Jessie stretched and stared at the ceiling. No cracks. No cobwebs. No stained wallpaper. To her right she saw a drooling Marci, mouth open on the pillow in an unflattering gape, still sound asleep. No Jethro
. She slid out of bed, got dressed, grabbed one of her sister's big fluffy pink towels from the bathroom, and sneaked out of the bedroom.
In the hallway she heard her mother making noise in the kitchen and ducked into the living room instead. She went out the front door and turned left on the gravel lane in front of the house.
The sun was about where it had been when she'd arrived the day before. She walked past the barn and waved at Larry as the kid drove past to leave.
Her dad came out the door at the side of the barn and waved. Jessie waved back and smiled.
“Don't stay up there long, Jessie. Your mom's making breakfast.”
“I won't, Dad.”
“And be careful.” He wore that exasperated dad look he used to wear when she and Kimmie would go up to the old quarry to swim. She decided no matter how old she got her father would still have that look in reserve somewhere.
Jessie dug in her jeans pocket and waved her cell phone in the air. “I'll call you if I drown.”
Her father didn't see the humor and went back inside the barn shaking his head.
She didn't know what it was about the farm. The country air? The smells? The colors?
She'd hardly slept, but she felt great. Refreshed.
Or maybe it was the crowd at Red's?
And she'd had the most erotic dream. Something to do with warm skin and gentle hands. She recalled a supple mouth that kissed like a lover, not some faceless name in her little pink book. Wet lips and a tongue that teased her nipples. She still tingled all over.
The gravel lane turned to a rutted dirt road before it disappeared into a stand of oaks and mulberry trees. The sweet smell reminded her of summers tormenting Kimmie with tales of the one-eyed monster that lived in the woods.
She felt bad about her sister. She even felt bad about her mother. At times. She felt like the black sheep in an otherwise normal family. Sometimes she wanted to run the show back and fix the glitch. Jessie decided there was no point in feeling bad. If she made a list of everything she felt bad about, she'd have a book. And she didn't believe it would be a best seller.
The trees gave way to a sunny open spot, and Jessie stripped. She stepped to the rocky ledge and took a deep breath. Her youth rushed back, and she could hear Kimmie yelling from the water ten feet below.
“Betcha can't catch me,” followed by a giggle
. There had always been giggles in Kimmie's life. Sometimes Jessie wanted in on the secret.
She toed the ledge and dived. The water in the old Butler quarry was ice cold and felt great. She came up in the middle of the watering hole and cleared her face. She hadn't felt this good in a long time. Years
. She laughed and watched a raccoon wash something at the edge of the water. She rubbed the water out of her face, and when her hand came away red, she rubbed her nose and mouth a second time. She didn't find any blood. She smelled her palm and realized the red smear on her hand was lipstick. She treaded water and stared wide-eyed at her palm.
There was a loud splash at her back, and Jessie, still staring at her palm, swallowed some water. Marci came up laughing a few feet away.
“You sneaked out.” A smiling Marci gulped air and disappeared beneath the water's surface.
Jessie stared openmouthed at the top of the water where Marci disappeared. She rubbed her mouth again and pulled another red smudge from one corner.
“This is great! Beautiful!” Marci was bobbing on the surface smiling at Jessie.
Jessie rolled onto her stomach and swam for the edge. She crawled out of the water and toed her way frantically up the bank to her towel. She ran it across her face and rubbed her mouth hard for good measure. She looked at the smudge on the towel, then looked at Marci still swimming around like some dolphin. She looked down at the towel in her hand and caught sight of her nipple. She rubbed the towel across her nipple, and it came away with another red smudge. Then a vivid snippet came back. Marci's smile in the moonlight that crept around the curtains just before their lips met.
I was drunk. On two beers I got shitfaced...
She knew better.
Marci was drunk. She did...
Another vivid moment lit up in Jessie's mind. Her own hand sliding down the front of Marci's body... A breast was caressed and another kiss stolen. She stared daggers at Marci as the woman came out of the water at the edge of the quarry. Miss World-Class arrived, huffing from the climb.
“I stopped and asked your dad where you'd...” Marci's words trailed off. She studied Jessie's face, then quickly covered herself with her hands as best she could. “You regret it. I knew you would. I should have known better than to let some straight girl--”
Marci stepped around Jessie without answering and started picking up her clothes.
Jessie grabbed Marci's elbow and pulled her up short. “Let some straight girl what? I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.”
“You don't?” Marci added with a smirk, “Right. You sure did last night.”
Jessie was furious. Furious at her mother. Furious at Short Stuff for asking someone else to be her bridesmaid. Furious at Marci for being world-class and having some edgy challenge in her voice that Jessie couldn't answer. “That's what you say--”
Marci hooked her arm over Jessie's shoulder, trapping Jessie's head with her hand, and she pulled them together. She ground her mouth into Jessie's in some vaudevillian stage kiss of exaggerated bawdiness before shoving them apart.
“I bet you know what I'm talking about now, don't you, Psycho Woman?”
Jessie rubbed her forearm across her mouth and stared, flabbergasted. “What the hell was--”
“You liked it. Come on. Admit it, Jessie. You want another one just like it, don't you?”
Jessie stepped back, her towel slipped, and they stood facing each other almost as naked as the day they were born. “Are you crazy?”
“Like a psycho woman? What do you think, Jessie? Am I?”
She couldn't recall being faced with a situation she didn't know how to handle. How to control. How to manipulate to her advantage. The fact she didn't know how to handle this
situation was even more confusing. Her mouth gaped, and she couldn't find a thing to say.
“Forget it, Jessie. Don't worry about it. No big deal.” Marci turned away and pulled her short white shorts on. “Yeah, I'm psycho. Psycho for thinking straight-girl love was more than just some scriptwriter's catchy turn of a phrase.”
Jessie was determined to win this pissing match.
“What? That's the best ya got? You don't even live on the same street as psycho. You don't--”
Marci was on her before she finished saying the words. She pulled Jessie into an impassioned embrace and kissed her unapologetically, full on the mouth. The vaudevillian act was gone. Marci's lips were warm and slippery, her tongue teasing and inviting. Her hands wandered Jessie's naked back until the towel fell away completely. Jessie was so shocked, so absolutely out of sorts, that she didn't react. At least that was how she would recall things later. It didn't matter that she pulled Marci against her body and trapped her with her own arms. It didn't matter that Jessie's tongue danced the same lubricious dance as Marci's. It didn't matter that all of Jessie's senses were focused on how different the experience was from the faceless names. Or how absolutely marvelous kissing Marci was.
With an unbidden sigh the kiss ended. Marci shoved away and sorted out her top to pull it on. Jessie blushed and looked away.
What the hell just happened? And who the hell is this woman that she thinks she can just...
Marci pulled her top down and stuffed her feet into her sandals. When she spoke Jessie didn't detect any challenge. The tough girl was gone. There was something more than a change of pace. There was a distinct change in tone.
“Is that psycho enough for you, Jessie?”
Jessie didn't let up. She couldn't. She pursued Marci the three steps she'd taken away and quipped, “Must not be. Didn't do a thing for me. Was it good for you, sweetie
Marci leaned closer, her voice an intimate whisper laced with renewed challenge. “Hell. You loved every second of it. I can smell
it on you.”
Jessie was so mad she felt dizzy. “How the fuck--”
Marci didn't let her speak. “You can fool yourself, Jessie. But not me. Not someone who...” Marci leaned even closer, and their lips brushed. “That's right. You can't fool another
lesbian. And right now there's nothing you want more than for me to kiss you again.”
Eyes defiant, Jessie stood her ground even as it crumbled beneath her feet.
“Yeah. I thought so.” Marci pulled away and sashayed off. Just as she disappeared into the stand of mulberry trees, she yelled over her shoulder, “You didn't flinch, did you, Psycho Woman? Not an inch. Just now. All I had to do was kiss you again.”
“You could have had me. You could have known what real
love is all about. Too bad. Your loss.”
Marci was gone.
Fuck! What the hell just happened?
The only thing Jessie knew for sure was that she'd done it again. Maybe not a boyfriend, but she had done...something she shouldn't have with her sister's friend.
What kind of a freak am I?
Shit! Shit! Shit!