"Oh. Im sorry; was I asleep?"
She bit her tongue immediately. Jodi reassured her.
"Its all right. You may speak now. Maniqua wouldnt come."
"I didnt expect she would."
Pretending this insulted her, Jodi turned away.
Brandy rose to apologize; the room appeared to warp as she collapsed back into her chair.
"Are you all right!?"
It was Jodi, now, who rushed to Brandys side.
"I dont know. Yes. A little dizzy, is all. Must be I'm allergic to that bittersweet tea."
"Let me get you a glass of water."
"That might help."
Jodi filled a tumbler and carried it back from the sink.
"Do you feel ill?"
"No." Brandy drank. "I must have stood up too fast. Like the blood—you know that feeling(?)—rushed to my feet?
Jodi pressed Brandy's hands.
"Youre cold as ice!"
She rubbed them until the friction brought back some warmth.
Brandy puckered her lips, moving her tongue underneath, still aware of the teas peculiar tang.
Jodi, bending over, slid her tongue into Brandys mouth, then kissed her.
"Sleepy, my sweet?"
Stunned, but not repulsed, Brandy replied.
"No. As a matter of fact I'm feeling wide awake. Maybe I can meet your friend another time."
"We could visit Maniqua tomorrow that is, if you're willing to spend the night."
"Ill ask Simon. Were not in any big hurry. Ive rented a motel room in town for the entire week. Except I left my present."
"Huh? Oh, nothing But where will we all sleep? Simon's hogging the bed."
"I have a hammock out back and a good sleeping bag. Have you ever slept in a hammock?"
"Not since I was a girl scout."
"It might be a bit snug with the two of us, but its wonderful to be rocked asleep by a breeze. If youre really not sleepy yet we could do some star-gazing. You can see millions."
Brandy hesitated; Jodi quickly addressed her unvoiced concern.
"You go check on your friend while I get things ready. Remember, if he calls, we wont be far. Prop a note by his pillow. That way, if he wakes, he'll know where to find us. Okay?"
Brandy, candle in hand, returned to the living room. Jodi followed her in, then detoured toward the wardrobe where she rummaged for her sleeping bag and something on which to write. Handing Brandy a note pad and a broken red-orange crayon, she pointed at the window (indicating the trees beyond), then padded off (content that her plan had worked).
Simon, lying on his backhands overlapped on his chest, legs crossed at the anklesbreathed as if immersed in an untroubled slumber. Brandy watched for a moment (as he, she recollected, had once watched her).
"Dont get any ideas," I told you. Well, you certainly haven't. Or, if you have, you've kept them all to yourself. Chastity, like loneliness, Simon, is a sin."
Taking the naked crayon, she wrote: WERE OUT BACK on the note pad, then placed it like a sandwich board next to his head.
As soon as Jodis asleep, Ill come lie with you.
Thus resolved, she tiptoed out into the darkness.
"Not inside this eider down. Climb on in; Ill warm you up in a jiffy."
Jodi opened the sleeping bag, its shape like a blunt banana, its nylon sheath conforming to the hammocks pliant sling.
"Will this hold both of us?"
"How much do you weigh?"
"Im not telling."
"Well, Im just shy of a hundred pounds; you cant be much heaviereven with those extraordinary curves."
"Yeah, bigger bust, bigger backside, bigger "
"Youre not overweight, just pleasingly plump."
Brandy still demurredJodi misinterpreting the hesitation.
"It holds five hundred pounds; I think were safely below that."
Reluctantly, Brandy eased herself inside. The lining smelled of incense and freshly powdered skin.
"Jodi, youre naked!"
"Do you mind?"
"Arent you cold?"
"Just my nose. Hey, look up."
The sky, through the branches overhead, was sprinkled with pinprick stars.
"Oh, my goodness gracious Never, in my life, have I seen so many!"
"I told you. Arent they incredible? I can only look so long and then I get lost. Its like magnifying something too many times. You forget whos looking at what, it all seems so vast. And we're so small, by comparison, unimportant."
"Except to ourselves."
Their tree-slung bed, by design, embraced both bodies in a tip-to-toe squeeze. Brandy shifted; Jodi 'inadvertently' squished against her sidethough 'purposely' slipped her hand through the flaps of Brandys nightie.
"You shave down here?"
"Is it rough already?"
"No, not at all not if I move my fingers down like this. Smooth as a peach. Why, though? "
"Why shave, you mean? Who knows?"
"Peach halves 'n' cream; yummy!"
Jodi, where she probed, felt a telltale goo. Encouraged, she nuzzled her face into Brandys (equally hairless) underarm breathing deeply inundating herself with its quintessential scent...
while Brandy scanned the heavens for various constellations, poignantly aware of something throbbing against her thigh; Jodis member, stiff with impatience, lobbied for caresses, begged for those administered...
when, in the living room, Brandy had obliged, had even gone so far as to suckle Jodi's pert protuberance, nursed at it like an infant nourished by a teat, marveled at its sprightliness—comparable to the sex of a precocious little boy.
Jodi's hand, enclosing ductile fingers, guided them to the source of her alternating pride and shame, moaning upon contact, flinching with a pang both painful and exquisite.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No. Im tender, is all."
"Jodi, you should have told me."
"Touch it. Squeeze it. Never mind the agonybelieve me, Brandy, pleasure without it is incomplete."
"But, I don't like to cause "
"Wet it, then. Use you."
Brandy spread a film of her own emissions over Jodi's "little man."
The coo that this elicited was like an un-caged dove's.
Returned to star-gazing, each woman lost herself in the nebulous Milky Way that stretched across the cosmos like a shimmering necklace, swathed in mists as lustrous as mother-of-pearl, infinite, near and far, at once aloof and all-encompassing
then, like moon-tugged tide pools, they climaxed in unison...
as wind (obstructed by goose down) rocked their cozy chrysalis, lulled its sated occupants into a swoon of post-orgasmic calm, then ushered each exclusively into the Lap of Morpheus.
Upon hearing Jodis voice, Brandy snapped awake.
"Huh? Oh, sorry. Go back to sleep. I have to pee. "
Jodis heavy-lidded eyes blinked once then closed.
Brandy, holding the hammock as stationary as possible, unzipped the sleeping bag and eased out. The ground (as in her dream) was frosty underfoot. The moon had made its arc across the starlit sky. Tremblingly, she hurried into the house and groped her way to the bathroom.
Thank goodness its real this time; I thought Id burst! Imagine having to shuttle, indefinitely, with a waterlogged bladder. Am I really here? Youd think Id know the difference. Seems like just a minute ago I was floating around outside with two distinct Simons one asleep, the other raving like a lunatic, mistaking me for someone he was accusing of who-knows-what. This place gives me the willies. I wish wed never come. If I hadnt promised Jodi Did I dream that, too? Jeezus, Brandy, its time to sort fact from fiction.
Relieved at last, Brandy flushed the toilet, wiped her crotch with tissue, then blushed at finding a patch of mucilaginous residue. Had she been complicitous, or somehow seduced? Why, with a male nearby (for whom she longed), had she let herself be charmed by an amatory female? Confused, she walked to the living room and lay down next to "him."