It was funny, but for all she had seen and heard, the fact that she'd lost a boyfriend and a mother, what Skeeter stuck on was Hilly. She knew a good journalist should move on to other stories. She could put the maids out of her mind to write, she could focus on the task at hand. But when it all came back, like a dream just after you woke, what she remembered first was Hilly's face, twisted with rage and embarrassment. As selfish and foolhardy as the desire was, she didn't want that to be the last memory of their friendship.

She didn't tell Aibileen or Minnie. They would've tried to talk her out of it. And she didn't tell her parents, they wouldn't have understood. She just drove to Hilly's house and parked her car in the driveway. For a minute, she sat there, listening to the radio but not hearing it. There wasn't a trace of life to the Holbrook house. Skeeter had heard she had fired her maid, and her husband was at work, of course. It was just the two of them.

Skeeter huffed and she puffed and she rang the doorbell.

Hilly answered herself. Her eyebrows flared when she saw Skeeter, but she didn't say anything. Skeeter spoke before she had time to reconsider that.

"I wanted to talk!"

Hilly crossed her arms and regarded Skeeter. She came to a decision, her head tilting to and fro like a boat on the ocean. "Come in. I do believe in applying Christian charity, even to those who've wronged me."

Skeeter stepped inside. It was hard not to feel some sting there. In her own way, Hilly had tried to be nice to her—land her a husband, invite her into the inner circle. Skeeter often thought about what really separated them. If Skeeter hadn't cleared six foot with stubborn hair, looked the freak, had Constantine, would she be like Hilly, convinced of her own superiority? And what had gotten to Hilly that had made her need to be superior instead of just Hilly?

"I don't want to talk about that, or the help, or the Home Health Sanitation Initiative. I want to talk about us."

"There's an us?" Hilly asked, surprised. The front door closed, she was lighting a cigarette. Skeeter had never known her to smoke. "I know there was a me, I set you up on a date with that lovely oilman you seemed to like so much. And then there's you. You, who pulled that mean prank, leaving commodes on my front lawn for all of Jackson to see."

"That was immature," Skeeter confessed. "But it wasn't… it wasn't just to be mean. If you knew Minny, you'd know how much she and her people are going through. The fires, the shootings…"

"I've never raised a hand in anger in my life, Skeeter." Hilly blew a fat whiff of smoke through the air. "Or are you going to write a book where I personally stab flaming crosses into Negroes' lawns?"

"I'm not accusing you of inciting violence." Hilly rolled her eyes at Skeeter's college language. "But you're not helping. Surely, you can't think you're helping. You know, Yule May needed six stitches after that cop—"

"She stole from me!" Hilly said quickly, so fast that smoke spewed from her lips. "Now you want the negro to live in anarchy as well? Would that satisfy your conscience?"

"You are twisting my words—"

"You're twisting my life! Turning me into the villain in your stupid book!"

"It is not stupid! It's important!"

"It's lies and gossip!"

"And since when have you objected to gossip?" Skeeter demanded. "When you're not the one spreading it. Cheese and crackers, I don't know why I bother. I get to thinking about the one or two times you made me a charity case and I forget all the times you were probably laughing behind my back, pointing and laughing just like you did Celia—"

She grabbed her purse and steamrolled for the door, only to find Hilly in the way. Her sweet smile flatfooted Skeeter. It gave Hilly time to set in.

"Oh. Eugenia. I know what this is all about." Hilly took Skeeter's hand, tenderly stroking the inside of her wrist. "I'm so sorry, really I am. Jolene can be the exact same way. Not to your… heights, but then you always were the passionate one."

"What are you talking about?" Skeeter demanded, trying to ignore Hilly's light touch on her arm.

"You feel neglected. Like I haven't been paying enough attention to you. Oh, between my husband and my babies, I didn't even think to find time for you. If I had any idea you valued our friendship that much… oh, to think of us carrying on like this. You've always been so strong-willed. It's alright, Skeeter. I can take the lead now. I've already put the baby down for the night, and William won't be back for hours yet. It'll be just like old times."

Skeeter took her meaning at the same time she felt herself clench. She snatched her hand away. "T-that was a long time ago! This isn't what it's about!"

Hilly reached out again, this time taking a twist of Skeeter's hair and pulling it up to her face as she stepped in close. "There's no shame in it, Skeeter. You got a bit hung up on it, but we all knew better than to take our chances with boys when it came to those needs. But then we left college and got husbands and you were all alone." She pulled Skeeter's hair between her teeth, the picture of desire. "Just once more than, Skeeter. For a friend."

Skeeter pushed her away, but it was barely half-hearted. Hilly rocked back on her heels and then took Skeeter's outstretched hands, moving them to her breasts. Skeeter couldn't stop her fingers from curling; even through her housedress, Hilly's breasts were stunning, warm and soft. Maternity had made them even curvier than Skeeter had remembered. She squeezed, hard, and Hilly made a little grimace of pain.

"You always did play so rough," Hilly said with a giggle, batting Skeeter's hands away. "C'mon. The guest bedroom. My dear husband will never notice."

Skeeter allowed herself to be led along in a daze. This wasn't happening. She couldn't have a… a thing for Hilly Holbrook. Hilly was a friend, not even a very good friend, and all they'd done back in college was fool around, nothing serious. Skeeter hadn't even orgasmed ever. She'd had to do that herself, back in bed, thinking of Hilly and her luscious lips and her curvy hips and those breasts, those breasts she'd just loved to suck at, and Skeeter was the best at it…

A shiver ran through her. She wanted this. She wanted this more than she'd ever wanted a boy, or a girl for that matter. Hilly's cool prowess just did something to her, made her want to be please her, to win her praise.

In a flash, they were at the bed.

"Oh, Skeeter, these clothes you wear." Hilly tutted as she unzipped Skeeter. "A good outfit should improve upon perfection, but this mannish nonsense… honestly, it'll be so much more stylish at the side of our bed, don't you think?"

"Yeah, Hilly. Sure." Skeeter shivered. It seemed like Hilly palmed every inch of her trim ass as she took the pantyhose.

Hilly helped Skeeter down to the bed. Naked, Skeeter was spread across the sheets. Her flesh seemed to be in a constant state of want. Every inch of Hilly's skin she saw needed to be touched, licked, bitten, tasted. Hilly wiggling out of her housedress, leaving just a brassiere and stockings for Skeeter's feverish imagination to work at, meant more skin, which made Skeeter want her more. It approached the level of need.

"What do you think?" Hilly asked, striking a pin-up pose. Skeeter felt herself twist. "Do you have an exercise regiment? They do wonders. I just push little Billy around in his stroller after the sun has set and look. You can hardly tell I'm even a first-time mother. William doesn't appreciate it." Her face scrunched up sadly. "Do you?"

"You look magnificent," Skeeter said, not even lying.

"Thank you, darling. See? You can be civil." She got down on her knees, coyly opening up Skeeter's thigh. "Oh! You're wet enough to swim in you. Let me lick that up."

Skeeter shivered deliciously as Hilly gave her a dainty lick. Hilly had never been one for truly passionate sex—sweaty, debauched, wild. She fastidiously doused every pink inch of Skeeter's pussy with her tongue, enjoying how the tiniest effort sent Skeeter off. Not a hair was out of place by the time she'd reduced Skeeter to a quivering wreck, only concerned with orgasm. Hilly stood to survey her work.

"You bitch," Skeeter moaned. It was all she could manage not to masturbate herself with both hands, but she couldn't even contemplate going without more of Hilly.

"Such a guttermouth, Skeeter. It shows low character. Now do you see why I despair of you ever becoming a lady?" One eyebrow smugly raised, Hilly removed her brassiere. Skeeter nearly licked her chops at the sight of those plump breasts swinging free. "Not that you want to be a lady, my little dyke friend. You want to be one of those Manhattan dykes, going into smoky clubs and corrupting young ladies with rubber pricks. I know, I've read about it in paperbacks."

Skeeter couldn't help but needle. "Do the young ladies have rubber pricks or am I using rubber pricks to corrupt them?"

"That's right, Skeeter, treat everything like a joke. You'd be so charming if you could just shut that mouth of yours every now and then. Shall I shut it for you? Would that be right, as your friend?"

"Go ahead, Hilly," Skeeter dared her. "Shut me up."

Hilly sat down at the foot of the bed, her side to Skeeter, and favored her with a glance as she removed her panties. She moved to unhook her garters, but Skeeter told her not to. Now Hilly looked like the girls had found in her brother's good-girl art, the one she'd never reported, but waited until she'd been all alone on a long day, to retrieve them from their hiding place and page through them, eyes poring over the cheesecake, the scandalized embarrassment at being caught in the nude that never seemed quite so embarrassed. Christ, how long had she wanted this?

Crawling onto the bed proper, her breasts jiggling with each four-footed motion, Hilly pressed Skeeter down and mounted her, inverted. Skeeter could see those garters up close, growing over Hilly's firm thighs like ivy on marble. Her head came up and Hilly's went down. But Skeeter kissed Hilly's belly, tasting the heat of the Southern day in her sweat, lips brushing against the stretch marks that clung invisibly to Hilly's contours. For all her lust, she still hesitated to actually put her mouth on Hilly's womanhood, even as Hilly's tongue was sucked into her sex.

With a little 'hmpf' of exasperation, like a mother bemoaning how she had to do everything herself, Hilly grabbed Skeeter's messy hair in either hand and drew her head up to her waiting slit. Skeeter had her first taste of pussy, and it wasn't at all what she'd feared, some magic potion to turn her into a sex-starved lunatic. True, she wanted more, but that had more to do with the elegant little moan Hilly released like a gift upon the world.

Skeeter didn't like it. She wanted Hilly to moan and scream and lust like a goddamn woman. She wanted every hair out of place, every pore sweating, every bit of make-up smeared. She wanted to fuck her.

Tongue sliding into Hilly's wanting sex, Skeeter remembered there was a word for what they were doing. Sixty-nine. So esoteric, so very Manhattan. They humped together, grinding away like two wheels on the same bicycle. Skeeter's breasts stroked Hilly's soft belly. Her ass, too flat and boyish for a man's interest, pumped as she worked her cunt over Hilly's face. She imagined she could feel the pricks of Hilly's long, luscious eyelashes against her pussy. When her tongue flashed against Hilly's sex (that taste, so strong, so sweet) Hilly writhed under her, legs moving in slow, soft pistons, just starting to yield to the same desire that was animating Skeeter's limbs like a gallon of espresso.

Hilly tilted her head back. If Skeeter could see her face, she'd be disappointed. Her lips faintly glistened with Skeeter's juices, but her make-up hadn't dared move. She stared at Skeeter's cunt, clenching and creaming, as Skeeter worked voraciously at Hilly's.

"My, my, aren't you just ambitious? You'd fit right in with the New York dykes, rubber prick or not. Are you this way with your negress friends? Do they get you so hot with their jungle lovemaking? Or is it just me? Am I the only one who does this to you? How flatter—"

Skeeter was holding Hilly's pussy open with one hand. The other she pushed between the smoothly rounded mounds of Hilly's rump to ground a finger against Hilly's asshole.

"Eek!" Hilly cried, feeling herself being stretched. "No! What're you…"

Skeeter pressed her middle finger hard into Hilly, sinking it quickly to the first knuckle. Hilly's loud protest turned suddenly into silent domination, her beautiful face contorted by the ecstasy tormenting her. The tight muscles of her anus gave way and Skeeter fucked her finger in with all the aggression of a man, finding Hilly's ass tighter than her pussy ever had been.

Hilly could barely feel Skeeter's tongue in her pussy, even as Skeeter turned ravenous with her sudden power. There was nothing more vivid to her than Skeeter's finger in her asshole. She tightened her ass, trying to ward off the invasion, but there'd be no Berlin Wall in her future. Skeeter had her as surely as Khrushchev had Cuba.

She wasn't even sure she'd have it any other way. She fantasized about Richard penetrating her there, not that she'd ever admit something so filthy, but a finger—it seemed so much more manageable, and it wasn't as if this were any more perverse than two women. Really, it was open-minded of her to let Skeeter seduce her so, the poor thing, so confused. Probably had a bad relationship with a man, one of those animals that left a woman little more than asexual, and she'd turned to ladies because it was the only thing she could muster up the energy for. No wonder she was so fond of the negros; it wasn't as if she had children to dote on.

So Hilly didn't struggle very hard as Skeeter applied more and more pressure. She yelped, excitedly, and shivered as she was probed. She imagined she could reach back and hold herself open, really make it easy for Skeeter, but she was still a daughter of the Confederacy and some things were beneath her dignity, even when she was indulging the unnatural desires of a friend.

"Take your finger out of my backside!" Hilly insisted. She was a good girl, after all. But she made sure there was no force in her voice, just so Skeeter didn't get the wrong idea. "Of all the ungrateful—How dare you! The tactlessness of it!"

Skeeter's finger had slipped into the crushing heat of her asshole. She felt it slowly moving deeper. A squeal vibrated its way from the deepest hollow of Hilly's throat. Her mouth still laved to Hilly's cunt, Skeeter finger-fucked Hilly's ass. The other woman had no choice but to press her face more firmly against Skeeter's pussy, peppering it with almost hypocritically light kisses whilst twisting her hips in ecstasy.

With a laugh, Skeeter plunged her finger in and out of Hilly's ass. The sudden friction overtook Hilly like a train racing a bicycle. She whimpered at the burning pleasure, shrieking out with mock-pain. "Would you relax? Goddamned freak, take it easy one moment! Let me get used to that oversized finger of yours in my ass!"

Skeeter laughed louder. "Make me come and I'll think about it," she bargained, observing with a journalistic eye how Hilly's asshole gripped her finger. Wouldn't her readers love a story like this? Scandal and a splash of sex.

Hilly groaned deep in her throat, but couldn't defy the animalistic urges pushing her ladyhood to the side. She bit down on Skeeter's clit to drag her teeth over it. The hardness of her teeth and the softness of her tongue summed up Hilly perfectly to Skeeter. Caught between sugar and spice, she came. And added another finger to the abuse Hilly's ass was taking.

Anger and delight mixed together in Hilly's voice as she arched her back, feeding her pussy to Skeeter's hungry mouth, and Skeeter clamped her thighs around Hilly's head, legs crossing over her frizzled hair.

Already, Hilly's pain was lessening, letting in pleasure enough to stain her forever. The thought pounded in her mind like her heart slammed against her ribs. She was worse than Celia, worse than that fool Johnny who'd taken up with her. Whatever depraved antics they got up to in their crummy little place—the girl on top, or even on all fours like a bitch in heat—could any of them enjoy being degraded so? She was perverted to feel this way, but she hadn't an ounce of care for it! All she wanted was for Skeeter to keep going!

Openly convulsing, her head flailing so as to spill Skeeter's juices across her cheeks, and her face screwed up into an animalistic mask as she took Skeeter's pleasure from both sides, Hilly made one last appeal for her virtue. "I can't take it! Skeeter, you must—no, don't stop—slow down, hon, that's enough, please, stop, no—I'm coming! Fuck me, you dyke bitch, fuck away!"

A third finger finished her off. Skeeter felt Hilly's folds suck at her tongue like a French kiss as the woman climaxed. Her whole body throbbed, jerking as if to the time of a metronome, centered around the unmentionable areas that Skeeter was assaulting. Hilly came for what must've been a minute, and Skeeter wished she had timed it.

"I can't stand it!" Hilly screamed, vibrating spastically like she was riding a bucking bronco. "It's too much! Too—" Skeeter pulled her fingers out then, and that really was too much for her. Hilly felt herself plateau, her orgasm pinning her down and not letting up, no longer cresting and falling like the tide but drowning her like a tidal wave. With an impossible sensation, she felt her pleasure go, a liquid feeling, an explosion. "—much…"

Skeeter watched with wide eyes as Hilly went off like a lawn sprinkler. The fluid-warm, clear, sweet-smelling but in a strangely artificial way, like Pine-Sol—gushed over Skeeter's face and played further havoc with her hair. Working on autopilot, the reporter milked Hilly dry and filled herself to satiation. Just like Hilly, the taste was sweet, but more so—sickly sweet. Still, Skeeter couldn't get enough of it. It was like proof of her victory. When Hilly rolled off Skeeter and almost flopped off the bed, it was a cry for mercy.

Hilly lay in a puddle with pretensions of elegance, her body language somehow still summoning up an idea of Cleopatra in the time of the Pharaohs, with her legs spread, her lips parted, her body swollen and redden and used. "You bamboozled me," she said, turning to face Skeeter.

"How did I trick you? You came onto me." Skeeter faced her as well, sitting up so they weren't stuck talking to each others' ankles. Perched on her hip, Skeeter hovered over Hilly like a schoolboy leaning over his girlfriend at the lockers. "And how was I?" she pressed, wiping her mouth off with the back of her hand.

"You know full well how you were and it doesn't excuse you. You're as much as a hustler as any card shark." Hilly tried to glare at Skeeter, but she felt too good to make it stick. Laying her head back, Hilly felt another shiver go through her. The cool air on her cunt—magnificent! "I simply won't forgive you for months and months."

"I thought you were never going to forgive me," Skeeter replied, referring to earlier business. They were making progress. She patted Hilly's belly. It was still moist. "And I thought girls fooling around didn't count."

"When we fool around like that, it does. How could you take advantage of me like that? I'm your friend. You might as well have tied me down."

"Maybe next time."

Hilly huffed. Skeeter was already in motion, pulling herself up, grabbing for her clothes. Orgasms always reinvigorated her with energy. Apparently, Hilly was the opposite way.

"I'm glad we had this talk," Skeeter teased, leaning down to kiss Hilly's forehead. The other woman huffed harder.

"I suppose, Eugenia, that you can retake your position at the newsletter if you like. Millie is doing an awful job, you realize. And if you do decide to return, I'll see to it you don't have to print anything that upsets your high moral standards."

Skeeter smiled inwardly. She knew that deep down—deep, deep down—Hilly had a heart.

"And Skeeter?" Hilly called, lolling about the bed to face Skeeter's retreat. "Next time you visit, bring me one of those rubber pricks."