The Black Lingerie Chronicles, Part Eleven

Staring at the computer screen, Mindy chewed on her lip distractedly. Only a few minutes ago, she had been joking with Ashley and Erin about her date with Sarah, weathering their good-natured ribbing. She had been excited about going to the movie with the girl. A little scared, but mostly excited. When she closed her eyes, she could see how Sarah had looked at the party, in a dress with her hair pulled up, and it made her heart beat a little faster. Then there was the kiss. Just thinking about it made her lips tingle, like she could still feel Sarah’s lips pressed against hers. She had never felt anything like she had felt kissing Sarah.

Then she had checked her email and saw a message from her old babysitter. It knocked her pleasant little fantasy about the date with Sarah off kilter and the competing thoughts of the two girls spun around and around her mind out of control.

Distracted by the party and by being asked out by Sarah, she had forgotten about the girl coming to town in two weeks. Her babysitter wanted to know if they were still getting together like they had planned. Mindy had answered her first email, saying she wanted to see her when she came to town. At the time, it had been what she wanted.

Now, she didn’t know what to think. There were suddenly too many Sarahs in her life, her old babysitter who wanted to rekindle their relationship and a cute tomboy who wanted to go to the movies with her.

Maybe I just have a thing for girls named Sarah, Mindy thought, still chewing on her lip.

“You okay?” Erin asked, coming up beside her.

Mindy looked at her and shook her head, laughed, “No.”

Erin looked at the monitor and saw the email. There was sympathy in her eyes when she looked back at Mindy, and Erin put a hand on Mindy’s shoulder. Mindy could see that Erin understood what she was freaking out about.

“I don’t know what to do,” Mindy said, sighing.

“When’s your date with Sarah?” Erin asked, then grinned, “Um, our friend Sarah, not your babysitter.”

Laughing, Mindy said, “I have a thing for Sarahs, I guess.”

“Well, our friend Sarah’s last name is Beason, so…” Erin said, her grin widening, “when is your date with Beason?”

“This Friday,” Mindy said.

“And Sarah isn’t getting into town until the weekend after, right?” Erin asked, meeting the girl’s eyes. When Mindy nodded, Erin said, “I’d go on your date with Beason. Have fun; see if there is anything there. If not, then you can see your babysitter with a clear head.”

Mindy looked at Erin and took a deep breath before asking, “What if there IS something there?”

Smiling at her, Erin asked, “Do you think there might be?”

Rubbing the back of her neck and grinning sheepishly, Mindy said, “Maybe…It’s just the way she looks at me… And the kiss… God, the kiss!”

“Okay,” Erin said, laughing, “sounds like you should definitely go on the date.”

“What if I like going on the date with Beason, then I see Sarah again and I start… Sarah is my kryptonite, Erin. She makes me stupid,” Mindy said, miserably.

“So blow her off,” Erin said.

“I can’t,” Mindy said, shaking her head. She didn’t have the words to explain the hold Sarah had on her, couldn’t make the girl understand.

“No, I guess you can’t,” Erin said, hugging her.

Feeling tears of frustration welling in her eyes, Mindy hugged her back fiercely, said, “What a mess.”

“Ah, forget about that for now,” Erin said, pulling back to smile at her. Seeing the tears slipping down Mindy’s cheeks, she wiped them away, “let’s go to bed. It’s late.”

Nodding, Mindy let the blonde pull her to her feet and lead her to the bed. Ashley was already asleep, snoring softly. Getting into bed, Mindy snuggled against the girl, and the redhead murmured but didn’t wake up. Mindy smiled as Erin moved close and she found herself pinned between the two girls. Closing her eyes, she sighed happily.

Whatever happens with the Sarahs, at least I have these two, Mindy thought, feeling a burst of warmth for her bed mates.

——————————————–

It was the Tuesday after the party, and Erin decided to visit Natty, so she could fill her in on what happened. She could have done it at any time, but she decided it was better just to do it when she was ready for bed. There was less of a chance of her parents walking in on her while she was away from her body.

That thought made her smile, thinking, Away from my body, right. Need to hang a sign around my neck that reads out to lunch, next time I flip over.

She got dressed for bed in a t-shirt and some little shorts, shaking her head at the change of sleep attire. She used to sleep in just some panties, but since she started flipping over to the Place of Locked Doors, the change had seemed prudent.

Crawling into bed, she turned out the lights and waited for the Sandman to put her to sleep. Yawning, she felt herself drifting, drifting… Then she was asleep and she opened her eyes in Natty’s old bedroom.

Grinning, she went in search of Natty. She heard her voice as she started down the stairs and she saw the girl sitting on the couch with the laptop on her thighs. Erin grin widened as she paused to watch the dead girl flirt with someone on the computer screen. There was no denying that was what was happening. Natty had turned that smile on her a few times and it had made her knees a little weak and her heart race. She wondered if it had the same effect on the girl Natty was flirting with now.

Erin made a bunch of noise coming down the stairs, so Natty would know she was there. The girl looked up and grinned at her. She waved Erin over and Erin sat down next to the girl on the couch. Glancing at the screen, she expected to see Caroline, but blinked in surprise when she saw a different girl instead.

“Am I interrupting anything?” Erin teased, smiling at Natty.

“Probably not,” the girl on the computer screen said, sighing, “I have too much homework to stay on long.”

“A shame,” Natty said, smiling at the girl, “hey, this is my friend Erin.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Erin,” the girl said, smiling, “Natty talks about you a lot. I’m Allie, by the way but you can call me Lil Fucker. Everyone does.”

Her eye wide, Erin asked, “You want me to call you Lil Fucker?”

Laughing, Allie said, “Everyone does.”

“Um,” Erin said, laughing, “it is nice to meet you, Lil Fucker.”

“Likewise,” Allie said, then sighed again, “I better go, Natty. I have so much homework. I mean like a fucking ton of it.”

Natty pouted at her, said, “Okay. Some other time, then.”

Allie gave Natty a very playful smile and a wink, said, “Definitely another time. Bye.”

“Bye,” Natty said, then the Skype session was over. She sighed, then noticed Erin grinning at her. Grinning sheepishly, Natty said, “What? I like her.”

Laughing, Erin said, “I got that much.”

Natty met her eyes, then said, “A lot.”

“I’m glad,” Erin said, putting her arm around the girl’s shoulder.

“Can I ask a favor of you?” Natty asked, nervously. Her nervousness was out of character.

Intrigued, Erin asked, “Um, sure. If it is something I can do.”

“I was thinking… Could you send something to Allie for me?” Natty asked.

Erin started laughing, asked, “What? You mean like flowers or chocolates?”

“I was thinking the black lingerie,” Natty said, finally meeting Erin’s eyes.

“Oh,” Erin said, then her eyes widened, “Oh? Are you sure that is a good idea?”

Natty laughed and said, “I think it is a horrible idea, but I… Things are getting pretty serious with Allie and me and… Would you send it to her?”

Looking at the dead girl for a long moment, Erin finally said, “If it’s what you want.”

“Yeah,” Natty said, then sighed, “but give me a week to talk myself out of it.”

“Okay,” Erin said, giving her shoulders a friendly squeeze. Her story about the party was forgotten as she said, “So tell me about Lil Fucker. How did you two meet.”

Natty laughed and told her about becoming friends on Facebook, then the awkward process of feeling each other out. Natty was smiling when she told Erin about finally deciding to risk it and seeing if the girl was interested in being more than just friends on social media. Turned out, Allie was working up the courage to ask her the same thing. After that, their relationship became a lot more initimate, including a lot of time on Skype without any clothes on.

Erin could hear how much Natty liked the girl in the way she talked about her. Natty’s wanting to send her the lingerie started to make more sense. She was craving more than what she could get over the internet.

She could understand that; the girl had been cute with eyes the same color as the blue glass dolphin Erin had found in the safe. She blinked at that random comparison then suddenly remembered she had never asked Natty about the dolphin. She had meant to a few times but never got around to it.

Standing up, she said, “Come downstairs a second. I need to ask you something.”

Natty looked at her questioningly for a second, then shrugged. She followed Erin downstairs. She watched as Erin went to the kitchen area. Popping the releases, she pushed the island aside. Curious, Natty joined her and Erin looked up at her. Seeing the question in the girl’s eyes, she asked, “Did anyone other than you and your Love know about the safe?”

“I don’t think so,” Natty said, frowning, “Why?”

“Ashley, Mindy and I came down here in our time. Everything was covered in dust,” Erin said, putting the combination into the safe. She pulled the door open and looked at all the money inside. Looking up at Natty, she said, “All of this… Gone and in its place a glass dolphin.”

“What do you mean gone?” Natty asked, her eyes wide in shock.

“The safe was completely empty except for a little blue dolphin,” Erin said, shaking her head, “there were no sign of it being forced open.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Natty said, meeting Erin’s eyes, “no one but my Love and me knew about the safe, let alone the combination.”

“Maybe one of your Love’s clients? A friend?” Erin asked.

Natty shook her head.

“Does the dolphin mean anything to you?” Erin asked.

The girl started to shake her head then suddenly gasped. Erin saw something pass behind her eyes, and the girl left her kneeling by the safe. She headed upstairs. Frowning after her, Erin got to her feet and followed her. She found the girl heading toward the second floor, and she took the stairs after her. They turned into the master bedroom, and Natty went to a little curio. Her hands were shaking as she put the combination into a tiny lock on the side. Opening the glass door, she reached in and took something out. Turning around, she held it out for Erin to see.

Gasping, Erin recognized the dolphin from the safe. Natty saw the recognition in her eyes and she had to sit down on the bed. Tears were in the corner’s of her eyes as she looked at Erin in stunned silence. Erin sensed something big was happening, even if she couldn’t figure out what.

“What? What does the dolphin mean?” Erin asked, going to the girl.

“It can’t be,” she said, looking at the dolphin sitting in the palm of her hand.

“What can’t be?” Erin asked.

Suddenly, Natty sprang to her feet, leaving the room on unsteady legs. Erin looked after her, wondering what was happening. Finally, she got up and followed the girl. She watched as Natty sat down on the couch and pulled the laptop onto her lap. With her fingers on the keys, she hesitated and seemed at a loss at what to type.

Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she looked up at Erin and asked, “How do you find out whether someone is dead or not?”

——————————–

“Hello?” Ashley mumbled, still more asleep than awake. She managed to get one eye open to look at the name on her phone’s display, “Hey Natty. It’s late.”

“Ashley, it’s Erin,” Erin said, sounding upset.

Frowning, Ashley cast off sleep and sat up in bed. Erin didn’t upset easily, so it had to be something big to rattle her. She said, “What’s wrong? Why are you calling from Natty’s phone?”

“Can you come? Natty needs us,” Erin said.

“Um, yeah,” Ashley said, getting a sinking feeling, “I’ll be right there.”

“Okay,” Erin said, sighing heavily, “thanks, Ashley.”

Ashley heard the beep as the call ended, and she pulled the phone away to look at the display. She stared at it a long moment, her heart racing. She didn’t know what was going on, only that it wasn’t good.

Setting her phone on the dresser, she stretched out on her back and tried to clear her mind. It wasn’t easy, her thoughts going around and around in her head. She finally managed to clear it save for one persistent thought, that Natty needed her. It would have to do, so she pictured her switch, her little visual cue for flipping over to the Place of Locked Doors. Just like flipping a switch to turn on a light, she was gone…

…And opened her eyes in Natty’s old bedroom. She hurried downstairs and found Erin and Natty sitting on the couch. Erin had her arms around the girl, and Ashley could hear the girl sobbing. Ashley’s came to a halt on the stairs, scared to know what could make a dead girl cry. Natty was such a strong person, so seeing her in tears rocked Ashley.

Finally, she forced her legs to move, and she went to her friend. Seeing her coming, Natty tried to get herself under control, only half succeeded. Her eyes were red from crying and she looked miserable. It broke Ashley’s heart, seeing her like that, and she wrapped her arms around the girl.

“What is it? What’s happened?” She whispered in the girl’s ear, squeezing her tightly.

“Look,” Erin said, nodding at the computer. She looked a little dazed, like she might have been crying herself.

Ashley looked at the computer, not really sure what she was looking at. It appeared to be a scan of an old news paper. Her eyes widened as she started reading and realized it was an obituary. They widened further when she recognized the picture of Natty’s Love. While it was a little unsettling, reading about the man’s life and death, it didn’t seem bad enough to explain Natty’s tears. She had known the man was dead.

“I don’t understand,” Ashley said, looking at Erin for an explanation.

“Look at the date,” Erin said.

Frowning, Ashley found the date and gasped. It was like someone had punched her in the stomach. She shook her head, not wanting to believe her eyes. Natty’s Love had died on May 2nd, 1978.

“The security guard lied,” Natty said, sobbing, “there was no prison riot.”

“Oh, Natty,” Ashley said, her vision blurring as tears welled in her own eyes. She squeezed the girl even tighter. She could feel the sobs wreaking the girl’s body and bitter tears spilled down her cheeks. Anger welled up in her and she wanted to find that guard and kick him in the nuts.

“He’s dead, too,” Erin said, reading her mind, “committed suicide after he found out about Natty…”

“He’s lucky,” Ashley said, setting her jaw angrily.

Erin managed a sad smile and said, “I said the same thing.”

“What’s wrong?” Mindy asked, coming down the stairs. Her eyes were wide as she looked at the group huddled on the couch.

Ashley glanced at her, saw the concern in her eyes. She felt kind of bad bringing the girl into this. Still, she knew Natty needed them right now, so she waved the girl over, pointed at the computer. Mindy joined them on the couch and looked at the computer. Ashley saw the color leave the girl’s face.

“This isn’t real, right?” Mindy asked, her eyes begging them to tell her it was a lie.

“It’s real,” Erin said, shaking her head, “all the money in the safe… It’s gone because Natty’s Love came back for it after he got out of prison.”

“No,” Mindy said, tears welling in her eyes.

“He left the dolphin…” Erin said, then had to pause to get herself under control, “he left the dolphin to let Natty know where he was going.”

“No one had told him about me,” Natty said, miserably.

“So the guard… The riot?” Mindy asked, then sank back into the couch when she figured out the answer to her own question, “Oh, Natty… I’m so, so sorry.”

It was more than Ashley could take and she had to get up and move. Pacing, she didn’t feel any better, but she couldn’t stop. She needed to lash out at someone or something at the injustice of the whole thing, but there was no target for her anger. That made it worse, somehow.

On the couch, Natty took a deep breath and shook her head, “I think the worst part is… The guard thought he was doing the right thing. I want to hate him for what he did, but I can’t.”

She’s a bigger person than me, Ashley thought, bitterly, I have no problem hating the asshole.

Then she stopped and thought about it; if he hadn’t done what he did, she never would have met Natty. She hated that the girl has suffered so much because of his ill-advised good intentions, but a world without Natty in her life would be a lot less colorful. Maybe it was a bit selfish, but the thought of never knowing the effervescent dead girl made her sad.

Natty suddenly smile, if not quite as brightly as before, and she looked at the girls in turn. She said, “Thank you. For this.”

“We love you,” Erin said, her hand on Natty’s shoulder, “if you ever need us, just call and we’ll come running.”

“Yeah,” Ashley said, finally stopping her pacing. Sitting on the coffee table in front of the girl, she met Natty’s eyes and said, “We love you so much. You are a part of our little gang of friends. Like, Erin said, just call.”

Fresh tears spilled down Natty’s cheeks, but these were different and Natty hugged Ashley tightly. When she finally let go, the girl seemed better.

“Not to beat a dead horse,” Mindy said, smiling at Natty, “but we love you. Without you, our lives wouldn’t be the same.”

Laughing, Natty gave her a hug and a smile, said, “I love you all, too. More than you could know.”

“Can we get in on that?” Ashley asked, grinning at the girl. Natty opened her arms wide and laughed as all three of them hugged her.

When everyone finally pulled back, Natty seemed better, the spirit back in her eyes. Her eyes were still red but she was smiling, again. Reaching out, she closed the laptop and picked up the little blue dolphin. Staring at the glass figurine sitting in the palm of her hand, her smile became a sad one, nostalgic. Eventually, she felt the girls looking at her and glanced up at them.

“It was a gift from my Love,” Natty said, taking a deep breath, “a memento from our trip to the beach. Our honeymoon.”

Ashley blinked in surprise, not expecting that statement. Mindy had told them about the movie of Natty’s ‘wedding’ but she hadn’t thought the married couple had actually gone on a honeymoon. It was kind of an amusing thought, a grown man and a young girl celebrating their nuptials with a trip to the beach, but also kind of romantic. Natty and her husband’s love was less than conventional but undeniable.

“I loved the beach,” Natty said, smiling wistfully, “I wish I could see it, again.”

Sitting up straighter, Ashley asked, “Why can’t you?”

“Why can’t I?” Natty parroted, then her eyes got wide, “you mean… The mall is one thing but the beach? It was a fifteen hour drive.”

“Do you really want to see it, again?” Erin asked.

“Well, yeah,” Natty said, laughing, “there are a lot of places I’d like to see but-”

“What’s to stop you?” Mindy asked, cutting the girl off.

“I- I don’t know,” Natty said, chewing on her lip as she thought about what the girls were purposing, “Nothing, I guess.”

“Good,” Ashley said, grinning at her, “then we are going to the beach.”

“We?” Natty asked, raising her eyebrows.

“What,” Mindy said, laughing, “did you really think you could go to the beach and not take us with you?”

“Road trip,” Erin said, excitement creeping into her voice.

Natty looked at each of them in turn, then started smiling, “We are really going to the beach?”

“We are going to try,” Ashley said, laughing.

—————————————-

“I can’t believe we are actually doing this.”

Erin glanced to her right, smiled at Mindy, her co-pilot, and said, “What I can’t believe is that you all are letting me drive a car.”

“There’s nothing to it,” Natty said, from the backseat.

“We are taking turns,” Ashley said, meeting her eyes in the rear view mirror, “it’s a long drive.”

Taking a deep breath, Erin shifted the car into drive like Ashley had shown her, then eased her foot off the brake. The car began to roll, and she was officially driving. Hesitantly, she put her foot on the gas pedal, pressed it down. The automobile picked up speed, moving through the deserted residential streets. As her confidence increased, so did her speed.

It was thrilling, being behind the wheel. Without having to worry about other traffic or street signs or pedestrians, it was very liberating. She could just go and go, not bound by any rules. There were no police to pull her over and ask for her license if she didn’t pay attention to the posted speed limits. She swerved through the multiple lanes, giggling.

Mindy was navigating, a map spread out on her thighs. She guided Erin through the city and onto the interstate. Seeing that long straight ribbon of road stretching out in front of her, Erin grinned excitedly. She let the car off its chain, and they were flying down the highway.

She didn’t know how fast the car could go, but she was tempted to find out. The gas pedal sank a little closer to the floorboard.

“Alright, Speed Racer,” Ashley said, from the backseat, “eighty miles per hour is plenty.”

“Ah, you are no fun,” Erin said, laughing as she let the speedometer fall back to eighty.

“Um,” Mindy said, looking up from her map, “it looks like we are on this road most of the way there.”

Good, Erin thought, her speed creeping back up to eighty-five.

From the backseat, “Are we there, yet?”

Laughing, Erin said, “No.”

A few minutes passed and Ashley asked, “Are we there, yet?”

“Smart ass,” Erin said, smiling at the girl in the rearview mirror.

Mindy turned in her seat and said, “If you ask one more time, young lady, Erin is going to turn this car around and we are going home.”

Ashley started laughing and Natty looked from one girl to the other for an explanation. It only made them laugh harder.

Erin saw her in the mirror, thought, Poor girl has no idea what they are joking about.

Turning her attention back to the road, she thought they were making better time than they had expected. Her lead foot had them chewing up the asphalt in big chunks. She smiled when she glanced down at the instrument panel and saw their speed had crept back up to ninety.

As she drove along the deserted highway, she began to wonder if the Place of Locked Doors was big enough for them to actually make it to the beach. This road trip would be the ultimate test of the size of Natty’s slice of the afterlife. If Erin managed to feel sand between her toes, they would know just how big this place really was.

She smiled, thinking about walking on the beach. She had never been to one, had her fingers crossed that she’d get her chance.

Her foot eased off the gas a little as she wondered what it would be like if they did come to the edge of Natty’s world. Would it be like running into a brick wall or would the world just fade out, like the feathered edges of a painting? Would there be a couple of those construction saw horses stretched across the road with a sign that read ‘THE END OF THE LINE’?

“Why aren’t there cars on the road?” Mindy asked out of the blue, pulling Erin back from her thoughts.

“You mean other traffic?” Erin asked, glancing away from the road.

“No,” Mindy said, shaking her head, “just cars sitting on the road.”

“Why do you think there should be cars?” Erin asked, curious to what the girl was thinking.

“It’s just… We assume that the Place of Locked Doors is our world on pause at the time Natty died, right?”

Erin nodded, then her eyes widened as she thought she understood what the girl was asking, “And you are thinking people should have been out driving, even at that time of night.”

“Yeah,” Mindy said, looking out the windshield at the wide open road.

Shaking her head and laughing, Erin said, “Who knows what this place really is. We probably don’t know half its secrets.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Mindy said, shaking her head.

Erin glanced at her, then said, “You’ve been quiet. Save for that bit about the cars, you haven’t said much.”

Mindy sighed and said, “Just thinking about the Sarahs.”

“I thought you might have been,” Erin said.

“Beason looked beautiful at the party,” Mindy said, chewing on her lip.

“She did,” Erin said, glancing at Mindy, “she always has this cute tomboy thing going for her but that night… She looked amazing.”

“The tomboy thing kind of does it for me,” Mindy admitted, laughing when Erin gave her a knowing look, “I thought she was kind of hot even before the party.”

“Which Beason do you think will show up Friday?” Erin asked, smiling, “the tomboy or the party girl?”

“I’m hoping somewhere in the middle,” Mindy laughed.

Glancing away from the road, Erin said, “You two are going to make a cute couple.”

Mindy sighed, “I don’t know.”

“Your babysitter is going to be in town for a day or two at the most, right?” Erin asked.

“Yeah,” Mindy said, looking at Erin.

“Then she’ll be back a college, hundreds of miles away,” Erin said, going on when she saw the girl nodding out of the corner of her eye, “Beason lives ten minutes away.”

Laughing, Mindy said, “Point taken. I really hadn’t thought about Sarah going back to school. I was too busy freaking out about seeing her, again.”

“So, what would you do when she goes back? Talk on the phone or fool around on Skype like Natty and Caroline?” Erin asked.

Frowning, Mindy said, “I really hadn’t thought about it.”

“If it were me, I’d take the cute tomboy right down the street over the manipulative babysitter in another state,” Erin said.

—————————————

Glad to be out of the car for awhile, Ashley stretched her tight body. Erin had just finished her leg of the trip, pulling into a gas station to top off the gas tank. She still marveled over how everything seemed in perfect working order; the lights in the convenience store still burning and the pumps still working. More than that, she smiled at the old fashioned gas pumps, no credit card reader in sight.

The door to the convenience store was unlocked and the girls wandered inside. They grabbed snacks for the road. There was no one to pay, so they just helped themselves. It was force of habit, picking up junk food. None of them were particularly hungry.

Ashley ducked into the bathroom, then realized she really didn’t need to go. Again, it was force of habit, the memory of squirming in the back seat on long road trips because she didn’t listen to her father and go before they started rolling, again. She remembered that bodily functions like using the bathroom, eating, and sleeping were optional in the Place of Locked Doors. Hell, Natty had spent fifty years in her bedroom without so much as a chamber pot or a bowl of Cheerios.

Sitting in the stall with her panties around her knees, Ashley found it odd that she could go, even though she didn’t need to.

“Weird,” she thought, finishing up. As she washed her hands, she wondered if she even needed to. Were there germs in the Place of Locked Doors? Shrugging, she was okay with wasting her time, if there weren’t.

She found Erin, Natty and Mindy standing around a rotating display, trying on sunglasses. Joining them, she asked, “What are you doing?”

“Looking for sunglasses,” Mindy said, smiling at her, “we are going to the beach, after all.”

“Huh. Do they sell bathing suits here? Maybe we can work on our tan,” she said, laughing.

“Who needs a bathing suit when no one is around?” Erin asked, winking at her.

“Oh my,” Natty said, laughing.

“Everyone ready to go? It’s my turn to drive,” Ashley said.

“Are you sure?” Erin asked, grinning, “I could drive a little longer.”

“I know you have a need for speed but it’s my turn,” she said, laughing, “Everyone in the car.”

With their stolen goods, they all piled into the car. Natty sat up front with Ashley, with Erin and Mindy in the back. Ashley smiled, thinking they had just flip-flopped the seating arrangement.

She got them back on the freeway and they were on their way again. Ashley wasn’t quite the speed demon Erin was, but she still let the car accelerate to seventy miles per hour. Even at this slightly less break neck pace, they were still making good time. They should make it to the beach with plenty of sunshine left.

“I can’t believe we are doing this,” Natty said, smiling at Ashley, “going to the beach.”

“I’m excited, too,” the redhead said.

“I loved the sand between my toes and playing in the ocean,” she said, then laughed, “although I guess it is a little chilly for swimming.”

“Probably,” Ashley said, then grinned at her, “maybe we’ll do it anyway. Build a big fire to warm up when we get out. We can huddle up for warmth until our teeth stop chattering.”

“Maybe,” Natty said, laughing.

Glancing at her, Ashley asked, “Think you’ll be up for some sex on the beach?”

Natty smiled, said, “Never had sex on a beach before.”

“Well, let’s put it on your post-bucket list,” Ashley said.

Natty raised her eyebrows, repeated, “Post-bucket list?”

“Do you know what a bucket list is?” Ashley asked.

“Um, no,” Natty said, curious.

“It’s a list of things to do before die,” Ashley said, then grinned at her, “or kick the bucket.”

Laughing, Natty said, “So, a post-bucket list…”

Ashley winked at her and said, “Just because you are dead doesn’t mean you have to stop living.”

“Huh,” Natty said, thinking about it.

“Is there somewhere you always wanted to visit but didn’t get the chance?” Ashley asked.

“The Grand Canyon,” Natty said, almost instantly.

“Wow, didn’t even have to think about it,” Ashley said, glancing away from road.

“I’ve only seen it in pictures,” the girl said, wistfully, “but it is so beautiful.”

“Then go,” Ashley said, looking back at the road for a second, “The Place of Locked Doors is your playground. Have some fun.”

“My playground,” Natty said, her eyes wide. Ashley could see that the idea of this place being anything other than a punishment had never occurred to the girl. Natty put her hand to her mouth as the idea really sank in. There were tears in her eyes, but she was smiling brightly when she lowered her hand.

Mindy leaned in from the backseat and said, “Just as long as we can play in it, too.”

“Of course,” Natty said, laughing.

————————————————-

“It’s so beautiful.”

Erin had to agree, the rolling blue water and sparkling sands were breathtaking. As they made their way out on the sand, she couldn’t stop looking around. Everything was so peaceful, with only the serrations of the waves breaking ashore to break the silence.

“I can’t believe we drove to the beach,” Ashley said, excitedly, “this was easily one of the coolest things ever.”

“Too bad you can’t tell anyone about it,” Erin said, smiling when the girl gave her a questioning look, “Whose going to believe you? At best, they’ll think you are lying. Or just bat shit crazy.”

“We could take some photos,” Ashley suggested.

“True,” Erin said, laughing, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to explain how I have a picture of me at the beach to my parents if they ever found them. I can’t imagine that conversation going well.”

“Well,” Ashley said, shaking her head, “I’m still taking pictures. We’ll just have to lock them up for safe keeping in you hiding place.”

“Yeah,” Mindy said, grinning at them, “I want a souvenir of this trip.”

“Did anyone bring a camera?” Erin asked.

“Did you forget where you are?” Ashley asked, amused, “I’ll just think my camera here.”

“Are you sure that is going to work?” She asked, frowning. She couldn’t explain why, but she got the feeling it might not.

“Why wouldn’t it?” Mindy asked, looking at Erin curiously, “What are you thinking?”

“I was just thinking that Ashley’s camera already exists here in the Place of Locked Doors,” Erin said, shrugging, “it just seems weird that we could create multiple copies of the same thing.”

“Huh,” Ashley said, mulling that over, “I hadn’t thought of that. I’m going to try, anyway, but I think you are right.”

Erin watched as Ashley closed her eyes and concentrated on her camera. She waited for the change of air pressure, the whistle of escaping air, but it didn’t come. After a few seconds, Ashley opened her eyes and shook her head.

“I guess you are right,” Mindy said, then perked up, “luckily, I’ve never thought my camera here!”

“Sweet,” Ashley said, rubbing her hands together, “think it already!”

Mindy closed her eyes, her eyebrows pinching together as she concentrated. Erin felt the familiar charge in the air, the potential of something waiting to be birthed into the Place of Locked Doors. There was a sudden rush of air, like that of a sealed container being opened and Mindy’s camera appeared on the beach between the girls. Mindy stooped down and picked it up, brushing the sand off it. She was grinning when she looked up from fooling with her camera.

“That never gets old,” the brunette said.

Erin smiled at her, said, “Probably never will.”

“Move together,” Mindy said, motioning with her hand.

“Wait,” Ashley said, looking down at herself. Like everyone else, she was still dressed in what she had worn to bed. She looked at Mindy, said, “This isn’t right. We are at the beach not getting ready for bed.”

Grinning, Erin knew what her friend was saying. She closed her eyes and imagined her little white bikini. There was a rush of air and a tingling on her body. She heard someone gasp, then start laughing, so she opened her eyes and looked down at herself. Gone were her shorts and t-shirt and in their place her cute bathing suit. When she glanced up, she saw Ashley nodding and smiling at her.

“Erin gets it,” Ashley said, closing her own eyes. Erin saw the sleep shorts and tank top the redhead wore shimmer then disappear. For the blink of an eye, the girl was very naked, then her green bikini appeared on her sylphlike body.

“My turn, I guess,” Mindy said, giggling. Like Erin and Ashley before her, a cute black bikini appeared on Mindy out of nowhere.

The girls turned to Natty, then remembered the girl couldn’t think things into being like they could. Natty shrugged.

“I got one for you,” Erin said, closing her eyes and picturing her old bikini. It should still fit Natty well enough. She felt the disturbance in the air as it winked into existence. When she opened her eyes, she saw Natty bending down to pick it up.

“Where’s the rest of it?” Natty asked, laughing as she looked from the bathing suit in her hand to the ones the girls were wearing, “are bikinis really this skimpy now?”

“Actually, these are pretty modest,” Mindy said, looking down at herself.

“Wow,” Natty said, her eyes wide.

“Try it on,” Ashley said.

Shrugging, Natty handed Erin the bikini, then undressed. Naked, she took the bottom from Erin, slipped into it. She smoothed it into place, laughing at how little it covered. Shaking her head, she took the top from Erin and pulled it over her head. She glanced at the girl’s, and they all catcalled.

“Girls really wear this out in public in your time?” Natty asked.

“Yeah,” Erin said, laughing.

“Crazy times you live in,” Natty said, looking down at herself, “although, I have to admit I like how it fits. Very flattering.”

“You look hot,” Ashley said, winking at her.

“Picture time,” Mindy said.

“Let’s find somewhere to prop the camera on, so you can be in the picture, too,” Erin said, looking around. She spotted a break in the beach a little ways away, a mound with two straggly pine trees. Pointing, she said, “There.”

They made their way down the beach toward the hill, talking excitedly as they went. When they got there, Mindy spotted a stump to set her camera on. She positioned the camera so the girls were in frame, turned on the timer, then ran over to join them. They were all grinning ear to ear as they waited for the flash, then ran giggling to the camera once it went off. Mindy switched the camera to view mode, and the friends all huddled around to look at it.

“Too bad we can’t show anyone this,” Ashley said, smiling at the picture.

For ten minutes or so, they took turns taking pictures of each other standing in front of the rolling waves. They must have taken dozens of photos between them, everyone hamming it up for the camera.

Eventually, the fun wore off, and Erin noticed Ashley looking around on the ground by the hill. Stepping close to her oldest friend, she asked, “What are looking for?”

“Firewood,” the redhead said, smiling at her.

“We are building a fire?” Erin asked, raising her eyebrows questioningly.

“We are going to need one,” Ashley said, bending down and picking up some sticks from the sad little pine trees.

“Why are we going to need a fire, again?”

Ashley flashed her pretty green eyes at Erin and said, “I didn’t drive all this way to not go swimming in the ocean.”

Laughing, Erin said, “The water is going to be freezing. If not for the sun shining, it’d be too cold for wearing a bikini. I’ve got goose bumps just standing here.”

“I’m getting in,” Ashley said, shrugging, “you don’t have to if you don’t want, but I can’t pass up the opportunity.”

Erin glanced over her shoulder at the ocean and she wondered if Ashley was right. Could she really pass up this opportunity? Watching the peaceful waves come ashore, she didn’t think she could. She knew she’d kick herself if she didn’t at least try to get in the water. She shivered in anticipation of the chilly plunge.

I’m getting in the ocean, she thought, her heart racing.

To Ashley, she said, “We are going to need a big fire.”

Ashley started grinning, as she said, “Huge.”

“What are you two talking about? Did I hear fire?” Mindy asked, as she and Natty joined them.

“We are going swimming,” Ashley said, looking around, “just as soon as we get a fire going.”

“It’s going to be so cold,” the brunette said, but she was grinning.

“Yeah,” Natty agreed, laughing.

“But think how good the fire is going to feel when you get out,” Ashley said.

“Oh, I think we are all getting in,” Mindy said, excitedly, “I know I am. I’m just saying its going to be COLD!”

“Well,” Ashley said, winking at her, “I’m sure I can help you warm up, when we get out. It might be my last chance, if all goes well with Sarah, Friday.”

“Sarah?” Natty asked, raising her eyebrows, “you are seeing your old babysitter Friday?”

“Um, no,” Mindy said, sheepishly, “I have a… well, a date with a girl named Sarah Beason this Friday. Not my babysitter, though. Another Sarah.”

“You mean,” Natty said, a huge grin on her face, “a date date?”

Laughing, Erin said, “Yep, our Mindy has a girlfriend.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” the brunette said, then added, “well, she might be. I don’t know…It’s complicated.”

“How come I don’t know about this girl? The new Sarah?” Natty asked, giving Mindy a dirty look.

Rubbing the back of her neck, Mindy said, “Um, it is a fairly new thing. It happened at the party.”

“What happened?” Natty asked.

“Well… We made out a little bit and… And, she asked me to the movies.”

“You like her?” Natty asked, meeting Mindy’s eyes.

Cornered, Mindy looked around her group of friends, then said, “Yeah.”

Natty smiled brightly at her and said, “Good.”

Erin took some of the driftwood from Ashley and started assembling a teepee. She glanced up when she heard a hiss of escaping air. Ashley showed her one of those safety lighters, the kind with a long barrel for safely lighting a fire. Erin took it from her, clicking the trigger to summon a flame. Holding it to on of the smaller sticks, she hoped the wood was dry enough to catch easily. The pine sticks caught quickly and burned hot enough to catch the rest even if they were damp. She let it catch its breath, before adding the bigger logs. Soon they had a roaring fire.

It was so hot, they had to stand way back from it. Grinning, Erin said, “That should thaw us out nicely.”

“Last one in the water is a rotten egg,” Ashley said, taking off running for the ocean.

Laughing, Erin ran after her. She didn’t stop when her feet plunged into the cold water, and, when she was about thigh deep, she dove into the breaking wave. She came up gasping, the chill taking her breath away. It came back to her though and she giggled excitedly. She was in the ocean! Looking to her left, she saw Mindy surfacing with a gasp, then Natty. She waited for Ashley to pop up, frowning when she didn’t see the redhead. Then she glanced back toward the shore and saw Ashley standing with her feet barely in the water.

“What are you doing, Rotten Egg? Get in,” Erin called.

“What’s it look like I’m doing?” Ashley asked, easing in up to her knees.

“Just dive in and get it over with,” Mindy said, treading water.

Ashley gave her a sour look and said, “You all are crazy, diving in like that.”

Erin watched her friend slowly wade into the water and shook her head. Unable to resist, she splashed the girl, making her gasp in shock as the cold water hit her body. She stumbled backward, almost sat down in the water but managed to stay upright, somehow. She said something she probably wouldn’t repeat in front of her mother.

“Whoa, that’s cold,” Ashley said, glaring at Erin, “not cool.”

“Hurry up or you’ve got another coming,” Erin said, grinning as she splashed water in Ashley’s direction. The girl gasped, pulling away even though the water was falling well short of her.

“Okay, okay,” Ashley said, wading in faster. She hesitated when the water was jus under the crotch of her bikini bottom.

Laughing, Erin said, “Stop acting like a boy. You don’t have any balls to freeze off, remember?”

“My lady bits are just as sensitive,” Ashley said.

So distracted by Erin threatening to splash her and the cold water encroaching on her ‘lady bits’, Ashley didn’t notice Natty slip beneath the surface, swimming in an arc around her. Ashley saw her at the last second, had just long enough to gasp in surprise as the blonde broke the surface like a great white shark, dragging her under.

Both girls surfaced at the same time, Natty laughing and Ashley gasping. Ashley pushed her wet hair from her face and gave Natty a dirty look, which made Natty laugh harder. Ashley pounced on her and they disappeared, again. This time, when they surfaced, they were both grinning.

“Water isn’t as bad as I expected,” Ashley said.

“It’s still pretty cold,” Erin said, floating on her back. The salt water buoyed her, making it easier to float than it was in a swimming pool.

They swam, splashed and laughed for about thirty minutes, which is probably twenty longer than they should. By the time they got out, their lips were purple and their teeth were chattering, but they were all grinning as they ran to the fire. They stripped out of their wet bathing suits, huddling together naked.

“The fire feels so good,” Natty said, rubbing her arms.

“We should come back in the summer time,” Ashley said, her voice staccato from her shivers, “so we can stay in the water longer.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Erin said, grinning at her, “we can make a week of it.”

“Break into a hotel, get us a nice suite,” Mindy said, excitedly.

“Ooh, I like it,” Ashley said, her eyes widening.

Natty looked at them a long while, then said, “Thank you.”

“For what?” Erin asked, looking at her expectantly.

“For this,” Natty said, then laughed self-consciously, “and for being such good friends.”

“We should be thanking you,” Mindy said, putting her arm around the girl, “we are at the beach!”

“The beach,” Natty said, shaking her head, “you all just jumped in the car to cheer me up. That means more to me than you can know.”

Erin put her arm around the girl, too, and said, “We’d do it, again, in a heartbeat.”

“In a heartbeat,” Ashley agreed.

“God, I love you all,” Natty said, tears in the corners of her eyes. She laughed when she found herself in the center of another group hug. Finally, she said, “Alright, I’ve got it out of my system. You can let go.”

One by one, the girls peeled off. The show off affection had been genuine and heartfelt, but it left Erin feeling a little sheepish. She thought the other girls were feeling it, too. It wasn’t so much awkward as unprecedented. Erin had never had to comfort someone before, nor been the recipient of someone’s deepest gratitude. She thought that was true of Ashley and probably Mindy, as well. Everyone was sort of just looking at each other, not sure what to do next.

It was Ashley who finally dispelled the moment, saying, “Anyway… I sort of promised Natty I’d help her cross something off her post-bucket list.”

“Her what?” Mindy asked, laughing.

“You know,” the redhead said, grinning at her, “the things she wants to do-”

Laughing harder, Mindy said, “No, I get it.”

“Well, so far… She has visit the Grand Canyon,” Ashley said, glancing at Natty before finishing the thought, “and to have sex on the beach.”

“Does she now?” Erin asked, meeting Natty’s eyes. She got the feeling the idea was actually Ashley’s, but she saw the blonde was on board. Looking around at all the naked bodies next to the fire, Erin thought, I’m on board, too.

“We are going to need some beach towels, unless we want sand in some weird places,” Mindy said, getting a laugh from the girls.

“Definitely need some towels,” Erin said, still grinning. She closed her eyes and pictured the oversized towels her mother bought for the pool. Feeling the disturbance in the air, she opened her eyes to find a neat stack of them lying on the sand. She bent over and opened them, spreading out three of the towels side by side.

“Can we do something a little different?” Natty asked, drawing everyone attention, “Can we just… I don’t know pick partners? It gets kind of chaotic when everyone is… Don’t get me wrong; that can be fun, too…It’s just… Just forget it.”

Erin smiled at her and said, “No, it’s cool. It is kind of hard to focus with everything happening around you. I’m up for a little one on one.”

“How are we going to pick, you know… Who goes with whom?” Mindy asked.

“Eenie Meenie Minie Moe?” Ashley suggested.

“That’s rigged,” Mindy said, grinning at her, “as long as you know where to start, you’ll know who you’ll get.”

Laughing, Erin said, “I’d be more than okay with any of you three.”

Mindy blushed and said, “I didn’t mean I wanted to pick any certain person… Couldn’t if I tried.”

“I know what to do,” Natty said, picking up a couple of sticks. She broke them into four pieces, with two of them approximately the same length. Using her hand to hide the varying lengths, she said, “Long with long, short with short.”

“Leaving it chance,” Ashley said, nodding, “I like it.”

“Then you can draw first,” Natty said, holding out her hand.

Ashley pulled one of the long sticks, holding it up. Natty turned to Mindy and Ashley grinned at her, holding up her hand with her fingers crossed. Mindy laughed and blew her a kiss as she pulled her stick. It was one of the short ones and Ashley pouted playfully.

Natty held the two remaining sticks out to Erin, but she shook her head and said, “You go.”

Shrugging, Natty took ahold of one of them and held it up. Ashley gave Natty the same pouty face as she had Mindy when the pulled the short stick. Natty shrugged, then said, “Maybe next time.”

Erin moved close to Ashley, wrapping her arms around the redhead’s neck, said, “Looks like it’s you and me. Let’s grab a towel and see what’s on the other side of this hill.”

“We are leaving the fire?” Ashley asked.

“Don’t worry,” Erin said, kissing her behind the ear, “I’ll keep you warm.”

Ashley gigged, then said, “Alright.”

With Erin’s arm around Ashley’s shoulders and the redhead’s hand in the small of Erin’s back, they started walking around the hill. Out of earshot of Mindy and Natty, Ashley asked, “Why did you want to leave them alone?”

Smiling at her, Erin said, “If we would have stayed, it would have ended up as a free-for-all. This way, it’ll just be us and them.”

“You are probably right about that,” Ashley said, laughing, “things tend to get out of hand when we all end up together.”

“You know,” Erin said, frowning, “it’s been a long time since it was just you and I. What, not since that first time in your bedroom, right?”

Ashley thought about it, then nodded, “I think you are right. That’s crazy.”

They finally rounded the hill and Erin spread the beach towel out on the white sand. Straightening up, she pulled Ashley close, wrapping her arms around the girl’s neck. She smiled at her oldest friend, then leaned in to kiss her. Ashley moved closer as she responded to the kiss, her lithe body molding to Erin’s. Erin’s pulse quickened at the closeness, loving how the girl felt in her arms. Her hands slipped into Ashley’s hair, not letting her pull back from the kiss. Not that Ashley was trying to. She kissed Erin back just as eagerly.

When they finally broke the kiss, Ashley nodded toward the beach towel, stretching out on her side. Erin joined her, laying facing her. Ashley moved against her, again, and pressed her lips to Erin’s. Parting her lips, Erin let the girl’s tongue caress her own. The kiss deepened as their excitement grew.

Erin couldn’t keep her hands off the redhead. Her fingertips found Ashley’s soft, silky skin fascinating, wanted to know every inch of her. Ashley didn’t seem to mind, her breathy moans and soft sighs encouraging Erin. Ashley’s hands seemed to find Erin’s body just as alluring, tempting.

The caressing and the kissing awoke a passion between them, a desire that both girls couldn’t contain. It welled up until Ashley finally rolled Erin onto her back and moved atop her. Ashley favored her with a playful smile, then kissed her chin, the hollow of her collar bone. Erin sighed as Ashley’s lips brushed against the slope of left breast, then the girl’s tongue found her stiffened nipple. Ashley tortured a groan from Erin, not letting up until Erin’s back arched off the towel. Only then did she move to the other breast.

As Ashley moved lower, Erin’s heart was racing in her breast and a heat had spread between her thighs. She stroked her friend’s hair lovingly, and she sighed every time Ashley left another kiss on her stomach. The girl took her time, letting the anticipation build until Erin wanted to put a hand on her forehead and force her mouth between her thighs.

Just when Erin didn’t think she could take anymore, Ashley stretched out on her stomach between Erin’s spread legs. Her beautiful green eyes flashed up at Erin, a playful smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Erin sighed as Ashley lowered her mouth to her girlhood, tasting her bud. The hot, wet flick of her tongue sent waves of pleasure crashing through Erin, as surely as the moon brought the tide ashore.

The lovely sensation had her hips moving, rolling against Ashley’s mouth in her eagerness. Her little sounds of enjoyment started out low and were swallowed up by the serrations of the waves breaking, but, as Ashley’s able mouth teased her bud, they challenged the subtle roar of rushing water. As her excitement grew, her cries put the ocean to shame.

Propping up on her elbows to watch what her best friend was doing to her, Erin briefly wondered about the curious direction her life was heading. The fact that Ashley was eating her pussy and it didn’t seem all that weird said a lot about how her life has changed in just a few months. She never expected to be intimate with another girl, let alone this comfortable with it. The initial weirdness of sleeping with a girl had worn off, replaced by growing desire to feel a female body molded against her own.

Probably just hormones, Erin thought, then with a grin, the fact that I know how much fun it can be and how good it can feel, doesn’t hurt, either.

She couldn’t hold onto the thought, losing it to the delicious sensations Ashley was awakening in her body. The caress of Ashley’s tongue on her tender bud had her clutching at the towel, her head lulling backward. Her back arched, her long blond hair sweeping the beach towel behind her. She moaned thickly as Ashley’s hands ran up her stomach to cup her breasts. The girl teased them until her nipples ached sweetly.

Too many wonderful things were happening to her young body, so many lovely sensations melding into one mind-blowing pleasure she could barely stand. Ashley had her tiptoeing right at the edge of ecstasy, ready to topple her into orgasmic bliss. Her heart was pounding as she felt that anticipated tension enter her body and began to build. Her cries of enjoyment were loud, unrestrained. She felt too good to care if anyone knew she was coming.

Her body exploded with with an orgasm, sending intense waves of pleasure slamming through her. She shook with them, helpless to stop. As the tension fled her body, it left her trembling and panting. Collapsing to her back, she smiled up at the sky as the feel good juices hit her blood stream.

Ashley’s face appeared above hers, smiling down at her. Returning it, Erin pulled the girl down atop her. She gave the redhead an appreciative kiss. It lingered and Erin felt Ashley’s arousal behind the kiss.

They switched positions, Ashley stretching out on her back on the towel. She smiled up at Erin with excitement in her emerald eyes. That look never failed to get to Erin, the anticipation and desire with just a hint of uncertainty in a partner’s eyes. She kissed Ashley passionately, and the redhead responded eagerly.

Erin began kissing her way down the girl’s body, tasting the ocean on Ashley’s skin, breathing in the smoky scent of the fire that clung to her. Ashley’s skin was soft and smooth against her lips. The girl’s soft sighs as she moved lower joined the other lovely sensory inputs buzzing in Erin’s mind. She was experiencing Ashley with all of her senses, taking the girl in.

Coming to the junction of the girl’s thighs, she saw the faint thatch of red hair just coming in above Ashley’s girlhood. It was lighter than the hair on the girl’s head, more coarse. She looked at it a moment, thinking they were all growing up. Running her hand over the thatch, she wondered what Ashley would look like when she was older, when her hips had filled out and her breasts were fuller. She thought Ashley was a pretty girl and would turn into a beautiful woman.

With her thumb, she teased her friend’s bud, making her sigh and squrim in pleasure. She lowered her mouth to Ashley’s clit, tasting the salt on her skin. The caress of her tongue drew a moan from Ashley, then another. The redhead’s hips moved against Erin’s mouth as she grew excited. Erin ran her hands over the girl’s thighs and stomach, feeling the tension in her muscles. Erin loved the way Ashley’s body responded to her, loved making her friend feel good. There was just something sexy about making a girl moan, her body go crazy.

Natty was right about this, Erin thought, loving the feel of Ashley’s body under her fingertips. She kind of liked this- no toys or props and no distractions, just her and Ashley. Even the beautiful vista of the ocean behind them couldn’t pull their attention away from each other. It was very intimate and personal and Erin decided she liked spending time with Ashley like this.

Grinning she thought, We need to do this more often.

Ashley’s cries were coming faster, her hips undulating against Erin’s mouth. Erin knew the girl was close, could feel the tension in the muscles of her stomach as she ran her hands over them. She focused on finishing Ashley off, on pushing the girl’s body closer and closer to the edge of an orgasm. She rolled her eyes up at Ashley, saw the slack mouthed, eyes rolled back in her head look of enjoyment on her face. Erin had her right there, her toes hanging over the edge. One more caress of her tongue sent Ashley over the edge. The redhead’s back arched off the towel, her whole body shaking as her orgasm had its way with her. She collapsed back to the beach, suddenly as limp as rag doll.

Erin smiled at Ashley from between her legs, placing soft kisses on the insides of her thighs. Ashley sat up, put her hands on Erin’s wet cheeks and pulled her up for a very appreciative kiss. It lingered, deepened and Erin smiled when she realized they weren’t done, yet.

Ashley’s voice was a little husky and her emerald eyes flashed at Erin, as she asked, “Do you think we should get back?”

“Not just, yet,” Erin said, smiling as she put her hand on Ashley’s shoulder and gently bore her to her back.

The redhead look expectantly up at her and Erin crawled atop her, nudging her thighs open so she could lay between them. A playful smile tugged at the corners of Ashley’s mouth as what Erin had in mind sank in, and she put one of her long legs around Erin’s waist. The first roll of Erin’s hips forced a moan from Ashley.

They found an easy rhythm, familiar enough with each other to know what the other wanted that they just fell into it without even thinking about it. Ashley came up to meet every thrust of Erin’s hips, the delicious friction of their bodies rubbing together making both girls moan and sigh.

Erin cupped one of Ashley’s breasts as she leaned in to kiss her. Ashley groaned into her mouth as Erin teased her stiffening nipple. Erin smiled as Ashley’s hand came up to cover hers, holding it to the girl’s breast. She didn’t let up until Ashley’s back arched off the towel.

Ashley hadn’t fully recovered from her last orgasm and her cries were getting urgent. She looked anxiously at Erin, knowing she couldn’t hold off. Erin smiled at her and said, “You don’t have to wait on me.”

Erin really ground against the girl, making her gasp everytime their bodies came together. Ashley bit her lip, but she couldn’t hold them in. Erin saw her friend’s eyes widen slightly, felt her body lose its grace, then Ashley stiffened underneath her. The girl shook with her orgasm, her whole body going crazy. Erin gently rubbed against her friend, smiling as each brush of her body against Ashley’s very sensitive bud forced a moan from the girl.

Moving from between Ashley’s thighs, Erin stretched out on her back. Ashley rolled onto her side, propping up on one elbow. She leaned in and kissed Erin, letting her hand fall on Erin’s breast. Erin moaned into the kiss, her nipple aching sweetly as it drug across Ashley’s palm.
Pulling back from the kiss, Ashley grinned at her and let her hand slip down Erin’s stomach. Her fingers found Erin’s bud, caressing it in lazy circles. Erin sighed, her body moving against the redhead’s hand.

Ashley’s hand moved lower and her fingers slipped inside Erin, finding that magic button deep inside. She moaned thickly as pleasure coursed through her young body. Her hands clutched at the beach towel and her hips undulated against the pressure Ashley’s fingers were putting on her g-spot.

She had been close when Ashley came, and it didn’t take long for Ashley to have her right back at the edge. Her fingers were doing wonderful things inside of her, her body writhing in ecstasy. Ashley was smiling down at her, holding her gaze as her body gathered tension for a world shattering orgasm. It was intimate and very personal and she knew the girl saw that she was coming in her eyes. It was a curious thing to share with a friend, even one as close to her as Ashley was.

Still, she didn’t look away, managed to keep her eyes open so Ashley could see how good she was making her feel. Then her body exploded with pleasure and she cried out as her orgasm had its way with her. It was intense, leaving her whole body trembling in its wake. She opened her eyes and saw her friend smiling at her. She returned it, trying to catch her breath.

Ashley moved against Erin, snuggling in tight. Smiling, Erin put her arm around the girl, as she stared up at the sky. Her pulse slowly returned to normal and she finally caught her breath. Ashley’s warm body pressed against her flank helped fight off the air that was getting chillier as the sun started to set.

“Do you think it’ll be different now?” Ashley asked, out of the blue.

“Will what be different?” Erin asked.

“Us,” the redhead said, sighing, “Well, Mindy, anyway.”

Erin blinked, then took a second to think about it. If Mindy and Sarah did hit it off and decided to start dating, Erin assumed that would be the end of fooling around with the girl. Even if Mindy still did want to do it, Erin wouldn’t have any part in it. She didn’t want to be the other girl, especially since it was Beason she’d be betraying.

Finally, she said, “Probably. She’ll be hanging out with Sarah more. That, and no more crazy orgies.”

“Yeah, that’s what I figure, too,” Ashley said, craning her neck to smile at Erin.

Returning it, Erin said, “We could still manage a crazy threesome, though.”

“A little monkey in the middle?” Ashley asked, her smile turning playful.

“Yeah,” Erin said, laughing.

Ashley laid her head on Erin’s shoulder, again, and was quiet for a while. Erin knew the girl wasn’t finished, so she waited for Ashley to ask whatever question was bothering her. With the girl’s lovely body molded to her flank, she was in no rush, was more than happy to stay like this awhile.

“What do you think it’ll be like? Going on a date?” Ashley asked, finally.

“I don’t know,” Erin said, honestly.

“Do you think they’ll hold hands and maybe steal a kiss when the lights go down and the movie starts?” Ashley asked, the smile clear in her voice.

“Wouldn’t be surprised,” Erin said, amused.

“That would be kind of nice, don’t you think?” The redhead said.

Teasing, Erin asked, “What? You want to hold some girl’s hand and make out in a movie theater?”

Erin expected the girl to laugh, but she stiffened against her side instead. She was surprised to hear the girl say, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Oh?” Erin asked.

“Don’t make a big deal out of it,” Ashley said, propping up on her elbow so she could look at Erin, “I don’t know. With Loren and Beth looking so cute together and now Mindy and Sarah… The thought has crossed my mind.”

“You would date a girl?” Erin asked.

“Maybe,” her friend said, chewing on her lip, “probably.”

“Huh,” Erin said, pondering this new bit of information.

“How about you?” Ashley asked.

“I…Well…” Erin said, at a loss. She really hadn’t thought about it before. There was no denying she was attracted to other girls, but would she want to date one? She didn’t know. Then again, she wasn’t too sure about boys, either. The whole concept of dating was still a mystery to her.

Ashley was looking at her expectantly, and Erin didn’t have an answer for her, so she said, “I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it.”

Blushing, Ashley said, “It’s just… the way Beth looks at Loren when no one is watching… I want someone to look at me like that.”

Erin smiled at the girl’s embarrassment, said, “You are beautiful, funny, and more than a little kinky… I’m sure you can find someone more than willing to look at you like that.”

That line made Ashley smile.

—————————————–

Sitting around the fire in the dark, the girls talked about anything and everything. The excitement of being at the beach hadn’t worn off with the setting sun. Erin and Ashley had eventually wondered back to the fire, walking with their arms around each other. They had found Mindy and Natty cuddled together, talking about Mindy’s date on Friday. The girls had untangled themselves as the group was re-united.

Erin looked at the brunette across the fire and thought about what Ashley had asked her. She thought Mindy and Sarah would hit it off, would be surprised if they didn’t. Things were going to be different when- not if, but when- they became a couple. Erin felt a tug in her heart at the thought of Mindy not being around as much and twinge in her libido when she realized she wouldn’t be able to lay with the girl anymore.

She was happy for the girl. If anyone deserved a girlfriend who would be sweet to her, it was Mindy. The whole thing with her babysitter… Erin hoped the brunette would find away to break the hold the woman had on her.

Erin’s eyes moved to Ashley and she wondered if the spirited redhead would be the next one of their little group to find a girlfriend. She hadn’t realized the girl was even considering it, until just a little while ago. Shaking her head, she thought if Ashley did decide to go that route, she wouldn’t have any problem finding a girl to smile at her like Beth smiled at Loren. She hadn’t been just been blowing smoke up her skirt when she said Ashley was beautiful, funny and fun to be around. Hell, even her kinky side was a plus.

Was she going to be the only one without a girlfriend? Hell, even Natty had a few girls online that she flirted with. Looking into the flickering fire, she wondered if maybe they knew something she didn’t.

Would I date a girl, Erin asked herself, really thinking about it for the first time. She knew she was attracted to other girls and she figured that was an answer in itself. She thought about the girls she had slept with and realized it wasn’t much of a leap to dating one of them. Well, some girl, anyway. Not necessarily one of her friends.

Huh, Erin thought, realizing she wasn’t against the idea of dating a girl, which lead to the next logical question, do I want to find a girlfriend?

She didn’t have an answer to that one.

“Earth to Erin,” Ashley said, laughing.

Erin looked up, realizing she had been absent from the conversation too long. She gave the redhead a sheepish smile, said, “Sorry, just thinking.”

“About what?” The girl asked.

Blushing, Erin said, “About what we were talking about before.”

“Oh?” Ashley asked, smiling at her as she leaned in closer, “thinking about holding some girl’s hand and stealing a kiss when the lights go down.”

Erin laughed and nodded, said, “I guess I wouldn’t be against it, either.”

With a playful grin, Ashley said, “Well, you are beautiful, too. And funny and just as kinky as me, even if you won’t admit it. I’m sure you can find a girl to smile at you, too.”

————————————–

Erin yawned, thinking it had been a long day. Natty had said they didn’t have to stick around for the drive back but they had insisted. The girl shouldn’t have to make the long return trip alone.

They had spent almost thirty hours in the car, plus the afternoon and evening frolicking on the beach. It felt like days had passed since she flipped over and, while she didn’t need to sleep here in the Place of Locked Doors, she still felt like it was well past time to go to bed.

Luckily, they had just pulled up to Natty’s place. They stood outside the car to say their goodbyes before flipping back over. One by one, the girls hugged Natty, telling her they had to do this again sometime. When it was Erin’s turn to say goodbye, she held onto the girl a while, wishing Natty could come with them.

Finally, she let the girl go. Natty headed inside, pausing on the porch to look back and wave before ducking through the covers over the open door. When she was gone, Erin glanced at Ashley and Mindy. Mindy gave her a knowing smile and Ashley just nodded.

“See you at school tomorrow,” Mindy said, then closed her eyes. With a hiss of escaping air, the girl simply disappeared.

Erin had seen this before on a couple of occasions, but it was still crazy to watch. Mindy was there one minute, then gone the next.

At least it wasn’t as frightening as that first time Erin remembered leaving the Place of Locked Doors. No dissolving world this time, or any time since she put on the black lingerie. Her connection to Natty and this place that had been tenuous at best, but it had been strengthened when she put on the inappropriately sexy bustier. With that strength came the ability to come and go from The Place of Locked Doors without nearly tearing it apart in the process.

Going home was much easier than coming to the Place of Locked Doors. It took an act of will to flip over, even when she was asleep. No so on the return trip. When she was here, there was a subtle pull, like gravity drawing her back to her body. Most times, she hardly noticed it. Only when her mind was unoccupied could she feel it.

All she had to do was stop fighting it and that gravity would pull her home, back to her body.

She glanced at Ashley, asked, “Do you feel it? The pull? I don’t think I’ve ever asked you or Mindy.”

Ashley sighed with relief and gave her a sheepish grin, said, “Yeah, I’ve felt it. Neither of you spoke up about it, so I thought I was imagining it.”

“It’s like my body is pulling me back,” Erin said, rubbing her bare arms against the chill in the air, “do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” Ashley said, nodding.

Erin yawned, again, then said, “This conversation will have to wait. I need to get some sleep.”

“Good night,” Ashley said.

“Good night,” Erin said, smiling at her friend.

“Let me close my eyes before you go,” Ashley said, with a sheepish grin, “watching you all just disappear gives me the creeps.”

Laughing, Erin said, “Okay.”

Erin closed her eyes and surrendered to the pull of her body. There was a change in pressure and her ears popped, then there was nothingness. No sounds, no smells, nothing. She was in the place between the places. She traveled, knew she was moving even though there were no sensory inputs she could use to prove it. Five feet or a million miles, she didn’t know how far she travelled, only that she picked up speed the closer she got to her body.

Then she was back. Returning woke her up, something it rarely did. She glanced at her alarm clock, saw it was only eleven-thirty. Curious, she woke up her cell phone to check the date, saw it was still Tuesday night. With the time she had spent in the Place of Locked Doors, it should have been Thursday afternoon.

Rolling onto her back, Erin grinned up at the ceiling. She had spent the better part of two days in the Place of Locked Doors, but only a couple of minutes had passed over here. Her grin widened when she thought about the promise of spending a week with Natty in the spring or summer.

“We might make it a month,” Erin said, out loud.

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