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This was a mistake. Leaning awkwardly against the bar, Miranda stirred her drink gloomily and tried to look relaxed. She resisted the urge to tug at the tight, strapless top, which constantly threatened to slip down and reveal her breasts. She had borrowed the whole costume from her flat mate. It was definitely more Lucy's style than her own. Miranda watched, fascinated, as Lucy did bumps and grinds on the dance floor, teasing and seductive, in her element. But Miranda did not belong here.
When she had tried on the sleek, form-fitting outfit back at the apartment, Miranda had been pleased in spite of herself. The shiny black fabric was a slightly shocking contrast to her pale skin. The brief skirt highlighted her long legs, shapely and muscular from walking around campus and bicycling along the river. Her black hair, usually braided down her back, draped long and wavy over her bare shoulders. Lucy gave an appreciative wolf whistle.
"You're gorgeous, girl!" she said, pulling an equally short dress of brilliant red over her trim curves. "I'm going to have a hard time keeping up with you."
Miranda had laughed despite her uncertainty. Lucy was practically irresistible to men. She had a head full of blonde curls, blue eyes that sparkled with laughter and not a little mischief, a petite but voluptuous body, and as far as Miranda could tell, an insatiable appetite for male flesh.
Every week or two, it seemed, Lucy met a new man of her dreams. She would spend days away from the apartment, dropping in only to grab a few clothes and leave Miranda a cheery note. Lucy was working toward a graduate degree in business, and Miranda sometimes wondered how her roommate could keepup with her responsibilities. Somehow, though, the vivacious blonde always managed to get top grades.
When her whirlwind affairs ended, as they inevitably did, Lucy would be philosophical. "He wasn't really right for me," she would say, sipping the tea that Miranda made to comfort her. "And besides," she would add with a little smile, "we had some great times."
Miranda was a different sort of person altogether. She took everything seriously, probably too seriously for her own good. As she watched Lucy on the dance floor, wriggling her red-clad bottom at her current partner, Miranda ruefully contemplated her own romantic past.
In her twenty-four years, she had known only one lover. She had met him while working part-time as a waitress, during her senior year in college. Gentle and seductive, he had initiated her into the mysteries of the flesh. For her, his love had been a revelation, opening windows on new aspects of her self. It had been a great passion, incandescent, searing, fuelled by the incredible energy of youth. He had guided her, challenged her, encouraged her to explore her newly awakened sensuality. Then, he had betrayed her. He had literally abandoned her, disappeared from her life without warning, leaving her nothing but aching hunger and shattered dreams.
To deal with the pain, she withdrew into herself and hid her sensual nature away. At first, she did this consciously, pushing away the vivid, hurtful memories, stifling the longing. After a time, this hardened into habit. Miranda had enough insight into herself to understand why, now, she was shy, stiff and fearful whenever she met a man who appealed to her. She wished that she could be otherwise, but she couldn't help her reactions.
After her lover left her, she threw herself into her studies and graduated with honours. She was accepted into her present highly competitive doctoral program, moved to Boston, found an apartment and a roommate, and worked harder than ever. Lucy laughingly called her "Ms. Grind".
"And if you don't get out and have some fun occasionally," Lucy would add, "eventually you'll turn into Dr. Grind, and there will be no hope for you."
A pleasant tenor voice brought her back to the present. "Would you like to dance?" The young man standing in front of her had wavy brown hair and a friendly smile. He was trim, healthy-looking, well-groomed, innocuous. Miranda half-smiled back.
"No, thanks. Not right now." She saw regret on his face, but not surprise. Clearly she was broadcasting an aura of aloof disinterest. Despite her sexy attire, his was the first overture that anyone had made to her all night. Miranda sighed, watching his easy movements as he made his way toward a short-haired brunette further down the bar.
It was no use; this type of scene was not going to bring her out of her shell. Nor was it making her feel any better about the rejection of her paper. She had so wanted to go to that conference in London. "You'll get another chance," Lucy had said. "Come out with me. Have a good time and forget those stuffed-shirt academics who don't appreciate you."
She scanned the dance floor for Lucy, wanting to tell her roommate that she was leaving. The blonde curls and scarlet dress were nowhere to be seen. Probably Lucy had already hooked up with a partner for the evening and left the disco for more private quarters.
"Dance with me." Spoken softly, close to her ear, this was a command, not a request. She spun around to face the stranger, torn between annoyance and an odd exhilaration.
He was slightly taller than she, slender and muscular. Thick black hair with prominent sideburns, eyes like black coals, tight tailored black pants and a flowing red shirt--the image of a matador flashed through Miranda's mind, suggested, perhaps, by his slight accent, a softness or blurring of the consonants.
Miranda started to speak, to refuse, but he had already taken her by the hand and was leading her out onto the floor. The music changed and became slow and sensuous. His arms circled her, pulling her up against him. No, she thought to herself, but her body thought otherwise. Her senses leapt awake as her nipples slid over his silk-covered chest. He held her pelvis firmly against his, deliberately pressing his hardness into her belly. He was wearing some type of cologne, some clean, woodsy scent. It made her light-headed.
His voice was in her ear again, so low it was almost a whisper. "You don't really want to be alone." He touched the tip of his tongue to her earlobe, making her shiver. "I can see through your mask. I know you. You were made for pleasure." As if to punctuate his statement, he whirled her around, literally sweeping off her feet.
Miranda gasped, then gasped again as he bent her backward until her hair brushed the wooden dance floor. Supporting her with one strong arm, he used his other hand to fondle her breasts, pinching the nipples through the shiny spandex. Before she could cry out or object, he raised her toward him once more, one hand cupping her buttocks while the other trailed across the skin of her naked back.
His behaviour was outrageous. His hands were everywhere, exploring, probing, sliding up under her skirt, tickling her inner thigh. Everyone must be watching. Looking around, though, Miranda saw that the other couples were similarly occupied. No one knew her, or cared what she did. Meanwhile, her body was on fire, each of his caresses fanning the flames.
Somehow, even as he teased and tempted her, her nameless partner steered her through the crowd of other dancers with expert grace. They danced as if they had done so for years. Their bodies flowed together, communicating in some silent language of nerve and muscle, tension and breathing.
Miranda was panting. She clung to the stranger who controlled and supported her, secretly urging him on to more extreme incursions into the recesses of her body. Her sex felt swollen, damp, heavy with lust. She ground herself against him, willed him to finally slip his fingers into the aching spaces between her legs. Ultimately, though, he did no more than play with her, lightly brushing her silk panties against the curls where her thighs met, sensing her electric response, and smiling to himself.
They danced forever, it seemed, poised on that cusp of desire. Then suddenly the music ended. Her partner released her, took her hand and brought her fingertips to his lips. Warm breath, a gentle kiss. "You see," he said, looking deeply into her eyes, and then he was gone.
Miranda found that she was shaking. She returned to the bar and sank onto a stool, her legs suddenly too weak to hold her. After a moment, she searched the crowd, seeking a glimpse of her mysterious partner. She wasn't sure why she was looking for him, what she would do if she found him. In any case, there was no sign of him. As her heartbeat returned to normal, Miranda didn't know whether she was glad or sorry.
It had been so long since she had felt such sensations, such desire. She was pierced with sudden regret. As if a rift had opened in her soul, she was overwhelmed by the recollection of her first love.
His name was Geoffrey Fox. He had an infectious grin, a shock of sandy hair, a British accent. He had come into Ronnie's Restaurant where she was working with three local guys who looked familiar. They had called her over, and introduced their companion as a visiting student from the London School of Economics.
Somehow, to Miranda, the restaurant was a theatre. When she started a shift, wearing her perky front-zip uniform and her long hair pulled up into a ponytail, it was as if she had donned a costume and assumed the personality of someone else. Her shyness and seriousness dropped away. She joked and bantered with the customers, traded wisecracks and innuendo. Sometimes, late, after a long, exhausting Saturday night on the job, she would lie in bed, strangely excited, trying to understand the transformation that occurred whenever she assumed her waitress role.
In any case, Geoffrey's friends knew her as Miranda the waitress, not Miranda the student. Everything was light, humourous, a bit suggestive. Geoffrey had sat silent, watching her with ocean-green eyes and listening to the repartee. Miranda kept stealing glances at him, even as she flirted with his companions.
Finally, he spoke. "What time do you get off work tonight, Miranda?" His accent sounded cultured and exotic, especially in comparison to the nasal New England vowels of his friends.
Miranda flushed, her natural shyness suddenly flooding back. "Late," she said, stumbling over her words. "Very late."
He smiled his melting smile. "How late is late?"
"Oh, on a Saturday, I'm usually not finished until two in the morning."
"I will pick you up outside the restaurant," he said softly. His voice held confidence, but also kindness.
"Thank you but, I--I 'll be very tired, after working all night. Maybe another time..."
"Please," he said, the single word expressing volumes of emotion. "One never knows whether there will be another time."
Whether it was a reckless streak in keeping with her waitress persona, or simply her undeniable attraction to the young man, she did not know, but for some reason she agreed.
When she emerged from the darkened restaurant hours later, he was waiting, sitting on a motorcycle. She approached, nervous and awkward. "Climb on," he said, with another one of those smiles that caused all her apprehensions to evaporate. She straddled the leather seat obediently. "Hold on," he said, reaching behind him to grasp her hands and pull them around his waist.
She could feel the muscles move beneath his shirt as he started the engine. Vibrations travelled up her legs to the mounded flesh between them, pressed against the leather. The bike lurched forward suddenly. Reflexively, Miranda tightened her grasp on the driver. He called something back to her, but the wind carried his words away.
The cycle roared through the deserted streets of the old New England mill town, tearing around corners and throwing her body against his. Her legs spread wide to accommodate the saddle. The inside of her thighs brushed against the tight denim covering his. Her hair streamed behind her, a veil of midnight. Breathless, her heart a bass drum pounding in her chest, she clung to her companion, hovering between terror and elation.
Geoffrey slowed to a stop in front of a three-story frame house. He helped her off the bike. Miranda's legs wobbled, the muscles still twitching from the bike's vibrations.
"I'm renting a room here," said Geoffrey, "while I'm visiting. It's not fancy, but it's comfortable enough. Come on up."
By this time, they were in a dark entry hall. Miranda had the urge to run. What did she know about this young man? She should be home; she needed her sleep; she had to study for her linguistics examination on Monday.
Geoffrey took her hand, then seemed to sense her hesitation. Silently, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. The warmth and strength of his body felt incredibly right. Miranda found herself melting in the embrace, offering up her mouth to his urgency.
They fit. The curves of her body matched the hollows in his, perfection, completion, the puzzle solved. Her eyes closed, Miranda revelled in the sensations, strange and yet familiar, comfortable. He pressed his pelvis against her and she felt the hardness there. She skipped a breath at the thought of what it meant. She had talked to friends, of course, read books, and examined pictures alone in her room, but she had blushed even then.
They flowed from the embrace, up two flights of stairs. His hands were on her the whole way up, stroking, supporting. At the top of the stairs he unlocked a door and ushered her into a dark space of indeterminate size. He locked the door behind them. Then he once again swept her into a kiss, which she enthusiastically returned.
His roaming fingers brushed her nipples through the nylon of her uniform. Miranda gasped as a delicious shiver ran down her spine. When he touched her lightly between her legs, though, she stiffened. As she pulled away from him slightly, he released her.
In the dim, streetlamp-lit room, he searched her face. Miranda stood nervous and uncertain under his gaze.
'Miranda,' he said softly, finally. 'This is your first time, isn't it.'
She nodded, embarrassed at both her inexperience and her fear.
"Forgive me," Geoffrey said. "You were such a delightful tease at the restaurant, I never would have guessed." She felt her blush deepen.
"I want you, Miranda. I want to touch you, taste you. Teach you. But only if that's what you want."
He stroked her face with a gentle hand. Something fierce and unfamiliar surged through Miranda. She grabbed his hand and planted a fiery kiss in his palm. Then she brought it down and placed it between her legs, pressing it against the padded triangle of flesh below her belly. She knew that he could feel the curly hair, there, through the thin fabric of her tunic. Inside, she felt a buzzing, a vibration, as if she were still astride the motorcycle.
"Take me," she said. "Please, Geoffrey. I want you, too. I don't know what to do, really, but I want to do it."
She threw her arms around him and ground her body against his hip hungrily. Geoffrey laughed a little.
"Shh," he said. "Slow down. Let's relax and take our time. We have all night, after all."
"Let me undress you," he said. "But first, some illumination seems to be in order." He lit a candle. In the flickering light, Miranda saw that they were in an attic room with a sloping ceiling. There was a twin bed covered with a colonial quilt, a chest of drawers, a desk piled with books near the dormer window, which was open to the spring night. The scene was reassuring, much more a student domicile than a playboy's lair.
"Now," he said, returning to stand in front of her. "I haven't been able to stop thinking about that zipper since I first caught sight of you." He grasped the tab near the collar and began to pull it down slowly, inch by inch exposing Miranda's flesh to his view. She shivered a little as the night breeze caressed her bare abdomen. The zipper disengaged at the bottom and the zip-front uniform fell open. Geoffrey slipped his warm hands inside the garment, reached behind Miranda's back, and unfastened her bra. Lifting it out of the way, he cupped her breasts, then bent to nuzzle her nipples with gentle lips.
Miranda sighed with delight. She closed her eyes to concentrate on the sensations aroused by her companion's hands and mouth.
Roughness where his tongue grazed the erect points, wetness as he licked their sensitive surround. He sucked hard and seemed to tighten some cord linked to her sex. Between her legs there was an ache, a tingling, a yearning that swelled whenever he increased the suction.
His mouth still feasting on her breasts, he slipped the uniform off her shoulders. She raised her arms, and let him pull off the loose brassiere. Only her sensible cotton panties stood between her and nakedness. Miranda itched to remove them, to let the night wind cool the fires raging between her thighs. Still uncertain and shy, however, she allowed Geoff to set the pace.
He lingered a while longer on her nipples, until she was sure he was teasing her. Then he began moving downward, ever so gradually. He ran his tongue lightly down her abdomen, left a wet trail around her navel. Now he kissed her delicately, just above the edge of her panties. He pushed his tongue under the elastic.
"Oh, please, please, take them off. I'm dying..." Miranda wanted to beg, but she was too shy to say a word. As if answering her thoughts, Geoffrey deftly slipped his thumbs under the waistband and pulled the garment down around her ankles. Crouching at her feet, he used his thumbs to part the fur cloaking her sex, and plunged his tongue into the crevice revealed.
Miranda gasped, jerked, nearly lost her balance. This was totally new, lightning, electric shock, a surge of pleasure so acute she could barely believe it. Expert, his first probe hit its mark.
She knew about the clitoris, of course, in these days when such things were discussed on television. She masturbated, very rarely, lying on her stomach with a pillow stuffed between her legs. She had never dared touch herself there, though, shyness and embarrassment winning over curiosity even when she was alone.
So she was totally unprepared for the effects of Geoff's skilful mouth. Holding her lower lips apart with both hands, he sucked the reclusive button of flesh while raking his tongue over its tip. Miranda moaned, her knees sagging. Geoffrey caught her, kissed her lightly, and laid her on her back on the bed.
Miranda tasted a hint of ocean on his lips, salt and seaweed. She was thrilled to realise that this was her own flavour.
Geoffrey resumed his attentions, his tongue dancing in her sex. Miranda spread her thighs wide, brazenly pushing her pelvis at him. She wanted more, more. He obliged, grasping her buttocks and lifting her to his mouth, eating her greedily and yet tenderly.
Miranda gave herself up totally to her pleasure. She thrashed and twisted, urging his tongue deeper. Taking his head in her hands, she pressed his face into her crotch. She was beyond shyness, beyond shame, beyond thought.
A great throbbing began in the depths of her sex, a huge engine revving, roaring. Closer it came, and stronger, racing towards her, threatening to overrun her. She let it come, felt the shuddering in her limbs, felt herself swell and then burst. She dissolved, liquefied, her juices mingling in hot rivulets with Geoff's saliva.
Later that night, Geoffrey finally introduced her to the joys of penetration, with the same expertise and care with which he initiated her to cunnilingus. Miranda always thought of that first orgasm, though, as the real loss of her virginity. After that moment, when she was with him, there was no shyness or hesitation, only desire, and fulfilment.
First love, thought Miranda wryly, the strobe lights bringing her attention back to the couples gyrating on the dance floor. How wondrous, how intoxicating, how blind. It was at least as good as all the novels and the poems and the songs promised. It was unbelievably right; they both knew it.
Then, suddenly, it was over. Geoffrey disappeared. He didn't call her. He didn't answer when she knocked on his door. After a frantic twenty-four hours, she had learned the truth from his local friends. They stumbled into the restaurant, late, obviously intoxicated. Geoffrey had gone back to England, they told her, to marry his long-time fiancée. In fact they had just seen him off at the airport, after spending the day toasting his nuptials. He had come to America, it seemed, for one last fling.
The disco music blared. She shook her head, sending her long hair flying, trying to rid herself of the painful memories. She didn't want to think about it any more. But her heart was pounding again, and her sex was swollen with remembered passion.
She felt damp and dishevelled. She made her way through the dark corridor that led to the ladies room. There, the light was bright enough to make her blink. A bevy of young women sparkled around her in tight dresses and spike heels, preening and perfecting their beauty like bright birds. Miranda gazed at herself in the mirror. A stranger gazed back, long limbs and ripe curves, creamy skin flushed with excitement.