I meet Elizabeth the first day I finally commit to an $85 monthly membership at a twenty-four-hour all-women’s gym. All I’m thinking about is the ellipticals and the sauna. Also, shedding at least twenty-five pounds. I’m not interested, not at all, in the possibility of meeting someone.
Then Elizabeth hops on the bike next to me, and even though I swear to myself I’m not going to check her out, I can’t resist a glance, then two. I try to keep it to under a dozen.
She is on the bike next to me—she could have chosen any bike in the row. I am smack in the middle of twelve bikes, but no, she chooses the one next to me. It means nothing. I read nothing into it. She steals glances at me, too.
Something funny happens when you forget your MP3 player in the cup holder of your SUV and don’t take the time to retrieve it before you start a workout: you hear everything around you. And from the moment Elizabeth picks up her speed on the bike, I hear every nuance, every note of her breath. Passing through her lips, into her body, quickening with exertion.
Her breath intensifies as our workout progresses, and so does mine. I push my speed to distract myself from my desire to glance sideways, again and again. Images dance through my head: her gasping on my bedsheets, her fingers clutching the pillowcase.
I push myself harder. And harder. And so does she. Pretty soon, we are panting so hard we are almost moaning with exertion, voice slipping into every inhale.
I don’t stop… pedalling… until she does.
‘Hi,’ she says to me as my feet find their roots on the floor again. ‘I’m Elizabeth.’
I swallow hard, averting my eyes from hers. ‘Um. Charity,’ I stammer.
Her fingertips touch my chin, and when I finally meet her eyes—her face framed by one half-curled black strand that escapes her ponytail, and eyes shimmering in a way I can’t ignore—I never want to stop looking at her.
She is breathtaking, and not only because we’ve just crushed two miles on the bikes. Her skin is darker than mine, smooth and shining with sweat, and as she holds my chin and cracks a smile that holds a devious glimmer of intensity, my cardio picks up even more.
Yes. I’m still panting.
‘We should have coffee, Charity. Don’t you think?’
I don’t remember how we decide, exactly, that we should have coffee at my place. But we do, and there we are, in the lobby, me and Elizabeth, this woman I’ve just met and am now taking up to my apartment.
Her eyes never deviate from me as the elevator takes its gradual glide up the cables. My keys jingle in my hand as I fidget with them, and I push the button again just to give my fingers something to do. I swear I feel Elizabeth smiling at my impatience. I’ve never felt someone’s smile burning into the back of my head before. But it’s not only my head she’s looking at. It’s my neck, my back… like fingertips trailing down my skin, penetrating my jacket, awakening me inside.
The elevator reaches my floor, and my heels lift as it stops. I glance back at Elizabeth. She still wears that sinful grin, her eyes only on me.
I unlock the door to my apartment and let Elizabeth in first. I drop my purse, lock the door behind us, and she slides off her shoes.
‘Um, coffee?’ I ask. I fidget with my fingers in front of my body.
‘Love some,’ Elizabeth says. Her grin tugs up more on one side than the other, giving her a single dimple. ‘But I could really use a shower first.’
My face heats a billion degrees. ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’ I step aside and point. ‘It’s right through there.’
A bright, quick laugh escapes Elizabeth’s lips. ‘Okay.’ She takes my hand and gives it a tug, her eyebrows lifting in question.
I follow. My heart pounds, nerves lighting up with electricity along every inch of my body.
We’re naked in a flurry of sports bras and yoga pants. Those eyes… deep, deep brown, and I swear in the fluorescent light of the bathroom, I see gold flecks in her irises… they never stop dancing over my shoulders, my waist. Then, my breasts. My arms, my hands.
Elizabeth sets the water to a comfortable warm, not too hot. I step into the stream with her, and my breath grows sharper. Hers sets an even pace. She walks her fingertips along the back of my shoulder, urging me to turn and face her. She rakes her gaze over me, totally exposed now, her hands twisting with mine as she pulls us closer together. The water runs over both of us, and as our bodies connect in the middle, heat flashes in my core. I bite the corner of my lip, nerves thudding through my veins. How can she be so calm, so steady? I want to make her breathe like she did in the gym, make her pant and gasp until her voice emerges in her breath, that sound that hooked me to her and will not let me go.
Yes, that’s what I want. My nerves fire into urgency, and I turn her, press her back to the tile, pin her hands beside her head, and kiss her.
She kisses back, her lips gentle and soft, while mine beg for more. I release her hands and let them fall to her shoulders, my thumbs resting on the side of her neck, while hers find my hips, glide around to my back, and tug me tight to her body. The slick of the water between us drives my need, but still her breathing is even, smooth. My lips work down to her neck, and she drops her head gently back against the tile. A quiet sound escapes her mouth.
There. I can get to her the way she gets to me. Now I know I can. My hands hold her sides, my grip possessive, and I let my fingertips trail slowly down the centre of her chest. She watches me, her eyes on fire with arousal, and my fingertips dip lower until I touch that soft patch of hair. Lower, still.
Her breath leaves her in a single rush, and my fingers graze her in all the places throbbing between my own legs right now. Elizabeth sucks in a gasp, and when she lets out a sharp moan, triumph soars through me, and I stroke her gently at first, then firmer, then faster. Her hands twist into my hair as her legs struggle to hold her up. I duck my head to her neck, my lips moving of their own accord, tasting, teasing. She’s all smooth, delicious silk everywhere I touch. I slip my arm around her waist and hold her up while my fingers drive her on and on, and when she cries out and clenches around me, waves rippling through my own centre with pleasure, her balance failing, I catch her, holding her tight while she comes back down to Earth.
Her mouth parts against my shoulder. Her gasping morphs into kisses. The way she clings to me shifts to caresses. Her lips part beside my ear, and she whispers, ‘Your turn.’
By the time we’re done, we’re both wrinkly from the water, red-faced, and grinning. We towel off, and as Elizabeth squeezes water out of her hair, I meet her eyes, unintimidated. They glow with satisfaction.
‘Do you go to the gym every Tuesday?’ I ask her.
Elizabeth grins. ‘And Thursday.’
‘We should have coffee again on Thursday,’ I say.
Nola Sarina is a paranormal romance, dark fantasy, and erotica author from Alberta, Canada. She loves weaving romances that leave you breathless and challenge typical relationships with the most mind-blowing twists.
Represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency, Nola is the author of the spicy hot dark fantasy Vesper series.
Nola is also the co-author of Wild Hyacinthe and THE CORE with friend Emily Faith. THE CORE invites every reader to throw stereotypes out the window, strip down, and get dirty.
Follow Nola on Twitter @nolasarina
text © Nola Sarina 2017
photography © Jennifer Weihmann
used with permission; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
SCREW CHOCOLATE: 14 Queer Valentines To Help You Survive February 14 is a collaborative project by YYC Queer Writers. We get together intermittently to… write. Also, laud our lovers. Commiserate about our exes. Read each other what we wrote. Explain what we want to write. Try to justify why we aren’t writing it. Go home and write it. Come back. Share it… repeat.
Valentine 1: Mountains & Moments by T
Valentine 2:Karma, in Pronouns by Marzena Czarnecka
Valentine 3: The Long Commute by L. Sara Bysterveld
Valentine 4: It Happens Like This by Dana Stan
Valentine 5: Try by M. Jane Colette
Valentine 6: Sunrise by Brooke Nicholas
Valentine 7: Want by T
Valentine 8: Get The Fuck Up & Love by Dallas Barnes
Valentine 9: Elizabeth by Nola Sarina
Valentine 10: Instructions by PW Zelli
Valentine 11: Unmentionables by Alyssa Linn Palmer
Valentine 12: The Shy Girl’s Guide to Sexting by M. Jane Colette
Valentine 13: Delivery by Elisa Kae
Valentine 14: Alter Ego In A Red Tie by Lotis Cervantes