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Subject: {ASSM} That Perfect Place Where All The Lines Meet (FF) by Sam Cornell
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{Author's note: if you've read my stories before, then this is different - 
different characters, long, slow, very little sex. If you haven't read my 
stories before, then now you know what to expect from this one}.


That Perfect Place Where All The Lines Meet (FF)

by Sam Cornell


Immediately she walks into the office I recognize her. And remember. There 
isn't time to calculate how long it has been (ten years? twelve?) as a 
jumble of memories I'd thought were marked "Dangerous - revisit with care" 
come tumbling into my consciousness. Charlotte Whittaker - how long has it 
been?

***

February, the most miserable time of the year. I was fourteen years old, and 
the temper of the month infected the place like the fog on the school 
playing fields. I wanted to be home, with my parents, my pets, and even, so 
help me, my little brother Charlie. Late winter was a crushing time, months 
of cold damp and dark sapping my energy. What was to look forward to? I was 
an insignificant girl in an insignificant school in an insignificant country 
and I was beginning to feel that the slow transformation from child thru 
teenager to adult was too heavy a burden.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't have it as bad as some. No brace, no acne 
(well, not much) and I didn't get the killer periods that for some girls 
truly were The Curse. I was actually coping with the physical changes of 
adolescence quite well, although in the way of things I was worried that I 
was too tall and my chest too small. And although I wasn't popular, that 
didn't mean I was unpopular either. Part of the scenery, perhaps, a member 
of the supporting cast with no lines to speak. Okay at sport, okay at 
schoolwork, okay at drama, so okay at everything in fact that I would have 
killed to be really bad at something just for a change. Was this it? Was I 
headed for a life of average mediocrity? Like I said, what was to look 
forward to?

I had my friends - a best friend, Susie Dixon - but even there something 
felt a little unfulfilled. We had fun, sure, but I could tell that my 
relationships lacked the spark, the fizz, that some of the other students 
enjoyed. Susie, Kate and Emma were, I felt, a little disappointing, and I 
wanted life to give me just a little more. On reflection now, I realize I 
was a typical teenager, but at the time of course my situation felt unique 
and terrible.

***

By checking my electronic diary I find, to my intense disappointment, that 
Charlotte Whittaker is in the office to meet my colleague Richard. What to 
do? Barge in - "Don't mind me Richard, Charlotte and I were at school 
together, had a bit of a special thing going"? Or ambush her on the way out 
- "Psst, Charlotte, over here, behind the shrub, it's me Samantha, you 
remember"? Or maybe the past is best left well alone altogether.

Charlotte's meeting with Richard lasts over two hours, which gives me plenty 
of time to not do any work and worry about the best course of action.

***

I couldn't say when I was first aware of Charlotte's existence. There was no 
"Ohmigod who is that girl?" She was two years older than me, so two years 
above, which meant that she'd always been a part of my life at school, but 
as she'd never spoken to me or even had any reason to acknowledge that I was 
alive, I couldn't pinpoint a moment when I thought "that's Charlotte 
Whittaker".

She certainly had a presence, and one that I think most of the girls would 
have accepted was pretty cool. That's cool in that people looked up to her, 
admired her, not cool in the Sandra Best dark glasses, smoke pot, listen to 
Bauhaus and generally try too hard way. And I guess she was popular, but 
again not in the way the Vicious Circle maintained their iron grip on social 
acceptability by ruthlessly putting down anyone they decided wasn't in. 
Everyone else was trying to be something, Charlotte just was.

And pretty too. Not drop dead, and she certainly didn't bother with the 
relentless attention to designer detail of the official school glamorpusses. 
She was a little taller than average, with brown hair that she used to keep 
about shoulder length. I think because she was straightforward and grown-up 
and she smiled a lot that, in itself, made her attractive.

***

Richard and Charlotte are out of his office, going through the extended 
formalities of saying goodbye. Inevitably in all the time I've had I've 
failed to decide on a course of action, apparently now leaving it to spur of 
the moment indecision. The easiest thing would be to stay where I am, let 
her walk, and who knows, there might be another chance in the future. Or I 
could get her details from Richard, make contact on my own terms, "Hi 
Charlotte it's Samantha, I just knew it was you in the office the other 
day."

But I know that won't happen, that if I bottle it once I bottle it forever. 
Forget caution, there is only one chance.

She is standing by the elevator, on her own thank god, as I walk up to her. 
My heart is pounding - how difficult can this be? She is watching the floors 
tick up to ours. I could walk straight past, the bathroom is just down the 
corridor.

"Hi Charlotte, how are you?" She turns her head to look at me, and the first 
thing that I see is her eyes, and there's confusion, uncertainty, who am I, 
but Charlotte's too nice, too professional, to really let on and she smiles.

"Hi, I'm fine." A photofit parade is going on in her mind. How do I react to 
this rejection? I was halfway through my teens when she last saw me, and 
obviously I've changed a lot since then. But I remembered her. In fact I 
don't know what I think, just the fact I'm talking to her after all this 
time confuses all my emotions. "How are you?" Charlotte asks, stalling for 
time.

I decide to let her off. My hair's cut in an expensive bob, I'm wearing 
Armani, and I'm in the offices of one of London's leading law firms. Not 
many people would have predicted that at school.

"I'm fine, Charlotte, just fine. It's Sam, from school." I guess this is 
where I test her. Does she just say "Hi, how's it going?" Or maybe look a 
little embarrassed, awkward "Nice to meet you but I've got to dash"?

Charlotte pauses, blinks, then it's "Sam, my God, it's you, how are you?" 
and she's embracing me, both her arms around my shoulders, holding me, I 
remember the first time we did this, and it's me that's looking embarrassed 
in case the whole office is wondering why I'm hugging one of Richard's 
clients.

***

Charlotte became more than just a background presence to my life through the 
school play. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, and given that all the performers 
were going to be women the play's themes of cross-dressing must have seemed 
entirely appropriate to Mr. Dennis the English teacher and director. I'd 
always got the feeling he didn't like me, so when I landed the part of 
Sebastian it was a pleasant surprise. Charlotte was Viola, Sebastian's twin 
sister - I guessed one of the reasons for Mr. Dennis's casting was I was 
nearly as tall as Charlotte; and although my hair was and is almost black we 
were going to be wearing wigs, so we could just about pull off the whole 
mistaken identity thing.

I'll admit I was thrilled to be cast, and sort of honored to be recognized 
as Charlotte's twin, even if Sebastian is a far smaller part - which Mr. 
Dennis proceeded to reduce even further by cutting most of my lines, 
reinforcing my impression that my height won me the role. I didn't really 
care, the play's the thing.

I've already explained how, even when I didn't know her, Charlotte had a 
certain presence in the school. Now I was working with her, so as to speak, 
it was even more obvious that this was a girl out of the ordinary. So far as 
I could tell she didn't do anything to achieve this, and it was probably her 
abstention from all the petty teenage try-ons that made her so cool. So 
during rehearsals she didn't particularly talk to me, but she didn't treat 
me like I didn't exist either. She was natural. A natural.

A good actor too. I never thought she was heading for Hollywood, but she 
knocked the rest of us amateurs into a cocked hat. School plays are funny 
things, because to be a convincing actor you can't be self-conscious, and of 
course all teenagers are bursting with anxiety (my tits are too small, my 
breath smells, I look stupid) but for some reason we're all expected to put 
our neuroses away for the night and become Elizabethan heroes and heroines.

Because Charlotte didn't care, she just became Viola. She also managed to 
inject an emotion to the part which at the time I noticed but couldn't 
define. In retrospect it was sexuality, and Mr. Dennis, looking for a nice 
safe play that wasn't going to offend the principal or the parents, didn't 
like it. In fact, in all the productions I've watched (and since then 
Twelfth Night has been one of my favorite plays) I don't think I've seen 
such a sexy Viola. And that's not just because of what happened between 
Charlotte and I. No, she was all smoldering looks, lingering hands and 
heaving chests. No wonder we all fell in love with her.

***

Charlotte and I are sitting in a coffee bar around the corner from my 
office. I'd expected that she would have to go, we'd exchange business 
cards, promise to meet up soon, but no, she'd asked straight away if I could 
get away. There were things piling up on my desk, but thank heavens no 
meetings, so I said yes.

Sitting across the small table, I have a better chance to look at her face. 
She's still pretty, very pretty, with those sparkling blue eyes, but the 
lines of age are just beginning to show. She must be, what, twenty-eight, a 
little early for that I think. What has life done to her in the last twelve 
years?

"You're looking great," she says, "and doing so well. Look at you. No wonder 
I didn't recognize you." She pauses, then laughs at her own unintended 
insult. "You know what I mean, Sam, you were always going to be a star. But 
this..."

Charlotte's wrong, she was the one destined for great things. "Yeah, right," 
I say self-depreciatingly. "And what has Charlotte Whittaker, the greatest 
Viola the world has ever seen, been up to?"

She smiles, but again I sense a tiredness. "Oh, you know, this and that."

"What brings you to AMT?"

"I'm with a production company, and we're sorting out some of the legals. 
Silly stuff, really. Richard's very good." I want to say "With a production 
company? Surely you run half a dozen of them?" but something about her tone 
and demeanor persuades me that such a comment might hurt. And I realize, 
sitting opposite her, that even now, after twelve years, I couldn't bear to 
hurt Charlotte.

***

I wasn't, I'm sure, the only member of the cast to get a crush on Charlotte. 
What, anyway, does "a crush" mean? Did I have explicit thoughts about her? 
Not then, no. It's just I thought she was marvelous, she couldn't do 
anything wrong, and I wanted to be like her. And yes, when she spoke to me 
during rehearsals, or smiled at me when we passed in a corridor, my heart 
skipped a beat, but that was just because someone so impressive, so special, 
had chosen to acknowledge the existence of silly little me. There was 
nothing sordid, then, nothing hidden. If Charlotte had asked I'd probably 
have told her I thought she was the greatest girl on the planet and when I 
grew up I wanted to be like her.

Of course one of the problems, in a girls' school, was the absence of boys. 
That's not to say there was no contact at all. Far from it. Aside from 
seeing boys in town or at a friend's house, there was the Fuck Truck, a 
fortnightly delivery by coach of boys from the nearest boys' school for a 
disco. The problem for me was that my elder brother Andy was twenty and a 
Marine, and when you've had all his tanned, athletic and intelligent mates 
in the house, spot-ridden fourteen year olds with squeaky voices trying to 
breakdance don't hold much attraction. Fair enough I wasn't getting much of 
a look-in with the Marines, so maybe I simply transferred my affection to 
the nearest suitable role-model. Maybe.

We were at the stage in rehearsals where Mr. Dennis was trying to have us 
acting our parts as fully as possible. Although there are plenty of romantic 
scenes in Twelfth Night, and Charlotte, I think, was ready to give them her 
all, Mr. Dennis was determined, on the grounds of historical accuracy (he 
said), that the lovers should do no more than kiss each others' hands, in 
the courtly style. But there's also the scene where Sebastian and Viola, 
long-separated twins, are finally reunited. Because the characters are 
brother and sister and there's no hint of sex, Mr. Dennis was happy to 
suggest that Charlotte and I should embrace in the only really physical 
moment in the production.

I can remember when he first mentioned it. We'd been rehearsing for a few 
weeks, but I was still in awe of Charlotte. My first reaction was fine, but 
then I thought, hold on, I don't embrace anyone (except my parents) let 
alone Charlotte, does he really expect me to put my arms around her, press 
our chests together? This is Charlotte, for heaven's sake, I can't hold her, 
feel her.

As we walked towards each other, my face bright red from embarrassment, 
Charlotte gave me a little wink, a smile, Don't worry the play's the thing. 
And then there we were, standing in front of Mr. Dennis and the rest of the 
cast, arms around each other just like we would be years later by the lifts 
in AMT, and I was thinking It's never felt like this with Mum.

***

We've finished our coffees and I know it's time for both of us to go. The 
conversation has not flowed. I have, occasionally, run into school or 
college friends again, and it's nearly always the same - the years burn out 
whatever you once had in common. But I feel the awkwardness with Charlotte 
may be down to more than that, not our past, perhaps, but something 
different about her, something sad.

Is this it? I feel acutely disappointed. We were so close, so intimate, for 
a while, does that leave us with nothing?

"It's been really good to see you again," says Charlotte, looking even older 
now. I smile, feeling a little tearful. It has. Are we going our separate 
ways? Was this the lightest possible elision of the courses of our lives, a 
brush back together after over a decade?

Charlotte stands. She seems troubled, uncertain, and this is something I 
never saw before. "Listen," she says, "don't think I'm a sad old cow," now 
that's more like it, "but we've got the opening of one of our films at the 
weekend. It's nothing posh, at a cinema in Islington, and you may not even 
be into films, but I've got some spare tickets and..."

I can't bear to hear her babbling on. "I'd love to come. If you're asking."

She smiles, it's something of the old Charlotte. "It'll be nice."

***

I never quite got used to embracing Charlotte in Twelfth Night. She was 
quite developed for a sixteen-year old, and I suppose that feeling of her 
breasts pressed against mine was the first sexual contact of my life. It was 
nothing heavy, just a warm buzz that I didn't even understand. I probably 
thought it was all to do with the adrenalin of acting.

I got a better insight into my feelings on the afternoon of the dress 
rehearsal. As you'd expect, it was the first time any of us had tried on our 
costumes. Given the nature of the plot, Charlotte and I had some identical 
outfits, so together we occupied the same corner of the classroom we were 
using as a changing room. By now Charlotte and I enjoyed a good 
relationship, not friends but we would chat and joke about things, mainly 
the play. I know I basked in her approval.

Since the onset of puberty, like most teenaged girls I'd felt a little 
awkward dressing and undressing. It was something to be over and done with, 
an irritating and embarrassing interruption to the day's activities. So as I 
started to slip off my school uniform, with Charlotte Whittaker just a 
couple of feet away, I was even more than usually self-conscious, and I 
adopted all the typical subterfuges of putting the longer items on first, 
covering myself with my arms, that kind of thing.

Charlotte, of course, didn't bother with any of that. She wasn't brazen, or 
exhibitionist, she just wanted to get changed and the easiest and quickest 
way of doing that was by getting undressed. I was still struggling to put on 
my tunic with my skirt still on when Charlotte was standing in front of me 
in just her knickers and bra.

I had to look. This was Charlotte Whittaker, at the very least I could pick 
up some hints on what was the coolest underwear to wear.

I hadn't expected my reaction. She looked stunning! Yes, I thought that 
everything about Charlotte was marvelous, but even so, she was awesome. I 
was still developing, but in front of me, quite un-self-conscious, was a 
perfect young woman. She was wearing a simple white bra and knickers, but it 
was the shape of her legs, the pert curve of her breasts inside the 
material, the swell of her mons against the white crotch of her knickers, 
that simply took my breath away. There was no room for confusion here - I 
thought Charlotte looked hot.

I immediately blushed and looked away, but my whole mind was screaming at me 
to peek another look, you didn't see visions like that every day, even at a 
girls' school.

But she wasn't showing off, and in another ten seconds or so she had the 
heavy costume on. Which was when another problem arose.

"Mrs. Allison?" For obvious reasons Mr. Dennis wasn't allowed to help us 
with our costumes, so one of the art teachers was there to deal with any 
issues. Charlotte had an issue.

Mrs. Allison walked over to our corner. "It's the way it's cut," Charlotte 
said. "I'm fine with the off the shoulder look but you can see my bra 
straps." Despite my embarrassment at the way I'd reacted to Charlotte 
before, I reckoned this information entitled me to have another look. Sure 
enough she looked a little silly in the scarlet material with the twin 
stripes of her white bra strap running across her bare shoulders.

"You can wear a strapless tomorrow night, can't you?" offered Mrs. Allison. 
"It doesn't matter for this afternoon."

"I feel stupid," said Charlotte. "I look stupid. No-one's going to mind if I 
take my bra off - this dress has got enough corsetry in it to hold up a 
house."

Mrs. Allison was one of those life-is-boring-I-couldn't-give-a-shit type of 
teachers. She shrugged and walked away.

No-one else had heard, but I knew that Charlotte Whittaker was going to get 
her tits out in front of me. Of course, I'd seen lots of breasts before, but 
something about Charlotte, and the way she'd looked in her bra, meant this 
was different. Very different.

I did the decent thing and looked away, or tried to, but I was hypnotized by 
what was going on next to me, and by fiddling with my tunic managed to get a 
reasonable view. I think I knew then that what I was doing was as obvious as 
hell, but I just wanted to see.

Charlotte slipped the top of the dress down, and in a swift, accomplished 
motion unclasped her bra, dropped it to the floor, and lifted the dress back 
up again. But for a good two seconds I got to see Charlotte's breasts.

To this day they remain my definition of perfection. And of course I know 
that's probably because of the way my feelings were going, but even on any 
objective basis Charlotte had beautiful tits. I don't think words ever do 
breasts justice - there's something about their shape, their very character, 
that defies language. But I will try my best and say Charlotte's breasts 
were full, pert, creamy, topped with pink buds that were, I had time to 
notice, standing proud and erect.

In two hours time, towards the end of the dress rehearsal, those breasts, 
those nipples, were going to be pressed against mine.

***

The film is terrible. Another under-funded over-pretentious piece of cinema. 
Charlotte is busy with other things so we don't talk and we don't sit 
together. I am tempted to go straight home once it's over, but there is too 
much history drawing me back. Charlotte finds me after the performance and 
tells me there is a small party in an upstairs room in the pub opposite. Of 
course I go.

"What did you think of the film?" she asks, but before I have time to answer 
she continues "Fucking awful, wasn't it? I can't believe we get away with 
producing such stuff."

"It lacked a few basic elements," I reply.

"Yeah, like plot, character and direction," says Charlotte. "Let's get 
something to drink. I need it after sitting through that."

There's a sprinkling of famous people at the party, and I guess a few 
important faces I wouldn't recognize, but Charlotte devotes her attention to 
me. Once again, after all these years, I feel flattered.

Despite the fact that, in theory at least, this is a glamorous event, 
Charlotte has dressed simply, with little make-up. I like that. She doesn't 
need to make an effort. She never did, and she doesn't now.

"I'm sorry if I was a bit quiet on Wednesday," she says. "It was a bit of a 
shock seeing you like that. And you're doing so well!"

"Don't sound so surprised."

"I'm not, I'm pleased. Enough else gets fucked up in this world, it's good 
to see somebody doing it right."

"It's not all roses," I protest.

Charlotte looks down at my left hand. "You're not married?"

"Precisely," I say. "I've discovered that most men can't handle coming 
second place to a career."

She laughs. "Most men can't handle anything. Except themselves of course." 
And I laugh too. And I think maybe we're friends again.

***

I didn't sleep the night before the first performance. Yes, first night 
nerves played their part, but a bigger problem was the images in my mind, 
and the reaction my body was having to them. There'd been times with Andy's 
Marine friends I'd felt something, and I'd probably told Susie, Kate or Emma 
how I'd fancied them, but I'd never experienced anything like this. I was 
burning at the thought of Charlotte's body, burning.

Part of me was ashamed, disgusted that I'd peeked at her boobs and was now 
paying the price with my feelings. Everything in my life so far had led me 
to believe I was heading for an existence of quiet normality, not one that 
could be sent off into blissful torture by another girl's tits.

Of course I knew that part of adolescence is all about these things, and I 
was able to rationalize it partly by natural curiosity. But what was I to do 
about the feeling between my legs, about the way my nipples ached to be 
touched?

There is no power like that on earth. My fingers were drawn, urged, and I 
have no idea how many times I had to consciously stop myself from touching 
myself. I'd had brief forays before, yes, explorations, but never such an 
impetus to a straightforward wank. Eventually, as the curtains in my room 
began to lighten with the morning light, my nipples found some relief with 
the circling of my fingers, and then I was drawn to the hot wet focus of my 
lust, my fingers were searching for the throbbing epicenter, and then I was 
coming, shaking, moaning, spastic, my mind burnt with the imprint of 
Charlotte's tits.

***

The film party is drawing to a close. I suspect most of the guests would 
have it down as a C-minus but I've had a blast. I know Charlotte and I can 
arrange to meet again, but it's the weekend, she's good company, and I just 
don't want it to end.

I've been letting Charlotte make the running, but it feels right to let her 
know that she's not, in her own words, just a "sad old cow".

"I'm not ready to call it a night yet, Charlotte, do you know anywhere we 
could go on to?"

She looks pleased at the suggestion. "You know London licensing. Can't let 
the munitions workers get too pissed. If you don't mind loud jazz there's a 
pub just up the road that's open late."

Like almost anywhere open in London after eleven at night the pub is 
heaving, but after a long wait at the bar Charlotte and I have a bottle of 
wine ("It'll save queuing again") and a squashed corner. The band's okay, 
although the volume's such that we have a little difficulty making ourselves 
heard.

I want to get beyond Charlotte's bland evasions, find out why there's such a 
feeling of melancholy about her.

"Okay," I say, "so I'm the big success story. What've you been doing since 
the triumph as Viola?"

Charlotte grimaces - it's meant to be comic but I'm not convinced. "You 
don't want to know. Trust me."

I reach out and take her hand. I'm a little drunk, and it's an impulsive 
gesture, but both of us are startled by the contact. "I'd like to know, 
Charlotte. If you'd like me to."

She smiles, but it expresses only sadness. I can see she is considering her 
words. It's been so long, we're really strangers. Can she open up after a 
coffee and a glass or two of wine? Eventually, and I can feel the effort 
it's taken her, she says "You may not like me very much Sam."

"I doubt that." She smiles - how the hell would I know?

"Have you ever done any coke, Sam?" I shake my head. "Ever wanted to?"

"Not really."

"Good. Somehow I knew you wouldn't. Whereas me..." She trails off. Of course 
it's difficult for her. I realize I am still holding her hand, and I squeeze 
it gently. "I could put almost every single fuck-up in my life down to that 
white powder. Except, of course, that's a cheat, because it isn't the 
powder, it's me."

I have no idea what to say. "You didn't seem like the type to have drug 
problems," I offer.

"Is there a type?" Charlotte asks. "You think I was sensible, back then? I 
was. Life was effortless. Truly, I enjoyed myself at school, and Uni. I was 
myself, and people liked me. What better recipe for success?"

"So how did you get into coke?" I feel a little like a breathless 
schoolchild, but then Charlotte and I have been there before.

"I thought coke was the drug of choice for successful people," she says, 
bitter. "Course they don't tell you it will leach away your success." She 
shakes her head. "Now I'm feeling sorry for myself, and that, dear 
Sebastian, is not the point." She shakes her head, clearing her thoughts. 
"The point is, being successful got boring. I was in advertising. Account 
manager. Everyone liked me. You probably know there's a lot of coke in 
advertising, right?"

"It's in the job description."

Charlotte laughs, but there's no humor. "At first I said no. `I don't need 
that'. Then, what the heck, it would beat everyone being bowled over by how 
charming I was." I briefly think "Oh dear the burdens of brilliance" but 
kick my unkindness away. "Everything looked different after that. One of my 
counselors told me, it doesn't matter what you were before you took coke, 
it's a great leveler, it makes slaves of everyone. And boy did it me. To 
start with I was witty charming like never before. Then you still crave the 
buzz, but the effect, well gradually people tire. You're just another 
fucking cokehead. I lived for that drug. Till I couldn't conceive of doing 
anything, even getting out of bed, without my fix. So, to cut this long and 
rather tedious story short, it cost me my job - they like coke in 
advertising, but only the right amount, whatever that might mean - all my 
possessions, my house, and my marriage. Sorry, I didn't mention I was 
married. Went to prison, for theft." She can see I looked shocked. 
"Twenty-eight days in Holloway. Now that was a contrast to school. I'm clean 
now," she adds, her voice desperate in case I think she is unworthy of my 
company.

I look at Charlotte. The hair, the eyes, the body, so much is recognizable, 
but is this really the Charlotte Whittaker I knew and, however you might 
want to qualify the word in an adolescent context, loved?

"You haven't changed," I say. "A lot of shit, a lot of experience, yes, but 
you're still there. Who better to judge? I haven't seen you for twelve 
years, I knew you, well, I knew you pretty well," it's as close as I can 
come to referring to what happened, "and I can tell you, whatever crap's 
happened, whatever places you've been, you walked into my office and I knew 
immediately, straight away, that's Charlotte Whittaker, that's the girl," 
and I'm crying now but I don't care because I'm not coming to this noisy 
fucking pub again anyway, "that's the girl we all loved. That's the girl I 
loved."

***

Sebastian managed to embrace Viola all three performances of Twelfth Night 
without coming on stage once. The first night he spent a few moments after 
trying to remember his lines, but Viola, in the kind way you'd expect a long 
lost twin to, gently brought him back into his part.

We all thought it was a triumph, but I suspect it was really an average 
hammy school production, with a few of the more discerning parents realizing 
that the Viola was something special.

There was a formal cast party after, all sandwiches and orange cordial, but 
after that Orsino (Sally Braithwaite) was having a party at her parents 
house, and most of the cast, including me, had permission to stay over. 
Sally's parents, thank god, were the type who thought that a little drinking 
before your eighteenth birthday is probably a good thing, so we all expected 
it to be a night to remember.

I say cast party, but that would have left it girls only, so boyfriends, 
brothers and other appropriate hangers-on were also welcome. Make no 
mistake, tho, we were the cast and it was our party.

I felt the best I could ever remember feeling. During all the weeks of 
rehearsals we'd built up quite a camaraderie, and now we'd pulled it off the 
feeling was magical. In fact for a while I went around telling everyone I 
was going to be an actor, until I realized just how stupid I sounded.

One blot on my evening was the fact Charlotte brought her boyfriend. No 
mention of him had been made before, and in some unconscious way I'd willed 
myself to believe that Charlotte was single. Yeah, right. He was 
good-looking, friendly, and complimented me on my performance. Of course 
Charlotte had a perfect boyfriend.

I'd been careful not to get drunk, but I didn't know then the way even small 
amounts of alcohol exaggerate your mood, and at some point I found myself 
slumped in an armchair feeling sorry for myself for reasons I didn't dare 
define.

It was Charlotte who came over to talk to me. "Everything okay, oh long lost 
not-so-identical brother of mine?" She didn't think much of the plot of 
Twelfth Night.

I shrugged, the alcohol and my raging disappointment making me sulky.

"Anything I can do?" she continued.

I wanted to seem like I was fine, like I was just making polite 
conversation, but of course I was incapable of doing anything other than 
saying exactly what was on my mind. "Your boyfriend seems nice."

Charlotte nodded. "Mm, he's sweet." Then she leant into me slightly. 
"Between you and me, I don't think it'll last." My mood lifted totally, and 
of course - and how artless and fourteen-year old I was - that was exactly 
Charlotte's intention.

"But he's nice," I repeated, maybe wanting Charlotte to repeat her 
rejection.

"Sometimes," she said, sliding onto the arm of the chair next to me, "nice 
just isn't enough."

***

Charlotte has shed one single solitary tear. Maybe that's what years of 
cocaine does to you. Or maybe that's the way we've always been, Samantha 
overreacting and Charlotte calm and level. We just haven't seen each other 
for a long time, that's all.

"Sometimes, Sam," she says, "you make it sound like you were never going to 
get on. That's wrong, you know, you were always special."

I shrug, before I realize it's exactly the way I always responded to 
Charlotte's compliments. "You're bad for me," I laugh, "you're really bad 
for me. You take me back." Charlotte laughs too. "Take me home," I ask.

***

The cast party was dying down, and I realized that I'd been chatting to 
Charlotte for, well I had no idea, hours. About school, the Vicious Circle, 
friends, pets, family, everything. And not just me talking, we'd been 
talking. However much I'd thought of Charlotte as a stunning grown-up she 
was actually a sixteen-year-old with a pet cat that was a little too old, a 
father that apparently didn't speak to her, and many of the other assorted 
crap that's an inevitable by-product of adolescence. And though I thought I 
was a worm at the time, those two years between us didn't always have to 
mean too much.

I was getting sleepy. "I reckon the party's over," said Charlotte. "We ought 
to move now if we're going to get a room."

I was awake like a shot. Charlotte was offering to share a room with me? I 
muttered "yeah", hoping that I wasn't somehow confused, that I hadn't 
misheard. Of course I knew she was only talking about crashing out, but even 
so.

We walked through the dimly lit lounge, Charlotte offering "Good nights" 
here and there, me praying that no-one was going to interrupt the moment. 
Then we were up the stairs, up towards one of Mr. Braithwaite's many 
bedrooms (thank heavens for the global success of the Ford Motor Company, I 
briefly thought), and I was thinking, okay we're only crashing out, but even 
so, is Charlotte even offering to share a room with me?

All the time I knew it was too good to be true, and there, at the top of the 
stairs, was Lisa Picton, one of the Vicious Circle, same year as Charlotte 
and I knew they were on speaking terms. She wasn't even invited, for fuck's 
sake.

"Hi Charlotte." Of course Lisa ignored me. I didn't exist. "Good party, 
huh?"

Charlotte nodded sleepily. "We're looking for a place to crash." Now Lisa 
was looking at me, this time with undisguised contempt. Who the fuck was she 
to decide who Charlotte should crash out with? "I think most of the rooms 
are taken. You know what I mean." That last part was definitely addressed to 
Charlotte, with the implication that sex was a little bit above my fourteen 
year old head. "I was going to go outside and smoke some pot. Do you fancy 
some?" Again this was definitely not directed at me.

My heart stopped. All I wanted was to share a room. Not too much to ask. Why 
the fuck would Charlotte want to go and smoke at this time of the morning?

Charlotte smiled. "That's sweet but I'm all in. See you." We walked on down 
the corridor, leaving a respectful distance before Caroline muttered "She's 
such a bitch" to me.

***

I live the other side of London from Islington, and I still have no idea 
where Charlotte calls home, but we manage to find a cab and she comes with 
me all the way to my front door.

"You've got a house!" she exclaims. "You're such a star."

"Come inside," I say.

Charlotte looks at her watch. "Look, it's late, I'll never get another black 
cab and I hate dodgies..."

Just this once I'm not arguing. "Come inside. It's a big house and you can 
stay the night."

***

Lisa may have been a bitch, but as we searched the Braithwaite house I was 
getting increasingly convinced she was, at least, an honest bitch. Every 
room was taken, and I was beginning to despairingly believe Charlotte and I 
were going to end up on the lounge floor with all the other slowcoaches.

It was Charlotte who noticed the dark passage. "We could try down here." I 
wasn't too sure, but something powerful inside me wanted to find our own 
private place. It was only about six feet, and then we were at a door. 
"Cross your fingers," said Charlotte, "I think this is our last chance." She 
opened the door and turned the light on. An empty bedroom. An empty bed. The 
sort of place obscure aunts were placed when all the rest of the family were 
staying too. "Perfect," said Charlotte. Yes, perfect.

***

Charlotte and I sit by the fire. I always leave it made up in the unlikely 
event of meeting a man who looks capable of coping with both me and my 
career. Tonight I set it thinking of Charlotte, and here she is. My dreams 
have come true, again.

***

Charlotte stripped to her underwear, but I remained fully clothed, despite 
the fact the room was totally dark now the light was off. Were we okay both 
on the bed? she'd asked. We were. Now that I was there, now that we were so 
close, I was terrified. Not of her, or me, or us, just terrified because I 
wanted something to happen, and I couldn't begin to think what.

We lay there for some time. I don't know how long, it seemed ages. 
Eventually I decided to speak, unable to bear the tension, thinking that 
maybe I could use an excuse about finding out where the bathroom was.

"Charlotte?"

"Yes?"

"Sorry, I thought you were asleep." Well that was several points lost for a 
stupid reply. She didn't pass comment.

"You okay, Sam?"

"Yeah, I'm just a bit, you know, after the play and everything, excited."

"Me too. It was good, wasn't it? You were good. Made a very sexy Sebastian." 
I wondered what I was hearing. "I'm sure you'll be the most popular girl in 
school on Monday. For the wrong reasons, of course."

There were so many things I wanted to say to Charlotte. Could I say any of 
them?

"You looked beautiful, Charlotte. The perfect Viola." In the darkness I 
could hear Charlotte chuckle. "No, I mean it, you were beautiful."

***

"Of course I was flirting with you." Charlotte has a glass of wine in her 
hand. In the flickering light of my fire all the lines, all the worries, 
have been smoothed from her face, and we are two young women, two young 
girls, alone. "I thought it would cheer you up."

"But I was cheered up by then," I reply. "From the moment the wonderful, the 
one-and-only Charlotte Whittaker sat on the edge of my chair and devoted the 
rest of her party to me, I was happy."

"You're such a lawyer," she complains, her tone happy. "Okay, I was flirting 
with you, because I knew you wanted me to, and...because it was fun, to flirt. 
With you."

"With me?"

"You're doing it again, Samantha, come on. You were tall, pretty, with an 
attractively stroppy edge. Why shouldn't I flirt with you?"

"Because...because you weren't gay. You didn't fancy me."

"Sam I don't think either of us were gay. And at that time it wasn't a 
question of fancying. You thought you were confused - I managed to get 
myself in a state too. When we were getting changed, for the dress 
rehearsal, and I saw you looking at my tits, and I saw the way you were 
looking. That had never happened to me before, not with a girl. I liked you 
and you were pretty and I realized it felt nice to have that kind of 
admiration. I didn't think we were going to do anything, but it was fun to 
play, to flirt. It was a game, and I guess I played it pretty unfairly. But 
lying in bed with you, knowing you were going through a bit of a crush, I 
was so turned on."

***

I started to talk to Charlotte. I mean I really started to talk. About 
everything, from the first embrace to the costume change to the way I was 
feeling now. A lot about how I was feeling now. This was my chance, and my 
total lack of experience meant I had no way of taking it other than by 
flatly laying my cards on the table.

"I know it's wrong," I said, "but it's how I feel, Charlotte. You're so 
beautiful and I don't care if you think I'm a lesbian, I don't care if I am 
one, I just know how much I want to..." What did I want to?

There was no reply from Charlotte.

"Shit." I started to cry. I heard a rustle and then her hand was on my face, 
stroking me, wiping away my tears. From despair her touch was electric.

"Don't cry, Sam. What you're saying is beautiful. You're beautiful." She 
sighed, the sounds coming from somewhere deep within. "Listen, you're turned 
on, I'm turned on, we've both just experienced the best fucking Viola 
since...fuck, I don't know any other Violas, that means the best Viola ever. 
You're beautiful, Sam, I mean that, I'm not just saying it, but now is not 
the right time for anything."

***

"Were you turned on?" I ask. I feel the need for answers to my questions.

"You know I was."

***

I clutched onto the straw she offered me. "You're turned on, so let's do 
something about it," I said. "No-one would know."

"I would know," Charlotte replied, "and so would you. However much I want 
it, or we want it, it wouldn't be right."

"Why not? If it would feel good, it would be right. We could just bring 
ourselves off. I don't think I'm going to sleep otherwise." The last bit was 
meant to be a threat, or maybe a plea, but I was just showing my 
inexperience and desperation.

Charlotte sighed again. "Sam, believe me, trust me, you're good and you're 
beautiful and you're sexy but if we fucked now I'd be taking something away 
from you. I'd feel I was exploiting your trust, and you would too. I don't 
want to damage you, to make you think any kind of abuse is normal in a 
relationship"

"It wouldn't be abuse," I counter, my voice a little desperate. "It would be 
beautiful."

"Beautiful abuse. The worst kind. Listen, Sam, I know I'm not explaining 
this well, but I have to try. Yes, I feel hot for you, really hot, and the 
easiest thing in the world would be to give in, for us to fuck, but I can't, 
I mustn't, I think it would change both of us forever if I did something to 
do you I even suspected was wrong."

I started to cry again.

***

Charlotte and I are close now. I realize I've been wrong all this time, she 
is not just pretty, she is beautiful. Somehow the years have completed her 
face, brought out all her features, confirmed her.

"I hated you crying."

"I hated you."

"Even when I held you?"

"That was worse. I could feel your hot fucking tits against me."

Caroline smiles, sly, confident. "Your tits felt pretty hot too."

"You could have had them," I say. "You could have had anything."

"That was the point. I'd played with flirting with you, and then we were 
both in too deep. I think I wanted it as much as you, Sam, but I felt I was 
taking advantage. You were so sweet, and that would have been wrong."

"Ever regret it?"

"I've liked the idea of us fucking." She blushes. "No, I was right. Do you 
know, Sam, there've been times, when the glass has seemed really empty, I've 
thought that was it, I've never felt so close, I've never been so intimate, 
feeling your tears, feeling your sadness and your love. Nothing in my life 
has been so unconditional as you."

I look at Charlotte, look at those sparkling blue eyes, undimmable, the 
explanation of our lives over. "You didn't fuck me," I say.

"You weren't ready," she replies.

***

What is it like to fuck after waiting twelve years? It is passion, it is 
animal, it has no constraints or limits, it is all consuming, and it is 
better, I have it on reliable information, than cocaine.

It is a feast for the eyes, the nose, the mouth. Charlotte's breasts, freed 
once again from the constraints of a bra, are still magnificent. "I was 
always right," I say, this time nuzzling hard at the erectness of her 
nipples, "they are perfect." And she draws me on, urging me, harder, harder, 
bite them.

And then we explore new territory, shameless, hussies, although we are both 
virgins to this, seeking only pleasure and giving pleasure. The sight, 
again, of her knickers, only this time I am inches away and Charlotte's 
fingers in my hair urge me ever closer, see me, see the swell of my mound 
under the cotton, feel the spring of my pubic covering under the material, 
see and touch the dampness of my knickers, Sam, my slickness, you make me 
wet, over all these years you make me wet.

Charlotte's cunt is pink and juicy, an overripe fruit, as if it has waited 
all these years to be properly taken, and I eat as if I too have endured 
years of famine. There are no boundaries, her ring is a dark little target, 
forbidding and inviting, and I snack in that place too. Every inch of her is 
a new delight, something to be ravished without hesitation, it has already 
been too long. I revel in every scent and flavor, tasting and breathing 
Charlotte. As I give I receive, feeling her mouth and her tongue and her 
fingers exploring all of me, I open myself wide, exposing everything to her 
sight and touch, begging her into all of me.

We come so quickly, arms and legs locked around each other, our faces 
contorted in the extremity of release, embracing like Sebastian and Viola 
would never have dared, scared that in the moment of release, somehow we 
will slip apart again.

I fall asleep in Charlotte's arms, as I did twelve years ago, crying, her 
soft fingers wiping the droplets from my cheek. It is the same but it is 
different. It is over, and it is beginning.

The End. Of the story.

Please send your comments, Sam.




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