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Autumn blossom: the opening

Autumn blossom: the opening

A sequel to my Summer loving series, the first part

Autumn smelt of wood-smoke and damp leaves decaying, giving a last gift where they could, but on the pavements of Little Jericho they simply added to the slipperiness of the rainy pavements. Early autumnal Oxford never failed to stir my heart. It was thus that I had first known it. The shiny, bright faces of the Freshers, new, up from their schools and colleges, made me smile. That had been me, once. Gosh, could it have been nearly twenty years ago?

Tripping my way carefully up Worcester Street (did the Council just not care? How much could I claim if I slipped and broke an ankle?), my high heels feeling the slickness of the leafy pavement, my mind wandered.

This time last year I had been, I supposed, the unhappiest woman in Oxford. My partner, the love of my life, Jess Stark, had rejected me in the cruellest way for another. My world had crumbled. Work had been a great solace. But, emotionally, my life had been sterile.

Damn these leaves, how’s a girl supposed to manage to look elegant and stay safe on the mean streets of Oxford? I giggled to myself. It was time, I thought, to rescue one of my raincoats from the wardrobe; autumn was upon us.

I was early. I checked the phone. Wasn’t due at my meeting with colleagues to discuss the term’s programmes until 10. Ah well, time for a coffee? I was passing the Randolph hotel, might as well pop in and kill time in style.

It wasn’t what it had been when, as a callow undergrad I had been taken to tea there by my old headmistress. But its grandeur endured. I sat at a table by the window, watching the world go by. I ordered an espresso and croissant from the waitress – nice trim ass. Stop that girl!

As I nibbled the croissant (why, why did I persevere, had anyone had a good one outside of Paris?), my mind wandered back to the last time I had been there.

My former lover, Jess, had been staying here. My replacement, Rowena Bryce, had been with her, and I had come with a new lover, Summer. Jess was famous as a novelist. She was also the most manipulative person I had ever known. Most writers created characters and gave them a life of their own, but Jess made real people into characters.

Her plan had been to use my own sexual deviances to ensnare me, using my new lover, Summer, and to run me and the two other women at the same time. A harem would be just her style.

It had been a close-run thing. But for once I did not let my pussy do my thinking. That night I had left Jess and Summer in the hotel and left with Rowena. That was the name Jess had given her to make her a character in her fictions, but her real name was Kate, and it was Kate I had fallen in love with that night; the last time I had been in the Randolph.

The memories flooded back.

Leaving all her things at the hotel, Rowena had come back with me to my College room. She had lain with me all night. There is a closeness in cuddling which all women, I think, adore. Half undressed, we cuddled the whole night. At one point, she suckled on my breast like a baby. I stroked her long, red hair, and the world seemed a better place.

The following day had posed its problems. Kate had nothing with her except the clothes on the floor, and the panties she was still wearing. I told you it was just cuddling. My College room was not big on a spare wardrobe. Fortunately, the Summer School programme, now launched, could do without me for the morning.

I shall never forget her look at me as she woke. Dreamy, sleep-eyed Kate. Eyes crinkling in the light her hair across the pillow like a sleepy red storm, smiling when she saw me. “It wasn’t a dream then, darling Cath? I am really free?”

“My darling,” I told her, “yes, yes you are, but if you want it, you have my love.”

She looked at me, so softly, so sweetly.

“My darling Cath, if you will take this damaged creature, she is yours. I love your gentleness, but also the strength you showed when it was needed.”

I laughed.

“If I showed strength, it was from love for you. My panties will need changing – and I’ve a spare pair if you need them.”

She giggled, as I did.

It was the first practical challenge of the next month – and there were many.

It was me who phoned Jess at the Randolph. I had never heard her do sulky before, but I swear she was sulking. I asked her to send Kate’s (never using that Rowena name, the slave name) things to the College. I did not ask about Summer, assuming she had spent the night there.

Across the summer, slowly, things sorted themselves – or rather I sorted them.

Summer did not reappear. At some point her room was emptied and a note was received saying she had to withdraw for “personal reasons.” Any reader of the photo sections of the press would soon have discovered the reason. “Jess Stark’s gorgeous new woman – another redhead!” That was one of the more lurid headlines in one of the rags. Summer looked radiant. She had got what she came for. Jess had not. That made her dangerous.

Kate found that her publishing house was undergoing a “restructure,” and oddly enough, her job was one of those which had to go. Jess Stark was too big a best-seller for her publisher not to accede to her demands. Of course, all was done according to the book, but the hand of Jess was clear.

She, unwittingly, did us a favour. A friend of mine at Blackwells alerted me to a job there, at the vast out of town megalopolis where it had relocated a few years back. They were delighted to have a published author and one with London experience as one of their editors, and that meant the Kate could live with me in Little Jericho and bus in daily. Indeed, I had just seen her go off, which was why I was walking this way to work – and was so early.

It had been a blissful, if stressful, summer.

Whilst Oxford heaved with tourists, Kate and I settled into my little two-bed terrace. She wanted nothing from Jess. That was as well, the Stark would have given her nothing.

Kate never asked, and I never told her, what was in the letter Jess had left with me that fateful day back in the summer. I read it, and then destroyed it. I shall not willingly speak of what it contained. Her imagination was blacker than even I knew. But the shadows of the night were lifting, and I would not go there again.

Kate and I loved each other gently, passionately, and deeply. The common ache we had was soothed for us both as we made love, and then cuddled the live long night.

Joanna, the history tutor at my College, was only one of many who noticed the difference. She joked a few days later.

“Cath, I had no idea you were such a floozie! I thought it was that delicious young Summer who would be gracing your bed, and now you have Rowena instead. Won’t the gorgeous Jess be cross?’

Joanna was a lovely woman, and as she could have no idea of the hearts she was trampling on, I responded, “It’s Ok, and Rowena is her nom de plume, she’s really called Kate. Oh, and she’s moved in with me!"

“Woman, you are a quick worker. What a shame I am not a redhead!” she giggled.

I had to confess there were times when I had wondered what it would be liked to be with Joanna. Her small breasts were tempting, and she had the most delightful lips. I shook it off, and laughed.

“You could always have died your hair, silly girl!”

We both giggled. She pecked me on the cheek, telling me how happy she was. She came to supper a week later, and she and Kate and myself had a whale of a time. That was another of Kate’s gifts to me – she had a genius for friendship which made my social life blossom. Everyone loved her gentle ways.

Good job they couldn’t see us in the bedroom. She was a tigress there. Unleashed from the subordinate role to the Goddess Jess, Kate discovered a sensual forcefulness which belied her gentle appearance. My desire to be ravished, to be thrown on the bed and fucked senseless, was satisfied, and more, by the way my woman would take me into her arms and send me to the outer reaches of passion.

She was my perfect lover. I sensed, as she did, by instinct, when she wanted to be firm with me, when we just wanted a gentle, loving session, and when she needed me to take the lead. She was my all in all, and I was hers.

I was smiling at the memory.

“If I may, madam, that smile has brightened my dull morning.”

I looked across to where the voice was coming from.

The source was a gentleman, in his mid-fifties, I guessed. He was dressed in a dark blue suit, blue tie with white spots, a white shirt. His eyes held a melancholy.

“You may indeed, and I am glad to have brought some sunshine into this dull day. I’m Cath, you are?”

“I know who you are Dr. Tickell, I have read your fine work on Eliot. I am Adrian. I’m here visiting my daughter, who was supposed to be joining me for breakfast, but her children need her more.”

I smiled at him. He spoke softly, his eyes were gentle.

“At last, I meet my reader.” I laughed. My book on Eliot and time had been enough to win me a prize fellowship, but no one could have accused it of being a best-seller. I was delighted to meet an appreciative reader.

“Well, I am early for a meeting, and need a second coffee, so please, join me.”

He came over. I wondered what the devil I was doing. I may have the occasional slutty moment, but I do not pick up men in hotels, not even nice ones. As I confessed to Kate, not only have I never been with a man, I don’t much like them. Their desire to know what colour panties I am wearing puzzles me. Their desire to remove them, repels me.  And as for a naked one, please, no, take it away.

But there was something about Adrian.

He smiled softly.

“I am not, you know,” he twinkled, “in the habit of picking up distinguished academics in hotels. Not, except, at conference times, but there the normal rules are suspended, as it were.”

There was a gentle teasing quality to him, which I liked.

He settled himself. He ordered us both more coffee.

“So, Adrian, do you live nearby, or is this a flying visit?”

“Not far. Since my divorce, I like to come here to see my daughter and grandchildren as often as possible.”

That was the source of the melancholy.

“Sorry to hear that. From your tone, I suspect that was not of your choosing?”

“Indeed not, dear lady, no more, I know, than was your own parting from the splendid Miss Stark.”

He knew? Gosh, well, I guess anyone who took an interest in that sort of thing knew.

“We have that in common then.” I smiled.

“And more than that I intuit.”

I looked.

He looked.

“And,” I smiled, “what else?”

“Ah,” he said, “if I were to call you a Posh lesbian cunt, would you slap my face and storm out?”

I stared.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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