Claire wakes to a new day, the day of her twentieth birthday to be exact. Before she even forces her eyes open, she knows it’s still early. She can tell because the sun hasn’t made it around to the porch yet, and they are still bathed in that filtered grey light. The kind that doesn’t assault her eyelids and tells her it’s closer to dawn than to full-fledged morning. They are safe from the sun for a spell.
They. She smiles and opens her eyes.
But the smile dissipates when she finds an empty pillow next to her where Mia ought to be. She closes her eyes again, throws an arm over her face, and sighs, immediately nervous. Mia is not in the bed. What does that mean? Claire thinks back to last night, to Mia’s unprompted kiss on the steps of the porch, and to the sweet, deliberate explorations they made of each other’s bodies into the early hours of this morning. She recalls the spread of their limbs as they made their eventual way together into deep, sated sleep, naked to the hot night air but for a single cotton sheet.
Would Mia want to leave everything they shared behind them? Claire doesn’t really think she would. Not after last night.
Her question is answered when footsteps tiptoe across the porch outside and the door squeaks open and closed. Then she feels the dip of the bed and the sheet lift as a body slides in next to her.
“Where did you go?” Claire mumbles into her arm.
Claire smiles a small, relieved smile to herself. “I was being a drama queen in my head and convinced myself that maybe you’d run away again.”
“No.” Mia nudges her with her foot, indignant. “I did not.”
“Good.” Claire turns and looks at her through half-open eyes. Mia lies on her stomach, her face resting in a nest of her folded arms. All Claire can see of her face is one brown, half-closed eye peeking out from the crook of her elbow, and a shock of tangled brown hair. “You are not allowed to run away, Mia. Because I got naked for you.”
One half of a languid smile slowly emerges from behind Mia’s arm. She lifts herself from the pillow and moves over, her face hovering closer to Claire’s. She reaches out and runs a hand over where the sheet covers Claire’s stomach. “You did.” She smiles down at her, shy but affectionate.
“And, despite popular opinion, I don’t do that with many people.”
“I feel very, very special.” Mia slowly pulls the covers down a little and dips her head to press her lips against Claire’s sternum.
“You should,” Claire whispers, only half joking.
Mia seems to get that because she looks at Claire for a long time, her cheek resting on her hand and that small smile on her face. Finally, she slides herself across Claire’s body and buries her head in her neck and her hands into her hair.
Claire runs her hands up and down Mia’s back and lifts the bottom of her T-shirt so she can feel the soft spread of Mia’s skin under her fingers all over again. “Why are you wearing stupid clothes?”
She feels the slight reverberations as Mia snickers. “Well, because like you, Claire, I don’t get naked for just anybody. And I had to go to the bathroom, which, if you recall, is in the house with all the people.”
“I guess that’s okay then. But I’m not a fan. Just putting it out there.”
Mia laughs quietly and pulls herself up until she’s sitting on top of Claire. She quickly yanks off her top and smiles down at her, clad only in her bra.
“Mia?” Claire shakes her head. “Did you put on your bra just to go to the bathroom?”
Mia smiles bashfully and turns slightly pink. “Maybe.”
Claire gives her a withering look. But she also finds herself weirdly delighted by this level of coyness in Mia, such a ridiculous contrast to the way they’ve been in this room together.
“Okay, okay.” Mia laughs and reaches behind to unclasp it. She pulls it off slowly, one arm at a time, and throws it onto the floor.
“That’s better.” Claire reaches up and slides her hands over Mia’s stomach and then right up over her small breasts. She grazes her thumbs back and forth over her nipples.
Mia bites her lip, dips her head, and closes her eyes, giving in to the sensation. And eventually Claire stops but only because she wants Mia closer, to feel her skin against her own. She drops her hands and runs them over Mia’s legs, certain that Mia will follow them downward. She does. Bending down over Claire, she pulls the sheet away, stretches her body out along hers, and slides one leg in between Claire’s.
Claire feels that same instant surge of want as last night when Mia first touched her with tangible, desirous intention. She pulls in a deep breath and runs her fingertips along Mia’s side and up over her back.
This morning they’re a peculiar combination of bolder but quieter. They are bolder because they have the results of last night’s heady explorations in their back pockets. But they are also quieter because, unlike last night, when all the noise told them exactly where everybody was and provided a kind of shield, this morning’s silence presents a mystery as to where the others are. So, when it happens, Claire holds Mia’s head against her neck as Mia surrenders to an orgasm and helps stifle the sounds that force themselves from her. She tries to prevent them from existing anywhere but in this room. She holds her this way until they have quieted to deep, sated breaths.
And then, when she recovers, Mia makes her way almost unbearably slowly down the landscape of Claire’s body and tastes every stretch before she finally stops between Claire’s thighs and does what no one has ever, ever bothered to do to her before. Claire bites down on her upper arm to stem the sounds of her own almost embarrassingly immediate orgasm. And when Claire’s breath finally quiets, Mia rains slow kisses over her belly and breasts before she returns to lie next to her and nuzzles into her neck. Claire keeps her face buried in her arm, rendered shy once more by the ardour of her reaction.
Smiling self-consciously, Claire turns onto her side, presses her face into the pillow, and reaches back and slides her hand around the leg now curled into the back of her own. Mia lines her body along Claire’s back and wraps an arm around her waist.
They fall into asleep again as the sun creeps up and through the porch screens, tangled in each other, arms around limbs, breath on each other’s necks, even though it’s already getting too hot for so much contact. At some point Claire registers the sounds of footsteps, then quiet voices as a car leaves. Robbie’s friends, she guesses. She and Mia remain there, though, skating the surface of sleep. They don’t wake completely until there is the slam of the front door and footsteps as someone pads around the porch toward them.
“Uh oh,” Mia mumbles quietly. She slides her leg off Claire’s and shuffles back to her own pillow.
“Hey, ladies?” Robbie’s soft voice comes through the door as he taps gently on the doorframe. “You awake?”
“Hey,” Mia calls out quietly to him as Claire pulls the sheets right up around their shoulders. A flush of awkwardness turns her face pink before he even walks in.
The door opens, and Robbie, his eyes still sleepy, pokes his head around the doorframe. “I just came to see if you two were alive.” He grins at them as he steps fully inside the room, running his hand through his hair, Blue at his heels.
“We’re alive,” Mia informs him.
“Good.” He strides over to the end of the bed, his hair sticking out at all kinds of crazy bedhead angles. “I missed you.”
“Um, you might want to stay there,” Mia tells him hurriedly as Claire pulls the sheet even higher.
Robbie rolls his eyes. “A few things, ladies. One,” he ticks off a finger, “so you’re naked? Freaking duh.”
Claire snickers and blushes at the same time. Robbie is so unflappable. And so annoyingly perceptive.
“Two,” he ticks off a second finger as he takes a step forward, “it’s about time.” He sighs dramatically as though he’s been waiting to find them naked in a bed together for years. “I covered for you two, you know. People were looking for you, and I told them not to disturb you, that you were having one of those deeply necessary girly girl BFF emotions talks. I think Nina felt a bit left out, though.” He lets out an evil laugh. “If only she knew.”
Claire pulls the sheet up to her face to hide the redness she can still feel creeping from her neck to her cheeks.
“Thank you,” Mia tells him.
He continues to advance on them, holding up a third finger. “And three, you should know by now that the thought of your naked bodies has about as much effect on me as the thought of watching paint dry.”
He throws himself on the bed next to Claire and stretches out on top of the sheets. Claire shuffles back and feels Mia’s hand settle on her lower back. And just that one small touch, even after all the touching they’ve done this morning, sets off a little current through her body.
“Hey.” Robbie turns and plants a kiss on top of Claire’s head. “Happy birthday, honey.”
“Thanks.” Claire feels Mia pinch her waist gently. And she knows what that pinch is saying. Sorry, I forgot it was your birthday. But Claire doesn’t care. Not at all. They’ve had far more interesting things on their minds.
“So, what do you want to do today?” Robbie asks.
“I don’t really know.” Claire hasn’t even thought about it. “Whatever.”
He shakes his head. “No, Claire, you can’t whatever your birthday.”
“It’s true.” Mia slips her arm around Claire’s waist and rests her chin on her shoulder. “You can’t. It’s against the rules.”
“So, come on, what do you want?” Robbie demands. “A girl can’t just live her birthday on orgasms alone.”
Claire reaches out from under the sheet and punches him in the arm as she blushes again.
“Ow!” He rubs his nonexistent bicep. “I’ll let that slide because it’s your birthday, but make a decision, woman.”
“Okay, okay,” Claire grumbles and tries to think about how she wants to spend the day. Basically, she’d like to spend it as they’ve spent every day, swimming and hanging out. “I want a picnic by the lake.”
“Done!” Robbie slaps his hand down on the mattress. He leans over, kisses her cheek again, and sits up. “I shall rally the troops,” he says in a terrible British accent. “You two do whatever it is you girls do for a bit longer while I organise everything.” He jumps clear of Claire before she can hit him again.
He opens his mouth, but before he can say whatever smart-ass comment he is about to say, the front door slams closed and footsteps approach.
“Claire,” she hears Nina whisper loudly from somewhere outside.
Claire freezes and frowns. She’s not quite ready to have everyone else in here too. It’s okay with Robbie, but she isn’t ready to share this naked-with-Mia thing with the rest of the world.
Robbie clearly sees her face because he holds up a hand and walks quickly out of the room.
“Oh hey,” Nina says. “I want to wish Claire a happy birthday. She awake?”
“Nah, still asleep,” he replies. “Want to come buy stuff for a birthday lunch?”
Claire smiles. Nina is, as always, up for anything. Their footsteps disappear around the side of the house. She sighs, relieved, and shuts her eyes for a second. Then she turns right over and wraps an arm around Mia “How did he know you were going to be in here?”
Mia shakes her head and turns a little pink. “I think he just figured it out.”
Wow, she thinks. Robbie really is just that perceptive. Or they are being way more obvious than she thought. She hopes it’s the former.
Mia strokes a hand along Claire’s waist and looks contrite. “Hey, I forgot it was your birthday. I’m so sorry. I knew it was today, but I forgot this morning.”
“It’s okay. I don’t care.” Claire shrugs.
Mia presses her palms to Claire’s cheek and stares at her. “Happy birthday.”