Answering

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Author’s Note: This is the final part of a triptych, and follows from my previous stories ‘Questioning’ and ‘Experimenting.’ While it’s not absolutely necessary to read those first, it would make me feel more appreciated.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying…I’m saying that just because…just because you’re good together, it doesn’t mean you have all the answers. And it doesn’t always mean you want the same things.”

“So instead of talking about what those things are, you’re just going to run away?”

“I’m not running.”

“Bullshit. Yes you are!”

“I’m just…we’re getting further and further apart. You can see that, right? And I’m not saying I don’t love you, I’m just…trying to avoid a lot more pain down the road.”

“Baby, please. I…I need you.”

“Annie, I love you so much. I’ll always love you. But…you don’t.”

Annie leaned back in the driver’s seat, watching the raindrops skitter down the window and half-listened as the voice on the radio told her what she already knew; she was late.

She thought about Sinead a lot when it rained. It was raining the first night they made love, their first night as roommates when they hardly even knew each other and so had nothing to lose. It was also raining the day they broke up, the day they both cried so hard because they knew each other better than they’d ever known anyone and were about to lose everything.

But that wasn’t why she was thinking about Sinead today.

Her cell phone rang. She glanced at the screen before answering. “Bryce, hi.”

“Connell. Where the hell are you? I’ve got a very valuable theater and a very excited producer, but no contract.”

“I got stuck in traffic on MLK. I’m almost there. Stall or something.”

“Well, I’m flashing my baby blues, but she’s giving me nothing here. I must not be her type.”

Annie couldn’t stop herself from smiling.

The theater wasn’t actually all that valuable, as commercial properties went. It had a decent location, but it was going to take a lot of work to turn it into anything that could even host a play, much less make people want to come to one. And the woman whose company was going to do that work was standing with Annie’s boss at the edge of the stage.

Bryce looked up as Annie stepped down the aisle, still shaking the rain off her coat.

“Jeez, it’s really coming down out there. Glad you’re okay.” Bryce grabbed the paperwork she held out just as the woman standing next to him started to look up. “Ms. Berg, this is Anne Connell, she’ll be taking care of all the legal stuff to get the sale underway. Anne, this is—”

“Hello, Sinead.”

The funniest thing was that the wide-eyed brunette standing in front of her didn’t actually look any different. Five years later, she still looked exactly like she had the day they’d said goodbye: same freckles, same lack of makeup, same Venus around her neck, right down to the pixie cut she’d gotten in junior year that Annie had joked finally made her look like a lesbian.

Well, she didn’t look exactly the same. She looked terrified.

“Annie?”

Annie smiled. “You look good.”

Sinead shook her head. “Yeah. You too. You look amazing.”

Annie couldn’t help the way her cheeks colored. She’d lost a little weight, the soft belly that Sinead used to love to nuzzle flatter and smoother now. Unlike the brunette her hair was still long, but she almost always wore it up these days. More professional, after all.

Bryce was staring. Annie shook her head and reached for the papers. “Well. What do you say we sell you a theater?”

Sinead cleared her throat, and Annie couldn’t help the little flare of satisfaction as the brunette blushed.

“Right. Of course.”

Sinead leaned in to take the pen Annie offered. They were so close, shoulders brushing, and Annie just kept her eyes on the paper.

“And then maybe after we’re done here, we can go somewhere and catch up.”

She saw Sinead’s eyes flick over out of the corner of hers. They both smiled.

“Yeah. I’d like that.”

They went out for cocktails. Annie drank martinis now—because when you spent all your time with lawyers some habits were hard not to pick up—but Sinead still drank rum and Coke, just like she did at nightclubs back in college. They sipped their drinks, watched the raid crawl down the windows, and tried not to get caught staring at each other. They failed.

Halfway through her rum and Coke, Sinead cleared her throat. “So. I saw that you got engaged.”

Annie’s eyes cut down to her left hand drumming nervously on the table, at the finger that used to have Scott’s grandmother’s ring on it.

“Yeah. For a while.”

Sinead frowned. “Oh. Uh…I’m sorry.”

Annie sipped her martini. “What about you, are you seeing anyone?”

The illegal bahis brunette winced. “Uh, no. Not at the moment.” She gave a self-deprecating chuckle. “Course ‘the moment’ seems to be all the time I’m getting these days.”

Annie smiled. “No epic love stories?”

Those familiar hazel eyes met hers for a second that felt longer before cutting away toward the window. “Just the one.”

That made Annie blush.

They drank in silence a little longer before Sinead cleared her throat again. “Look, Annie, I just…I’m sorry. For how we left things. I mean, for how I left things. You. It wasn’t—”

Annie’s hand on hers silenced her. “No. You were right.” When the touch lingered a moment longer than it should have, Annie quickly pulled her hand back and took another drink. “It took me a while to realize that, but I did. I was…in my second year of law school, surrounded by these cutthroat personalities, turning into one myself, and I just remember thinking…this would tear Sinead and me apart. And it wouldn’t be pretty. I’m not saying that…the way we left off was perfect, but looking back from where I am now, it could have been a lot worse.”

Sinead managed to smile. “So…do they often send out a fancy lawyer like you just to deliver some papers?”

Annie chuckled. “They do when she’s been with the company for less than a year.” Sinead’s eyebrows rose, and Annie cleared her throat. “Or, maybe I saw the name Sinead Berg in connection with a theater and I begged my boss to let me handle it personally.”

That won her a much better smile. “The producer and the contract lawyer. Could you ever have imagined us ending up like this, back in school?”

Annie snorted. “Yes! This is exactly how I pictured us!” She grinned. “Except I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that you’d keep that haircut.”

Sinead grinned back, running slender fingers through her short hair. “Yeah, well, a girl can’t let herself look too straight in this business, people might start getting ideas.”

Annie rolled her eyes. “Oh please, straight? You? Even without the haircut, there are plenty of clues that you’re gay. I mean, just look at your fingernails!”

Sinead chuckled, then glanced down. When Annie realized what she was looking at she blushed, tucking her own short, rounded nails underneath her hand.

They each took another drink, a long one, before Annie spoke.

“I know what you’re thinking. I haven’t been with a woman since you.”

Sinead’s cheeks colored. “I wasn’t thinking that.”

“Of course you were.”

Sinead’s eyes flitted up, big and gold, and Annie swallowed. The brunette set down her empty glass.

Annie took the took the last sip of her drink, then did the same. “Do you ever wish that…”

“What?”

“That we hadn’t…ruined our friendship?”

“No,” Sinead answered immediately. Then she frowned. “Do you?”

Annie shrugged. “I don’t know. Sometimes. Maybe. Sometimes I think that…if we’d just stayed friends, I might have seen you in the last five years.” Sinead winced. “But other times, I remember being with you, I remember…the longest, most…most passionate love affair of my life, and…”

“Do you miss it?”

Annie was tempted to ask what, just to hear her say it. Instead, she just said “Yes.” Sinead’s finger brushed the back of her hand, and she swallowed. “Do you?”

Sinead paused, almost long enough that Annie thought she wasn’t going to say anything, before licking her lips. “I’m about to ask you something. And I need a straight answer or I’m going to go insane.”

Annie swallowed. “O…okay.”

Sinead’s hand paused on top of hers. “Why did you come here?”

Annie took a deep breath. “I…I needed to see you.”

“Why?”

“To see if…if you were still the same woman I remembered. If I’d…built you up into something in my head, some romantic image I was never going to be able to live up to.”

Sinead pursed her lips. “What’s the verdict?”

Annie forced her eyes up to meet the brunette’s. “You’re exactly what I always knew you were,” the redhead murmured, almost too softly for Sinead to hear. Almost. “Now I need a straight answer from you.”

Sinead held her gaze. “Okay,” she all but whispered.

Annie turned her hand over, brushing her fingers up against Sinead’s without letting go of her eyes. “What would you do if I kissed you?”

Sinead’s place was closer.

It was a nice townhouse in a good part of the city, the real estate portion of her brain was only too happy to supply even as the rest was occupied with oh God I’m kissing a woman it’s been so long and it’s so much better than I remembered and the taste and the smooth skin I want more I want more Sinead Sinead Sinead.

She clung desperately to Sinead’s back as the brunette illegal bahis siteleri closed the front door behind them with her hip, not even bothering to turn on the lights as they tumbled down the hall, pausing occasionally to make out like teenagers, like the teenagers they’d been when they used to make out, before Annie let Sinead guide her deeper into the dark house, the slender brunette’s hands everywhere, everywhere she remembered them being.

When the backs of her knees hit the edge of Sinead’s bed, it wasn’t a moment too soon.

They’d peeled off their jackets at the door—well, each other’s jackets—and slipped out of their shoes, but now the clothes started coming off in earnest. Sinead’s hands worked the buttons on Annie’s shirt; the redhead remembered how confident they’d been that first night, but now they were shaking. When Annie’s reached up to help, they just shook more.

Eventually between the two of them they managed to get her shirt off, and then oh God Sinead’s hands were on her breasts, and it was as if the last time they’d been there was last night instead of five years ago. The shaking had stopped, and Annie started breathing faster and harder into Sinead’s mouth as those slender hands rubbed and squeezed and slid under the cups of her bra. When they reached around her back for the clasp, Annie gasped.

A single, confident motion.

She practically flung her bra away as Sinead’s hands returned. The weight she’d lost had made her once-prodigious breasts a little less so, but the brunette obviously didn’t mind.

“You too,” Annie managed to mumble between kisses. “I need to feel you.”

Sinead moaned her agreement, guiding Annie’s hands to the bottom of her sweater and not breaking the kiss until the rising material forced her too. She dove back in before it was even clear of her eyes, groaning in arousal as Annie’s hands palmed her breasts, still firm and perky and magnificent and begging to be worshipped. And Annie was only too happy to serve.

The first taste of Sinead’s skin was like ambrosia, the nipple going hard in her mouth a reminder of how much she’d loved this, loved this woman and her body and the intoxicating power she had to bring it pleasure: a feeling of power she’d never had with a man, before her time with Sinead or since. She sucked and squeezed and then switched breasts, Sinead whimpering above her and moaning “Oh baby, please…” just like she had the first time Annie had finally—Annie froze. Before Sinead could ask what was wrong, the redhead’s lips were kissing their way down Sinead’s taut stomach and her hands were undoing her jeans, pulling them down and…

And Sinead still didn’t wear underwear.

When Annie’s tongue touched her, Sinead let out a groan of long-denied relief, and Annie groaned right along with her.

She still remembered the first time, weeks after they’d officially started dating when she finally got up the nerve to use her mouth on Sinead. She knew the brunette probably thought of her hesitance as part of her proclaimed heterosexuality, that she thought it was too gross or shameful or ‘gay’ like so many of the other straight girls the brunette had dated, but that had never been the issue for her. She’d just been scared that compared to Sinead’s masterful lips and tongue, her efforts would always be lacking.

The first time she made Sinead come in her mouth, she’d realized just how wrong she was.

Sinead squealed as Annie began to lick her, letting herself drop back to the bed and spreading her thighs wide to give the ravenous redhead everything she wanted. Still shaved clean, Annie noted, nuzzling her nose against the woman’s smooth mons, breathing in the smell of her skin and the smell that wasn’t just her skin.

“How long has it been?” she rumbled against Sinead’s tender folds, and the brunette’s hips bucked.

“T…too long…”

Annie grinned. “The correct answer is: just long enough.”

Sinead screamed as Annie started sucking and licking in earnest, those slender hands winding into the redhead’s hair, mashing Annie’s face into her sopping heat, begging for more. Even after all these years Annie still knew exactly what Sinead liked, alternating between gentle sucking and fast, sharp flicks of the tongue on her clit, and soon she could hear the bed frame creaking even over Sinead’s moans.

The orgasm was a thing of wonder.

Annie had long ago come to love that feeling, to crave it, that almost religious joy of making Sinead come, of leaving the most confident person, the most talented lover, she’d ever known shaking and speechless and breathless, and she’d been denied that pleasure for far too long. She lapped and sucked, and even just held back so she could watch Sinead’s perfect quim clench and flutter and gush and her perfect face gasp and cry and blush because canlı bahis siteleri she knew, she just knew, that Sinead hadn’t come like this since that last night in their dorm room, in their bed, when Annie had thought Sinead was going to be hers forever.

Now, as Sinead looked up at her with dark, gleaming, hopeful eyes, was it really so stupid to feel like that again?

Whatever the ultimate answer was, Sinead’s immediate answer was to pull her up for a kiss.

The kiss soon turned into more, Annie’s ecstasy over what she’d just accomplished and the long drought that had followed her broken engagement—if she was really being honest, that had followed that rainy day in their senior year—urging her thigh into motion against Sinead’s still-wet center. Sinead copied the motion even as she sat up, until Annie was practically sitting in her lap. Then, with a turn of her hip, Annie was the one on the bed. When Sinead grabbed her ankle and lifted the redhead’s leg over her shoulder, Annie’s eyes went wide.

The first touch of their sex-slick lips made Annie buck up against her lover’s firm hips, which naturally just made the pleasure more intense. When Sinead ground down, the crush of lip and clit and juices made every inch of Annie’s raw, shaking body feel as if it were on fire.

“Oh God! Oh fuck, baby please, fuck me! Fuck me!”

Sinead ground down again, and again, swollen flesh grinding together until stars were spinning over Annie’s head. Even though she was empty she felt like Sinead was fucking her, really fucking her, opening her up and sliding deep inside her until she couldn’t have said where one ended and the other began.

“Come, baby,” Sinead breathed, and Annie did.

It wasn’t the most powerful orgasm she’d ever had. That was also one Sinead had given her, at a party they’d gone to their junior year, the thrilling fear that someone might walk into the guest bedroom they’d coopted and her girlfriend’s agonizing insistence on taking her to the edge again and again before finally tipping her over combining into a climax she doubted anyone would ever be able to top for sheer explosive power.

But this one, this orgasm, was the best.

When the tremors finally subsided, she couldn’t move her legs. She barely reacted when Sinead collapsed on top of her, except to exhale.

“Oh God, baby, oh God…” Sinead just hummed her agreement into her ear.

Eventually, they managed to climb the rest of the way into bed, holding each other’s spent, sticky, aching naked bodies and listening to the storm beat against windows. The rain, it seemed, was falling even harder than it had been in the morning.

Annie didn’t mind.

Sinead moaned softly as she rolled over, pressing her face into Annie’s neck, kissing softly as she nuzzled in.

“God, I’m so sorry I ever stopped doing that.”

Annie chuckled, but shook her head. “I’m not.” She could feel Sinead move to look at her, and she let out a contented sigh. “You were right. Back then…we were going in two different directions. We needed to grow. We needed to grow up. We needed to be the people we are now.”

“The people we are now.”

“Yeah. I mean…I look at you, at what you’ve done, and at what I’ve done, and I think…we’re better now. We both know what we want, not just…what we’re afraid of.”

Sinead’s head tipped up. Even in the dark, Annie could feel the brunette’s eyes studying her. “What do we want?”

“A life. A real life. One that lasts. To be…to be whole.”

Sinead gave a thoughtful hum. “Well, if our friendship wasn’t ruined before, it sure is now.”

Annie didn’t laugh. “Good.” She turned her head down to meet Sinead’s eyes, wide and glittering in the dark. “I don’t want to be your friend, Sinead.”

With their chests pressed so close, Annie could actually feel as Sinead’s breath caught in her throat. “I…I don’t want to be your friend either, Annie.”

Annie took a deep breath. Just say it, you coward. Just say it. “Sinead…”

“Annie?”

“I…all these years, everything I’ve been through, school, and work, and men, and everything that made me what I am today…there’s still only one time I’ve ever been in love.”

Sinead swallowed. “Me too.”

Annie made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “Don’t just say ‘Me too.'” She sat up, drew Sinead up with her until they could look straight into each other’s eyes. Annie took a deep breath, like she was about to jump off the edge, because she was.

“Sinead…after all these years, everything you’ve been through, everything that made you what you are today…do you…do you still love—”

And suddenly, Sinead’s hands were in her hair.

The kiss was like their first, except this time they were both trembling and confused and uncertain, and yet both of them knew exactly what they wanted to say.

When they pulled back they were gasping for air, not because they were out of breath but because after so long they could both finally, finally breathe again. Sinead was smiling.

“I’m sorry. What was the question?”

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