Myrine put her hand on Lily's shoulder and gave her a gentle shake. "Come on now, Lily. I thought you were doing pretty well this time."
"Oh, I have been," Lily said, smiling broadly while a couple of fat tears sneaked into the corners of her eyes and sat there, waiting for gravity to do its dirty work. All the activity surrounding the strike had acted as a delaying tactic, but now the momentum was fading and the breakup was finally catching up with her. "I'm just getting drunk and maudlin."
Gravity had its way, and the two intruders coursed slowly down Lily's cheeks. Myrine wiped them away tenderly with the back of her hand. "You should have ditched him years ago," she said with more gentleness than she felt. Seeing Lily in such a state made her mad all over again.
"Don't you like Adam?" Lily asked, sniffling.
"Of course I like Adam--when he's nice to you. I'm just of the opinion that he treats you like dirt."
"But you're not necessarily a supporter of absolute monogamy either," Lily said, her tongue tripping over all the big words.
"Maybe not, but Adam knows what his little adventures do to you, and if he really cared, he wouldn't have them."
"You're right. He's a bastard."
"That's the way, Lily," Myrine said encouragingly.
"He's a bastard and I love him," Lily wailed and started to sob, dropping her head onto Myrine's shoulder.
Myrine put her arms around Lily and hugged her close. "Hey, Lily, it's okay. No man is worth crying about."
"I know, but we do it all the time anyway. Oh, nothing ever works," she mumbled into Myrine's shoulder. "With Adam," she added on second thought, and gave way to sniffles as well as tears.
Myrine patted Lily's back and rocked her gently. "It's okay," she repeated.
Diana appeared in the kitchen door and shook her head at the scene that greeted her. "Oh, Lily," she said, sighing. Lily looked up with a wet face and a feeble smile. "Better take a couple of aspirin before you go to bed tonight."
Lily did her best to laugh, but it came out more like a sob.
"That Di," Myrine said, her arm still around Lily's shoulders.
Lily was no longer sobbing, but the wine and the late hour made her feel like a wreck, physically and emotionally. She was crying soundlessly, the tears seeping out of the corners of her eyes and running down her cheeks without a sniffle to accompany them. She stared into Myrine's hazel eyes and made a wry face.
"Well, maybe this time the breakup is for good," Lily said with drunken determination and suddenly began to cry again in earnest.
"Shhh, Lily," Myrine soothed her, pulling Lily closer so that she was almost sitting on Myrine's lap. Lily nestled her head close to Myrine's throat and tightened her arms around her waist. It was so nice to have a comforting place to cry. Myrine caressed Lily's hair and the nape of her neck and began to massage her shoulders gently. "You going fetal on me?" she asked.
Lily sniffled and smiled. "It's nice to have someplace to go fetal."
Myrine hugged her tight and stroked her back, and slowly Lily's sobs began to recede. She sat quietly, letting herself be administered to. She felt pampered and cared for.
Gradually Lily became aware that the character of the caresses was changing. Myrine's hands were circling in the vicinity of her waist, making tender excursions to the small of her back and her hips. Lily couldn't deny a noticeable physical reaction to the movement of Myrine's hands, a reaction of a sexual nature. She became motionless in the circle of Myrine's arms, her head on her friend's shoulder, eyes closed, concentrating curiously on what was happening to her. Tentatively, her hands too began to move below Myrine's waist, transgressing the boundary between the friendly and the sexual, no longer platonic. Lily's underwear was becoming decidedly, unmistakably wet. She had never thought another woman could make her underwear wet.
Lily wiped her eyes and lifted her head. They gazed at each other for a fraction of a second, and then Myrine's mouth closed over Lily's gently. It was soft and tender and knowing. After the first shy attempts, they began kissing in earnest. But when Myrine's tongue darted into her mouth, Lily drew back and shook her head as if to clear it of the alcoholic fumes fogging it up.
This was very, very weird. Maybe she was so drunk that she was imagining it. But she couldn't have imagined making out with Myrine in the kitchen. It had to be real.
What would Diana think if she happened to get up and go to the bathroom and see them through the door? No, she was surely sleeping the sleep of those blessed by Bacchus. Or the neighbors? Could someone see them through the windows?
Myrine was looking at her patiently, a strange light in her eyes that Lily had never seen there before. It scared her. They had been through thick and thin, animals and amazons together, they'd known each other for a third of their lifetimes, and now all at once Myrine seemed like a stranger.
Lily stood up abruptly. "I don't understand anything anymore. I'd better brush my teeth and go to bed."
Myrine shrugged. "Life is full of surprises." She helped Lily into the bathroom and even put the toothpaste on her toothbrush for her. Lily accepted the assistance gratefully. Everything was doing jerky half-turns around her.
She stood unsteadily next to Myrine as they brushed their teeth, something they must have done together hundreds of times, but never like this. Lily met Myrine's eyes sheepishly in the bathroom mirror. Suddenly, they were embracing and kissing passionately, no longer shy with tongues, mouths full of toothpaste, toothbrushes still in hand, forgotten.
It was remarkable how much softer a woman felt in your arms, Lily thought, even a woman like Myrine, long and lean. There were more curves to her, breasts like her own, though smaller, pressing against hers...
Lily broke away, took the few steps to the toilet, bent over and got violently sick.
Myrine dampened a washrag, leaned over her and cleaned her face gently. When Lily was quite finished, she stood up uncertainly and looked at Myrine. They gazed into each other's eyes, and Myrine put her arm around Lily's shoulders. "Come on. I'll help you to bed."
"But that's all, okay?"
Myrine helped her up the stairs and tucked her in, so kind and caring Lily could hardly believe it. Was this the sarcastic genius she knew--and loved? But how? How did she love her? She would have to sleep on that one. And did.
Myrine gave Lily a tender kiss on the forehead and left the room quietly, a lopsided smile on her face.