A Study in Fragrance Pt. 11

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tagFirst TimeA Study in Fragrance Pt. 11

Up before dawn, Emily threw on her suit, moving quietly to not disturb Steph sleeping in the guest room. Slammed down OJ, and left her a note, inviting her to eat whatever she needed. She'd slept well. Which surprised her. She had expected to lie awake, worrying about whatever the fuck Abby had done, worrying she'd somehow hurt her friends, worrying about what she was letting Cos do to her, worrying about telling her friends as much as she did. But as soon as she'd lain down, something clicked. Like before, when she had given into the fantasy, only this time, she was giving into whatever her life was becoming.
She woke up feeling refreshed, focused, committed to the Ironman. Her training all week had been shit, in spite of what Coach had been saying. She was going to spike it today. 5:30 was her goal, but she was going to do it by hitting all three events. On her drive to the pool, she felt good, things still clicking into place. Her friends, the night before, it was almost like a dream: the image of them safely tucked away in her phone, naked together, a gentle reminder of whatever it was that had moved her into this new direction.
She hit the water, cold and clear, sluicing in and surfacing with a steady beat, a rhythm, her body taking over, the tendril loosening its hold on her head, her spine, coiling back into her gut, making itself tiny. She felt alive, touch, flip, return. Again. And again. She felt her heart, beating strong, slow. She wasn't even hitting 50% maximum and she was half-way through.
"Pick it up now Emily!" She heard Coach yelling after her. Stroke, stroke, stroke, kicking, like some fish, the water cool against her body, keeping her from overheating. Flip and back. Again. She had lost count, focusing on her rhythm, her breath. The shrill of the buzzer let her know she'd touched first. Again.
"Out! Out! Go. Go. Go. You need to rest? Take five, otherwise, you feeling good? Keep that pace. You finished strong! 2 minutes better than last time. Yeah?" He looked at her face, confirming she was good to go. "Go!"
Shimmied into her shoes, wiped her face and onto the bike. The sun was up, but just barely, the streets empty, street lamps darkening in front of her, as if she was shutting them off. She could feel the burn in her legs and calmed it down, the adrenaline from the pool needed to be paced out on the bike. Her lungs grabbed air, she felt alive. Coach had planned a different circuit, guides at key points, but she knew the route. They'd practiced it during the week. By mile 10 she was sweating, the morning air cool against her suit, her hair dry and blowing. She put an elastic around it as she rode, feeling her pace, prepping to inch her speed up mile by mile. And then the event marker, water station, and off, leaving her jacket with the bike, splashing water, sipping as little as necessary, her breathing regular, her heartrate strong.
And then her favorite leg. Running through the air, the wind on her face, the blood pumping through her, her heart strong, a steady drumbeat in her ears. She fell into her zone, a tiny part of her consciousness tracking her pace, glancing at her watch, feeling how tired her legs were getting. Four miles left, she could feel the burn, but she had plenty in reserve, moving her pace by 30 seconds, 12:15, 12:15. She was closing in on it, the final mile staring her down, her lungs starting to complain, her quads and hammies hot and nearing their max. And then, like a crystal light, she focused on the final segment, pushing the complaints and pains and fatigue out of her mind, 12:00 12:00 increasing her pace to as fast a sprint as she could handle, bursting across the finish line, wheezing and crying and letting her body come back, pain and exhaustion and struggling to find her breath.
Coach was shouting something at her, but the blood pounding in her ears was all she could hear. "Whah…whah…whah?" She struggled to inhale, splashing water and drinking and looking around. Smiling. Lots of smiling and high fives and clapping. She finally heard what he was saying.
"5:17! 5:17! Broston! What the hell, girl? 5:17!" He knew better than to touch her, but she could feel his pride across the arms' length distance he was keeping.
Fuck yes! More important than beating her previous time was her knowing her body and knowing when to cut back, when to bring on the juice. She could feel her leg muscles twitching, half an hour later, as she got in Andy's car to swing back and pick up her bike. She couldn't call Caroline again, could she?
"Hey," Caroline's voice, sleepy.
"Fuck. You're not up. Why aren't you up? It's past 10:30? Sorry. I'll call you later."
"No. I'm up. I'm up. I had to answer the phone." She laughed a little. "Seriously. I've been up for hours. I'm just exhausted. You do good?"
"Yeah! Another personal best!"
"You want to do the tub?"
Em could hear plates clinking near the phone. "Could I? I don't want to impose."
"C'mon over. I'll get her heated up."
And then the luxury of slipping into the hot water, roiling from the jets, her body melting into the heat.
Caroline came out a little later. "I'll join you in a minute." And disappeared into the pool house.
"You thought about the picnic Sunday?" Her friend sat across from her, her body bobbing against the jets.
Emily shook her head. "Not much. Just now, as soon as you brought it up. Waddya think?"
Caroline tilted her head, her hands playing with the water. "Wellll, no guys. I don't think we can bring the guys in. Ever."
Em heard the concern behind Caroline's words. Because they'll turn into Cos and I don't want that. She nodded, looking away. "Maybe so. Maybe that wouldn't be such a great idea. What about the gang?" She couldn't tell her what she'd seen. The couples witnessing her sacrifice. She was happy to be in the tub, her squirming hidden by the jets.
"They'll kill us if we don't bring 'em in. It'll kill the friendship. But I feel you. We can't just not tell them either."
They looked at each other and thought about the options, rolling them over in their minds.
"You okay?" Em stared at her friend, waiting.
"Yeah. I'm okay. Got home and felt like I'd been drinking too much, but I only had three beers all night. 'Went to bed with a cloudy head, woke up thinking I'd been dead.'" She smiled. "Bobby. He's putting lyrics together." She laughed and shrugged. "But seriously. That lamp thing. It got pretty hot and heavy last night." The memory of how hard her clit had been, how swollen her pussy had been. She shook her head.
"You've only had a couple of doses. No. I'm not being competitive," she held out her hand. "Seriously, I'm just sayin'. If you are feeling that way with a couple of doses, what do you think you'll feel like after a week?"
"I wanted Bobby so bad last night. I was ready to hump my bedpost. It was bad, Em. I felt so disgusted at the idea of doing it, at how I was …" She couldn't finish her thought, looking away.
"Wait. Hold on. Something you just said." An idea flashed through her head, fleeting, like a flicker in the woods. "You got home and you still wanted to fuck Bobby, right?"
Caroline nodded, her eyebrows folding down. "Yeahhh."
"And you went to bed feeling…disgusted… But you don't remember any dreams, yeah?"
Caroline shook her head. "No. Well, yeah. I guess. There was one this morning. It was sweet. I can't remember. Something about the breakfast table. My mom was smiling…that's it. No. Not really."
"K. K." Emily was rubbing her head, trying to recall what caught her attention. "Wait. What did you mean by 'wanting to hump your bedpost?'"
Caroline looked at her as if she'd gone a little mad. "Uhhh, I wanted to kneel against my bedpost and rub my pussy on it…Is that what you want me to tell you?" She was trying not to laugh and trying not to make it weird. "Like, I had this urge to do it and at the same time it felt disgusting, like I was debasing myself."
"Yes! That's it!" Emily was smiling as if she'd won a lottery.
"What the fuck, Em? What does that have to do with anything?"
"Why couldn't you just call Bobby and fuck him?"
Caroline ducked her head and looked at her like she really was crazy. "Like, what? 'Hey Bobby, get your dick over here right now and give it to me. Your woman is DTF. Yeah. And what about my folks? Like, they know I'm fucking around, well, maybe not fucking. That just happened, but they know we're having sex. Just not here. What are you going on about, Em?"
"Okay okay okay. Of course." She looked at Caroline and moved over next to her. "Here's the thing. I think I'm figuring this out. Maybe. Or I'm completely losing it. Or maybe both." She looked at Caroline, smiling. "You want to hear my theory?" She let her hand float up, her arm brushing against Caroline's breast. Her hand turned a little, her fingers drifted, just barely touching her skin.
"Sorry." Em looked at Caroline's face and saw something there. "Is…is that okay?"
A small nod. Nervous.
Em let her fingers rest on the top of her friend's breast, slowly trailing down below the water's surface, feeling the skin shift from smooth to tight and wrinkled, her thumb and finger rubbing around Caroline's nipple, feeling it respond. Harden.
"You sure? I…I want to touch you." She stared into her eyes, searching for anything that said stop.
Caroline's mouth had opened, slack, her tongue pink and wet licked her lower lip, her eyes clear, welcoming. No shame. Nervous.
Em dipped her head into the pool, the water hot and frothing against her cheeks, her lips latching onto Caroline's nipple, gently sucking, her tongue feeling the ridges of her areola, her nipple. She pulled back out, water streaming down her face, smiling.
Caroline looking alarmed, eyes across the yard to the house. Her hand floating up to brush Emily's neck. She looked back down, her eyes softening, nodding when Em had asked again if it was okay.
"Can I touch you?" She looked down beneath the chop, Caroline's legs splayed open next to her.
A nod. Nervous.
A micro shake of her head. "My folks are home."
Neither of them looked toward the house. Em nodded, her hand traveling down Caroline's body until it pressed against her smooth mound. She felt the stubble and played with it a little, the feeling so new to her, before she let her fingers continue down to rest at Caroline's opening. Even in the hot water she could feel heat there, her labia spongy and firm.
"You're lit up, yeah?"
A nod and a sigh, her eyes locked on Em's.
"The lava lamp?"
Head nod. Eyes still locked.
"I want to see you." Em nodded to the edge of the pool, stealing a glance at the house. "Here. Get up here. They won't be able to see us."
Caroline moved with grace, the water cascading off her, her skin sparkling with tiny jewels from the morning sun. "Here?" She didn't look over her shoulder, or down at Em, just across the pool to the garden at the back of the yard.
"You're so different from me. Or Steph," Em said, exploring Caroline's lips with her eyes. "Yesterday, when I saw how dark you were around your clit," She looked up, Caroline's eyes darting down, "I just wanted to kneel down and look at you." Her hand came up out of the pool, her fingers brushing Caroline's mound, the tiny hairs, sharp and black emerging from that caramel skin. Her outer lips were thick. Thick and reddish purple, no hint of gold, widening open, her inner lips, twisted, swollen. Where they met, at the top, Caroline's clit, so much bigger than her own, pushing up against its hood, wet, lighter pink. Before she could think, she leaned in and kissed it, opening her lips to press against Caroline's opening, her tongue darting out to lightly tickle her clit. Chlorine, mixed with Caroline's scent hit her taste buds. She pulled away as Caroline jerked and gasped.
"Fuck, Em!" She hissed, but it was nerves not outrage. "My mother is probably looking right at us!" She wanted to move her hands from the pool's edge and grab Em's head, pull her back against her, but she was frozen, trying not to give away what they were doing. "I can't. I want to! I can't, not like this. Please."
Em looked up and smiled, seeing Caroline's face lit up, her mouth open with need. Holy holy shit! This is all me. No tendril, mostly. At least, it was there, but it wasn't taking over, waving around her middle, listening, waiting. "Okay. Okay. I…I want to do it, Caroline. You want to do it?" She moved out from between her legs and pulled herself up from the pool to sit next to her friend, their backs to the house.
Caroline nodded, smiling slightly, a little overwhelmed by the steps they'd just taken. "Yeah," she breathed. "I…it's…it feels right. It feels so good." She opened and closed her legs, back and forth.
Em smiled. "Bobby?"
Caroline shook her head. "We're cool. We talked about how exclusive we wanted to be this summer, before going off to school. I don't know if he's fucking around with anyone else, but we agreed we'd tell each other…to be safe, yeah?"
Em looked at her, realizing Bobby would know. That Caroline wouldn't keep it a secret. She nodded. The tendril thickened for a second as Em felt the embarrassment of Bobby knowing, and then, like Coach telling her to focus, she flipped her feelings. Why should I be embarrassed about…this? The tendril drooped. They sat in silence, thinking about the change in their relationship, thinking about The Study, the rest of summer.
"So, tell me your theory," Caroline said, returning to the here and now.
They sat with their legs dangling in the pool for the next half hour, not touching each other, wanting to touch each other, the tension building while Em explained her thinking. When she was done, she had convinced herself it had to be right.
"So," Em concluded, shrugging her shoulders, "if what I'm thinking is close, it should be fine inviting the ladies over, and the guys. They just have to get orientated."
"Oriented. Please never use that word!"
Em slapped her friend's leg. "Oriented! Whatever!"
"You got all that from my wanting to hump my bedpost?" Caroline laughed.
They both giggled, but Em was convinced. Relaxed and unworried for the first time since…since she'd opened the hole into The Study it felt like. "You want to try it out tomorrow night? With Bobby? With Steph and Robert?" It was a huge step, a huge ask, but she needed the image to come true. She needed them there like she'd envisioned it. She really wasn't worried about their safety. She was confident it would work out exactly as she expected.
Caroline's eyes widened, not sure what exactly Em had in mind. "Fuck, Em. You really want to bring them into it? You're that certain it's only affecting us?" She studied Em's face, her own need clouding her judgment. "Tomorrow night. Fuckkk…Any excuse to be in that room…" Her hand drifted unconsciously to between her legs.
Em searched Caroline's face hoping she also meant any excuse to be with you. She nodded. "K. We need to figure out how to get Steph on board. Maybe we should meet at the house for dinner? Around six? Cos might still be there, but…" She shivered at what she was setting up. But she had to do it. If what she had figured out was true, this was the way out from under the control of Abby's fragrance. She stopped for a minute, thinking about practice, and then remembered there wasn't any until Tuesday.
They both texted Steph to make a plan.
"Fuck, she's nervous," Caroline looked at Em. "Let me call her."
It took forever, but they finally got her on board. "It's the only way, Steph. You'll see. I'll prove it to you." Em couldn't have felt more certain.
Heading home she was riding three highs: her personal best, convinced she'd figured out what to do about Abby's fragrance, and the thing with Caroline. Singing at the top of her lungs she was happy that she'd broken her own record without hurting herself. Her body felt good: relaxed after the hot tub, no sprains, falls, tears. Pretty good for a morning's work. She could only hope it stayed that way.
Abby's fragrance, if she was right, and she was convinced she was, would not be a problem, for her, or for anyone, as long as people took precautions. Well, not people so much as women. Em was pretty certain it only affected women. They would be testing that Sunday, after, she shivered, the guys were exposed tomorrow night.
And, as she drove into the driveway, she thought about Caroline and the new feeling that was budding there. It was as if the tendril had grown an offshoot, way down inside her, with its own mind, a different source of arousal. She smiled and then frowned briefly, thinking about Bobby and whether Caroline was sure about him not feeling hurt. She looked around and only saw Cos's truck. Maybe they'd all gone to lunch?
The minute she walked into the kitchen, she had forgotten all of that, her stomach growling. Before you do anything else, girl, you've got to eat! She looked at her arms, she turned her head to look down her back, scanning her legs. She'd added a couple of pounds, but it wasn't enough. Protein. Nutrients. Coach's voice from the nutrition lecture. She set her bag down, foraging through the fridge and cupboards for something she could make quickly. She wolfed down her food, scanned her wall, posted her times, relishing the drip of dopamine each time she got a like. As she dropped her dishes in the sink the guys returned, noisy and giving each other shit.
She said her hellos, and made an exit. She was about to let Cos know she would be gone for a while and then the thought hit her again. Why do I want to tell him where I am? Grabbing her stuff she left the house, planning to stay away until the guys had left.
She took a lot longer than she had anticipated, coming home after 5. She felt bad, like before, like she wasn't holding up her end of the bargain, until she remembered what she'd agreed to with him. If that isn't enough, then my helping here won't matter! Bounding up the stairs, her bag hiked on her shoulder, she was startled to see the opening blocked by the bookshelf.
"Woohooo!!" She shouted down the hall. "You did it!" She heard a muffled sound from behind the case; and almost pushed on it, but something made her think twice. "I'm coming around!"
She dumped her stuff on her bed, looked at the mess, distracted momentarily by the fleeting thought she'd need to get her crap cleaned up before…before the ceremony. She could see him through the opening, working behind the case at something.
"Is it in?" She was hit with the fragrance as soon as she entered the room, the tendril shooting up unnaturally fast. She had to stop and find her breath, her mind in a whirl. In moments, the relaxation from earlier in the day, the post-run high and the hot tub were obliterated. Her spine went taught, like a bow-string, tied to her vagina at one end and her mouth at the other. She watched, or felt, the transformation rush through her, like a wave, her skin prickling, sweat beading up under her shirt, her insides moistening. She was convinced she'd figured out its trick, and having that confidence she laughed and peeled off her clothes, tossing them through the closet opening, shoving her tennies back on. "Your virgin supplicant has returned, novitiate Cos! Pray, tell me what progress thou hast made!" She giggled at his expression when he looked at her over his shoulder, surprise and delight flitting across his face.
"And has the virgin supplicant kept her promise?" He had turned back, his words reflecting off the case.
"Yes, my priest-to-be. I've not touched my pussy since you spanked me yesterday!" In for a penny, in for a pound her mother's saying whispering in her ear. If I can confess to my friends, then this is easy! The tendril had relaxed, giving more space in her brain to think straight. She noticed her skin had calmed a little as well, a small bead of sweat reminding her it had plenty of power over her still.

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