TITLE: Closed-Eyed and Open-Mouthed
AUTHOR: Ellen Milholland
EMAIL: radiant@bluelikethat.com (or absolutperfecton@aol.com)
CODES: Aw, these spoil it. CJ/other. Girlslash.
DISCLAIMERS: Standard disclaimers apply.
SUMMARY: In certainly-not-a-lesbian bar, CJ's the eye-candy (and more) for the evening.

Closed-Eyed and Open-Mouthed by Ellen Milholland

The night is sharp against my face as I step out of my car, and I can taste the snow in the air, in the way the cold wind bites my chin and my earlobes. I look up into the sky, and a few hazy stars twinkle through the cover of clouds.

I press a little button my key chain, and the car beeps as it locks itself shut against intruders. I smile to myself as I lean against the back of the car, pulling a compact from my purse. With a tiny brush, I reapply my apricot-colored lip-gloss, run my fingers through my tousled hair, and recite under my breath, "Star light, star bright, please oh please let me get laid tonight." I laugh to myself in the parking lot before hugging my arms around me and heading towards the doors.

I tell people that I never come here, that I've never been here. Not that it's a lesbian club or that there's anything less than impeccable about the service or the alcohol or the patrons. No, none of that's true, but I certainly never come here.

I think that I might be able to convince myself of that, even as I hand my sleek sheepskin coat off to the young man near the door and survey the room. There are only women here, scattered around the small club, because anywhere trendy must be stiflingly small. Not one of the women would ever admit to having a single homosexual inclination. Indeed, it's a room full of completely straight politicians, and businesswomen, and doctors, and lawyers, all of whom are just looking for a drink and maybe a soft pair of hands to go home with. They nurse sweet little alcoholic concoctions, listen to soft alternative music sung by angry little girls with names like Ani and Alanis, and keep their heads close over flickering votives.

I head first to the bar, needing something bitter to take the edge off my week. The bartender, a small, trim woman who knows me by name, smiles as she sees me.

"Jodie," she says, "Been a while." She runs a hand through her pale- blonde hair, brushing her bangs back from her equally pale forehead.

I laugh. "Mag, I was here last Friday."

"First of all, my name is Magdalena," she reminds me for the eight- hundredth time, though she knows I forget it on purpose. Her voice is high and chirpy, almost grating, but a pleasant change from the deep- throated men I've dealt with for the past 18 hours, or rather the past 10 years.

"And second of all," Magdalena continues indignantly, even as a small smile creeps its way across my face, "a week is an eternity when you're stuck behind a bar, catering the pretty-girls of Washington."

"Come on, Magdalena, you're the lucky one. All that eye-candy, and every one of them drunk off their ass... and you, with the best seat in the house." My voice is downright husky in comparison to hers. Exhaustion creeps in around the edges of my throat and around the edges of my eyes. My hands even shake a little.

She frowns, marring her pretty little countenance. "Perhaps. But I can't take a taste of that eye-candy, my dear. And you would not want to be me when I have to convince one more damn politician that no, that was the last glass of Merlot or the last shot of schnapps." The ice tinkles in the heavy crystal glass she sets down in front of me.

I think for a moment, taking a long drink from the scotch. "You know, you're right." I grin. "I am _so_ glad that I'm not you. Tasting is the best part."

She rolls her eyes, and makes a clucking noise with her tongue. "Watch yourself, Jodie. If you're not careful, I might not point out the absolutely gorgeous creature sitting over there all by herself."

She points towards the corner of the club, towards a woman lounging self-consciously in a chrome-and-leather contraption that's attempting to pass as a chair. And Jesus, is she beautiful, all legs and eyes and cheekbones and Balenciaga.

Her fingers flutter across her legs, brushing her skirt against her long thighs. She crosses her legs slowly, presses her lips together, looks down into her lap.

"Good God, who is she?" I ask, my voice barely audible.

"No idea, but I'm pretty sure I've seen her on TV," Magdalena answers, and I can hear her smile. She leans over the bar towards me, and as I turn to look at her, I get a long glance down into her cleavage, which may have been intentional on her part. "She wandered in here, looking just as deliciously out of sorts as she does now, about ten minutes before you came in. Ordered a vodka and cranberry, drank it too quickly, and went and sat down over there. Looks like she's waiting-"

"For someone?" I interrupt.

"No," she says after a moment. "No, not like she's waiting for someone. At least," she adds, "no one she knows."

The woman tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, exposing the curve of her jawbone to the weak light of the club. I am utterly enthralled by this beauty in cobalt-and-cream silk and by the way her fingers cannot remain still for even a moment.

Magdalena sighs. "You know, I am about to do you the biggest favor."

"Are you?"

"Bring this to her."

I turn, and Magdalena is offering me a glass. "What is it?"

"A Grasshopper," she says.

"How do you know she'll want it?"

"Jodie, I've been a bartender for 20 years. I know."

"If you say so... Well, why the hell not?" I toss back the last of my scotch, and smile at the bartender. "I owe you one, Mag."

"You owe me about a million, and, for the last time, my name is Magdalena."

"Yeah, yeah." I walk the short distance across the club, and the woman never even looks up at me, and I wonder what's quite so thrilling about the folds of her skirt.

"Hey," I say as I approach her, and she lifts her head quickly, her eyes wide.

"Yes?" Her voice is too loud, and as her gaze drops from mine, a little maze of crow's-feet spread from the corners of her eyes. I notice the sweep of opalescent shadow across her eyelids, the way her lips shimmer in a pale shade of carnation-pink, how a single brush of powder - subtly pastel - has been hastily swept across her cheeks.

I smile at her nervousness, and I am somehow surprised at how fragile she looks from this perspective. "I brought you a drink. You look like you need it."

Her laugh is low and sends a tingle through my belly. "Am I so transparent?" She looks up at me without moving her head, and in the strange light of the club, I can clearly make out each of her eyelashes.

"Afraid so."

I set the glass down on the low table beside her. She looks at it for a moment, and then looks back up at me. "If that's a Grasshopper, I'm going to have to kiss you."

My laugh is sharp. "Well then, honey, pucker up."

She smiles slowly. "You're so kidding me."

"Blame it on Magdalena, the bartender, who is obviously a super-genius. I'm considering hiring her."

I am painfully aware of the way her fingers curl around the glass, and the way her hair falls back from her face, exposing the long, smooth curve of her jaw, as she drinks. She sets the glass down next to her, and her tongue darts across her lips.

"Good?" I ask, and my voice sounds choked.

"Perfect." She smiles in earnest, obviously surprised at the tone of my voice and the way my hands have clenched into tight fists. Her skirt creeps up her legs, exposing pale flesh all the way up-to-there, but this time she makes no move to adjust her clothing.

Her eyes meet mine, and the edges of her gaze betray the exhaustion that clearly hides just below her surface, though even that somehow manages to be beautiful.

"So," I ask after a long moment, looking away, "I can't believe I haven't asked your name."

"CJ," she says. I had expected her to lie, to give me the name of whomever she wants to be tonight, but CJ rolls off her lips too simply, and I know she's telling the truth.

"Jodie," I reply, holding out my hand, though usually I would've said Anneliese, which seems somehow more European. She shakes it firmly, and the touch is like holding my fingers in an open circuit.

She takes a deep breath as she replaces her hand in her lap. "What business are you in Jodie? Politics?"

"Good God, no. I'm with NASA."

"A woman with a brain, huh?"

"I've been told it's my most attractive feature," I grin. I pause for a moment, and then look at her seriously. "So, CJ, why're you here on a random Thursday in December, dressed to the nines?"

Her eyes flash across me, taking in my slender waist and my long hair and my small breasts in a moment, and then she looks up into my face, her eyes focusing on my mouth. "I suppose I just couldn't worry about the nation for one more second. I'm a little, you know, tense." She smiles self-deprecatingly.

"I can tell."

She flushes. "Yeah. So, I was at the Kennedy Center listening to, like, some soprano—"

"Lucia Paventi," I say.

"Yes, right. From Italy. Did you know that Italy has 19,394 kilometers of railways?"

I grin. "No, but I find the fact that you do incredibly sexy."

"Well, that's me, yes," she says dryly. "Would it turn you on if I told you that 18,071 kilometers of that is 1.435 meter gauge?"

"God, yes," I laugh, setting my hand on her knee. She starts at the touch, jerking away from me. I pull my hand away from her, afraid I've ruined any chance that I might've had with her tonight. But slowly she looks back up at me, and she's smiling.

"Put your hand back."

And I do, and my fingers are traveling a leisurely path up her smooth, bare thigh and her legs are uncrossed and she's biting her lip.

"If you're lucky, later I'll list Italian political parties." I am only peripherally interested in why she knows this. The strangled sound of her voice is much more worthy of my interest.

"Sounds hot," I say, and after a moment of massaging this incredibly soft place several inches above her knee, I ask, "Want another drink?"

"Are you kidding me?" she asks breathily, and her pupils are dilated.

"Yes." My breath comes too quickly.

"Thank God."

"Come home with me," I say suddenly, and it's not quite pleading.

"Okay," she agrees without a moment's hesitation, and then she's standing and heading towards the door. She turns and looks back at me. "Coming?"

I stand and brush past her and cannot resist murmuring the obvious comeback, "Not yet."

She laughs and brushes her fingers against the small of my back through the charcoal cashmere of my sweater. Even through all that clothing her hands are hot. "You didn't think that was funny, did you?"

I smile. "I thought maybe it was intriguing or sexy or something."

"It was something, alright," she says, slipping on her coat. Before I have a chance to take my own, she's holding it out for me to slide my arms in.

"Ah, chivalry isn't dead," I remark with a smile and her hands linger for a moment too long against me.

"Watch it," she warns lightly, and suddenly we are outside and her arm is around my waist. I try not to worry that anyone will see us here, in the cold night as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, and her breath comes out in white clouds of fog.

"Or you'll do what, exactly?" I ask.

Her hand slides downward, taking a languorous trip across my ass. "I'll go home alone. It wouldn't be the first time."

"You wouldn't dare," I say, unlocking my car and opening the passenger- side door for her.

"Watch me," she replies, but slips into the car despite her protests. I close the door behind her, and when I am in the driver's seat, even the chilled leather behind my neck is not enough to cool me as she places her hand against my thigh.

She studies me for a moment in the half-darkness of the car, and I fumble to put the key in the ignition without looking away from her cold, bright eyes.

"Can I kiss you?" she asks suddenly.

"Jesus, woman," I breathe out, "I hope you'll do a lot more than that."

Her tongue is slick in my mouth, and her teeth taste like sweet like alcohol. Her hand is hot at the base of my neck, tangled in my hair, her lips pressing hard against mine as if she'd rather swallow than kiss me.

She is incredible, and as she leans away from me, leaving me closed- eyed and open-mouthed, her hand slides farther up my leg. I am dangerously close to being unable to operate a motor vehicle.

When I open my eyes, she's smiling. "I hope you live close."

"So do I," I reply idiotically, arching my hips oh-so-slightly towards her touch, and then she's kissing me again, and I'm turning the key in the ignition, and then I'm driving.

And she... she's breathing hard and smiling and looking at me out of the corner of her eye. She leans over to my ear, and whispers, "Bonino List, Christian Democratic Center, Christian Democratic Union, Communist Renewal--"

"Italian political parties?" I ask.

"You know it." She sucks on my earlobe, and I laugh as we speed off into the night.

-- end. Feedback treasured at radiant@bluelikethat.com


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