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Pepper’s Penance is a slow burning romance that unfolds over the course of twenty-three chapters. This is not a wham-bam story. But, if you’re into that sort of thing, I think you’ll like this one.
Chapter 13: The Upstairs Tour
I got the brief upstairs tour of Pepper’s one and a half story bungalow. It was just as charming as the rest and consisted of a bathroom and two bedrooms. I followed her lead toward the bigger of the two. We paused in the doorway.
“I don’t know what you’re expecting,” I said, as I stood there holding her hand, “but, I’m probably not the girl who’s going to rock your world and make you forget all your troubles in life.”
“I’m not all that experienced, either.” Pepper hung her head. “Long story.”
I wondered briefly how that could be, given that she had been in at least one committed relationship. But then I thought about the cancer diagnosis and decided now was not the time. Instead, I squeezed her hand and shifted my fingers so that they were intertwined with hers.
She peered up. I summoned my courage and brushed my lips across her cheek.
I felt her thumb caressing the length of my finger as we both hesitated. Finally, she crossed the threshold, pulling me along with her.
The bedroom had a cozy cottage feel, with the low ceilings following the roof line and a big dormer jutting out in the front. There was an antique steamer trunk along one wall partly covered with what looked like a blanket purchased from some Irish woolen mill. An old kerosene lamp converted to electric graced the top of a cherry dresser on the opposite side.
The ghost of Natalie had a heavy presence in this room. None of the accouterments said black jeans and a hoodie. It was quite the opposite. It was definitely a big step up from my Ikea furnishings.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Pepper said. “I didn’t do the decorating.”
She led me to an elegant four poster bed, that even without the canopy, spoke of another world, another lifestyle. There we stood, beside the bed, once again barely looking at each other.
The feeling of her hand on the back of my neck, and the press of her lips to mine, almost made me forget the words of hesitation perched on my tongue. Instead, a sucked bahis firmaları a breath and returned her kiss with one of my own.
“Ashley, are you…?”
“Yes,” I breathed, letting go of her hand and pulling her in with an arm around her waist. It was now or never in my mind.
“You don’t even know what I was going to say.”
I pressed my body against hers, feeling the quick rise and fall of her chest as the rhythm of her breathing began to match mine. I wanted this moment, this next step in intimacy, and I needed it to start before either of us had a chance to chicken out.
As I pulled her closer, I was rewarded by the feel of Pepper sliding her tongue along my lower lip. I parted my lips to let her in.
I felt a cold nose on the back of my calf.
“Guess who’s here,” Pepper said, looking down and sighing.
“It’s okay.” I touched my finger to the tip of Pepper’s nose. Not willing to lose her to distraction, I pulled my finger down over her top lip, finally coming to rest on the bottom. “She can stay,” I whispered.
“She usually sleeps in here.”
“Does she snore?”
Pepper grinned. “Not much.”
“It’s fine.” I moved my finger to underneath Pepper’s chin and leaned in.
She met me with lips parted.
Wrapping my hand around the back of her neck, holding her still, I stole her attention with my lips on hers. With my other hand, I pressed against the small of her back, closing any distance between us, hoping to block out any more intrusions from Trixie, or the ghost of Natalie.
“Mmm,” I heard, as I kept going, pushing my way between, enjoying the slippery warmth of her mouth, the texture of her tongue as she pressed back against mine.
I clawed at her shirt tails, bunching them up in my hands. I felt her pulling at my T-Shirt. I finally had her attention. I resolved not to let it stray.
I slipped my hand in the opening I had created just above her waistband and sent my fingertips dancing over her soft skin. Her heavy breathing, pulling the air from my mouth into her own, caused me to shiver.
I felt Pepper’s fingers pull in, bunching the fabric of my shirt in her fists, pulling until it was freed form my jeans. She pressed forward and wrapped her fingers around the side of my waist, making tiny, tickling kaçak iddaa circles on an upward journey. This was something we both needed.
I pressed in and moaned into her mouth.
Trixie jumped up on the bed, causing me to stiffen and break our lip lock with the disturbance.
Pepper grinned. “I can send her downstairs.”
“It’s fine. I’m just not used to it.”
We were back to where we started. Standing beside the bed, staring at each other’s feet, not moving. Except now, our shirts were untucked. We had come so far, I refused to let this fizzle out.
I reached for Pepper’s hand and brought it to my waist. Covering her hand with mine, I began moving up under my shirt, pressing her hard against my skin. It was me making the movements, but I was still shaking, breathing in shallow gulps, hoping against hope that Trixie’s intrusion wouldn’t end the night prematurely.
I leaned in to nip at her lower lip. “You’re not allowed to run off,” I said.
“It’s my house.”
I brushed my lips against hers. “You know what I mean.”
Trixie summed up our brief exchange with a sigh as she rolled over. Pepper giggled, breaking the tension of the moment. Distraction was winning out.
“Ash, I… it’s not easy for me. Being this close to someone—”
“At least let me be your friend,” I said, dipping my head to kiss just above the collar of her shirt, refusing to accept defeat. We had come so far.
Pepper shivered as I traced a line with my tongue all the way up to her earlobe.
“Platonic or not,” I whispered and stepped back, “It’s up to you.”
She gripped my shirt in both hands and pulled up. I raised my arms to help. We stood there staring at each other. After a while I ventured, “I guess platonic is out.”
Trixie snuffled and rolled to face the wall as I sat on the bed, pulling Pepper down with me to sit astride my lap. I was staring at a black sports bra again, wondering if she had any other colors in her wardrobe.
I touched my finger to her temple. “I know you’ve got a lot going on up here,” I said. “and I promise I’ll listen. I’ll be your friend, and your therapist if you need me to. But tonight… tonight I want you. Just you. Not Trixie, not Natalie… just Cayenne Pepper Alverez. I hope you don’t think that’s selfish of kaçak bahis me, because—”
I got my answer when Pepper leaned in hard enough to push me onto my back. She crawled up onto the bed, straddling me, looking down with an impish grin.
“Come on,” she said, and helped me scoot up so my legs weren’t hanging off the side anymore.
We looked at each other for a while—me with my head on the pillow and Pepper on her hands and knees above me, hair just inches from tickling my face. I puckered up and lowered my eyelids. Corny, yes, but it worked, and Pepper dipped her head for a kiss.
She sat back, straddling my legs. She touched her finger to my side and traced out a rib. “This isn’t going to make things weird between us is it, Ash?”
I watched her chew her lip. “I don’t think so,” I said.
“Good.” She straightened up and smiled. “‘Cause, I need all those things you said. I need you to be my friend. I don’t really have any. And probably sometimes I’ll need you to be my therapist. But, damn girl, you’re gorgeous, and I think I need you in my bed too.”
I felt the smile crossing my face. And when Pepper dropped down and began covering my stomach with rapid fire kisses, I felt something else too. I squirmed and giggled, but I felt relief.
She was so childlike and innocent in her expression of affection it made me feel Natalie’s presence in the room a little less. And Trixie, though still here, had given up and closed her eyes.
It was Pepper and me, alone at last. I subdued her by weaving my fingers in her hair. She slowed her kisses and peered up into my eyes. I reached to grab at her sports bra.
“You know, the first time I saw you in this, all I could think about was what I’d been missing out on with all those bulky sweatshirts you love so much. So let’s have it Miss Alverez. Show me what I’ve been missing.”
I tugged at the band. She helped. The garment went flying, landing who knows where. I rested my hands on her shoulders as I took in the view. Pepper’s eyes wavered as she watched me.
“Mine hooks in the front,” I said. “In case you were wondering.”
And while she fiddled with the clasp and worked to expose me, I spent my time squeezing her shoulders, trailing my fingers over her arms, trying to work up the nerve to go farther.
I felt a pop. Pepper grinned. My nipples were standing proud in the cool air.
It wasn’t long before Pepper bowed her head and warmed them, one at a time, suckling gently and swirling her tongue.
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