Pippa adjusted her pale lilac parasol and wrinkled her perfect, freckle free nose.
"It smells like fish."
"That's the sea, Pip," Felicity said, swinging a white Belgian lace umbrella at her side. "You won't notice it after awhile." Felicity stopped to lean against the wooden railing and tipped her head back, letting the summer sun warm her face. "Feel how warm it is."
"I shan't," Pippa sniffed. "And I want to go indoors." Felicity gave in, because her stomach was growling.
"I saw a darling tea shop in the village, we'll go there." Pippa minced after her, elegant and trusting. Felicity kept glancing at their reflections in the shop windows, two pretty young women in tailored middy dresses, one dark, one fair. Definitely the most attractive women under thirty and over twelve in the seaside village.
"Oh Fee!" Pippa stopped and peered into the window of a lady's clothing shop. "Oh look. Aren't they pretty?" She pointed at a pair of white lace evening gloves displayed on a green satin pillow. "But they're so very dear." She bit her full, red lower lip.
"I'll pay," Felicity said grandly.
"You'll find a way to pay me back." Felicity bought the white pair, a similar black pair and the pillow itself. At the tea shop, they rested the parcels on their table as they nibbled on raspberry scones and sipped hot tea. Pippa briefly had a spot of jam on her lip, but she dabbed it away with a linen napkin before Felicity gave in to the temptation to lick it.
"You're staring at me,"Pippa said. "Is my hair all mussed?"
"No. You're beautiful."
Pippa smiled and squeezed Felicity's hand for a moment.
"I know. But my hair-"
"I'll fix it for you later," Felicity said. She liked the way it was less than perfect at the moment. "Was Papa's ship as terribly boring as you claimed?"
"I liked the sailors," Pippa giggled.
"They are all riddled with disease," Felicity snapped. "Venereal diseases. Are you familiar with the expression 'rum, sodomy and the lash?" Felicity paid the bill and the girls strolled back to their hotel.
"What are venereal diseases?" Pippa asked. She frowned. "And sodomy."
"It's what happens when men are sent on long trips around the world with nothing but each other, and they acquire the habit of visiting prostitutes on shore leave."
"Disgusting," Pippa said uncomfortably and slipped her hand in Felicity's.
Felicity sat on the porch of their suite, rocking gently in the white wood swing and reading a book of poems. It was an anthology, and she'd just turned to one called "Her Voice" by Oscar Wilde.
From the mighty murmuring mystical seas,
And the wave-lashed leas.
Look upward where the white gull screams,
What does it see that we do not see?
Felicity almost didn't hear Pippa arrive and fling herself onto the swing. She'd changed her high boots with the pearl buttons for a pair of soft slippers.
"What are you reading? Is that poetry? Let me see." Pippa peered over her shoulder and Felicity breathed in her floral scent. "You had better not let the Admiral see that. He has been downstairs in the dining room holding forth on the subject of Mr. Wilde's immorality for twenty minutes."
Felicity raised her eyebrows.
"But listen to this, Pippa.
Is that a star? or the lamp that gleams
On some outward voyaging argosy,
Ah! can it be
We have lived our lives in a land of dreams!"
"He's one of those sodomy people," Pippa said smugly. Felicity's heart sank like a dingy with a hole in the bottom. "The Admiral is saying what a good job he's finally paying for his immoral lifestyle."
"My father is not one to-" But Felicity couldn't get the words out. If Oscar Wilde was immoral, then what was she? She tore the page out of the book angrily and folded it up. Then she hurled the book at the wall. Pippa laughed nastily.
"Come fix my hair now, there is to be a formal dinner tonight with several eligible ship's captains."
"I thought you didn't like the sea," Felicity said. She followed Pippa inside and slipped the poem into her train case when her friend wasn't looking.
"Perhaps I've changed my mind," Pippa said. She was arranging powders and jeweled hair pins on the vanity, she'd already taken the lace gloves out of their boxes. "If I choose a good man first, my mother won't be able to choose for me."
"Is that all you want?" Felicity asked. "Pip…are you so eager to leave me?" Pippa spun around and stared at her, halfway in, halfway out of her green silk dress.
"Of course not! I'm never going to leave you." Felicity lay back on her bed and Pippa joined her, Felicity took her arm and slid one of the white lace gloves on her friend. Felicity wondered if Pippa could hear her thumping heart.
"You look better in white than I do."
"I don't know what that has to do with leaving you,"Pippa said as Felicity donned the black gloves idly. "The new fashionable color for wedding dresses aside."
"I am a wicked, wicked girl, Pippa darling. And wicked girls end up alone."
"How wicked?" Pippa breathed softly, anticipating the start of another one of their games. Felicity slipped her hand up Pippa's dress. "Oh!" Felicity ran her hand over Pippa's silk stocking and the bare flesh where her thigh ran out of stocking. She gave Pippa a long, slow kiss.
"Do the same for me,"Felicity urged in a husky whisper.
"Now! " Felicity insisted."You owe me for the gloves." She wanted Pippa to want this too, but having something to bargain with didn't hurt. Pippa shoved her hand between Felicity's legs. Felicity rocked against her fingers and moaned. "More!"
"You are dirty," Pippa said. "Filthy slut. All sticky and wet down there."
"What sort of a perverted woman would beg for this?" Pippa growled, biting at Felicity's neck. Felicity twitched in her hand and whimpered. "You belong down on the docks with all the other whores."
"Oh yes, yes!" Felicity gasped. Their legs tangled together among the silk, satin and taffeta. Felicity clutched at Pippa's arm as she felt the beginnings of an orgasm. Wrong, wrong, wrong, Ohhh…! "Pippa!"
There was a dainty but firm series of taps on the door.
"Are you dressed, girls?" Mrs. Worthington asked. They sprang apart guiltily. Felicity helped Pippa button her dress, trying not to breathe too hard as Mrs. Worthington hovered outside the door. They were both flushed, but Pippa had no trouble changing tracks quickly, it seemed like she'd put everything they'd done right out of her mind, ready to go down those stairs and be the sheltered, obedient glass doll they were expecting.
"I'm so excited,"Pippa trilled. "The men of Her Majesty's Royal Navy!"
"Perhaps you would like it if I dressed in trousers and called myself a sailor," Felicity sneered.
"Like your father?" Pippa retorted. Felicity slapped her, hard. They both gasped, Pippa's eyes watered. Felicity tried to feel sorry, Pippa didn't know what a wrong thing that was to say.
"Are you going to have one of your fits?" she said instead, enjoying the look of horror on Pippa's face.
"I'm going to dinner," Pippa said, she yanked the gloves off, threw them down and swept out to join Mrs. Worthington.
"Felicity, are you-" her mother started to say.
"I'm menstruating," Felicity responded coldly.
"Felicity!" Mrs. Worthington gasped.
"Well, I am!" she said. "Or something like that. Make up a lie for me."
And there is nothing left to do
But to kiss once again, and part,
Nay, there is nothing we should rue,
I have my beauty,-you your Art,
Nay, do not start,
One world was not enough for two
Like me and you.