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Ex Libris

© Alex de Kok, 2010






It was an impulse, pure and simple. Or at least as simple as any impulse can be when it comes to Man and Woman. I mean, she was hardly dressed to attract, and certainly not in summer clothes, despite the glorious weather. Dull plaid skirt, somewhere about mid-calf. Sensible, flat shoes. Loose sweater, no idea at all about what sort of figure she might have. No make-up, dark red hair scraped back tight into a bun, and horn-rimmed glasses. Cliché librarian. Which is exactly what she was, because I was in the college library and she was checking my books out for me. As she handed me the last one I happened to catch her looking at me, and was caught by the beauty of her green eyes, clear behind her spectacles. The sound of my voice surprised me.

"Would you have dinner with me tonight?" I said, and stopped, wondering what the hell had made me say it. She was as surprised as I was, because she gave me a startled look and I watched in fascination as the deepest blush I have ever seen on a face spread over hers.

The time for surprises wasn't over, because she took a deep breath, nodded and said, "Yes," in a tiny voice that I only just heard.

There was a long pause and her flush, which had begun to fade, reappeared and she looked flustered. I held up my hand and she gave me another startled look.

"Where do I pick you up?" I said.

"I beg your pardon?"

"To take you to dinner. Where do I collect you?"

"What time did you have in mind?" she managed to say, the flush still suffusing her face.

"Eight, nine, whatever suits you."

"I'm working here until nine. Here, outside, at ten past?" she said, hesitant.

"Okay. Ten past nine, here. See you," I said and I swear I could feel her eyes burning into my back all the way to the door.

I debated standing her up, asking myself why I'd done it, but I'm an honourable soul - most of the time, at least - and at ten minutes after nine I was waiting outside the library. She came out hesitantly, and I think she was surprised to see me, because she stopped dead. I went towards her and she gave me a tentative smile, the flush reappearing on her face in the rosy summer evening light.

"Ready?" I said.

She was flustered. "I'm not dressed for dinner," she said, plucking nervously at her skirt.

"Do you like Italian food?" I said.

She nodded, mute.

"Tino's doesn't mind what you wear, so long as you give the food the attention it deserves. I took a chance and booked a table for two at nine-thirty. It's only a ten-minute walk, so let's go." Before she could stop me I tucked her arm in mine and led her away. I was aware that a couple of her colleagues were standing open-mouthed watching us. I think she'd seen them, too.

"Before we reach the restaurant, there's something I have to ask you," I said.

She was apprehensive. "What?"

"Oh, it's an easy one. Your name?"

She stared across at me for a moment as we walked, and I smiled. "I'm John Ridley."

"I know who you are, Doctor Ridley," she said.

"Well, that's one of us who knows the other. So what do I call you? Miss X is mysterious, but scarcely practical," I said.

A fleeting smile twitched the corner of her mouth and I began to feel that the evening was going to be better than I'd feared. "Lorna," she said, "Lorna Jens."

"Okay, you're Lorna, and I'm John, and we're going to have a lovely Italian meal and enjoy ourselves, so please, Lorna, relax! You're wound so tight I'm scared you're going to snap."

Surprisingly, she laughed. A good laugh, natural. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm just not used to being taken to dinner." She frowned. "In fact, I've never been taken to dinner before."

"Never?" I said, surprised.

She shook her head. "Never."

"Why not?" I said. Blunt, and I regretted it immediately and opened my mouth to apologise.

"Look at me," she said, stopping dead in her tracks. I loosed her arm and did as she requested. She still looked like the cliché librarian, still flushed, with a sad look of lost hope in her eyes.

"I'm looking," I said.

"What do you see? An old maid? You must do." There was a terrible sadness in her tone, and I began to think there must be a deep, dark spot in her soul.

I shook my head. "No. I see the girl I asked to have dinner with me." I smiled at her, took her arm again and tugged her gently towards the restaurant.

"Why did you ask me?" she said.

"Because I wanted to have dinner with a pretty girl."

"Pretty girl? You're joking! I'm not pretty, I'm probably the most homely woman you've ever seen." Incredibly, she was angry.

"Says who?" I said.

"My mirror, for one," she retorted.

"Change your mirror," I said.

"Change my - you're joking, and I don't like it! I'm not pretty. I never have been, I never will be." Her colour was up again, but the listlessness had gone and there was animation in her.

I stopped and turned her to face me. "I am not joking," I said. "You are a good-looking woman, or will be, if you relax a little. You have the most beautiful eyes and mouth I have ever seen on a woman, your skin is as clear as a baby's and your hair - well, okay, your hair needs the attention of a good hairdresser, but it looks clean and healthy."

She stared at me for a long, long moment and then her face crumpled and she began to cry, soundlessly, tears running down her cheeks. I moved towards her and touched her arm and the next thing I knew she was sobbing on my shoulder, my arms around her, just holding her. Her hair smelled fresh and sweet, and the only other smell was her skin, not only as clear as a baby’s but with a similar warm sweetness to it. I didn't say anything, just held her lightly and it wasn't long before she pushed me away, fumbling in her oversized purse for a tissue. I took a folded handkerchief from an inside pocket and held it out to her. She took it, wiped her eyes, blew her nose and finally allowed herself to look at me again.

"Feel better?" I said.

She nodded. "That was the nicest lie I ever heard," she said, a faint, tentative smile on her face.

"I don't lie." She didn't say anything to that, but the look she gave me spoke volumes. I grinned at her and took her arm again, turning her towards the restaurant. It was about three-quarters full, and Tino spotted us immediately we went in, hurrying across to us.

"Doctor Ridley! Signorina! Welcome, welcome. Your table is ready. Please, this way." He led us towards a quiet corner table, waited while I seated Lorna, who looked flustered again at the attention, and handed us menus.

"You want drinks before your meal?" he said.

I looked across at Lorna. "Do we?" I said, "or do we just have wine with the meal?"

"You decide," she said, and flushed again.

"We'll have wine with the meal, I think. Two mineral waters for now, please."

"I send them over," said Tino, and bustled off. I glanced at Lorna who was avoiding my eye by studying her menu intently.

"Any favourites?" I said. She wouldn't look up, and shook her head. Tino's was popular not only because of the quality of the food, but because it wasn't overpriced. I reached over and took her menu from her. "There'll be a special on, and it will be delicious. Have you any dislikes, or is there anything you must avoid?"

Finally, she looked up at me and shook her head in a tiny negative.

"Shall we have the special, then, and let Tino recommend the wine?"

She nodded. "Okay."

"Are you hungry?" I said.

She smiled suddenly, warm, broad, startling me with the way her smile lit her face. She nodded. "I'm starving."

The waitress came then with our mineral waters, closely followed by Tino.

"Have you decided?" he said.

"You have a special on tonight?"

"Of course."

"We'll have the special, then. Starter, main course, and dessert. You choose, and you choose the wine," I told him.

He looked pleased at that, but, careful as ever, said, "You are sure?" I nodded affirmatively and he turned to Lorna. "Signorina?"

She flushed again, but answered readily. "Please. As Doctor Ridley says."

Tino beamed at us, and bustled off. To be honest, I remember little of what I ate, save only that it was delicious, as always. The starter contained ciabatta bread and roasted sweet peppers, that much I remember, although it may have been focaccia, rather than ciabatta. The main course was chicken, definitely chicken, cooked with cream, wine, garlic and herbs - simple ingredients, but the combination of flavours was superb. Forced to describe the sweet, I would have to say, some kind of cheesecake, with berries, lots of berries, and that wonderful Italian ice-cream. The wine was slightly sparkling, crisp, semi-dry, delicious.

Lorna ate with appetite and I enjoyed seeing the delight with which she approached the food. We spoke little during the meal, trivial stuff, inconsequential. Almost surprised, I found I was enjoying her company. Once she'd managed to relax a little, I found her conversation stimulating. It may be that the wine relaxed her, for I suspect that normally she drank little, if at all.

It was almost eleven when we left the restaurant. The evening was warm, and I turned to her. "Time to take Cinderella home," I said. "But first you'll have to tell me. Where is home?"

"It's only five minutes walk," she said. "I'll be fine."

"A gentleman does not leave a lady to make her own way home," I said. "Especially late at night. Show me the way."

She pointed, and I tucked her arm under mine. We set off, and I realised she was humming under her breath. The walk was too short for me, because we hardly had a chance to talk about anything before we stopped in front of an apartment block. "I live here," she said. "Apartment twelve, top floor."

I nodded. "Did you enjoy your meal tonight?" I said.

"Very much. It was delicious. I mean, I've used the same ingredients for cooking, well, except the wine, and mine tasted so different."

"You like cooking?"

"Yes, I do, but I rarely bother to do much for myself." There was a silence, then she turned to me. "Saturday?" she said, her voice hesitant.

"What about Saturday?"

"Are you working?"

I laughed. "No classes on a Saturday, thank goodness." And not many classes anyway, as for most of the university it was the summer recess. Some of us had summer students, worse luck. "What about Saturday?"

She took a deep breath and when she spoke it was in a rush. "Can I cook you dinner? Sort of a thank-you for tonight?"

I was surprised, but took care not to show it. "I need no thanks, Lorna, I enjoyed your company. Anyway, I want to ask if I can see you again."

She blinked, then smiled tentatively. "You do?"

"Yes, I do," I said.

"I'd like that," she said, and even in the dark I could see her face flush, "but only if you'll come to dinner on Saturday."

"It's a date," I said.

She looked startled for a moment, then smiled. "It is, isn't it? Seven o'clock?"

"Seven. I'll be here. Shall I bring wine?"

"Would you, please? I wouldn't know what to choose."

I smiled at her. "It would help if I knew what you were cooking," I said.

"Oh! Of course. Goodness, I don't know yet."

"Not a problem. I'll bring red and white. Whichever one is left, you can keep for another time." I was hoping she might ask me in for a coffee, but I wasn't going to push it. She intrigued me, intrigued me enough that I wanted to know her better. I wasn't going to push myself in case she panicked and ran. She seemed to be a complex mixture of neuroses and very nice woman. I just hoped I wasn't adding to her neuroses.

"Saturday at seven, then?" she said.

I nodded. "At seven."

She stood uncertainly for a moment, then leaned forward quickly and kissed my cheek. "Goodnight, John," she said, and she was gone. She turned as she disappeared through the door and I waved. She gave me a half-wave and then she was gone. I turned and made my way towards my own apartment, like hers within walking distance of the university. I found myself whistling the same tune she'd been humming and laughed to myself.

The days before Saturday were busy and I didn't find myself thinking about her too often, but when I did I found I was looking forward to seeing her again. She intrigued me. Saturday came and I bought two bottles of wine when I did my grocery shopping. I bought some flowers, too. They weren't expensive, but the bouquet looked good and I hoped Lorna would like them. I showered, changed into some half-smart casual clothes and at seven sharp I was ringing her bell.

At first I thought I had the wrong apartment, because I had to look twice to make sure it was Lorna. The horn-rims were gone, replaced by stylish, modern, frameless spectacles. Gone too was the tight bun of hair. Lorna's hair was loose around her shoulders, curling softly. The biggest change was in her clothes. The plaid skirt and loose sweater were gone. Instead she wore a knee-length denim skirt and a simple sleeveless white blouse, buttoned down the front.

I think I must have been staring, because one thing hadn't changed - the deep flush that appeared on her face.

"I - " she began, but I stopped her with a gesture.

"You are lovely," I said, and meant it, because she was. Is. I handed her the flowers. "For you."

She took them, bending her head to smell the bouquet. Bending too, I think, so as not to have to look at me for a moment.

I took refuge in cliché. "You look great," I said. Her eyes came up and she flushed again.

"I had help," she said.

"Help? How? Or should it be who?"

"Jackie, she's one of the girls I work with, she saw us the other night and wouldn't let me rest until I told her about it."

"Not much to tell," I said with a smile. "So what did she help you with?"

"She took me shopping for clothes, made me get new glasses, and her sister - she's a stylist - cut my hair." Lorna smiled briefly. "I wouldn't let her take too much off."

I looked at Lorna again, and even with the high colour in her cheeks she looked lovely. Her skin is as fresh as a child's, her lips red without cosmetics, and her eyes as clear as spring water - I know, cliché again, but they were. "They did a great job, Lorna, because you look lovely."

Her colour was still high, but she smiled. "I feel good," she said.

"It shows."

She turned away. "I'll just put these in some water," she said, bending to smell the flowers again. "Have a seat in the living room," she said as she disappeared into the kitchen. I shook my head and followed her.

"Lorna?" I said as she took a vase from a cupboard. She turned, a little startled. I held up the bag with the wine.

"The white needs to be in the refrigerator," I said. "It's a warm evening."

"Of course," she said. "Just a moment." She busied herself with the flowers and then took the white wine from me and put it into her refrigerator.

"What are we having?" I said.

"Wait and see," she retorted, and I grinned at her. She flushed, but I was beginning to realise it was her natural reaction, that I shouldn't take too much notice. I knew, though, that she was nervous at having me in her tiny apartment, just from watching her hands.

"Call when it's ready, or if you want me to open the wine," I said. "I'll get out of your way for the moment."

Her answering smile was a little abstracted as a timer sounded. I thought it best if I really did get out of the way and went into her little sitting-room. I smiled involuntarily. Books everywhere, just like my own place. Apt for a librarian, I thought. She had Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queen’ and I sat down with it, reading a few stanzas just for the pleasure of it. I wasn’t aware she’d returned until she spoke.

"You like Spenser?"

"He’s hard work, but yes, much more than some free verse I read." I smiled at her. "I suppose I’m old-fashioned in my poetry tastes."

"Perhaps just as well you teach on the computing side of the university," she said, her expression solemn, but I caught a twinkle in her eye.

"Perhaps," I said, fighting a grin, but she caught it and smiled.

"The starter’s ready, come on through." Her apartment had a tiny dining-annexe, tucked in a corner between the kitchen and the living-room, and the table was ready, spotless checked table-cloth, gleaming cutlery, plates waiting ready for us. "A cold starter," she said, "because there’s only me preparing the food."

I enjoyed the meal, very much. Nothing fancy. Lorna had done a prawn and melon starter, with chopped watercress and a balsamic vinegar, ginger and honey dressing. The combination of flavours was startling at first, but surprisingly tasty. She followed it with fresh tuna cooked in garlic butter, served with zucchini fritters, sugar-snap peas and a baked potato, followed by a simple baked-apple pie with ice-cream. We finished the white wine with our meal, and Lorna made coffee.

"You go and sit while I do the dishes," she said. She smiled. "I hate leaving dirty dishes." She had relaxed a lot as the meal progressed. Yes, and as the level of the wine bottle had fallen. She wasn’t tipsy, far from it, but I think the wine had made her more comfortable with me. I shook my head.

"You’re not doing the dishes by yourself. Do you want me to wash, or dry?"

She stared at me for a long moment. "You’re sure?"

"Certain."

"If you wash, please. I know where everything goes."

"Fine. Let’s get started. Sooner started, sooner finished, and that coffee smells delicious."

It didn’t take long, not with two of us, and we carried our coffees through into her living-room. It was tiny, and sensibly she had only a couch to sit on, big enough for three, if they were friendly, ample for the two of us.

"Is there anything you want to watch on television?" she said, eyebrows raised.

"Not for me," I said. "I’m the neanderthal who thinks that the best thing on television is often the ‘off’ switch."

Lorna laughed, a gurgle that made my prick twitch, startling me. "I agree," she said. "Music?"

"Music is good. Anything special?"

"What do you like? Pop? Rock? Country? Classical?"

"I enjoy them all, at the right time. Now? Now, I think, is a classical moment."

She nodded, solemn, but there was that twinkle in her eye again. "Classical it is. Borodin?"

"Borodin’s fine."

We sat for a while, finishing our coffees, enjoying the music. Lorna took our cups away and came back with the red wine, and the corkscrew. "The label says it’s a wine for enjoyment by itself, and not necessarily with food," she said. "I thought it might be nice to have while we listen to the music." She held the bottle and corkscrew out to me. "Would you open it, please, while I fetch the glasses?"

I was slightly surprised, because I knew from our conversation that she wasn’t a drinker, but I’d found myself wanting to kiss her, and I thought a glass or so of wine might just relax her enough that I could. She seemed much easier with me now than she had when I’d first arrived. I glanced at my watch. Hey! Over two hours ago.

We were half-way through the bottle when the CD finished. We sat for a moment, the final strains of the ‘Polovtsian Dances’ in our minds.

"Another?" Lorna asked.

"Please, but you choose this time."

"Change of theme, then. Vocal, this time. Jazz, sort of."

"Sort of, eh? Interesting. Who?"

"Madeleine Peyroux."

I nodded. "I’ve heard of her, but haven’t heard her."

"I think she’s good," said Lorna. She was right, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the CD. When it was finished, so was the wine. I felt slightly guilty for making sure Lorna drank as much as me, for she was clearly no drinker. I glanced at my watch. Almost eleven. Time to leave, I thought.

"Time I wasn’t here," I said.

I think Lorna was surprised at the time when she glanced at her own watch. "Goodness," she said. "I hadn’t realised it was so late."

I shrugged into my jacket and we went towards the door. I turned to Lorna. "I want to see you again."

Her flush was pale compared to earlier ones. "I’d like that," she said.

"Tomorrow?"

"What about tomorrow?"

"If I collect you, say about eleven? We could have a run out into the country, maybe have lunch at a pub?"

"Sounds nice. What do I wear?"

"Much the same as you are now, plus shoes and a jacket," I said, with a grin. She laughed. A good sign, I thought. I took her hands, and I could feel her tense, but I needed to know, and I pulled her gently towards me, raising my hands to her shoulders. Her eyes were huge as I bent my head to kiss her, but she didn’t pull away, her eyes closing as our lips touched.

The kiss was tentative at first, gentle, exploring. I increased the pressure slightly, and felt her respond for a moment, then tense again. I held the kiss, hoping, and suddenly felt her mouth slacken, soften, and she was kissing me back, sharing the kiss, an active participant, not merely accepting. She broke the kiss, staring at me, and I smiled at her.

"See you at eleven."

She nodded. "Eleven," she said, but I don’t think her mind was where we were.

I let my hands slip from her shoulders. "See you. G’night, Lorna."

"Goodnight, John," she said, and she was still staring after me as I turned the corner towards the elevator.

I masturbated when I got home, and again before I could sleep, to the memory of soft breasts against me as we kissed.

I was early next morning, ten to eleven, but she was ready, waiting. It was a fine summer day, with a forecast promise of warmth, and I’d indulged myself - I’d brought the Caterham 7 as our transport. Lorna stopped dead when she saw it, then turned to me, a happy smile on her face.

"Yours?"

I nodded. "Yep. All mine. I don’t need it, but it’s fun to drive on a day like this."

"I always wanted to ride in one of these."

"Well, now's your chance. Um, there aren't any doors, you'll have to step over the side." I eyed her skirt, wondering if there was enough flare to it to save her modesty, but not for the first time, Lorna surprised me, hitching her skirt up and stepping into the car, settling herself, leaving the vision of long, slender legs on my retinas. She flushed when she caught my eye, but it was a pale imitation of her earlier ones. She shrugged, half-smiling.

"It seemed easiest," she said.

I laughed. "Yes, probably. I never thought, otherwise I might have rung to warn you."

"Not to worry, I'm in," she said, a twinkle in her eye.

I laughed. "Yes, you are. Seat belt, and we're away."

It was exhilarating, as always, driving the Caterham. Being so close to the ground takes some getting used to, but the little car takes corners as if it's glued down. There was an extra dimension in having an attractive companion beside me, and Lorna was obviously enjoying the ride, her hair loose and blowing in the wind of our passage.

The car-park at the 'George' was more than three-quarters full when we got there, and I was pleased I'd phoned a reservation in. Inside, it was busy, but we were expected.

"John! Over here, man." Charlie was busy at a table in the corner, but next to him the window table, set for two, had a 'Reserved' sign on it.

"I'm glad you're on time. I would hate to let the table go if you'd been late." He looked over my shoulder at Lorna. "And who is this lovely lady?"

"Lorna, this miserable excuse for a human being is Charlie White. He just happens to be my cousin, and sometimes treats me as family. Charlie, Lorna Jens."

"Hello, Lorna," he said, and took her hand, bending over it.

"Hello, Charlie," she said, and surprised me by not flushing. Charlie straightened, and drew the seat out for Lorna. "Sit down, the two of you. I'll send Jenny over with the menus."

Jenny is Charlie's daughter, just out of her teens, cheerful, sassy, and one of my favourite people.

"Hi, Doc," she said, bending to kiss my cheek.

"Hi, yourself, sweetheart. Life treating you well?"

"Pretty good. You?"

"Well, you're here, and I have a lovely lady as companion. What could be bad?" I turned to Lorna. "Lorna, this is Jenny, Charlie's eldest. Jenny, Lorna. Lorna Jens."

"Hi," said Jenny.

"Hello, nice to meet you."

"I'll be back in a mo' for your order. Any drinks in the meantime?"

"Lorna?"

"Just a mineral water, please."

"Make that two, Jenny."

"On their way." And she was off, in a swirl of skirt.

"Doc?" said Lorna, smiling.

"She refuses to call me John." I shrugged. "I sort of like it."

Lorna laughed. "Suits you. Doc."

"There are now two people in the world I will allow to address me in that way," I said with a glower. Lorna just laughed again.

I think Lorna was getting used to being with me, more relaxed, because she chatted easily about everything and nothing, while she tucked away a salmon steak, with new baby potatoes and salad, then a meringue with butterscotch ice-cream, and coffee.

Slender as she is, there's nothing wrong with Lorna's appetite, and we enjoyed the moment, sharing a meal. Finished, we sat back, relaxing over the coffee.

"What would you like to do now?" I asked her, and she shrugged.

"Nothing in mind. You?"

"It's only just turned two, the sun is shining, the day is warm, and the petrol tank is full. Just go for a drive?"

She smiled. "In your little road rocket? Yes, please."

"Anywhere particular you'd like to go?"

She laughed. "I don't know anywhere outside of town. Wherever you want to go is fine by me."

I opened my mouth to speak, but shut it again, wondering. Was it right. Lorna caught my indecision and arched her brows in query. I shook my head.

"You were going to say something," she said. "What was it?"

I had the feeling, somehow, that with Lorna I must always tell the truth. I didn't know how, it was a gut reaction. "I'm not sure if I should say anything."

"Now you have me curious. What was it?"

"I was going to show you the cottage."

"Cottage? Yours?"

I nodded. "My break from the city."

She held my eye for a long moment, and then smiled. "I'd love to see it, John. Truly."

"In that case, see it you shall. I'll just settle up with Charlie and we'll get ourselves away."

"Okay, while you're paying, I'll go and powder my nose." She giggled. "Well, that's what they say in the movies." And she was away, moving easily between the tables.

"Nice girl, John," said Charlie as I took out my wallet. "Where'd you meet her?"

"University library. She works there."

"Ah, you bookish types hang together."

I laughed. "You could say that, I suppose. She has a lot of books, just like me. So, what do I owe you?"

We were just chatting when Lorna came back from the ladies', and it was only a minute or two later that we were on the road, still laughing at the expressions on the faces of a couple of elderly ladies as Lorna did her skirt-hoisting manoeuvre to get into the car.

"So, where's this cottage, then?" she said.

"Just up the valley, here. It backs onto the river. There are trout, if you've ever wanted to try fly-fishing. There's about a hundred yards of river where I have the fishing rights."

"I don't think I could. I can only buy meat in a supermarket, where it doesn't look anything like the animal it came from, so I don't think I could eat a fish I caught myself." Lorna gave me a wry look. "I'm silly, aren't I?"

I laughed. "A little, but it's a good silly."

She giggled, surprising me. "What would be a bad silly?"

I thought for a moment. "I don't know. Silly is one of those words that has a sort of feel-good factor built in. Someone who is silly could never be evil, for instance, whereas someone who is stupid could." I paused, then laughed. "Does that make sense?"

There was a long silence, and I glanced across at her, shocked to see tears rolling down her face. The road was twisting, but there was space beside a farm gate and I pulled in, stopping the car, setting the handbrake.

"Lorna? What is it?"

She shook her head, fighting a sob. I reached out, instinctively, helplessly, and she seized my hand in hers, holding onto it as if it was a lifeline. She took deep, gulping, breaths, and I sensed she was trying not to give in to her tears.

"Lorna, love," I said quietly, "if you need to cry, then cry."

Somehow, I'd said the right thing, and she gave way to her grief. I didn't know it was grief, not at first, but as her sobs eased, her story came out. It was a tale that I think many could have told, about an alcoholic father with a cruel streak, a loving mother, and a child caught between them. The difference was that Lorna's mother had fought back, and Lorna's father had been jailed on assault charges. Lorna and her mother had moved away, and kept a low profile. News had come that her father had died in prison, but too late for relief, as Anne Jens had been diagnosed with cancer. Terminal, but lingering, and Lorna had nursed her mother until her death. Alone in the world, she'd managed to qualify as a librarian, spurred by her love of books, and avoided anything but superficial contact with men.

"I'd never been on a date before you asked me out, and I still don't know why I said yes," she told me, with a tremulous smile.

"I'm glad you did, Lorna, because I've enjoyed getting to know you."

"Truly?"

"Truly? Of course, truly. Lorna, I hope you've come to know me well enough to realise that I have never lied to you?"

"I think I have, well, almost."

I raised my eyebrows. "Only, 'almost'?"

She frowned. "When you tell me you find me attractive, I want to scream and run away. I'm thinking of my father, of course, because when he was sober, he always said how lovely I was, how lovely my mother was, but when he was drunk?" She shuddered. "We were the spawn of the devil."

"Lorna? I – am – not – your - father!"

"What are you, then?" she retorted.

"Your friend." I took a chance. "And, one day, perhaps, when you're ready, but only when you're ready, I'd like to be your lover."

She stared at me, shocked, mute. Then she surprised me, she smiled. Faint, yes, but a smile. "Hold onto that thought, John, and pray to whoever your god is. Why? Because that is the thought that keeps surprising me, too. Not here, not yet, but maybe, just maybe, sometime not too far into the future, but not too soon. Now? Now, I'd like to see your cottage, and then I'd like you to take me home. I've never told anyone about my father before, or about my mother, and do you know what? I think it has helped me, helped me to come to terms with the grief I've been bottling up."

I squeezed her hand. "I hope so, Lorna, I really hope so."

"It will take me a little while, I think, to exorcise my ghosts."

"As long as it takes, love. Don't worry about it."

"What about you?"

I smiled. "Don't worry about me, either. Just let me take you out a couple of times a week, okay?"

"Okay. Now, your cottage?" Her smile was faint, but it was genuine.

"It will still be there next week, if you want to go home."

"No, if we're this close, I'd like to see it."

It's nothing exotic, the cottage. At one time a gamekeeper's cottage on the edge of an estate, there was a tiny parlour, and a kitchen, surprisingly large, which I'd refitted with some modern appliances as a breakfasting kitchen. Bathroom? A toilet, hand basin, a shower cubicle, with an electric shower – all there was room for. No tub. Luckily, mains sewerage was close by, so the toilet was modern. Two bedrooms, a double, with storage space built in wherever I'd found room, and a tiny single, which I'd converted to an office.

Lorna spotted that, straight away. "John, there's only one bedroom." Her expression was sober, but I think there was an imp lurking there.

"Yes, there is. I wanted you to know. If I ask you to come and stay at the cottage with me, we'll both know what you mean if you say yes."

"You wanted me to know in advance, so that I wasn't taken by surprise?"

"Exactly."

She gazed at me, solemn, then smiled, stretching across to kiss my cheek. "Thank you."

"I have to face myself in the mirror every morning, Lorna. With you, especially after what you said earlier, in the car, I know I always have to be honest."

"Yes, you do." She smiled. "John, I love your little cottage, and one day, I hope I’ll be ready to come and stay with you. But for now, please take me home. I need to do some serious thinking."

It was a quiet drive home, but relaxed. When I asked Lorna if she'd like to go out for a meal the following weekend, she turned me down. There was a smile on her face, though, when she did.

"Not next weekend. The weekend after, perhaps. I want to be by myself in my free time, at least for a week or so. I told you I need to do some thinking, and I think I need to do some grieving, too. I've been bottling things up for too long."

"If you're sure, then of course. Just ring me if you need anything. Please?"

"I will. For now, though, goodnight. And thank you, thank you for letting me be myself." She leaned towards me, and for the first time since I'd known her, initiated our kiss. A warm kiss, more than friend, not quite lover.

I didn't see her again for almost three weeks, when she rang to invite me to her apartment for dinner.

"Just one bottle of wine, this time, John Ridley. I want my wits about me."

"Red or white?" I said, laughing, because she sounded bright and cheerful again, the Lorna she'd begun to be before her ghosts surfaced.

"What goes with spaghetti bolognese?"

"I'll get some chianti."

"Great. Come for seven."

"I'll be there."

I showered, shaved, put on clean underwear, fresh tan chinos, and a short-sleeved polo shirt, grabbed a light jacket and the bottle of chianti, and duly presented myself at Lorna's apartment at seven. She opened the door as soon as I rang the bell, and startled me by giving me a quick kiss on the lips.

"Here, give me your coat. You know where the corkscrew is, if you'd like to open the wine. First course is soup, and it just needs serving."

She kept up the Italian theme. Minestrone soup for starters, spaghetti bolognese – delicious spaghetti bolognese – for the main course, and ice cream for afters. We drank the wine, washed the dishes, and then Lorna excused herself for a moment.

"I'd like to change into something looser," she said. "You choose a CD for background music."

"Any preference?"

"Me? Madeleine Peyroux, Alison Krauss, but you choose. Back in a mo."

She'd been wearing a simple blouse and skirt outfit, but came back wearing a loose sweater over her skirt. She smiled.

"More comfortable now. Peyroux? Great." She sat down beside me on the couch, and leaned back with her eyes closed. I studied her. The girl I'd met in the library, the girl who flushed at everything I said, she was gone now. In her place was an attractive young woman. One who still flushed easily, true, but that was just Lorna's way. Whether she felt my eyes on her or nor, I don't know, but her eyes opened and she smiled at me. We were fairly close, and I leaned towards her, hoping she'd let me kiss her. I saw the smile come into her eyes and she leaned closer, her lips warm, welcoming, when they met mine.

I moved closer and put my left arm around her shoulders, and she snuggled into me without breaking the kiss. In the end it was me who broke it, and Lorna smiled into my eyes.

"I wanted you to do that," she said, her voice warm, soft.

"I'm glad."

"I liked it. Kiss me again."

This time her lips parted as we kissed, and her tongue stole out to play with mine. The kiss was long, and the heat was building. Lorna wasn't experienced, I knew, but she was honest, quick to learn, and seemed to want it as much as I did. This time it was she who broke the kiss, smiling at me in the honeyed glow of the lamp.
"Nice," she murmured.

"Very."

"You like kissing me?"

"Couldn't you tell?"

"I thought so, but until I met you I'd never kissed or been kissed before. It's all new to me." She giggled. "Although I have to admit, I like it." This time it was Lorna who initiated the kiss, and I fought a chuckle at the thought of a thirty-year-old university tutor and a twenty-seven-year-old librarian necking like a couple of teenagers, but I wasn't planning to stop any time soon. I was enjoying it too much.

Again it was Lorna who broke the kiss, pulling back slightly, her eyes enormous, chewing the corner of her lip.

"I, … " she said, hesitating.

"Yes? What is it, love?"

She grimaced, then looked up, holding my eyes. "John, I, um, er, oh shit! John, I want you to touch me!" she finished in a rush.

The 'oh, shit!' had surprised me; the 'touch me' shocked me. Pleased shock, yes; delighted shock, yes, but to hear Lorna say that startled me more than slightly. I stared at her, and she flushed, almost like the Lorna I'd first asked out.

I squeezed her fingers. "You're sure?"

She grimaced again, but nodded. "Yes. I have to know, have to know if I'm going to freak out when you touch me. I enjoy your kisses, enjoy them a lot. Now I need to know if I enjoy your touch, and I think the time is now, tonight."

I didn't say anything, just drew her close, and lowered my mouth to hers. She responded eagerly, her mouth moving on mine. I wasn't going to grab, no way, because I knew that was a sure-fire way to court disaster in our relationship, but I let my free hand rest on her hip for a moment while I enjoyed her kiss, then let my hand move up, stroking her hip, her ribs, moving out to stroke her arm, up to stroke her shoulder, then slowly, slowly down to cup her breast.

Lorna was rigid, tense, waiting, but I sensed acceptance, and as my fingers cupped the softness of her breast, she shuddered and moaned softly into our kiss, her arms tightened around me, and the kiss intensified until, with a heaving gasp, Lorna broke it, staring into my eyes, a slow smile breaking over her face.

"I thought it would feel good, and it does, but I'm going to make it feel better, for both of us," she whispered, and while I was still wondering what she meant, lifted my hand off her breast and slid it under her sweater, and up, to let my fingers feel the warmth and softness of her naked breast. When she'd changed, she'd taken off her bra!

Her nipple was rigid, and I let my thumb brush lightly over it as I cupped the soft weight of her. She shuddered again, holding my eyes with hers, sucking in her breath as my thumb rubbed over the nub of her nipple. I saw the smile in her eyes and she leaned back into our kiss, her lips seeking mine, avid, hungry.

This time it was my turn to break the kiss, and her eyes searched my face. I smiled, and took a chance.

"Take the sweater off, Lorna, love, I want to see and taste as well as feel."

She stared at me for a long, long, moment, then the imp came back into her eyes and she sat up straight, her hands going to the hem of her sweater, and with one smooth movement it was off, discarded behind her. Her shoulders were back and she held herself proudly, her eyes all over my face, heat in her cheeks.

She's slender, is Lorna, with a bust to match, but there's no doubt she's a woman. Her breasts aren't particularly big, but they're beautifully shaped, with large areolae and surprisingly long nipples.

"Beautiful," I said and leaned forward, taking a nipple into my mouth, sucking, letting her feel my teeth. She shuddered again and I felt her fingers in my hair. I suckled on one nipple for a little while, then switched, worshipping the other, then let it slip from my mouth and lay back, into a corner of the couch, drawing Lorna into the circle of my arms.

She sighed as she lay back against me, my fingers playing idly with her breasts, caressing, stroking, pulling on her nipples. She stretched around and kissed my cheek.

"As nice as I hoped, much nicer than I feared," she murmured.

"Feared, love? Not me, I hope?"

She laughed. "No, me. I was scared I'd freeze, but I love your touch, and I want more, I want to touch you, too." She giggled. "Find out what's been pressing against me."

"You do, do you?"

"Yes, I do." She took a deep breath and held my eyes. "John, I'm not ready to go all the way with you, not yet, and I know we haven't known each other very long, but I'll do anything you want, short of penetration."

Startled, it took me a moment to reply. "I might get carried away, love, if we do that, and not be able to stop myself." Silly thing to say; I knew as I said it that there was no way I'd force her.

There was a long silence before she spoke again, and when she did, it was quiet, reflective. "John, I'm a librarian, but more to the point, I'm a librarian in a university library. A library, moreover, which has all of the books expected where that university has a medical school. I read a lot, anyway, and I've been reading even more this past two weeks, reading about the mechanics of sex between male and female. Academically, I probably know everything I need to know, but emotionally? Emotionally, I'm a baby, taking its first steps.

"I think – no, not think, I know. I know that I want you to make love to me, but I need to know what it's like to touch a man in love, to have him touch me, to get used to that before I commit myself further. Do you understand?"

"I do, love, and I'll control myself, but you realise, I'm going to get an erection?"

She giggled again. "I certainly hope so! I'm looking forward to seeing it."

"Seeing?"

"Yes, John, seeing," she said, and her tone left no room for doubt. Her eyes held mine. "And touching, too," she added, her voice soft.

I gazed at her, and I could feel the smile on my lips. "Yes, please." I squeezed her fingers. "Where?"

"My bedroom." She shrugged, and I enjoyed the enticing jiggle of her breasts. She flushed, but she was laughing. She wriggled out of my embrace and stood, holding out her hand to me. I took her hand and she hauled me to my feet, and led me into her bedroom. There was a bath towel spread over her bed – a double, I noticed - and I raised my eyebrows in mute query.

She bit her lip for a moment, but didn't hesitate. "When I masturbate, I get wet. I just have the feeling that, with you here, I might get wetter. So, just in case."

"You masturbate?"

She smiled, her look innocent. "Doesn't everyone? You, for example?"

I laughed, acknowledging the truth of her comment. "I do, yes. Usually thinking about you, and imagining what it will be like to make love to you."

She blinked. "You think about me when you masturbate?"

"Every time." I laughed. "Who else?"

"Oh."

"Oh? That all you can say? Oh?"

She gestured, and I suspected I'd surprised her. "I don't know quite what to say."

I took her hand and pulled her to me, kissing her nose. "You were a complete mystery to me. A little less now," I said, and ran my hands up to cup her breasts.

She giggled, batted my hands away, and began to unfasten her skirt. "Get naked, John, I want to see you."

I watched her as I began to remove my own clothes. The skirt, and a simple pair of plain cotton panties, were all she was wearing in the warmth of a summer evening, and it was only a moment or two before she was naked. The reality of her beauty was better than the best of my imaginings. She wasn't shaved, but her pubic thatch was light, and the cleft leading to the promised land clear. She stood, waiting for me, smiling, flushing slightly as I caught her eye, but making no attempt to hide. Her eyes were all over me as I stripped off my light polo shirt, kicked off my sneakers, slid off my chinos, pulled off my socks and, holding her eyes, slid off my boxers to let my heat and increasing hardness free. Like her, I stood straight, just looking.

Lorna smiled, and stepped close, her arms going around my neck as she lifted her lips to mine, the kiss hot and eager as she pressed against me.

"You look good, John," she murmured.

"And you look much better than just good, sweetheart. You are gorgeous."

"No, I'm not, but I feel good, and I hope that makes me look good."

"It does. And you're gorgeous to me."

She moved away slightly, looking down, then raised her eyes to mine. "May I touch?"

I grinned. "Please, be my guest."

John Thomas was hard, ready, standing proud and Lorna was hesitant as her fingers curled lightly around me. I sucked in a breath at the exquisite feel of her touch, and a smile twitched her mouth.

"You're hot," she said.

"It's your touch, brings out the animal in me."
She laughed, then her smile faded. "And in me, too. I never felt like this before. John, can we lie on the bed? Sort of kiss and cuddle? Touch, and be touched?" She smiled, hesitant, a plea in her eyes. "And, John? There are no forbidden zones, except penetration, not this time. Okay?"

"Sounds good, sweetheart. Let's do it." Moments later, we were stretched out on her bed, Lorna mostly on her back, me leaning on one elbow, my hand lightly stroking circles on her belly. She moved, hitching herself down the bed a little, taking my erection in her hand again. She glanced up at me, that imp in her eyes again.

"What happens if I stroke him? Like this?" And she slid her hand up to the head of my prick, then down again, then up.

"Keep doing that, and I come." Just then her hand caught, and I winced. She jerked her hand away, an expression of horror on her face.

"John, I'm sorry! Oh god, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean - "

"Hush! Accident, love, pure accident. Got any hand cream?"

She blinked. "Hand cream?"

"Lubrication, so it won't happen again."

"Ah, yes." She grinned. "Yes, if you don't mind your lovely erection smelling of roses?"

"Sounds good to me," I said, laughing, and Lorna rolled away, standing, moving to her dresser. I took the opportunity to study the new view. Tight butt, narrow waist, a woman's hips, but slim, with pronounced sacral dimples. And surprisingly broad shoulders. She turned back with a smile, brandishing a bottle.

"Tada! Now what?"

"Put some in your palm, and get back to what you were doing!"

She grinned, squeezing a palmful from the bottle. The lotion was cool on my heat, but her hand moved easily, and I knew that the combination of her stimulus and the very fact of it, that my shy Lorna was masturbating me, would make me come sooner rather than later. She glanced up at me as she worked.

"Am I doing this right?"

"If your intention is to make me come, yes, very much so."

"You don't mind?" She was hesitant, but her hand never stopped.

I laughed. "Lorna, love, I don't think there's a heterosexual man alive on this planet who wouldn't like a beautiful, naked woman to masturbate him to climax."

She surprised me again. "Even if the alternative was oral?"

"Ah! Well, yeah, that could change the situation a little. Are you offering?"

She flushed, shaking her head. "Not this time. In the future, sometime, yes, I think so."

"Lorna, love, we have all the time in the world. Keep doing what you've been doing and I shall be one contented man."

And she did, with a shy smile for me. I wanted to take her, fling her on her back and ravish her. At least, with the caveman part of my brain I did. The rational, thinking college lecturer wanted to make love to her, and if it took time, and was on her own terms, then so be it. It wasn't hard to lie back and enjoy the slightly clumsy but thoroughly enjoyable stimulation she was giving me. Considering the firsts we were sharing I was still reeling a little, mentally. First caress of her breasts, first taste of her breasts, first time seeing her naked, and now, the first time she'd jacked me off! And all in one evening!

I was close, and I knew I couldn't last much longer. "Lorna, I'm getting close, love. It won't be long." She smiled, opened her mouth, shut it again. "Yes?" I said.

She hesitated, then said, "Can I make you ejaculate? You don't mind?" She was hesitant, anxious.

"Mind? Don't be silly, of course you can. In fact, love, please? Because if you stop now I shall be one frustrated man!"

"We can't let that happen, can we? Goodness, not letting a senior lecturer climax, absolutely shocking!" she added with a giggle, and her hand never missed a beat.

She was inexperienced, naïve, and in truth, a little awkward, but she was also beautiful, naked and eager, and I knew that it would be moments before I came, sooner rather than later, and in fact it was just moments later that I felt it begin.

"I'm coming, sweetheart, very soon now, very soo – oh, fuck! Now!" And I came. I came hard, and I came on Lorna. On her breasts, on her hand, on her belly. I expected her to be grossed out, but she was laughing, after her initial gasp of astonishment, an expression of delight on her face as my jets dwindled to a pulse, to a trickle, then to nothing.

I grimaced. "Sorry, love. Took me by surprise, too."

She smiled, loosening her grip on me. "I was sort of half-expecting it, after what I've been reading, but I didn't think it would be so – violent."

"That's the effect you have on me, woman. And I have to say, being masturbated to climax by a lovely lady who just happens to be completely naked, well, it's a fantasy realised."

"You enjoyed it?"

"Couldn't you tell?"

She laughed. "Hey, not fair! First time, remember? I wasn't sure if you were in agony or ecstasy."

"To be honest, love, it's a little of both. Did you know that the French call climax the 'little death?' La petite mort?"

"Yeah, I read that. I'm not sure I've ever felt it that strongly, but maybe it's better when someone else does it."

"Is that an invitation?"

"An inv - ?" She flushed scarlet, looking away for a moment, before her eyes came back to mine. "I'm sorry, John, I didn't realise what I was saying." She took a deep breath, and I had to strain to hear her but there was no doubt about what she said. "Yes, it is. It is an invitation, but you don't need to feel obliged."

"I don't. Feel obliged, I mean, but I do want to bring you to climax, I want to do that very much. But first?" I gestured to Lorna's body. "What say we clean up a little?"

She looked down, then grinned at me. "Yep, good idea. Stay here, I'll be right back." And she whirled away, heading for the bathroom, back in moments with a warm, damp washcloth and a towel. She handed them to me, and put her hands behind her back. "Your play."

I laughed, and began to wipe the semen from her body, letting my fingers linger that little bit longer than needed, enjoying the feel of her softness, wiping, drying, stroking, caressing, and Lorna's breathing had deepened by the time I'd finished, her cheeks hot, but there was contentment on her face, and a smile in her eyes. She sighed when I declared myself finished.

"Enjoy that?" I asked her.

"You know I did," she said, blowing a kiss to me. She sobered, smiling. "What now?" she said, innocence personified, and I marvelled at the change in her, just in the short time I'd known her.

"What do you want? "

She shrugged, making a face. "I don't know, John, I just don't know. I haven't the experience to make a choice based on knowledge."

"How about I try to make you feel as good as you just made me feel?"

"Please," she whispered.

"Let me get myself comfortable against the headboard, then you lean back against me, okay?"

"Okay."

The work of moments. I settled her into the crook of my left arm, her head on my shoulder, my hand in a comfortable position to caress her left breast. So I did, and she gave a soft, quivering moan, her hand covering mine and pressing it against her. My right hand was resting on her belly, and I just stroked her, letting my hand move imperceptibly lower. As my hand began to brush against her pubic hair, she moved her legs apart and I wondered if it was a conscious decision, or a reflex action, but I kissed her ear and whispered, "wider."

There was a moment when the world stopped, and I wondered if I was pushing too hard, but she sighed and let her legs move apart. I let my hand move down, the middle finger pressing against her slit, feeling the lips slick with her juices, feeling them part to let my finger slide in the warmth and wetness of her.

"'s nice," she murmured, "much nicer than when I do it myself."

I let my fingers move easily though her juices, but I wanted more, both for myself and for Lorna.

"Sweetheart," I whispered.

"Mmm?"

"Can I eat you?"

There was a silence, and I wondered whether I'd gone too far, but Lorna twisted in my arms so that she could see my face.

"You want to eat me? My – my pussy?"

"Yes, I do, very much."

She looked away for a moment, then her eyes came back to mine. "Yes," she whispered. "Oh, please, yes!"

"Let me up, love, and then you get yourself comfortable, on your back, so that I can kneel between your legs, okay?"

A pause. I think she was still wondering, a little, but she nodded. "Okay." We shuffled around, and she propped herself up on her pillows, sitting up a little. So that she could watch me, I think. I moved to kneel between her ankles, then eased forwards so that I could reach her pussy with my mouth.

She caught my eye, flushing as she moved her legs apart to make room for me, but this was the flush of the Lorna I knew, not that of an embarrassed woman. I knelt on the bed, between her feet, gazing at her. My eyes lifted to Lorna’s. "Beautiful, sweetheart, quite beautiful." She smiled, and blew me a kiss.

I braced myself on my arms and bent forward, breathing deeply. The aroma of sexually-ready female mixed with the lingering scent of her soap. I lifted my head again, grinning. "Not only do you look good, but you smell good, too." I went to my elbows, lifting Lorna’s legs out of the way a little more, bending forward to test the range. My tongue lapped at her and Lorna jumped, laughing. I eased back and studied her for a moment. Swollen labia, flushed with her heat, her pubic tress light, wispy.

I breathed deeply again, feeling my prick begin to start on the journey back to erection, then bent to let my tongue sweep up Lorna’s cleft from the pucker of her anus, to the hood of her clitoris. Her breath hissed in, and she moaned a little.

She was hot on my tongue, pungent, salty-sweet, exotic flavour to my palate, delicious. I licked again, savouring her, liking the taste, excited by knowing it was her first time for this. I let my tongue run along the fold between labia and thigh, up one side, down the other, then back up through her core, pushing my tongue into her, feeling her wet on my tongue. I bit gently with my lips at her labia, her clitoris, let my teeth pull gently at the hair on her mons, then down again.

I tried to vary my rhythm, hearing her gasping and moaning, her breathing quickening, and her fingers in my hair now, stroking, tightening, loosening again, spasmodic, matching my flickering tongue as it moved over her core. She was almost panting now as the excitement rose in her. Matching her excitement, I brought my knees forward, lifting myself, giving my ever-harder prick room to grow.

Lorna gasped again as my tongue swept over her clitoris, and her fingers tightened in my hair as I nibbled at her with my lips. She was panting now as my mouth moved over her.

Lorna moaned again. "I’m close, John," she said, "I’m very close. You’re going to make me come, John. Soon, very soon." Another gasp as my tongue flicked her clit and then I took her delicately between my teeth. Lorna strangled a scream, her fingers tightened in my hair, and she came, her belly rippling, her pussy clutching at my tongue, sensation rocking her. as she slowed, my tongue flicking over her again, triggering another spasm, then again, until Lorna pushed weakly at me.

I lifted my head, smiling at her. Her face was flushed, sweat beading her brow in the summer evening warmth. Her smile was brilliant as she nodded.

"Definitely," she said, her breath a gasp. "Definitely, much better when someone else does it, John, absolutely."

"I think you enjoyed that," I said, holding her eyes. No trace of any embarrassed flush on her face, she nodded.

"I did, very much. Come up here and kiss me."

She eased herself to one side as I moved from between her legs, raising her lips to mine as I settled beside her. The kiss was long, hot, no hesitation in her as she tasted herself on my lips. She broke the kiss and snuggled down beside me, drawing my arm around her.

"John?"

"Yes, love?"

"It's a holiday weekend the week after next. The library's closed Sunday and Monday, and I've arranged to take the Saturday off, too."

"And?"

She lifted her head so that she could see my face. "Can we go to the cottage for the weekend?" She smiled. "And yes, I know what I'm implying, John. I'm asking you to make love to me, deflower me, take my virginity, pop my cherry, whatever other expression is apt."

"If you're certain, love, then yes. Yes, please." I was almost shocked by how pleased I was, and it wasn't just the thought of her losing her virginity to me; I wanted to make her feel really good.

"Can we go on the Friday? Then we'll have Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night." Lorna arched her brows, waiting.

I laughed. "You're that eager? Why not now, tonight?"

She smiled, soft, sweet, shaking her head. "No, tonight was for touching, to let me learn if I wanted your touch, whether I would want it again. Well, I did, and I do, as often as possible. But I want the anticipation, too. I want it to be a special occasion, one we're both looking forward to. Tonight? Well, tonight, when you arrived, I was scared, scared I'd chicken out and never learn how good it is. But I didn't, and it was better than I ever thought it would be. I love having you touch me, I love touching you, I loved you eating me." She laughed, happy. "Intercourse is the logical next step, isn't it?"

"Yes, love, it is," I said, grinning at her, "but only if you're sure. I'll never force you, and I want you to know that."

"I do," she said, stretching up to kiss me. "I'm impatient, too, but, John, I'm twenty-seven, twenty-eight soon, and I'm still virgin. I've waited this long, I think I can wait another two weeks." She snuggled against me. "I'm going to ask you to go home tonight, and I'm working late nights this coming week, so I won't see you until next Saturday at the earliest, but for now, let's just enjoy being naked together."

I laughed. "You'll get no argument from me, sweetheart." But I'll have to masturbate when I get home, before I'll be able to sleep.


The Friday that we were both looking forward to took forever to arrive, but eventually the world turned, the moon waned and began to wax, time passed, my summer students were as good – or bad – as ever, and the Friday came. The weather forecast was mixed, but still warm. I didn't think we should chance being soaked in the Caterham, so I picked Lorna up in the Citroen. Another indulgence, an old DS, but well preserved.

She was ready, told me to wait, and came straight out carrying a holdall. She brandished it. "Change of clothes. No nightie." There was a touch of colour in her cheeks, but the familiar Lorna flush was absent.

"It would just get in the way," I said, my face solemn, fighting a grin. Lorna giggled.

"Yes," she said, holding my eye. "It would."

"We'll stop off at the 'George' for a meal. I phoned Charlie and booked a table for seven.

"Oh, good. I like Charlie, and Jenny is a sweetie."

I laughed. "And the food?"

She grinned. "Very good, but the day I met Charlie and Jenny is the day that you let me cry, the day I started to heal. I won't tell them, but they were part of that healing, when I realised that family could be nice people."

I gazed at her for a long moment, and her smile faded. I shook my head, smiling. "I hadn't realised it was so profound."

Her face was solemn as she nodded. "That day will be on my soul as a good day for ever, John, because that was the day I began to realise I love you."

I was startled. "Love me?"

She nodded. "Love you. I ask for nothing in return, John, save a little affection, perhaps."

I reached out and took her hand, squeezing her fingers. "More than a little, Lorna Jens. More than a little."

She gave me a wry look. "This is getting heavy. Can we go? Eat, maybe?"

I laughed. "Yes, love, we can. Tallyho!"

We got the same table again at the 'George', the window seat, overlooking the river. It was Jenny who showed us to our table, kissing my cheek, smiling at Lorna. "Hi, Doc. Hi, Lorna, good to see you again. Doc looking after you okay?"

Lorna smiled. "Definitely, Jenny. Life good for you, too?"

Jenny grinned. "Not bad. Not bad at all. Drinks, nice people?"

"Lorna?"

"Mineral water, I think."

"Make that two, please, Jenny."

"On their way. I'll be back for your order in a minute or two."

We never actually discussed it, but we both chose something light to eat, something easily digested, something that wouldn't get in the way of sex. Sex that we hadn't discussed, sex that would be a first for Lorna, sex that I was scared I would spoil, but I was determined that tonight was for Lorna first, Lorna second, and me somewhere as an also-ran. The also-ran with the penis, true, but the moment was for Lorna.

When I pulled up outside the cottage, Lorna put her hand on my arm to stop me getting out. I raised my brows in query, and she smiled, shaking her head.

"John, when we get indoors, can we just sit for a while, maybe chat, maybe listen to music."

"Of course we can. Did you think I was going to drag you to the bedroom, rip off your clothes, and ravish you?"

She laughed. "Mmm. Might be fun."

I shook my head, and I could feel the wry look on my face.

"What?" she said.

"Just thinking of the Lorna I first asked to have dinner with me, that day in the library. Are you sure you're not her clone, that you haven't got her locked up in a dungeon somewhere?"

She laughed, a gurgle that made my prick twitch. She nodded vigorously. "Yes, that's it! I'm unmasked. The wicked witch of the west has been found out. Poor Lorna is imprisoned, hidden away from light and warmth, doomed to suffer for eternity!"

"Ah. So long?"

"Well, until you undress me later."

"I'm going to undress you, am I?"

"Isn't it usual, when a cad is about to seduce a fair maiden?" Her look was innocence itself, squared.

"You make a good point, Miss Jens."

"Thank you, Doctor Ridley."

"Come on, love, let's get the cad and the fair maiden indoors, so they can get started."

She smiled, but didn't say any more, and I unlocked the door and ushered her into the cottage. There was still a lot of light in the sky, and it was a warm evening, but I closed the curtains and switched on a couple of table lamps.

"I'll just take the bags up to the bedroom, Lorna. Won't be a moment."

"I'll put some music on."

When I got back down, Lorna was sitting on the couch, long legs stretched out, and an Alison Krauss CD was playing low. I sat down beside Lorna and she lifted my arm around her neck and leaned against me, stretching up to kiss my cheek. She glanced at her watch.

"Nine-thirty now. I nominate ten as our bed-time, okay?"

"Fine by me, love. You call the shots tonight. Tomorrow? Well, let's see how tonight goes first."

"John?"

"Yes?"

"Am I being too clinical? Setting a time, I mean?"

"Possibly, love, very possibly, but remember, you've come a long way in a relatively short time, emotionally." I squeezed her fingers. "No way do I want to rush you. I want you to remember tonight with pleasure."

Lorna laughed. "In that case, let's go now!"

"Sure?" I said, startled. And nervous, too, I think.

"Positive!" She gave me a wry smile. "John, I'm wet, I'm scared and I have to know!" Her voice was almost a wail.

I stood and tugged her to her feet, giving her a quick kiss. Her response was immediate, heated. I took her hand and led her up to the bedroom.

The curtains were closed, not that anyone could see in – open woodland to the back of the cottage – but I'd closed them when I brought the bags up, not wanting Lorna to be any more nervous than I knew she was. In the bedroom she turned to me and gave me a crooked smile.

"Undress me?" she said, a tremble in her voice.

I smiled, trying not to show the anticipation I felt. "That, love, will be a pleasure." I drew her gently into my arms and kissed her, friend rather than lover, for the moment, then took the hem of her t-shirt and began to lift it. She raised her arms, and I lifted it off over her head, discarding it on the chair. Her skirt had a button and zip at the back, and she turned without my asking so that I could reach the fastening. In moments, her skirt had joined her t-shirt.

Her bra was pretty, a floral print, with matching panties. A front fastening, too, and in moments her lovely breasts were revealed to me in their glory, her nipples erect, hard. I bent and kissed each one. She shuddered when I let her feel my teeth.

"My panties, John, my panties!" she gasped. "Hurry! Please, hurry."

I didn't try to stretch the moment, but knelt and pulled her panties down, the aroma of sexually-ready woman strong in my nose, stimulating. I leaned forward and ran my tongue up her cleft. She shuddered again, her fingers tightening in my hair. I kissed her mons, and then stood. She stepped out of her panties and I lifted her up, laying her on the bed.

"Get 'em off, Doc," she growled, and I laughed.

"Jenny's a bad influence on you, I think."

"Rubbish. Jenny's lovely. How could she possibly be a bad influence on me?"

I nodded. "You're right, of course. No two ways about it, Lorna Jens, you're an original."

She smiled. "I am?"

"Yep." I quickly stripped off my clothes, then moved across to the bed, sitting, lowering myself beside her, bending to kiss her.

"Lorna, love. Do I need anything?"

"Need?" She frowned.

"Condom?"

Her face cleared and she smiled. "No, I'm on the pill now." She laughed. "You have no idea how hard it was for me not to let you make love to me that night in my bedroom, but I wasn't ready, not then. I wanted you to have me without restriction, and I hadn't been on it long enough, not then."

"Now?"

She smiled again, a smile of pure invitation. "Now, love, I'm ready. Now, I want you to make love to me. Now? Now, I want to feel you inside me, as deep as you can. I know it will hurt, but I know, too, that the hurt will pass."

I let my hand stroke over her belly, and I could feel the tremble deep within her. I ran my hand up, cupping her breast, stroking her nipple with my thumb, then ran the hand down, across her belly, through the sparse fur on her mons, then let my middle finger slide down into her cleft, into the heat, the wetness, feeling her shudder as my questing finger slid across her clitoris. She moaned, deep in her throat.

"John," she whispered. "I want to eat you, suck you off."

Startled, I stared at her, and she flushed, but nothing like she had when we first met. No, it was just her natural reaction to my surprise. I took her hand and squeezed her fingers.

"Are you sure, love? No compulsion."

She smiled, almost a grimace. "How excited are you?"

I glanced down at my erection, then back at her. Her brows arched in query, and I laughed. "Very."

She nodded. "I thought you might be." She sat up, and wriggled onto her knees. "You lie back here, and let me kneel between your legs, and let's find out if my research in the library actually makes me any good at this." She gave me a wry grin. "It is my first time, after all."

"Sweetheart, the very fact that it's you doing it, to me, will guarantee success."

She laughed, but I think there was a little hysteria in it. She bent forward, kissing me, soft, sweet, long, and my prick was like a bar of steel when she broke the kiss. She gazed at it, then cocked her head.

"It's big, John."

"You think so?"

"Biggest I've seen," she said, her tone dry.

I laughed. "How many have you seen?"

She laughed. "Okay, you got me there. It's the first I've ever seen in the flesh." She giggled. "Although I have to say, the restricted section of the library has some interesting books."

"I'll bet they do. Research?"

She grinned. "Of course," she said, and reached out to touch my prick. I closed my eyes at the feel of her fingers on me. She wriggled a little closer, leaning on her elbows. I could feel her breath, warm on my prick. She extended her tongue, pink and pointed, like a cat, and ran it slowly up the length of me. I couldn't help it, reflex action made it twitch and Lorna giggled. "I think it likes me."

"I'm sure it does," I said, my voice hoarse.

Lorna hitched herself a little closer and I felt her soft lips close over the end of my raging erection, sliding down an inch or two, down over the glans, and then slowly back up again. Exquisite torture, every nerve ending responding to her stimulus, her pointed little tongue exploring my every molecule. I shuddered as her lips dragged back over the sensitive edge of the glans and her head came up, her face concerned.

I shook my head. "It's okay, love, just a little sensitive. When I come - which I don't think will be long, the state you've got me in - when I come it's almost agony to touch it."

"I need to be careful, then, don't I?"

"Please, love, but you're doing great so far, so more of the same, if you don't mind."

"Ooh, yes,please." Her lips closed over me again and down went her head. Her hair had fallen forward and I couldn't see her face, but her head kept moving and I could feel that slow bone-deep almost-ache that is the build-up to climax. Her pace was steady, almost slow, and I knew that if I'd been masturbating my hand would have been moving faster, but my hand was a poor substitute for the wet cavern of pleasure that her mouth was.

I ran my fingers through her hair as she moved, and over her head I could see her bottom, see her buttocks clenching, realising she was exciting herself, even as she took me to paradise! Maybe it was that, maybe it was the fact that this girl, this woman, shy, unsure, this girl I'd known only for a month or so, was turning out to be the sexiest thing that had ever happened to me, but I was getting close. Really close. Lorna needed to know!

"Lorna, love, I'm nearly there, I'm really close. You don't have to swallow, finish me off with your fingers if you like."

She didn't reply, didn't lift her head, just kept weaving her magic on me. I could feel that breathless tension that comes just before climax and I knew it would only be moments.

"Lorna, I'm gonna come, lover, I'm going to - " Suddenly I was there. My prick leaped in her mouth and I shot a great gout of semen down her throat. " - come," I managed to say, my voice hoarse and weak, but by then she knew, as a second pulse hit her. She eased back, never letting me slip from her mouth, swallowing, her mouth working on me, her tongue lapping, her magic easing me into post-ejaculation bliss. As my prick softened, she licked round the head and let me slip from her lips with a soft 'pop.'

She smiled at me, her eyes warm. "I want to do that again. Sometime soon," she declared.

"No argument from me, sweetheart. The decision is unanimous. In fact there's only one thing that I can think of that could possibly be better."

"Putting your prick into my pussy, perhaps?"

"Got it in one, Lorna. I knew you were smart."

"Of course I am. That's why I work in a library."

"Ha, ha. Okay, smarty-pants. Although, perhaps that should be smarty-no-pants," I said, grinning at her dishevelled nakedness. She stuck out her tongue and crossed her eyes. I laughed, then held her eyes with mine.

"Wanna be eaten, love?"

Lorna eased herself onto hands and knees and stalked her way up me, kissing me, letting me taste myself.

"Yes, please," she whispered. She collapsed half across me, her arm across my chest. I held her there. She felt so right in my arms, I wondered how in all of the hells of earth I had had the absolute, stupid, dumb luck to see the metamorphosis of a shy, unsure librarian into the exciting, sexy, desirable, magical woman that she was. To see? Heck, to be part of it!

"On your back, Miss Jens," I said, stroking her back as she lay half across me. She stretched up and kissed me, and dutifully rolled onto her back beside me, her arms above her head. I bent and kissed her, then ran my tongue down her throat and along her collar-bone. I swear she purred. I kissed down the slope of her breast, tiny kisses, moving slowly closer to her nipple until I let my teeth close gently on her nubbin. She shuddered, and I converted the almost-bite into a kiss. Her fingers were in my hair, and she pushed at me, urging me to move down. I kissed her other nipple, suckling, then let my tongue trail down the slope, over her chest, her belly, probing lightly at her navel as I passed, making her giggle.

I had to shuffle now, moving down so that I could reach her pussy, and as I moved she let her legs fall apart, revealing herself to me. I glanced up at her face and she flushed, then blew me a kiss. I could smell her, that rich aroma of super-heated, sensual woman, overlaid with the fresh smell of her soap. I leaned in and breathed deeply. I glanced up at her and she giggled. She was alert, eager to feel my tongue on her, and I stretched out and licked slowly up the whole length of her cleft, lightly flicking her clitoris as I withdrew my tongue. She giggled, then moaned, her fingers ruffling my hair.

"I like it, John," she whispered. "Do it again."

Well, what does a guy do with an invitation like that? Accept it, that's what. Invited back to taste paradise, I went. She was hot, pungent, spicy-salty-sweet on my tongue, that wonderful flavour of sexually-charged woman. I let my tongue move slower up her cleft this time, rewarded by a low, soft moan and a tremor in her belly. I pointed my tongue and speared it into her, hearing her gasp and feeling her fingers tighten in my hair.

"Yes, John," she moaned, "yes, please, yes, keep doing it."

With her words in my ears I applied myself to my enjoyable task. I don't have a lot of experience of pussy-eating, but I enjoy it. I like the heat, I like the smell, and I like the taste, so I gave Lorna my best shot, licking enthusiastically at her pussy. I think she was enjoying it, judging by the sighs and moans and gasps I was hearing, but her thighs were coming up around my ears as she opened herself to me, her heels resting on my back.

I licked at her labia, letting my tongue make love to her, sliding it through her salty-sweet juices, hot and spicy, licking the cleft between pussy and thigh, then back to her labia, biting with my lips, nibbling softly, trying to excite, but careful not to hurt. She was almost panting now, her fingers tightening in my hair as I let my mouth roam over the intimacies of her, sucking on her clit, nibbling her labia, laving her slit with my tongue.

She was gasping now, a soft moaning, wordless, excited, and I flattened my tongue and ran it the length of her, from anus to clit, then took her clit between my teeth and let her feel them.

She came. Oh, man, she came. A strangled half-scream and her thighs tightened on my ears, her belly rippled, her fingers clenched in my hair, and she came, her pussy pulsing, grasping at the penis that wasn't there. Gradually she quieted, and I flicked my tongue over her clit again, triggering a fresh spasm. And again, until she pushed me away with a murmured, "No more, sweetheart, please, I can't take it."

I eased back and looked up at her, face flushed, chest still heaving as she fought for breath, nipples erect. She looked down at me and smiled, warm, loving.

"That was even better than in my flat," she said, her voice soft.

"You taste nice," I said, and she smiled.

"So do you," she said. She blew me a kiss and her eyes drifted down. My gaze followed hers, my rock-hard prick our focus. Her eyes came back to mine. "Now, John." She lay back again, her legs still spread, her cleft wet, red, slightly open, ready for me.

I took a deep breath and blew her a kiss. My heart was pounding and my prick was as hard as I have ever felt it. I went onto my knees and moved forward to kiss her, then eased back, weight on one arm, my hand on my erection, ready to guide it into her. Lorna reached down and touched my hand.

"Let me," she whispered. Her fingers were cool on my heat as I eased myself forward, heart pounding, weight on my elbows. The first touch of her pussy on my prick was electric. Hot, wet, inviting, and I eased myself forward, feeling her body opening to me, yielding, the hot, wet cling of pussy on prick. She took her hand away, stretching up to kiss me. I grinned and pushed into her, feeling the sudden obstruction of her hymen at her entrance.

She gasped and winced, but smiled at me, making a little face, as I looked up, concerned. I pulled back slightly, getting her lubrication spread on my prick, then eased in again, stopping as I heard her gasp of discomfort.

"Push," she whispered and I began to move again. Back, forward, back, forward, a gentle oscillation, her hands warm on my shoulders, until suddenly I thrust forward hard, feeling the obstruction disappear even as I heard her cry in my ears. I stopped, deep in her, her fingers clawed into my shoulders, grip slowly easing.

"Wait a moment, John," she said, her voice tight, "just until I get used to you." She chuckled. "You feel huge."

"And you feel tight, lovely and snug." I was still getting used to the feel of my prick inside her, inside the tight, wet heat of her core. It was a feeling I wanted to repeat, often, but first, Lorna and I had some unfinished business.

"Okay, John," she said, "but gently, please."

I began to move again, easing back, easing forward, back, forward, spreading her juices, gradually easing myself into her until she was taking my full length, her pussy hot, tight, wet, my movements audible. I could smell her, too, pungent, inviting, woman. My strokes deepened until I was using my full length, withdrawing until I almost left her, then pressing deep inside her again. Her hands were on my shoulders, caressing, and her knees came up, her heels against my hips. I looked down at her, seeing the fine sheen of sweat on her face in the warm summer evening, feeling too the gradual build-up of moisture between us as I moved. I kissed her nose and she smiled up at me, kissing me back.

"It's wonderful, John," she murmured.

"Better than I ever dreamed it could be with you," I said, "and I want to do it as often as possible."

"With me?" she said.

I grinned down at her, nodding. "With you, sweetheart, definitely with you."

"Good," she said, deep satisfaction in her tone. I'd never ceased moving and I could feel the beginnings of the slow climb towards climax. Lorna's breathing was deepening as I moved, adjusting its rhythm to my thrusts, her pussy moulding to my prick as I moved, snug, tight, warm and wet around my hardness.

Despite Lorna having sucked me off so recently, I knew it couldn't be long before I was ready to come again, the feeling was building. Lorna's breathing quickened, matching my urgency and we climbed together towards climax, my breathing as harsh as hers, both of us sweating now in the warm summer evening, sweat between us where our bellies touched, slick, wet, almost as wet as Lorna's pussy, the movement of my prick in her juices almost loud.

Lorna was panting in my ear, a chant, almost gasped on each breath, "fuck me, fuck me, fuck me," over and over. Her hands were moving aimlessly across my back and shoulders, her eyes flickering across my face, unfocussed, lost in sensation. Without volition, my pace increased, and I could feel myself getting closer and closer to the edge, closer, ever closer, my throat tightening, deep within me that incredible soul-deep sensation that comes just before climax.

"I'm gonna come, Lorna," I gasped, "soon, very soon, sweetheart." Lorna shuddered and clutched at me, and I could feel the beginning of a spasm in her pussy. That was all it took to push me over the edge, the thought that my own climax was acting to trigger hers. With a groan, I went over the edge, my hips jerking in reflex, thrusting deep into Lorna's grasping depths, her pussy clutching at me in reflexive spasms, as she followed me over the precipice, a tight moan, almost a scream, strangled in her throat as she came.

I came in four or five hard thrusts, slowing, reflex keeping my hips going to spill my seed deep within her, while her pussy did its own best to milk me dry. Gradually, we slowed, panting, fighting for oxygen, the sensations dwindling slowly, slowly, until at last I could breathe almost normally, my prick shrinking a little in Lorna's hot depths, her breath hot on my face, her hands holding me tightly to her.

Concerned, I eased myself back, weight on knees and elbows, the two of us still joined. Lorna stared up at me, her eyes focussed again. Slowly, like the sun coming out after a storm, a smile spread itself across her face.

"Wow," she said. "I want to do that again!" She stretched up to kiss me, intending just a peck, I think, but the moment took us and the kiss burned us, a promise, a declaration.

Lorna broke the kiss and stared into my eyes. "I love you," she said, her voice quiet, her face almost solemn.

"And I love you," I said, surprising myself but realising as I said it that I meant it, meant it as much as or more than anything I had ever said to her before. She smiled, soft, loving, and kissed me again.

"That was even better than I ever dared to hope, John."

"That makes two of us, sweetheart. That was pretty wonderful for me, too."

"I'm glad you were my first. Very, very, glad."

I kissed her nose. "Glad to serve, ma'am."

"Serve and service." Lorna giggled. "I can feel you getting smaller."

"Should I pull out?"

"Stay with me until you fall out, John, then we'll have a shower together. What time is it?"

"Almost ten thirty," I said. An hour gone, just like that.

"Will you be able to do it again?" Lorna asked.

"If I possibly can, I will," I said. I laughed.

"What?"

"When I masturbate, I can usually go again within twenty minutes or so, just like between your blowing me and me coming then. I never tried for thirds before."

Lorna grinned. "You were never making love to me before."

I looked down at her. "Was it good for you, sweetheart?"

Her grin faded. "You need to ask?" she said, solemn. "Couldn't you tell?"

"I hurt you," I said.

"Nicest hurt ever." She smiled, soft, sweet. "You can kiss it better after the shower."

I laughed. "Deal!"

"Oh! You're slipping out," she said, just as I did. I heaved myself back onto my heels and looked down. My prick glistened from our juices, coloured by the red streaks of Lorna's virgin blood. I glanced up at her and she caught my eye and smiled again, gesturing. "Proof," she said.

"I never doubted you," I protested.

"I know. Just teasing. Shower?"

I stood and took her hand, hauling her to her feet and we made our way into the bathroom. The shower cubicle was just big enough for us both and as soon as the water was warm enough, we stepped in. We spent some giggling time in there, soaping each other, goosing each other, kissing, stroking, learning. Eventually, I turned off the shower and we got out, drying ourselves on big, fluffy towels. Dry, Lorna took my hand and led me back to bed.

She lay down and pulled me down beside her, her lips reaching for mine. The kiss was a promise, a promise from each of us for the other. Gently, she broke the kiss, gazing into my eyes, her lovely face solemn.

"John?"

"Yes, sweetheart?"

"How soon can we do it again?" Her face was solemn, yes, but there was an imp lurking in her eyes.

"Everything?"

"I'd be happy with just the penis in the pussy bit, this time."

My prick twitched - strongly - as my brain reacted. I laughed, happy. "Be right with you, Lorna, hon. Won't be but a moment."

We snuggled together and I wondered which gods I'd pleased for this wonderful woman to have become my lover. Shy, awkward, almost clumsy, inexperienced, eager, wonderful. Mine. I sighed, and Lorna frowned. I shook my head.

"Happy, sweetheart, happy. That was a sigh of content, not discontent."

She sighed in her turn. "Good," she murmured, snuggling against me. "Very good." I could hardly hear her.

"Yes," I murmured, "it is." No response. I glanced across. Lorna was asleep. I chuckled to myself and eased the sheet over us.

"Sleep well, my love," I murmured. "Sleep well."



* * * * *

That's the end, folks, for those of you that made it this far! If you enjoyed it, I'd love to hear from you. If you didn't enjoy it, I'd still love to hear from you, as constructive criticism can only help me improve

Alex



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