DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Trial By Jury and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To Reverie.
Once she'd made the reservation, the rest had been simple, really. After a particularly rough afternoon, she'd assured Kelly that she had just the antidote. Better than shopping, or wine, or chocolate. Okay, maybe not quite better than chocolate, but on the same level. For a few seconds, Tracey amused herself with the idea that it sounded like she was suggesting sex, but before that daydream could get out of hand, she revealed her secret. Spa appointment for two. Her treat. Day after tomorrow.
Terribly pleased with her partner's reaction and enthusiastic acceptance, Tracey congratulated herself for finally issuing the invitation. For overcoming her qualms about opening up this particular Pandora's box. She also hoped like hell that she wasn't making a mistake.
Instead, she could scarcely believe how well the morning had gone. Or how much she was enjoying herself. She socialized with very few women ... hell, very few people ... and it had been eons since she'd done anything this ..."girly" ... with anyone. She marveled at how different the experience was from when she came alone. At how much she'd laughed. Usually she just tuned everything around her out while the staffers did their thing. Today, she and Kelly chatted and teased throughout each process ... debating nail polish colors, struggling to describe the texture of the facial formula, finding out if the other was ticklish during the pedicure. It was all so silly and superficial and so very, very pleasant. She felt like an ass for not including Kelly earlier. Having her here took absolutely nothing away from her own contentment. In fact, it had quite the opposite effect.
As she gave into the sensation of having her hair washed ... the warm water, the fingers massaging her scalp ... she wondered about her propensity to deny herself when it came to anything involving Kelly and the possibility of positive outcomes. Rolling her head slightly toward the stinging rinse, she amended that thought. It was probably more accurate to say that she protected herself. She believed that she had to. So much could go wrong. So much could be lost. Almost lulled into a daze by the slow, sure hands toweling her hair dry, she wished she were more reckless, more impulsive, more willing .... to have more days like today.
All of her misgivings came crashing back to her as she realized what was about to happen next. They'd been led into what the spa called the "double massage suite." Tracey observed that it was very similar to the other rooms, only larger, and, obviously, containing two tables. The same quiet music was playing to help establish mood, the same lighting was present. The same routine she'd followed dozens of times was about to occur ... and that's when she panicked. She knew exactly what the young woman was about to say to them ... she'd heard it countless times before. She could kick herself for not being prepared for it ... for not bracing herself, or planning ahead of time to handle it.
"Just remove as much as you're comfortable with and get settled on the table. Shana and Nicole will be with you in a few minutes."
Sure, they'd already had to change into robes once today. But they'd had little stalls and had only really removed their blouses and shoes. Now ... Tracey's brain was frozen in place. Only one thought burned through it. Kelly. Taking her clothes off. Right in front of her. Shit. She prayed she wasn't shaking.
As soon as the hostess had departed and the door had clicked closed, she heard Kelly speak. "What do you usually do?"
Waving her hand up and down, indicating her clothes, Kelly prodded. "Yeah. What do you usually take off?"
"Everything." It was the honest answer, and Tracey was too incapacitated to change it on the spot. She swallowed. "But you can do whatever you want."
She watched as Kelly nodded and began unbuttoning her blouse. Transfixed by the steady progress of those fingers, Tracey felt utterly powerless. It was an unusual and strikingly unfamiliar position for her to be in. She would have vehemently hated it had she not been admiring every inch of skin Kelly was exposing ...
With a touch of wonder she noted the appearance of a small tattoo as her partner began to peel her pants down over her hip. She'd always thought that these were the kinds of things she would have found out the first time they ...
Abruptly, she turned and began to strip. It took all of her concentration to keep from ripping her clothes or swearing audibly. Her own fingers seemed huge and clumsy and she was frantically willing her cheeks to cool off before she had to face Kelly again. My GOD this had been a terrible idea.
Twisting slightly to unfasten her bra, Kelly continued to try to convince herself that this was no big deal. It was just like the locker room at the gym. She took her clothes off there all the time when she wasn't alone. Just like the gym. Just like the gym. Except that it so wasn't.
The gym didn't have a softly lit room with quiet music and pleasant scents and soothing water sculptures and ... a rapidly disrobing Tracey Kibre. Oh god. Cutting her eyes to the side, she bit her lip as she saw Tracey's hair swing freely against her bare back.
Slipping her underwear off quickly, Kelly couldn't resist openly staring. As long as Tracey was facing the other way ... It wasn't like she was going to have unlimited chances. She might as well make the most of this one.
She hoped Tracey couldn't hear her breath catching.
When she was finally naked and her clothes were folded with almost pathological neatness on the bench beside her, Tracey mentally counted to ten. She had to look eventually. Clearing her throat, she spun around and extended her arm toward the wall. "They keep the towels ... in there ..." She pointed and then took a few steps. "If you're cold."
Her eyes moved steadily, resting in no one particular place. She didn't notice Kelly self-consciously fold her arms in front of her chest at that last comment. Lifting the lid on the warmer, she reached in to grasp two fluffy folded bath sheets. Hugging one to her, she reached out to hand the other to Kelly. Her mouth went completely dry as Kelly leaned across the massage table to take it.
Tracey wrapped the towel efficiently around herself and nodded absently. "They'll be back in in just a minute or two." She climbed onto the table on her side of the room, and after some awkward adjustments, reclined on her stomach with the towel draped over her. As soon as her forehead was resting on her arms, her face hidden from view, she exhaled deeply. She knew these people were good, but she be willing to bet that there was no way in hell they were going to get her to relax this afternoon.
Okay, so she'd been wrong. The massage was working but not in the same way she'd experienced before. Somehow, she was trapped in a state between absolute bliss and absolute torment. She had no defense against the skilled and steady onslaught of the hands that worked over her highly sensitized skin. Nor did she have any resistance to the very present reality that Kelly was naked just a few feet away. And seemingly enjoying herself.
Every sigh and soft moan from that direction was another searing reminder ... to her brain and her body. Normally, her fantasies began after the masseuse had finished and exited the room ... but this one was unbidden. And evidently unstoppable. No matter how hard she tried, it was nearly impossible not to imagine that those were Kelly's hands moving over her. Or that she was causing Kelly to make those exquisite noises ... Finally she gave up trying to fight and just sank into the sensation of it all. After that, she was alternately drifting through heaven and then hell. And back again.
One thing remained the same. These moments always made the outside world fade away, took away the stress of her daily life. Today was no different. Each minute of attention to her body erased more and more of what she'd brought in with her. Erased the barriers she'd built up. Erased the facade she worked to maintain. Erased the doubts she carried so heavily. Erased so many of the reasons to defer happiness.
She was only dimly aware of the whisper near her ear to rest and relax. Float until the knock on the door reminded her to come back to earth, to resurface and join the world again. She heard the sound of the door closing as if it were far away. But she was acutely conscious that she was not alone. Not this time.
In a surreal haze she tried to reconcile the erotic visions she normally immersed herself in with the current situation. Kelly was here. In the flesh. God. Stifling a groan, she mentally shook herself. She'd have to forgo her usual fantasy-fest if she wanted to survive the afternoon.
Languidly rolling her head to the side, she opened her eyes ... for no other reason than to orient herself, prove that her caution was still warranted. The last thing she'd expected was to be knocked further off balance, but she hadn't known that Kelly would be looking directly at her, directly into her. As soon as she adjusted to the light and met that gaze, she was gone.
Damn. How could she be falling when she was lying down? How could it be possible that her entire body had been completely dissolved by the massage, seemingly disassembled, and yet ... she was melting. No matter how altered she had felt earlier as she'd watched Kelly begin to undress, one truth was abundantly clear. Nudity had nothing on simple eye contact when it came to the sheer power to ignite a flashfire of arousal.
If she had been able to glance sideways, scan to the left at all, she would have noticed that Kelly's towel was slung low on her hips, her entire back exposed, the position of her arm offering a tantalizing glimpse of one breast ... but she couldn't tear her eyes away -- even a fraction -- from the compelling force of those baby blues. Fuck survival. This is how she wanted to die ...
Time seemed to stand still. She was riveted as Kelly slowly blinked, wetting her lips in a way that both stopped Tracey's heart and curled her toes. Just when she thought the tension would make her scream, she heard the sexiest sound of the day, possibly of her whole life ...
It was just her name. But said in such a way that changed everything. The depth of it, the weight and nuance of the expression. Simultaneously vulnerable and commanding. A siren song that she could not resist, and wanted to endlessly absorb. It was breathtaking.
Three short raps on the door instantly shattered the spell. Tracey's consciousness raced to catch it, grasp the threads of it as it disappeared. But it was futile, as fleeting as a dream dissipating upon waking. Godammit! She closed her eyes against the frustration of it all. When she opened them again, Kelly was tucking the towel tightly around her and dangling her legs off the side of the massage table.
"So this is where our carriage turns back into a pumpkin, huh?"
Sighing and carefully editing the amount of regret in her voice, Tracey nodded. "Yeah. My least favorite part." She pushed herself up, clutching her own cover to her. "They'll be back in a minute with robes and shower caps ... I don't always shower here ... sometimes I just want to get home and take a nice long, hot bath." She realized she was on the verge of babbling, over-explaining. "And it depends on how much massage oil they use ..." She picked at speck of lint on the towel. "Anyway ... we shower and dress and that's pretty much it. Fairytale over." She chuckled softly.
"I could really get used to this. Thanks for spoiling me."
Tracey was momentarily speechless. She wanted nothing more than to get Kelly really used to being spoiled. In so many ways. Before she could reply, one of the anonymous staffers intervened, two of the familiar luxurious robes draped over her arms.
"Will you be showering with us today?"
It was the same question every visit, but this time Tracey was focused on a totally different "us." She didn't know whether to be disappointed or relieved that each bath and dressing room was private. She answered in the affirmative and reached to accept the robe being offered to her. As she was slipping it on, she wondered how much of her spa buzz she would kill if she used only cold water ...
As they were signing out at the front desk, Kelly was standing close enough for Tracey to smell the distinctive soap used by the spa. It was a mystifying blend of scents that she'd always found pleasant. Now she doubted she'd ever not associate it with how Kelly looked right now. Fresh, glowing. A few ends of her blonde hair still damp ... Her mind was occupied with cataloging those thoughts when the hostess asked about scheduling their next appointment. Kelly surprised her by answering first.
"Do you have the massage suite available next weekend? Late afternoon?"
The look on the woman's face seemed to indicate that such a request on short notice was extremely optimistic on Kelly's part. Still, she flipped through the appointment book in her best professional manner. With only the slightest hint of surprise in her voice she responded smoothly. "It seems we've just received a cancellation. I can secure it for you if you'd like."
"Yes, I would." When Tracey moved to protest, Kelly silenced her with a firm pat on the arm and a calm look. As the hostess made the arrangements, she murmured to Tracey in a tone that brooked no argument, "I want to. It's my turn."
Outside, Tracey was reluctant to acknowledge that their day was drawing to an end. "Do you want to get some dinner? Coffee?"
Kelly checked her watch and grimaced slightly. "I'd love to but there's still something I have to take care of tonight." She brightened abruptly. "Let's plan on it next time, okay? Speaking of ... should I pick you up Saturday morning or meet you here?"
"You really don't have to go through with it, you know ... I don't even come that often, it's more of a special occasion kind of thing for me. I certainly wasn't expecting you to reply in kind when I invited you ..." Her speech was cut off by Kelly's finger against her lips.
Flashing back to how Kelly had said her name earlier, so intimately, Tracey nearly melted all over again.
"I enjoyed today so much ... You're crazy if you think I'm just trying to be nice. So we won't make it every weekend." She shrugged as she let her hand drop away from Tracey's face. "I'm thrilled that you turned me on to the place, included me ... made it so ... memorable."
Spotting an approaching cab, Kelly threw her arm up to get the driver's attention. As the car angled toward the curb, she leaned to brush a swift kiss against Tracey's cheek, whispering. "Thanks again." Drawing back, she smiled. "So ... I'll meet you here next Saturday morning, we'll do the whole nine yards, the full day. And we'll keep our plans open for afterward, okay?"
As she turned to open the door, she paused, speaking over her shoulder. "Although, I'm kind of leaning toward that long, hot bath ..." Clearly enjoying Tracey's stunned silence, she wiggled her fingers in a small wave and slid into the backseat.
Staring after the taxi long after it had departed, Tracey contemplated the day's events. As she started walking, ostensibly to clear her head, she returned over and over to the all-too-brief moments after the massage and to Kelly's final comment. Her lips threatening to turn up into a small smile, she mused to herself ... maybe, just maybe ... there was such a thing as happily ever after.
And maybe she'd have to rethink that "not quite better than chocolate" evaluation.
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