Be All That You Seem To Be
“Jane can you finish off this stuff?” Derek asked.
“Erm, well, I was leaving in five minutes.”
“Be a love, you can do it a lot faster than me. I know you don’t have anything to get home to, you were here to seven last week.”
“Yes, yes, I was but…”
“That’s great, I’ve got to get to the pub, I need to reserve some seats or John and Matt will kill me.”
“Oh, I’m glad to hear that it’s something so important Derek.” Jane jibed as she took the stack of papers which she knew would take at least an hour to process and she had her laundry to do that evening.”
“Now, don’t come like that at me. You know what you’ve got to do if you want to keep this job and anyway what else are you going to do this evening: head home to eat ice cream and watch ‘Ally McBeal’ repeats?”
Jane normally would have said nothing, she knew that Derek, like most of the fattening middle-aged men at her work, needed to let off a bit of griping once in a while and she, as the youngest female employee, was an easy target. This evening, however, something else took over.
“No, Derek you do this, I’ve got to get home. Yes, I’m going to be eating ice cream, from my girlfriend’s pussy, before we snuggle up and catch up on ‘The ‘L’ Word’ and in case you couldn’t guess, spotting who we think looks hottest this week. Understand? Don’t make any assumptions about my life.”
“No thanks, you’re not my type.” Jane said as she switched off her computer.
“… What are you going on about? Whose cat? What is that anyway, some word game like ‘Countdown’? Can’t you tape it?”
Jane smiled rather evilly. Then she realised what she had done. God, she thought, was Jay forcing her way right into her life now?
“Derek, sorry, that was a joke. I was going to do my laundry tonight, but I can put it in for a service wash. Give me those papers, I know how Matt and John can be.” Jane flushed, embarrassed, and began switching her machine back on.
Derek looked at her in a bewildered way and then laughed nervously. “Oh, right, good joke. Yes, thanks for this, I won’t forget it.”
Derek hurried out the door as Jane resumed her seat and began processing the first document. She knew that Derek would forget and that he would ask something similar the next week. She had to keep him and the others sweet because, even though they were all on the same pay grade as her, she knew she would never progress in the company if she did not keep all her colleagues onside. Somewhere inside Jane, though, was some furious voice chiding her for being so weak and for not having a girlfriend she could eat out. Jane tried thrusting the voice aside and ended up searching for the headache tablets. With her fighting to concentrate it was passed seven thirty before she left the building. It was only as she felt her head drop as she rode home on the underground and she came awake suddenly in that startled way that people do on public transport that she began to wonder what the ‘The ‘L’ Word’ was anyway.
As she stood ironing and the clock ticked passed eleven, Jane realised she was not that surprised to find the series in question was all about lesbians, as if that was not the prime topic of the moment in her life. What worried her more, though, was how, now she thought about it, she had lost control and somehow Jay had slipped through to make her say those things to Derek. This was getting scary. She felt angry at Kym and Petra for not believing her views on schizophrenia as, now, that other personality seemed to be getting stronger and, worse than that, getting her into trouble at work. If they were not going to prescribe her the suitable tablets, she was sure she could find some herbal alternative. If she treated it quickly, she was sure that she could suppress the symptoms.
The following day’s lunch break found Jane equipped with a nice batch of herbal relaxants. It was not the strong stuff that she hoped she would get from the doctors, but she hoped it would prove sufficient to douse her symptoms. Maybe all this lesbian stuff was just about the stress. Was it a cause or a symptom in itself? She found she had almost developed a phobia of mirrors and reflective surfaces and, so, in turn, she feared her hair and make-up must look so poor, though no-one had commented yet. If she could relax a little, had that not been part of what Petra and Kym had advised, then she might find the problems decreased. She had got herself into this confusing spiral and had to stop it or she guessed she would be on her way to some kind of breakdown. She took a couple of tablets with water and as she walked back to her office felt already a little spacey, but the worries about lesbianism, her job, much else, seemed to have fled from her mind.
Matt was waiting when she returned to her desk. He was younger that Derek and liked to think himself cool. When she first arrived Jane had speculated on whether he would be interested in dating her, but it turned out her enjoyed a string of one-night stands instead and the other women had warned her off him.
“Can you make copies of these for me?” Matt asked without any preliminaries.
“Isn’t that Natalie’s job?”
“She’s busy with stuff for Logan. I need to get these done and down to the binders by four. Thanks, I knew I could trust you.”
Jane found herself picking up the file of papers. “I have my own work, mini-dick, you handle this yourself. I did not study to stand by a photocopier all afternoon. If you got yourself in this position, then you tackle it.”
“Mini-dick? What? How dare you call me that, you don’t know your place.”
“Yes I do, it’s with your face beneath my heels begging to be able to kiss my boots. Now bugger off.”
“Oh, if that’s what you want, come here and I’ll oblige you.”
Matt looked like he was about to have a heart attack while he searched for some vicious retort, but none came and he stamped away from Jane’s desk. It was probably five minutes before Jane realised totally what had happened. Vaguely she had remembered Matt hovering around her desk and then leaving. Her spine felt chill as she realised what she had said. Had that been Jay again? Was she a man-hater? No, there had been no sign of that in what Jane had seen of her. Many men were fine Jay agreed it was just that she had no sexual interest in them, but, still, after all, many of her best friends were men. No, the motives for her strong reactions came from the fact that these morons like Derek and Matt belonged in some long ago age of misogyny and they needed to be woken up to what a strong working woman, of whichever sexuality, deserved. Jane tittered as she envisaged herself leaping on the desk and bellowing out ‘R, E, S, P, E, C, T: find out what it means to me!’ Instead she slumped back in her chair and thought through the potential fall out.
Jane looked up, startled: it was Mr. Logan, the big boss.
“Sorry, Mr. Logan. Erm, I’m sorry, I must have lost concentration.”
“You seemed to be working like a demon there.”
“Erm was I?” Jane looked at her pile of work and saw that the bulk of it had gone. “Yes, can I do a job for you?”
Logan laughed. Jane knew he could be tough but he was far from being an unreasonable employer and she also knew that he respected hard work which was generally what kept her in his good books. Well, that was as far as she could tell, as he had barely spoken to her since she had come to the company.
“No, no, I think you’re working hard enough. I always knew you were diligent, but these past couple of weeks, that new style of yours, you seem really on the ball, really focused.”
“Erm, right. Erm, thank you, Mr. Logan.”
Jane looked down at herself to see the usual suit she wore. She could not think what positive things Logan could have noticed. Surely it was not that he was impressed by her rather untidy hair that must have developed since she had started avoiding mirrors.
“I heard you sent Matt off with a flea in his ear and put Derek in his place last week. I’m glad you see them as the chancers they are. I was beginning to worry you were letting them push you around a bit too much and I was not really keen to keep on board a woman who can be manipulated in that way.”
“Erm, yes, no, I agree. I’m a charitable soul, Mr. Logan, but there is a line. Their probation was over.”
Logan laughed lightly. “Excellent, I love that. I’ll have to tell my wife that line. Better still, why don’t you tell her yourself? We’re having some people over for dinner on Saturday. Can you make it? I know you young, metropolitan ladies have busy social calendars.”
“Erm, yes, no, of course, yes I can make it. What time?”
“Seven for seven thirty.”
“The invitation’s for you and your partner too, of course. We’re a modern household, we don’t judge people by their life choices. But you’re saying there’s no-one you have to check with?”
“Erm, no. Why should there be?”
“Oh it was just something I heard Derek say about your girlfriend’s cat.”
“Huh? It must have been some kind of joke. No, I’m wholly on my lonesome in my flat.”
“Okay, if that’s how it is. I just needed to know numbers so I could tell Jemima how many to cook for. It does give me an idea. Let me think about it.”
“Right Mr. Logan, yes, thanks, I’d be happy to come on Saturday, thank you.”
“That’s great. We look forward to seeing you.”
Logan scribbled an address on a piece of paper and handed it over. Then he drifted off, leaving Jane wondering about the encounter. The altercations with Derek and Matt seemed rather vague in her mind now, but clearly had had the opposite effect to what she had anticipated. And besides, okay, so a dinner party at the boss’s house was hardly a hot date but it was the first bit of socialising she had had this side of Christmas.
Jane walked to the door feeling a little self-conscious. Logan had turned out to have a house in Dartmouth Park which must be worth millions. It seemed a thousand miles from her flat, though like Kilburn, it was still in North London. It was that the district seemed a world away from her bustling and a little shabby neighbourhood. Added to that, she had not known what to bring to a dinner party. She had not been to an event remotely like this since a few occasions at university and then the ‘dinner party’ had generally meant sitting with other students on an eclectic collection of chairs and eating home-made curry.
In the end had brought some flowers and some chocolates; wine seemed too much like a party. She did not own many smart clothes, certainly ones she felt she could wear somewhere as upmarket as this. She had kept it simple with what were actually occasionally her work clothes: a plain white blouse and black trousers. She was glad she had kept her brown wool coat on, because on the underground coming over, she worried she looked like a stand-in waitress for some Hampstead restaurant. Dressing, Jane had found that if she concentrated she could get a ghost of her real image to appear in front of what she saw of Jay, who, of course, was suggesting wholly different wardrobe choices for the evening ahead, including, for her upper arm, a metal snake armlet that, Jane had to admit, was intriguing. For tonight, however, Jane told herself, Jay was banished and she would be a sophisticated and urbane businesswoman.
Jane looked at her watch. The walk from Archway had taken longer than she had expected and it was almost seven thirty. She supposed she was not really late. She rang the doorbell. A woman, slightly younger than Logan and wearing a stunning red dress off one shoulder, opened the door. Her jewellery was discreet but clearly expensive. Jane quickly got in a compliment about the necklace as she removed her coat. The buzz of conversation from the dining room told Jane that she was probably the last to arrive.
“Come through.” Jemima Logan said.
As Jane walked into the large dining room conversation dulled. There were eight people around the table, with Logan at the head dressed all in a midnight blue. All eyes, however, turned to Jane and inside she smiled to think she had probably made such an impact on entrance.
“This is Jane, everyone. A real star of the office. Come in, come in.”
Jane was guided to the remaining seat at the side next to a woman of her own age who was wearing a dark blue silk Chinese jacket. Her short honey brown hair was swept back from her face in a stylish way that reminded Jane of the actress Kristin Scott-Thomas in one of her roles. This woman’s face, sprinkled with freckles, however, was oval; with strong cheek bones and a prominent, though elegant, nose; her eyes were pale hazel. Earrings ending in a tear of silver hung long from each ear and her lips were painted a matt red. She turned to Jane as she sat beside her and gave a smile that really jolted Jane. To recover her composure, Jane made a fuss of getting seated, appearing to listen whilst Logan reeled off the names of all the guests and sorting out a drink. Within moments, of course, the conversation had resumed and Jane felt slightly shielded by it, now that she was no longer the centre of attention. The man to her right was deep in conversation with the people around him, so, rather shyly she looked back at the woman to her left and was rewarded with another sight of the smile. Jane felt speechless. This was another one to add to the very small list of women she could tell Petra she had found attractive, but maybe it was just down to their proximity. Jane fumbled in her mind for something to say.
“You’re jacket is wonderful.” Jane stuttered.
“Thank you. I’m really glad you like it.”
Jane was now lost on how to follow up and the two women sat silently sipping their wine.
“I’m Tori.” The woman said at length.
“I’m Jay, no, no, I mean Jane, yes, Jane.”
“Are you sure?” Tori asked lightly.
“Yes, it’s just I’ve been spelling it out a lot recently.” Jane hurried to cover her blunder whilst being alarmed at herself mentioning the name of her mirror double. “Tori, that’s a nice name.”
“Thanks, it sounds a lot less pompous than Victoria.”
“It sounds contemporary, certainly.”
The soup being delivered to their places broke the conversation for a few moments and it was Tori who re-started it.
“I always find it a little embarrassing when you realise the host is trying to set you up with someone, don’t you?”
“Erm, yes, I suppose so.”
“I guess that employers, in particular, want to see all their workers happily partnered off. Though, maybe, I should not be too hard on them, it gives them the sense of being the helpful uncle or aunt character and if it makes them happy then why should I protest?”
“Yes, I imagine so, I don’t think there’s anything that sinister in it.” Jane responded. “It’s not something that usually affects me, no-one seems to take much interest in my marital status.” As Jane said these words she realised they were no longer true, “Or certainly they used not to.”
“This is the third time Logan’s done it for me.”
“Right, so who do you think he imagines you might like to hook up with this evening?” Jane ran her eyes around the table again, but no obvious single man came to her attention, in fact they all looked like couples.
Jane coughed and her skin seemed aflame with embarrassment.
“Oh, erm. I hadn’t realised. Everyone seems to be making that mistake recently.”
“So you’re not actually single?” Tori asked, sounding a little disappointed.
“Erm, no, I am single. It’s just I’m not into women, I’m not a lesbian. For some reason everyone at work seems to just make that assumption.”
“I can see why, you’re some kind of magnet. I might be being bold, but if you’re not into me, then I might as well say it: when you walked in here I didn’t know whether I wanted to own a pair of those trousers or take you in them. If you are straight …”
“I certainly am. Sorry if that offends.”
“No, no offence, but accepting that is the case, you might want to think about changing how you dress. That armlet, the top, those vinyl jeans, they are so cool, and that belt in particular, I can see why they’d think you were gay. Maybe grow your hair a bit. Look, I don’t want to tell any woman how she should dress and I guess you choose what you feel comfortable in, but going anywhere in London looking the way you do, you’re going to perk up interest from a lot of women. You’re up there with Angelina and Sienna in your lesbianing ability.”
“Sorry, you’ve lost me.”
“Yes, sorry, no, this may be a bit, well a bit alien to you …”
“Well, I’m learning fast if no more than because so many people talk to me as if I am a lesbian these days, by now I probably qualify as an honorary one. So what are you saying, that lesbian women find me attractive?”
“Yes, but more than that, you could turn a straight woman to liking women; you’re verging on being ‘lesbeyond’. Apparently women who watched Sienna Guillory began thinking how good it would be to get it on with a woman. She’s married, to a man, and stuff, but women just got turned on by her. The same goes for Angelina Jolie, though she most likely is bi anyway, but just seeing her can make a woman want to find her own.”
“Well, that’s a curse then. Not only do people think I’m a lesbian, I’m in danger of somehow converting …”
“Lesbianing.” Tori smiled to indicate it was said with gentle humour.
“Okay, lesbianing other women, straight women.”
Jane’s mind ran with what Tori was saying. She felt a weariness about all the speculation and assumptions about herself and her sexuality. Two months ago she had never even really thought that she had had a sexuality.
Tori seemed to note Jane’s concerns. “Look, please don’t worry about it. I made a mistake, Logan made a mistake, the intentions were all good, please don’t be upset, I don’t want to spoil your evening. You’ve got to realise you come over as being really hot in a way that pushes buttons for women. I know that can be a burden.”
Jane realised she had probably been too hard on the woman. Things were clear now between them. “Yes, I guess if you’re not tuned into these things, it can be easy to blunder in. I’ll bear it in mind when I next get dressed to go out, tone things down a bit. ”
“Mmm, yes, the monochrome look, the black trousers, the white ribbed top and those Sixties style boots in both colours, well it attracts attention.”
Were her boots Sixties style, Jane wondered? They were plain black, but she was becoming used to people seeing things differently to herself. Jane thought that if how she dressed was causing so much problem she should be more careful and now that she should have worn a jacket with the blouse.
“Well if you decide to chuck out those trousers, I’ll have them. Where did you get them?”
“Erm, Marks & Spencer.”
“Wow, they’ve certainly branched out since the re-launch. Please don’t be offended if I say they look good on you.”
“Thank you, I can take a compliment.”
“Good on you.” Tori smiled, seemingly pleased that she had brought Jane around a little.
“Well, I’m sorry too, you might have thought you might be going to meet Miss. Right this evening and you got me instead.”
“I’m not complaining. Let’s put you and me aside for the moment and let’s be very indiscrete about everyone else here. Who’s that man at the end there, the one with the large head and the small wife?”
Jane tittered and launched into a rather catty discussion of those around the table. The silliness of it lifted her mood and let her forget her dismay about what Tori had said earlier about her appeal to women. Maybe there was something inherent in her that made her attractive to females. Perhaps that was what Kym had spotted. The key problem, Jane thought, though, was that it was an ability for which she had no use. She guessed, however, that that was a test of her character and she could come out of this a better person if she could learn to tackle the challenges she faced as a result. She trusted she had handled this evening’s encounter reasonably well but recognised she could do better in the future.
It had been a pleasant evening. Jane had not chatted with Tori all the time. Jane had actually got on pretty well, as the evening had progressed, with Angus, the man sitting the other side of her. Of course, unfortunately, he was married. Jane did wonder, if Tori had not been a lesbian, whether they could have been friends, but she knew she would now always feel uneasy around this woman and it would sour things. How could Jane trust Tori not to try to simply bide her time and try to seduce her on some occasion in the future? Jane could just hope next time Logan would set Tori up with a woman who would be interested in her. Partly, of course, she should blame Logan for not taking care to check up on his facts.
Jane remained worried that her appearance kept on giving out signals that suggested she was a lesbian. She was angry now that she had made that trip into Soho after meeting with Petra; she hoped nobody who knew her had seen her there being such an idiot. She should have dismissed Petra’s suggestions as being foolish. When she got home, Jane would throw out that book, or maybe cut off the front cover and keep that, because it did look nice, but the contents would have to go. If Logan could get it right next time, maybe she would be meeting a nice man here, it seemed like a good setting. Then she certainly would not want him stumbling over her sole item of lesbian erotica if she managed to tempt him back to her flat.
Now it was time to head home. Jane still had the walk back to the underground station and the ride back to her flat. She had nothing planned for the following day, but she was always uneasy if she slept in late, remembering her mother’s admonishments not to waste any day. Rather than move into the lounge to have coffee with the others, where, in addition, she worried there would be more public viewing of how she and Tori were getting on, she had made her excuses and headed to the toilet.
Lost in her thoughts, Jane had forgotten to look away from the bathroom mirror as she went to wash her hands. As she looked into the mirror Jane saw herself in the outfit she remembered Tori commenting on. Rather than the plain white-buttoned blouse there was a tight white ribbed top. Not too provocative for a dinner party, but certainly sassy and the distinctive armlet simply augmented that. Her trousers in reflection, however, were skin-tight black vinyl and they led down to ankle boots far more pointed than her own, white on one side, black on the other. With a gulp, Jane realised that somehow things had entered a further phase and Tori had seen her the way she appeared in her hallucination. Jane shook her head almost in blind panic. She had begun to reconcile herself to the images she saw, but the impossibility of the evidence she had received this evening stunned her anew. Now she felt sorry for Tori who must have seen something resembling her fantasy coming to sit next to her, presumably to be her ‘set up’ for the evening.
Jane knew it was not her fault, but she felt that she at least was partly responsible for misleading Tori. That concern helped suppress the disbelief that Tori could be affected by Jane’s hallucination. She wondered if she could find out Tori’s details from Logan and send along some apology. Perhaps she could let him think she had had second thoughts and genuinely wanted a tryst with Tori. Calming herself, Jane realised that she was doing her best and really it was going to be up to others to change their minds about her. Glancing at herself one last time, Jane stepped out of the toilet and almost jumped as she saw Tori standing there.
“I thought you’d left already.”
“No, I will be shortly, but I’m glad I ran into you. I was going to ask Logan for your details. Erm, sorry, that sounds wrong. I just felt guilty about how I must have made you feel tonight. Catching sight of myself in there I realised, that yes, I probably look like what you’d expect from a lesbian on a night out and I should have been more careful not to communicate the wrong message. I am sorry. I was going to send a note.”
Tori looked to be on the verge of tears. “I don’t blame you, you can’t control what you are, I know that is the truth. Yet, I cannot believe you, you’re like something out of my dreams. You’re the whole package: look hot, but rather than let that make you arrogant or self-centred you think about others. I’m a woman you’ve just met who probably embarrassed the pants off you, and you’re worrying about how I might feel. Nine out of ten women I know would not have given it a second thought. I know I might not be your type and anyway you’re not gay, but I just wish, I just wish I could be with you for one night. Won’t you give it a go? You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Tori, Tori, I know this is hard, it is for me. I can imagine what it must be like to see someone, to almost think they have been brought here for you and find it is all a mistake. One thing all these mistakes have made me certain is that I need to show people I am straight and find a good man and marry him.”
“And in the meantime you’re not going to experiment? You’re a young woman. What happens if you have got it wrong and the reason why God gave you such a look is because you’re supposed to be with a woman?”
“Tori, I’m sorry, I’m not like that. Life for me is about knowing; not trying out. I know drugs will harm me, so I’m not going to snort cocaine.”
“Well, thanks very much. I hardly see lesbianism as a dangerous drug. It’s not going to kill you and it might make your life a whole lot better.”
“Look, I’m sorry, I just can’t handle all of this stuff. This is the first time I’ve been out, for an evening out, for a long time. I don’t socialise much, and I don’t know how to deal with all the complexity of interactions in a place like London. I need to go somewhere smaller.”
“Sorry, I was hard on you. You are so confusing. You look like the hottest, sassiest woman this side of LA and that you could teach me more than a thing or two. On the surface you look like you’ve stepped out of one of my fantasies, but I guess that is just some kind of shield and beneath that I see now that you aren’t confident and you are a bit mixed up about things.”
Jane nodded, glad she was getting though to Tori finally.
“I still think you’re making a big mistake not to sample a little, even if not with me, I think every woman owes it to herself to see whether it is better for her over here rather than to not even look over the fence. So, I hope you don’t feel offended by that, I guess I would say it to any woman, but especially you, because I so, so wish that you and me could at least give it a go.”
“Okay, I don’t blame you. I accept that is part of you. I disagree with your views; I think I have all the evidence I need. You’re a wonderful woman and I am sure that very soon the right one is going to come along for you.”
“I hope so, because it is going to be hard to forget you quickly.”
Tori looked down at her feet. The two women stood without speaking. Jane was unaware what to do next. She was determined to swear off accepting any more dinner party invites, this was all far too much to cope with for an evening out. To be portrayed as some kind of sexual goddess was always going to sound false to her. Jane found that she was pitying Tori but she also just wished she could be home alone in her own bed.
“It was,” Jane was about to say ‘nice’ but that seemed too weak, “a pleasure to meet you. Erm, well, I trust you get home safely.”
“Are you going to the tube?” Tori looked up slowly clearly concerned not to appear too eager.
Jane was now becoming irritated with Tori’s attempts. She sought a way to pre-empt that. “Well, let’s share a cab, at least as far as the station. I’ll sort it out, while you use the ladies.” Jane said.
“Sounds good.” Tori could not conceal the glow that now brightened her face.
Not wanting to lie, though in spirit she was already, Jane said. “Right, I’ll sort it out.”
Tori hurried into the toilet and with equal speed Jane rushed downstairs. She was glad to find Jemima seeing people off from by the front door.
“Sorry, I’ve got to rush otherwise I’ll miss the last tube.” Jane lied frantically, blowing air kisses at the hostess.
“I can call you a cab.”
“No, thanks, but Tori says she needs one. Could you organise that for her, she’s seeing to things upstairs.”
“Certainly, erm, you’re not going with her?”
“Er, no we discussed it, we’ve both got to get up early tomorrow.”
Inwardly Jane despaired at the weirdness of modern social constraints and wished there was a more direct but polite way to say ‘no, because I have no interest in a relationship with her, and I am pissed off that you think I am a lesbian; please everyone get over it.’
“Thank you for coming. I hope we’ll see you again.”
“Thank you Mrs. Logan.”
“Call me Jemima.”
“Thank you, Jemima, it was a wonderful evening.” Jane said hurriedly, grabbing the door knob herself as she cast a nervous glance back up the stairs, worried that she would see Tori descending.
In moments, she was out of the door. Initially she headed towards Archway then cut back down another road overshooting Tufnell Park and aiming for Kentish Town, fearful that Tori would catch her up. With that worry she was oblivious to any hazard of being a young woman dressed in the way that she appeared to others, marching around North London at night. At the station she let one train go, fearful that Tori was on it. She was glad that she had lied and there were others still to come. She had relied on the fact that a woman of Jemima’s wealth would rarely use the underground.
Waiting for a later train, meant that it was only an hour later, when she locked her door behind her, that Jane felt safe. She had had quite a bit of wine at the dinner party and now poured some brandy. Was she being silly? She guessed she had to forgive Tori, she was a million miles away from the predatory lesbian Jane had somehow built her up to be as she strode away from the Logans’ house.
As she sipped the brandy and let the flavour burn her tongue and felt her heartbeat slow, Jane began to feel guilty. Had she been a tease? She could not help this fantastical curse that made her look like something from Tori’s fantasy that was for sure, but had she done enough to douse any feelings that were sparking in Tori? She regretted her weakness, so typically British, of not saying what she meant. In trying not to speak directly and seem rude had she simply confused matters more? She certainly felt guilty about the lie outside the toilet, but she blamed that on panic. Maybe ultimately, a little pain for Tori was best, she would now see Jane as a tease and a liar and hopefully that would crush any fancy Tori had had for her.
Why was life so complicated? She wished she could go back to how it had been before when far fewer people, whether at work or elsewhere, seemed to be interested in her. The explanation for what had happened to her in the past couple of weeks seemed mad. Could the cause really be this ring that was wedged on her thumb and some spell from it? No, it had to be coincidence. Jane was certain that she had to appear more dowdy, maybe she could copy more what Steph wore, even commission a sweater from her. Yawning, Jane shed her clothes, pleased that they were the plain blouse and trousers she remembered putting on. Quickly she was deeply asleep.
“Are you going to the tube?” Tori looked up slowly clearly concerned not to appear too eager.
“Erm, yes, Archway.”
“I could walk you, I only live in Highgate so I know the area round here well. It’d be safer with two of us.”
“Thanks, that would be nice.”
“Come on, I don’t need the loo that urgently.”
“No, take the advantage. Don’t worry, I won’t run off.” Jane smiled and Tori responded in kind.
Tori disappeared into the bathroom and what seemed like only moments later she was out and Jane was following Tori down the stairs. Hang on, this was not how it happened.
“Jemima, we’re off.” Tori told their hostess.
“Thanks for coming. You’re walking Jane home, Tori?”
“Yes, yes, it’s my patch.”
“I am pleased, I’m glad that you’ll get home safely Jane. I’m so glad you two hit it off. I know it can be awkward when it’s all couples. I thought you two would get on, you know, common interests.”
“Thank you, Jemima.” Jane found herself saying. “I’m so glad I came, it could have been ages before mine and Tori’s paths crossed.”
Jemima smiled broadly as her husband brought their coats. Jane found she now had a short zipped-up thin fleece jacket in purple. For a moment she wanted to say that Logan had got it wrong, but something told her that this was what she had come in. She tossed it on as Tori slipped into her copper-coloured brocade coat. She looked so good in that Chinese silk and those so tight indigo velvet trousers with the pointed, shiny boots emerging; how good it would feel to gently trace her fingers over each texture. Since when had Jane admired women’s clothing like that? Then she looked down at herself and saw the glistening vinyl trousers and knew something was wrong.
Jane cursed. Had she somehow had a relapse to the hypnosis of earlier? She seemed to have ended up seeing the evening just gone in the way Tori might have fantasised about it. Was that her guilty conscience? Whatever it was, Jane was not happy with it and tried to wake herself. She tried to bring in some surreal element to break the set-up of the dream, but no red ducks parading down the Logans’ stairs would appear. Instead she found herself bidding her boss and his wife farewell and, rather than the panicked sprint from their door of the evening she had experienced, she walked away slowly with Tori.
“Yes.” Jane said, feeling that her response was not too much of a commitment.
“And the Moon’s so bright.” Tori said with a giggle.
Jane wondered if Tori was drunk and whether that would make her a handful. She had no idea how you fought off a randy woman.
“Yes, it’s beautiful.” Jane found herself saying; she had to stop that or give Tori the wrong idea.
The two women continued walking at what seemed to Jane to be a snail’s pace and she realised that the ‘driver’ of her body in this dream had no desire to hurry things.
“I’m sorry about what I said back there. Erm, you’ve got to realise it is difficult,” now, this sounded like what she needed to say, “when you’re put down next to a really attractive woman without warning and you’ve got your boss egging you on from over your shoulder. It’s difficult to really get to know someone in those circumstances and I guess I put up defence mechanisms. That was unfair, it was aimed at Logan but you got the brunt of it.”
Some of that was true, Jane admitted, but she would have wrapped it up differently. This approach was simply going to lead to Tori’s disappointment. She knew it was a dream, but it seemed incredibly realistic. Given all the fantastical stuff that had been happening recently she was ready to believe she had slipped into an alternate universe where the night’s events had turned out differently.
“No, no, I totally understand. I have a little more experience. I thought I should not judge you on what you said there. I hoped I would get a chance to speak to you again, and worried you’d run off before we could, you know, talk one-to-one.”
“Well, now it’s just you and me.”
Jane realised Tori was walking a lot closer to her now. Then she felt Tori’s fingers gently patting on the inside of her wrist. It made her tingle.
“That’s nice.” Jane said truthfully.
“I was just seeing if you would snatch your hand away.”
“No, why would I?” Jane tried to bite off the next words, but they came all the same, “When it feels so good?”
Jane turned to see Tori smile. “I don’t feel at all tired. Have you ever seen a full Moon from the top of Constitution Hill?”
“No, where’s that?”
“There.” Tori pointed up the hill they seemed to be heading for.
“Well, let’s go.” Jane responded as she grasped Tori’s hand.
Oh no, Jane thought, now she was taking the lead in this, what she imagined would soon become a sexual game. Why did she not just lie down here in the middle of the street and get it on? At least then she could skip all the hearts and flowers and get it over and done with as quickly as possible. That was an interesting thought, she realised, did lesbians eschew romantic gestures? Were they, after all just women, some of who quite liked that stuff? Given that Tori was not shoving this dream-form Jane up against a wall to ravish her but was dealing in the Moon and tickles, she guessed she was one of the latter.
“Is it safe?”
“Oh yes, this place is crawling with gays trying to get their end away. I think Logan would be more at risk than us. The woodland folk keep muggers at bay…”
“While the buggers play!”
Inwardly Jane groaned at the joke, but externally she and Tori howled with laughter. Jane wondered how drunk she was supposed to be in this scenario. Saying that, she had had quite a bit of wine at the dinner party for real and maybe this was not too far off what would have happened if she had been amenable to Tori’s advances. Despite the growing worries about imminently witnessing another ravishment of herself by a woman, Jane was not far from enjoying this jaunt. Maybe she would suggest to Rachel they did such a trip when she visited. Of, course, not for the purposes Tori was clearly envisaging, but for the adventure.
Jane realised they were still holding hands and she was glad it was dark, but there was a real softness about Tori’s skin that she liked. It reminded me of the thoughts she had had when she had been in the hypnosis. God, what kind of life was this, having two women take her within a week? She needed to get some proper sex otherwise she would be being turned into some kind of were-lesbian, straight in daylight hours and, yet, unable to fight off women in her sleep.
The hill was steep, but for some reason, Jane guessed it was the alcohol or maybe because this was, after all, a dream, they managed to climb it pretty quickly. There was a deserted bench at the top and they both collapsed on to it. Jane wanted to shake off Tori’s hand but she kept holding it. Catching her own breath she turned, and, as far as she could make out in the moonlight she could see Tori’s bold cheeks flushed. She was beautiful, there was no denying that. Jane felt strange impulses telling her how lucky she was to be with this woman. Now the walking had ceased Jane’s body began feeding in so many signals. She felt sexy in this tight top and these trousers, so shiny and slippery to the touch, and yes, she would love to kiss Tori, and yes, she wanted to touch her body and stroke her and hold her and, and, and…
Tori gently raised Jane’s hand to her lips and softly kissed the palm. Then she began exploring with the tip of her tongue until she was taking the fingers into her mouth. Then she moved closer to Jane, locking gazes in a way which made Jane tingle. Delicate strokes were then run over her face and soft breath like a ghostly tickle caressed around her ears and down her neck ceasing just at her cleavage. Jane felt as if her body was being drawn taut as she sensed Tori in so many places, her fingers flicking teasingly at her waist and around her midriff. With each step Jane expected a plunge down to her sex, but Tori was bringing out other points of pleasure. Her hands slid along Jane’s shiny thighs, even behind her knees so that so many of her sensual centres felt they were being stoked up. If Tori could achieve this with Jane still dressed, she did wonder how it would be with them both naked, maybe with some fragrant oil, some cream too. Jane chased those thoughts out of her mind, highly suspicious of their source and again cursing Petra for what she now believed had been well-intentioned but misguided tampering.
But, then, Jane could not halt the rising sensations. She tried to stop all the spiralling feelings and thoughts but suddenly found that the pleasurable assault had thrown her body to overdrive and her face moved into Tori’s and their lips gently brushed. Jane could feel the touch of the lipstick and smell, oh, how wonderful, Tori smelt. The hint of a perfume and the solidly physical aroma of her warm skin were delicious. It was too much, and there it was, the kiss and their mouths opening and then, how slippery was Tori’s tongue, how good it felt easing so smoothly into her own mouth, encouraging her own out to play. And her hands were gently exploring beneath the brocade feeling the sensation of the body-warmed silk below and butting gently across Tori’s breasts. Then Jane felt Tori’s hand around her back up around her shoulders, stroking at her neck and her face. However uncomfortable it seemed, Jane could not deny this felt good. Her mind was rocked not only by the sensations but the delight in this, here, in the silver light, with the city spread below them, but them, just them and no-one else in this world of feeling.
There was a part of Jane asking for this to stop, but it was fading. However much Jane disliked what was happening she could not deny she liked how it made her feel. Admitting that suddenly seemed to throw open a door that startled Jane. She realised it went far beyond just the physical sensation, there was more beyond it. It was the fact that Tori was doing this to her, Tori who had shown such interest in her, so much warmth to her, had listened and had accepted. How many attributes did Tori had that Jane sought out in a partner? And she was beautiful. The realisation that she had selected Jane and wanted to be with her, pleasing her, giving and taking kisses: that was something else.
It was with that realisation, that weakness in the face of her recognition of an attraction for Tori, that made it impossible to resist as Tori’s hand slid between Jane’s vinyl clad thighs. Jane found herself shedding her jacket and pushing back Tori’s. Her fingers fumbled for the buttons of the silk jacket and then the bra below. Jane watched, stunned as she began stripping this woman. Yet, somehow that was right, this was Tori and she wanted her, she wanted to explore and to please this body.
Then her tongue was lowered to ring each of Tori’s nipples sending the woman’s head back, gasping with the pleasure. Jane realised that delivering such a sensation to this woman out of all of women, in turn sent shudders through herself. And now her top was above her head and she was breast to breast with Tori, playfully butting their erect nipples. Then her trousers were being slid down and the thong below followed. Since when had she worn lacy underwear like that and, if she was supposed to be playing the lesbian here, shouldn’t she have something more robust down there? Maybe it was like the scent, women liked underwear that made them feel and look good no matter what gender they hoped to attract.
The feeling of the side of Tori’s hand as it ran slowly up and down Jane’s wet lips was almost too much. Jane wondered if she would orgasm now. The slowness of the strokes, gently knocking against her clitoris at the top and now dipping a finger inside her, just fuelled such a hunger. Jane wanted more of this; she wanted it to continue. Something reminded her that this was not some detached sex toy delivering such pleasure but the woman who had been so stunned by her, had persisted and encouraged and was now taking her time to feed so much pleasure into Jane. Jane felt guilty and reached out, uncertain what to do, but remembering what she had pulled off with Naomi earlier and, mimicking Tori’s own actions, was soon nibbling Tori’s nipples between second knuckles and gently teasing her skin with sweeps of her fingertips. As Jane found it difficult to concentrate with the storm that Tori was brewing in her pussy, she found herself reaching out to touch another woman’s clitoris.
Even deadened by the sensations assailing her, Jane was aghast at what she was doing. Yet it seemed to be so right, so natural. She had to try to please this woman who was doing such wonderful things to her, for her. Her fingers gently scrambled at Tori’s hard clitoris and her thumb eased inside her pussy. It was probably clumsy but Tori’s moans close to Jane’s ear suggested it was not that off target. Then light seared through Jane and she convulsed. For an instant she was alarmed that she was being thrust out of the dream but now she realised this was what had happened before in the hypnosis. This time it was happening more intensely, probably because it was all mixed up with what she realised were more than physical feelings for Tori. This was an orgasm. Jane felt ashamed that she had experienced it again at the hands of a woman, having failed to do so ‘properly’ with man. It all seemed topsy-turvy. It took moments for Jane to remember this was a dream and even if she looked on it as wrong, she could easily write it off as a peculiar nightmare.
Regaining her focus, Jane felt foolish stroking at Tori, but her typical English manners told her to keep up her attentions. The woman had given her an orgasm for heaven’s sake; the least she could do was return the favour. For an instant Jane wished she knew about lesbian sex, but then shunted aside that thought by questioning what use it would be. This was not real: it was just all some weird fantasy engineered by Petra and no doubt Kym, wanting to convince Jane that she loved women. Jane was pleased when Tori’s hand covered her own and guided its touches so in probably less than a minute, though it seemed much more, she too was thrust into the throes of climax.
Jane let out a deep breath. It was over. She felt dirty, she needed a shower, even in this dream world. A breeze blew across still aroused parts of her body making her tingle. Tori lent in and kissed Jane deeply. Jane held her hand for a few moments, then pulled back to begin adjusting her clothes.
“You’re not heading for the tube now are you?” Tori said with a kind of sad smile.
“No, no, of course not,” Jane felt it a lie, but her body seemed to want it, “I never was.”
“Come with me, my Moon goddess, you are unbelievable. If I had woken this morning knowing I was going to be spending the night with a woman like you, I would have never believed it.”
“Well, I can certainly say the same.” This time Jane felt her dream self had actually said the right thing.
Soon the two women were re-dressed and, arms crossed so each one’s hand cupped the other’s bum, they walked towards the flat in Highgate and not only more pleasure, but, it seemed true companionship. Receiving but discarding such messages, Jane wondered what more she would witness now in this ‘Lesbianism for Beginners’ or was it ‘for Dummies’? As she turned to glance back, for some reason, at the bench and caught sight of the Moon it seemed to expand almost as if she was diving head long into it. Jane blinked and realised she was twisted round in bed and her head was hanging over the side pointed to look out of the window where she had neglected to pull the curtains.
Jane extricated herself from the bedding drenched in sweat and smelling of sexual juice. Jane guessed that her dream version could not have made any more mess than this and she had Tori to help tidy up. Jane headed immediately to the shower. She drew up short as she saw herself in her wardrobe mirror. Usually these days she manoeuvred herself from the other side of the bed so as not to catch her reflection. With her tossing and turning she was exiting it from a different place. The reflection was probably what Jane would expect, it showed Jay clearly just come back from Tori’s dressed in that tight top and jacket and those so shiny trousers. There was a distant look in her eyes and a smile danced across her lips. Jane imagined she knew what Jay was remembering, with whatever had happened back at Tori’s flat on top of that. For a moment, Jane felt her alter-ego was being smug, saying ‘look what I’m getting and you’re not’, but as she looked at the face, her face only slightly different to her own, she realised Jay was saying, as she always did, ‘look you could have this for real, this could be a true reflection of you, just reach out and grasp it’.
Frustrated with life and how it had put her into the situation in which she was now disputing with false reflections of herself, Jane stomped off to the bathroom. She felt sticky and pretty sordid. She would not say she hated sex, she did not consider herself frigid, but it was more about developing a relationship rather than pure pleasure. Then again, in her dream had it not been the connection with Tori that had really opened up the floodgates of sensation? Was not pleasure multiplied when there was a connection, even the beginnings of love? Well, that was a huge new area. Jay was not only off toying with women’s bodies, she was also busily falling in love with a woman too. Though she had not realised it before, that seemed like another huge thing that Jane now recognised she had left out of the equation. She just frantically prayed that there was no chance that she would run into Tori at work. Their paths had not crossed so far, it was a big enough company. While she hated admitting it, she hoped her lie about the taxi would have put off Tori and she would be too embarrassed to come up and challenge Jane.
As she got into the shower, Jane just wished she could go back to her life before without all the images and dreams of sex on Hampstead Heath. Annoyed that this was happening to her Jane just let the hot water run over her nightclothes as she shed them in the shower cubicle. She felt so used, so unclean. There had to be something to stop all of these all too realistic fantasies. Though she had been keen to socialise a little more, clearly it was filled with hazards. Maybe rather than letting her mind, in its increasingly twisted way, speculate what would have happened if she had not fled Tori, she should think how to avoid running into lesbians who, it seemed, would fill her dreams with their own wishes, no matter how alien to her they might be.