I really had no good reason to go back to Baltimore. The woman that I thought I loved, that I thought had loved me, was past tense. (An icy telephone call, my words falling like snow, my emotions kept cool by distance and the warm memory of another woman).
There was no reason to go, but when my aunt asked me if I would attend an estate auction for her, (a collection of fabulous Art Deco Egyptian Revival, my best period) – my pulse quickened even if my nod was calm. I had a number scribbled on a paper scrap, and a name that I didn’t remember when she kissed me, Teddy…
I waited until I had checked into the harbor front hotel that my family had used for generations, unpacked my suitcase, shook out and hung my clothes, before I dialed Teddy’s number – I was making a point of saying her name to myself, not to forget. She answered on the third ring, “Teddy’s tune-up!”
I giggled (yeah, nerves) and quipped, “Is that a promise?”
Her voice shifted down to neutral, “Who’s this?”
I said in a low voice, “A rainy night, the backseat of your car, a girl that needed.”
“Oh yeah…” The brightness in her tone made my pulse quicken all over again. “You’re in town?” I said yes. “Do you like to sail? I was going out tomorrow.”
I took a rushing look at my appointment book. “I like to sail. I have a brunch that I have to do, but after 12?”
I heard a lazy laugh in my ear. “I’m a late riser myself.” She gave me directions, and without asking anything else, only said before hanging up. “Thought of you.”
I hadn’t thought of her, not much. Only when I was feeling grateful, only when I was feeling how empty my bed was, how empty I felt.
I showed up, feeling rushed, at the dock wearing a dark coral pink wrap raglan top and dark gray fleece shorts, with white tube socks and newly bought Sperry Topsiders. My unruly hair pulled back tight in a ponytail, some light base to protect my face, and lip gloss a shade to match my top. She beamed at me front the helm of the boat as if I were best thing she had seen that day, kind of smile that makes you feel flushed, that makes you want to be the best thing.
It was a totally beautiful wood cruiser, something you might imagine out of a Fitzgerald novel; long and slender like an arrowhead, all shining red vanish and glowing brass. I could only say, “Awesome.”
Teddy laughed, ‘Ain’t it? Not mine, I did some work on the engine, there was a bitch of a problem with the manifold that I managed to fix, and now the owner lets me use it when he’s out of town.”
Only a few words, but it told volumes about her. That she was damned good at what she did, more than good – boating folk don’t lend out their boats casually, and this was a special boat, the kind that people are protective of – the owner appreciated and trusted her. I was beginning to do the same.
Teddy stood and gave me her hand to help me board. Her fingers felt warm, good, on mine. I glanced around and said, “I should be wearing a flapper dress and carrying a pitcher of martinis.”
“You look great, and no martini – but will this do?” She bent down into a hatch (the curve of her thigh as she leaned caught my breath) and took out a tall glass from an ice chest. A daiquiri. She had remembered the drink I had ordered when we met. It was a store bought mix and the rum was cheap and too weak, but as I took a taste, I felt the first moistness between my legs. It’s the little moments, gestures that do that.
If you don’t understand how that happens, you’ll spend your life not understanding anything.
She flashed me a killer smile and suddenly hugged me a little awkwardly. “God, I’m glad to see you,” she murmured on my neck, “and that is a great scent.”
Her lips hovering on my neck felt like warm oil on my skin. I sighed and replied, “Patchouli and jasmine with a little vanilla bean.”
Teddy laughed as she released me, “Patchouli? A hippie chick? Far out!”
I stuck my tongue at her as she stepped away and she winked at me, saying, “Save that for latter baby.”
Aphrodite and Artemis, I hated blushing, still do.
I watched her cast off the lines, thinking of how she had a wonderfully proud gait. How fine-looking she was without trying, her steely leanness of muscle that accented the proud loft of her small breasts, the wonderful curve of her hips. Smiled at the jet black streak that had replaced orange in her pompadour (so grateful that it wasn’t a mullet). How a woman looks isn’t as important as how her looks reflected who is was, and I did like that reflection…
She came back to the wheel, started the engine and we backed out of the slip and headed out to the bay. I stood beside her; she wrapped her arm around my waist, and I placed my hand on her shoulder. The clear sky was so blue that it bit. The wind was a zephyr, smelling of salt and rich life – I shivered a little, but not from cold, the scent reminded me of the perfume of a woman wanting.
When we passed the breakwater, Teddy opened up the engine and we flew across the sparkling water, bow rising, a fine mist of spray dancing in the air. She asked me to get her sunglasses from her leather jacket lying nearby. I fetched them and slipped the Raybans over her eyes; my fingers touching for a second her lips, she kissed them and grinned at me. My smile back was a little shy. This was different from being with a girl when storms raged inside and no names, no questions, only lust, was the hot, desperate, game.
We ran south for about an hour, until she turned into an empty, tree crowded little cove. She asked me if I knew how to get an anchor down, I nodded and went forward, her hand lightly patting my ass I climbed to the deck, and after I threw the anchor over, she backed the boat until it was set.
When I returned to the cockpit, she had poured me another daiquiri, had a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other, and was leaning back in the pilot’s seat. I sat down near her, and raised my glass in a silent toast.
We sat, drank, and told each other some history.
I: Women’s college (went because my aunt went and my grandmother), getting laid three days after I came out – she giggled at that, and I laughed at her giggle. Breaking my heart three times the first year – she nodded, understanding without needing details. Having to be twice as good at everything to be taken half seriously – she nodded once more and drawled, “know that road…” Summers in Europe; days spent in museums and galleries, nights spent dancing with girls who didn’t understand what I was saying, but knew what I wanted. An aunt whose love of her life had been a Danish operatic soprano, who know what I was before I did, who gave me a lifetime of support, and a job.
Her: Growing up tomboy. A grandfather who raised her like the son he had lost in Vietnam. A disastrous six-month marriage at eighteen – my turn to nod understandably knew too many girls that had tried that road to run away from what they were. Being the only woman in an automotive technology program, and almost thrown out when she floored the cracker that patted her ass – my turn to giggle and share the time I kneed a guy who tried too hard, Teddy whistled appreciatively, “A tough hippie chick!” Then, her taking over her grandfather’s garage and turning it into a specialty shop for classic motors.
We stopped talking and looked at each other. She was waiting with a little curl of her full lips. I listened to the waves on the water, on the shore, the waves inside me. “Let’s go below.”
She sat on the edge of the triangle shaped bunk up at the bow and kicked off her deck shoes; I stood in front of her, just out of reach, and did the same. She pulled over her head her mock turtleneck; underneath she was wearing a black sports bra; I took off my wrap top, no bra (yeah, hippie chick). She unbuttoned her Levi’s and raising herself tugged them and her black jockey shorts off; I slid my pants off me and started to take off my taupe sheer mesh shorties when she said, “Keep those on baby, for now….”
We tangled into each other. My arms circling around her wiry back, her hands on my hair and waist. Our legs twining and untwining, fastening the back of a knee around the bend of her hip. Our mouths meeting, feeding from the sweetness of her mouth. Our breasts sliding, two on two; my ripe apples on her firm small pears. My moan, her groan, as her slippery wetness rubbed hard against my thigh. Rolling together on the gently rocking bed. Above her, biting her neck as her hands suddenly squeezed my buttocks through my shorties. Below her, my arms around her neck as her hands found and not so gently kneaded and stroked my aching breasts.
She retook my mouth with a hungry urgency, her tongue darting repeatedly; my arms tightened around her neck, her sweet invasion making me moan. She pinched the hard little rose beads of my nipples and I throbbed deep inside. She brought her hand down and gathered the side of my panties and pulled hard, the mesh tearing as she ripped it off me – gestures, beautiful, hot, gestures, this woman knew how to play my song that day…
She turned me around until we were spooned, her hips on my cheeks, her mouth a wet fire on the side of my neck; her arm around me, a hand clasping and squeezing my breast; her other hand running slowly down to my mound, as if she were playing chords on me. I felt her fingers touch me, not gently but not too rough – that perfect leisurely determined caress that made me tip my hips up and mewl like a cat in heat. I was in heat, in delirious, delicious, luscious, heat.
When she cupped her hand, her fingers going into me, her palm rosining on my pearl, I arched upward on her fingers to take her further, found what I was seeking, and cried into my ecstasy, cried out her name, “Teddy…Teddy…Teddy!”
She held me, holding me close to her until I stopped shaking; her smiling mouth soft on my neck. Then she leaned back on the thin mattress of the bunk and in an echo of her words months ago, Teddy said, “Do me baby, now.”
Kisses. Feathery kisses on her mouth, tasting her lips as if they were made of sweet chocolate. Kissing her neck, where it met her shoulders, tip of tongue susurrous over a tiny mole. Our hands taking each other, clasping fingers between fingers. Kisssing her breasts, soft curve sending me spiraling towards her nipples. Wetting each lush rosy nipple from right to left, from left to right; hearing with delight, “Awwh god baby.” Kisses down her stomach, over orange freckles, over her curly down. Her hands becoming tight on my mine, her knees coming up, giving me her sex, her center, my jubilance.
My tongue lapped her; swirled over her as if I were painting her with my tongue and lips a fine sable brush and she was a watercolor. Lingering on her bud until it swelled and her nails pressed in to my palms and moving to her tight depths, provocatively plunging all of my tongue into her and rasping back up along the roof of her. Her entire body shook and she let out a stuttering sigh. I did it again, and again, and again; my tongue making searching sweeps deep in her and slipping back out. Until, her voice breaking, she cried out, “Please, oh fuck, please baby, please…” and I held her hands tight in mine beneath her thighs and I thrummed my tongue on her swollen bud and on the skin of my face I felt her falling, falling, into a blazing release…
When it isn’t pride that makes you happy, when it’s knowing that you made her happy that makes you euphoric, you know that something has changed, that you’ve changed.
I let go of her hands and climbed her, my wet swollen lips seeking hers. We kissed, slowly, softly, Her palms stroking my back as I rested on her. Her eyes were bright and her mouth so tender. The rumpled bunk lifted slightly and fell as the tide moved underneath us. It was a wonderful moment, the motion of the boat matching the motions of how we felt, the salty smell of the bay matching the ripe perfume of our sex, the way our bodies breathed together in a rhythm that was perfect. Her palms slipped down me and lazily caressed my cheeks. I moved my hips on her, our mounds grazing, her downy hair feeling like soft grass on me.
I looked down at her impishly and said, “I want you to do me Teddy.”
How quickly we create private languages, how meaningful the pauses… She started to say something, swallowed it, and looked at me and with her hands on my hips started to turn me over. I kissed her, shook my head, cooed, “No, this way,” and slide like a snake up the slender tree of her body. All sinuous – hips and legs curving on and around her until my thighs were on either side of her head and my hands bracing on the bulkhead. I heard a strange sigh, almost a whispered wail, and then her face was on me.
Like the way she used her fingers, her mouth wasn’t hesitant; she parted my lips with her tongue and plunged as deep as she could. My hips rose and fell with each sweet drive of her tongue. She clutched my buttocks almost desperately as if she would fall, holding onto me as her face pressed so tightly against every fold, every petal of me, as she tried to bury all of her tongue in me.
She was falling, giving me what I wanted, doing what she usually didn’t, falling out of whatever boundaries she had set for herself. That thought flooded me, made me writhe on her, made me hear my blood flowing, made my stomach tremor, made me pant out her name, “Teddy, Teddy, fuck yes!”
A muffled cry and her mouth sweetly covering my bud. That was all it took. For my entire body to ripple, for my thoughts to dissolve, for that blinding release to undo my heart.
As I finally slipped down her, had her arms around me, saw her smile – half arrogant, half shy – it came to me, like unwrapping a present, that she was going to be more than a friend.
I shivered a little at that. She thought I was cold and pulled a blanket up to cover us. I nestled against her, exhaled slowly, and promised to myself not to lie about how this time it would be different, only be true to this time…