Part of the Radclyffe Writings Author Challenge - Discoveries
By Gun Brooke
Her name was Tempest, and she was like no other woman I’d ever met. Short, black hair framed a triangular face, and large green eyes gave her an unusual look, which made me think of someone…supernatural. She was average height, this new neighbor of mine, but her slender frame made her seem taller.
After having studied her surreptitiously for seven days now, I had deducted that she preferred to dress in black. Black tank tops, black jeans, and, oh God, tall black leather boots. Her skin paled against all that darkness and it emphasized the greenness in her eyes. Her features were finely shaped and though I wasn’t looking for any flaws, really, there weren’t any. Did I mention she seemed out of this world?
I stood behind the curtain in my kitchen, feeling rather silly, and somewhat peculiar, watching Tempest move some empty boxes into her shed. I had only said hello once, that’s how I knew her name, after a simple introduction. She’d tilted her head and looked at me with her enigmatic eyes, squinting slightly. “Clair? What a beautiful name,” she said and smiled faintly. “It suits you.”
What an extraordinary thing to say to a perfect stranger! What did she mean, ‘suited me?’ I know very well how I look. Brown hair, to my shoulder in my standard helmet version, blue-grey-brownish eyes under straight dark eyebrows that make me look quite stern, so I’m told. To that, my uniform of tan chinos and golf shirts in assorted colors…so ‘Clair’ suited me. Boring.
I had merely nodded politely and stumbled home across my uneven garden path where grass had pushed the concrete slabs out of order a long time ago. Tempest was obviously out of my league and carried herself with utter self-confidence. I, on the other hand, a computer nerd, employed by the same company as a web designer for more than ten years, had close to zero social skills. At least according to my mother, my two sisters, and my two, long-time-ago lovers. I had lived alone all my life, and the two affairs I’d ever indulged in, were not very romantic--nothing to write home about, as they say. Granted, if I had written home, to my mother or my sisters, about the two women I’d dated, they’d fainted on the spot. That or try to haul me back to Mason, Texas, faster than I can down a latte in the car during rush hour.
Mom and big sis Elsie, both fine Texan women, as independent and strong as they come, thought moving to Miami was close to treason. Even Marie, my younger sister, said that anyone who would trade ranch life in Texas for a condo with a stamp-size garden in Miami should be considered certifiable or, if sane, be shot at dawn. But when all was said and done they forgave what they saw as a major character flaw within me. As for that other little tidbit that I had failed to mention them, you know, the part about being a lesbian; I didn’t think they were quite up for it yet. It took them ten years to get over me moving to Miami, after all. Can you imagine how long it would take for them to deal with me being a lesbian?
Sure, sure, an almost non-practicing lesbian, since work and my natural shyness put a stop to a more flourishing dyke-career, but what the heck!
And now, her. Tempest Gosset. Doesn’t the name just say it all? It rolls off your tongue. Even as I whisper it as I stand behind the curtain gazing at her…Damn, she looking straight at me. She’s walking this way!
There she’s walking towards the little gate in the three-foot wall between our backyards; my heart refuses to function for several seconds. My mouth is glued together, so dry I can’t pry my tongue off the roof of my mouth, no matter how I try. Has she seen me? Is she going to tell me off? What if she calls the authorities?
The knock on my back door makes me jump high enough to hit my head on the hanging urn above me. Rubbing the growing bump, I slowly walk to open the door. I stand with my shaking hand on the door knob, and only when a bright voice speaks merrily outside, do I begin to turn it. “Ms. Harris? Clair? It’s me, Tempest. Your new neighbor.”
“Of course,” I manage, wrestling with my tongue. “Just a second.” I grip the door knob harder and manage to turn it with a sweaty hand.
Hm, she doesn’t sound angry. Maybe she’s decided to have a friendly chat about things and not to press charges. I open the door and hope in my heart that everything will be all right. Heavens! She is more than all right. In fact, Tempest Gosset put being all right to shame. She’s dressed in her usual black outfit, with only minor variations, and the jeans cling to her like a second skin. The sudden urge to peel them off her right then and there, takes my breath away and I just stare without a single word of welcome.
“Clair?” Tempest’s voice is now lower, even a bit uncertain. “I’m so sorry to trouble you, but I wondered if I could borrow…Clair? Are you okay?” She reaches out and touches my upper arm gently. “You’re so flushed…have you been out in the sun too long today?”
What is she talking about? I haven’t been out for days. I’ve been working on a new web design that is giving me nightmares. Then I realize the reason for my hot cheeks, which of course spread the heat all the way up to my forehead and down my neck, perhaps to other parts as well... Damn! “No, no, I’m fine,” I stutter. “How can I help you?”
“I wondered if by chance you might have an axe that I can borrow. Or a crowbar. Or a really super-big wrench.”
She now has my full attention.HH “What for?” I ask, not realizing until afterward how rude it sounded. “I’m sorry; I have an axe, but…” Tempest smiles broadly and squeezes my arm. The soft touch burns through my skin, enters my veins and travels directly to my nipples. The small traitors immediately pucker and stand out, clearly visible through my blue, worn t-shirt.
“I’m not your new resident axe-murderer, I promise,” Tempest grins. Her eyes seem to dart down to my now aching breasts and back up to my eyes.
“I never thought…”
“Ah, but I think you did,” she interrupts. She still has her hands on my arms, as if we were close friends, or lovers, as if she knows nothing could be more welcome than her touch. “After all, you don’t know anything about me at all, well, except my name. I don’t know you either, but you seem like a nice person.”
Why does she have that wolf-watching-innocent-rabbit look in her eyes? I try to tell myself I’m imagining things, but then she slides her hands down my arms, slowly, slowly. I shudder and feel sweat break out on my upper lip. “You seem…nice, also,” I manage. “Let me get that axe for you. It’s in the shed.”
“I figured,” Tempest beams and hooks her arm around mine. “I’ll help you look.”
What’s going on here? I nearly stumble again over my uneven concrete slabs, and she catches me just before I plunge face first. So much for grace and poise. I should thank her but my words get stuck again as her green eyes positively twinkle at me. “Axe?” she reminds me and again I blush.
Annoyed as I am with myself, it’s hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation—me, miss aloof and unromantic, fawning over this woman, at least five years my junior. My gaydar is permanently off. Most times my hunches are wrong when I try to guess anyone’s sexual preference. For instance, as much as Tempest looks like the cutest little lesbian I’ve ever seen, most likely she is as straight as a flag pole.
“Axe,” I mutter. I’m not surprised when she keeps her grip of my arm. I probably look like a sorry fool who can’t even walk a straight line let alone a curving, uneven path.
We reach the shed without further mishaps and I open the combination lock, which for some reason renders me a raised eyebrow from her. “Worried that dishonest axe-murderers might steal it?” she asks softly, with nothing but friendly teasing tint to her voice.
“You can never be too sure, but the main reason for the lock is that this is where I keep my servers. If they’re inside the house their humming keeps me awake all night.” Too much information. I try to tell myself to stop talking.
“Aha, so you like it quiet. Makes sense.”
“What? I mean, how so?”
“You’re not very talkative. Perhaps you’re more a woman of action.”
It was not a question, and the mere thought of me, Clair Harrison, being a woman of action, makes me laugh out loud.
Tempest’s eyes turn into an almost fluorescent green. “Oh, you have a wonderful smile, and such a contagious laughter.” She joins in, laughing right along with me, with me, and I discover right there, a whole new set of possibilities.
Tempest let go of my arm and steps into the shed ahead of me, looking around with curious eyes, and, thank God, entirely missing my two mind-blowing discoveries. They have me reeling and my feet don’t seem to actually touch the floor of the shed as I step in behind her.
As she turns around to face me, I notice that Tempest is perhaps a quarter of an inch shorter than me. She shimmers before me, entices me to no end, and her voice caresses my senses, over and over. “It’s quite cozy in here,” she says enthusiastically. “You didn’t mention you had an armchair and books our here. And a computer, along with your servers.”
“Well, sometimes I work our here too. Or relax. I have a nice view…” Oh, damn-me-all-to-hell! How come I suddenly can’t keep my big mouth shut? The only view from here is her little backyard, with her Jacuzzi as center attraction.
Tempest checks the window, of course, and turns around with yet another broad, enticing, powerful smile. “I see.” She steps closer. “Now I have only one question, and it’s kind of important.”
I swallow and take a deep breath. “All right?”
“You read in here, you…compute, in here, but have you ever kissed a girl…in here?”
That’s a no brainer and yet it takes me a few seconds to find my bearings. Hey, don’t laugh, that’s fast for someone like Clair Harrison in a situation like this. “No. I haven’t.”
“Ever kiss a girl?” Tempest places gentle hands on my hips, but remains where she is.
“Yes. Sort of.”
She licks her lips. “Like to take another shot at it, sometime?”
“Right now.” I damn near make myself land on my butt with those two words. I stare at Tempest with terror-filled delight. Something in her eyes makes me feel not half as awkward as I have all my life, until only a second or two ago. I feel very odd, but giddy and a bit weird, to tell the truth. Here she is, Tempest, temptress, gazing at me with the most brilliant green eyes. And here I am, just Clair, or perhaps not so ‘just,’ looking back at her with what has to be complete and utter determination.
“Right now.” Tempest’s voice is like milk and honey, or perhaps the blackest of velvet as she steps closer to me and I pull her into my arms. Slender arms wrap around my neck as she kisses me lightly on the lips. “Like that?” she asks, not sounding coy for a second.
“Yes, and like this,” I breathe, and discover an unknown well of courage. I brush my lips against hers, part them gently and, since she feels so fragile in a way, I very carefully deepen the kiss. And it is there, in that moment, as I kiss Tempest Gosset in my garden shed, that I change.
My first overwhelming and earth-shattering thought is that it would take very little, barely nothing in fact, for me to fall head over heals in love with Ms. Tempest Gosset. The second is almost as staggering; it’s entirely possible, this one a keeper; worth writing home about.
I hold this precious woman tight as we sink into the armchair, and she whispers, “Clair,” as I slide my hands up and down along her back. She is soft in all the right places, and stronger than she looks. She frames my face with her hands, and her kisses deepen, impossibly so; she’s drinking me and I willingly quench her thirst. It’s madness, it’s sanity, and…right. Have I been waiting for her all my life? I kiss her again, and I’m ready to vow that it’s true.
She caresses me up under my shirt as her mouth feasts on my neck. “Tempest,” I whisper. “Oh, God…” She is fire in my arms and there is no way I can stop what’s happening between us. She’s on my lap and in my life, and in some supernatural way I know this will last.
Tempest and I are together, and for once my initial hunch was right; I do love her, with every single atom in my body, and with ever small crevice of my soul. She claims she’s never been happier, and I know for sure she’s all about telling the truth. How else could it be that a woman—like her—lights up with such clarity when an ordinary Clair—like me—walks in the door? And yes, I did initially forget to ask what she needed an axe for, and when I did get around to it, I saw a whole different side of her. To this day, she hasn’t told me! She insists it keeps me on my toes. I think she likes to drive me crazy, if you ask me.
I eventually did write home, about everything, and to my happy surprise, the proud Texan women of my family were quite cool about things. Now there’s only one hurdle left.
I have to tell Daddy.