Cassie, a famous African American lesbian writer, hates commitment. Instead, she's content to jump from woman to woman until she meets beautiful Katrice.
But when mysterious Ashanti seduces Cassie at a writer's conference, Cassie must face the consequences.
When Cassie woke, her stomach felt like someone had crawled inside and ripped everything out. Even worse, her head ached as if tortured by a jackhammer and the inside of her mouth was drier than the Sahara. But despite that, she still didn't feel as bad as she could have. She learned a long time ago to cut back on the wine when she attended parties. Not enough to feel normal, but enough to get out of bed.
It was ten a.m., the only time she had had to sleep late in months. Her flight from New York to Chicago would leave in approximately four hours. Finally, she'd be going home. The book tour had been particularly grueling. 'Ebony' was a blessing, but also a curse.
"Good morning, babe," Melanie purred, placing her arm over Cassie as they lay in bed. The scent of sex still lingered in the air, the sheets a crumpled mess, hanging out of the ends of the bed.
"Good morning," Cassie replied. She'd done it again, but she hadn't planned on it. After Sharla, she had decided to leave women alone for a while.
"What, we're just going to end it? And that's it?" Sharla had said as Cassie walked away for the last time. It had been fun. The sex was good; not great, just good. But Sharla liked culture, and that was hard to find. They had dates at the theatre followed by dinners at swanky restaurants. They went to art openings and museums.
Then that feeling started, when Sharla began to call three times a day instead of just once. It got worse the day she bought Cassie an expensive present that cost an entire paycheck. No one does that unless they're serious, Cassie thought.
But Cassie was itching for it. The thrill of Manhattan always got to her. It was a melting pot all right, filled with every possible female you could describe. Cassie could sit at a café, stare at the beauties for hours on end and never get bored. And she had struggled far too long to get with a New York publisher, but no more. Her dream of entering a Manhattan bookstore filled with thousands of books and a crowd waiting in line for her autograph had come true.
At the book signing and after-party, she couldn't believe how many lesbians were waiting to see her. Like Melanie. Sexy Melanie. She was there, gazing, asking too many questions as they always do. Her skin was the same coffee brown as Cassie's, but healthier, glowing. Her dark eyes beamed with excitement. She stood close, in a tight dress that showed off every muscle. She was looking so good, looking like she could take Cassie for a ride. Which she did, all night.
Yet this morning, Cassie hadn't really looked at Melanie. She felt her, but she hadn't really looked at her. Melanie's arm, wrapped over Cassie's body, so soft last night, was like a strap now. I live in Chicago, not Manhattan, Cassie thought.
"Would you like to get some breakfast?"
"No, I'm not hungry," Cassie said. "I've got a flight soon, so I should probably get ready."
Melanie stepped out of bed, and this time Cassie looked because she couldn't help it. She hadn't seen a back that taut or an ass that firm in a while. When Melanie turned around, Cassie stared, alternating between her perky tits and the fluff on her mound. Then she looked away. There was no sense in it. She was going back to Chicago.
"Well, I guess I should go. You're going to call me when you get to Chicago, right? And you got my e-mail address?"
"Yeah, you know it was fun. I wish we lived in the same city." Cassie didn't know why she said that. She liked Chicago. Manhattan was toxic, like a drug she should avoid.
When Melanie started to dress, Cassie felt relieved. Melanie was leaving, just like she wanted, but there was also a touch of sadness. Even when she knew she'd never see them again, it was hard to see them go. "Hey, give me a hug," she said.
Melanie walked over to Cassie and smiled. "Don't go breaking any hearts in Chicago," she whispered in Cassie's ear as they embraced.
Cassie looked at her and grinned, but the words stuck like a knife.
* * *
Back in her apartment in Chicago, a pile of mail lay scattered by her front door. Cassie picked it up and set it on the dining room table, then hung up her coat, kicked off her shoes and placed her luggage against the wall. With all the mail to go through, unpacking could wait. She went in the kitchen, grabbed a can of soda and poured herself a glass.
Looking through the mail, she found a royalty check for 'Ebony,' her third book. Lesbians had noticed the work of Cassandra Brown, and now she was one of the top authors of lesbian literature. Often her characters were black, but many of them were of other races. As a result, her work had crossed racial lines, making her popular with all lesbians. She was getting there; she was making it, and sometimes she had to pinch herself.
The tour had gone well. It was exhausting, but at every location, the places were packed. She couldn't possibly remember how many hands she shook or how many signatures she gave. The largest crowd had been in New York, and even amongst all those faces, Melanie's had stood out.
Cassie drank some more of her soda, remembering the feel of Melanie's skin, delicate and fine as silk. It was best that a woman like that not live in Chicago, she thought. She was too busy for relationships, too busy writing to spend lots of time with women. Things just got too crowded. She couldn't feel crowded.
She went to therapy and spoke often about living alone with her mother and how her mother never said, 'I love you', never hugged her or displayed much affection at all, how attempts at love were pushed away. Her therapist said that's why she did the same, push women away. Cassie thought it might be a possibility, but she didn't want to think about it. Eventually, she stopped going. The memories were too painful to dig any deeper.
She learned to accept the way she was. And if anything, there was no shortage of women. She was a famous writer, and lesbians were chasing her all over the world. When she felt crowded, there was always another one.
The health food store was too close to Cassie's apartment for comfort. It was a reminder of how her attempts to eat better fizzled with all the writing, the late nights, and being on the road. Buying whole, organic food took work. Who had time? It was easier to order carryout, or to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave.
Still, when Cassie ate better, she felt better, so she decided to make another visit to the store. It felt invigorating once she was there, like every nerve in her body suddenly snapped to attention. And it didn't hurt that Katrice was working, so beautiful with her long auburn dreads and hazel eyes. Her smile was wide, and it was rare to find a blemish on her caramel skin. Katrice was a huge fan who read all of Cassie's books. 'Ebony' was her favorite.
"Cassie!" Katrice said, "I haven't seen you in so long. Where have you been?"
"Been on the road," Cassie responded, "but now it's time to get back in sync."
"Great! We've got a fresh batch of bananas you might want to look at."
Katrice never wore a bra. Her large breasts strained against the fabric of her blouses. Cassie often fantasized about releasing them.
"Katrice, you know I hate bananas. Remember?"
"Oh, yes, about as much as you hate the Sunflower."
Cassie knew she'd mention it. It wasn't that she hated the Sunflower; she simply hadn't the time. But now that the tour was over, giving a reading at the small lesbian bookstore might be nice. Katrice was part owner, along with three other women.
"Okay, I'll do it."
Katrice's face lit up like the sky on the Fourth of July. No woman should ever have teeth that straight, Cassie thought.
"Are you bringing Jennifer?" Cassie asked.
"Jen and I broke up."
"It's been five months now. You've been away."
Cassie's thoughts went straight to sex. It had been less than a week since she slept with Melanie, since she had broken the pact she had initiated with herself to stay away from women. Now it was business as usual. Was she really what her friend Anita had called her in jest? "You ain't nothin' but a ho," she had said.
"Well, I had no idea you broke up. How do you feel now that you're single?"
"I'm okay; I'm better off without her." Katrice smiled again, but this time she stared straight into
Cassie's eyes, and it was the quiver between Cassie's thighs that made her smile back.
* * *
Cassie received a call from Donna, one of the owners of the Sunflower, to arrange for the reading. Donna overflowed with joy, sometimes stumbling over her words, and Cassie felt a tinge of guilt for not having agreed sooner.
"I'm really, really glad you said yes! It means so much to us!"
"My pleasure. I'm going to enjoy it."
On the day of the reading, Cassie looked through her closet for the perfect dress that looked sexy, but felt comfortable. Gone were the days when she shopped only at the sales racks. Now she was actually able to buy clothes because she liked them, not because they were a bargain. She pulled out a purple handmade silk dress. It would work well with her dark skin and brown eyes. Black women look good in purple, Cassie thought.
The phone rang. It was Katrice.
"I just wanted to say that I'm so glad you agreed to do this. I can't wait to see you."
"Hey, no problem. And who knows, maybe I'll find a lover tonight."
Katrice laughed, but there was no sense of nervousness.
* * *
The Sunflower was a small bookstore in a section of town populated with many gays and lesbians. The store had been in existence for at least twenty years and was well known in the lesbian community. Katrice had become co-owner three years ago.
Even though the store was small, it was packed wall to wall with women of various colors and shapes. Word had spread quickly about Cassandra's arrival, and women begun gathering hours early.
"We're very pleased to have Cassandra Brown at the Sunflower," Donna said to the crowd. "Ms. Brown is the author of 'Dreams,' 'The Second Time Around,' and 'Ebony,' a collection of African American lesbian stories set in the city of Los Angeles. 'Ebony' has become a bestseller among lesbian and non-lesbian women across the globe. Please welcome Cassandra Brown as she reads from her latest book, 'Ebony'."
The room roared with applause as Cassie reached the podium. Staring at a large group of lesbians excited Cassie, and often made her wet. She didn't have to search the room far to find Katrice, up front with her familiar smile.
Afterwards, before the autograph session, she grabbed Katrice's hand. "You're hanging around, right?" Cassie asked.
"Yes, I'm not going anywhere." Katrice responded.
* * *
Once the last autograph was signed and the last hand was shook, Cassie took Katrice to Katrice's favorite restaurant, La Quinta. Cassie hated Mexican food, but tonight she would have taken Katrice anywhere.
When they arrived, Cassie was glad to see that at least the atmosphere was nice. It was a cozy little place. The lights were not too bright, and each wooden table had a colorful Mexican cloth and a vase of flowers. There were a few booths along the back. Cassie and Katrice chose one of those.
"You know I've got to go to work tomorrow," Katrice said, raising a Margarita to her lips after finishing her meal. Cassie enjoyed watching her lick the salt off the rim.
"Easy for you to say. You're not the one struggling for money."
"If you were with me, you wouldn't need to worry about money."
Katrice's eyes grew big. "My, my, such a gallant statement. But we all know how much Cassie likes the girls. Is it me you want to take care of, or my tits, which you keep staring at?"
Katrice smiled, then she laughed, and even though Cassie felt flushed with embarrassment, she found herself laughing too.
"I guess I've got a bit of a reputation, huh?" Cassie said.
"Yeah, we dykes like to talk, you know?"
"Yeah, I know."
Cassie fell silent, thinking about all the women she had fucked, let alone just the ones in Chicago.
"Hey, you!" Katrice said. "I'm wet, but you're going to dry me up with that depressed expression on your face."
Cassie looked into Katrice's eyes, no longer embarrassed. "Well, I certainly don't want to do that." She motioned for the waiter. "Check, please."
* * *
Lying on satin sheets, Cassie held Katrice's breasts. The areolas were as large as silver dollars and Cassie traced her tongue over the nipples, causing them to become erect. She sucked on one, then the other and then back to the first.
Katrice threw her head back and moaned. The dragonfly tattoo on Katrice's neck glistened with her
sweat. If it was possible to drown in a woman's cleavage, Cassie could do it. Her hands squeezed Katrice's breasts while she gently bit the skin.
The entire time Cassie felt Katrice's pubic hair, beneath her panties, rubbing against her stomach. Her scent was strong, and Cassie longed to explore. Like a bitch in heat, she put her lips on Katrice's and slid her tongue inside while she gently stroked Katrice's dreads.
Tonight, Cassie wanted to be on top. When Katrice tried to change positions, Cassie pushed her back. She pinned her hands against the sheets and stared into her eyes.
"May I take your panties off?" Cassie asked. It sounded more like a command rather than a question.
"Yes," Katrice whispered.
Cassie pulled the panties slowly down Katrice's thick legs to her ankles. Her bushy mound stared Cassie in the face; her juices dampened the sheet.
Cassie brought her tongue up Katrice's leg. Katrice's scent grew stronger as Cassie got closer to her pussy. Then she pounced on Katrice's bush like an animal, pulling and sucking on her clit. Katrice opened her legs wider, screaming out in passion. Cassie placed her hands on Katrice's backside, squeezing her ass as she buried her face in her. Cassie's juices ran down her thighs as Katrice bucked and hollered in orgasm.
Afterwards, Cassie covered Katrice with the sheet and held her tight. Katrice was exhausted, and soon she'd be asleep.
Cassie smiled. If she was a slut, a ho or whatever they wanted to call her, so what? She'd be a fool to pass on the chance to fuck a woman as fine as Katrice.
END OF EXCERPT
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