- Yesterday -
Rich California countryside raced by the large glass window as the Southern Pacific's Coastline Express headed towards Los Angeles. The young, beautiful twenty-year-old in the window seat tried to lose herself in the ever changing tapestry, but try as she could, the redhead couldn't shut out the droning voice of the woman sitting next to her.
For the tenth time in the last hour since she'd boarded the train at San Jose, the blue-dressed girl regretted taking this seat. She had been traveling cross-country for over a week now. Every time she changed trains, she'd made it a point to find a nice quiet woman to sit next to. This time she had chosen so very badly.
For over an hour the woman who'd introduced herself as Veronica Wilder had gone on and on about every subject imaginable. From how badly President Truman was going to lose to Governor Dewey in the fall elections, to what a wonderful performance Jane Wyman had given in "Johnny Belinda". She seemed especially fascinated by the winner of the best actress Oscar.
"Isn't it a shame," Veronica had said, "that she divorced her husband just when her career reached the top."
"Yes, it is a shame," The young woman had replied when she was still trying to stay interested in the conversation. It didn't take her long to realize that Veronica didn't need an appreciative audience to keep talking.
"Well it's his loss, believe you me," she went on. "And trust me, fifty years from now people will still talk about what a great actress Jane Wyman was and no one will ever remember Ronald Reagan."
So it had went on, covering other subjects including the Summer Olympics in London to Dinah Shore and Perry Como's latest hits. Even hiding her head in the Saturday Evening Post did little to discourage the older woman. Finally the younger woman just gave up and began to stare out the window.
"Dear Cousin, there you are," said a strong voice from the aisle. "I've been looking for you all over the train. I thought we were going to meet in the dining car?"
That finally ended Veronica's monologue as both women looked up to see a tall woman in her mid-twenties with black hair. She was dressed in the uniform of an Army Nurse.
The redhead didn't recognize the woman, but realized this was an opportune moment to rid herself of Veronica. Quickly she decided to go along with what had to be the Army Officer's mistake.
"Where is my head at today?" she asked herself aloud. "Here I am enjoying our little conversation so much that I totally forgot. I do hope you haven't been looking for me long, dear cousin."
"Not too long," the dark-haired woman smiled. "After all, I only came aboard the train at the last stop."
"Veronica, you must excuse me," the young redhead said to her seatmate.
"Oh of course," the older woman said as she made room for the younger woman to pass. "I totally understand."
With a warm smile goodbye, the young woman left Veronica behind and followed the Army Lieutenant down the aisle.
As they moved into the next car and out of earshot, the redhead reached out and touched the shoulder of the woman in front of her. A brief touch, just enough to get her attention as she paused in her step and turned around.
"I have to apologize," the redhead said in a quiet voice. "I think I've taken advantage of your error."
"You mean we're not cousins?" the brunette said in mock surprise.
"Then it wasn't a mistake?" the younger woman asked cautiously.
"You just looked like you needed help," the Nurse smiled. "I've had my share of bad company."
"I did. I guess I owe you my thanks then."
"Well since we were supposed to meet in the dining car, why don't we have a cup of tea?"
"I think that's an excellent suggestion," came the reply. "We can catch up on old times," she laughed.
"I guess I should introduce myself then," the Army Nurse said as she extended her hand. "Alice Caldwell."
"Scarlett," the redhead beamed as she reached out with her own hand. "Scarlett McMurphy."
Even this late in the afternoon, the dining car was still surprisingly full. Two young men in front of them in line graciously offered to share their table. Both Scarlett and Alice were quick to decline their offer, saying they had no problem waiting for the next free table.
The suggestion was one that both women encountered daily. Alice was tall with a graceful athletic build, suggestive of a dancer. Her small firm breasts were visible enough beneath her uniform jacket so that no one was ever going to mistake her for anything but a young woman. Her face was more suggestive of the term cute than beautiful, but she had the kind of looks that would follow her far into middle age. Her black hair was cut just short enough to fulfill army regulations, then tied up in a bun.
Scarlett, on the other hand, had never been described as anything but stunning. Only an inch shorter than Alice at five ten, she had a build that seemed copied from a statue of Aphrodite. Her bust, concealed beneath her simple traveling dress, was larger than Alice's but just as firm. The only makeup she wore was simple dark red lipstick, which served to accent the natural beauty of her features. Rich flowing red hair, which would've stretched down her back if undone, was instead held in place by an elaborate hairstyle.
By the time they were led to their table five minutes later by a white-jacketed steward, they could tell they were already on the way to becoming fast friends.
As her uniform attested, Alice was an Army Nurse and had been for eighteen months. Twenty-six years old, she was traveling to Los Angeles on leave before reporting to San Diego for her first overseas assignment. She had joined the Army in order, as she put it, to see something besides the twenty square miles that comprised Ethan Falls, California. Both her mother and father had been born there, and neither had ever ventured more than fifty miles from the center of town their whole lives.
"So what strange and exotic place is the Army sending you?" Scarlett asked as they picked up their small menus.
"Seoul, Korea," Alice said as she laid down her menu, making a quick choice. "I'm going to be assigned to the new hospital they just built there."
Sounds exciting," the younger redhead said as she also put down her menu. "Although I only have a general idea where Korea even is."
"Don't feel bad," Alice replied as she signaled the waiter that they were ready to order. "I don't think many people do, myself included. I had to go and look it up on a map."
In response to Alice's inquiries, Scarlett explained that she was going to school at a small private college called Ravenwood just outside of Los Angeles. She had been back east visiting her family during the summer break.
"You came all the way across country by train?" a surprised Alice asked. "Most people these days would've flown. It's a lot faster and definitely a lot more comfortable."
"My brother was a pilot in the Navy," Scarlett said in way of explanation. "Actually I should say he was a Naval Aviator, he was always correcting me on that. That was back when I was just hitting my teens. Sean was on the Yorktown at Midway and..."
Scarlett paused, unable to finish her sentence. Alice reached out and took the younger woman's hand in support, telling her there was no need to explain further. She didn't have to hear the words to know that Sean was one of those brave young men who didn't come back to enjoy the fruits of the still recent victory.
"We'll just say that you don't like to fly and leave it at that," she said as she squeezed her hand. "I'm not too crazy about it myself. That's why I'm glad I'm going to Korea by boat," she added, changing the subject.
Over their tea and the small sandwiches they'd ordered, the two women found that despite the wide difference in their backgrounds they had a lot in common. Enough for both of them to feel a certain measure of regret that their association would be a brief one.
Underneath the surface of their animated conversation, there seemed to be a secondary level of attraction as well. It wasn't really anything that could be called tangible, or even something that would be recognizable to either of them. Unless of course they wanted to perceive it.
Finishing their small snack, Alice suggested that it might be a good idea to try to find some seats on the other end of the train as not to run back into Veronica. Scarlett agreed with the thought.
Luck was with them as many seats had emptied out at Santa Barbara. There were only two more stops left before Los Angeles and the train was already a third empty.
"So what are your plans when we get to the city?" Scarlett asked.
"Well, I guess the first thing to do would be to find a nice hotel to stay at," Alice answered. "Something not too expensive. Any place you might suggest?"
Scarlett seemed to look beyond Alice for a moment, lost in a thought. Then a big smile filled her face and an answer gushed forth.
"I know a great place," she said in an excited voice. "And not expensive at all. In fact, it wouldn't cost you a cent."
"I don't understand," Alice said.
"My Grandmother has a small place by the water," Scarlett explained. "I sometimes go up there on weekends. She's in Europe right now, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I used it, or if I invited a guest."
"Oh I couldn't," Alice said. "Please don't think that I was suggesting that you find me a place to stay."
"If I thought that I wouldn't have offered it," Scarlett replied. "The house is just sitting there empty and all. Besides, it would give us the chance to become the best of friends before you leave."
"I still don't know," Alice said, thinking over the proposal.
"Please," Scarlett intoned. "You might not think it, but I really don't have a lot of friends. Most people find me a little too ... how would I describe it ... too unladylike at times."
"I've been accused of that a time or too myself," Alice laughed. "I guess you've got yourself a houseguest."
"Wonderful!" Scarlett beamed as she took both of Alice's hands in her own and held them tight.
Despite the crowd that exited the train station, the two women had no trouble finding a taxi to take them to Scarlett's Grandmother's. In fact, they were almost bowled over by the three young men who surged forward from the waiting cars to help them with their luggage.
By the time the winning car pulled away from the curb, they were already again lost in their spirited conversation. They made their way out of the city in good time and were soon zooming up the coast highway, retracing some of the ground they'd passed a short time before on the train.
"Is it much further?" Alice asked as she realized they had been riding for almost an hour and hadn't seen another house in ten minutes.
"Just around the next bend," Scarlett smiled.
Sure enough, just as they rounded the next curve, Grandmother's little place on the water came into view. It was not what Alice expected.
Instead of the small bungalow the Army Nurse expected, she found herself being dropped off in front of a tri level, twelve-room summer house, complete with a large patio overlooking the Pacific beach beneath it.
"This is what you call your Grandmother's little place on the water?" she asked Scarlett as the cabby unloaded their luggage.
"It is when you compare it to her place in the city," Scarlett smiled. "I thought if I told you what it really was, you wouldn't want to come."
"Maybe so," Alice replied, thinking that self-conscious as she sometimes was about her background, she might just well have declined the invitation.
A smile on his face from the generous tip Scarlett had given him, the cab driver left their bags at the front door and headed back to the city.
"Buenas tardes, Maria," Scarlett said to the middle aged Mexican woman who answered the door. "Es tan agradable verle otra vez."
"Senorita Scarlett," the gray-haired housekeeper beamed back. "Me complace tanto verle."
"This is my friend, Alice," Scarlett said switching back to English as they stepped inside. "She will be staying with us for a few days. Would you be so kind as to make up one of the guest rooms for her?"
"Of course, Senorita," came the reply in English as well as she quickly moved to do just that.
"You speak Spanish?" Alice asked.
"Yes, and French too," Scarlett replied as they walked into the living room.
"Ce bruit comme je badine?" the redhead said.
"I don't have any idea what you said, but I'm impressed," Alice said as she looked about the beautifully decorated room. "I couldn't manage bilingual, much less trilingual. That must be some college you're going to."
"My family has extensive business holdings on the island of San Cristobal in the Caribbean," Scarlett explained. "More people there speak Spanish or French than English. It's become a sort of family requirement."
"Your Grandmother has a television?" Alice asked, changing the subject as she saw the cabinet with the small screen in the corner. "I've never actually seen one before."
"She's always had a fascination for the latest gadgets," the younger woman laughed as she watched Alice examine the small set. "Personally I don't see the attraction, sitting around staring at a bunch of snowy images on a little screen. I'd rather be listening to Burns and Allen on the radio any day."
"I don't know," Alice said as she finished her look at the Philco brand receiver. "Maybe it's a little crude now, but who knows what it's going to be like in the future. I think it's going to be something really big."
"Sure, and maybe someday we'll see television pictures from the Moon."
"Well I wouldn't go that far," Alice laughed.
Alice's attention was then drawn to a large oil portrait hanging over the fireplace. It was a painting of a young woman in her late teens. With fiery red hair and sparking green eyes, she bore a striking resemblance to Scarlett.
"Is that you?" Alice asked.
"That," Scarlett smiled, "is my Grandmother, Celeste. My Grandfather, Sean, had that painted as a wedding gift for her back in 1893. She was only nineteen when she married him. He was twenty-nine."
"She's beautiful," Alice commented. "And she looks so much like you."
"I've been told that many times," Scarlett said. "She wants me to have my own portrait done but I think it's kind of silly."
"Oh you should do it," Alice quickly said. "It's something you'll cherish when you're older."
"Maybe." came Scarlett's noncommittal answer.
"Is your Grandfather still alive?" Alice asked out of curiosity.
"Eighty-four and still the Chairman of McMurphy Industries," Scarlett said. "My father is the President and basically runs the day to day operations. Grandfather just sort of likes to drop in now and then to make sure things are going right."
"Is he in Europe with your Grandmother?"
"No, he spends most of the year in San Cristobal," Scarlett explained. "He had this big house built there in a place he called Scarlett's Cove. It's really beautiful. Someday, when I'm as old as he is, I'd like to live there as well."
"They don't live together?" Alice asked, then quickly realized she might have overstepped her bounds. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked that."
"No, it's okay," Scarlett assured her. "After being married for over fifty years, they sort of developed separate lives. They still love each other, but they don't have to always be with each other to know that. I envy them actually, to have a love so strong that time and distance can't effect it."
"That is very rare." Alice agreed.
"Let me show you the rest of the house," Scarlett said, changing the subject. "We'll see what other toys we can find for you to play with."
The tour ended with the verandah, a wide expanse that stretched the length of the house and overlooked the beach. The sand below was a soft golden brown, unmarked except by the breeze.
"This is my favorite part of the house," Scarlett explained. "When I was a little girl and came to stay with my Grandmother, I'd sit out here for hours and just watch the waves. At night, I'd lay here and count the stars."
"It is beautiful," Alice agreed as she looked out into the blue ocean.
"Would the Senorita and her guest like some refreshments?" Maria said as she stepped out of the house holding a large tray, filled with a tea service and some small sandwiches. She placed the tray on the center of the large circular table in the middle of the deck.
"Thank you, Maria," Scarlett said as she led Alice to one of the empty seats.
"Will the Senorita be needing anything else before I leave?" Maria said. "The deliveryman was here yesterday and both the refrigerator and the pantry are full."
"I'll be fine," Scarlett replied. "You just go and enjoy your time off."
"Thank you, Senorita Scarlett," she said as she turned and headed back into the house.
Less than a minute later, the sound of the front door closing could be heard through the patio doors.
"Well now it's just us," Scarlett said as she took a sip of her tea.
"Just us?" Alice repeated.
"Well I thought it rather silly to have both me and Maria both spend the week house-sitting," Scarlett said. "So I told her to take an extra week's vacation."
Scarlett, whom it was now obvious, came from money, really didn't act like rich people were supposed to act. At least not how Alice always imagined they did.
"It's just you and me, kid," Scarlett said, doing her best Humphry Bogart imitation, having just loved him in the Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. "We'll just have to rough it."
"I love your idea of roughing it," Alice laughed as she reached for one of the small sandwiches.
Scarlett and Alice took the rest of the evening just to settle in. After Maria's snack and what they had earlier on the train, neither of them really had any appetite for dinner. Instead, they decided just to relax on the verandah and enjoy the sunset.
"Care for some wine?" Scarlett asked as she appeared from the kitchen holding an open bottle and two glasses.
"Sure, why not?" Alice replied as she reached up and took one of the glasses from her hostess.
Alice had exchanged her army uniform for a pair of white shorts and a sky blue short-sleeved blouse. Relaxing in a reclining lawn chair, she had been reading a hardcover book with a concealing cloth cover.
Scarlett had changed into a soft white sundress with light yellow flowers. Neither woman had bothered with footwear, deciding to instead go barefoot on the smooth, polished deck.
"What are you reading?" Scarlett asked as she poured wine into her new friend's glass.
"Nothing you'd find that interesting," Alice said as she took a slip of the wine and expressed her approval. "Just some medical research, pretty dry stuff. Mostly technical stuff."
"Oh," Scarlett said as she filled her own glass and then took her seat. "You know, you're supposed to be on a vacation. That's a funny way to relax."
"Well we each have our own little quirks." Alice smiled.
"That we do," Scarlett agreed as she flipped through a pile of magazines on the table, finally selecting a copy of Life with Marlene Dietrich on the cover.
They sat there for a while, reading and slowly sipping their wine, all the while watching the sun drop lower and lower on the horizon. It was only when Scarlett noticed Alice trying to suppress a giggle over something she had just read that she put down her magazine.
"What in a textbook could be so funny?" she asked out of curiosity.
"Not really funny," Alice said, a slight look of embarrassment on her face. "Just a little..."
"Now you have to share," Scarlett said as she jumped out of her seat and reached for the book Alice had been reading.
Her face red, the dark-haired woman surrendered the tome. Scarlett quickly turned to the title page to see what the book was.
"Sexual Behavior In The Human Male," she read aloud. "The Kinsey Report."
"Well I am a nurse," Alice said in way of explanation.
"I heard there are places in this country where they actually banned this when it came out earlier in the year," Scarlett noted.
"Well now that you've seen it," Alice said. "I'd be happy to lend it to you to look over. It's the least I could do."
"No thanks," Scarlett said as she handed the book back. "It really doesn't interest me."
"You're kidding?" Alice said in surprise. "Based on what my friend in the book store told me, they can't keep the book in stock. Of course no one wants to be seen buying it or admit they're reading it."
"Maybe so," Scarlett said as she dropped back in her chair. "But I really have no interest in reading it. Maybe if they get around to writing Sexual Behavior In The Human Female I might find it interesting."
"I don't think you'd find enough women to admit to the things they write about in here," Alice said, tapping her fingers against the book cover.
"I don't know," Scarlett smiled. "After all, it is 1948, not 1908. You might be surprised what some women might be willing to admit to."
Not sure were she should to go with a statement like that, Alice decided to stay on safer ground.
"A lot of women have read this to find out about their husbands and boyfriends," Alice said.
"Well, last time I looked, I didn't have either one of those." Scarlett replied as she refilled her glass.
"You mean a beautiful girl like you doesn't have a whole fraternity breaking down the door trying to date her?" Alice asked.
"Ravenwood is an all-girl college, there are no frats," Scarlett laughed.
"I didn't know that," Alice said, noting that most women this day and age wouldn't be so happy to be going to an all girl college.
Their conversation was abruptly cut short as the bright red orb of the sun began to dip beneath the horizon. They turned their attention to the spectacle spread out across their vista, watching in silence until it faded from sight.
"It's been a real long day," Alice said as she drained the last of her glass. "I think I'm going to turn in."
"Have a good night's sleep," Scarlett said as she poured the last of the bottle into her own glass. "I'm going to stay up a little longer."
Alice got up to leave and began to clean up after herself. Scarlett told her to just leave everything where it was and she'd take care of it later. After all, she was her guest.
Over the next six days, Alice was treated to a vacation far beyond she could have ever imaged. Scarlett showed her Los Angeles like few tourists ever saw it.
They rode the new green and yellow electric trolley back and forth across the city. The two of them explored the Memorial Coliseum and Grauman's Chinese Theater. Scarlett took her to Universal Studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Paramount, where her family name seemed to open all doors.
The Griffith Park Zoo was a delight and when they went to dinner in Chinatown, Scarlett took her to a restaurant where the owners led them to their private dining room and treated them like family. A courtesy Alice was certain they extended to few other patrons.
The nights were even more marvelous. Be it a concert at the Hollywood Bowl or a chance to spend half the night peering through the lens at Griffith Observatory. There were quiet nights as well, building a fire on the beach and counting the stars. Or actually sitting in front of the television and watching an evening's programs, much to Alice's delight and Scarlett's sufferance.
By the end of they week, they were almost as close as the cousins they'd pretended to be on the train. It was hard to tell which of them was going to be sorrier to see it end.
"I think these two are my favorites," Alice said as she held up two small black and white photographs.
Scarlett looked over Alice's shoulder at her choices. She agreed with her choices.
The first showed the two of them on a small observation deck near the top of the new City Hall. It was the tallest building in the city and the view had been spectacular.
The second was an even better shot, because it contained an element of the magic the whole vacation seemed to be made of. It was a picture of them in the hills outside of the city, with the battered Hollywoodland sign spread out behind them.
"Even this camera is amazing," Alice said as she picked up the Polaroid Camera off the table to look at it again. "Imagine being able to take a photograph and have it develop right there and then. No waiting a week or more for it to come back from the drug store."
Well I told you my Grandmother loved all the latest gadgets," Scarlett said. "They only came out with those this year."
"It really is nice," Alice said. "I loved using it."
"I know, that's why I got one for you to take with you when you leave for Korea," the redhead grinned.
"What?" a surprised Alice exclaimed. "Scarlett, I can't take a gift like that. It's too expensive. I saw in a magazine that these cost almost a hundred dollars."
"Yes you can," Scarlett insisted as she rested her hands on Alice's shoulders and gave her a sisterly kiss on the cheek. "You've made this week the most fun I've had since I was a little kid. I'm really going to miss you."
"That's such a sweet thing to say," Alice said in return as she gave Scarlett a friendly kiss of her own. "I'll take it only if you let me cook you dinner tonight. It's the only gift I can really afford to give you."
"Seeing as my cooking skills aren't worth a damn," Scarlett laughed, "I'll accept."
"It's nice to see that you're not perfect after all," Alice replied with a grin. "After the last week, I was beginning to wonder."
"Oh I'm far from perfect," Scarlett quickly responded, a touch of sudden sadness in both her tone and her eyes. "But I'd settle for just being happy for a while."
"I hope I've made you happy for a while." Alice said.
"That you have," Scarlett said in reply. "Which is why I'm going to miss you so much."
"Well you're not going to have to miss me for another day and a half. So in the meantime, how bout you let me check out that pantry and see what I can come up with for dinner."
Leaving the younger woman behind as she headed for the kitchen, Alice didn't notice the single tear running down Scarlett's cheek. If she had, she might have wondered if it was a tear of happiness or sadness. At that moment, not even Scarlett was sure.
After only a few hours of sleep, Alice found herself awake and staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. Despite the long day, she found herself fully awake. Dinner had been wonderful, they had talked and laughed late into the night.
She lay there for a few minutes, listening to the sound of the soft crash of the waves against the sands beneath her window. Finally, Alice decided she had to get up.
The tall brunette sat up in her bed, dropping her feet over the side of the classic four-poster. Alice was wearing a full-length sheer black nightgown that she had been given at her wedding shower two years before. Her sister Donna had sent all the way to Hollywood for it so that Alice might have something really sexy to wear on her wedding night. A night that had never come about.
Conventional mores stated that a girl was supposed to go to her wedding bed a virgin. The reality was that having the ring on her finger was enough to open most girls' legs. Especially as was the case with Alice and the groom to be, who was nine years older and had seen military service during the war. Few men like that came home virgins and didn't want to wait until the wedding night.
Alice wasn't too disappointed when she lost her maidenhood in a wholly unsatisfying act. Both her mother and older sister had warned her previously that it would most likely happen like that. Both of their husbands had deflowered them in rushed, unfulfilling love making sessions. They did, however, assure her that it would get better with time.
By the second month of their intimacy however, Alice had concluded that it wasn't ever going to be any better than that first time. It wasn't that her intended was a bad or even an inconsiderate lover. Quite the contrary. Based on what she heard from other women, Jack was a most thoughtful and caring lover. And it wasn't as if she wasn't trying as hard as she could either. While in the Army, Jack had been introduced to the delights of oral sex by a Parisian whore. Unlike some of her more timid girlfriends, Alice didn't consider fellatio or anything else that brought someone you cared about pleasure an unnatural act and willing engaged in it. Jack enjoyed her efforts immensely, but it still left her feeling as hollow and unfulfilled as intercourse had.
Three weeks before the wedding, Alice had abruptly announced she was breaking off the engagement and joining the Army. She had enrolled in a program that would send her to nursing school in exchange for military service. Neither her fiancee, nor her family, ever really got an explanation for her sudden decision. The twenty-four-year-old had just packed everything she owned into two bags and left a week later. Alice liked to wear the nightgown while on leave since it didn't exactly fit into Army life.
Through the open window, Alice could see the reflection of the full moon on the water, but not the moon itself. No longer tired, she decided to step outside to have a good look at it.
The house was as quiet as could be and Alice measured her steps carefully as not to disturb Scarlett. The two small guest bedrooms they occupied were next to each other on the main floor. Passing through the kitchen, Alice was surprised to see small illuminations from out on the patio deck. Moving closer to the sliding glass door, Alice could see a half dozen lit candles spread around the verandah.
Gently sliding open the door, Alice stepped outside and could see a figure sitting near the edge in one of the recliners. Without being able to see her face, she knew it was Scarlett.
The redhead was wearing light magenta colored pajamas, embroidered with flowers and birds. Her rich red hair hung its full length, stretched behind her chair. She was staring out onto the horizon and as the taller woman moved closer, Alice could see that all of the buttons of the pajama top had been undone. It was also clear that Scarlett had one hand beneath the waistband of her bottoms.
Realizing that her younger hostess was energetically engaged in what her mother had described endless times as self-abuse, Alice told herself that she should just quietly back up the way she had come. She was too educated a young woman to believe her mother's description of the act she was witnessing. In fact, she really hadn't believed it when she'd discovered the act herself when she was thirteen. It was impossible for her to believe that something that felt so good could be bad.
Truth be told, the scene unfolding in front of her fascinated Alice. The first time she had ever watched a girl pleasure herself had been when she shared a room with her sister, Donna. She never really saw much, and definitely never had the nerve to ask her about it. Still it always enthralled her.
In the almost two years since she'd joined the Army, Alice had the opportunity to see several other women pleasure themselves as well. When you shared quarters like they did, it was impossible not to be aware of those late night acts. The unwritten, unspoken rule was that even if it was happening in the next bed, you turned a blind eye to it. Alice sometimes wondered if it was the same way with men. That had been one of the reasons she was so anxious to read the Kinsey Report.
Even more unspoken than the precept that you ignored another woman touching herself in a sexual way was the even more prohibited act of having another woman do it for her. Back when she was in nursing school, it had been rumored that two of the students had been guilty of just that. No one would actually talk about it, but everyone seemed to know.
The two girls involved had just failed to show up at morning assembly one day. No announcement was made of their status, but the word quickly got out that it was in your best interest not to ask. The one result that Alice remembered from the incident was that it was a long time after that before she heard the quiet sounds of self-pleasure from one of her bunkmates.
Another memory quickly reasserted itself as she watched Scarlett. The remembrance of the warm tingling between Alice's legs that watching and listening to those other young women had always produced.
It was the doubts produced by those feelings that had caused her to cancel her engagement at the last moment. The lack of those feelings in encounters with her boyfriend had sent Alice on her journey of discovery, without even knowing what it was that she was searching for. She just knew she wasn't going to find it in Ethan Falls or as Mrs. Jack Fisher.
"I hope you're not too shocked."
Alice's head snapped back at the sound of Scarlett's voice. It took her a moment to realize that the younger girl had been aware of her presence all along.
Scarlett turned to face her, the folds of her pajama top opening even more, giving Alice a clear view of her candle illuminated breasts. The sight sent a strong flush through the older girl. As a nurse, she had seen countless naked breasts, but none in such a sexual setting.
"Are you shocked?" Scarlett asked again.
"Was I supposed to be?" Alice asked in turn.
"I was hoping you wouldn't be," Scarlett said. "I was hoping that instead you might be..."
Scarlett didn't finish. Instead, Alice watched as the look of self confidence that she had associated with her new friend faded from her face. The expression that replaced it was that of a frightened young woman.
"Oh God, what am I doing?" she asked herself aloud as a tear formed in the corner of her eye. "I can't believed I really thought this might happen."
"That what might happen?" Alice asked as she tried to control the beat of her racing heart.
"When I saw you come out here," she stammered, the tears becoming more visible. "I somehow thought that you could sense what I wanted. What I've been dreaming about since I met you. Somehow, I thought ... I mean I felt ... oh I don't know how to describe it. That you felt the same things that I was feeling."
The now crying young woman pulled the top of her pajamas closed as she bent her head down in embarrassment.
"How could I even think such a thing," she went on. "How could I have gotten it so wrong."
Scarlett hadn't noticed that Alice was now kneeling next to her chair. Or that the brunette was gently stroking her long red hair, brushing the strands away from her tear stained face.
"Scarlett," she whispered as she wiped away a tear with her finger.
The brief touch of flesh against flesh finally alerted Scarlett to the older woman's presence.
"Scarlett," Alice repeated. "You weren't wrong."
"What... ?" Scarlett asked as she stopped her tears and looked up into the face of her friend.
"I don't know how you would describe it either," Alice whispered. "But all those things you thought I might be feeling as well, I do feel them. I know that women aren't supposed to feel such things for each other, or so we're told, but some of us do. Somehow I think we were able to see that in each other."
"I've never tried to do anything like this before," Scarlett admitted.
"Neither have I," Alice said. "But if I'm going to explore those feelings that have been inside of me, I've always hoped I'd have someone like you to explore them with."
"Oh Alice, I was so afraid that you'd think I was some kind of..." Scarlett confessed.
"Never," Alice smiled, no longer wanting to contain the thumping within her breast.
As if to reinforce her statement, Alice leaned over and pressed her lips against Scarlett's. The warmth she found there spread to her very soul. A second kiss followed, this time initiated by Scarlett. Alice responded with all the fires within her, sliding her hand beneath the folds of Scarlett's pajama top to gently cup her ample breast.
"Oh Alice," Scarlett gasped as she felt the strength of her hand pressed against her mound.
Alice then took Scarlett's hand and pressed it against the softness of her own lace-covered bosom. An action that brought an even brighter light to Scarlett's emerald eyes.
Both young women stood and held each other hand in hand, gazing deeply into each other's eyes. Scarlett could see her own emerald orbs reflected in the deep blue of Alice's, as so many other things were reflected within the taller girl's body. She pulled her body against her own and held it as tight as she could, drawing on both the warmth and strength she found in it.
"I think I've fallen in love with you," Scarlett said as she held the taller woman.
"I feel the same way," Alice replied as she brushed Scarlett's long hair.
"What are we going to do?" Scarlett asked. "You leave in two days."
"We live those two days and not worry about what happens after that." Alice answered.
"Oh Alice," Scarlett said as she kissed her new found love once more.
The two women continued to kiss and fondle each other, removing bits of clothing as they went. Scarlett took hold of the straps of Alice's nightgown and slid them down her arms, until the sheer black lace was bunched around the brunette's waist. Her small rounded breasts stood exposed in the moonlight, the quarter dollar sized dark areola drawing the attention of Scarlett's eyes. In the center of each circle stood small erect tips the size of erasers. Fingers outstretched, the redheaded woman rubbed the tips of her fingers against the small stubs, delighting in both their hardness and the electric excitement just touching them produced.
"Oh yes," Alice said breathlessly as she felt Scarlett press her fingers against her nipples.
In turn, Alice ran her hand up along the sides of Scarlett's chest, pulling back the still open fold of the pajama tops. Scarlett's breasts were almost twice the size of Alice's, with bright pink areola and thick nipples. Alice pushed back on the magenta shirt until it fell back and down to the floor. Before the material hit the wooden deck, her hands were cradling the soft yet heavy globes.
The older woman bent over and planted a kiss on each nipple, rubbing her lips against the warm, excited flesh and then her tongue against the thick hardness. The action caused Scarlett to call out with joy.