Title: Honey and Salt - Part 1: Honey
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 30 December 2006
Rating: for safety PG-13
Summary: All it took was two words from Catherine and two worlds are changed forever.
Spoiler warning: N/A
Archive: Permission granted, just tell me.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW06
Disclaimer: I don’t own CSI.
Note: This story ended up being a lot longer than I previously expected. So, instead of rushing to get it done by the deadline and under the advisement of my beta, I decided to split the story in two. This is part one entitled Honey, the 2nd part will be call Salt and will be posted sometime in 2007 on my LJ. http://angel1972.livejournal.com/
The whole story takes during season five between the team split and the season finalle.
The title is from the poem ‘Honey and Salt’ by Carl Sandburg and is definitely worth reading.
Many thanks to Debbie for the beta and her patience.
Honey and Salt - Part 1: Honey
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
Catherine’s staring at me – again.
She does that every once in a while, when she thinks I don’t notice, but I do. It’s hard not to from three feet away, but even if we were across a crowded room, her bright, blue eyes would still bore a hole right through me.
“May I help you, Catherine?” I ask in a level voice. As I wait for a response, I allow my own blue eyes, the guilty pleasure of raking across her body for a couple of seconds. Suppressing a sigh of regret, I finally force myself to look Catherine in the face, where I steadily hold her gaze. There’s no need to torment myself with might-have-beens and fantasies that simply, will not come to fruition. She has made it quite clear that she has no need for me, or anyone else for that matter. Her tone and attitude from earlier that evening are merely a reflection of her attitude since the day we met. I just wish I knew why she’s so hostile to me; I don’t remember ever doing anything to warrant this attitude of hers.
“I’m sorry,” Catherine says quickly, so quickly in fact that it took a few seconds for my brain to fully register her words. And even then I’m not sure I heard right.
She’s staring at the contents of her locker, pretending that whatever is in there is the most fascinating thing in the universe. I can tell she is uncomfortable at having to swallow her pride, but to her credit she does not back down. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”
“No, you shouldn’t have. I didn’t do anything to deserve it.”
Placing the book I was holding on the bench, I take a seat beside Catherine. I know I’ll be late for shift, but if I can make some kind of peace with her, it’ll be worth it. “Did I do something wrong? Or do you just hate me on general principle?”
“No . . . I was just so pissed off at Gil for stepping in on my case! I bust my ass to finally make supervisor and he treats me like I’m still his underling!” She turns to me and stares me straight in the eye, for a brief second my knees turn to jelly. There is such intensity to her gaze that I am momentarily caught off guard. “I don’t hate you.”
“You don’t?” I ask after a beat. “So you’ve been a bitch toward me all these years because . . . ”
Catherine gives me an odd, unreadable look, before the walls of her defenses rise. “We’re not in grammar school, why do you care whether I like you or not?”
“Because I don’t enjoy this tension between us. Every time I walk into the room I can’t tell whether you want to smack me or jump my bones.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“The way you look at me, the way you talk at me instead of to me.” My voice softens as I admit, “Despite all that, believe it or not I still admire you.”
“Then you need to get a new role model, or you need to start paying more attention to the rumors floating around this lab. I’m a hard woman, Sofia. You’re better off looking elsewhere for someone to admire. Or better yet,” she says with a bitter laugh, “just ask Sara, I’m sure she’ll regale you with tales of how I allow my sexuality get me what I want.”
“I don’t put much stock in rumors Catherine, besides, Sara isn’t exactly president of my fan club.”
Catherine chuckles and some of the tension leaves her body. “Rumors are like postal insurance, the one time you don’t buy it, is the one time that your package gets sent to outer Mongolia.”
“Maybe, but what I meant was, I don’t judge by what others have to say, true or not. I prefer to get to know the person myself, and then decide what I think of them. Now, I’ve only worked with you a few times through the years, but you are an impressive, unrelenting investigator and I don’t see why we kick-ass women can’t get along . . . maybe even be friends?” Catherine gives me a look filled with open suspicion. It’s as if she’s heard it before and is now waiting for me to announce some kind of ulterior motive. I can’t help but wonder, how many people have broken her trust to make her so cynical, of even a simple offer of friendship. “ Sara doesn’t like me because I get along with Gil. She sees me as a threat and I don’t know why, because I have no interest in him in that way. I just want to learn from him, because he’s the best. And you . . . ”
“Same as you, I’m not interested in Gil in that way either; we’re friends – when it suits him. It’s just that – Sara doesn’t seem to like any woman that’s friendly with Gil.”
“Well, it’s stupid!”
“I know. It’s sad, the guys get along like brothers and yet, we women, who are suppose to be the more mature, can’t even be in the same room without the claws coming out.”
“Then why . . . ”
“Look Sofia,” she replies while getting to her feet. “I’m sure you’re a really nice girl, but I’ve been mind-fucked by the best and the worst there are in Vegas, and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned living in this town it’s, look attainable but remain unavailable, because if you present yourself like a puppy wanting to be petted – you’re just going to get squashed.”
“And if there’s one thing I’ve learned,” I snap. “ is that you get nowhere in this world if you don’t take chances. And yes, that does mean I get squashed from time to time, but I’m not going to live my life behind a stone wall because someone might hurt me!” I mirror her actions and stand toe to toe with her.
“Are you calling me a coward?” she asks in a low voice.
“No, Catherine, I’m not” I reply with a sigh. “I’m just saying, not everyone is going to hurt you. That maybe if you poked your head from over that wall of yours, you’d see that there are people, who genuinely care about you.”
“Whatever,” she mumbles before retaking her seat, she looks at me and for a brief second her eyes are wide and vulnerable.”I’ve got third degree burns – and those are the kind that don’t heal – at least not without leaving scars. I’ve found through the years, it’s just easier to attack first, saves myself a lot of pain that way.”
“Do you?” I ask gently, taking a seat beside her. “I would think you’d be awfully lonely.”
Catherine shrugs her shoulder. “I’m used to it – mostly.” “You shouldn’t have to be.” I take a chance and run my hand down her cheek. She doesn’t back away, or flinch at the close proximity of our bodies or at my physical contact, but her breathing becomes quicker, her nostrils flairs slightly. I finally start to understand why she’s been so rough on me. It seems that the rumor mill may have actually gotten something right. I just wish I’d known sooner, would’ve saved us a lot of tension.
“Right . . . Look, I gotta go . . . ” she mumbles. Pulling away she quickly gets up and closes her locker door. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she tries to make her escape, but I won’t let her, not now that I know I actually have a chance with her. So I grab her hand and force her to look at me.
“Catherine, wait! I meant what I said – about being friends.”
“Because . . . I don’t know . . . I think, you’re beautiful and I want to get to know you.” Catherine blushes a cute pink that makes me smile, but she accepts my compliment.
“So, now what?”
“It’s up to you Catherine. I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want.” I let go of her hand and reach into my pocket for a small pad of paper and pen. “This is both my cell phone and my private phone number – call me anytime. Okay?”
Taking the slip of paper she nods her head and sticks it into her pocket. Wordlessly she leaves the locker room and several seconds pass before I follow suit. I hope she calls me, because I know there's something very promising between us. I know she felt it too.
I notice Catherine’s Denali between a cherry red convertible and a sweet looking Harley Davidson. Three days had pass since we buried the hatchet and I gave her my phone numbers. She hadn’t called me once during that time and while I’m loathed to seem as if I am rushing her, I heard through the grapevine what her case was. A baby, dead and abandoned was found in a dumpster. One does’t need to be a mother to be disturbed by a case like this and yet I know from working in the past with other CSIs that are parents, that a case like this, hits them 10 times harder. Worst, Catherine had to work the case alone. With that thought, it takes less than two seconds for me to make my decision.
Before I lose my nerve, I park my truck next to the Harley and quickly make my way inside the diner. Bells jingle to announce my entrance and I immediately look to the corner booth, knowing full well that’s where she’ll be. And I’m right. She has her back to me, but I would recognize her anywhere. I can tell her head is bent and that by sitting as close to the wall as she can, she is trying to make herself seem as small as possible. After getting myself a cup of coffee I slowly walk to her booth.
For a quick second she looks at me in shock, before turning her attention back to her half empty coffee mug. Her knuckles are white from clutching it so tightly.
“Mind if I take as seat?”
“If I said yes, I do mind. What would you do?”
“I’d go home.”
Catherine looks up me with a disbelieving expression. “Just like that. You wouldn’t force me to talk about the case? You wouldn’t tell me it’d make me feel better? You wouldn’t ask why I haven’t called?”
“No, no and no. I don’t force people into doing things they are uncomfortable with. I find that if someone comes to you it’s . . . more satisfying for both parties. So, if you want to talk, then talk.”
I practically see the wheels in her head turn as she processes this bit of information, most likely debating whether or not to take me up on my offer – whether or not she believes me. She stares at me for nearly a minute before she points to the seat across from her. “You might as well sit and finish your coffee.”
“Thank you,” I reply as I take my seat. “I heard bits and pieces from the lab techies . . . ”
“I thought you weren’t going to make me talk about it?”
“I’m not. I’m just making conversation. You know, you could have called me to come in early. It’s not like I have a life outside the lab.”
Catherine gives a bitter laugh before lifting her face to meet mines. She looks tired and worn with red-rimed, haunted eyes and bags that are visible even through her make-up, but she’s still beautiful to me.
“I just want to go home and crawl into bed, forget this whole case – this whole day.”
“Then why aren’t you at home?”
“I can’t – I know I won’t be able to sleep. I keep seeing that little body, looking like a broken doll – not even one day old . . . I . . . just . . . ” Tears gather at the corners of her eyes but they refuse to fall, afraid perhaps, of making their mistress seem weak and inferior? “I’m sorry,” she mumbles. Getting up she fumbles for a few singles and hurriedly leaves the diner. It doesn’t take me long to recover from her abrupt leave-taking and follow suit. I catch up with her just outside her truck, her hand is shaking as she tries to get the door open.
“Catherine,” I call out. She looks up at me for a second and then quickly turns her back to me. One second is all I need to see the anguish and sadness in her eyes. I go to her and stand as close as I can, I resist with all my might the desire to take her in my arms and hold her. I’m in a bit of a dilemma, I said I wouldn’t force her into talking and I don’t want to, but I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my word. It quite obvious that she needs to get this case off her chest before it eats her alive. “Catherine . . . ?” I repeat lamely, unsure of how to proceed.
“Not here.” Her tone is terse, her posture rigid, as if she is using every bit of her strength to hold back the floodgates – and it’s just a matter of time before they burst.
I nod my head and lead her to my truck. The ride to my place is quiet, but tense. I spare several glances at her to make sure she is okay and my heart breaks to see her like this, like she’s ready to break in two. Whatever happened to that baby must have been horrible to reduce a veteran CSI to such a state.
We reach my condo quickly enough and several minutes later finds us sitting on my couch, each of us with a drink in our hand as I wait patiently for her to start her story. And oh, what a story it is; rape, incest and plenty of abuse, both mental and physical. Everything you would expect from a movie airing on Lifetime, save for the happy ending. There’s not going to be a happily ever after for the young woman who left her baby to die, thinking she was saving her daughter from a fate far, far worse and the sad thing is, she probably was.
Her story ends, our drinks finished, and silence descends on us. Catherine’s face is a picture of twisted anguish. It has taken her nearly 10 minutes to get her twisted tale out, several times she had to stop to collect herself before she could continue. By the end her tears were wetting my blouse and I was holding her tightly, glad of the privacy my home offered, but at the same time not caring how it may look for two women to be hugging.
Several minutes pass in this fashion – her head on my shoulder and me rubbing her back gently. Soft snoring breaks the quiet, indicating that Catherine has fallen asleep. I stifle a laugh at how cute she sounds and carefully, slowly rearrange our bodies so that we’ll be comfortable and put my feet up on the coffee table. In deep slumber her subconscious takes over as she seeks out the nearest warm body and snuggles close enough that not one centimeter of space separates us. I resign myself to the fact that I’ll be stuck here in this position for at least a couple of hours and that most likely I’ll end up with a wicked kink in my neck. But I don’t mind, not one bit.
I awake several hours later to the sun shining brightly in my face. It takes me several seconds to realize I’m still on the sofa, but not in the same position that I’d started in, when I first fell asleep. Somehow, I ended up on my back, with my head supported by a couple of throw pillows. A jacket placed across my chest as a makeshift blanket, told me that this was not done by some subconscious need of mine to get comfortable – but by Catherine, who was no longer resting in my arms.
A wave of disappointment tinged with frustration washes through me as I punch the sofa, hard. Foolish as it may be, I had high hopes that this encounter would be the beginning of something between us – something beyond friendship. That, when she allowed me to see her cry and to give her comfort, meant she trusted me. And yet, she ran first chance she got, and didn’t even leave a note.
Throwing my jacket to the ground, I get up and make my way to the kitchen. My intention is to get a glass of water and then go to bed, where I can stew over this turn of events. Had I not been so wrapped up in my dour thoughts, I would have noticed the smell of French toast and coffee. I stop short, and stare in relief as I witness Catherine armed with a spatula, making a late lunch. She is humming a tuneless song as she goes about her business, completely oblivious to the fact that she has an audience. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail and most of her make-up has been washed completely off, but she is still beautiful, even performing domesticated duties.
A full minute passes before she turns her head and notices me standing in the doorway. She glances at me quickly, before returning her full attention to the pan in front of her, and I’m not sure how to interpret her reaction, or the slight blush to her cheeks. Is she embarrassed to be here?
“Catherine? Are you okay?” I try to present myself as relaxed and comfortable, but I must admit, I have butterflies in my stomach. I don’t want her to feel obliged to do anything if it makes her feel uncomfortable – no matter what I may wish for.
Catherine looks up at me again, and this time holds my gaze. “I’m fine. I . . .you don’t mind? Do you?’ she asks while pointing to the stove with the spatula.
“Cooking? No, please be my guest.” I pause for a beat. “I thought you left.”
“I almost did.” Catherine says in a quiet voice. Her eyes stare intently at the French toast cooking in the pan before her, as if it’s the most fascinating thing in the world. “But I couldn’t. I got to the door, I opened it, but I couldn’t walk through it.”
“Oh?” I dumbly reply, not knowing what else to say. Not that it matters, I don’t think Catherine heard me as she continues talking. “I saw you on the couch. You looked so . . . you looked beautiful. The sun was in your hair and I thought what an asshole I’d be to abandon you. To leave without even a note . . . I couldn’t do it.” Catherine turns the stove off and places the last slice on the plate next to her, before looking up at me.
I am . . . stunned speechless. Whatever I thought she’d say, it was most definitely not that. My surprise must have been mistaken for something else, because I can practically see her face crumble. “God, I’m such an idiot! I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I better go.”
She tries to walk by me, but I grab her and hold her tightly. After several seconds I can feel her arms encircle me and we stand there for a good while, merely enjoying the warmth of each other.
“No, you’re not an idiot, and I don’t want you to go. You just caught me by surprise.” I say with a chuckle. Glad that I’m able to get my brain working before it’s too late. Pulling back slightly, we rest our foreheads together and stare into each other eyes. I wonder if she truly knows how beautiful she is? And I’m not talking about the physical beauty, which she has in spades, but the inner beauty, her strength and passion, which no amount of exercise, make-up or plastic surgery can grant.
I can feel a simmering heat starting in the pit of my stomach, growing in intensity with each passing second. I wouldn’t be surprised, if she could hear my heart slamming in my chest. If I don’t move away and quickly, I’ll not be responsible for my actions, but I can’t. She mesmerizes me, and before I know it, her lips are on mine in a kiss. All I can do is close my eyes and memorize how warm and soft she feels. If possible, our embrace becomes tighter and Catherine’s tongue is most eagerly welcomed into my mouth. For several moments, we take turns exploring and tasting, until we are forced apart by the need to breathe.
“Wow,” Catherine says after a few seconds and I concur. I don’t think I have ever tasted anything as sweet as her mouth and if weren’t for the promise I made myself, to not push things, I would have happily gone in for another kiss. Instead, I enjoy her flushed cheeks and elevated breathing, and as cliche as it may sound; knowing that I managed to get the ever cool and confident Catherine Willows hot and bothered, even momentarily, is a nice little boost to my ego.
“Yeah, wow.” We both giggle, not sure what to do. This is an unexpected turn for the both of us – unexpected but certainly not unwelcome, at least not by me and judging by the look in Catherine’s eyes, not by her.
But we needn’t worry about what to do next, Catherine’s phone takes care of that. Its insistent ringing broke through our moment, disintegrating the growing sexual tension between us. We release each other, reluctantly and while she answers her phone, I look on in disappointment. Whatever may have happened, will just have to wait, because five’ll get you ten, that’s someone from work, demanding her presence at some crime scene. It doesn’t matter that she just got off from working a double, her shift is so short handed with only the 3 of them, that there is no such thing as a day off. I can hear her practically yelling at the person on the other side and I feel no pity for them as they receive a tongue lashing from her.
After a couple of minutes Catherine snaps her cell phone shut and I can tell by the tension in her arm that she is giving serious contemplation to throwing that offensive little device through the nearest wall. She doesn’t though; instead she puts it away and fixes me with a piteous look. Some of her anger has melted into a frustrated acceptance that I am all too familiar with.
“I’m so sorry,” she says with a sigh. “I have to go.”
“Duty calls,” I state, trying hard not to sound too disappointed as I walk to the living room to get my keys. “It’s okay Catherine; there’ll be plenty of time for us to get together.” Now that I know that I have a shot with her, I am not going to let it pass me by, and yet despite my growing optimism, I can’t help thinking that this delay may be for the best. I want to do this right and not be swept away in a moment of passion. Had her phone not rung, who knows where that kiss might have taken us – and there’s nothing worse than regret to spoil the afterglow. I’ve been down that road a time or two before to know that it leads to nothing but heartbreak. Now, if I could just convince my libido to slow the hell down, I’d be all set.
The trip back to the diner, where Catherine’s truck is parked, is quiet but not uneventful. As soon as we are settled into our seats, she immediately takes my hand into hers. Our fingers entwine as she rubs the back of my hand with her thumb – almost absentmindedly. I enjoy the feeling of warmth and closeness that emanates from such a simple, almost juvenile gesture. No words are spoken and yet the silence feels natural, like breathing. There is no need to fill the minutes with mindless chatter or to explain/apologize for our earlier kiss. We accept it and whatever else that may happen when the time is right.
The one time in my whole entire life when I wouldn’t have minded a little traffic, is the one time there is hardly any. Our trip, therefore, is shorter than I would’ve liked it to be, though in truth a cross-country trip would be too short, if in the end I had give up Catherine’s company. I park next to her truck and turn to her and smile.
Disentangling our hands, Catherine leans in and gives me a not so quick kiss on the lips. She asks, “I’ll see you at work tonight?”
“I’ll meet you in the locker room.” She doesn’t wait for my answer before she slips out of my truck and makes her way to her own, she knows damn well that’s where I’ll be tonight.
I haven’t felt this nervous since I kissed my first girl, way back in high school. Catherine has had time to let what happened sink in and I’m nervous that the first stirring of doubt may start to creep in. It’s a hard thing to do, convincing someone who has third degree burns to trust again. A girl can only have her heart broken so many times before she decides it’s not worth risking it, the potential for pain and betrayal is just too great.
I arrive at work early and quickly make my way to the locker room. No one stops me, or questions my motives for being there early. Either because they don’t know me enough to strike up idle banter, which hurts more than I dare let on, or they figure, much like Gil and Sara, I too am a workaholic. I just hope to God that Greg doesn’t follow in their footsteps too closely.
Stepping into the locker room, I see Catherine is the sole occupant. She doesn’t give any indication that she knows I’m there and I take the rare opportunity to stare at her. Her hair is still in a ponytail, which shows off her long elegant neck, but somewhere along the way, she has managed to change clothes. Black is definitely her color – though I doubt any color would look bad on her.
Surprisingly relief washes over me as it dawns on me, that she is not wearing the same outfit as when she left my house. Which is a good thing, since this lab can be a lot like high school when it comes to gossip, and I’m certain that Catherine has had more than her share without me helping to author anymore.
“Are you going to stand there all night? Or are you going to come over here and say hello?”
So much for being sneaky, Catherine is starring at me as if she’s known I was behind the first locker the whole time. A smile that seems to make her whole body shine like a star, spreads across her face. It does my heart good, as well as my ego, to know that I can cause such a display. It’s a nice change of pace from, in the past, when she would stare at me like I was something stuck to the bottom of her shoe. It’s also much better than the looks I get from present day Sara who for some reason, considers me a threat to her precious Grissom.
“I was just admiring the view.” I enter the room fully and make my way to her, leaning against the locker next to hers I give her my best smile.
“Really?” Her voice lowers as she leans in and whispers in my ear, a wave of shivers I couldn’t hide if my life depended on it, runs up my spine. “See anything you like?”
I have to laugh, either that, or slam her against the wall and kiss her senselessly. She is a bold woman and normally I would love something like this open flirting, but this is neither the time nor place for this.
“What’s so funny?” she asks with an arched eyebrow.
“You do know that someone can walk in at any second? Don’t you?”
Catherine pouts a little before closing her locker door and taking a seat on the bench behind her. “Aww, your no fun.”
I sit beside her. “I am too fun. I’m so much fun; clowns come to me for advice.”
Catherine laughs for a few seconds before becoming serious. “You’re not one of those women who’re ashamed of being gay...”
“ Bi – technically I’m bi.” I interrupt quickly.
“Same here. I’m just saying that I dated someone like that and it turned into a nightmare. I know it sounds cold, but I don’t want to go through that again. I like going out, and my family knows about me so I expect if this gets serious that you’re going to meet them. Is that okay with you?”
Cupping her cheek, I force her to look me in the eye, hoping that no one comes in for the next couple of minutes. “I am not ashamed of what I am, not one bit. I just don’t like the way some of the others talk about you behind your back. The things they say are cruel and I don’t want to give them any more grist for the wheel. It would hurt too much to know I caused you any kind of pain. And when the time is right, I’d love to meet your family.”
I can tell my words have caught her surprise, I think she was expecting me to back off; several times her mouth tries to form words only to fail. Eventually she whispers, “God, I could so fall in love with you.”
“So fall Catherine, fall and I promise to catch you.”
I swear to god, if that door hadn’t opened we would be kissing right now – hell we would’ve been on our way to making love right there and then. To hell with any rumors, we would have given them a full show. Instead, we pull apart like we are on fire.
Greg, our intruder, comes bouncing in with large, oversized headphones on, which does not one damn thing to hinder our ability to hear exactly what’s playing on his iPod. I toss a look of relief to Catherine; he wouldn’t notice a freight train, never mind an intimate moment. She gives me the universal phone sign and mouths “Call me after shift.” She then grabs her bag and leaves for home.
Catherine meets me at the door of her home. Before I can get a single word out her lips are on mine, demanding permission to deepen the kiss. Neither one of us cares one bit that we may be giving any passerby a show. Twelve hours is a long time to wait and neither of us is going to waste a single second. I can taste peppermint candy mixed with coffee and her own sweet, unique flavor that is slowly driving every rational thought out of my head.
For several moments we take turns exploring each other’s mouth trying to remember to breathe so that this kiss can last as long as possible – or at least that is what I’m trying to do. Catherine on the other hand has another idea, an idea that drives the air right out of my lungs and forces me to break from her. Somehow, the little vixen has managed to unbutton my shirt and is now busily foundling my breasts. Even through my bra it’s quite clear that my nipples are standing at attention and now that Catherine’s mouth is free, she is making a beeline for it. Thin black lace does little to protect against a set of very determined teeth and an equally determined tongue.
Logic is officially on leave and all I can do is stand and moan my encouragement. Oh god, what must we look like to the neighbors? A couple of horny women, who can’t even wait to close the door before they shag each other’s brains out. Speaking of which, why am I letting her have all the fun? I said I wanted to allow Catherine to set the pace and if this is what she wants, who am I to argue?
“Catherine, sweetheart, stop for sec, ” I reluctantly, but firmly push her away. “Are you sure about this?”
“You don’t want to continue?” Catherine asks slightly disappointed. She’s panting slightly, her eyes are fully dilated with arousal and her cheeks are flushed. She is a gorgeous woman and I will gladly suck every last drop of cum that comes out of her for the rest of my days – just not like this.
“I do Catherine, believe me it’s taking every last bit of self control not to take you right here and now, but not in the hallway, not with the door wide open. I want to make love to you on a bed – or at least on the sofa.” I kiss her gently on the forehead, then her eyelids, the tip of her nose and finally on her lips. I am quite shocked at my self control, though I can feel my insides quiver from desire. “I would rather we went on a proper date, but what I really want is for you to feel special.”
Catherine nods her head; silently she shuts and locks the door before taking my hand and leading me to her bedroom. Once inside we resume kissing, but there is a difference, we are no longer trying to eat each other’s faces. There is a gentleness that both surprises and delights me. It doesn’t take long for the both us to be naked and as good as she feels pressed against me clothed, she feels even better with her flesh pressed against mine. Sparks of electricity seem to flow between the two of us and the lust grows as hands and mouths roam over previously unexplored skin. We topple into bed and let nature take its course.
I expected to meet her mother at some point in time, just not right now and especially not like this. I was thinking a nice family dinner, a little Chianti, not me naked in her daughter’s bed trying to hide an equally naked Catherine, with nothing but a comforter to hide our modesty. Of course it could have been worse. She could have come home an hour earlier. The poor woman would really have gotten an eyeful – not to mention an earful.
All three of us are frozen in place and I can practically feel the earth rotate on its axis as the seconds tick by in agonizing slow-motion. Good lord, I thought my mother was imposing when she got angry! Those stormy blue eyes are trying to stare right through my head to Catherine, who is trying to make herself as small as possible in order to escape detection. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if your mother gives you a certain “you fucked up” look, you are automatically reduced to a petulant five-year-old.
“Hello, my name is Sofia Curtis and I . . . ” sound and look so lame, all those years in college and this is the best I can do? My hand is out for her to shake in a futile attempt to ease the tension among the three of us. All I manage to do is make an ass of myself. Catherine’s mother stares at my hand and the bare arm it’s attached to, like it was covered in maggots. Flinching slightly I pull my hand back under the covers and fight the urge to confess every misdeed I ever did in my life.
“Catherine get dressed, and get down to the kitchen, now.” Catherine’s mother mutters through gritted teeth, she then turns and leaves the room, slamming the door shut in her wake. We both sigh releasing the breath that I guess neither of knew we were holding.
“I’m sorry Sofia.” Getting up, Catherine quickly dresses in a track suit and runs a brush through her hair. “If you want to sneak out while I get my ass reamed, I’d understand.”
“Why are you sorry?” I ask confused. Did she already have regrets? She said her mother knew about her, but knowing and accepting are two different things.
“I feel as if I forced myself on you, that you wanted to go slow and once again my damn libido got away from me.”
“Catherine, if I really and truly wanted to stop, I would have. The irony is, I was letting you set the pace. I didn’t want you to think I was some horny jerk looking to score because I thought you were easy. I wanted to wine and dine you properly, but in the end, I think both our libidos got the best of us.”
Coming over to my side of the bed, she takes a seat next to me. “No regrets?”
“Not a one,” I say softly.
“You really mean everything you say, don’t you?” She runs a hand through my hair and down my bare shoulder, all the while starring into my eyes. She wants to see the truth of my words, not just hear them.
“I do, but it’s up to you; do you want to continue?”
“I do – ” Catherine starts with a sigh.
“Between our schedules and my family obligations, it’s going to be tough. I can’t just leave town for a night. Swing is already shorthanded as it is . . . if I had just one more person, even part time, I could actually get a night off every once in awhile.”
“Don’t worry, Catherine. You just leave everything up to me.”
“Catherine Anne Willows, when I said now, I meant now!”
“Aww, shit,” Catherine mutters. “I’d better get down there. The bathroom is behind me. I’ll see you in a bit.” She leans in and gives me a quick kiss on the lips before taking her leave to face her mother’s wrath.
I sit in bed for a few more seconds, collecting my thoughts, and trying to calm my nerve. I hope her mother doesn’t come down too hard on Catherine, after all she did not act alone, and we certainly did nothing wrong. True, Lindsey could have walked in, but it’s a school day, otherwise I would have said something.
Getting up I dress and start to head downstairs, only to stop short at the landing; I can hear voices raised in anger and my curiosity gets the best of me. I know as soon as I make my presence known, they will stop talking and put on the false face of nothing’s wrong, so I listen in.
“I did not break our deal.”
“Then what the hell was that girl doing in your bed?”
“What do you think mom, needlepoint?”
“You know what I mean Catherine. Don’t be a smart-ass.”
“Fine,” Catherine says with a frustrated sigh. “We made a deal, and I’ve stuck to it.”
“So, you’re serious about this girl? Because Lindsey has already been through too much without having to wade through more of your shit.”
“Whatever, okay. I know what I’m doing.”
“I hope you do Catherine. You’re no spring chicken, one day your well is going to dry up and you’re going to end up alone. You can’t keep going through people like they’re tissues.”
“You’re one to talk, how many men and women did you bring home while I was a kid? Too many for me to count, so don’t you dare get on a high horse with me. At least I don’t still moon over a man who cheats on you at every turn.”
Before this turns into a full-fledged fight I quickly walk to the kitchen and make my presence known. I clear my throat, and two heads snap to attention. Catherine comes to me and we exchange a quick hug and kiss. I’m too self-conscious to fully enjoy her affections or to notice fully a certain amount of defiance in Catherine’s greeting. My wary gaze falls on Catherine’s mother as she stares at our display with an arched eyebrow and pursed lips. I can’t tell what she’s thinking. Does she approve? Disapprove? Does it matter?
Taking my hand, Catherine pulls me into the room and toward her mother. “This is my mother Lily Flynn.”
I offer my hand to shake, and this time she takes it. She has a strong firm grip that reminds me a lot of my own mother. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“I take it you work for the lab?”
“You might as well call me Lily.” I nod my head in acknowledgment and Lily pauses for several beats. “You know she has a daughter, don’t you?”
“The women in our family are . . . hard,” Lily confesses, “We seem to attract more than our fair share of emotional baggage. Whoever we become involved with has to have a strong back. Eddie wasn’t strong, as a matter of fact he became one of our biggest pieces of baggage and we three still carry him on our shoulders. The bottom line is; are you strong enough for this family?”
“I think I am,” I answer quietly, and then wanting to prove myself to this important woman in Catherine’s life, I add with conviction, “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.” I feel like I’m some knight taking a blood oath before I go out and slay a dragon.
Lily sighs, gets up from her seat and takes her leave. “We’ll see about that.” I can hear her footsteps as she walks up the stairs, leaving Catherine and I alone.
“What was that about?” I ask, confused.
Catherine gives a non-committed shrug. “Let’s just say you’re not the first person to ride in on a white horse, wanting to rescue me.”
“Well, I plan to be the last.”
Catherine smiles at me, wraps her arms around me and leans her head on my shoulder. I mirror her moves, except I rest my head on the top of her head. Together we sway slightly to an invisible song that only we can hear. “I hope you’re right Sofia, I hope you are the last one.”