The soft faraway piano tinkling of Karen Porter’s cell phone barely reached her in the warm space where she floated weightless in swirling peach pinks and muted oranges around cottony white clouds. She fancied lifting her head but, not really wanting to leave her sweet quiet place failed, slipping further under the surface. When the phone sang again moments later, it roused Deena Jackson from what had almost been a deep sleep. She started with a snort and clamped her mouth closed-afraid she had been snoring or was about to start. Flat on her back, she lifted her head off the pillows to look up over Karen’s nude body lying face down-head to foot-beside her.

The soft, downy fur, invisible in normal light, ignited like countless tiny candles across Karen’s bottom and legs in the late afternoon sunshine leaking around the blinds. Deena pried her tingling arm from beneath both of them and gently-but not too gently-scraped her fingernails across her friend’s bottom. Karen mewed a muffled complaint.

“Phone”, said Deena, grabbing a thumb and finger-full of soft flesh threatening a pinch.

Karen groaned and reached without lifting her head and pulled the phone to her ear without having yet opened her eyes. “Hullo”, she said trying and failing to sound as if she hadn’t just been pulled out of a deeply satisfying post orgasm nap.

After a few “un-huh’s” and a “what did she do?” Deena felt Karen’s body tense beside her. She had lifted her head and was up on her elbows, blonde hair cascading over her shoulders. Deena wanted to reach up and stroke her hair but was reluctant to peel herself away from Karen’s body-something that was going to happen soon enough given the feel of the one-sided conversation she was hearing.

“Okay”, she said finally. “Thanks Chef. I’m across town. I’ll be over there in twenty….No…that’s fine. I owe you big time. Thanks!”

Karen and Deena had been lovers since college. They were barely friends that one depressing weekend when it seemed the whole freshman dorm had gone home and they were both magnificently homesick. Deena had long ago taken credit for making the first move and knocking on the leggy blonde’s door with a cheap bottle of wine. Karen conceded the point but swore that it was her fingernail sized sliver of hash that relaxed her enough to say “yes” when Deena had asked to kiss her.

However it began, neither could have foreseen that one lonely weekend could birth a love affair that would span Deena’s two tours in Iraq, cross-country separations, Karen’s two broken marriages, countless lovers and other strangers. Whether it was after a week, a month or some longer seemingly interminable time apart, they were each others’ North Star, shining brightly to bring them back on course when life pulled them away.

Their most recent challenge has been Chloe, Karen’s seventeen year old daughter from her first marriage. She had always been a sweet if willful kid who recently seemed to be losing her mind, growing into a sociopath or had been recruited by some terrorist organization with the instruction to drive all adults in her orbit, mad.

Karen sighed as she replaced the phone on the bedside table and pulled herself to her knees stretching backward. Deena took advantage of the positioning to rub her hand over Karen’s backside and down between her legs. “My-O-My”, she said.

“What?” Karen asked, her face buried in the pillow.

“Amazing that your ass looks the same as it did the first time I laid hands on it twenty years ago.”

“That’s sweet. A shame about your eyesight though…”

Karen rose and turned, tossing a leg over, straddling Deena.

“Gotta go. So don’t want to.” She dipped her head and kissed her soft lips gently.

“What did she do?”

“Tried to skip on a bill at Umberto’s. “


“Bunch of kids, that asshole she’s dating…”

“She knows you worked there right?”

“Oh yeah. She remembers. It wasn’t that long ago.”

Karen pushed herself reluctantly off the bed with a sigh. “This too shall pass…”

Deena grabbed her by the wrist. “It’s a test, is all.”

“Yeah, but I get the feeling I’m failing.”

“Long way to go sweetheart…you’re not even at halftime…” Then, as Karen moved away from the bed, “Jump in the shower first.”


“Honey, I love it. If I could, I’d bottle the way you smell now and make air fresheners out of it. But baby, you ain’t subtle.”

Karen squeezed her toe and was off to the bathroom. She wouldn’t wet her hair, just rinse what was needed. Her mother used to call it a whore-bath; could be attended to at the sink. She was a real pill, that one.


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