Second Impressions

Second Impressions
By Virginia Black

Jude tugged her shirt into place over her jeans and unfastened the button that was probably going to pop open anyway. She cleared the last few steps of the hall stairwell and walked into the living room of the house where she’d lived for the last five weeks. Jude assessed the small crowd with mild annoyance. The party had doubled in size in the last twenty minutes.

Milla, her best friend and unofficial landlord, had insisted that Jude change into something sexier for the party, and then threatened to come find her if she took too long. Jude hadn’t given her outfit much thought – jeans, boots, a black shirt that was tighter in the chest than it used to be – but now she was worried that it looked like she was trying to get laid.

Jude absolutely, positively was not trying to get laid.

She thought about changing clothes again but then decided she wasn’t going to be downstairs long enough for it to matter. No matter what Milla wanted, Jude herself was not in a partying mood. While her recent breakup didn’t hurt as much as it had when it was fresh, it was still on her mind and she wanted to keep to herself. At her earliest opportunity, she’d head back upstairs and hide out for the rest of the evening.

Her eyes wandered over the packed crowd of New Year’s Eve revelers and Milla’s impressive decorations. By day, the old house looked rundown to the point of condemned, with clearly visible duct-work and pipes and electrical wire between exposed two-by-fours in walls that had been stripped of sheetrock. Now that it was after dark, though, with strings of lights along the walls and ceiling and candles lit throughout the room, it looked almost rustic.

Jude thought about finding Milla and logging some face-to-face time before she snuck off to her room, but saw her roommate busy near the entryway, greeting Zoe, the kitchen manager from the pub where they all worked for Jude’s grandfather, Edgar.

Zoe had brought a couple of friends, and Jude watched one of them, a tall guy dressed in tight black everything that screamed musician, head over to the kitchen. Milla’s friends from the bar kept pouring into the house, and most of them were some kind of artist or another – several musicians, a few street performers and at least one graffiti artist Milla had bailed out of jail the previous summer.

After a few minutes of attempting to play wallflower, Jude decided she should at least have a beer and maneuvered her way through the crowd to the corner of the living room where the keg was stashed. The guy in black spandex tried to flirt with her, but she wasn’t interested and headed off to find another spot to give wallflowering another chance.

Jude sighed, sipped from her cup, and went back to people watching. With this crowd, there was a lot to see. One guest, though, seemed out of place. Jude couldn’t make out her features, but while everyone else at the party was in costume or wearing some sort of nightclub evening wear, one woman wore a simple yet elegant little black dress that fell to just above her knees. There was an empty path in the crowd, and she could see the woman’s full figure from head to toe as she stood talking to Zoe in the kitchen. She had long, blonde hair, muscular shoulders and a back revealed by the thin straps holding up the dress.

Jude admired the long, lean definition of the woman’s legs and the sleek black pumps on her feet. She was surprised to feel a hint of interest on her part – she hadn’t looked at anyone twice in weeks.

At that moment, the woman happened to look in Jude’s direction. To Jude’s surprise, a warm smile appeared on the woman’s face, and she raised a hand to wave at Jude. She didn’t look away when Jude waved back. In fact, she was acting like she knew Jude.

There was something familiar about the woman, but Jude didn’t remember her. Who was she?

Jude’s curiosity got the best of her, and since the woman was still looking at her expectantly, she decided to walk over and solve the mystery.

When Jude got closer, Zoe had wandered off, but the woman in the kitchen was still looking at Jude expectantly, and now it was too late to turn back without appearing rude. She recognized who it was, though she’d never seen Sophia look like this. The one time Jude remembered, Sophia had looked attractive in a cold, distant way, but now…now she looked stunning. Even the cheap party cup in her hands didn’t detract from her beauty and grace. Her smile was open and welcoming, as if she were greeting an old friend.

Jude decided to make nice for a few minutes before excusing herself to go mingle…and then she’d sneak back to her room.

“Hey, Sophia,” Jude tried for casual, then wondered why it mattered.

“Hi, Jude,” Sophia said, her tone warm. “Good to see you. How’ve you been?” Sophia might have looked totally out of place in this crowd, yet seemed completely at ease.

“Not bad,” Jude lied, not wanting to talk about how things really were. “How about you? How’s, um, doctoring?”

Sophia smiled and answered but Jude only heard every third word. She’d never been this close to Sophia – close enough to see the exact shade of her honey-brown eyes, or the tan of her skin.

“Haven’t seen you in awhile,” Jude said. “Last spring, maybe? At the pub?”

Jude knew exactly when she’d seen Sophia last. It had been her ex-boyfriend Perry’s birthday party back in May. Edgar had closed the pub down for the night so the staff could celebrate with a few of Perry’s cop buddies. Perry’s partner, Kim, had held her own in the evening’s drinking festivities.

Then Sophia had strolled in, completely overdressed for the pub in a conservative suit and pearls, hair swept up into an austere bun, with steam coming out of her ears. She’d walked right up to Kim, and lit into her.

“Oh, Christ.” Sophia looked embarrassed and Jude could see her blush. “That night was the worst.” She looked uncomfortable, and tapped at her cup with one fingernail.

Now Jude felt a little mean for bringing it up. “Yikes. Sorry.”

“No, no. It’s okay,” Sophia said. “I never did get the chance to apologize. I’m so sorry about my behavior that night.” Her eyes met Jude’s directly with an open look that gave Jude pause.

Jude guessed that Sophia didn’t really owe her an apology. Kim was the one who’d been publicly reamed. Jude had caught part of the conversation that night – if one person yelling at another could be called a conversation – and had heard Sophia call Kim thoughtless, irresponsible and juvenile. At the time, Jude had seen why Perry had described Sophia as an overbearing, jealous bitch who thought she was too good for her girlfriend’s crowd.

Sophia had stomped out soon after.

“None of that should have gone down at the pub,” Sophia said. “I had this talk – a, um, presentation I had to give that night to my boss and my whole department. It was a pretty big deal and I was terrified. Kim had promised me up and down that she’d come be my moral support but she didn’t show up. Then she dumped me via text. I kinda lost it.”

Jude was shocked. “What?” That didn’t gel with the story she’d been told by Perry. Then again, Perry got a lot of things wrong, now that she thought about it.

Sophia looked apologetic. “Yeah. We’d been rocky for a while, but that night everything came to a head. I felt really bad about being such an ass in front of everyone, but wasn’t sure how to make up for it when I didn’t really know any of you.”

Jude remembered that while Kim always seemed to be around, she’d often said that her girlfriend, the doctor, was too busy working to come hang with the rest of their crew.

“I actually saw you a couple of months ago,” Sophia said.

“Oh, yeah?” Jude was surprised. “Where?”

“At The Down Low,” Sophia said. “I was having dinner with a colleague in the new restaurant in the back of the pub.” She stood taller and smiled widely at Jude. “Which is fabulous, by the way. I assumed that was your idea, like the new happy hour menu at the bar.”

Jude was gobsmacked that Sophia knew anything about her. “Yeah.” She recovered and smiled back. “Yeah, I talked Edgar into a few changes when I took over as general manager.”

“You’re the manager now?” Sophia seemed excited for her.

Jude nodded as she swallowed another sip of her beer. “I took over in July.” It had actually been a bone of contention between her and Perry. He wanted her to settle down with him and be a cop’s wife, but she wanted a life of her own outside their relationship.

He also thought the pub was just fine before, and had said more than once that it was dumb to fix what wasn’t broken.

A roar of cheers sounded from across the room. Jude looked over to see Kim raise an arm in victory as she finished her beer bong. Billy, the huge mountain of a bouncer from the pub, hung his head in defeat.
Jude wondered what things were like between Sophia and Kim now, and hoped there wasn’t about to be a repeat show.

To her surprise, Sophia laughed at Kim’s antics. “Some things never change,” she said.

“You two get back together?” Jude wondered why she didn’t like that idea.

Sophia had just raised her cup to her lips and nearly sputtered as she drank her beer. “Oh, hell, no,” she said, with obvious affection. “I love the girl, and we go way back, but that ship has sailed and sank at sea. We’re just friends, and probably will be forever.”

Another roar sounded and Jude eyes were drawn back to the spectacle. In another section of the party, loud laughter drowned out everything else for a minute, and somewhere, someone bumped into a wall hard enough to knock some loose plaster from the ceiling.

Jude and Sophia were the only ones in the open kitchen area, while the rest of the party raged on.

“This kinda rowdy just isn’t my jam anymore,” Jude said, shaking her head. “I see enough of this at work.”

“Preach,” Sophia said.

“So how’d you get wrangled into coming to this party?” Jude asked as she turned her head back to look at Sophia.

“Kim. Said I couldn’t be a shut-in with only a novel as a date on New Year’s Eve. You?”

“Milla. Said I needed to get back on the horse.”

Sophia glanced quickly at Jude, then looked away.

“I, uh, heard,” Sophia said, and Jude thought she looked nervous. “That you and Perry broke up, I mean.”

Jude frowned. It wasn’t that Jude didn’t want anyone to know. She just didn’t want to talk about it much. After two years of trying to make it work, and months of feeling invisible and isolated even when they were together, she’d had an epiphany about Perry during Thanksgiving dinner with her grandfather. While looking around the room at all their gathered friends and family, she’d realized that she wanted a family of her own – but not with Perry.

She’d broken up with Perry the next day. Milla, while she and Jude hit the sales on Black Friday, had offered up her extra room. Jude had lived here ever since.

The relationship was over and done, and her feelings for Perry had changed long before the final breakup, but thinking about it all still made her sad.

“Yeah, well.” Jude really didn’t want to talk about Perry with Sophia. She wasn’t sure why, but the details of her breakup felt trivial at the moment. “To borrow an analogy you might recognize, that relationship had been on life support for a long time. It was time to pull the plug.” Right then, Jude decided she didn’t want to talk or even think about Perry Williams anymore.

“Ouch,” Sophia said, but she gave Jude a wry grin. Jude thought she looked pleased.

“Yeah,” Jude said, and tried to think of a way to change the subject. “So how do you and Zoe know each other?” Jude realized that they’d seemed pretty close earlier.

“She and I volunteer at the food bank together,” Sophia said. “I met her there a couple years back.”

Jude raised her eyebrows in surprise. Not that Sophia did charity work, but that Zoe did. “The food bank, huh?” Jude was trying to keep the subject from slipping back to her and Perry.

“I know what it’s like to go hungry,” Sophia said, matter-of-factly. “No one should go through that.”

Jude was surprised into silence, and covered it by taking a sip of her beer. She’d expected to hear some humanitarian reason from Sophia. All this time, she’d thought Sophia was old money. Perhaps that wasn’t the case.

Conversation slowed to a crawl between them, but Jude wanted to learn more about Sophia.

“What’d you do for the holidays?” Jude asked, hoping to keep Sophia talking. She watched Sophia toss her hair from her face with a slight whip of her head and admired the way it fell on her shoulders.

“I went to visit my family in California,” Sophia said. She took a sip from her cup and then glanced at the cup as if surprised it was still there. “I haven’t been back home in awhile and my mother wouldn’t let me hear the end of it.”

Jude frowned. “I thought you were from Boston or somewhere in New England,” she said.

“No. I was born and raised in Los Angeles.”

“Oh!” Where had she gotten that idea from?

“How about you?” Sophia asked, and stepped closer to Jude as if really interested in the answer.

Suddenly, Jude wasn’t so eager to escape.

Without meaning to, Jude ended up talking about her holidays with her grandfather, and not just this year, but their traditions from years past, including competitions with her grandfather’s neighbors about who had the more garish holiday display.

Sophia talked about her own previous holidays, some of them spent overseas. Jude learned that Sophia had been in the army as part of her plan to become a doctor and had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In fact, Jude thought, she had learned that she didn’t know much about Sophia at all.

Someone hijacked the sound system, and electronic dance music gave way to classic rock. Jude approved, and suddenly felt more at ease as she stood talking with Sophia while people weaved in and out of the kitchen, snaking food from the counter as they passed. Jude forgot entirely about her plan to leave the party early.

“So what’s the story with this house? This is mostly an industrial neighborhood.” Sophia asked. She reached across the space between them to pluck a carrot from one of the food trays, brushing against Jude in the process.

Jude turned to prop herself against the large butcher-block table Milla used as a kitchen island, idly poking one boot to pin down a corner of linoleum flooring that kept curling up. “Some old geezer wouldn’t sell this place back in the seventies when the rest of this area became factory city,” Jude said. “He died about ten years ago, but his will specified that his kids wouldn’t get a dime if they tore this place down. Milla talked them into selling it to her on contract for a ridiculously low price when she promised that she wouldn’t demolish it.”

Sophia looked around the kitchen, with its half-completed new construction, a vending machine cooler as a refrigerator and an old yellow electric range. “Well, I’d say it’s a sweet deal, but she’s got her work cut out for her.”

“Oh, let me tell you how she hustles half this stuff,” Jude said, happy to have captivated Sophia’s attention.

When their cups ran out, Jude tossed them and snagged two bottles from the makeshift cooler in the kitchen sink. She stayed perched in the kitchen with Sophia for what felt like not very long, but someone passing through the kitchen mentioned the upcoming countdown to the new year, and Jude realized that she’d lost track of time. The beer had kicked in long ago, but Jude only felt giddy, not drunk. Talking with Sophia made her feel…warm.

“Oh, you were not!” Jude said, finishing off another bottle of beer as Sophia described a Halloween party at The Down Low.

“I was! I was there all night,” Sophia said, looking smug. “You even served me – wearing that smokin’ hot red dress that looked painted on.”

Jude blushed. While she hadn’t seen Sophia since May, evidently Sophia had seen Jude several times – only Jude didn’t remember or hadn’t noticed. Jude thought that she must have been a blind idiot to miss this woman.

Right now, Sophia stood in front of her, her eyes dancing with some joke she hadn’t told yet, and Jude realized that she kept staring at Sophia. She’d caught herself several times looking at Sophia’s lips, watching them move when Sophia spoke.

Something moved behind Sophia and Jude looked over her shoulder. One hundred eighteen pounds of petite Russian dynamo was flying across the room, long black hair streaming behind her as she headed straight for them. Jude’s face must have given some kind of warning because Sophia sprang into motion, turning around quickly to move protectively in front of Jude and block whatever was coming.

Milla crashed right into Sophia, spilling her cup of what was no doubt straight vodka all over the front of Sophia’s dress. Milla cursed and apologized profusely, while Jude tried not to giggle at the sight of Sophia gingerly pulling the sopping wet fabric away from her skin.

Sophia was good-natured about the whole thing, waved off Milla’s drunken attempts to wring out the vodka, and assured her that all was well. Milla grabbed a refill and urged Jude to come be her wingman while she made a move on one of Zoe’s friends. Jude begged off, and Milla whirled away once again.

Jude covered her mouth to contain her laughter. “Sorry about the dress.”

“I don’t suppose there’s a towel around here somewhere?”

“Yeah, in the bathroom. Come on.” Jude took Sophia by the hand and led her through the crowd – how many people could fit in this house? By the time she reached the base of the stairs, she found that Milla had marked it off with three kinds of tape, labeled “CAUTION”, “CONSTRUCTION AREA”, and “POLICE LINE – DO NOT CROSS”. Jude wondered how the hell Milla had gotten her hands on the last one.

She pulled down some of the tape so they could duck through, then replaced it behind them. “Guess she decided the upstairs is off limits.”

“What’s up here?” Sophia sounded worried. “Is it safe?”

“The bedrooms and bathroom are up here,” Jude said as she navigated the rickety stairwell. “Guess everyone else is banished to the port-o-potties outside.”

Jude realized she hadn’t let go of Sophia’s hand. She thought it would be a bigger deal if she let it go, so she held on to it.

It was cooler in the stairwell without the warmth of so many bodies, and the air smelled strongly of weed. The wall that ran along the outside of the house was still nothing but plywood and two-by-fours. Jude tried to stay close to Sophia – while trying to seem like she wasn’t.

Sophia looked wary and stepped gingerly on the creaky bottom stair, then took another. “Getting to your bathroom is like earning a merit badge.”

Jude winced. “Stick to the sides of the stairs. Milla’s boys haven’t rebuilt these yet, but the bones are solid.”

“Milla’s boys?”

“You know Billy, the bouncer?” Jude didn’t need to watch her own feet, so she focused on Sophia’s climb up the stairs behind her. “He’s got three identical brothers. They’ve got their own construction outfit and Milla has worked out a deal with them to do side projects on this place.”

“Holy shit,” Sophia said, moving a little faster up the stairs. “Are they all the size of a mountain?”

“Yup,” Jude said. “And get this. They call themselves Quad Construction.”

Sophia started giggling, and her next step fell in the middle of a loose floorboard. She tripped and was about to fall over, but Jude reached out just in time to stop her fall.

One hand still held Sophia’s tightly, while the other wrapped around Sophia’s hip. Jude’s face was inches from Sophia’s, close enough for Jude to catch the scent of Sophia’s hair – apples and rosemary. Her eyes fell again to Sophia’s pale and perfect lips. Jude’s heart began to thump harder in her chest, and she didn’t know whether to let go or stay where she was or –

“Thanks, Jude,” Sophia said softly as she steadied herself.

Jude pulled away, but Sophia twined her fingers between Jude’s and wouldn’t let Jude’s hand go.

Jude didn’t trust herself to speak right then. She turned and guided Sophia to the top of the stairs, through the short hall and into the half-constructed bathroom. The walls were naked lathe-and-plaster, but the fixtures and cabinets were new.

She let go of Sophia’s hand with some reluctance.

Jude grabbed a towel and handed it to Sophia, who immediately tried to squeeze out the excess liquid. “Let’s give this a shot as well,” she said, pulling out the hair dryer. “Cross your fingers.” Jude pulled a section of the dress gently away from Sophia’s waist and aimed the hair dryer. “Hope we don’t short out the whole house.” She thumbed the switch to turn on the hair dryer and they stood still as the lights briefly flickered.

“Tell me if it gets too hot,” Jude said, then blushed at the double meaning as she realized how close she stood to Sophia. She didn’t dare look in her eyes right now. When had this happened? In just a few hours, she’d gone from thinking the woman was a cold, arrogant bitch to thinking she was the most beautiful person in the house. She wanted to kiss Sophia and not stop.

Against her will, she glanced up at Sophia.

Sophia wore a small smile, her brown eyes bright.

The lights flickered again, and Jude looked down to see she’d accidentally changed the setting on the hair dryer to low. She flipped it back to high.

“I’m pretty sure I reek of vodka now,” Sophia said loudly over the whine of the dryer.

“Well, then, now you’ve got a fighting chance with Milla,” Jude laughed.

“You have a beautiful laugh, Jude,” Sophia said, and Jude wasn’t sure, but it looked like she was blushing again.

“Are you flirting with me, doctor?” Jude tried not to bat her eyes, but did crook an eyebrow.

“Why would I do that?” Sophia smiled.

“Because I’m a fucking catch,” Jude said, surprising herself with her quick response.

Sophia snorted, but Jude thought she managed to make it seem elegant.

“Didn’t you just break up with your boyfriend?” Sophia’s eyes said that she really didn’t give a damn.

“Why are you bringing up old stuff?” Jude knew that she was being teased. It was a ridiculously loud conversation thanks to the dryer.

“Do you always answer questions with more questions?”

“Kind of annoying, isn’t it?”

“I don’t flirt with straight women,” Sophia said, pressing one hand to her chest as she spoke with a fake conservatism that was belied by her wide grin.

“What makes you think I’m straight?” Jude said, wryly quirking her lips, and watched Sophia blush again. Jude thought that blush was sexy as hell.

“I don’t think you can be trusted to answer reliably in your current inebriated state,” Sophia said loudly, fighting her embarrassment while she laughed, and clearly a little tipsy herself.

“Why not?”

“Because of the key, data-driven difference between lesbians and straight women,” she said, as if setting up a joke.

“What’s that?” Jude was practically yelling over the sound of the hair dryer.

“Two drinks,” Sophia smirked.

Jude laughed like a maniac, aware that she was too loud and could probably be heard downstairs. She also realized that the dryer wasn’t really doing any good and thumbed it off.

“I assure you that alcohol does not affect my sexual orientation, thank you very much,” Jude said.

“Which is what exactly?”

“You’re the doctor. Figure it out,” Jude said, barely getting out the dig through her laughter. “And it wouldn’t matter unless you were flirting with me. Q.E.D.” She stashed the dryer on a nearby shelf.

“Maybe I am,” Sophia said, no longer joking.

Jude blinked away the buzz of her last drink, suddenly serious. Something felt different about the way Sophia was looking at her, and the urge to kiss Sophia rose again.

Sophia hadn’t moved away – in fact, she leaned toward Jude. Her eyes sparkled.

For a moment, Jude doubted her next move. Maybe Sophia wasn’t into her and she was misreading everything. Then she nearly smacked herself in the head. It was obvious, and she’d missed it.

Jude pushed her caution aside, and raised one hand to trace her fingers down Sophia’s cheek and along her jaw. Sophia’s eyes closed slowly, then opened again. Jude leaned forward, giving Sophia every opportunity to pull away, then finally closed her eyes and pressed her lips to Sophia’s with the barest touch of a kiss.

The feel of Sophia’s lips stopped Jude’s breath. A flutter began in her belly as Sophia kissed her back, a delicate introduction between them that pulled them physically closer together.

The tip of Sophia’s tongue danced against her lower lip, and when Jude returned the delicate touch, Sophia’s gasp made the flutter in Jude’s belly clench. Jude moaned, and felt Sophia’s hand on her hip, pulling Jude closer.

Someone downstairs yelled near the stairwell, and they both jumped.

Sophia cleared her throat and leaned back. “This is probably hopeless,” Sophia said, looking down at her dress.

“Well, let me at least get you a change of clothes so you don’t freeze,” Jude said, trying to keep her tone normal to cover her newly discovered desire. She idly wondered if Sophia had brought a coat. The dress she was wearing surely wasn’t for the winter outdoors. “Come on.”

Jude led Sophia across the hall to the room where she was staying. The glass in the French doors had recently been replaced, manufacturer stickers still on each pane, and thick dark red velvet curtains hung just inside the door, blocking the room from outside view. One standing lamp lit the room, revealing renovations that were mostly done. Three of the four walls were covered in new drywall and paint. The fourth wall was unfinished, exposing beams and wiring.

While the bed and armoire had already been here when she’d moved in, Jude had added a few touches to make it her own. A wingback chair with a standing reading lamp was positioned in one corner, and a low loveseat and small coffee table sat against the far wall.

The bass of the music downstairs rumbled the floorboards, adding to the womblike feel of the room.

Jude tried to focus, to remember why she was here. “Let me see if I can find something for you.” She walked across the room, turning on another lamp as she passed, and opened the armoire. She sifted through the stacks of clothes inside. Maybe she had a pair of sweats that were long enough for Sophia’s legs. She swallowed down her nerves, flustered at the thought of the muscular thighs she’d glimpsed a few minutes ago.

“You sure this wasn’t a ploy to get me alone in your room?” Sophia’s voice sounded from somewhere behind her.

“Hey, I’m not the one who blocked Milla’s drink with her whole body.” Jude laughed. “But I assure you that I’m a perfect gentleman.” She found the sweatpants she’d been searching for along with a long-sleeved t-shirt and turned around to hand them to Sophia.

Jude’s hand tightened around the clothes so she wouldn’t drop them. Sophia stood right next to her, wearing nothing but black panties and pumps, though the balled up dress in her hands covered her bare breasts.

“God, I hope not,” Sophia said with a shy smile and leaned forward to kiss Jude before Jude could say a word.

The sounds of the distant party faded away. This kiss was completely different from the one in the bathroom. That had been slow and sweet, an introduction of touch and taste, a question asked and answered.

Now, Sophia’s kiss was open and deep, an invitation for much, much more. It made promises that tightened a knot in Jude’s belly and drove all thought from her mind.

 XX – XX – XX

 Jude woke later to the whisper of fingers stroking her back and shoulder, and saw the faint blue light of early morning wash over the far side of the room as it peeked through one of the boarded-up windows. She pushed her hips back, moving against Sophia in welcome, felt Sophia pull her closer and kiss the valley of Jude’s shoulder and neck.

Jude pressed the arm around her tighter against her skin. “I can’t believe how good you feel,” she said, her voice scratchy and low.

“I’ll have you know that you owe me a date,” Sophia said. “At least dinner and a movie. I’m not the kind of girl who just puts out, you know.” Jude felt Sophia’s tongue gently lick along the line of her shoulder blade.

“Of course not.” Jude said, playing along. She rolled over onto her back, pulling Sophia half over her body. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “This was fast, right? You good? I like you too much already to blow it with stupid mistakes.” She took a deep breath, Sophia’s scent surrounding her. She felt Sophia’s quiet laughter reverberate through her body.

“Doesn’t feel like a mistake to me.” Sophia raised her eyes to Jude’s. “And if it is, well…sometimes you have to do the stupid thing.” She kissed along Jude’s jaw.

“This is a helluva way to start something.” Jude stroked Sophia’s back with the palm of her hand.

“Well, we don’t have to tell anyone this is how we started,” Sophia said with a smile in her voice, her kisses moving to the join of Jude’s jaw and neck. “I lied to you before,” she whispered, and nipped at Jude’s ear. “I came to the party hoping to see you.”

Jude smiled as Sophia snaked one hand down her thigh.


Copyright (c) 2022 Virginia Black Writes. Abridged.