Dr. Stephanie Jones stood up from her desk and crossed her surgery consulting room to the window. She opened the blind, which was kept closed during surgery hours to protect patients’ privacy, and stared out at the small parking lot. The tarmac shimmered in the heat of the summer day. It was hot inside, too, despite the air conditioning. She could feel the perspiration trickling down her back, making the white linen shirt cling to her skin. Once again, she was grateful for the fact that she wasn’t wearing pantyhose or stockings. Pity about the shoes, though. She could have worn her multi-colored open beach sandals, but they wouldn’t have been appropriate for the surgery. She sighed and stretched, easing tight neck muscles, then checked her wristwatch. It was exactly 1pm. She sighed again; no time for lunch before afternoon home visits. Perhaps she could grab a sandwich, eat on the run.
She walked out to the reception area, locking the consulting room door behind her. Alexandra, the receptionist, handed her the list of patients to visit. Stephanie was relieved to see that the list was short; she should be finished by mid-afternoon and then the rest of the day would be hers. She wasn’t scheduled to be on duty for evening surgery. Stephanie had nothing planned. She never had.
Alexandra smiled. She was a lovely, motherly, woman; late middle aged yet still showing signs of the young beauty she had once been. That young beauty had evolved and developed into a mature loveliness. Four children hadn’t made her any less desirable. Stephanie had seen the way the male patients of all ages looked at Alexandra. And she understood why. Yet Alexandra was never tempted: thirty years of marriage weren’t about to be thrown away for a fling. And Alexandra loved her husband and family too much to leave them, Stephanie knew.
She returned the receptionist’s smile.
“What will you do with your evening off?” Alexandra asked. Stephanie shrugged.
“Don’t know,” she said. “What I always do, I suppose. Read a book, watch a T.V. movie. It’ll be really exciting, whatever it is.” She laughed. She wasn’t going to tell Alexandra how bored she felt. How alone she was. She didn’t like to admit that to herself; she wasn’t going to share it with others, no matter how kind they were.
“You should be out with some nice young man,” Alexandra told her. “You shouldn’t be sitting at home on your own watching a TV movie. At your age, if you’re going to watch a movie, you should have some male company. A man to cuddle up to.”
Stephanie just smiled to herself; a slightly bitter smile. At her age! Alexandra was quite right, of course. Alexandra was one of those remarkable women who were always right, especially when it came to summing up people. The trouble was, Stephanie hardly knew any men. And the men she did know, she wouldn’t go on a date with. She’d had offers in the past, of course. She knew she was attractive: beautiful, even. Tall, slender, though her figure was full and curved where it ought to curve. Long, thick and glossy, her hair hung to just past her shoulders and curled over her forehead in a small fringe. And she wasn’t a virgin. Within three months of starting med school, her virginity was a thing of the past. She’d played around, dating the college football stars, doing the rounds of the most eligible men. And none of the guys she’d been with had done anything for her. Gradually, her studies and her career had taken over until she achieved her ambition: a general practitioner in a busy surgery on the outskirts of a small yet bustling city. The place had the best of everything: not only was the surgery well-equipped, and great to work in, but open country was only twenty minutes’ drive away and all the usual city attractions were easily accessible. Old Dr. Portman, the senior partner, was a joy to work for, and the other three doctors were friendly and fun But there was no-one to share her life with. Not even a cat.
She scanned the list as she picked up her medical bag and headed for the door. All routine calls. All but one were regulars: people who were rarely able to make it to the surgery. So the surgery came to them. The unknown patient wasn’t serious, so she’d leave her to last. Stephanie was pleased: bored or not, she was in the mood for a nice quiet afternoon. A few elderly patients with aches and pains or hay fever; a chest infection or two. Nothing too complicated.
It was three-thirty by the time Stephanie reached her last patient. She checked the name and address again: she didn’t know Mrs. Kathy Rose. And she didn’t know this part of town. It wasn’t exactly town, though. It was a few miles outside town. The small house stood alone at the end of an unpaved lane. Ruts that in the rains of autumn and winter would turn into mud-filled car traps were baked hard enough to threaten the life of a 4x 4’s suspension, never mind Stephanie’s ten year old saloon. She considered leaving her car and walking the rest of the way. But it was too hot and she knew she risked turning an ankle on the treacherous surface.
The house was old, though well cared for, and fronted poker oyna by a couple of acres of what should have been pasture. The heat and lack of care and water had killed the grass, turning the ground into a dustbowl. Off to one side of the house was a stable block; the doors had been left open to show the present occupant: a small new SUV.
Stephanie knocked on the newly and brightly painted door.
“It’s open, doctor, come on in!” The voice that called from inside was light and friendly. Stephanie pushed the door open and walked into the house. After the bright sunshine, the front hall felt gloomy, almost in twilight; but cool, fresh and welcoming at the same time.
“In here!” The voice came from a room at the back. She walked down the hall, then went through an open door into a bright, colorful sitting-room. Small-paned windows gave a view onto a courtyard garden that had been invisible from the front of the house; the windows were open to allow a fragrance of Frangipani, Lavender and Jasmine to flood the room. This area of land, at least, had been groomed and manicured into a beautiful little garden. A woman, probably in her late forties, sat on a small, floral-patterned two-seat sofa, her left leg resting on a footstool.
“Are you Mrs. Rose?” Stephanie asked. Even from the door, she could see that the woman’s foot and ankle were swollen.
“In person,” Kathy Rose said. “Please, come on in and sit down.” She patted the space next to her on the sofa.
Stephanie sat on the sofa next to Kathy Rose and looked around the room. Oak bookshelves covered two walls and a third was hung with pictures: oils, watercolors, and framed photographs. All showed a preoccupation with light: the sun shining through trees and dappling the floor of a forest clearing; glints of gold in a young woman’s hair. And they were all expertly done; the artist had real talent. Stephanie loved the room: the pictures, the books, the view of the garden. She turned her attention to the woman next to her. Her patient.
“What can I do for you today, Mrs. Rose?” Mrs. Kathy Rose looked puzzled.
“Are you Dr. Jones?,” the woman asked. “I heard you were joining the surgery. I usually see Dr. Portman. Not that I’m complaining,” she said hurriedly, smiling. “It’s so lovely to meet you!”
Mrs. Kathy Rose was, like Stephanie, dressed for the weather, though less formally: a loose-fitting, almost baggy, though obviously expensive, peach-colored cotton pants suit. Her blonde hair was cut short and immaculately styled and her only jewellery was a gold necklace: a thin chain that seemed to glow against her satin skin.
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Rose,” Stephanie said.
“No-one calls me Mrs. Rose anymore,” the woman said. “Kathy will do just fine.”
“Kathy it is, then,” she replied.
“And what’s your name?”
Stephanie hesitated. She thought it unprofessional to allow a patient, especially a patient she’d only just met, that level of informality. And yet there was something about Mrs. Kathy Rose that encouraged her to throw the rule book out of the window.
“My name’s Stephanie,” she said. Kathy Rose clapped her hands, pleased as a little girl who’d just won a prize.
“That’s a lovely name,” she said. “We’re going to be great friends! But tell me: do you ever shorten it?”
“Shorten it?” Stephanie was puzzled. She didn’t know what Kathy meant. Then she realized.
“Oh, you mean like Steph, or Stevie or something like that?” Kathy nodded her head, her golden hair catching the sunlight.
“That’s what I mean.”
“When I was at high school and at college, my friends called me Stevie. But my parents always call me Stephanie.”
“Which do you prefer?”
“Well, I suppose Stephanie is more formal; better for talking to patients.” Kathy gave her a sly little grin.
“And how about friends? Which do you prefer when you’re with friends?”
Stephanie felt flustered. She’d never had this kind of encounter with a patient before. But, oddly, she didn’t feel at all uncomfortable. Kathy was a woman who was good at putting people at their ease.
“Steph, I guess,” she laughed.
“Then I shall call you Steph,” Kathy Rose said, clapping her hands again. “As I said before, we’re going to be great friends!”
Stephanie laughed. She knew this was going more than a little beyond the relaxed doctor-patient relationship the practice tried to encourage, but right at that moment, she didn’t care.
“Steph it is then,” Stephanie laughed. “Now, Kathy, let me take a look at you. I’d guess it’s your foot or your ankle that’s bothering you?”
“That it is. I turned my ankle on one of those damned ruts out there. I don’t think it’s broken, but I’d just like you take a look. Just to be on the safe side.”
Stephanie kneeled on the floor next to the footstool and gently probed at the swollen ankle. Kathy gave a little whimper of pain.
“I’m sorry if I’m hurting you, it’s just that I have to be very thorough. You don’t want an unnecessary trip to the hospital for an x-ray you don’t need.”
“That’s alright. canlı poker oyna I know you don’t mean it,” Kathy said. “I know you have to do that. It’s just that it’s so sore.”
Stephanie tutted in sympathy. Suddenly, she was more anxious than ever to be gentle; to not hurt her patient. Gently, she took Kathy’s lower leg and ankle in her hands and lifted it from the stool. Carefully, her eyes on her patient’s face, looking for signs of pain, she rotated the joint. Kathy grimaced but remained silent.
“Well, it’s not broken,” Stephanie said. “Just a little sprain.”
“I’m so sorry to call you out for something so trivial,” Kathy said.
“No, that’s alright. You did the right thing. You said it yourself: better safe than sorry!” The two women were silent after that. Stephanie realized that she was gazing into Kathy’s eyes and that the older woman was returning her look with a smoldering intensity. She realized, too, that she was still holding her patient’s leg, cradling it against her belly. Stephanie felt herself color, felt the blood rush to her cheeks and, even more astonishing, she felt her nipples hardening, her hands trembling. She swallowed hard but did not relinquish the captured limb. Kathy broke the silence.
“Can I fix you a nice cold drink?” Kathy asked. Stephanie nodded.
“Perhaps I’d better go and fix the drinks,” she said. “I don’t think that leg is going to take you too far.”
Stephanie lowered Kathy’s leg back onto the footstool and rose to her feet, smoothing down her skirt. She was keenly aware of her own hands on her thighs; aware too that Kathy was studying her intently.
“There’s fresh lemonade in the refrigerator,” Kathy said. “And glasses are in the cupboard next to the oven.”
Stephanie headed for the kitchen, grateful for the opportunity to gather her scattered thoughts. She had never, in the whole of her life, felt like this. And certainly not about another woman. She felt excited and curious.
When she’d filled two glasses with cold lemonade, Stephanie headed back to the sitting room. Kathy had moved, shifting around so that her back was against the arm of the sofa and her legs were stretched out along the seat. Stephanie paused, unsure of herself.
“It’s OK,” Kathy said. “You can still sit here. I can make room.” She shuffled her legs closer to the sofa’s back, so that Stephanie could sit down; which she did, poised uncomfortably on the edge of her seat.
“Sit back, Steph,” Kathy said. “There’s plenty of room. You won’t hurt my leg! If you do, I’ll scream and you can take care of it for me! After all, you’re a doctor!”
Stephanie relaxed and leaned back, though still careful not to hurt Kathy’s leg. She could feel the older woman’s thighs on her lower back; could feel their heat and smoothness through her shirt. She turned slightly to look at her patient, the movement bringing her left hip into even closer contact with Kathy’s thigh.
“What do you do, Kathy?” Kathy looked at her, smiling.
“You mean what do I do for a living? I’m and artist. And a photographer. I’ve been doing it for years. I gave it up when my husband got sick…”
Stephanie didn’t understand the small stab of disappointment she felt — jealousy, even – at the mention of Kathy’s husband.
“…But I took it up again after he died. That would be about two years ago. I came here six months ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Stephanie said. “I didn’t mean I’m sorry you took it up again, I’m sorry your husband died.” She felt awkward and a little tongue-tied with this woman.
“Don’t worry, Steph, I know what you mean. There’s no need to apologize.” Kathy chuckled. “He was a good man, Kenneth. But we didn’t love each other. Don’t get me wrong, we were real good friends, but there wasn’t any love between us. Unless you count a kind of brother and sister love. It was his late wife he was still in love with.”
Stephanie looked surprised.
“I know, it sounds odd, doesn’t it?” She propped herself on one elbow, moving her leg against Stephanie’s back. It felt like a caress. “It was like this: he was a widower with children; he needed someone to take care of them. I don’t mean change diapers and stuff. They were too old for that. Just be around for them. I’d just started out in my career and I was broke and needed somewhere to live and work. It was convenient for both of us. Trouble was I didn’t realize how noisy and rambunctious kids can be! But it worked out well. Those kids kept me grounded! I still see them, you know. We get on real well.”
Stephanie said nothing. There were a lot of questions, but none she could politely ask right then.
“What about you, Steph? Are you married? Any kids yet?”
“Haven’t met the right person yet,” Stephanie said. “And no, no kids. Have you got kids? Of your own, I mean?”
Kathy shook her head. “No. Like you, I haven’t met that special person yet. But I’m still looking!”
“I’m told you shouldn’t look, that he’ll come to you. If you don’t look, you’ll be sure to find!”
They both laughed. Kathy looked at her speculatively as she finished internet casino her lemonade and set the glass on the floor.
“So you’re not looking for someone to be Mr. Stephanie?” She emphasized the word Mr.
Stephanie lowered her eyes.
“Lord, no!,” she exclaimed. “No-one’s even come close to what I’m looking for. I’ve never met anyone I’d want to spend my life with.”
“Like you, said, you never know when you’ll meet him.” Kathy said, and moved her hand to pat and stroke Stephanie’s leg just above her knee. She let her hand rest there as she heard the younger woman’s breath catch in her throat, felt her stiffen in surprise and then relax, not moving away from the hand, nor trying to move it.
Kathy stroked Stephanie’s leg, gently, very gently, enjoying the feel of the firm responsive flesh beneath the thin skirt. Still Stephanie didn’t move the hand or her leg. She did, though, look into Kathy’s eyes, her head slightly on one side, lips parted and tongue-tip just visible between beautifully even, white teeth.
Stephanie felt herself redden. The flush started at her ears and spread across her face and down her neck to her chest.
“Kathy, I …” She stopped and took a deep breath, then swallowed. Still she didn’t move.
“It’s all right, Steph,” Kathy reassured her, voice just above a whisper… “It really is all right.”
“No, it isn’t! You’re my patient! I shouldn’t… You shouldn’t…”
“You’re concerned because I’m your patient?”
Stephanie nodded. “It’s unethical.”
“That’s the only reason you want me to stop?”
Suddenly, Stephanie’s mouth was very dry. She licked her lips.
“No… I mean, yes! Oh, God, this is ridiculous!”
Kathy’s hand had moved under Stephanie’s skirt, pushing the hem higher, exposing an expanse of white thigh. Stephanie put her hand on Kathy’s as though to stop her. But she didn’t. Instead, she stroked Kathy’s hand and leaned a little towards her. Kathy’s hand resumed its journey up Stephanie’s leg, moving now to the inside of her thigh. Stephanie removed her hand from Kathy’s and closed her eyes, breathing now in little pants and gasps as she allowed her legs to part slightly.
“Do you like this, Steph?” Kathy asked.
“I… I… I’ve never… I’ve never let a woman do this to me before…! I’ve never wanted to.”
“Does it feel good, though?”
“Yes, it feels good.”
Kathy removed her hand. “Can you help me sit up?”
Stephanie stood to allow the older woman to swing her legs around and off the sofa.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” she said. “Come, sit down with me again, Steph.”
Stephanie did as she was asked and immediately felt the warmth of Kathy’s arms around her, her breath against her face as the woman buried her face in her hair, then delicately kissed the side of her neck.
“Mmmm…” Stephanie moaned.
“I know, baby, feels good doesn’t it? And you smell and taste so good, too!”
Stephanie turned to face the older woman and again, they were looking into each other’s eyes, both of them searching for something. And then they were kissing. It was a hell of a kiss, Stephanie would decide, much later when she was back in her own home. She had never been kissed like that in her life. But then, she had never been kissed by a woman… Certainly not a woman like Kathy Rose…
Kathy’s hand returned to Stephanie’s leg; not on her knee this time, but her thigh, stroking back and forth, feeling the firmness of the younger woman’s flesh through the material of her skirt. The younger woman moved her leg in time to Kathy’s stroking and Kathy knew that Stephanie’s wasn’t moving in an effort to avoid contact, but rather to increase her own excitement.
Stephanie was giving in to her arousal. Never had she felt like this. Never had she experienced so much pure, animal lust for another human being. Her breasts felt as though they were on fire, as though they would explode with desire. Her nipples were hard points jutting painfully against her lacy bra. She knew that Kathy could feel their heat as she held her close, moving her body against Stephanie’s. Stephanie could feel that Kathy, too, was very aroused. The older woman’s breasts were quite small, but firm and as hot as her own. The kiss went on for what seemed a long time. Stephanie ran her hands through Kathy’s short hair and forced her open mouth even harder against the other woman’s. Their tongues meshed together, writhing and twisting as they explored each other’s mouths. And all the while, Kathy’s hand explored Stephanie’s leg, under her skirt, now roughly yanking the material higher so that she could feel the edge of her panties, could feel the warm skin flutter as she first stroked gently, then gripped harder with her fingers, pinching, not too hard, but just hard enough to elicit a gasp of pleasure.
Kathy knew that Stephanie was nervous. Despite that wanton kiss, she knew that Stephanie wanted to, but was scared, to go further. Scared to run her hands over naked flesh, to kiss it, lick it, bite it softly to make her lover sigh and groan with delight. So Kathy took the initiative. She took her mouth off Stephanie’s and sat back slightly. Then, she grasped the younger woman’s hand and held it to her own breast. Stephanie reacted as though she’d been stung. Her eyes opened wide.