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Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

A Bondage Primer

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A Bondage Primer

Day 12

Saturday, October 25

McKenzie pushed through the door on the bookstore side of Barron's Bookstore, Café & Pub and looked around. Over the past few months, she'd learned that Ryan could be working on either side, but McKenzie hadn't seen her behind the counter in the café area as she walked past the windows, so she'd decided to check the bookstore first.

She hadn't been to Barron's in over two weeks. Between seeing Ryan regularly for her training sessions or intentionally avoiding the woman while undergoing punishment, she hadn't even considered going to the bookstore unannounced. Having Ryan invite her specifically to stop by and see her while she was at work had warmed McKenzie to the core.

McKenzie slung her backpack higher on her shoulder and headed deeper inside, slipping between the many aisles of books. She finally found Ryan in the back, shelving new books from an open box on the floor.

McKenzie just watched her for a moment.

Ryan's jet black hair was pulled back into a ponytail, though the thin braid she'd worn the night before was loose and fell across the side of her face as she bent over to pull a book from the box and then turned back to the shelf.

Ryan was wearing a form-fitting black T-shirt with the store's logo emblazoned on the front and back. It must have been at least two sizes too small and the bottom hem had crept up a little more each time she'd reached up to a higher shelf, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of rock hard abs. Her low-slung tight black jeans showed off the tops of Ryan's hip bones and McKenzie couldn't help thinking about what perfect handholds they'd make if she were kneeling in front of Ryan, licking her pussy, with those jeans down around her ankles.

McKenzie squeezed her eyes shut, trying to get the image out of her head. After a few moments, she decided it was a lost cause and headed over to the woman.

"Hey," McKenzie said as she came to a stop in front of Ryan.

Ryan looked up and smiled.

"Hey, you made it."

"Yeah, sorry. The study session ran a little long. I finally just had to leave, since they weren't really working anymore. I swear, they gossip like a bunch of old biddies at bingo. I know more about people I've never even met than I do about most of them."

Ryan laughed and shook her head.

"Well, maybe you can make up for it while you're here. I can get you set up with a table if you want," Ryan said as she placed the last book on the shelf and picked up the empty box.

"That sounds great."

Ryan took a moment to ditch the box in the storage area and then led McKenzie back through the stacks until they were on the café side. She showed McKenzie to a table and then left her to make McKenzie's favorite coffee milkshake while McKenzie pulled out her laptop and notebooks.

By the time McKenzie was settled in, Ryan returned with her drink and the check.

"Thanks," McKenzie said as she intercepted the tall cup before Ryan could set it down and took a grateful pull on the straw. "Oh yeah. That hits the spot."

"We aim to please," Ryan grinned and then glanced around. "Um, my break's not for another couple hours, so—"

"Oh no, that's okay. I've got stuff I need to work on, too. I just..." ...wanted to be near you. God, that sounds pathetic.

Ryan smiled, appearing shy for a moment.

"I'm really glad you're here," Ryan said quietly.

"Me, too."

Ryan nodded and then left to get back to work before anyone could question why she was spending more time than necessary with one of the customers.

McKenzie watched her go and then turned back to face her laptop.

"Work. Right. Let's get to it then."

It wasn't as hard to concentrate as McKenzie had expected, especially once she decided to ditch the art history material in favor of working on several sketches for her digital art class. She loved the new tablet her parents had gotten her for the class, though she was still learning all the new brushes, paper settings, and tools that had come with it. For now, she stuck with what she knew and was soon lost in the act of creation. Over an hour passed before she looked up again.

Ryan was still gone. So was McKenzie's milkshake. She considered ordering another one, but decided against it. Her exercise routine could only handle so much and then she'd be in danger of becoming the chubby kid she'd only recently grown out of. Not that she was vain, not really, but she wanted to look her best for Ryan.

Given Ryan's exercise regimen, which McKenzie had only gotten to see once a couple months ago, McKenzie had already increased her own workout intensity to try to keep up with the older woman.

She'd gone over to Ryan's with the excuse that Karen needed help with a new program on her computer. Ryan had said she'd be glad to help out just as soon as she was finished with her workout, and then had offered for McKenzie to hang out while she waited if she wanted. McKenzie had sat at Ryan's desk and simply watched while Ryan went through one of the most intense workouts McKenzie had ever seen.

In the corner of Ryan's apartment stood a vertical knee raise/dip station McKenzie had only ever seen bulky body builders use at her father's gym. McKenzie had never tried it herself for that reason, which had only been reinforced when her friends in high school had warned her that weightlifting would add unsightly muscles to her feminine form. Even the dietician her parents had hired for McKenzie's slight weight problem had been unable to convince her to try it after explaining that building muscle would help her burn more fat. She'd always stuck with the cardio machines instead.

But Ryan didn't shy away from using her muscles at all and she wasn't bulky, just incredibly well-defined. Sweat had poured off her as she'd lifted her legs straight up, almost touching her toes to the ceiling where she hung against the padded backrest. When she'd performed the tricep dips, McKenzie had been mesmerized by Ryan's arms as they pumped her body upwards again and again.

Ryan had even done one-armed chin-ups, though now that McKenzie thought about it, she wondered if Ryan had just been showing off at that point. She'd certainly grunted with a lot of effort to pull those off. Same with the one-armed push-ups.

McKenzie had enjoyed the upside-down crunches the most, though. Ryan's cut-off half shirt had flipped up, revealing her flexing abs and tight sports bra. Along with the skintight bike shorts, it had almost been like getting to see the woman naked.

McKenzie blushed. Now that she knew what Ryan looked like naked, there was no comparison.

The woman's a fucking goddess. She smiled as another thought came to her. And I get to worship her.

McKenzie went back to her tablet and opened up her personal projects folder. None of the files in the directory were for class, but that hadn't stopped her from spending an inordinate amount of time on them.

Most of them had been sparked by a single assignment she'd received early on from Professor Diaz, her digital art teacher, to 'capture emotions.' She'd turned in other less personal sketches to satisfy the assignment, which the woman had critiqued rather harshly.

"How much time did you spend on these? I know you're better than this. You know you're better than this. Your heart clearly wasn't in a single one of these."

McKenzie had stutteringly admitted she'd spent more time on a different set of drawings, but that she didn't have permission from the subject to use them.

Professor Diaz had said she wanted to see them anyway, even if they didn't count, so McKenzie had reluctantly pulled the files up on the tablet. Each black and white pencil-style sketch, done in photo-realistic quality, had shown a different expression McKenzie had seen on Ryan's face at one time or another.

One held a knowing smirk, the matching glint in Ryan's eyes making the viewer wonder about the private joke she must have been thinking about to cause that look. Another showed Ryan smiling full out, just on the verge of throwing her head back in joyous laughter. There were others, but the last one was McKenzie's favorite. Ryan was looking straight at the viewer, her expression almost unreadable, leaving the viewer to come to their own conclusions. That was the one McKenzie had put on her cell phone as Ryan's caller ID.

Professor Diaz had stared at each one for a long time. Finally, she'd turned to McKenzie.

"There's your heart."

And McKenzie had only been able to nod in agreement.

McKenzie had been shocked when she'd received a grade that had clearly taken into account the sketches of Ryan rather than the ones she'd turned in. She'd made sure to put more effort into the work she handed in after that, though she still refused to use Ryan's likeness for any of her assignments.

She didn't really think Ryan would have minded, but she would've had to ask, and then she would've had to show Ryan the drawings in question, and McKenzie hadn't been ready to do that just yet.

Even now, she felt nervous just thinking about letting Ryan see them, especially considering the turn her most recent work had taken. At the time, she'd mostly been worried about revealing the true severity of her little crush, since she'd been pretty sure Ryan wasn't interested. Now, though...

McKenzie's stylus hovered over the filename of her latest personal project, but she didn't open it. The file contained a nude drawing of Ryan reclining against the head of her bed, one hand on her breast, the other between her legs, an expression of pleasurable agony contorting her features.

While those first images had been innocent enough, she had no idea how Ryan would feel if she found out what McKenzie had been doing with her very private knowledge of Ryan's very private moments.

McKenzie looked around at the very public café. She'd password-protected the file and given it an innocuous title, but once she opened it, the image would be visible to anyone who happened to look over her shoulder.

Unless she got one of those screen covers. She'd been meaning to get some for both her tablet and laptop.

McKenzie packed up her stuff and paid her bill, shoving a tip into the covered jar on the counter, and then headed over to the bookstore. She found the protective screens in the right sizes, along with a refill insert for her leather-bound sketch book.

She went back to the café and bought a bottle of water. Her table had been taken, so she claimed a new one, this time in the corner. She shook her head as she realized with her back to the wall, there was no chance of anyone getting a look at what she was doing. She applied the protective screens to her devices anyway and then opened the special file.

The drawing was almost done. It mostly just needed shading and a few final details.

McKenzie was in the middle of tracing her stylus along the outer edge of Ryan's left nipple when she felt a shadow tower over her.

"Hey, you moved," Ryan said as she dropped into the chair opposite McKenzie and set down her food. "That looks intense. Whatcha workin' on?"

McKenzie blushed so hard she felt a bead of sweat form on her upper lip.

"Uh..."

Ryan frowned and focused on unwrapping her sandwich.

"Sorry. You don't have to tell me. I know your art's personal."

McKenzie winced.

"I... I'm sorry. You just kinda caught me by surprise."

Ryan nodded in understanding while she chewed, still not looking at McKenzie.

McKenzie swallowed and bit her lip.

"I've been wanting to show you... these. I just... I'm not sure..."

"Not sure about what? You don't think I'm going to laugh at you or something, do you? I wouldn't do that."

"No, I know. It's just..." McKenzie stopped, but Ryan just waited. "They're drawings of you."

Ryan paused, then swallowed very deliberately. She took a sip of her water.

"Drawings of me."

"Yeah."

Ryan felt an uncharacteristic blush creep up her neck, making her ears hot.

"Can I see?"

McKenzie opened up the older files, placing them in a slideshow so that her most recent piece was last. It was the only nude, thankfully. At least it wouldn't look like McKenzie was only obsessed with Ryan's body.

No, I'm just obsessed with all of her. Shit.

McKenzie handed over the tablet.

Ryan wiped her hands on a napkin and took the device. The screen didn't appear until it was facing directly towards her and she realized it had a privacy screen on it. Her eyebrows raised at that, but then she was staring at the drawing. It was a simple sketch of her conked out in the recliner in Karen's den.

Ryan swiped the screen and the image shifted to the left, replaced by the next one in the list. Ryan's gaze flicked to the side, automatically comparing her right hand to the carefully detailed sketch of the appendage on the screen.

Several more swipes and she saw herself in various emotional moments.

Another swipe, this one in color. A close-up of her eyes, the distinct, and quite accurate, shades of blue blended perfectly.

When was she close enough to see my eyes that clearly?

Ryan suddenly remembered a moment, just a few weeks ago, when McKenzie had accidentally dropped a plate while they were all in the kitchen cleaning up after a friendly dinner with Karen. They'd both bent down to pick it up, McKenzie saying something about being glad it was plastic, and then their eyes had met and McKenzie had trailed off, staring for several long moments before turning to put the plate in the dishwasher.

Ryan swiped again and almost dropped the tablet. She didn't dare look up at McKenzie, though from her peripheral vision she knew the girl was biting her lip in nervousness.

Ryan reverse-pinched the screen to zoom in on her face.

So that's what that looks like.

She'd never seen herself at the height of orgasm. She wondered if it was narcissistic to find the image arousing or simply a testament to McKenzie's skill at conveying such a perfect moment of bliss.

"I wish I could draw," Ryan said quietly, finally looking up at McKenzie over the screen. "We'd have a matching set."

McKenzie looked at her, a mix of surprise and disbelief fighting for dominance on her features as Ryan gave the tablet back to her.

"You're not mad? Or upset? Or..."

Ryan smiled.

"No. They're... God, this is going to sound so fucking conceited, but... They're beautiful, McKenzie. You're an amazing artist."

McKenzie gave a tentative smile.

"Really?"

Ryan smirked.

"Are you fishing for compliments? Because you have to know those are incredible. Have your teachers seen them? They must've told you the same thing."

McKenzie ducked her head.

"Professor Diaz is the only one that's seen them, but I haven't shown her that... The last one. That one's just for me," McKenzie whispered the last part.

So am I, Ryan thought, but didn't say aloud.

As the silence stretched on, Ryan looked down at her sandwich, casting about for something to say.

"Have you eaten? I could get you something."

McKenzie shook her head.

"Nah, I'm fine. I'll get something in a little bit." McKenzie nodded at Ryan's sandwich. "But you should probably hurry up and finish that."

Ryan frowned and then looked at her watch. She'd spent longer looking at McKenzie's drawings than she'd thought and she was only supposed to take half an hour for dinner.

"Shit."

Ryan doubled the size of her bites, barely chewing before washing it all down with her water. She gulped the last few dregs from the bottle and then stood up.

"You hangin' around or..." Ryan glanced at the exit.

"Is it okay if I stay? I don't want to get you in trouble or anything."

Ryan smiled.

"It's fine. No one's gonna care that my girlfriend's waiting for me to get off work as long as I actually keep working until then."

McKenzie felt the sweetest warmth suffuse her cheeks.

"Okay," McKenzie said softly.

Ryan looked at her curiously and McKenzie smiled at the woman's confusion.

"You just called me your girlfriend," McKenzie explained.

Ryan looked away as she mentally repeated what she'd just said. She realized it was true and looked uncertainly at McKenzie.

"I... I've never had a girlfriend before."

McKenzie's eyebrows raised in surprise.

"Seriously? But... I thought..."

Ryan leaned over the table and lowered her voice.

"Last night was my first date. Ever. I... I have a lot of... sexual experience, but... I've never had... this," she said, gesturing vaguely between them. "This is... I don't really know the rules. So if that was too fast—"

"No! I mean..." McKenzie sighed. "Please don't take that back. I want to be your girlfriend... and more." So much more.

Ryan's gaze softened and she almost leaned forward, but then she remembered herself and stood back up.

"Okay. Good. Glad we got that settled." She cleared her throat and glanced at her watch again. "Damn, I really gotta get back to—"

"Work, yeah. Me, too." Ryan continued to stand there and McKenzie finally made shooing motions with her hands. "Go. I'll be here when you're done."

Ryan laughed and gathered up her trash, depositing it in the nearest receptacle as she headed into the back.

McKenzie closed her eyes, allowing herself to revel in the little happy dance her heart was doing in her chest.

I have a girlfriend. Ryan is my girlfriend. Holy shit. Ryan is my girlfriend. I guess it's true. Good things really do come to those who wait.

McKenzie opened her laptop and pulled up her notes for art history. As much as she hated the subject, it failed to completely eradicate the small smile that tugged at McKenzie's lips every so often.

Unfortunately, though her eyes moved steadily over the text, she hardly took in a single word. She needed to at least pass the course to keep up her grade point average, but it was quite some time before she was finally able to buckle down and get any studying done.

* * *

Ryan helped the bartender restock the bar in preparation for the Saturday evening crowd. Then she went into the kitchen and did some minor cleanup. Then she checked the small stage and made sure the band had everything they needed: drinks, water, extra cable for one of the amps, a few appetizers for snacks.

Her duties took her past McKenzie's table several times, but the girl never looked up as she seemed completely engrossed in whatever she was staring at on her laptop.

Ryan glanced at her watch. Only five more minutes and then she could take off. Images of some of the things she wanted to do to McKenzie as part of her punishment kept running through her head. Normally, she was dead tired at the end of her shifts from being on her feet the whole time, but she could feel herself keying up in anticipation of getting McKenzie alone.

"So this is where you've been hiding."

Ryan turned at the voice and then grinned.

"Does it look like I need to hide?" Ryan clasped hands with the woman and nodded to her partner. "Hey."

"Actually, it looks like your dryer shrunk your clothes. Or have you actually gotten taller?"

"It's the boots."

Ryan felt another pair of eyes on her and glanced over to see McKenzie watching her. Ryan jerked her head and McKenzie came over.

"This is McKenzie. McKenzie, this is Petra and... Alicia," Ryan said, keeping her face neutral as Alicia continued to stare at her.

"Hi," McKenzie said as she shook each of their hands, trying not to be obvious as she looked them over.

Petra was a compact young woman with short brown hair and a square face. She wore dark jeans and a thin brown tie hung loosely over a bright blue button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal several tattoos on her forearms. Alicia was a few inches taller and looked like she could've been a model with her perfectly applied make-up, flawless caramel skin, and long curly black hair. The woman was dressed to the nines in stiletto heels and a short red cowl neck dress open almost to her navel. Petra's dark dress jacket was thrown over Alicia's shoulders, probably to protect her from the cool evening air.

"So, when do you get off?" Petra asked and Ryan grinned at the old joke.

"Whenever I want," Ryan drawled. "But my shift's over..." She glanced at her watch. "Well, now, actually, if that's what you're asking."

"Perfect. You going to the Club? We were just on our way over there when we saw you in the window."

Ryan darted a glance at McKenzie.

"I hadn't planned on it, no."

"You should. Suni's putting on a new show tonight, you know, to try to drum up students." Petra turned to McKenzie. "I haven't seen you around. You new?"

McKenzie looked to Ryan, unsure how to respond.

"Yeah, she's new and very unavailable," Ryan said, all trace of humor gone.

Petra grinned.

"Don't get your panties in a twist... Not that you wear any. I was just asking. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a little taken myself," she said, wrapping an arm around Alicia's waist. Petra turned back to McKenzie. "Why don't you come along? Ryan can introduce you to everyone and stake her claim officially."

McKenzie's eyebrows raised and she looked pointedly at Ryan. Petra watched the exchange and her eyes widened.

"Oh shit, don't tell me you've gone vanilla. She doesn't know?"

Ryan clenched her jaw.

"No, I haven't 'gone vanilla.' And no, I haven't told her about the Club yet either. Like I said, she's new. I was... taking it slow."

"Oh," Petra said, obviously relieved. "Well, how about it?" she asked, completely oblivious to any problem as she looked back and forth between them. "Gotta break her in eventually."

Ryan rolled her eyes. She'd forgotten how crass Petra could be sometimes.

"What's the Club?" McKenzie asked.

"It's where Ryan goes every week to find new subs and teach them how to properly serve their Mistresses," Alicia finally spoke.

Ryan felt the blood drain from her face, but before she could say a thing, McKenzie spoke.

"Guess that means I couldn't be in better hands," McKenzie said as she reached down to clasp one of the hands in question and squeezed. McKenzie didn't miss the narrowing of Alicia's eyes and turned to look up at Ryan. "Can we go? It sounds interesting and..." McKenzie forced herself to ignore the other two women standing there and held Ryan's gaze. "I get the feeling this might... enhance... my current punishment."

Ryan's smirk couldn't be denied as she considered exactly what McKenzie would see at the Club and how it would affect her.

"Now look who's psychic." She turned to find Petra and Alicia watching them interestedly. "We'll see you there."

Petra grinned, but Alicia's smile was less than believable.

"Excellent." Petra turned to McKenzie. "Nice meeting you. See ya soon."

And then the two women were gone, though not without a last look back from Alicia.

Ryan turned to McKenzie, but the girl was already walking back to her table so she could gather her things. Ryan stopped behind her uncertainly.

"You okay?"

McKenzie continued to stuff her backpack until she had everything in place. She looked up, then glanced around the café, which was steadily filling up with the midnight crowd. She slung her backpack over her shoulder.

"Yeah. I just want to get out of here. And then maybe you can tell me about this club."

Ryan nodded. She took a minute to let her boss know she was leaving, grabbed her jacket, and then met up with McKenzie outside.

"Want to walk?" McKenzie asked.

It was only a couple miles or so from where they lived and Ryan thought she could use the fresh air, so she nodded.

"Here, let me take that," Ryan said as she slipped McKenzie's heavy backpack from her shoulder and threw it over her own.

"You don't have to do that," McKenzie protested.

"What if I want to?"

McKenzie didn't have an answer for that, so she stared at the sidewalk as they walked along.

"So, um, about this club..." McKenzie started.

"Right. It's official name is Club Carnal, but everyone just calls it the Club."

"And I'm guessing it's some sort of... sex club? For BDSM?"

Ryan smiled.

"Sort of. I mean it's not just for BDSM, though that's the main theme. But the Club caters to all sorts of kinks with theme nights and stuff."

"Is there a theme for tonight? Your friend mentioned a show," McKenzie said.

"Oh yeah, Suni. She's a belly dancer. She gives demonstrations every month or so and offers discounts on her classes for members. But that won't be the theme, if there is one. I haven't, um, checked the site in a while, so I don't know."

"They have a website?"

"Yeah, but it's private. Actually, the Club is by invitation only, so I'll be acting as your sponsor and you'll need to fill out an application before you can go in."

McKenzie just nodded. She was quiet for a while and Ryan didn't try to break the silence as they crossed the main road and turned down a small side street, leaving the storefronts behind. As they continued on for several more blocks, the quiet neighborhood presented an eclectic mix of smaller newer houses interspersed with much larger older homes. Trees lined the sidewalk and newly fallen leaves crunched under their shoes.

"So, have you... You've had sex with both of them?" McKenzie finally asked the question, amazed at how steady her voice was.

Ryan glanced at her, but McKenzie continued to stare straight ahead.

"I spent a few hours with Alicia at the Club one night. It was an exhibition scene performed in front of everyone. Alicia's an exhibitionist. Petra's a voyeur. I think that might actually be when they hooked up. It was a few months ago."

"So you were with Alicia, but not Petra? Then why did she..." McKenzie trailed off.

"Why did she what?"

"Petra said you don't wear underwear, but every time I've seen you undress—"

Ryan laughed.

"Okay, yeah, I normally go commando, and I've gotten naked at the Club before, so she probably saw me then. But I also know the anticipation that comes from that final reveal, so—"

"Are you wearing underwear now?"

Ryan paused half a step, but then caught up with one longer stride.

"No."

McKenzie stopped and Ryan turned back to see McKenzie breathing heavily as if they'd been running rather than just walking leisurely. The girl was staring at her in the dim light of a far off street lamp.

"That is so much more of a turn-on than some sexy underwear. At least it is for me."

Ryan stepped closer.

"Yeah? Why?"

"Because... It means you're that much more accessible. It means all I'd have to do is unzip..." McKenzie's fingers floated up to Ryan's waistband and fingered the top button of her jeans. "And you would just be there. You're right there," McKenzie whispered as she stared down between them.

Oh, I'm there, all right, Ryan thought as she carefully plucked McKenzie's fingers from her jeans and stepped back.

McKenzie looked up, completely forgetting about the no touching rule as she stepped forward to maintain their close proximity.

"I want to please you, Ryan... Serve you. I think about it all the time. Will you teach me? Teach me how to do that? How to please you?"

Ryan felt every muscle in her body tense. It was only the fact they were standing on the street that kept her from pushing McKenzie to her knees to give her an immediate hands-on lesson.

Ryan caught McKenzie's fingers in both of her hands as the girl reached for her waistband again.

"Yes, I'm going to teach you, but not now and definitely not here."

McKenzie suddenly looked around as if seeing the street for the first time. Thankfully, it was empty at such a late hour.

"Oh... crap." McKenzie darted a look at Ryan, then focused on the ground. "I'm sorry. I didn't... Wow. I think I know what tunnel vision is now."

She hadn't been able to see anything but Ryan.

Ryan smiled.

"It's okay. Come on."

Ryan gestured with her head to get them walking again, though she kept hold of McKenzie's hand and felt McKenzie lean into her arm.

"So. No underwear, huh? That'll make things easier. There were a couple times I almost forgot and had to take my jeans off to put them on before seeing you."

"You shouldn't have bothered. Though I can't say I really thought about it until she said that. And then I was mostly just thinking about how she would know that." McKenzie caught Ryan's gaze. "You know her friend still wants you."

Ryan grimaced.

"Yeah, I figured that out. I don't know why. It's not like I ever—"

"You don't know why? Is that a joke? Have you met you?"

Ryan rolled her eyes.

"I just meant..."

"What?"

Ryan sighed.

"I didn't usually play with anyone more than a few times. Everyone knew that. I was never exclusive."

"Until now?" McKenzie blurted out, feeling stupid as soon as she said it.

Ryan stopped walking, pulling McKenzie to a halt next to her.

"Until you." Ryan cupped McKenzie's cheek. "I haven't been to the Club in almost two months and I haven't had a play date since I met you. I was going to wait to start all this until after your birthday. I knew that would also give me time to find out if you were even... interested..."

"In you?" McKenzie asked in disbelief.

"In this. Submitting to me."

"So you couldn't tell?"

Ryan smiled.

"I was pretty sure you had the desire, both for me and for what I want, but... Just like some people can't deal with being gay, a lot of people don't want to explore this part of themselves. It's scary as hell to find out you fall so far outside society's norms. Some people can't deal with it, so they deny it's even there. The way you've talked about your parents and not dating until you came here..." Ryan half shrugged. "I wasn't sure how you'd react."

"You certainly acted sure," McKenzie said.

"A lot of that was hope... and need," Ryan admitted, her voice dropping to the register that made McKenzie's stomach flip-flop.

"Yeah, I'm feeling kind of needy myself," McKenzie said, her own voice turning husky as she stared up into Ryan's eyes.

Ryan groaned as she pulled away, letting her hand drop from McKenzie's cheek, though it immediately twined with the girl's hand again.

"Come on. We need to get home and change. That is, if you still want to go to the Club."

McKenzie jogged a couple steps to catch up with the pulling on her arm.

"Yeah, but you're going to have to tell me what to wear, 'cause I don't have a clue."


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