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Mari sat on the couch staring at the shimmering candles on the coffee table, the only source of light in the darkened living room. A flowery aroma of incense wafted in the air around her and she inhaled it deeply. Pulling the collar of her white chenille robe closer around her neck, she drew her legs up onto the cushions, curling them under her seat. She sighed again, trying to relax and distance herself from the tease of emotions whispering to her behind her ear.
Just forget about him, already. You made this choice, remember? This was for the best.
She closed her eyes and dropped her head back and groaned, agitated. God, I wish I just had a body to hold onto right now.
Suddenly, Mari felt a light tap against her bare forehead. She opened her eyes, expecting to see the ceiling of the apartment. Instead, the crystalline blue eyes of her friend, mentor, and co-worker, Petra, blinked thoughtfully back down at her.
“Something the matter, sweety?” Petra asked through a sly white grin.
Mari remained unmoved, blankly gazing up towards her upside-down friend. “Can you get a knife?” she asked. She made a motion across her throat. “Just slit it across right here.”
Petra clicked her tongue repeatedly, wagged her finger, and shook her head. “Oh no, no, no. Not on my lovely lambskin chaise, my dear,” she insisted as she walked around from the back of the sofa. “Although I’m sure your blood is the most lovely shade of crimson, I’ve put a lot of effort and pored through far too many design magazines to attain the perfect living space. I believe a pool of red blood across grey natural leather would not get the Laura Day stamp of approval.”
“Is that a no?” Mari asked.
Petra sat down beside her and offering her a tall flute glass of champagne. Tossing back her golden blonde hair, she winked and said, “You’ll just have to commit hari kiri somewhere else.”
Mari smirked and rolled her eyes. “I’ll take that as stylish way of saying no rather than a knock on my heritage.”
“Wouldn’t think of it, Ms.Nakajima,” Petra replied, holding up her glass.
“Thank-you for your thoughtfulness, Ms.Sundstrom,” Mari replied. They clinked their glasses lightly together and took a sip. Mari scrunched her nose, the tingling bubbles tickling her tongue and upper lip. It tasted good. It felt good going down.
Petra shifted to her side and crossed her legs. She was taller than Mari but her robe, cherry red and luxurious, was the same length. Needless to say, more of her pearly white skin was on display. Mari quickly glanced up and around as she took another sip, avoiding the attractive exposure of her friend.
“Feeling good?” Petra asked.
Mari nodded. “Very much, yeah,” she said, looking around Petra’s elegant apartment, “The bath was great. Those salts you have made the water feel like heaven, like I was floating with the angels. Seriously.”
“Nothing like pampering the skin once in a while,” Petra said, smiling wistfully. As if without thought, she reached down and dragged her fingers gently up her long leg. “And it feels like you can leave all your troubles in the bath water when you’re done.”
“I see why you can be so relaxed and focused at the office,” Mari acknowledged.
Petra turned her piercing eyes upon Mari. A sharp grin angled itself onto her long, angular face. “Mari, I have not begun to show you my bag of tricks for relaxing.”
Mari smiled, at first cautiously then more with a hint of curiosity. “I guess I came to the right place then,” she said.
With a gentle motion, Petra reached out and touched Mari’s long black hair. Mari frowned slightly but maintained her smile as the other woman brushed her hair with her fingers.
“Don’t worry, dear,” Petra cooed as she teased and stroked the fine strands of hair. She continued with that warm, Scandinavian-tinged voice of hers, “I’ve always taken good care of you, haven’t I?”
Mari had already been feeling warm that night, what with the bath, the champagne, the candles. An unexpected surge from within just ramped up the heat. Her cheeks were flushed red highlighting the inner warmth she felt. Clearing her throat, she said, “Well, I’ve loved everything so far. What’s next? What’s the plan then?”
Petra regarded her for a moment longer then reached down to the coffee table to pick up a chocolate covered strawberry from a plate. She took a deliciously deliberate bite of the fresh fruit, her full red lips sucking in any drips of juice trying to escape and chewed slowly. Mari could literally see it sliding down Petra’s gullet. She never wanted a strawberry so much in her life.
“Well,” Petra began, counting off with her fingers, “We’ve had our fabulous dinner at Tangled. Put my whirlpool bath tub to work. Destroyed a bottle of champagne. We’ll have some scandalous girl-talk in bed. Tomorrow, we pay for all this decadence with a hard, crack of dawn run through the ravine trail and then end with a spa and manicure down by the harbour front. Sounds good?”
Mari nodded silivri escort enthusiastically. “Mm-hmm! More please,” she giggled. She polished her glass of champagne off with one last, bold gulp. It fizzled down her throat like sparkles from a firecracker. She winced then laughed.
“Oh good show!” Petra applauded. She sighed and rested her head to the side on her hand. Smiling she said, “It’s good to hear you laugh like that.”
Staring down at her empty glass for a moment, Mari finally nodded once. She exhaled deeply and said, “It does feel good. Thanks to you.”
Still peering down to the bottom of the glass, Mari mused sadly, “God I really am alone now, aren’t I?”
The older blonde woman shifted slightly in her seat, curling her legs in a little more, but she didn’t say anything. She just continued silently contemplating her friend, listening carefully.
“It seems silly, doesn’t it?” Mari continued, “I’m the one who called it off, told Justin to leave. But I think I’m feeling more hurt than he does. It doesn’t seem fair.”
“It was the right thing to do,” Petra remarked with a firm tongue, “It took a lot of courage for you to make a choice and I’m very proud of you.”
Mari’s eyes flitted momentarily towards Petra and smiled, caught off guard by a budding sense of personal accomplishment that her friend instilled in her. Petra had that magical way about her, never preaching or criticizing. She preferred to use encouragement to guide her rather than offer television show type advice. She was a strong woman and it was impossible not to find that sense of confidence inspiring or attractive. Certainly Mari found herself drawn to her and felt fortunate to be part of Petra’s circle.
“Yeah…yeah,” Mari sighed, “You’re right. His fault for cheating on me. I deserve better.”
“You certainly do,” Petra acknowledged. She tipped her glass towards her lips, pausing to say, “Do you suppose I have a shot at Justin, now?”
Mari’s mouth dropped, then curled into a smile as she watched Petra drink the remainder of the sparkling liquid from her glass. “Oh God! Don’t say that, Petra!” she scolded playfully, swiping at her arm.
Petra cocked her finely trimmed brow. “I’ve been waiting to take a bite out of that apple-crisp ass of his for some time now,” she mewed wickedly.
Mari looked up towards the ceiling and groaned, “Unbelievable! Uhh!”
Successfully haven broken up the cloudy mood, Petra giggled then waved her hands. “Oh please,” Petra scoffed, “That man is not good enough to clean my panties with his teeth and neither is he for you, my dear. Besides I never do it with guys in the office and I have a list of asses like his the length of my arm in my on call file.”
Mari laughed, “Oh, you’ve got to share that list with me, please! I’m in desperate need of a good, hot ass right now.”
“Really?” Petra asked. She placed her glass on the table then returned to her seated position, facing Mari, hands folded together on her lap. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she added, “I’m not quite sure you’d be prepared to delve into Petra’s Black Book.”
Mari tilted her head, interest clearly piqued. For a woman like Petra, she had an idea that her Black Book would be quite impressive. Feeling emboldened she asked, “Is that so? Why not?”
Petra grinned as if she were looking at an eager to please puppy. She shrugged and said, “Well, you do know that there are both men and women on that list?”
Mari stared back blankly towards her. Her mouth slightly ajar, she blinked once, twice, then said simply, “Oh.”
“Do you mean you didn’t suspect that at all?” Petra asked.
There was no doubt in Mari’s mind from the earliest days when she got to know Petra that the distinctly alluring, sexy, brash way she carried herself in the office most likely translated into an exciting after hours lifestyle. Though she imagined Petra must have had a street length line up of men at her doorstep, Mari never heard any of the men at the office boasting of any trysts with the striking blonde. Despite that, the woman still oozed of a certain wild, mysterious sexuality.
“No, not really,” Mari replied realizing she suddenly had trouble convincing herself of that.
Petra glanced down and away, arching her brows upward.
“I…I mean,” Mari said then stopped. What did mean? “That is…it’s alright with me. It’s fine. Uh…not that you need my permission.”
Petra grinned and chuckled to herself, enjoying how the younger woman fumbled over her thoughts and words. “Well, that’s good,” she giggled, “Thank you.”
Mari blushed and shook her head, embarrassed by what she had said. She looked toward Petra, seated beside her. Of course it shouldn’t have been a surprise that women would be attracted to her just as much as men. If she thought about it hard enough, ran through the times she was with Petra at work or in restaurants and shops, or out on the streets, she could probably recall bakırköy escort her turning the heads of both men and women alike.
Lucky her that she was able to appreciate and indulge in the experiences on both sides of the fence.
The two women sat on the sofa, a stifling air of silence hanging between them suddenly, or at least, that’s how Mari felt. Petra was content to let the younger woman think this through.
Images and sensations suddenly started to creep through Mari’s hyper-stimulated head. Damn that champagne and sea salt bath. Every sense of hers seemed to be in overdrive and the heady smell of incense didn’t help matters much at all. She realized she was staring down at Petra’s bare leg, her white thighs peeking under her short robe. Her eyes skittered away and tried to refocus on the candles.
She didn’t know why she was feeling like this. Just because Petra had revealed her sexual nature to her didn’t mean she had any interests or intentions towards her other than being a very good friend.
Mari closed her eyes and grimaced, feeling ridiculous. She spun the notions through her mind and finally looked up toward Petra. “I really am grateful that you’ve spent time with me…on a Friday night, yet!” she said, “I’m sure I put a crimp in your social calendar.”
Petra smiled and leaned forward in her seat. She placed an assured, velvety soft hand on top of Mari’s. Her blue eyes seemed to reflect a cool blue lake as she said, “Mari, dear, I’d clear my slate for an entire month if you asked me to.”
That warm, easy feeling swelled within Mari once more. She smiled back and curled her hands around Petra’s receiving her friend’s kindness and tenderness.
Then Petra’s eyes widened as she added, “Then you wouldn’t see me for another month as I go into seclusion fucking the brains out of anything that crossed my path.”
The living room crackled with their laughter. Mari leaned forward and gave her friend a big hug which Petra warmly accepted.
“Thanks, Petra,” Mari whispered, still holding her. She inhaled the sweet fragrance of Petra’s soft hair. She liked it very much.
“Anytime, sweety,” Petra replied, massaging the small of Mari’s back and her neck.
Mari felt the slightest pressure against her back as Petra pulled her in. She didn’t pull away, embracing her friend more closely, still indulging in the sumptuous feel of her robe, her radiant warmth, and her intoxicating scent. Focusing her heightened senses, she could feel Petra’s heart beat against her bosom. It felt good to be in someone’s arms, in Petra’s arms.
Finally, it was Petra who leaned back, moving away from the embrace. She gingerly pulled away long strands of black hair that had fallen across Mari’s blushing face. She revealed a vulnerable, anxious young woman, her attractive, almond crescent eyes blinking uneasily at her.
Petra leaned forward again, angled her lips towards Mari and kissed her softly.
Mari saw her red, glossy lips towards her, watched them part slightly before they touched hers. She didn’t move though, didn’t back away. She knew she was trembling inside, hoped that it didn’t make its way to the surface.
What was only a few seconds felt like minutes but finally Petra moved back, the gentlest, crisp “smack” sound as their lips parted. She sat back and again simply let the thoughts and sensations sink into the younger woman.
Mari’s small pink lips stayed apart as she sat unmoving in her seat. She was hoping the flickering glow of dying candles and the hair hanging over forehead was hiding the blank look in her eyes. With great effort, she managed to find a voice and whisper, “Petra…I don’t think I can…” She trailed off, losing her train of thought.
Petra smiled softly. “You must be tired,” she said, her voice a caressing touch. She stood up from the sofa and stepped away. “Why don’t you go to be already, sleep off the champagne and the bath.”
The ceiling lights flicked on. Mari squinted, adjusting her eyes to the brightness. The living room suddenly seemed bigger, not so intimate. Petra returned and started to gather things from the table.
Mari watched her for a second before her head kicked in again. “Let me help you with that,” she offered.
Petra shook her head. “Go on to bed already, Mari,” she gently insisted, “I’ll clean up the glasses and dishes. We’ll skip the girl-talk this evening. You should rest up. We have that run to do tomorrow, right?”
“Oh. Oh yeah,” Mari said, nodding. She stood up and tightened the sash of her robe. “Thanks again, Petra.”
Petra shook her head. “My pleasure, sweety,” she replied, “Go to sleep. I’ll join you in a bit. Good night.”
“Good night.” Mari hesitated, watching Petra go into the kitchen, then walked to the bedroom.
Mari hung up her robe then slid under the smooth, satiny sheets. Her slender body seemed to be adrift along the king-size mattress and amongst the billowy pillows but they soon cradled halkalı escort her nicely as she curled herself underneath the toasty blanket.
Despite the comforting feel of the bed, however, she found it difficult to even close her eyes, let alone fall asleep. She was suddenly aware of her racing pulse, her unsteady breaths, and most notably, her vivid, lingering thoughts. During the brief moment of her kiss, thoughts flashed in her head. To be certain, there was doubt there. More pointedly, however, there was curiousity…and other undeniably sensuous, illicit, wanton sensations she had never experienced before. And she was very unsure about exploring them.
For several minutes, Mari lay there in the dark save for the dim light of a bedside lamp. She listened to the clink of some dishes, the running faucet, Petra’s steps around the apartment. She tried to will herself to sleep before Petra came to bed. Yet, only when she heard her enter the room did she force her eyes shut and steady her breath to a rhythm that resembled sleep.
She listened to Petra slide into the bed beside her, feeling the assuring warmth of her body even though they never touched. The bed side lamp was turned off and Petra moved around under the sheets for a moment then stopped. After a few minutes, Mari could hear her soft, wispy breaths as she fell into a deep, sumptuous slumber.
Mari didn’t know how long she stayed awake after Petra had fallen asleep.
* * * * * * *
The next morning, Mari and Petra awoke with little acknowledgement of the previous night other than how good dinner was and how much Mari needed an evening like that to relax and forget about things. After a light breakfast of toast with peanut butter, bananas, and coffee, they slipped into their running gear. Both of them wore the minimal athletic attire: form-fitting micro fibre shorts and sports halter top, Mari in black, Petra in smoke grey. They both tied their long hair into pony tails and sported visors.
The plan had been to wake up early to avoid the summer heat. However, even down by the ravine trail outside of Petra’s apartment building, it already felt clammy and humid.
As they walked and stretched along the path for the first few minutes, Mari looked up at the sky. It was shrouded with folds and rolls the underbelly of dark grey clouds. They looked ominous and heavy.
“So we’re going to the picnic area at the top of the hill in the conservation park, right?” Petra asked.
“Think this is a good idea?” Mari asked, still gazing at the sky warily.
Petra fluttered her lips and smirked. “I thought you were the runner girl?” she teased, “Doing those races of yours through sun, sleet, snow, and hail?”
Mari eyed her. “That’s mailmen.”
“You’re the one who does this as a regular hobby, sweety,” Petra reminded her, “I’m just a casual athlete.”
Mari gave her the once over, unconvinced. There was nothing ‘casual’ about Petra’s figure. She played tennis, swam, cycled, and danced every weekend as if the world was going to end on Monday. The woman was a svelte, attractively constructed machine. Mari knew that she herself filled out her running attire very nicely but Petra was simply at another stratosphere in hers.
“So are we going to do this or do we go back to my apartment and watch Julia Roberts movies all day?” Petra asked.
Mari chuckled. “Let’s go.”
The early morning start, the heat, and the angry clouds above probably had something to do with how empty the ravine trail was as they ran. The number of other people they encountered along their jog to the park could have been counted on two of their hands.
It was the heat that was most problematic at the moment. As they ran along the winding, up-and-down paths of the trail, it didn’t take long for a thin sheen of perspiration to settle upon their skin. Soon they were both reaching for their waist-side water bottles.
Mari possessed a nice, graceful running form and settled into a good breathing rhythm. On most days, when she hit her stride, everyday thoughts would fall away during her run and she would often lose her sense of time and space.
She hadn’t slept very well the night before. She had been thinking about Petra, recalling the feel of their embrace and the kiss that they shared. It hadn’t upset her. That may have been the problem. She wasn’t upset by it at all. The kiss had been so tender, so genuine. It was unmistakably affectionate. Was there something more to it?
Mari blinked. Her pace had dropped off. She shook her head and picked up her speed, trying to shake away her thoughts.
Petra was aware of the sudden erratic rhythm of Mari’s pace. The shorter woman had fallen silent as well as they ran.
“Did you sleep okay last night?” Petra asked.
“Hmm? Oh yeah,” Mari replied, “Slept well.”
“Are you sure?”
Mari frowned. “I’m sure. Why?”
“Your stride’s all off,” Petra said, “It’s like you’ve got tired legs.”
“Oh really?” Mari smirked.
“Mm-hmm.” Petra nodded. She continued to tease, “Think someone a bit too much lamb shank and champagne last night. A little too spoiled were we?”
“Ha!” Mari scoffed, “Just because you’re all Swedish Amazon and stuff, don’t think these shorter, tired legs couldn’t run you into the ground!”
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