for long moments, passion building between them, until Kalinda pulls away and starts to undress her hurriedly.
Her obvious impatience sends a shiver down Alicia’s spine, and when Kalinda throws her shirt and then her bra to the floor and takes both of her breasts in her hands the overwhelming sensation is one of relief. Finally, finally you’re here.
Kalinda caresses her breasts for several minutes, and through the intensity of her pleasure Alicia is aware that she’s being watched, that Kalinda is studying her face intently. To her surprise she finds that she loves the attention, that it makes her feel powerfully sexy.
After several more minutes, once Alicia has become flushed with pleasure and short of breath, Kalinda sets to work on removing the remainder of their clothes, showing even more impatience than before.
Once all of their clothes have been thrown to the floor, Kalinda pushes her gently to lie down, and as soon as she’s horizontal starts kissing her again, but this time the kisses cover her body – her neck, her breasts, her belly. She reacts strongly, already moving under Kalinda’s caresses, already breathless. Already wet.
When Kalinda’s lips reach a nipple she bites back a moan, but Kalinda lingers there for long minutes and the moan is pulled from her body, and then another, and another. Her left hand has tangled itself into Kalinda’s hair while her right hand desperately grabs onto the sheet, pulling it roughly from the bed.
The arousal builds and builds, but Kalinda isn’t moving, still feasting on her nipple. She wants to beg her, she wants to push her head down, and she fights against the urge to groan loudly, which just seems to increase its intensity.
Kalinda eventually gives her nipple once last lick and moves down to her belly, giving it the same lavish attention, and Alicia’s frustration increases. Through a heavy fog of pleasure she tries to retain control, but it’s too much for her when Kalinda moves up again and starts to kiss her breasts once more.
“God, Kalinda, please touch me, please.”
“I am touching you.”
“Touch me.” She sounds almost angry, but Kalinda doesn’t seem to mind. She holds her gaze for five seconds and then moves downwards, urging Alicia’s legs further apart.
“I think I’ll taste you instead.”
Alicia’s mind flashes with alarm, with a hundred worries at once, all of which vanish the moment Kalinda’s tongue touches her clit. A burst of pleasure runs through her, and another, and another, as Kalinda licks her again and again and again. She’s vaguely aware of a moaning in the room, someone panting, of molten heat. Time stops dead, and the only thing she can feel is Kalinda’s tongue, over and over, in a relentless, endless rhythm...
“Please”, she hears herself say, her voice strained and pleading, and she doesn’t even know what she’s asking for, doesn’t know anything except that Kalinda must never, ever stop...
Several more strokes of Kalinda’s tongue, a few delicious final moments, and then her body falls over the edge, her back arching, her fingers digging into the mattress and a protracted groan falling from her lips. She takes in all the breath she can manage and then slowly relaxes, a warm glowing pleasure flowing through her.
As she begins to recover her breathing, she can feel Kalinda watching her. The center of the universe, she thinks. Like I’m the center of her world. She blinks in surprise at the thought, and then realizes that it’s true, that it’s how she’s made her feel ever since they first met.
After several more seconds, she opens her eyes, and Kalinda’s expression is not what she had expected. There’s pleasure there, yes, and she’s obviously very aroused (she’s breathing heavily, flushed, her eyes full of desire), but she also looks a little...unnerved. A little shaken.
Alicia gently touches the side of her face. “You OK?”
“I should be asking you that.” The confidence of a few minutes ago isn’t quite there.
“I’m fine. Or I will be in a little while.” She quirks one eyebrow and grins. Alicia knows she’s hiding something, but she decides to let it go. The intense pleasure of her orgasm has slowly begun to fade, replaced by a wonderful afterglow but also the beginnings of nerves. She breaks eye contact.
“Hey, it’s OK. It’s not like you don’t know what to do.”
“No? Thirty seconds longer in that room and I’d have been gone. I was so close my legs were shaking.”
Kalinda reaches down and takes hold of her left hand.
“Do you remember how it felt? Have you thought about it?”
Alicia can only nod as Kalinda guides her hand between her legs. She’s even wetter than she remembers, her flesh slick and hot. Alicia instinctively touches her clit with her thumb and Kalinda tips her head back, sighing breathily.
“I’ve thought about nothing else,” whispers Alicia. “Nothing else but you.”
There’s an almost helpless look in Kalinda’s eyes as she responds to the hand that’s now moving in a steady, cautious rhythm between her legs. As she continues to move against the hand for several minutes Alicia feels a pang of nerves and she starts to say “Should I– “ but Kalinda shakes her head slightly, holding her wrist in place and guiding her. “Like that,” she says. “Like that.”
She watches in awe as Kalinda’s movements get a little faster, and then faster, and a deep flush spreads across her chest. Sharp gasps start to come from the back of her throat, and the hand on her wrist grips her tighter and then tighter.
“You’re beautiful,” Alicia whispers. “So beautiful.”
The helpless look returns to Kalinda’s eyes as Alicia continues to stroke her. A whine escapes her throat as she leans her head back, digs her nails into Alicia’s wrist painfully and surrenders to her orgasm. Alicia can’t take her eyes off her. So beautiful.
After 30 seconds of recovery and deep breathing, Kalinda releases her wrist. She slowly moves her hand away, a final moan coming from her lover as she does so. A strong urge to be close to her makes her sit upright, stopping short when she sees surprise in Kalinda’s eyes.
“I’m not going anywhere. I want to hold you.” She doesn’t wait to hear her response, suspecting that she might argue; she just enfolds Kalinda in her arms and pulls her close.
She’s tiny; warm, so soft, and tiny. A wave of protective feeling flows through her, and then a strange wave of calm. The right thing to do. You’re in the right place.
Five minutes go by as she basks in the sheer pleasure of holding Kalinda in her arms. She’s a little surprised that she has acquiesced so easily to the hug, that she’s rested her head on her shoulder, but very pleased. She runs her hand gently up and down her lover’s back, marvelling at the silk of her skin.
After a few more minutes Kalinda pulls away. Their eyes meet and Alicia smiles a little shyly.
“OK?” she says quietly.
“Mm-hmm,” murmurs Kalinda.
She tenderly tucks a strand of hair behind Kalinda’s ear, running her finger down to caress her neck.
“Have you recovered?” says Kalinda.
Alicia laughs in surprise. “Recovered?”
“Yes. Ready for more?”
Alicia laughs again, feeling uninhibited and full of confidence. “Maybe.”
“Only maybe? Well then. I’d better leave you alone if it’s only a maybe.”
Alicia abruptly tightens her arms, bringing the body of her lover close against her. Kalinda gasps at the unexpected move.
“You’d better not.”
She kisses her, a warm, wet kiss, entangling their tongues together, feeling the stirrings of renewed passion.
They begin again. Hours later, the darkness in the room gradually gives way to dawn.
She’s alone when she wakes up. For 10 seconds she’s disorientated, the white walls and bare room confusing her. And then she remembers. In a flood of sensual, vivid memory, she remembers everything. The feel of her hands, her mouth; the expression of absolute bliss on her face when she came; the moans that accompanied every orgasm.
For a minute she’s lost in memory, but then she begins to worry about her solitude in the bed. Surely Kalinda hasn’t left her alone in the apartment?
A quiet thud from the kitchen reassures her, until a second set of nerves replaces the first. The morning after. She’s never had a morning quite like this one before.
She gets dressed quickly, squares her shoulders and heads out to the kitchen. Kalinda’s standing at the counter, wearing black trousers and a black tank top, her hair tied back in a loose ponytail. She takes a breath.
“Hi,” she says.
Kalinda turns around, and Alicia breathes a sigh of relief at the happiness that’s clear in her eyes.
“What time is it?”
“Just after seven.”
Alicia frowns. “Seven? It’s still dark outside.”
A slow grin makes its way onto Kalinda’s face. “It’s not still dark, Alicia.”
Understanding dawns. “Oh,” she says. “I see.” Never had an evening after quite like this one. She thinks back...and yes, it was broad daylight when they finally fell asleep. She can still see the sunlight playing over the curves of Kalinda’s beautiful body...hours and hours indeed...
“You want some toast? I can’t cook, so it’s toast or cereal. Or you could take your chances with whatever’s in the fridge, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“Toast sounds great. Thanks.”
“Take a seat.”
She does. Kalinda makes short work of the toast and brings it over to her. She’s about to start eating when she pauses, staring at her left hand.
“I...” She’s speechless. She meets Kalinda’s gaze and the strength of their connection makes her feel like they’re reliving the exact same memory.
“Second door on the right,” says Kalinda softly.
She heads to the bathroom sink, washing her hands and studying her reflection.
Returning to the kitchen she sits down and eats her toast, glancing at Kalinda.
“You drink milk?”
Kalinda looks from her milk to Alicia. “Yes.”
“For people to drink milk?”
“For adults to drink it, I guess.”
“Well. I do.”
“You want some?”
Kalinda gets up anyway and goes to the fridge. She comes back with a glass of orange juice, placing it by Alicia’s plate.
“OJ for the adults.”
Alicia smiles at her gratefully. Everything’s much easier than she expected. More relaxed. More natural. As if she belongs here.
“I hope you didn’t have anywhere you’re supposed to be,” says Kalinda.
“Oh no, I made sure I...” She trails off. Kalinda’s grinning at her again. “Well. I made sure I didn’t. Do you?”
“You made sure of it too?” she teases.
“Of course. Took me four years to get you here, I wasn’t going to let you go that easy.”
They smile at each other happily. Kalinda clears the empty plates away, stacking them carelessly by the sink, and then sits back down. And it’s not quite so easy, then. Alicia’s mind starts whirring again, wondering what happens next. (More of you, more of you, more, more...)
“So are you still investigating? I mean, now that the campaign’s over, are you still working for them?”
“No, that’s done. I have some new offers that I’m considering.”
“And in your other job? Offers there too?” She says it as neutrally as she can. Kalinda leans back slightly in her chair.
“Right.” Neutral, again. Nothing to see here. Sometimes being a politician’s wife has some genuine advantages.
“None that I’ve said yes to.”
And neutrality flies straight out the window. “You...turned them all down?”
Kalinda shrugs slightly. “Didn’t feel like it.” There’s something there in her eyes again, something vulnerable, if only she can catch hold of it. She takes a deep breath and goes for it.
“I would think it might be a little difficult for you, sometimes, considering...everything. For you to date, I mean. I would think that some women would maybe have a problem with your night job. I mean, not everyone, but some of them. If they were...the jealous type. Or they wanted you all to themselves.”
“Sometimes. Depends on the woman.”
“So how do you deal with that?”
“Depends on the woman,” she repeats. “I don’t date much. Not worth it.” And Alicia’s elated mood slips completely away. One night, that’s all she wanted. Just your body, just for one night. You were crazy to think it was more. Just like all the other wives.
“I see,” she says. “Fair enough.” She stares miserably at the remains of her orange juice, embarrassed to find that she’s almost on the edge of tears. Her mind starts running through ways to get her out of the apartment with a shred of dignity intact.
“But then I haven’t worked my night job in four years.”
Alicia looks up from her juice scrutiny. “Four years?”
Kalinda nods silently.
“That’s when you said that you- that’s how long you said that you’d been watching me.“
Kalinda just looks at her.
“Are you saying that...you stopped because of me?”
“Yes,” she says quietly.
“But, I mean, we hadn’t even met...you didn’t even know about Peter.”
“I didn’t know, but I’d heard rumors. Lots of rumors. And that first time I saw you interviewed, you were so...you weren’t at all what I was expecting, not for a woman whose husband was playing around. It made me reconsider a few things.”
“But when we first met, you were asking me...I mean, you were saying...”
“I didn’t think you’d ever leave your husband. You were off limits for anything real. But some women let themselves have just one night, if their husband’s been cheating.”
“Just one night?”
“Yes. That’s what I was going for. Wouldn’t have been nearly enough though.”
Alicia’s transfixed by her sensuous smile. “You did seem a bit insatiable last night.” The memories flood over her again; lips, hands, licks...From the look in Kalinda’s eyes she knows that she’s reliving the memories too. Desire flares suddenly between them, all of her instincts insisting that she touch her, but she inhales slowly and tries to fight against the fire.
“So, if there’s no night job, that would be easier, then, I would think. For dating.”
“Yes. I would think so. If I felt like it. It would depend on who was asking.”
There’s a spark in her eyes now, a brightness. Alicia’s heart begins to fill with relief.
“What if I was asking?”
“Mmm, let me think. You. Hmm. Let’s see here-“
“Alicia, you wouldn’t want me to rush into anything, would you? I have to make good decisions.”
“You’ve been thinking about this for years!”
“Well, there is that. Plus you’re stunning.” Alicia blushes. “Even more so when you blush.” She blushes harder, smiling despite herself. “And your orgasm moan is the most erotic sound I’ve ever heard in my entire life.“
“Well, it is. So there.”
“So...if I’m stunning and my moans are up to scratch, then-“
“Then...sure. We can go steady.”
They grin at each other across the table.
“Can I just ask...I mean, is your real name Leela, or...?”
A flicker of emotion passes across her lover’s face and she reaches out to take her hand, a surge of protectiveness running through her.
“It’s Kalinda, now. Call me Kalinda.”
“You got it.”
They sit quietly for a few moments, Alicia looking at the soft hand in hers, wondering about the past, about the roads that have lead them to each other. She looks up to find Kalinda watching her with affection in her eyes.
“Hi Kalinda,” she says, smiling softly.
“Hi,” replies Kalinda. She smiles back.