Disclaimer: BILB belongs to the respective owners, no copyright infringement intended.
Warning: Femslash. A romantic story between two female characters. If you do not like, DO NOT READ. You have been warned.
Notes: Written for the Femslash08 story challenge.
"I hate this. You know I do."
"Of course I know Jules. It has been brought to my attention in the past. Several times."
"Then why are we still here?"
"Just smile for the damn cameras Jules."
It was a rare warm spring afternoon in Britain as Jules, and her publicist Charlie, walked and argued amidst celebrities and random members of the press. Last week, Jules had received an invitation to one of the biggest charity parties of the year. Initially shocked, Jules decided to stay home and ditch the charity scene in favor of quality 'Jules' time. Before she could settle down and relax Charlie, her personal opportunity seeker slash damage control handler, had persuaded Jules throw away her afternoon to attend the event. Despite Charlie's valiant effort to make her client comfortable in the crowd, Jules began to loathe every minute of attention coming her way. Faking another smile for a group of photographers, Jules remembered why she hated the red carpet process so much. Jules never believed she was a celebrity. How does a personal trainer to the stars translate into a lucrative celebrity status in the first place? Jules never imaged in the six years following her graduation her world would revolve around running overweight celebrities into shape. And as Jules observed the crowd of celebrities walking the red carpet in front of the prestigious Savoy hotel she was convinced that her invitation was sent by mistake, or even worse, as a cruel joke.
"Can we go in now?" Jules pestered her publicist further underneath her breath. She checked her silver wristwatch. The banquet did not start until much later in the evening but Jules wanted to get out of the mid-day sun and into the air-conditioned lobby.
"My god, it's like pulling teeth with you Jules," Charlie moaned quietly from her side. She was wearing a navy blue strapless that complemented her pale skin.
With an apologetic smile, Charlie pushed Jules through the crowd of photographers and reporters covering the charity event. Past the front doors, Jules and Charlie found the entrance to the main ballroom and nestled themselves into the waiting arms of the buff security staff and event planners. Harold Mann, CEO of Industrial Complex Inc. and budding real estate guru, was the host for this year's event. Jules could spot a couple of his employees running around, tending to the last minute preparations. Waddling towards the entrance, Charlie pulled two VIP passes from her silver clutch and handed one to Jules. Free from all of her unwanted attention, Jules shook the tension from her shoulders to calm her nerves.
"Stop fidgeting, Jules. It's annoying."
"I'm trying to relax," Jules said, tugging at the side of her dress. The dress was a tailored made ribbon embroidered dress, in a lovely shade of midnight black. Charlie loathed Jules in anything that made her look the least bit masculine so Jules' dress had been drawn a little too tight around her mid-section. As they shifted closer to the ballroom, Jules could feel the fabric scraping every inch of skin around her stomach. To say the annoyance was distraction was a vast understatement.
"Now then," Charlie began as she pulled her PDA from her clutch as they shuffled onward, always on task. "When you get inside Jules, you'll need to meet with Melissa—"
"—Not that porker—"
"Jules…" Charlie warned.
"I'm serious! The last time we met I told her to drop the pints and pick up the weights."
"What did she do?"
"Threw a bottle at my head."
"You don't say. Think it has something to do with calling her fat to her face?"
"None whatsoever," Jules said.
"Yeah, ok," Charlie sighed. "I tell you what. Since you agreed to accept that lovely new sports car in exchange for taking some shots with Melissa, I think it's only fair that you hold up your end of the bargain."
"Why does she need this again?"
"To get the blokes over at Universal from breathing down her neck."
"Her fat wobbly neck," Jules snorted. They reached the entrance at last and Jules flashed her entrance badge to the hot red-headed woman on staff. No wonder she worked of front—the low cut silver dress that she adorned hugged her body so tightly that it left nothing to the imagination.
"Enough drooling Jules," Charlie said, pulling Jules away. "I'm begging you, cut it out tonight. Don't you think you've got enough rags noising in on your love life?"
Jules smiled. "Not nearly enough."
"That's it. Tomorrow you're giving me a raise," Charlie said as she led Jules into the charity event with her hand on her arm. Jules ginned as she took in her surroundings, dazzling in all of its pompous glory.
"Jules, it's time to go to work…"
Jules had attended this "lavish" event for a total of one and a half hours and she was utterly bored. She completed her mandatory photo-ops with all of her perpetually overweight clientele, sat through not one but two different versions of the same drunken debacle tale, successfully avoided her jilted exes, and snagged a handful of the tasty pastries that lined the banquet tables, much to Charlie's anguish. Now Jules was slumped in a deserted chair, starving for real food and filled with a strong desire to leave. She raised her head when heels clacked in her direction.
"And why are we over here, looking like a miserable lump?"
"Because I'm ready to go," Jules responded.
"Not yet Jules."
"I wasn't asking for permission," Jules snapped as she raised her eyes to meet her publicist's. They silently glared at each other until Charlie gave in with a huff. "Fine, go on."
Lifted by her permission, Jules shot out of her seat, grinning. "That's why I love you, Charlie."
"Yeah, yeah," Charlie said as she dismissed her client, blushing when Jules drew her into a hug.
With her newly-gained freedom, Jules quickly planned her escape route. She would to take the service exit to escape the paparazzi and her exes. Satisfied, Jules slipped away from her publicist, using the abnormally high banquet table to hide. Victory was within her grasp as Jules could see the dim light of the service entrance over the crowd. Thinking that she was free, Jules hands landed on the handle of the door with great pleasure. She paused when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Jules? What a pleasure to see you here! How are you?" Came the question from the familiar voice behind her. Jules turned around, depressed to see Harold Mann, one of the biggest British land developers and host of the event she was so desperate to escape.
"Harold! How nice to see you again," Jules replied hesitantly. If Harold only wanted a quick hello, Jules might still have a chance to escape. "I'm absolutely brilliant."
"Wonderful, just wonderful. Were you about to leave?" Harold asked. Jules wanted to tell him yes, but the reality was—no one could say no to Harold, not if they wanted to remain in the spotlight. Swallowing down the bitter remains of her freedom, Jules smiled and answered a polite no. "Oh good. If you have a bit of time, I'd like to introduce you to a couple of friends of mine."
"How delightful," Jules said, sighing. She let her captor take her by the hand back into the heart of the ballroom.
Truly Jules was being punished.
It was bad enough that Charlie had given her the thumbs up when she entered hand in hand with Mann. Now she stood in the middle of a group of kiss-arses and brown-noses, smiling and laughing to charm them to death. Literally.
"Oh so you're a personal trainer?" Brown-noser number one asked.
"On and off," Jules said. 'Piss off' she thought.
"Is the field lucrative?" A poser from the back posed.
"Oh very," Jules sighed. And so goes her never-ending torture. Until…
"Harold…?" Jules paused, distracted. She scanned the crowd, determined to find the person she thought she knew. There, in the corner by some ambassador's daughter was a flash of brown and red. From the angle the woman was standing at Jules could barely see her face, as oddly familiar as it seemed. Jules tilted her head in Mann's direction, positively sure if Mann did not know the woman in red he could definitely arrange for them to meet. He owed Jules that much for enduring his torture circle.
"Do you know who that is?"
"Yeah, the brunette in the red… dress," Jules faltered.
"Jessminder," Jules interrupted. Conversation forgotten, Jules excused herself from the circle of idiots that surrounded her and picked her way carefully through the crowd. How could Jules forget what Jess looked like? Had it been that long since they'd seen each other? Jules quickly scanned her mind, remembering the last time Jules and Jess were together. Well, not that kind of together, but the last time Jules gazed upon her friend.
It was the summer after their graduation, when Jules received her degree in physical education and Jess had a bachelor's in business management. Jess and Jules were spending the last of their free time cleaning out their Californian apartment in anticipation of moving out. They had shared the tiny apartment since their junior year, when the university had kicked them off campus to make room for out of state freshmen. The heaviest work was done earlier that week so the girls were finishing up some light packing.
Exhausted from the heavy lifting, Jules had taken a break for something cold to drink and found Jess trying to squeeze her oversized comforter in a packing box in her room. Jules leaned quietly against the doorframe, sipping on her drink while watching her friend. Jules played her favorite game of spotting the details—the way Jess' hair framed her face perfectly, how smooth her skin was, and the way her muscles flexed and relaxed as Jess pushed and pulled and finally figured out the correct way of packing her cover. A sense of accomplishment warmed over Jess' face as she bent backwards to stand up straight. Her scent wafted through the air and Jules noted the familiar mixture of spices, vanilla, and faint traces of other things she couldn't quite put into words. It reminded Jules of home and of her old life, and of the new life she would start once the summer was over and Jess left for home. The thought of living alone and away from Jess in still-unfamiliar California frightened Jules more than it should. She knew it was due to her attraction for Jess, stemming from the very beginning of their friendship. Over the course of a couple of years, however, Jules' small infatuation with her friend turned into something more. She didn't know how to categorize her feelings for Jess, but they were there and it was painful as hell for Jules to stand by and watch her friend walk out of her life. So Jules spent that afternoon in their apartment memorizing every detail of Jess into her mind—her smell, her look, those eyes, so she could have something to look back to when things go rough. Five years later, those memories were put to good use as Jules tracked down and stealthily approached Jess, trying hard not to disturb her conversation with some hot shot lawyer wearing a gaudy tux. As her patience wore thin, Jules cleared her throat as loud as she could to get the attention of the woman in front of her.
"Jules!" Jess cried when she turned around. She embraced her old friend. "Oh it's good to see you."
"Same here," Jules said, returning the hug. She stepped back to admire the long red cocktail dress Jess wore, accented with a diamond teardrop necklace and matching earrings. "Oooh, someone's all grown up," Jules said nodding in approval.
"Speak for yourself."
"I was," Jules laughed.
"Excuse me ladies. I see you have some catching up to do," said the lawyer, interrupting the conversation. He leaned over to kiss Jess' cheek. "Jess, you looked lovely this evening. Call me in the morning and we'll go over the documents."
"I will. Goodnight David."
"Ah," Jules began when David was well of earshot. "He seemed… nice."
"Eh, he's more like a bulldog."
"Are you two dating?" Jules asked, hoping to keep her tone light.
"Not in my lifetime," Jess said smirking. "David's not my type."
Interesting. Hoping to catch Jess' train of thought, Jules asked, "So what is your type?"
"Someone's who's not on the company payroll."
"Ah," Jules said, slightly disappointed about the response she received. "The 'no dating the co-workers' rule."
"Wait," Jules said, confused. "I thought he worked for Harold Mann?"
"Yes, he does," Harold interrupted, parting the ladies. He held in his hand three flutes of champagne, and passed two to Jess and Jules. "And so does the smashing young lady in front of you."
"You work for Harold?"
"As his personal assistant," Jess answered smiling.
"You could have told me that, Harold."
"I would have if you had waited for me to respond."
"Sorry," Jules apologized. She took a sip of her wine. "I was in a bit of a rush."
"No harm done," Harold said. He turned his attention towards Jess. "Jess, try the Veuve as well. Tell me what you think."
Nodding, Jess took a sip of her champagne. "So they decided to go with the Clicquot?"
"Yes," Harold said, swishing the fine liquor in his flute. "I believe it's the '96."
"Good stuff," Jules added cheerfully.
"Only the best," Harold winked. "So, how long have you known my Jess?"
"For a while. We played college football over in the states." Jules said, shrugging her shoulders.
Jules let a rough chuckle escape before she could contain herself. Embarrassed, Jules coughed to clear her throat and responded. "Only the best."
"Ah," Harold mused. "As you are Jess' closet confidant, maybe you could help me understand some of the mystery that is 'Jessminder'." Harold raised his free hand in the air for flair.
Surprised, Jess choked on her champagne mid-sip, nearly spilling the golden liquid on her dress. "I don't think so Harold," Jess said as she cleared her throat.
"Why not Jess? I bet Jules is dying to impart some of your stories."
"For you Harold, anything." Jules said smirking.
Jess rolled her eyes behind his back and set the flute on a nearby table, avoiding another chance for an accident to befall her dress. "Ahem," Jess interrupted, coughing lightly into her fist. "As much as I would love to stand here while you two gab on like old ladies—"
"—We're not that old—"
"—A point I will make note of in the future," Jess began. "But right now I'd love to call it a day. I've been helping the rest of the event staff set up all morning and I'm famished. Interested in getting some food?" Jess asked Jules tenuously. She turned her attention to the blonde on her right, keeping steady eye contact. Was that a hint of trepidation or excitement that flashed across Jules' eyes?
"Will you be in my office bright and early tomorrow morning?" Harold asked, smiling brightly. He glanced back and forth between the pair. "You know I can't run my little organization without you."
"Little?" Jules interrupted. "Ha!"
"Yes, of course I will Harold," Jess sighed, exasperated. "It's not like I'm going to spend the night."
"Who knows with this one?" Harold teased Jules, wrapping his arm around her waist in a friendly embrace. Jules thanked the champagne and the low lighting for hiding the blush that tinged her cheeks. "Knock it off, will you?" Jules said, brushing off his arm.
Harold pulled back his arm and raised both in defense. His rich laughter rang through the air like an old bell, causing a few heads to turn in the trio's direction. "I guess you deserve a night out. Go on, before I change my mind."
"Thank you sir," Jess said gratefully. Jules scanned the service entrance again; disappointed to see some of the staff moved the unused dinner tables to block the exit.
"Need an exit Jules?"
"God yes. I refuse to step outside with that pack of wolves again."
"Good," Harold replied, eyes gleaming. Just as he finished his sentence, he beckoned the same red-headed employee who checked Jules' entrance badge over to their little group.
"Ready for those photos, gorgeous?"
"Oh yes Mr. Mann," The girl replied, her accent highlighting her excitement.
"Great. Wait for me at the front entrance, darling." At his request, the young woman set off, three pairs of eyes following her path.
"Lovely, isn't she?"
"A dream," Jules answered. She shot Jess a grin, earning a friendly smack on her arm.
"Jess, remember: bright and early."
"I won't forget Mr. Mann. Goodnight," Jess waved her boss away. They watched as he took the red-head by the arm and marched invincibly into the sea of flashing lights.
"So…" Jules began. Suddenly aware she was alone with Jess for the first time in years, she was at a loss for words. She focused all her attention on her empty flute, watching as the droplets ran down the side of the glass.
"Let's go," Jess said, ignoring her friend's unusual silence. "I'm starving and that champagne is sitting on an empty stomach."
"Where would you like to go?"
"To tell you the truth? I don't know."
"Ok," Jules nodded. She figured that the little number her friend was wearing would cause more than a few heads to turn at the local diner, so a restaurant was out. Perplexed, Jules stood with her hand on her chin, contemplating the perfect place. Jess watched the process with a simple smile on her face. "Something fast then?"
"My apartment's a few blocks from here. We could order take out?" Jules suggested.
Jess' answer came as an arched eyebrow. "Dinner. At your place."
"So what? It's not like we didn't eat fast food in our apartment together."
"Jules, that was almost…five years ago," Jess said, pausing to remember. "We were living under different circumstances," Jess added, sighing. She massaged the base of her neck with her hand. "It's not like I don't want to go it's just… well, let's just say that things have changed."
"That much?" Jules asked. She studied Jess' face, watching for any sign of hesitation.
"… No. At least, I hope not," Jess answered quietly. She took a deep breath before continuing. "You have to admit that it has been a long time since we've really talked."
Jess smiled. "I guess it couldn't hurt. It would give us a chance to catch up."
"Great," Jules grinned. "Let's go. Preferably the exit farthest from that bunch of wankers snapping photos outside."
Jules' apartment was the cornerstone of her life. She considered it priority number one when she spent her money. In her opinion, the best escape from a hectic lifestyle was a well furnished home. And Jules beamed with pride when Jess complemented her effort as she guided the pair through her expensive London apartment. Tired, Jules finished their tour in her living room opposite a well-stacked entertainment system. The last guest she had over insisted that Jules keep her menus next to the big screen television for maximum comfort or, as others implied, laziness. Jules agreed, naturally.
"Do you think the big screen's… too big?"
Jess turned her head from side to side, examining the angles. "No. Not for you anyway."
"You know me too well."
"Mmm-hmm," Jess smiled. She selected the comfortable beige armchair as her seat as Jules held up four menus.
"What's your style?"
"Whatever's the closest. I'm starving."
"Peking Palace it is," Jules recommended. She grabbed the phone off of the receiver. "What would you like? My treat."
"Thanks. Anything with noodles is fine."
"My pleasure." Jules said as she dialed the number. After she placed their order, Jules laid on her couch, arm over her eyes. Her dress rose slightly, giving Jess an uninterrupted view of her thighs. Jess took a deep breath before she forced herself to look away.
"Jules?" Jess called with her eyes closed.
"Do you have anything I can change into?" Jess asked as Jules lifted her head. Of course, Jules thought, they were still in their formal wear. Charlie would absolutely kill her if she got a speck of dirt on her clothing. She could only imagine how much the little red dress Jess currently wore had cost.
"Oh, of course. Umm…"
"Don't take this personally but—"
"—I know Jules," Jess interrupted. She glanced up and down her body. "I've got more curves than you."
"They still look good on you. I have the figure of a twelve year old."
"You do not. But thank you for the complement," Jess said, dismissing the insult with a wave. She could feel the heat of her blush spread across her face.
"Here," Jules said as she tossed the remote control at Jess who caught the device in her lap. "Watch whatever you want. I'll be back in a sec."
"Will do," Jess said as she watched Jules disappear up the stairs.
Having time by herself, Jess opted out of watching mindless television. Dropping the remote back on the couch, Jess wandered around the room, noticing the details that she missed the first time. In their small apartment, Jules had been a terrible roommate. Her belongings constantly found their way to Jess's side, whether Jules remembered moving them or not. And there were times where Jules missed her assignments because she lost her syllabus among the sea of other school papers strewn about. Now, in a spacious apartment, Jules had several rooms of space to spread out. What would have been messy piles evolved into an eclectic mix of collectibles. There were various dusty trophies and metals that stemmed from Jules' earliest competitions gathered dust along a wall. Guitars of every style occupied another. And as Jess found herself in front of the well-crafted French doors she could see a football pitch Jules probably used for practice.
"Are the neighbor's dogs in my yard again?" Jules asked as she ran down the stairs in a faded red tee-shirt and blue jeans. In her hands she held a bundle of folded clothing in her arms.
"No," Jess said, grinning. She pointed out to one of the goals. "You kept your practice goals."
"Yes well," Jules paused as she handed Jess the extra clothing, warm from the heat of Jules' arms. "I like to play a little from time to time. Keeps me in shape."
"Would you fancy a game?"
"Yeah, we can play after we eat. Burn off some extra energy. I could get some of my old practice gear and we could play till five. Sound good?"
Jess looked out the door to the yard that basked in the afternoon sunlight. "Count me in."
If there was one thing that Jules could be thankful for, besides running into Jess again, was that her best friend had gotten a little plumper. Not much, but it was enough that Jules' old jersey and running shorts blissfully accentuated her curves rather than hid them. Jules found herself staring at the most inappropriate places while the two warmed up. Jules became hypnotized when Jess ran around and Jules could see the bounce of her breasts. And Jules tried her hardest to ignore when Jess stretched her arms above her head and her shirt lifted to reveal smooth skin of her stomach. She gave up all forms of modesty and just stared when Jess bent down to stretch her legs and her back, showcasing her lovely arse and thighs…
"Jules!" Jess called for the fifth time.
"What?" Jules answered, afraid that she had been caught in the act. God, why did she do that? It is not like Jules was young and carefree anymore and could oogle any warm flesh that wandered into her field of vision. Old crushes die hard, Jules reminded herself, and her most painfully obvious one was staring her right in the face.
"You ready to get your arse kicked?" Jess called out playfully.
"As soon as I'm done kicking yours," Jules replied with a smile. She tapped the ball upwards with her foot, catching it in her hands. "Rules."
"Oh hear we go…"
"Ahem. Rules. Actually, there are no rules. First to five wins."
"What do we win?" Jess asked curiously.
"Whatever I want."
"Huh, yeah right."
"Seriously. Whatever the winner wants."
"Really?" Jess asked, a delicate eyebrow arched in suspicion.
"Would I lie?" Jules said as she walked to the middle of her yard. Jess joined her and the two stood facing each other in the small yard, waiting for the game to start. As Jules held the ball in front of herself, she thanked the heavens that she had been in an energetic mood this week. She had been practicing and played quite well, in her opinion, against the neighborhood boys in the park across the street. Jules smiled—she was so going to win. "Ready?"
Before Jess had a chance to respond, Jules dropped the ball and let it bounce once before pouncing on it. Jules zoomed past Jess with the ball safely nestled between her feet. She sped to the goal, feeling the heat of Jess closing in on her from behind. Near the goal, Jules reversed her body and twirled around Jess before kicking the ball in for her first goal.
"Someone's been practicing," Jess said, panting.
"Eh, a little here and a little there."
"Ah, so are we playing serious now?"
"Jess I'm shocked," Jules said, bringing a hand to her damp chest. "I thought, as a true friend, you were giving me all that you had."
Jess sent Jules a look that shivered down her spine. "Now I am."
"Good to know," Jules said, flushed. The pair resumed, each concentrating on taking away the ball. Afraid of losing her advantage, Jules committed the first foul she could think of. She shoved her leg under Jess and swept forward, stealing away the ball. The force of the sweep knocked Jess to the ground, facing the opposite direction. By the time Jess managed to get to her feet, Jules had scored her second goal.
"You cheated!" Jess yelled, sitting on the grass. She twisted her leg back and forth, checking for any damage. When she saw that she was ok, Jess jumped to her feet.
"Are you ok?" Jules asked with a wicked grin. "Remember: no rules."
"You're going down, Jules!"
"Yeah yeah," Jules said, dismissing Jess with a wave. The ball in her possession, Jess blazed a path to the opposite goal. Jules, coming in from the left, tried to slide from behind to snatch the ball from in front of her. Jess, with little thought to stopping, grabbed Jules' shirt and twisted it up, revealing her stomach. While Jules fumbled to pull down her shirt, Jess landed her first underhanded goal.
"Yes!" Jess cheered. She stopped mid-cheer as her eyes dropped down to Jules very toned mid-section.
"What?" Jules asked, irritated. She should have seen that coming, Jules thought as she slicked the damp hair out of her face. Especially since she was the one to suggest the no-foul rule in the first place.
"Nothing," Jess said calmly.
"If it's nothing then let's get on with it," Jules said as she wiped her face with her shirt, exposing her abs again. Jess' eyes burned a trail down her stomach, watching as sweat droplets descended. Jess was overcome suddenly with a strong desire to follow those droplets with her tongue and she had to turn away to clear her thoughts. This was not the first time Jess had let her mind wander inappropriately about her best mate. But Jess forced herself to concentrate on the game which became more and more intensified by the moment. Jess and Jules made numerous illegal moves to knock each other down to score. A wayward kick here and a hard shove there tied the game at four and left the pair dirty, tired, and in pain.
"Last point," Jules panted as the pair took a necessary water break on the grass.
"Good," Jess wheezed. She had burned all of her energy to finish the last round. "Too tired to move."
"Me too. Want to stop?"
"What?" Jess said, sitting up straight. "Never. Let's finish this."
"That's my Jess," Jules cheered with a small smile.
Jules grabbed the ball from the side of the yard, turning it around in her hand. They took their starting positions as Jules dropped the ball between their legs. Jules and Jess picked up the pace of the game slowly, taking in the pain of bruises and scrapes that they earned after previous rounds. They quickened their stride as the sky became a multi-colored background filled with a few of the brightest stars. Sweaty, panting, and overcome with fatigue and desire, Jess and Jules race back and forth in the small yard, each woman trying to score the final goal. Jules, in her desperation, swerved right with the ball firmly between her feet to confuse Jess. Realizing Jules' mistake, Jess slid behind Jules instead, knocking the ball out of her possession. Jess noticed that the center of the yard the grass had been beaten down the most and would be the fastest direction to go. If she kept up the pace, Jess could make the goal before Jules knew what was going on and win the game. Jess could taste sweet victory as she sped towards the goal with Jules nowhere in her peripheral vision. Out of nowhere, Jules used the last of her energy to slip in front of Jess, her hands spread out in front of her, braced for impact. Too late to slow down or stop, Jess ran straight ahead, hoping the last of her momentum would push the ball past Jules. As planned, the two collide in a horrific crash, with their tangled limbs flailing everywhere. Jules is helpless to stop the ball that rolls smoothly into her goal…
As the sun disappeared from the horizon and a hazy moon rose above the quiet neighborhood, Jules is a human pillow to Jess and could care less that she lost. Straddling Jules, Jess raised her arms and beamed down at Jules, savoring her victory. Exhausted and breathing heavily, the act of sitting up straight is too much for Jess to bear right now. She slumped back down on top of Jules again, mindful of her many bruises. They lay together quietly, trying to breathe normally. Jules can feel Jess' chest rise and lower as she takes in much needed air. Thoughts of Jess slip from Jules' unconscious hold to run free through her mind; she knows that she can't handle being this close for too long. Stubborn as always, Jules ignores the warnings in her head and enjoys what little contact she can get, as she had dreamed of such an intimate reward many nights. Softly and slowly, Jules glided her fingers against smooth and sweaty skin, touching places as briefly and as harmless as possible. Closing her eyes to the sensation, Jules is startled back to reality when cool hands find their way into her shirt, fingers running lines down her stomach. Jules opened her eyes in time to meet brown ones, laced with desire. That look, along with Jess' ever exploring hands compelled Jules to discard her remaining inhibition as she drew soft lips down to meet her own. They kissed each other lightly, to test unnecessary limitations. Unsatisfied, their kisses became deeper and slower as their desire to be closer was tinged by need and lust. Jess's hands hungrily explored northward, fingertips grazing the top of Jules' breasts. At her touch, Jules fluttered her eyes closed and moaned softly into the kiss. The desire to taste Jess's soft skin overpowered Jules and she lowered her lips onto Jess' neck as she alternated between licking and biting a swath of sweaty skin. Her endeavor was rewarded as Jess's hands cupped Jules' breasts and squeezed them firmly.
"Jules… Jules!" Jess mumbled sharply into Jules' ear. Jules, uninterrupted in her pleasurable task, mumbled an unintelligible response into Jess' neck. The vibration caused Jess' stomach to flutter and parts deeper to throb. "Stop!" Jess pleaded. She pulled her neck away, and out of reach of Jules' wondrous mouth. "We… we have to get up."
"Agreed!" A voice called from behind them. Frightened, Jules flipped Jess over gracelessly and scrambled to stand, pulling up her shorts. With an apologetic look back, Jules offered her hand to Jess, pulling her up to stand by her side. Near her back gate, Jules could see the graying tops of Mr. and Mrs. Withers shining in the streetlight.
"Mr. and Mrs. Withers, what are you doing?" Jules asked, out of breath. She picked this neighborhood for its quiet, own business-minding neighbors. This wasn't like the lovely couple from across the street.
"Oh pardon us dear," Mrs. Withers called out. She opened the latch to the gate and stepped inside. In her arms she carried a host of medical supplies—bandages, gauze, and assorted creams in a small basket. "Jimmy, our grandson, said he heard shouting and groaning from down the street and the husband and I thought you were fighting with one of those paparazzi fellows again."
"Thank… thank you for the concern," Jules said, her tone apologetic and her face warmed by her blush. She pointed to the discarded football lying against the plastic mesh of the goal. "Uh, we're ok. We got a little heated playing..."
"So I see," Mrs. Withers said with a knowing smile. She walked over to the pair and sat the basket on an outdoor table. "May I ask your name dear?"
"Jessminder, ma'am," Jess said, offering her hand. Mrs. Withers shook it without hesitation.
"We call her Jess for short."
"Jess. Pleasure to meet you."
"Jules, I'll leave this here so you girls can get patched up. Try to keep the post-win congratulations indoors next time, love," Mrs. Withers said with a wink.
"Rosemary!" Mr. Withers called from the alleyway. "Let's go! I'm not going to miss me program while you make nice with the lezzies!"
"Oh Arthur, calm down! I'm coming," Mrs. Withers called back. She turned her attention back to the ladies in front of her. She took Jules' hand into hers and gave it a light pat. "Sorry about that. Arthur's an old fuddly-duddly sometimes so it's best to ignore him. Take care Jules and it was nice meeting you Jess." Mrs. Withers hugged Jess and Jules and took her time to get back to her ill-tempered husband. Jess and Jules stared at the gate until the couple's voices blended in with the other sounds of the street.
"—Strange," Jules finished. She took a glance at Jess from the corner, unsure about what to do next. It had been hours since she had Jess back in her life and in that time she manage to do damn near everything she had longed for.
"God Jules look at your arm," Jess said, surveying the arm in question. There was a nasty gash along her arm, probably when she slid to knock the ball away from Jess. "Come on, let's get you patched up."
"You too," Jules said, touching Jess' cheek where the ball had caught her. The bruise looked slightly swollen and need ice on it as soon as possible. "I'm sorry."
"I know. In the house we go."
Patched, cleaned, and comfortably dressed, Jules and Jess lay side by side on the bed, plates empty and discarded beside them. They stared into Jules' spinning fan, lost in their own worlds. A thought, small and nagging, kept tugging at Jess. Something very important…
"Ha!" Jess exclaimed with a smile. She collected the two plates off of the bed and sat them on a nearby nightstand. Jess set on the edge of the bed cross-legged, watching Jules.
"What?" Jules said, keeping her gaze on the ceiling.
"The game, Jules. Forget so soon?" Jess asked with a smile. Now that Jess had mentioned it, she had won. Jules had let the ball roll past her attention to feel those gloriously soft lips grace hers. Given the chance again she would let it happen a million times.
"I never forget. So, what do you want as your prize?"
"My prize," Jess mused quietly. She tapped her finger against the side of her cheek. "First, I want a rematch."
"With legitimate rules this time, Jules. We nearly knocked each other out trying to win."
"Second, the winner has to buy dinner next time." Jess said with a smile. Jules beamed as she stared into Jess' eyes, satisfied that there would be more opportunities to spend time with Jess.
"Last, but certainly not least," Jess began lustfully. She used the brief silence to crawl over to Jules from the edge of the bed, her eyes never wavering from her target. Feeling bold, Jess straddled Jules as she slipped her hands under Jules' shirt and over familiar territory. "You'll call Harold in the morning and explain why I will be very, very late to the office tomorrow."
"My pleasure," Jules said playfully as she traced a finger against Jess' collarbone. She could feel Jess shudder against her touch as she closed her eyes. Yes, Jules thought as she shoved the clean shirt over Jess' head, she would have to apologize profusely to Harold in the morning.