Nell would be a proper girl and kiss Mrs. Avery on both cheeks, leaving faint traces of her burgundy lipstick on the woman’s soft brown skin. She would hand her the bunch of fresh flowers she had purchased from an old man of the side of the road and thank her so much for inviting her to dinner. She would pretend this wasn’t her first visit to Mrs. Avery’s house.
Today the past nine years wouldn’t matter. They would all pretend that Nell’s mother dying wasn’t the only reason Mrs. Avery had invited her here. She and Millie wouldn’t sit in apology for who they were and Mrs. Avery would treat them as if their relationship was real, not just some phase they were going through.
It was what Nell hoped as she stood outside the door. She had left Cincinnati an hour after Millie since Millie would be staying. And Nell would act like it didn’t bother her at all the Mrs. Avery hadn’t offered that she stay overnight. She and Millie were thirty-one years old, had been living together since college graduation, but they both knew that Millie’s mother couldn’t stand for it to happen in her house.
It was Millie’s younger brother Prescott who answered the door. He resembled his older sister and he swallowed Nell’s breasts in her tight navy sweater and scanned her hips in her green suede skirt. She nodded politely, was careful not to retract her hand too quickly when he kissed it and she let him help her out of her coat.
The Avery home was festive as Nell had expected it would be. Hard little model pumpkins sat in the windows and on the dining room table. The Christmas tree was up already. The fireplace was roaring. She wondered what it must have been like for Millie growing up here. She wondered how many teenage girls Millie had slipped in through the backdoor, or helped into her bedroom window. She wondered what Mrs. Avery would have done if she had known back then.
Millie appeared. She took the bouquet from Nell and handed them to her mother, the tall, shapely dark skinned woman who stood behind her wearing a brown skirt and white sweater. Millie gathered Nell in a stiff embrace and whispered hurriedly, “be cool.” The embrace was quick and detached, not at all like what they shared at home and Nell felt that Millie may as well have been hugging her from across the street.
Nell moved past Millie, inhaling her sweet citrus scent as she extended her hand to Mrs. Avery who shook it loosely.
“It’s good seeing you again Mrs. Avery,” she said. “Thanks again for having me.” She released the exchange quickly, having become aware of her moist palms.
Mrs. Avery kissed Nell lightly on her cheek. “Well, it’s wonderful to have you, dear. I keep telling Millicent that she should bring you to visit more often.”
Nell smiled when what she wanted to do was tell Mrs. Avery about the many times Millie had asked about bringing her here and how she always had some excuse, some reason why it wasn’t the right time. “Well, I keep pretty busy with work. It’s kind of hard for us to get time off to get away at the same time,” she said instead.
“Well, come, come in, honey,” Mrs. Avery said, accentuating honey with a slow southern drawl.
Nell followed the older woman into the dining room where Millie was bent over the table straightening the already straight tablecloth. Nell touched Millie’s back gently when she passed her and she felt Millie tense. Nell cocked her head to meet Millie’s eyes and looked at her accusingly. She wanted to know why Millie was acting like they hadn’t awakened in each other’s arms that very morning, like Nell hadn’t traced her knees and the insides of her thighs with wet kisses. Millie was just nervous, Nell figured, and she could understand that.
At the dinner table, Nell stared past the sheer white curtains at the steadily falling snow outside. She had hoped it wouldn’t get this bad since from the moment she had stepped inside Mrs. Avery’s house she felt like a stranger that everyone wanted to quickly depart. Even Millie, who sat beside her, seemed distant.
Nell pushed Prescott’s thigh away from hers with her knee. She ignored his frown and his mouth silently forming the word “dyke.” Defiantly, she moved her hands from her lap. She placed one on Millie’s knee and rubbed. Millie cleared her throat and blinked her eyes hard. Nell then slipped out of her shoes and rubbed her feet against Millie’s ankle. Millie jumped and her knee bumped the table, sending the silverware flying.
Mrs. Avery frowned. “Millicent, what’s wrong, dear?”
“Yeah, sis, what’s up with you. Somebody… I mean something crawling on you?” Prescott added, narrowing his eyes at Nell.
Millie smiled. “No, I just thought I felt something run across my feet, that’s all. It was nothing.”
Nell waited for Mrs. Avery to focus on her dinner plate again before she reached for Millie’s hand which lay in her lap. Millie clasped them and placed them on the table. Determined to get Millie to relax, Nell reached over, slipped her arm around her waist but Millie stiffened, took Nell’s hand in her own and eased it down. Nell squinted at her lover questioningly.
“Do you still have that little dog, Nellie?” Mrs. Avery asked, stabbing her fork into her red potatoes.
Nell reluctantly turned to face her. “You mean our toy poodle, Frankie? Yes, we still have him. And the name’s Nell, just Nell will be fine.”
Mrs. Avery grinned. “Nell, hmm. Is that your full name, dear? Your mother actually named you that?”
“My name is actually Lanell, but I don’t like it and I don’t use it.”
“Lanell,” Mrs. Avery repeated, “I don’t like it very much either. I think I employed someone named Nell a long time ago.” She turned to Millie. “Do you remember her, the housekeeper, Millicent? Wasn’t Nell her name?”
Millie seemed startled that anyone was speaking to her. “Her name was Beverly, mother,” she said.
“Oh, right, Beverly. And Millicent, darling, where will your friend be staying this evening?”
Mrs. Avery asked looking from one of the women to the other. “I know she was going to drive back home, but it’s getting pretty bad out. Did she make arrangements?”
Millie shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Um, well, I guess…” She cleared her throat, unable to finish her sentence and stuffed her mouth with more potatoes.
“Excuse me,” Nell said and rose from her chair.
Unable to sit through another minute of Mrs. Avery’s snide remarks, she through her napkin down on the table and dashed to the bathroom. She tugged her skirt and tights down and plopped on the toilet seat exhausted from being angry that Millie didn’t defend her and tired from acting like it didn’t bother her. She jumped when she heard the suction of the door opening slightly. She grabbed her bunched thong underwear prepared to snatch them up and kick Prescott in the teeth if she had to. When she discovered it was only Millie, she still had the urge to kick but held her head down and clung to her panties instead.
Millie closed the door quietly behind her. She looked past Nell at the shower curtains, out the window, at the towel rack. “You can stay here,” she said, “The weather’s too bad for you to get back out on the road. But…”
“What?” Nell looked up at her then. “Your mother’s been to our house before. It’s not like she doesn’t know.”
“But we’re in her house, Nell, and keeping us separate, well, I guess that’s her way of denying what is.”
“Then we should go to a hotel,” Nell said.
“We can’t, Nell. We just can’t. Look, it’ll just be for one night. I won’t stay that extra day like I planned and I’ll leave right behind you in the morning.”
“It’s not about us just getting through the night Millie, and you know it. If we let her get away with this, she’ll never accept us.”
Millie exhaled loudly. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just too late to try and get her to change.”
“Maybe you don’t want her to.”
“Don’t do that?”
“Fine, I won’t.” Nell shook her head at the lover who now seemed as much a stranger to her as every other person in the house. “And you can just tell Queen Elizabeth it won’t be necessary to prepare the servant’s chambers. I won’t be staying.”
“Have you seen how it looks out there?” Millie asked, pointing out the window over the tub. “You couldn’t move that car two feet in that mess.” She played with her long, brown ponytail.
“Well, I’ll walk.”
“No, you won’t do that, either.” Millie breathed impatiently. “You will stay here tonight and we’ll go home tomorrow and talk about it.”
“Home,” Nell said. “Is that what we have, a home? Gosh, I’m not sure your mother would approve of that.”
“Look, Nell you didn’t have to live with her, okay? You didn’t grow up in this house, so don’t you dare sit there and judge me!”
“Fine, I won’t judge you. I just go back downstairs and let your mother continue to judge me instead.” When she realized that she was talking to Millie with her ass settled on a toilet seat, Nell fell silent and lifted herself up. “Excuse me,” she said, “we wouldn’t want her to see both of us missing from the dinner table.” Nell snatched up her garments and zipped her skirt.
Millie nodded in response, her arms crossed over her chest, lips folded, eyes watering, but Nell slid past her, their sweaters brushing briefly and trotted down the stairs two at a time.
Millie’s mother nodded and smiled when Nell reached the bottom step. “Then you’ll be staying with us tonight, dear?” she asked and to Nell, her voice sounded like a fingernails on a blackboard.
“Yes, ma’am, if you don’t mind. I’ll be on the road as soon as the roads clear in the morning.”
She sat down on the sofa where Prescott sat on the opposite end, his head bobbing up and down, his tongue sliding across his lips. Nell crossed her legs and pulled her skirt down as far as it would go. She hoped the guest room was far away from his.
Millie bobbed down the stairs precisely five minutes later, her hands still damp from splashing water on her face, which dripped from her chin. Nell couldn’t believe that she hadn’t even bothered to wipe it off.
“Could you show me to the guest room, please, Millie?” Nell asked. “I’m feeling rather tired and want to lay down.” She hoped that her voice told Nell that there would be no home for them when they left here, that she had let all that go when she decided to let her mother hang her out to dry.
“Sure, come on.” It was quick, and Millie didn’t even look in Nell’s direction.
The guest bedroom was large, but Nell had expected as much. It went along with the house, this grand, beautiful house that she now felt like she was invading. She kicked her shoes off and pushed them beneath the ivory wing backed chair.
“Thanks,” Nell said. “You can go back down with your mother and brother now.”
“Why are you so anxious for me to leave? Don’t you even want to spend a little time with me?”
“It’s only for a night. We’ve got our whole lives to spend together don’t we?” She didn’t try to cloak the sarcasm.
“Don’t do this, Nell.”
“No, Millie, you did this. You could have something, anything out there but you let your mother gnaw at me like a vulture. Hell, I could have stayed home and avoided this shit all together.”
“But I wanted you here with me.”
Millie placed her hand on Nell’s shoulder and Nell shrugged it off. “Maybe you do. But she sure doesn’t.” Nell jerked her head toward the door as if Millie’s mother was standing on just the other side of it.
“That doesn’t matter. I’m the one who loves you. I thought you knew that.”
“So, what can I do now that you know I didn’t really tell her anything and you’re all mad at me? What can I do besides apologize to you over and over again?”
Nell studied her feet how they pressed small prints against the plush carpet. It felt good beneath her feet, soft. It almost tickled. She gazed around the room, at its elegant trinkets and furnishing. Then her eyes landed on the tall queen sized bed that sat in the middle of the room covered in a soft ivory comforter and several pillows. She mulled over Millie’s words for a moment, then broke into a wicked smile.
“You want to know what you can do?” Nell asked.
“Yes, Nell, tell me. I’ll do anything.”
“You can lay on the bed with me for a while.”
She saw Millie’s eyes go blank. Millie pointed toward the door. “I can stay up here and talk to you a while but I won’t be able to take a nap with you. I’ll have to go back downstairs soon. I told mother I would help in the kitchen.”
Nell reached out and stroked Millie’s bare arm. “Just lay across the bed with me for a while, then I’ll go down with you and help. How’s that?”
Her voice unsteady, Millie said, “Okay, I guess it’ll be fine. But just for a minute, okay?”
“It’ll only be a minute, I promise,” Nell said.
Millie lay sideways across the bed on her back. Her feet dangled near the floor. Nell sat beside her, rubbed Millie’s legs through her stockings. She let her hands travel down to Millie’s knees, then to her ankles and pulled her shoes off and let them fall to the floor.
Millie jerked her head up. “What are you doing, Nell? You said we’d only be up here for a minute!”
“And we will.” Nell pushed Millie gently back on the bed and lay back beside her. She threw her leg over Millie’s thighs and buried her head in Millie’s hair.
“What are you doing?” Millie whispered loudly.
“Well, you’ve never asked that before,” Nell said, grinning, sniffing Millie’s perfume.
“Nell, we can’t!”
“Yes, Millie, we can. I can.”
Nell massaged Millie’s thighs, pulled them open with her palms and let her hands travel beneath Millie’s skirt. She wondered what Millie’s mother was doing just below them, wondered what the woman would say, what she would think if she opened the door at precisely that moment.
“No, Nell. I’ve been gone too long already.”
Millie sounded frightened now and Nell was glad. She wanted Millie to be afraid that her mother would find out. She wanted Millie to be afraid that her mother would walk in and find Millie being had by another woman.
“It hasn’t even been five minutes, Millie, relax.”
And Millie did relax, though she struggled not to. Her chest fell in a deep sigh and she placed her hand on top of Nell’s. Slowly, Nell ran her fingers along the edge of Millie’s bikini panties, slipped her finger inside them and rubbed Millie between her legs. She watched Millie’s eyes flutter closed and her lips bundle tightly. She felt Millie’s butt rise and fall on the bed.
Nell took Millie’s hand off of hers and let it rest on the bed. She pulled Millie’s skirt up over hips and let it settle around her waist. Then she pushed her finger inside of Millie and watched as she seemed to fight against something wanting to erupt from her throat. Millie’s mouth opened, but no words came out. Nell pushed in a second finger, urging Millie to let it all go. She wanted Millie to shout, to thrash about and pound the bed, to release it all. The pushed in third finger then and Millie’s shrieked lightly.
“Nell…” Millie breathed.
“My mother… I… ooh… right downstairs.”
“That’s right, Millie. She’s right below us. And what do you think she would say if she came through that door right now?” She teased Millie’s clit with her thumb. “What would your mother think of me fucking you in her house?”
Millie shook her head. She opened her mouth then closed it again.
“That’s right. Mrs. Avery wouldn’t like that would she?”
The though of it made Nell warm. Her nipples hardened against her sweater and with her free hand, she guided Millie’s hand there. Millie squeezed gently, still pumping and grinding against Nell’s fingers. Millie gasped her eyes closed tight.
Nell wondered if Millie would stain the bed, if Mrs. Avery would come to change the linen tomorrow and immediately know the scent of her daughter lingered there. She wondered if Mrs. Avery would accept then that it was what Nell and Millie did when they were not in this house, when they were in their own home, together.
Millie grabbed Nell’s shoulder, leaned against Nell’s breasts as Nell worked her steadily with her fingers. Her breath was hot and moist against Nell and Nell leaned forward to catch Millie’s lips with her own and they kissed, their tongues wrapped around each other dancing slowly.
Millie used her hand again to force Nell’s fingers to go faster inside her and her knees buckled and her ass rose as she bit her lips against the scream that threatened to escape her lips. Nell felt Millie go wet against her fingers and she pulled them out of Millie, patted Millie’s thighs and rose from the bed.
She watched Millie regain her composure, lift herself up from the bed and straighten her stockings and skirt. Millie kissed Nell on the lips and led her by the hand back down the stairs.
Mrs. Avery greeted them with a smile as she stood over the dishes. “I thought you were tired and going to lay down, dear,” she said to Nell.
“No, ma’am. I changed my mind. I thought I’d help out down here.”
“So do you girls want to dry and stack while I wash?”
“Sure mom,” Millie said, a hint of exhaustion still in her voice.
Nell walked over to the woman. “But wait,” she said reaching for Millie’s mother’s cheek.
“You have something there.” She brushed her Millie stained fingers against the older woman’s face. “There, I got it.”
“Why, thank you, dear,” Millie’s mother smiled broadly.
Nell watched Millie grip the counter to steady herself and Nell smiled at the astonished look on her face. “Thanks again for inviting me to your mama’s house,” she said to Millie, smiling slyly.
“Oh, no problem,” Millie stuttered and buried her hands in the soapy water.
Copyright © 2004. Used by permission of author. All Rights Reserved.