Cynthia Ashton sat up in her bed and reached for the television remote as the credits for the 11 o'clock news scrolled across the screen. The sitcom that they reran after the news was one that the thirty-five year old had seen so many times as to be able to recite most of the dialogue.
The screen faded to black as she hit the off button and not for the first time since she crawled into bed over an hour before, Cynthia wondered how her daughter and her overnight guest were doing two floors below. She had promised she wouldn't check up on them but now found herself hard pressed to keep that vow.
Not that it was the first time Jill had her friend, Toni stay over. The two had been friends since the fifth grade. It was just that the soon to be seventeen year old had decided that they would rather camp out in the basement playroom than her bedroom down the hall. Jill had said that it was so they wouldn't keep Cynthia awake but it was pretty obvious that the real reason was that they wanted to have their girl talks in private.
Another half hour passed and Cynthia still found herself wide-awake. Sleep just didn't seem to want to come. It was as if she'd drunk a gallon of coffee before turning in.
"You know you can lay here awake for the next hour and the end result is going to be the same," the short haired blonde said to herself as she finally gave into temptation and tossed off the light sheet she had covered herself with.
Promising herself that she would just see if they needed anything and then with a clear mind go to bed, the pajama clad woman headed down the stairs to the basement. Late as it was, she wouldn't be surprised to find them already asleep.
Coming down the back stairs through the utility room as to make the least amount of noise, Cynthia was surprised to find the two of them still wide awake and involved in an animated discussion. In hindsight, that really shouldn't have surprised her because during her own teenage sleepovers, sleep was the one thing she got the least of.
"Come on, you have to admit, Jimmy Hampton is really fine," Cynthia heard Toni George saying as she stopped by the washing machine. "I mean he spends just about every day after school in the gym."
"He's okay," Jill replied, "but I'll still take Bobby any day."
Cynthia grimaced when she heard that. Bobby Parker was Jill's boyfriend and at the top of her mother's list of people she'd like to see drop off the face of the planet. A year and a half older than Jill, they had been dating for the last six months. Which in Cynthia's mind was five and a half months too long.
Standing there in the dark, listening to their conversation about boys was definitely an invasion of privacy, Cynthia knew, but sometimes a mother had to take extra measures to protect her child. Along with worries about teenage violence and drug use, the single mother was determined that her only child not repeat the mistakes of her own youth.
Back when Cynthia had been Jill's age, she'd made the mistake of her life and gotten pregnant by her boyfriend, who like Bobby, was more than a year older. His parents had made him do the right thing and marry her, but that turned out to be an even bigger mistake than opening her legs for Jim in the first place.
Amazingly enough, the marriage had lasted twelve years, if for no other reason than her father-in-law didn't believe in divorce and had warned his son that if he abandoned his wife and child, he would disinherit him. Since his father owned the family business he hoped to inherit one day, it was not a threat to be taken lightly.
Then, five years ago, her husband had been involved in a fatal car crash. His father, who truly loved his daughter-in-law and the grandchild she had given him, had tried to hide the details but eventually Cynthia learned that the other woman who died in the car with him had literally been the other woman. That knowledge was tempered by the fact that it was Cynthia who inherited the business when the old man died two years ago, ensuring a nice life for her and Jill.
At sixteen, or almost seventeen as her daughter constantly pointed out, Jill Ashton was almost the image of her mother at that age. A fact that caused the older woman no small bit of worry. Like her mother, Jill had matured early with an impressive physical development that drew boys like moths around a candle.
At first, it wasn't too bad because for the most part it was boys her age who, while totally fascinated with Jill's bust and athletic figure, were also still too unsure of themselves to do much more than look. The problems had started when Bobby Parker entered the picture. In addition to the age difference, the dark haired teen reminded Cynthia of her husband in a number of other ways. The most frequent being his glib tongue and the way he always seemed to be touching Jill in an inappropriate manner.
"I can't understand what you see in that guy," Toni said. "I think he's such a waste."
"That a girl, Toni," Cynthia thought as she listened, "I knew there was a reason I liked you."
"You fucked him yet?" the dark skinned girl suddenly asked Jill.
Cynthia had to bite down on her lip to keep from making a sound when she heard that question. As it was, she felt herself holding her breath waiting for the answer.
"No, and I don't plan to either," Jill replied.
"Thank God!" Cynthia said silently as she allowed herself to breathe again.
"I'm not going to make the same mistakes my mother made," Jill started to add, brushing back her long blonde hair.
Cynthia smiled; glad that her daughter had indeed learned the lesson she had spent her life trying to teach her.
"He's satisfied that I suck him off now and then," Jill continued. "And if he's not, well I've made it pretty clear that if he pushes me to do something I don't want to do, then he's not even going to get that."
The thought of her daughter having that asshole's cock in her mouth caused Cynthia some concern. But better in her mouth than between her legs she thought, trying to keep a positive perspective on what she had just heard.
"Jamal is like that too," Toni said, making reference to her own boyfriend who unlike Bobby was her own age. "After the first time I gave him a blow job, he was so grateful that he couldn't do enough for me."
Toni George, despite being several months younger than Jill, had become sexually active before her friend. In fact, it was the taller girl who had shown Jill how to give oral sex in the first place, using a banana as a learning tool. Something that might have caused Cynthia to change her high opinion of Toni as Jill's best friend had she known.
"Have you let him fuck you yet?" Jill asked now in turn.
"Once, and I think that's going to be the last time," Toni replied.
"What happened?" Jill asked, her curiosity mirroring that of the woman listening behind the louver doors of the utility room. "Did he come too soon, I'd heard Betty Judd tell Janet Kline that a lot of boys did."
"No that wasn't it," Toni giggled. "You ever hear people say that all black guys are really big down there?"
"Yeah," Jill replied, having sometimes wondered if it were true.
"Well, believe me, it's definitely not true," Toni laughed as she held her fingers a few inches apart in emphasis.
"I kept wondering when he was going to put it all the way in," Toni laughed again.
Jill laughed and behind the partition, Cynthia had to suppress a chuckle as well. It was a cruel way to act toward what was probably a nice young man, but she couldn't help it.
"Besides, if I really want satisfaction, I know where to go," Toni said as they both stopped laughing.
Jill said something in return but Cynthia didn't quite catch it. All she knew was that the room beyond seemed to get real quiet all of a sudden. Since the light was still on, she didn't think they had suddenly decided to go to sleep.
There was a noticeable gap between the louver doors, but with the lights out in the utility room and her dark blue pajamas, Cynthia was all but invisible as she moved to look through it.
The basement playroom was dimly lit, with the lamp set at its lowest setting, but there was no mistaking what Cynthia now saw. The two of them were on the couch where Toni had her arms wrapped around Jill's neck and the two of them were kissing. It wasn't the sort of kiss you normally saw two girls give each other, not with their tongues moving in and out of each other's mouths like they were.
Shielded by the darkness, the older woman stood transfixed as she watched her daughter and Toni become even more intimate. Both had been wearing baby doll nighties and in turn, they helped the other take it off. Even in the faint light, Cynthia could see that neither teenager had been wearing anything beneath.
Cynthia had seen her daughter nude many times but she still was amazed how much she looked like a younger version of herself. Right down to the dark pink nipples on her breasts, which were visible, even when her daughter wore a bra.
Toni's physique was no less impressive and her breasts looked even larger than Jill's. Cynthia couldn't see the black girl's nipples in the dimness but from occasions when Toni had swam in their pool, she knew them to be rather large as well.
As shocking as the kisses had been, Cynthia was even more taken back as Jill brought her mouth to the dark nipples that capped Toni's breasts and began to suck on them. In response, the girl began to softly moan.
"Shhhh," Jill said softly as she moved her mouth off Toni's mounds for a moment, "I wouldn't want my mom to hear us."
"She's two floors away," Toni said as she pulled Jill's attention back to her breasts, "how's she going to hear us?"
"You don't know my mom," Jill grinned, "I was half afraid that she'd come down here to check up on us."
"Think maybe she'd like to join us?" Toni said in jest.
"You definitely don't know my mom!" Jill replied, an even broader grin on her face.
"Too bad," Toni said as she faked a pout, "Your mom is a fox!"
"You just take care of the Ashton that you're supposed to take care of and stop thinking dirty thoughts about my mother," Jill laughed softly as she pulled her friend's mouth to her own breasts.
Despite her warning to Toni, Jill too began to moan softly as her nipples grew erect under the playful antics of the other girl's tongue. It was obvious to Cynthia that this was a game they'd played before.
"You like that, don't you?" Toni said, pausing to catch her breath.
"Oh you know I do," Jill replied.
"Well I know what you like even more," Toni giggled as she dropped to her knees and buried her face between Jill's legs.
"Oh yes!" Jill said, not seeming to worry who heard her now.
As Jill wrapped her legs around Toni's shoulders, Cynthia finally decided that she had to get out of there. As quietly as she could, although she didn't think the two teenagers would've heard her if she were wearing boots, Cynthia moved back the way she came and tip toed up the stairs.
Back in her bedroom, she crawled into bed, trying to go to sleep and not think about what her daughter was doing down in the basement. It proved to be an impossible task. It was only two hours later when she knew, or at least hoped, they were done that sleep finally claimed her.
The next morning at breakfast, Cynthia decided not to mention what she had seen. At least not until she had some idea of what she should do about it. Right now, she didn't have the slightest clue.
"Breakfast is really great, Mom," Jill said as she finished off her pancakes. "You really outdid yourself this morning."
"She's right, Mrs. Ashton," Toni chimed in, "I can't remember the last time I ate so good."
Absorbed in her thoughts, Cynthia didn't catch the "oh you don't say" look that Jill gave Toni across the table. Nor did she see Toni stick out her tongue at Jill in response. Instead she merely thanked the two of them for the compliment.
Once breakfast was done, the two girls cleared the table for Cynthia and said goodbye as they took off to join some of their friends for a Friday morning run. Cynthia watched them walk down the driveway, still trading smiles and giggles as if they were still the two little girls who had shared ice cream cones in the summer. It was still hard for her to realize that they no longer were.
Later that morning, when Cynthia went down to the office, her mind was still fixed on the events of the previous night. A distraction that was noticeable to just about everyone in the small company. Of course that didn't mean that any of them actually had the nerve to ask her what was wrong. After all, she owned the business and none of them wanted to risk getting on her bad side if she took their questions the wrong way. At least almost all of them felt that way.
"All right, what's the problem?" Amanda Hill asked as she stepped into Cynthia's private office unannounced near the end of the day and closed the door behind her.
"Excuse me?" Cynthia asked as she looked up at the report she had only been pretending to read.
"I asked what's the problem?" the brunette repeated as she sat down in one of the two chairs in front of the desk. "You've been moping around all day in a funk and canceled every one of your appointments. You've got half the staff beginning to wonder if the company is in some kind of trouble."
"Why would they think a crazy thing like that?" Cynthia asked.
"Interoffice memos have nothing on office gossip," Amanda replied. "Especially if people see other people they know losing their jobs when their companies have problems and wonder if they're next up on the block."
"Well if that were the case, you'd be the first to know it, wouldn't you?" the blonde offered.
Amanda Hill was six years older than Cynthia, having worked for her father-in-law for a number of years before his death. It was a little known secret that she was the one who actually ran the day-to-day operations of Ashton Food Services. Cynthia owed the company, but really didn't have the knowledge to effectively run it. At least not the way Amanda could. So she had promoted the office manager to vice-president and let her run the show.
"Exactly, so I know it's not the business that's on your mind," Amanda said. "So let me take off the vice-president hat and ask you again as your friend."
Cynthia hesitated before answering. The woman sitting opposite her had indeed been far more than just an employee, even before she inherited the company. She had been a friend in every sense of the word. One thing the hours she had spent cooped up in her office had convinced her was that she had to talk about this with someone. Who better than Amanda who she already trusted with anything.
"Jill had Toni George stay over our house last night," Cynthia said.
"I've met her, nice girl," Amanda commented.
"After I turned in, I began to worry about them being down in the basement all alone," she went on.
"And so you decided to go down and check up on them," Amanda finished for her.
"Am I that obvious?" Cynthia asked.
"Only to those who know and love you," Amanda smiled, "and hope that one day you'll realize that your daughter is now a young woman with a mind of her own."
"That's something I don't think I'll ever have any trouble realizing any more," Cynthia said, the tone of her voice telling Amanda that something unexpected had happened.
"It's just you and me in here," Amanda said, "if you want to talk about it."
"Oh I do," Cynthia confessed. "I think I really need to talk about it."
"Well that's what friends are for," Amanda smiled, "fire away."
"Well, when I went downstairs, the two of them were still up and talking," she began.
"And you couldn't resist the chance to listen," Amanda thought but didn't say.
"They were talking about boyfriends and especially Bobby Parker," Cynthia went on, "and you know how I feel about him."
Amanda merely nodded her head in response.
"Well, it turns out that Jill has been having sex with him." Cynthia said, the words burning as they came out of her mouth.
"It's not easy for any parent to find out that their child is now having intercourse," Amanda said in understanding.
"Oh they're not doing that," Cynthia corrected, "in fact she told Toni that she didn't want to do that with Bobby at all."
"Then what?" a confused Amanda asked.
"She's been giving him oral sex," Cynthia clarified.
"All this over a blow job?" Amanda thought, again keeping her words to herself. Instead, she tried to put it in a better perspective for Cynthia.
"You know, Cynthia, most teenage girls don't look at oral sex like we did when we where their age," she said instead.
"I don't understand."
"When we were growing up, we usually had to have an engagement ring on our finger before we'd even think about doing something like that. Our mothers had to be married and our grandmothers wouldn't even do it then," Amanda explained. "Our daughters now look at it as part of just making out, not really sex at all."
"I didn't know that," Cynthia said.
Having gotten knocked up by the first boy she'd ever done anything with had a definite negative effect on Cynthia's sexual education. She had been too busy being a wife and mother to learn all the things going on in the world around her.
"Look at the positive side," Amanda said, "At least she's not going to get pregnant that way and you said she doesn't plan to sleep with him."
"I know that," Cynthia said, "but I guess I just had to have someone say it to me."
"I know you don't want that loser being with your daughter in any way, but if you try to push them apart, you might wind up pushing Jill in the other direction instead," Amanda added.
That had already occurred to Cynthia, if for no other reason then it described exactly what had happened between her and her own parents. Her mother hated Jim Ashton as well and trying to break the two of them up had instead led Cynthia to his bed.
"So now that we've got this settled, can we put a smile back on that face of yours," Amanda grinned. "So at least your employees can go home with a clear mind."
"I guess you're right," Cynthia said, trying hard to look a little more cheerful.
"Good," Amanda said as she rose to her feet and began to head for the door. "Are we still on for Danny O's after work?"
It had been their custom, almost since the day Cynthia had started at her Father-In-Law's company, to stop by Danny O's every Friday afternoon and knock back a few.
"Sure," the blonde said, her voice showing a lack of enthusiasm.
Amanda got as far as the door when her friend said something that made her stop in her tracks.
"Jill might not be sleeping with Bobby Parker," she said unexpectedly, "but she is having sex with Toni George."
Amanda looked at her friend's face for a moment and immediately made a decision.
"I think the workday just ended," she said. "We both could use a drink right about now."
"But what about what you said about the staff being worried that there was something wrong?" Cynthia asked. "If we both suddenly leave two hours early, won't that make them think..."
Amanda cut her off, "You let me worry about business. I'll meet you down at the bar in fifteen minutes."
Danny O's was more than half-empty when Cynthia walked in the front door. It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust to the dim light inside. When she did, she glanced at the few stools that were occupied, but didn't see Amanda anywhere. Only a few patrons who had finished their work day early, and one or two who didn't have jobs to go to in the first place.
That was one of the things the thirty-five year old liked about the bar, it didn't pretend to be anything other than what it was. A place to have a few drinks and forget about the world for a while. Moving down to the end of the long bar, she finally spotted Amanda sitting in one of the empty booths in back. Returning a wave from the bartender, Cynthia walked back to join her friend.
Sitting down, Cynthia saw that Amanda had already ordered for her. She picked up the glass of amber liquid and downed it in almost a single gulp, something she normally never did. Catching the bartender's attention, she held up the now empty glass to indicate her desire for a refill. The bartender, a redheaded Irishman named Bill, looked to Amanda to see if she wanted another as well. The brunette signaled that she could also use another.
They waited until he had delivered the two drinks before beginning to discuss what had brought the two of them to the bar. Bill knew that the two of them were regulars who usually came in after work on Fridays, but never this early. Still, they were also friends of the owner, so he wasn't about to ask any questions. If the two ladies wanted to come in and get plastered in the afternoon, well that was their business.
"Okay," Amanda said when she was sure that Bill was out of earshot, "what makes you think that Jill is having sex with Toni."
"Well, the fact that I saw Toni with her face buried between Jill's legs was a pretty good indication," Cynthia replied as she took another drink. "From the moans coming out of my daughter's mouth, I don't think she was checking to see if her tampon had come loose."
"I think I'd have to agree that's a pretty solid conclusion," Amanda said. "So how do you feel about it?"
"How do I feel?" Cynthia asked.
"Are you shocked, angry, maybe a little curious?"
"I think maybe all of the above," the blonde said after thinking about it for a few moments.
"Well, what's the worse that could come of it?" the older woman asked.
"I don't understand."
"I've found that when something upsets you, it sometimes helps to consider the worst case scenario and as long as you could live with that, then it doesn't seem so bad after all." Amanda explained.
Cynthia again took a few moments to consider the question before answering. Time she used to drain the second glass of alcohol. Feeling the effects of two drinks in such a short time, she didn't call for a third.
"I guess the worse case scenario would be that Jill is a lesbian," she finally replied.
"And could you live with that?"
"Well I guess I could deal with that easier that I could with the prospect of having Bobby Parker as a son-in-law," Cynthia said.
"That I know, but it wasn't the question," Amanda countered. "Could you deal with it if Jill was a lesbian?"
"I don't know," Cynthia admitted.
"Well that's an honest answer at least," Amanda said. "For what it's worth, I would think she's bisexual if anything, since she seems to still enjoy being with guys. Unless of course you think that's only a cover."
"No, I'm pretty sure she still likes boys too."
"Okay, so we'll say that Jill is bisexual and take it from there then," Amanda continued. "What is it that bothers you about her having an interest in other girls?"
Cynthia's eyes opened wide at the question. The reasons she was bothered should be obvious to anyone. She opened her mouth to voice them, then drew a blank when she tried to list what they were.
"Do you think that she's doing something wrong?" Amanda asked when she saw her friend draw a blank.
"I don't know if I'd call it wrong," Cynthia said. "I just want her to be happy in her life."
"And you don't think she could be happy with another woman?"
"Well I think she'd be happier with a woman than with an asshole like Bobby," Cynthia answered, falling back on her standby reply before becoming serious again. "I don't know, Amanda. I guess I don't have a point of reference to make a judgment. It's not like I've ever known anyone whose had an affair with another woman."
"I have," Amanda said in a calm, even tone.
"What?" Cynthia said, sure she couldn't have heard her number two right.
"I said I've had an affair with another woman," Amanda repeated. "Five in fact if you want to include some one-night stands when I was younger."
Cynthia didn't know what to say. She thought she knew Amanda as well as she had ever known anyone. Even the fact that, for the last few years of his life, her Father-In-Law had been sleeping with her on a more or less regular basis. Hardly a well kept secret since, after all, he had been a widower for almost a dozen years by that point.
"Have I shocked you?" Amanda asked.
"That's an understatement, to say the least."
"Well, it's not something I had planned to bring up," the brunette said, "but I thought that if I did, it would show you that a woman could have lovers of both sexes and be happy."
"Are you happy?" asked Cynthia.
"Baby, I've never been happier in my life," Amanda smiled as she downed the last of her own drink.
"I think I need another drink," Cynthia said, thinking that she couldn't say the same about her own life.
"Actually, I think you've had enough to drink," Amanda said, remembering that two was just about all her friend had ever been able to handle.
"Sometimes I think you act more like my mother than my friend," Cynthia laughed, realizing that Amanda was right about the drink.
"God, I hope not," Amanda laughed as well. "I've met your mother, remember."
"You're right," the younger woman grinned. "I apologize."
"Why don't we get out of here," Amanda suggested.
"Back to the office?"
"Might not be a good idea since it's pretty obvious that we've been drinking," Amanda noted. "Why don't we go for a walk and clear our heads."
"Sounds good to me," Cynthia replied.
Danny O's was only a quarter mile from the piers where the small fishing boats headed out on charter cruises and the two decided to head down there. The dockside was also famous for both the seafood restaurants and a large collection of artists who displayed their wares along the sidewalks.
With the early summer weather so warm, there were a large number of artists out this afternoon showing off their wares. Always looking for something interesting for her house, Cynthia decided to take a look.
She and Amanda were about halfway down the street on which the paintings had been set up when one caught her eye. What attracted her interest was more the subject than any particular skill of the artist.
It was a country setting, two people having a picnic by a lake. From the style of dress, Cynthia guessed that the two women in the painting were supposed to be from the early nineteen hundreds. Perhaps it was just her imagination, but she also got the impression from the look on their faces that they were supposed to be more than just friends.
"Amanda, what's it like?" Cynthia asked, her eyes never leaving the painting.
"What's what like?" Amanda asked in turn, really not understanding the question.
As if in clarification, the blonde haired woman gestured toward the painting. It took Amanda only a brief moment to now understand the question.
"I'm afraid there's no easy way to try and explain it," Amanda said after some reflection. "I've heard some women describe it as being just like it is with a man, only softer, but I don't think I really agree with that. It's really not something that I've ever tried to put into words."
"How did you ... I mean what made you try it?"
"Well it was back in college," Amanda smiled, "I think a lot of women had their first experience there. My roommate and I got into a discussion about it one night, after we'd had a few drinks. One thing sort of led to another and the next thing I remember we were kissing, and then doing a lot more than just kissing."
"Maybe I should've gone to college after all," Cynthia mused, knowing full well that at the time it was impossible.
"Why this sudden interest?" Amanda asked.
"I guess I was just thinking it might help me understand Jill and that aspect of her life better," she replied. "It's not like I have a whole lot of experience with what goes on between men and women, much less anything outside of that."
"You're not telling me that you've been celibate in the five years since Jim died," Amanda said, drawing a conclusion that she hoped was wrong.
"I might as well have been," Cynthia shrugged. "Counting Jim, you can add up the men I've been intimate with on one hand, and still have a few fingers left over."
"I didn't know," a surprised Amanda said.
"Well, it's not exactly something I go around advertising," Cynthia laughed, trying to make light of the admission.
"But I know you have gone out on dates," Amanda added, "Hell, I arranged a few of them myself."
"Dates yes, sex ... well let's just say not really," Cynthia tried to explain. "When I was married to Jim, I really didn't have anything to compare it with so I thought having him climb on top of me and just stick it in was all there was to it. Our lovemaking left me so empty that I was almost relieved when he started to look elsewhere for his kicks. Then, when I started dating again, I tried it with other men but still found it somewhat empty. Finally, I had to face the fact that maybe it was me and not the men."
"I can't believe that," Amanda said.
Cynthia just gave a sort of shrug as an answer. Then before Amanda could say anything further, the artist whose work Cynthia had been admiring came up to them. She had been watching them for the last few minutes, thinking that she might just have a sale in the offing.
"Find something you like, ladies?" the twenty something redhead asked with a smile as she came up next to them.
"We were really just taking a walk," Cynthia said, figuring that the young woman would take the hint.
"Well I could always hold it for you if you'd like to come back," she said, not willing to let a sale go that easily. "You'd just have to leave a small deposit."
"How much are you asking for it?" Amanda asked.
The artist quoted a price that the brunette thought was a little high, but not outlandishly so. She waited a few moments to see if maybe the redhead might lower it.
"Do you really like it," she asked Cynthia when it became obvious that the price was going to stand.
"It is striking," the blonde admitted.
"Well then, that solves the question of what I can get you for your birthday," Amanda laughed softly as she turned her attention back to the youngest woman. "Could I have it delivered?" she asked.
Thinking that delivering the painting was a small price to pay for a sale on what had been a slow afternoon, the artist quickly said that it wouldn't be a problem. She accepted a business card from Amanda and promised that it would be there the first thing on Monday morning. Amanda thanked her and said that she would have a check waiting with the receptionist.
Leaving the birthday gift behind, Amanda and Cynthia continued down the block.
"I think she thought we were a couple," Amanda commented as they passed the end of Artist's Row.
"No..." Cynthia said in mock horror.
"That doesn't bother you?" Amanda asked.
"Why should it?" Cynthia said with a smile.
"Have you ever thought about it?"
"About being with you?" Cynthia asked in turn, an almost impish expression on her face.
"About being with a woman in general?" Amanda clarified.
"I guess every women thinks about it at some time or another," came the reply.
"Did you think about it when you saw Jill and Toni?"
"My God, Amanda, we're talking about my daughter," the thirty-five year old said, this time her shock more genuine.
"Putting aside the fact that she's your daughter," Amanda pressed on, "how did that make you feel?"
"I guess it made me feel like maybe there was something else that I missed in my life," Cynthia said after a moment's reflection, surprising herself at her own honesty.
The answer surprised Amanda as well.
The conversation died down after that as they headed back to the office for their cars. A half-hour after quitting time, the lot was just about empty, with only one car other than theirs left.
Cynthia walked Amanda to her car, which was the closer of the two and parked in a hard to see corner under an overhang. The car was a classic Mustang convertible and she liked to keep it out of the sun as much as possible.
"I want to thank you again for the painting, that was really nice of you," Cynthia said as Amanda opened the door on the driver's side.
"Think nothing of it," Amanda smiled. "I'm glad I finally got the chance to get you something that you liked rather than just taking you out to dinner or something."
With that, the older woman turned to get into her car.
"And Amanda..." Cynthia said, causing the brunette to pause, "I really want to thank you for listening as well."
"That's what friends are for, Babe," Amanda grinned, the warmth of her smile washing over her boss.
A strange feeling filled Cynthia at that moment. She really didn't have the words to describe it, but it was clear to her that this was one of those moments in her life of which she had let too many pass by. This time she wanted it to be different.
Her sudden movement took Amanda by surprise. Despite their conversations over the last few hours, the last thing she ever expected her friend to do was throw her arms around her and kiss her.
The kiss was brief, but incredibly intimate while it lasted. So much so that Amanda, who was admittedly no stranger to the feel of another woman's lips, had her breath taken away.
"That was unexpected," she finally said.
"It was pretty much a surprise to me too," Cynthia said, reflecting her own surprise at her actions.
"Did you enjoy it?" Amanda asked.
"Yes," the younger woman replied after a moment's consideration.
Amanda paused for a few moments of her own as she looked into her friend's face. She hoped to find an answer to the question now filling her thoughts, but found no clear indication one way or another. If she really wanted to know, she was going to have to ask.
"Was that just curiosity or something more?" she asked, not wanting to be too specific.
"I guess a combination of the two," the blonde said, continuing her non-committal tone.
It occurred to Amanda that a prudent course of action might be to just let the matter end here and now. To say goodnight and just get into her car and drive away. Even as she thought it, she knew that wasn't something she wanted to do. Like Cynthia, the older woman knew in her heart that this was a moment not to let pass.
"And has your curiosity been satisfied, or is there something more that you're curious about?" Amanda went on.
This time the pause was the longest yet as Cynthia ran the question over and over in her mind. Yes was such a simple answer to give. After all, she could always bring it up again at a later time. So why was it so hard for her to say such a simple word?
"I don't know," she said instead.
"Fuck!" Amanda said before she could even think about her reaction.
"Excuse me?" Cynthia said, surprised by the suddenness and strength of word.
Rather than be embarrassed by her reaction, Amanda took a different track.
"Look Cynthia, we've always been totally honest with each other, right?"
"Well, I'd be a lot less than totally honest if I said that I wasn't hoping for a straight answer, and not one that makes me feel like I'm trapped between a rock and a hard place."
"What do you mean?"
"Because I'm your friend, and I love you dearly, I feel like I should just back off and let you sort this out in your own good time," Amanda said.
"But why..." Cynthia started to say, but was cut off as Amanda indicated that she wasn't finished.
"But then again," she continued, "because I'm your friend, and I love you dearly, there is nothing that I want more in this world right now than to take you home with me and fuck your brains out."
"Oh my," Cynthia gasped.
"I'm sorry to be so blunt, but that's what I'm feeling," Amanda said, already wondering if maybe she shouldn't have been so forthcoming.
"I never knew," Cynthia said.
"Well, up until this moment, it didn't seem any point in telling you," Amanda said, "and I'm beginning to think that maybe saying it now might've been a mistake."
"That's something I should know a lot about," Cynthia said, "mistakes that is. Lord knows I've made enough of them in my life."
Amanda didn't know how to take the admission, so she didn't respond. She just hoped that even if Cynthia didn't like what she had said, their friendship was secure enough for the two of them to just forget it.
"Yeah, mistakes are definitely something that I'm an expert on," Cynthia said, "but let me tell you my friend, I don't think this is one of them."
With that, Cynthia turned and began to walk to her car, leaving a bewildered Amanda behind.
"Cynthia, where are you going?" she asked, thinking that they really should make sure they were both okay with what had just happened before they went their seperate ways.
"To get my car, silly," she grinned over her shoulder, "It really wouldn't do to leave it here all by itself. People are apt to wonder where I'd gone off to."
"What?" a still perplexed Amanda called out.
"Well you did offer to take me home and fuck my brains out, didn't you?" came the response.
It took a long moment for Amanda to react, stunned as she was to have her friend yell that across the near empty parking lot.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" she finally replied.
"No," Cynthia smiled as she reached her car and unlocked the door. "But that's never really stopped me before, so why start now."
With that, she dropped into her car and started the engine. She watched in her rear view mirror as Amanda got into her own car and followed her out of the lot. As they merged into the early evening traffic, she knew she was doing the right thing.
It only took a little over ten minutes to reach Amanda's building and then an additional two minutes to climb the stairs to the small third floor apartment. Amanda quickly opened the door, then stepped aside to let Cynthia enter first.
A quick glance at her surroundings told Cynthia that little had changed in the simple three-room apartment since her last visit over ten months before. Amanda always said she never needed much to make her comfortable and the simple decor reflected that belief. The living room in front of her was the largest of the three, bordered by a small bedroom and an even smaller kitchen.