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two wrongs

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They’re in the attic where Sarah discovered the dusty photo of Benji, his child’s eyes staring out from the black-and-white frame like a ghost’s. Sarah is shivering slightly, even though she’s huddled under a blanket. She’d have thought that Izzy would be above that. Material comfort, human needs. But it was always hard to tell where Izzy drew her lines.

She’s between Sarah’s legs now, head buried there, jaw and fingers working intensely. The blanket is thrown over Sarah’s chest, the skin underneath her T-shirt still burning from the trail of stinging, biting kisses Izzy had worked there before moving farther down Sarah’s body, leaving the fabric pushed up and askew. She’s a lot more careless than Sarah had expected, but just as intense. It’s funny because she’d sort of thought that making love to Izzy would open her up in some ways, but Izzy kissed Sarah like it was a challenge, with none of the tender reticence that had drawn Sarah in from their kiss in front of everyone. She’s still a mystery, a dark-eyed puzzle, albeit one that has been intensely focused on working her way over Sarah’s body for the past half-hour. And she’s quiet, almost unnervingly so. Sarah’s gasps and half-bitten back words make her blush not only because she’s not usually this vocal but also because they are met by seemingly impermeable silence.

“Is that good?” Izzy says suddenly, half-inaudible, and the muscles of Sarah’s thighs sort of tense in release. She nearly sighs.

“Yes,” she says instead, fighting not to let her voice shake. Izzy lowers her head in response and Sarah dares to reach out and thread her fingers through Izzy’s dark hair, and it feels like a transgression. Izzy pauses for a moment, enough to make Sarah worry that she’s gone too far but then Izzy keeps going, pressing harder with Sarah’s hand gently holding her in place, and that does it.

Sarah opens her mouth, twists her legs, lets out a silent scream and comes. She tips her head back onto the floor, panting, and feels Izzy slide her tongue over Sarah one more time and then rise up, pressing the heel of her hand against where Sarah is still hot and wet and needing pressure. She sighs, groans almost as she rests her cheek against the cool dusty floorboards and lets the moments slip by. Her heart is thudding almost incredulously in her chest.

Then she pulls herself up, and meets Izzy’s dark eyes when the other woman looks up at her, expression trained and carefully neutral. She pants, pulls Izzy’s tiny body to her by the hips, and works open Izzy’s jeans with both hands. Izzy doesn’t help, instead looping her arms around Sarah’s neck so that she’s straddling Sarah’s thighs, legs pushed apart at a wide angle. Izzy’s mouth is still wet; she licks her lips. Her expression is serious when she glances at Sarah. Then she gazes down at the space between them, wriggling her hips to help Sarah until her jeans are around her knees; then her eyes are closed. She lets her head fall against Sarah’s and breathes heavily as Sarah cautiously puts the heel of her hand between Izzy’s legs and works against her.

Izzy’s breath hitches, and Sarah feels validated that perhaps she’s doing something right.

She’s never done this before, and she’s nervous on so many different levels that she’s doing it wrong. But Izzy works back, moving her hips in slow gentle movements, and then rocking against Sarah with urgency.

Izzy tightens her grip around Sarah’s neck and moves in to kiss her, hard and tremblingly all at once. With increased daring, Sarah braces her hand and pushes into Izzy, slipping two fingers inside and Izzy lets out a hiss of a sigh that opens into a tiny moan for a moment, tipping her head back at the new touch. It’s kind of thrilling, this heat, Izzy’s wet hot tightness. She rocks against Sarah, twisting her hips like she knows exactly what she’s doing. They move together for a few more minutes, Izzy’s sighs mounting higher and higher and then Izzy clenches around Sarah’s fingers as she comes, and her soft plush lips are kissing Sarah all at once.

“Have you been with—women before?” Sarah asks once they’ve both calmed down slightly, though she’s still breathing unsteadily. It comes out sort of tangled, coming out in pants of breath and gasps in between their kissing.

It’s a while before Izzy answers. She’s still straddling Sarah’s knee, but moves back to tug up her jeans, removing her arms from Sarah’s neck. Her eyes slide along the edge of Sarah’s shirt before darting up to Sarah’s face. She looks cool, guarded. “Why?”

Sarah is stung by this lack of trust, missing the weight of Izzy’s arms around her neck. She doesn’t know where to put her hands, in this sudden jump between intimacy and their relationship when they’re not fucking. She presses them into the floor at her sides. “I just wanted to know.” She lets out an embarrassed breath of a laugh. “You were good.”

Izzy seems to tense with her whole body. “Does it matter?”

Sarah stares at her. “It does,” she says gently, head spinning. She tries to ignore her brain’s reminders that she’s crossing so many lines here, this type of involvement has nothing to do with her professional interests, and she hasn’t even kissed another woman before. She’s in entirely over her head. “Izzy, it does.”

“You haven’t, have you?” Izzy cuts back, turning the question around on Sarah instead of answering. She speaks with detached lightness, like she’s reading someone else’s lines, and lets out a short laugh. “I can tell. You were still good, though.”

Sarah’s consumed with thoughts of Izzy’s warmth, her physical warmth such a marked contrast to this coldness she’s encountering now; she remembers Luca, and the way he looks at Izzy. She asks softly, gently, trying not to inflect anything in it, “Have you… been with anyone else here?”

She’s trying to ask can we do this again, because that’s the only time you seem to let me in, but Izzy’s eyes are dark. “What, you want to know about me and Benji?” she says, ugly.

Sarah’s entire body flushes. She hadn’t been thinking about it, but now she has to fight not to. She doesn’t want to think about Benji; she doesn’t know how she feels when he’s around. “No, I… I…”

Izzy withdraws, sitting on the blanket with her knees drawn to her chest. Her mouth is still wet, slightly swollen, and her lower lip glistens as she speaks. Sarah’s eyes are drawn to it, guiltily and surreptitiously. “What Benji and I have is more than just sex.”

“I—okay.”

Izzy watches her with dark eyes like stone. “By now, sex would cheapen it.” She gives Sarah a tight smile, brushing a sweaty strand of hair back from her face. “Sex can do that.”

It’s a low blow and they both know it. Sarah looks at the floor between her thighs to briefly gather her thoughts.

She can’t help it; she knows it’s not supposed to matter, but she has to ask. “And this?”

Izzy stares at her, almost expressionless. Then she licks her lips and speaks. “This doesn’t count.”

“Oh,” Sarah repeats, and drops her head. She gazes at the floor for a second, feeling slightly sick to her stomach. When she looks up Izzy is gazing at her, eyes dark but focused like a predatory animal’s.

“Sarah, why are you here?”

Sarah shifts where she’s sitting, suddenly uneasy by what she hears in the other woman’s tone. “I was hurt, and—”

“Okay, but why did you come back? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just to fuck me in some attic.” Izzy’s drawn up on herself, arms crossed over her chest, and Sarah can’t help thinking this could mean something if you let it, you know. But it’s hard to tell where Izzy’s anger stops and her hurt begins, that’s why Sarah wanted to do this in the first place, to try and puzzle it out. But now it seems like it’s gone horribly wrong. This is not how she wanted things to go.

“I…” she begins, not sure what to say.

“Is it Benji?” Izzy bends forward, staring at Sarah with an intensity that’s almost frightening. “Me first, and then him? He’s what you really want, isn’t he?”

Sarah can’t tell where the accusation and challenge stops, and the hurt begins. “Izzy, come on. Stop it.”

Izzy gets to her feet, zipping the fly of her jeans. Her shoulders are hunched, guarded like she’s hiding a secret or a world of hurt. It’s a defensive posture but also angry, and aggressive as a soldier’s. Her voice is flat.

“You should think about what you really want, Sarah.”

She gives Sarah one last look before she goes, accusing, defiant. Then Izzy is gone, booted footsteps sounding heavily down the attic steps, and Sarah remains alone on the floor.

For a long time she does nothing. Then she draws her knees to her chest and presses her forehead to her knees, exhaling slowly. She tries not to think about what just happened. 

Under the blanket, even though her body is still warm, she’s shivering.