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The doorbell rang, and though I wanted no visitors today, I was relieved that it wasn't the ever-inquisitive Elaine Pachmeyer. I checked the peephole and cursed myself. I had almost forgotten, even after yesterday's meeting, that I was the committee house for the week. I opened the door and let the officer in.
She was a pleasant girl, no more than 24 or 25 I would say, and her nametag said, "J.Clements". I glanced over her uniform, and wondered, as I always did when I saw a female police officer, what that must be like, to be in such a male-dominated profession, doing such scary things. Noble, but scary. Not my cup of tea, thank you, but I was sure glad that there were people willing to do it.
"Hi Mrs. Cutler," she said, sticking out her hand, "I'm Joy. I've got the neighborhood this week."
"Hi, Joy... and please, no Mrs. Cutler stuff. It's Nina."
She grinned. "Ok thanks. I'm just so used to-"
"I know, you're used to the snooties around here who think that because they have money they have to be treated like royalty. Listen, I appreciate what you do, and as far as I'm concerned, it's your neighborhood this week. Come on in."
Listen to you, Nina! Ok, you've probably always felt that way about your rich neighbors, but to profess it so easily, well that isn't you. Or is it?
"Thanks," Joy said, "All I really needed was the rest room, if you don't mind."
"Of course, not a problem." I showed her where it was and then turned backto her just before she entered. "How about a cup of coffee, Joy?"
"Oh, that would be great, if you have it made, ma'am... if not, don't trouble yourself," she called just before closing the door.
"It's made. And no 'ma'am' stuff... it's Nina!" I called just as she closed the door.
"Sorry!" I heard her youthful voice, faintly salted with a Georgia accent, echo in the bathroom. "Academy indoctrination!"
I laughed at that, thinking, hey it's perfectly ok to have young people still using 'sir' and 'ma'am' these days. We needed more of it.
I brought the coffee and the fixings out to the table and set it by her metal clipboard.
"So, everything quiet this morning?" I asked her as she came out and sat down.
"Yeah, seems to be. Just one call, from Mrs. Hayes... Frederica Hayes?" she said, peering at her notes.
I nodded. Frederica lived at the end of the cul-de-sac on the next block. The back of her house bordered a forest, and beyond that, the brick wall of our development.
Joy tugged downward on what looked like the top of her bullet proof vest.
"She saw a kid in the forest, fifteen, sixteen, and the kid ran when he saw her." Joy shrugged. "Hopefully nothing."
"Supposed to be in school, though..." I added, wondering what it was like for a woman to wear a vest like that.
"Exactly," she said. "I have a couple of our officers on the outside checking around for him."
"That must be terribly uncomfortable, that vest," I said, happy to have some conversation. David was at the office, cooking up a big scheme with some out of town builders.
"It gets hot, yeah," she smiled, tugging at it again.
And that's when I saw it.
My heart froze in my throat. When Danielle and I had eaten at the Indian restaurant, I noticed a pendant on the gold necklace she wore, a pendant of a daisy, a gold center with little white-gold petals, the whole thing a little smaller than a dime. I asked her if it had anything to do with the Daisy Chain, and she explained that when the place first opened as a private lesbian club, every member got one of these pendants. After a while, she said, it got too expensive, and they didn't want to start charging more for memberships, so they just stopped giving them out. Anyone who had one, Danielle explained, was one of the first twenty-five members, three years ago.
Joy had one hanging from the necklace she was wearing. It was clumped with two other pendants, one a small police badge, and the other a heart.
"You don't mind," she asked, "if I just do that report while I'm here, do you? I mean, I can do it in the car, too, that's no problem."
I almost didn't answer, and I had to tear my eyes away from the pendant to reply. "Umm... oh no, please-have your coffee and relax. Take all the time you like."
"Thanks," she replied easily, going back to her report.
My eyes drifted back down to the pendant, which swung gently as she leaned over her report, writing.
My heart pounded. Was Joy a member of the Daisy Chain, I thought? I looked her over. Her dark hair was short, styled close to her head, and her face was plain, her blue eyes quite striking against the framework of dark hair, and her nails were cut short. That didn't mean anything, at least I didn't think so. What was I looking for? Had I fooled myself into thinking I had some kind of radar for gay women now? I couldn't really tell with Joy. After all, she was wearing a uniform, and we'd only known each other ten minutes.
I swallowed and decided to play dumb. "That's a pretty pendant, that..." I pointed, pretending I couldn't quite tell what it was.
She stopped writing and looked down, then held it, "Oh you mean the daisy?"
"Yes, it is a daisy, just as I thought."
She held my gaze just a micro-moment longer than I thought necessary (radar?) and then smiled warmly.
"Yeah, my aunt gave it to me," she said, going back to some checkmarks on the report. "Daisies are my favorite flower, and she and I used to pick them at her house. She used to live in the country. When I turned eighteen, she got me it."
"That was sweet of her," I said, not sure whether I believed the story, but worse, not even knowing if I wanted to believe it or not.
"Does she live here in Atlanta?" I asked, as if that meant anything. My god I was sounding like Elaine Pachmeyer. Nina, leave the poor girl alone to do her police work.
"Yeah, she's in Dahlonega, actually."
"God, I'm so sorry, Joy. Here you're trying to finish a report and I'm small-talking you to death. Last thing you need is some old lady taking up your precious time." I tried to forget the daisy pendant, and kept telling myself it was all a coincidence, that Joy's aunt really had given it to her.
Joy's eyes came up and fixed me with a look of sincerity. "Oh, Mizz-I mean Nina, please, it's not a bother at all. It's really nice to work a detail like this. Y'all are so nice in this neighborhood, and look, here I am in a beautiful house havin' a cup of coffee... please don't apologize." She went back to her report, and added, without looking up, "and you ain't some old lady, not by a long shot."
"Well thank you." I poured more coffee for both of us.
She put her pen down. "And that hair. Wow, you really have pretty hair if you don't mind me sayin' so."
"Oh," I said, looking away dramatically, "I really mind a lot."
We both broke out laughing at that, and I added, "Hey you can thank Helene's salon for that. It better look good, for what I pay them."
She smiled. "I know the place. Got an alarm call there just last week and met Helene. She's a nice lady."
"Yes, she is."
I realized then how police officers get around, and how many people they must meet in a given week. Who did Joy know? Did she know Joan. Did she know Danielle?
"How long have you been doing this line of work, Joy?"
She held up two fingers. "I'm in my second year. Still pretty new."
"And you like it, huh?"
"So far so good." She knocked on my wooden table twice. "Really, it's a great job. I get to meet a lot of different people."
I chuckled, "Some I'm sure you didn't want to meet though..."
"Yeah, that's true too."
The phone rang then, and I went to the kitchen and picked the portable handset up without looking at the caller ID.
"Hello, lover," Danielle's honeyed voice came over the line. A delicious thrill shot through me.
"Oh... hi, how's everything?"
"Got company, don't you?" She knew my voice pretty well. I glanced over at Joy. Yes, I have company, and I wonder if you know her.
"Yes, actually, but I'm safe. My company is armed and dangerous," I joked. Joy looked up from her report and grinned at me.
"Oh, that's right," Danielle said with a laugh, "committee lady to keep beautiful Nina-land safe."
"Can you call me soon? I was wondering if you could sneak away for just a teensy kiss."
I smiled, remembering the "teensy kiss" that started all this with her.
"I'll give you a call. But it's going to be tough today. And tomorrow night I've got to go to the stadium with David."
"Yes," I sighed. "I'll explain later. Social, impressing people bullshit."
Joy grinned again as she wrote.
It was a special, almost dangerous thrill, talking to Danielle, with Joy, very possibly a Daisy Chain member, sitting here in my living room, wearing a badge.
Joy drained her coffee gratefully, and left fifteen minutes later.
"Joy, stop by any time you need anything," I assured her. "And be careful."
"Thanks, Nina, it was so nice meetin' you."
My body was still recovering from the blitzkreig of activity early in the week. I shucked off my shorts, and went and laid down. My thoughts drifted to Danielle, her face, her eyes, her voice, washing over me like a warm bath. My hand slipped down between my legs and I slowly squeezed and stroked myself over my panties, arousal battling with sleep.
I wiggled a finger inside the waistband of my panties and played sleepily with myself, but I was soon awake as my sex turned damp and warm. I was imagining Danielle's face in my neck, nuzzling, kissing, and biting my earlobe as I stroked my clit, and licked my lips as the sensations mounted. "I love you too, Nina," her voice rushed through my mind like the wind, and I replayed the embrace we shared in her office the previous day, and how she held me, and I came powerfully, my body arching and stiffening on the bed as my two fingers rubbed circular strokes on top of my clit.
As the ripples of pleasure subsided, I brought my fingers to my mouth and sucked them gently, tasting myself, pretending it was her. Slowly I fell asleep, and my tired brain went swimming in a wild and intense dream. I was with Danielle, on a boat, and we were anchored in some private cove, away from everything. We began to kiss and make love in the cabin, and then the cabin door opened, and Joy came in, stripping off her bathing suit. When I protested, Danielle said soothingly, "it's ok," and put a necklace on me, a necklace that had a daisy chain pendant on it... Danielle was laying on her side, eating Joy's pussy, and I pushed away my jealousy in the dream and ate Danielle at the same time, while Joy nestled her face in between my thighs and pleasured me with her tongue, our three mouths glued to each others' pussies in unabated rapture.
Thursday afternoon, David came home and wanted to put Mr. Happy (as he so brilliantly called his penis) to work again. I had never seen him quite so horny in our marriage, but I guess that meant he was feeling good. We had made love the previous night, too.
He took me from behind this time, giving me lots of "Mmm... I love your ass," and "Baby, you're good" stuff as he held my hips and thrust in and out. I could not help but remember the intensity of that night at Danielle's apartment when she went to town on me from behind with that strap-on dildo. I plead guilty, in fact, to closing my eyes, and for a short while pretending that David's cock was her toy, and that it was she, not he, mounting me and having her way with my body. That fantasy dissolved when David grunted and kissed my back with his whiskery face as he came, holding his tool deep inside as it lurched and spurted. I'm glad I pleased him. It made life so much easier.
He dressed as if nothing happened, and I struggled to get ready to go out, the rejuvenative effects of my dreamy nap freshly plundered by the hairy invader who now bulled his way through our walk-in closet.
He was fired up about going to the Georgia Dome tonight.
I picked out something sexy, and he raised his eyebrows and pinched my ass I slipped on the black silk dress with the slit up the side. That meant he approved.
The Georgia Dome is where Atlanta's pro football team, the Falcons, play.
You see, the firm went fifty percent with another company, a big construction company, and bought a skybox suite at the huge, super modern stadium. Everyone had agreed heartily that hosting potential business clients at football games was a grand idea. Tickets to games were hard to come by, and when my husband's company called up and asked someone to be their guests in a skybox at a Falcons game, well, the first step of the business deal was taken.
The skybox is nice. You have your own bar, refrigerator, serving area, and closed circuit TVs to watch the game. Of course, you also have a row of comfortable seats on your own private balcony to sit and watch the game in the stadium too. The men ate this up, and the women usually had a good time meeting each other and doing our own networking too. I had been to three of such events, and so I knew my way around the skybox pretty well.
The Falcons, it seemed, were playing on national television tonight. I wracked by brain to try and keep up with this mystifying world of masculine sport. Didn't they play on Sundays at one time? And then came the infamous, "Monday Night Football." And now, Thursdays?
"So," I said, trying to sound interested, as we went up the elevator to the skybox level "who are they playing tonight?"
"They? Who are we playing, you mean."
"Of course," I said rolling my eyes. "We." I had forgotten to be all rah-rah for the hometown guys, but I had better get on the ball, because that's the way David, and his colleagues liked their southern women: sexy, submissive, and at least cognizant of who's playing. They should be sexy, but also football-chat ready when they are introduced. Being Nina Cutler meant more than going to expensive salons and attending homeowner's meetings. It also meant making convincing skybox conversation with the people who came as her hunband's guests, their pockets bulging with money to spend.
"We're playing the Forty-Niners. Big game. These guys from Minnesota are knocked out that they're seeing this game."
"Great." I remembered the Forty Niners. Joe Montana, that sexy quarterback.
"Is Joe Montana playing?" I asked.
"Honey, he retired years ago."
He briefed me on the big name players, and I sighed, hoping to remember them and not sound football-stupid when I talked to the clients.
By kickoff time, there were three visitors from Minnesota, one who brought his wife, whose name was Vicki. Add to that two of David's business partners, and their wives, Rhonda and Stacey, whom I knew, and we had a nice little gathering.
About twenty minutes into the game, I looked around, to make sure the hors d'oeuvres we had ordered from a catering company were replenished, and that the beer and drinks were flowing for everyone. Nina Cutler, the skybox hostess.
Three of the men, including David, were out on the balcony, engrossed in the game, and a pile of chicken wings.
The other guys were standing behind them, drinks in hand, alternately talking and watching. Rhonda and Stacey were talking about something, and Vicki was standing there kind of by herself, sipping a martini, looking around the stadium.
She was an attractive woman, probably my age or a couple of years older maybe, with long, auburn hair, and big breasts, which were displayed prominently in the low cut dress she wore. She had a nice body too. I decided that I wasn't being a very good hostess, letting her stand there alone while Rhonda and Stacey chatted, so I should go over and make small talk. I took an extra moment to let my eyes wander her body again, and I realized that, without knowing it, I was looking at women differently. No, could that be? Why couldn't it? I had been intimate with a woman now. I loved a woman, and that could change a person, I thought.
Just then, she turned her head to me, just as my eyes finished their journey up her body, to her face. Our eyes locked, and in the din and chatter of the skybox, with the stadium announcer's voice echoing metallically in the background, she gave me a look and a small smile that was so disarming, so full of silent knowledge that it unsettled me to my insides. It was as if she knew. It was if she could read my mind, and her eyes, glimmering sensually from across the room, almost seemed to whisper, "I know your secret, and I am curious about you too."
My heart was racing, but I had the poise to smile back, albeit nervously.
My god, I was looking at women differently. I was at once enthralled and terrified at the possibility that I had just picked up some type of signal from Vicki, and even more overwhelmingly, she from me.
I felt faint. At the same moment that I turned away from her gaze, she dropped hers to the floor, but the smile was still on her lips. Good lord what was going on here? I thought, my heart hammering and my mind racing.
I busied myself with putting together a platter of snacks. I pulled open the fridge, peering inside, unable to see or recognize anything at all, though it was crammed with chicken wings, celery sticks, meatball, and other stuff. I brought it all out and opened the microwave, and I felt a bare shoulder gently bump mine.
"Need a hand with this, Nina?"
I turned to Vicki, who was now right by my side. I put on an agonizingly polite face as my eyes met hers, much closer this time.
"Oh would you, Vicki... ? Umm... thanks, just put this out on the table for me, I appreciate it."
"Sure," she said, her voice a little huskier than I remember it when we first met a half hour ago.
"You dropped something, Nina," she said, as she turned to take the platter away.
I looked down and saw a small folded yellow piece of paper on the floor by my feet.
"No, not mine," I said as I bent to pick it up.
"Yes, it is," she said, her eyes still on me as she held the platter. That small smile returned to her lips again, and I felt a spear of panic go through as my new radar equipment, just out of the box, whirred and hummed cheerfully in my brain.
I picked up the paper, and on one side it said, "open later."
I was trembling.
David's arrival at my side almost made me jump out of my skin.
"You ok?" he said loudly, causing Stacey and Rhonda to crane their necks and look at me.
"Oh, sure, yes..." I lied, "you just scared me."
He laughed, and popped open a beer.
"I gotta go to the bathroom, 'scuse me," I said.
I could feel Vicki's eyes on me as I went to the adjoining room, which was kind of like a den, a quiet room, where one could make a private call, that kind of thing. The bathroom was there, and I found safe haven as I locked the door, sat on the toilet, and took a long, deep breath.
I turned the folded paper around in my fingers. It said, "open later," but I wasn't sure I could survive the night without finding out what it said inside. Besides, this was later, wasn't it?
Hell with it, I thought, and with shaky fingers unfolded the paper. Inside in, blue ink, in a woman's neat, cursive, the following words leapt from the page in orderly ranks, like an invading army, into my eyes, and infiltrated me:
"Hi. If this freaks you out, then I apologize. It's just that I felt something coming from you, and I hope you can accept that I find you so very lovely, and so attractive, Nina!
Again, if I am offending you, tear this up, and you will never hear from me again. But I saw something in your eyes that told me you wouldn't be offended, and I want to get to know you more intimately now.
I'll be back home tomorrow in Minneapolis, if you want to talk. Here's the number: 615-577-9097.
My insides were doing cartwheels, and my brain was a fireworks display of synaptic activity.
How do I go back into that room now, and talk to her? I took another deep, ragged breath. I heard the crowd cheer outside, and heard clapping and yelling from the men in the skybox.
My mouth was dry, and my knees shaky. I loved Danielle, and I never even thought of being with another woman. I didn't love Vicki, my god I just met her. But I was wildly excited, flattered beyond belief, and stricken with aroused panic now that she had so boldly communicated with me.
It was happening, alright. I had new radar.
And the world--my world-was forever different.