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Speak of Love
by Renee Roman
(A Short Story)
Poets often talk of love, as if it were the end all, be all of existence. I know nothing of which they speak.
Shayne dropped her pen, frustrated that she couldn’t complete the simple assignment. The phrase at the top of the page read, “Write something from your heart.” Huh, that was almost funny. She wasn’t even sure she had one.
A heart, that is. According to all the great masters, love makes the world go round. If that was true, Shayne was very glad she wasn’t alone in the world, else it would forever reside in shadows.
Pushing away from her desk, she gazed through the glass, looking for inspiration. The morning dawn was just pushing away the nighttime darkness. Last night’s snowfall blanketed the lawn and filled the woods behind the house, cleansing the earth. Shayne opened the door, stepping out onto the deck, breathing in the crisp air. As she stood in the peaceful quiet of first light, listening to the sounds of solitude, she thought she could almost feel…something.
Most of the time, she felt inconsequential in the grand scheme of things; as though she were a grain of sand in the vast desert. Insignificant by itself. Magnificant when gathered together with billions of other grains.At times like this, she was sure she was insane. Pushing down the laughter that threatened to bubble up out of her throat and spoil the regal beauty before her, Shayne went back inside, determined to force her hand to move across the page, filling it with her distinctive script.
“Professor Miles, could I speak with you for a moment?” Shayne rarely let anyone think she was anything less than the confident, self-assured woman she outwardly emulated, but she’d been struggling over the past week and now she was desperate.
“Of course, Shayne. How can I help you?” Tina Miles glanced appreciatively at the woman casually leaning against the lectern. She noted the azure eyes that drew her to the darkly handsome face. Firmly muscled and fit, the body gave her an impression of reserved control and suppressed tension. Her student did not draw attention to herself with her manner or attire. A shame to waste all that beauty. Mildly flustered by her musings, Tina met Shayne’s eyes.
“I’ve been…having a hard time with last week’s assignment. I can’t seem to get a handle on my approach to it. Any suggestions?” Shayne detected the scent of Dr. Miles’ perfume, letting it tickle her nose. It was fresh and simple, matching the doctor’s understated elegance and demeanor.
Tina glanced at her watch. She had an hour before her next lecture, just enough time to grab some lunch and make a few notes for her presentation at the literary group gathering scheduled later in the evening.
“I’d love to help, if I can. Do you mind if we walk to the cafeteria. I have a full day ahead of me and if I don’t grab something to eat now, I won’t have a chance until late.” She said lightly as she scooped up her papers and laptop, stuffing them in her case.
“I’m sorry. This can wait.” Shayne turned to leave, when a warm hand lightly grasped her wrist, stopping her momentum.
“Nonsense. Walk with me. Please?” Tina watched as the woman’s face displayed a conflict of emotions. The more she looked at Shayne, the more she liked what she saw. I wonder if she’s a lesbian? Sometimes it was so hard to tell.
Resigned that she wanted Dr. Miles’ help in completing the assignment, Shayne nodded. “All right. I appreciate your time.”
Sitting down with her salad and a bottle of water, Tina noticed the long, strong fingers as Shayne pulled out a folder, pushing her chicken wrap to the side. “What seems to be giving you a problem?” Tina asked.
“Well, I guess…I don’t think I have enough personal experience with the subject to be able to satisfy the assignment.” Shayne looked up, surprised by the expression on the professor’s finely sculptured face.
“What do you mean when you say you don’t have experience? Surely, a woman as…attractive as you must know something about love.” Tina was leaning in close and could feel the simmering heat Shayne projected. She found it impossible to comprehend another had not found the woman as alluring as she did.
Shayne could feel the blush of humiliation creep up her neck. How was she to explain to the professor that she’d never known the deep intimacy two people could share. Aside from her parents love, she’d avoided forming an emotional connection with anyone, including another woman. Hence, her inexperience with the subject at hand.
“I didn’t think you were talking about…casual relationships when you gave the assignment. Were you?”
Shaking her head, Tina put down her fork. “No. While sexual encounters can be…physically satisfying, I believe that love goes much deeper. It’s there that we draw on the emotions that guide us in how we deal with each other. As individuals, friends…lovers. Just put it down on paper as it comes to you. You can clean it up, grammatically speaking, later.” Tina was not prepared for the hurt and despair blatantly displayed on Shayne’s face.
Shayne steeled herself against the anguish that haunted her at times like this. Why had she never been able to find this kind of love that everyone else talked about? Her ineptitude at love made her loathe her own existence.
“Yes. I see. Thank you for your time, professor.” Shayne hastily gathered her things, wanting to be out of the sight of people. Specifically, she wanted to be out from under the intense evaluation of Tina Miles’ probing eyes. She went to stand but when she looked to the other woman, her resolve for self-preservation disintegrated.
Reaching for the woman’s trembling hand, Tina could not help but ask. “Shayne, please tell me you’ve been in love?” She held her breath, knowing she was causing the other woman pain.
Her heart was pounding in her ears. In those seconds, Shayne knew no one had ever looked at her the way Tina’s gaze was holding hers. To Shayne, the seconds seemed to go on for an eternity. Compassion and disbelief were clearly displayed on Tina’s pretty face. Her response came in a whisper.
“No,” Shayne hardly managed to get the word out. She could barely breathe. Jumping up, unable to stand the embarrassment any longer, Shayne hurried away, leaving Professor Miles to stare after her.
Three days later, Tina strode down the corridor toward the lecture hall, wondering if she would ever see Shayne again. She wasn’t her student, technically. Shayne was there to audit the course and, therefore, Tina was not required to give her a grade.
As she entered the large, tiered space, her eyes wandered over the rows of seats. There were a number of students already milling about talking to each other. Shayne was not among them. She tried to fight off the regret she felt about the way they had parted. Shayne had asked for help and Tina had failed her miserably. She tried to push thoughts of Shayne to the back of her mind as she prepared her lecture. At the moment, there was nothing she could do to fix it. She had a class to teach.
As Tina turned to face her students, she froze. There she was in the first row. Shayne. Her enigmatic persona pulled Tina in like a magnet as their eyes locked onto one another. Instantly, Tina was aware of the attraction she bore for the woman. Not just physically. Tina was also drawn to Shayne’s raw vulnerability and unguarded innocence. A slow, seductive smile curled one side of Shayne’s full lips and she tipped her head almost imperceptibly.
Tina knit her eyebrows, forming a small crease on her otherwise smooth forehead. When several students began coughing and clearing their throats, Tina knew they were waiting for her. She dropped her eyes, pretending to call up her presentation. Dimming the lights, Tina hoped no one could tell her skin was flushed. She took a drink from her water bottle and cued up her slides, praying she could make it through the next ninety minutes.
After giving out the night’s assignment, Tina breathed a sign of relief. She kept her eyes diverted, unable to face the knowing stares she was sure to be cast in her direction. She was about to pick up her briefcase, when a warm hand covered hers.
A husky voice caressed her ear. “You’re an outstanding instructor. What other things are you adept in teaching?”
Tina’s legs trembled. She couldn’t remember having such a visceral reaction to another woman’s voice or touch since she first discovered her sexual preference. She didn’t try to hide the blush this time as she let her eyes slowly roam over Shayne’s body. When their eyes met, she could feel the longing and desire in Shayne.
Shayne had gone home after her humiliating encounter with Tina and spent the night trying to sort through all the emotions that slowly began to register within her mind and body.
Loneliness was the first. Longing had been second. Arousal, a close third. After living alone the last eight years, she was ready to admit she was miserable in her solitary existence. The longing she felt was multilayered. She wanted to share her days, evenings, and nights with someone special. Someone she could laugh with and, if necessary, someone she could cry with. Shayne cried alone that night. When she thought she was done, she cried some more. For all the wasted years and all the lost opportunities to love and be loved. She couldn’t name her fear, or where it came from, but after her encounter with Tina, she became angry with herself. It was then Shayne realized that even if she ventured into the realm of the unknown the worst that could happen would be a broken heart. At least then she would feel something. Anything had to be better than the bland, safe existence she’d made for herself. Ultimately, she longed for the company of another.
The arousal was a new sensation. She had bedded a few women over the last five years or so. She’d found it pleasant and physically satisfying, but nothing she couldn’t live without most of the time. Now she understood why she’d never felt a need to be with a woman on a more permanent basis. Physically committing with someone also meant an emotional commitment of some degree. Feelings Shayne never allowed herself to engage in. Tina made her conscious of all that was missing in her life. She was ready to change her inconsequential subsistence for something meaningful and fulfilling.
Shayne smiled with abandon, breaking the tension of the moment. She could visibly see Tina relax her stance.
Tina returned the smile, deciding this was an attraction she was willing to pursue. “I don’t know if I’m adept, as you say, but I think I know enough to give guidance to someone who asks. Are you asking?”
Swallowing around the sudden lump in her throat, Shayne spoke through dry lips. “If you wouldn’t mind, I could use some…tutoring.” It was Shayne’s turn to blush.
“Yes. I think you’ll be surprised what being open to knowledge could do for you.”
“I’m ready to learn and I’d really like to learn from you.” Shayne was aware of the heaviness weighing down her abdomen. She felt the pulse between her thighs and her nerves twitched from the rush of sensation. No one, not even her first and only lover, had ever brought her to such a wanton state. Tina graced her with a kind, knowing smile.
“I believe you are. Do you have plans for the evening?” Whether she was breaking the rules or not, Tina didn’t care. Here was a woman asking for her understanding and help. She would not turn Shayne away.
Shayne’s eyes dropped to the floor as she shuffled her feet. “I never have plans.” She knew she sounded pathetic, but it was the truth.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Tina leaned closer. “Follow me home.”
The small cape cod style house stood in the middle of a quiet, tree-lined street a few miles north of the campus complex. Tina pulled into the detached garage and watched Shayne park her SUV in the driveway. She got out and met her on the walk.
“Come on. Let’s get out of this wind.” Tina got to the door in a few short strides and swung it wide, Shayne close on her heels. She dropped her keys on the stand and put her briefcase next to it. Shedding her coat, she turned to face her guest.
“Take off your coat, Shayne.” Tina noted the shy look from Shayne. She wanted to kiss her, wrap her in her arms, and protect her.
“Are you hungry? Can I get you something to drink?” Tina moved toward the kitchen, hoping that she could quell her undeniable need to touch Shayne. Not just her body, Tina wanted to touch Shayne’s heart and her soul. That’s where she thought Shayne needed her touch the most.
“A drink would be good. Whatever you’re having.” Shayne shook off her initial case of nerves and walked toward the kitchen. The home had a warm feel to it, just like the woman who was busy opening a bottle of wine. “You have a wonderful home. I like the colors.”
“Thanks. I don’t get to entertain much, so I decorated it the way I like things. Simple, but comfortable.” Tina handed Shayne a glass. “To knowledge and learning.” Tina raised her glass.
Shayne lightly tapped her glass against Tina’s. “To being open to new experiences.” When Tina nodded, they both drank deeply. Shayne was acutely in tune to her body and all the things it was telling her. Though she noted them, she was unaccustomed to them and wasn’t quite sure what she should do with them.
Tina set her drink down. They were still standing in the dining room, tentative in each other’s presence. Taking a deep breath, she raised her hand, delicately stroking Shayne’s cheek. She traced the line of her jaw, down her throat to the back of her neck, running her fingers through the short, dark strands. Gently, she pulled Shayne toward her. Tina could feel Shayne’s rapid heartbeat, knowing she must be extremely aroused, like Tina was, or she was terrified. Tina hoped it was the former. She pressed her lips to Shayne’s and felt the woman shudder against her.
Tina waited patiently for Shayne to deepen the kiss. When she felt Shayne’s lips part, Tina slid her tongue inside to explore and caress. She felt the other woman’s knees buckle and quickly wrapped an arm around her waist. Tina slowly pulled back.
“Tell me what you feel.” Tina cooed in a soft, silky voice.
Aside from the sudden pounding in her clitoris, Shayne could scarcely give voice to the sensations. Her nerves felt raw and exposed, the same way she did. “Alive. Terrified. Aroused. Everything. Nothing.” Shayne raised her hand, cupping Tina’s breast. When the nipple hardened under her gaze, she moaned.
Tina shuddered at the innocent touch. “How long has it been, Shayne?” She could only imagine the depth of Shayne’s self-denial.
“More than a year, maybe two.” Shayne dropped her hand to Tina’s waist, afraid if she kept touching her, she’d explode.
Nodding, Tina masked her surprise. She backed away enough to break the fragile contact between them. “Then I’ll have to be careful with you.” She paused long enough to retrieve their wine. “What I’d really like is to show you how wonderful romance can be, but that could take days, weeks, even months. I don’t think either one of us would last that long.” She finished off her wine and smiled. “I think I’ll just have to seduce you instead.”
They stood next to the bed facing each. Tina’s body was on fire and she had all she could do to hang on to her fragile control. Shayne was rigid before her. The terror was plain to see, but the longing overshadowed her fright. Tina began to place small, warm kisses at the open expanse of Shayne’s throat and chest as she slowly unbuttoned the shirt. She ignored Shayne’s trembling, certain it would subside once she gave in to the pleasures she would feel.
The hard points of her breasts brushed against the fabric of her clothes as Shayne watched Tina undress her. It was torturous and sweet, this careful seduction. Once she was free of her blouse, Tina slid her hand inside the edge of Shayne’s jeans, eliciting a gasp of anticipation.
Tina knew Shayne walked the fine line between intense arousal and climaxing. After guiding the last barriers down her long, lean legs, Tina traced Shayne’s lips.
“Lie down, Shayne.” Shayne settled on the bed, watching Tina undressed in unhurried movements. She saw Shayne’s eyes darken and her chest quickly rose and fell. When Tina was naked, she lay down beside her, their bodies only a fraction apart.
“You’re very beautiful, Shayne. You’ve hidden yourself from appreciative eyes far too long.” Tina could see she was still shivering, as though she was cold, but the bedroom was warm, so she ignored the outward signs of Shayne’s fear.
“I’d like to take you slowly, but I don’t think that’s possible right now.” Tina couldn’t decide what she wanted more. As she took in the magnificence of Shayne, she was torn between wanting to be inside of her, or have Shayne come in her mouth. Tina couldn’t choose.
Tina dipped her head as they joined in a long, deep kiss. Shayne writhed next to her. Tina broke away, letting her hand trail down the center of Shayne’s body. Her body followed her hand, gently spreading Shayne’s thighs as she settled between them.
“Tina, I’m not going to last. Just the thought of you touching me…” Shayne watched as Tina wrapped her arms around her quivering thighs.
Gazing up at her with hooded eyes, Tina smiled. “I know. It’s okay.” Tina spread the glistening folds, taking in Shayne’s scent. Her mouth covered the hard knot and two of her fingers slid inside of Shayne’s hot opening.
Shayne arched off the bed and gasped. So long. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this good. She watched as Tina’s mouth and tongue demanded her attention. When Tina sucked her clitoris deep inside the wet warmth of her mouth, Shayne exploded.
Firmly pressing her flattened hand on Shayne’s stomach, Tina stroked her through her orgasm, forcing her to ride out the long, hard convulsions. It was several minutes before the woman above her quieted and the waves inside her subsided. Looking up, Tina saw Shayne crying, the tears falling silently from her eyes. Moving quickly to her side, Tina gathering the post-orgasmic woman into her arms. She held her tight and spoke lovingly in a quiet voice. “Shhh, it’s okay, Shayne. You’re okay.” Tina rocked her gently, soothing Shayne as she held on to Tina as if to save herself from drowning.
They lay still for so long, Shayne thought Tina had fallen asleep. When she stirred, the woman pulled Shayne tight against her side once again.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked teasingly.
Laughing, Shayne hesitated. “Bathroom?”
Tina relinquished her grip as she rolled to her side. “Okay. Let me know when I can come in. I’d like you to shower with me.”
Nodding demurely, Shayne went to relieve herself. A few minutes later, she called to Tina. When she appeared in the doorway, Shayne took her time appraising the sophisticated older woman. Tina was pretty with intelligent eyes, high cheekbones, a slightly upturned nosed, and a generous mouth. Her body was tone, but not muscular. Full breasts hung firmly to form perfectly shaped mounds. She was exquisite.
“Do you have a toothbrush?” Shayne wished she’d had the foresight to pack a bag, but she hadn’t entertained the idea that she would be anywhere but home that evening.
“Sure.” Tina opened the vanity drawer and pulled out a multi-pack, which she handed to Shayne. “You can tell a lot from the color of a woman’s toothbrush.” She smiled, the sensuous curve of her lips revealed her enduring desire. “You pick.”
Shayne closed her eyes and pulled one out, proudly holding up one with a red colored handle. “Well?” Shayne prodded, wanting to see if Tina was teasing.
Tina wrapped one hand around Shayne’s as she held the toothbrush, the other she slid around to fondle a cheek of Shayne’s ass. “You have a great capacity for passion.” She leaned forward, licking the outline of Shayne’s lips.
Shayne’s voice was raspy as she uttered one word, “Yes.” She was wet again.
First they brushed, then stepped into the steaming shower together. Tina was tender with her, especially when she lightly rubbed Shayne’s breasts and between her legs with the sponge. Although the scene was intimate, Tina had no desire to take Shayne there. The next time they touched, she wanted to come too, and she wanted to be in bed when she did. The shower could be a dangerous place to lose control.
Laying back, Tina waited for Shayne to recline next to her. “It’s your turn to touch.” She kissed Shayne’s chin, letting her fingers flutter alone the sculpted arm draped over her.
Sighing, Shayne kissed Tina’s neck. “I haven’t touched anyone in a long time. I’m afraid I…might not know how to please you.” She ducked her head down, running her tongue over the taunt nipple that called to her, drawing out a throaty moan from Tina.
“You seem to be doing fine. Have fun, Shayne. Enjoy me.”
Shayne did. Several times.
Sitting at the kitchen table, a small feast set before them, Tina sat back while Shayne was unaware. Taking a break from her meal, Shayne shyly asked, “What?”
Tina was still in awe of the raw passion and wanton lust Shayne had displayed as she became more and more engaged in their lovemaking. Like a lioness awakened from a long slumber, she’d been ravenous, taking Tina again and again until she begged her to stop.
“Since it’s quite obvious you have the passion part mastered, there’s the lesson of romance that still needs to be taught.”
“I thought they were the same thing.” Shayne commented.
“Sometimes, but romance, in its truest form, is what brings passion to a higher level.” Tina paused, trying to figure out how far she could push Shayne to reveal her past. In the end, she admitted it didn’t matter.
“Saturday night, seven-thirty. Here. Can you make it?” Tina’s mind was already setting the scene of her choosing.
Shayne nodded. She was looking forward to being with Tina again.
“Good. Dress to impress and don’t be late.”
Shayne sat in her parked car, her body strung tight with anticipation. They had seen each other during class that week, but to anyone who might be looking, Tina remained the consummate professional. Only Shayne was aware of the glint in her eyes and the knowing smile occasionally cast in her direction. She was annoyed with how nervous she felt. Shrugging off the tension, Shayne grabbed the items from the passenger seat and locked the car.
Tina opened the door and was blown away. Shayne stood in an Armani tuxedo, tailored to fit her body like a glove. It accentuated her wide shoulders and narrow waist. She held an impressive bottle of wine and a modest bouquet of rare flowers that included birds of paradise, star gazer lilies, and baby’s breath. Her eyes sparkled and the color rising to her cheeks made her all the more alluring.
Taking Tina’s hand, Shayne bowed deeply. “Good evening, Dr. Miles, so nice to see you again.” Keeping her slightly bent position, Shayne had the good fortune to evaluate her date from toe-to-head. Spike-heeled silver shoes, a shimmering black evening dress that fell in soft, clinging folds gave way to an enticing, deep cut cleavage. A simple strand of pearls and matching earrings were her only jewelry. Tina’s make-up was simple, highlighting her already gorgeous features. As she locked eyes with the professor, Shayne handed her the bouquet. “They’re no match for your beauty.”
“Shayne…” Tina was enamored by her charm. She stepped back, quietly closing the door. She longed to kiss her, to forget the evening she’d planned. Instead, she headed for the kitchen to put the flowers in a vase.
Shayne followed. “Shall I open the wine?”
“Please.” Tina busied herself with the final touches of their dinner. Chafing dishes held hot items, while others sat in the space between them. Shayne passed by, allowing a hand to lightly brush along Tina’s hip, sending a shiver up her spine.
As they sat feasting on the delicious foods Tina had prepared, Shayne forced the tremors from her voice, needing to connect on a more personal level. “So, dear doctor, aside from polite conversation with a stunning woman, what other romantic notions do you have in store for me?” She would injure herself if she moved too quickly, every muscle in her body was rigid.
Tina had watched Shayne since the moment she arrived. Outwardly, she appeared calm and reserved, but Tina could discern the woman’s subtle nervous movements.
“Patience. Everything good comes…to those who wait.” Tina rose from the table, stepping to the open area of the living room. Shayne refilled their glasses and set them on the coffee table.
Turning to Shayne, Tina extended a hand. “Dance with me.”
Shayne arched an eyebrow as she grasped the hand and wrapped an arm around Tina’s back. When Tina rested her cheek along hers, Shayne enjoyed the simple pleasure of holding her. Heedless of time, they danced together as if they’d been partners for years. Tina fit herself along the firmer planes of Shayne’s body, enjoying the youthful, sinewy strength.
An hour later, their glasses were empty and their feet asked for respite. Tina moved to the kitchen, fixing a tray with coffee and dessert. Several minutes later, she heard the soft voice she’d come to appreciate.
“Can I help with that?” Shayne asked from the doorway.
“Yes. Please bring it to the coffee table.” Tina followed behind, hitting the remote for the fireplace. It roared to life, spreading gentle heat and a warm glow over the two women.
As she poured the coffee, Tina could not help glancing at her ever-curious student. She handed her a small plate, which held the individual molten chocolate cake. “You’ve done well tonight, Shayne. I think a few more times together and you’ll be ready to make your own romantic settings.”
Shayne cut into the cake, mesmerized as a rich, thick chocolate oozed out of the hot center. She briefly thought how wonderful it would be to smear the sweet richness over Tina’s breasts, and her pulse quickened.
“I’m glad you think I’m a quick study, but I’m sure there’s plenty left for me to learn.” Glancing down at her nearly empty plate, she set it aside. Shayne couldn’t stand to wait any longer and reached out to touch Tina’s face, guiding her close enough for a kiss. Slowly their tongues began another kind of dance and the desire for more swiftly rose to the surface. Tina broke contact first.
Placing her hand lightly on Shayne’s chest, she gently forced some space between them. “I know what you want Shayne, I want it too. But we’re not sharing a bed tonight. This evening is about building passion through romance. To learn how to control wanting to touch another so much you think you’ll lose your mind. Only then will you realize that the passion will be twice as enjoyable, twice as satisfying. In the past, I think you’ve denied yourself out of fear. This time I want you to deny yourself, knowing that when we do give in to our desires, passion will guide us to heights you would never have thought possible.”
Shayne’s first reaction was an old one. The fear of rejection fresh in her mind as if the past were now the present. Then she looked into the eyes of her teacher and recognized many things. Longing, desire, and the newfound passion. But there was also patience and kindness, and one that was very new for Shayne. Trust.
She stood up as she placed her napkin on the table before turning to Tina. “Shall we dance then, so that the memory of you being in my arms is my last of the evening?”
Tina stood, pressing her body into Shayne’s, and rested her head on Shayne’s shoulder. She closed her eyes, inhaling Shayne’s light scent and the warmth of her. At some point, Shayne whispered in her ear.
“May I kiss you good night, Tina?”
Lifting her head, Tina smiled with a new appreciation for Shayne’s intricate layers. Tina knew in that moment she wanted to learn all about the woman whose arms held her so tenderly. “Yes.”
A few minutes later, Shayne quietly shut the door behind her and smiled. She was looking forward to a night in the near future when she’d have another lesson in love.
Tina smiled after her. Happy knowing the next time she saw Shayne, she would be the student and Shayne would show her another facet of her mysterious persona. She was sure Shayne would be an excellent teacher as well.