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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Flashbacks are in italics.
Breathing Fire and Water
Come to me; what I seek in vain
Bring thou; into my spirit send
Peace after care, balm after pain;
And be my friend.
(Frederick Tennyson's fragment of "Ode to Aphrodite" )
My life is bitter with thy love; thine eyes
Blind me, thy tresses burn me, thy sharp sighs
Divide my flesh and spirit with soft sound
(Algernon Charles Swinburne's "Anactoria," a fictionalized monologue by Sappho)
C.J. took another drink, letting the clear liquid slide down her throat without much thought. She had too many other things on her mind.
The click of the lock sounded loud but was forgotten when she reached for Abbey, finally giving into her desire to taste the older woman. As their lips met, C.J. wasn't sure her legs would hold her, her knees buckling with the excitement.
She closed her eyes, blocking out what little light was visible in her office. It was late, and she should have been at home. She couldn't remember the last time she had slept in her own bed, but she knew it had been at least a week. At that, she took another drink.
With her back to the door, she couldn't see her visitor approaching, and she thought she was hearing things when a soft voice said her name.
"C.J.," Abbey repeated and waited. Slowly, C.J. turned around, her chair squeaking at the effort, the ridiculous sound echoing how C.J. felt.
"What are you doing in the dark?" Abbey asked, making her way fully into C.J.'s office, into the dim outline cast by the lamplight on C.J.'s desk.
"Hiding," C.J. answered, belatedly recognizing the significance of her visitor. She stood on shaky legs, and Abbey eyed her critically.
"Yes," C.J. agreed earnestly. "Yes, I am. Would you care to join me?"
"All right," Abbey said slowly.
C.J. motioned to her couch. "Have a seat." She picked up the half empty bottle of vodka and two glasses and then followed Abbey, who had shut the door before sitting down. "Must be serious," C.J. said as she poured them each a drink. Their fingers touched as C.J. handed one glass to Abbey.
Abbey's hands slid under C.J.'s blouse, her eyes closing as her fingers touched C.J.'s skin for the first time. She smiled against C.J.'s throat as the taller woman moaned softly, the sound melting into a sigh as C.J. pushed Abbey's jacket from her shoulders.
"So, what's on your mind?" C.J. asked as she took a sip of her drink.
"I think you know. I think it's why you're here, drinking in your office instead of being at home, sleeping in your bed."
C.J. laughed humorlessly. "Are you here to tell me it can never happen again? That it was a mistake?"
"Yes and no." Abbey sighed, her regal mask cracking, small fractures appearing around her eyes, in her smile. "Claudia..."
"I don't think you're allowed to call me that anymore, especially in that tone of voice."
"And I think you're wrong."
They stared at each other for a long moment before C.J. finally looked away. She took another drink.
"So, you don't think it was a mistake? Or do you think it can happen again? You know, this couch is quite roomy."
"How did it come to this?"
The change of mood from light to dark forced C.J. a little closer to sober. She sighed, putting her glass on the coffee table.
"Do you want the truth or a convenient lie?"
"You sound exasperated."
"I want the truth."
"Too much time together, too much confidence, too little resistance, too little ordinary. It happened, Abbey, because we wanted it to happen. The opportunity presented itself, and we gave into temptation."
"Are we that weak?"
"Seven years, Abbey. I wouldn't call that weak."
"You're the first time...I...It's important you know that."
"Abbey, I wish I wasn't. That doesn't help me."
"What do you want to do now?"
"I want to kiss you."
"I can if you let me."
It was a warning, but C.J. ignored it. She moved closer, leaning into Abbey, meeting the older woman's eyes with her own.
"Abbey," she whispered and watched as Abbey's gaze dropped. C.J. kissed Abbey just below the ear and then smiled when Abbey's hands wrapped around her biceps.
"Don't, C.J. Please." Abbey pleaded, her grip on C.J.'s arms tightening, soft pressure pushing C.J. away even as she tilted her head to allow C.J. better access to her throat.
C.J. ghosted kisses to Abbey's lips, hovering above Abbey until she leaned forward to meet C.J.'s mouth, drawing C.J. nearer, C.J.'s body pressing Abbey's into the couch cushions. C.J. knew the rest by memory.
Abbey's hair tickled C.J.'s side, burning the younger woman's flesh, and C.J. closed her eyes against the intensity of getting what she wanted. She heard herself sigh and then moan as Abbey's fingers moved lower over her body, Abbey's touch sliding over C.J.'s hip and thigh as though they had charted the same course before on C.J.'s heated skin.
One of Abbey's hands snaked up C.J.'s shoulder to rest on C.J.'s neck, her thumb tracing circles on C.J.'s skin. C.J. moaned, and Abbey deepened the kiss, tasting vodka on C.J.'s tongue and trembling at C.J.'s touch on her cheek. She pulled away slowly, resting her forehead against C.J.'s, whose eyes were still closed.
"God, I love it when you call me that," C.J. said as she moved away from Abbey, settling at the other end of the couch. "Don't ever ask me again what I want. What happened on that plane may not have been a mistake, but it is regretful."
"Because I'm married? Is that the only reason it's regretful?"
"Because it's not."
Abbey sighed, and C.J. knew the sound from other hard decisions the First Lady had been forced to make over the years. She felt her anger draining away. After all, she had known she was falling in love with a married woman.
"C.J., I want to be more than your friend, but tonight is just another reason why I can't."
"But, you'll still be my friend?"
"I have to be something," Abbey said.
As Abbey walked out, C.J. took another drink.
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