DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Fourteenth in the Slow Burn series. The title is from Carol Ann Duffy's poem "You", from her collection "Rapture".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
They did not make the evening news.
On any other day, the inevitable grainy cellphone footage of the Mayor dancing with and kissing the former Mayor's widow would have been top billing at WSPR, along with the shrill wail of the telephone demanding quotes and interviews, the self-righteous crowing of her political opponents, and the cries of hypocrisy from all and sundry - bearing in mind said closet-case Mayor's self loathing anti-gay voting record.
But today her story had been eclipsed by the death of Alan Spaulding and it was that to which all the news reports were dedicated. Blake sat, stunned, watching it all play out in Doris's clean, cold living room, her shoes kicked off by the door, her feet drawn up under her on the sofa.
On the screen, they cut to a jostling crowd of journalists trying to get a line or two from Phillip as he left the hospital, his face drawn and pale. Blake's lips curled in quiet disgust at the intrusion on her ex-husband's obvious grief. True, she had never quite managed to forgive Phillip for his role in Ross's death, but her heart ached for him just the same. She knew what it was like to live out a private tragedy in the glare of the spotlight.
She glanced up as Doris entered the room, the phone pressed to her ear. "Well, I'm here if you need anything," she was saying softly. "I know he was a bastard sometimes, but..." She trailed off, and smiled sadly. "But he was our bastard, exactly." She sighed, dropping gracefully next to Blake on the sofa. "Yeah, I'd like that," she said after listening for a beatt or two. "In a couple of days. Let me know." She was quiet for a few moments more, then said a gentle: "Goodbye," and hung up.
Blake slid closer and linked their arms together as Doris laid the phone down on the coffee table. "How's Olivia?" she asked. Doris shrugged, and leaned in to her touch.
"A little stunned," she said. "Like all of us, I suppose. She said Emma is sad. And of course Natalia's a mess, because of Rafe."
Blake nodded. "I can imagine," she murmured. "It's hard...when your children are out of your reach..." She trailed off, thinking of her sons and wishing - not for the first time - that she hadn't allowed her mother to take them off to that snooty European boarding school. Perhaps it was time they came home...
"Yes," Doris replied, snapping her out of her reverie. "I...I got Ashlee into Berkeley. She doesn't know yet, but...I think she'll go. I think she will."
Blake turned her head slowly and took in the other woman's troubled expression. "That's...a big step for you," she said, in something of an understatement. Doris just shrugged.
"She's twenty," she said flatly. "I need to...let her be her own person. Have her own life." She turned to Blake and managed a slow smile. "I've begun to appreciate the desire to have something that's...yours." She reached for Blake's hand and threaded their fingers together. "I think it's time we both had our own lives, she and I."
Blake swallowed hard. "I think you might be right," she murmured before leaning forward for a kiss. It was a long, slow kiss - slightly awkward because of their positions, but no less perfect for all that. "Oh, I do love you," Blake whispered when they parted, sounding equal parts surprised, sincere and joyful.
"I love you too," Doris replied, but without any surprise. Her tone was pure joy - the joy of a woman who had given up on ever feeling like this and been proven happily, spectacularly wrong.
They shared a tremulous smile and another kiss, and then Blake rested her head on Doris's shoulder, leaning on her and breathing her in. "So, what are you and Olivia plotting?" she asked, watching as WSPR went back to the studio and began an interview with a member of the board of Spaulding Enterprises. Doris managed a light chuckle.
"Oh, nothing. Just a meeting of the Alan Spaulding ex-wife club," she said. "Wanna come?"
Blake laughed. "Hey, I slept with him, but I didn't marry him," she protested.
"Well, I married him and never slept with him, so you could balance me out," Doris retorted, with a smile in her voice.
They lapsed into silence, watching the drama play out on the TV for a little while longer before Blake heaved a sigh and reached for the remote to turn it off. "God," she murmured. "It seems so...so..."
"Pointless," Doris finished for her. "He was trying to be a better person."
Blake looked up at her with half hooded eyes. "Like us."
Doris nodded slowly. "Like us," she agreed.
Blake pushed Doris's hair behind her ears. It was down now, released from the clasps that had held it up earlier in the day, and falling around her face in gentle waves. "You make me a better person," she murmured. She watched Doris swallow, mesmerised by the movements of muscles in her throat. Suddenly she wanted nothing more than to press her lips to that elegant white neck: to kiss, to breathe, or perhaps both at once. So she did, finding the other woman's pulse and nipping there gently, feeling her own heartbeat rocket to match that of the suddenly trembling woman in her arms.
"B-Blake," Doris stammered, then moaned when the redhead found a particularly sensitive spot, just behind her ear. Before she could speak again Blake was in her lap, straddling her thighs and combing her fingers through her hair as her kisses became more urgent, less tentative. Her hands came to rest almost automatically on Blake's hips, and another moan was dragged over the barbed wire fence of her self control when those same hips rolled against her.
"I love you," Blake whispered in her ear, before taking her earlobe between her teeth, nipping hard enough to leave a mark.
"I...I love...oh God, Blake," Doris replied, mere inches away from getting lost, giving in. She had an image of rolling Blake onto her back on the couch and taking her then and there, loving her, and marking her, and possessing her. Her eyes flickered closed at the thought, but at last she gathered every last shred of her formidable will and pushed lightly on the other woman's shoulders. "Wait."
Blake pulled back, confusion darkening her eyes. "What?" she husked, before trying to lean in again. Doris stopped her.
"This is not taking things slowly," Doris said shakily, thinking back to that seemingly endless moment by the pond at the farmhouse when she had finally tasted Blake's lips and vowed that they wouldn't rush, wouldn't spoil the tiny, tentative steps that had characterised their relationship.
For a long moment, Blake didn't speak. Then, at last, her shoulders slumped. "You're right," she admitted. "I just..." She trailed off, searching for words. "It's Alan, I guess," she said at last. "He'd just started living - really living, they way he wanted to live. And it all got taken away, in a few moments. In the blink of an eye. And Ross-" She stopped again, this time choking on what she was trying to say. Doris slid her hands back and pulled the redhead into an embrace, comforting this time, rather than incendiary. Blake nestled into her gratefully. "Ross," she said again. "I lost him...from nowhere. Randomly. One minute I was getting ready for him to come home and the next...Jeffrey was there with that...that look on his face. You know that look?" She felt Doris nod against her cheek, then take a breath.
"I'm not going anywhere," she whispered. "I'm right here."
Blake closed her eyes. "I know," she replied, but clung to Doris more tightly than before, nonetheless. "But I want to be with you, Doris. I don't want to wait. I'm too old and life is too damn short."
Doris laughed gently, leaning back against the couch so she could look into her eyes. "You're not old," she said gently.
"That's not what my daughter says," Blake replied, smiling now. "Forty four...practically a dinosaur." Doris quirked an eyebrow.
"What does she know?" She cupped Blake's face between her palms. "I think you're the perfect age," she said, and then, quietly: "I think you're perfect."
Lips curled into twin shy smiles before meeting and resting together, barely moving. Neither woman pressed the issue, seeming to be content to share the same suddenly thick air. And then Doris's lips twitched and suddenly they were kissing, but with none of the urgency of the past few minutes. This kiss was both question and answer in one, and when it broke they both knew exactly what was going to happen.
"I want you," Doris murmured, "in my bed."
Blake nodded. Their first time couldn't be some desperate, sweaty grope on a couch. She'd had her fill of sex like that. This time she wanted...more. So much more.
She stood, holding her hand out to Doris. As if by mutual assent they went first to the bathroom to clean off their make-up. It seemed to be understood that there could be no hint of artifice in this, no hiding behind paint or posturing. Blake turned to the other woman, her face a little red from cold water and scrubbing. "You're beautiful," she murmured. She thought Doris blushed, but it was hard to tell for sure.
"You're beautiful," she replied, threading her fingers through soft red hair. "I don't know what you see in me."
Blake shook her head, and reached for the other woman's hand. "Then let me show you."
The bedroom was warmer than the other rooms. At last Blake seemed to have found Doris's sanctuary, the room which best reflected the heart of her. Decorated in shades of warm beige and chocolate brown, with a view of the immaculately tended garden, it was a lovely room that Blake utterly failed to notice. Her eyes, her mind, her heart, were focused on one thing, one woman, standing before her as nervous as a schoolgirl. "What's wrong?" Blake asked, and Doris managed a small, self-deprecating smile.
"I feel like that should be my line," she said, stepping forward and drawing comfort from the solid reality of Blake in her arms. "Aren't you nervous?"
Blake considered the question, then shook her head. "No, not really," she admitted. "I feel like maybe I ought to be. I expected to be...I mean, I've never done this before. But...I'm sure. I'm so sure about this...about you." She smiled softly. "This is so right," she murmured, bringing one of Doris's hands to her lips so she could kiss the palm, before resting it gently over her heart.
Doris exhaled tremulously. "It is," she agreed. "I just..." She looked around the room, her eyes resting on the bed. "I've never...not here...not with someone..."
"Not with someone you love?" Blake finished for her, and smiled when she received a silent nod in reply. "So it's a first for us both then?"
Doris smiled ruefully. "In a way," she granted. "I think that makes me look bad, doesn't it?"
Blake laughed. "God, Doris, if we decided to take a trip down Blake's sexual history lane you'd find worse. I mean..." She leaned forward conspiratorially and dropped her voice to a whisper. "Did you know I once slept with Frank?"
Doris's eyes widened. "Okay...mood is most definitely getting lost...kiss me quick before it disappears out of sight altogether."
Blake laughed and swatted her arm, but leaned forward and kissed her regardless. For long moments they got lost in each other, rolling on a wave of fiery crests and heart clenching troughs until finally Doris felt her knees make contact with the bed and she fell back onto it, pulling Blake with her.
Instantly she rolled the redhead onto her back, lying above her half on and half off, never breaking contact with her lips. Slowly she trailed her fingertips down Blake's side, sliding over the soft layers of her dress and soon finding the even softer skin of her thigh. She slipped her hand under the dress on its way back up, making it ride a little higher. Blake's breath caught, and she arched her back just a little, allowing the dress to ride up even further. She hooked one smooth, naked leg around Doris's, deepening the embrace as she tore her lips away to breathe. "Oh," she exhaled softly, and seemed to tie up all the hope and expectation and desire in that one, shining syllable.
Doris was confident now, her nerves dissolving in the liquid certainty of the woman and the moment. She sat up, pulling Blake with her, and slowly, gently, lifted the other woman's dress over her shoulders. Her own required a little more effort - a zipper, a few restrained tugs - but it found itself on the floor easily enough.
Blake's breath caught in her throat at the sight of her nearly-naked lover stretching out, leonine, above her. She opened her arms and moaned when Doris settled between them, momentarily struck dumb by the warm sensation of skin caressing skin. It was a feeling she hadn't experienced in years, and never like this - soft, smooth, hot. "So this is what all the fuss is about," she murmured as Doris moulded against her, nuzzling her throat and sliding strong, sure hands down her arms.
"This is very much what all the fuss is about," Doris replied, making short work of the last few barriers between them. "I've dreamed of this," she murmured. "Having you here."
Blake cupped her lover's face between her palms. "I'm not a dream," she whispered. "I'm real. I'm here. I'm yours."
Doris drew in a deep breath through her nose. "You're mine," she growled. Blake felt the words travel down her spine and settle lightly in the pit of her stomach.
"I love you," she murmured. Doris kissed her once then met her eyes, and she didn't need to say the words back. Blake could see them written all over her face, hear them in the ragged edge of her breath, feel them in the warm caress of her hands. Her back arched and she sighed, moving in perfect time with her lover as the sky shaded from azure, to sapphire, and finally to black.
The stars were just coming out when Doris finally pulled the comforter around them both, holding Blake's smaller body against hers protectively. She dropped a kiss onto the other woman's forehead, noting the faint hints of cooled sweat under her lips. "Wow," she murmured, and was rewarded with a laugh.
"Wow is right," Blake agreed, tilting her head up for a kiss.
They lay together in silence for a while, feeling each other's warmth, breathing each other's air. Blake had just begun to drift into sleep when she heard Doris's worried voice. "This wasn't too soon, was it?"
Blake looked up, blinking away the first hints of sleep from her eyes. "No," she said. "This...you and me...it feels like it's been building and building. One tiny step after one tiny step until suddenly...here we are."
"Here we are," Doris repeated softly.
Blake smiled. "Do you feel like this whole thing has been really fast...and really slow at the same time?"
Doris laughed. "Exactly," she agreed. "Exactly."
Blake's smile widened into a grin and she tightened her arm round Doris's waist. Doris sighed contentedly. "I suppose I'll have to make a statement tomorrow," she murmured sleepily, after a few moments of silence.
Blake laughed. "What, about this?" she giggled. "Doris Wolfe and Blake Marler wish it to be known that they are madly in love and yes, the sex is fabulous."
"No," Doris replied, swatting her lover lightly on the hip. Then, shyly, she added: "fabulous?"
Blake nodded. "It's epic."
Doris laughed, but couldn't hide the hints of slightly cocky pride that crept into her expression. "No," she said after a moment or two, turning serious. "I meant about Alan. I am the Mayor...not to mention his ex-wife. I ought to say something."
Blake nodded. "Well, I can help you with that," she said. "I'm sure between us we can rustle up something appropriately sorrowful and sincere."
"Yeah," Doris replied, and yawned. "For now...sleep."
"Sleep," Blake agreed, and kissed her one last time before they closed their eyes. Doris slid into slumber almost immediately, her breath coming in deep, regular sighs. Blake listened to it for long minutes, marvelling at the deep, abiding feeling of love and safety and protection she felt, wrapped up in this woman's arms.
Goodnight, Doris, she thought sleepily. And goodnight Alan, wherever you are... She dropped a gentle kiss onto Doris's collarbone.
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