Chapter One

The setting sun was almost below the water's edge as Kyle pulled off the curving road onto the overlook. She brought the cycle to a halt along the shoulder, well away from the few cars stopped to watch the sunset. She turned the engine off, a long leg down on either side of the heavy machine for support, and pulled her helmet off. Absently, she ran a hand through her dark, wavy hair as she stared out over the ocean. The waves created a soothing, steady rhythm as they crashed and broke on the rocks below. She loved to ride this stretch of coastal highway, even though it was often crowded with tourists who slowed her progress. The road was demanding and she could lose herself for miles in the steady drone of the engine and the hypnotic ribbon of macadam sliding beneath her headlights. While her conscious mind was occupied with the mechanics of driving, her unconscious thoughts would surface, often illuminating some problem that was plaguing her. She didn't question the process; she rarely questioned the workings of her own mind.

Tonight was different. She was aware of a simmering unrest, which had not been dissipated by the twenty-mile drive on the tight, tortuous turns. She wondered how long it would take to identify the source of her unease. She knew from experience that these feelings usually meant something in her life was awry, but she had learned to be patient until the pieces fell together. Being most comfortable with action, she found introspection unsatisfying and frustrating.

Sighing slightly, she reached a hand into the left inside pocket of her leather jacket and found her cigarettes. She fingered one out of the pack, holding it lightly between her lips while she fished the black and gold lighter from the right hand pocket of her tight black leather pants. The tiny flare of flame lit her features for an instant as she touched it to the tip of the cigarette. A chiseled profile, squared chin, and straight, slightly high nose were highlighted briefly in the glow. As the lighter snapped shut, the image disappeared, and her figure became a silhouette against the deepening sky. Kyle hunched her shoulders slightly against the cold wind streaming in from the sea and focused her gaze on the plumes of white spray, which wafted up from a large clump of rocks just offshore. In the silence around her, she could hear her own questioning thoughts.

Why are you out here tonight? Where are you headed?

It had been many weeks since she last made a Friday night journey into the city, seeking the comfort of women together in one bar or another. More often than not, she returned home alone in the quiet hours before dawn, her soul strangely soothed by the memory of others like herself that clung to her all the long ride home. Sometimes she unlocked the second helmet she always carried on the side of her Harley and brought home a woman to fill the emptiness in her body as well as her spirit.

Tonight it was more than just her usual urge for company. She had been unsettled and short-tempered for the last few days, and she knew as she thought about it that she hadn't been herself for weeks. It wasn't the solitude of her life—she was used to that after seven years. She had several good friends, which was more than most people could say, and work that she enjoyed. Her sexual life, if not constant, was fulfilling, and she could have had more if she cared to. She didn't. Recently she was aware of a disquieting sense of frustration that threatened to disrupt the comfortable routine of her life. She hadn't intended to go out tonight, but as if by pre-arrangement, she had set about getting ready as soon as she came into the house from her shop. Without conscious thought, she had showered and donned a crisply ironed white shirt and her leather pants. She tucked a slim leather wallet, contoured to her form from years of use, into her right rear pocket with her license and enough cash to last the weekend. A fresh pack of cigarettes went into the left inside pocket of her favorite leather jacket and the lighter into her pants. She pulled on the jacket and zipped it partway up as she headed through the kitchen. It was as she set the timer, which controlled the floodlights subtly tucked under the eaves of the house, and carport that she realized she was setting out for the city. Still, she had driven twenty miles before she had allowed herself to think about why.

Kyle took a last drag from her cigarette and dropped the butt near the toe of her boot. Carefully she dug a little hole in the gravel of the turnoff and pushed the bit of trash into it. With her heavy black boot, she meticulously covered it with a small mound of stones. She pulled her left leg up to rest on the black tank of her cycle and rested her chin on her knee.

As she had been sitting there, the water sounds gradually surrounded her and separated her in the darkness from the cars steadily streaming along behind on the highway. The pieces had inextricably begun to fall into place. It had started with the newspaper. Not long ago, she had been to the women's bookstore looking for recent novels from her favorite women's press. Disappointed to discover she had all of the newest books, she picked up a few newspapers rather than return home empty-handed. Once at home, stretched out in front of the fireplace with a brandy, she looked through the things she had purchased. The second magazine she picked up was one she didn't recognize by name, but the subtitle, "Woman-to-Woman Encounters," had caught her attention. She quickly discovered that the short stories, articles and poems inside contained some of the most graphic erotica she had ever read in the women's press. It was more than that which surprised her, however. The entire publication was oriented toward issues involving sexual power. Kyle read the magazine cover to cover, and a few days later she went back to the bookstore and picked up the two previous issues.

Looking up at the dark, star-filled sky, Kyle suddenly realized the sun had set without her notice. She also realized something else. She had carefully taken note of the exact address of the bar, which advertised in every issue of the newspaper she had read with such interest. As she started the powerful engine and pushed the bike around to face the highway, she repeated the address to herself one more time.

Chapter Two

As Kyle drove through the city, the streets were almost empty, which was unusual for a Friday night. She was used to the crowded avenues and alleys from the years that she had been a city dweller. Even now, many years after she had moved north where the air was cleaner and the stars could be seen at night, she was at ease on the fast-moving streets. She found the address she was looking for in an area mostly frequented by men, but she was sure that the advertisement had specifically said "women." And it was too late now to turn back. Looking up, she saw the sign she had been seeking. In faded letters the logo was clear, "Leathers." Kyle pulled her bike into line with the others already parked there and switched off the ignition. She took a deep breath and made her decision. This was what she had come for, and she was not turning back.

Her footsteps echoed hollowly on the empty pavement as she approached the door. She looked in vain for the sight of a familiar face. No one approached. The door to the bar was slightly ajar and music wafted out into the street. It was a song she recognized from the popular music station. At least she wouldn't feel completely out of place. She took a quick breath as she shouldered through the door into the darkness beyond.

Kyle was not a stranger to new surroundings. She moved through the small crowd near the door as she had so many times before in other strange bars. The room was long, with a bar down the right side and scattered tables off to the left. There was a small dance floor in the center of the room made smaller by people standing about and chairs pushed askew. She walked directly but unhurriedly toward the bar and found a free space. Women leaned against the scarred but polished surface and moved about in the shadows opposite her. At first glance, it looked much like any other lesbian bar on a Friday night.

It wasn't until she caught the bartender's eye and ordered a beer that she looked more carefully around the bar, casually surveying the crowd. With an elbow against the bar and her legs stretched out in front of her, her eyes traveled as she took her first sip. Her vision had adjusted to the semi-darkness of the bar, and as she looked out across the dance floor through the softly wafting curls of cigarette smoke, she focused on the figures before her. Initially it seemed there was a strange sameness about everyone. Then she realized it was because everyone was clothed in some form of leather or denim. Leather jackets, vests and tight jeans abounded. She smiled slightly to herself, realizing that she had unconsciously chosen exactly the right thing to wear. Knowing that outwardly she appeared to be like everyone else made her feel more comfortable, even though she felt anything but confident in this new theater. Nevertheless, the sight of women standing about in groups talking or simply watching each other as she was doing, brought the usual thrill of excitement she always associated with the bars. This was the stage where anything might happen, or anyone might become a player.

After she finished her first beer and started on her second, she began to relax. In a detached, almost objective way, she picked out the women who were attractive to her. One woman in particular stood out from all the rest. She was across the room near the jukebox, standing with several others. About Kyle's age but slightly taller than Kyle's five feet seven inches, she was slender, with an athletic body accentuated by tight blue jeans and a denim shirt open between her breasts. Her blonde hair was medium length, brushed back over her ears, and falling to her collar in the back. Her sleeves were rolled up, exposing a thin leather band encircling her left wrist. As she talked she moved her hands, and Kyle imagined the strength in her well-muscled forearms. The strangers gaze flickered about the room, but she seemed to take little note of the women around her. Her eyes glanced over Kyle's face without stopping.

Kyle felt strangely inhibited. Under other circumstances, she would not have hesitated to introduce herself to someone she found attractive, but tonight she felt uneasy about making the first move. She had a feeling there were rules here she didn't understand. As the evening wore on, she began to see a pattern emerging. When one woman approached another, a distinct polarity developed which was unfamiliar to Kyle. While one woman was clearly the aggressor, the other appeared passive. Yet Kyle, watching with the objectivity of an observer, soon saw that the interplay was not completely one-sided. Often the woman who had initiated contact would leave, apparently her overtures rejected. Obviously, roles existed, but they were not nearly as clear-cut as they first appeared. Kyle had been there for over an hour before her first experience with this ritual occurred.

A woman materialized from the shadows by Kyle's side. There was an almost imperceptible pressure against her left thigh as the woman spoke softly to her.

"Are you just looking tonight, or are you playing?" the voice said in her ear.

Startled, Kyle turned toward the woman beside her and replied, "I'm not sure I know what the game is."

The woman laughed in surprise. "You'd never know that from looking at you."

"Actually, this is the first time that I've been here," Kyle said, turning slightly to study her companion more carefully. She was an inch shorter than Kyle, with curly dark hair and warm, dark eyes. She was dressed in the requisite leather vest and blue denim shirt.

The woman gave Kyle an obvious once-over, extending her right hand casually. "My name is Chris."


Chris shook Kyle's hand warmly before turning her back to the bar to face out across the dance floor. "There's a pretty good crowd for a Friday night, better than I would've expected."

Kyle replied, "I'm not sure what I expected."

"Are you here by yourself, then?"


"Well, from the looks of you, probably not for long."

Kyle laughed. "I think for tonight I'm just watching."

Chris shrugged. "Will you have another beer?" When Kyle nodded her assent, Chris ordered two and took a long pull on hers before speaking again. Finally, she said, "I'm not much on initiations, but I'll tell you anything I can."

Kyle nodded slowly as she sipped at her beer. "Well, I think I get the general idea, but I'm not real sure what the ground rules are."

"It's not much different than any other bar," Chris replied. "It's just that most of the women here have a certain kind of interest, if you know what I mean."

"I think I understand that," Kyle said. "A certain sexual interest."

Chris continued rather hesitantly. "Well, I guess because of that, things kind of work out in a...a certain way," she began. "If someone is interested in you, they're not likely to come up and say, 'Would you like to dance?’ More likely than not they're going to stand next to you and maybe not say anything at all. Maybe they're trying to find out how much you know about what's going on."

Kyle shook her head and said, "I don't think I know exactly what you mean."

Chris tried again. "Some of the women here will feel most comfortable if they take the lead and you follow. Others prefer it if they are told exactly what to do."

"How do you know who wants to do what, then?" Kyle asked, genuinely unclear as to what Chris was trying to tell her.

Chris laughed a little and continued. "After a while it's easy to tell what people are interested in. If you remember what it was like ten or fifteen years ago, it's not all that different now. You probably remember what it was like when the 'butches' always asked the 'femmes' to dance. Even if the femmes did turn out to be butches in bed, they never let on in public."

Kyle smiled as she recalled those times, not unfondly. There had been a certain security in knowing what was expected of you.

"Sure I remember, but it seems that things have changed in the last few years. After all, haven't we been trying to get away from those old roles?"

"Well, things never change that much, " Chris replied. "The sort of thing that goes on in the leather scene doesn't really have a lot to do with the old butch and femme roles, but it does have a lot to do with what these women want to express physically. It's all more up front here."

Okay," Kyle said, definitely interested, "That's clear enough. How do you tell someone else exactly what you're in to?"

Chris surveyed the crowd before them, and said, "Look at that woman leaning against the pole over there."

Kyle followed Chris direction and noticed a woman dressed predominantly in leather -leather pants with a wide, studded belt, heavy black motorcycle boots and a leather jacket covered with zippers. She appeared to be alone and yet she looked at no one.

Chris said, "Well, what do you think?"

"She looks pretty butch to me—like she'd be the one to call the shots," Kyle replied.

"But she isn't," Chris said. "If you look more carefully, there's a few things that tell you just what she's looking for. For instance, her keys are on the right and she's wearing a leather bracelet on her right wrist."

Kyle nodded in agreement, as Chris continued. "She's a bottom, not a top. That means she wants someone to approach her and to tell her exactly what they would like her to do. She wants someone else to take charge."

"Does that mean she's passive, then?" Kyle asked, with surprise in her voice.

"Not necessarily. It just means that in the beginning, at least, she's willing to let someone else determine how things happen. You’d be surprised how often the bottom actually calls the entire scene."

"What if someone approaches her that she's not interested in?" Kyle asked. "Does that mean she has to go anyway?"

"No, not at all. She doesn't reply with the correct answers or she just says, 'No'."

"So she does have something to say about it then?"

Chris appeared startled for a second. "Of course--if she doesn't agree, nothing can happen."

Kyle thought about it and then said, "What if I see someone I like and I want to go talk to her?"

"It depends on how you go about it, " Chris answered. "It could mean you just want to get to know them, or you might be letting them know you’re interested in them sexually. It’s all in how you present yourself."

Kyle reached for a cigarette, slightly daunted. "Certainly seems like a complicated way to get to know people," she said.

Chris nodded. "It seems strange at first, but I think you'll find out it's just another way of saying how you feel." She finished her beer and turned to face Kyle. "I can’t stay, but I hope you do. Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Is that why I’m here? Am I looking for something?

Kyle returned her gaze intently. "I'll be staying."


As the night grew later, Kyle could more easily recognize the subtle signals passing between those around her. She was so involved in watching the others that she failed to notice the woman approaching until her vision was suddenly blocked by the figure before her.

Kyle was startled by the feeling of another body so close to hers. With a sharp intake of breath, she recognized the woman she had seen earlier at the jukebox. So close to her now, Kyle could see that her hair was indeed blond and her eyes a deep blue. Kyle found she had to look up at the woman, who was several inches taller. The stranger looked back at her intently, her hands thrust deep into the pockets of her jeans, her long legs nearly straddling Kyle's. Kyle was at once uneasy and intrigued. When she glanced upward into the woman's eyes she was amazed to see the insolent confidence there. Unaccountably, Kyle dropped her eyes. In that second, she fully realized that she did not know what to expect next.

"Have you figured it all out yet?" a cool voice questioned.

Kyle's head snapped up, heat rising to her face. "I'm not a tourist!" she replied angrily. She might be out of her element here, but she certainly wasn't a sightseer!

"Oh my! Touch a sore spot, did I?"

Kyle started to turn her back—she couldn't believe this woman. Who did she think she was, coming up uninvited and giving Kyle a hard time? She would have told her to "fuck off," but she had learned a little patience over the years and she knew it wasn't worth it.

A hand closed firmly on her upper arm.

"Wait a minute! We're still talking." There was just a hint of laughter in the voice, as if at a private joke that Kyle had missed.

"I don't think we have anything to say. Do you?" Kyle answered, reaching for a cigarette. She felt a little cornered, with her back to the bar, and she needed the ritual of lighting a cigarette to give herself time to think. As she pushed her hand into her pocket for her lighter, a match flared before her.

"That's up to you, isn't it?" the woman said softly, cupping the flame in her long tapering fingers.

Kyle frowned slightly as she pulled on her cigarette, drawing the smoke deeply into her chest. She exhaled slowly, searching the perfectly sculpted, perfectly remote face. "Somehow I thought you were the one calling the shots."

The blond nodded, touching the match to her own cigarette. "Very good - but only if you want me to. Only if you let me—understand?"

Kyle sighed, looking directly into the blue eyes that were calmly searching her face. "I'm afraid that I'm going to disappoint you."

Suddenly the woman smiled, a flickering luminescence that dispelled the aura of aloofness surrounding her until now. Just as quickly, it was gone. "I don't think so."

Kyle felt foolish. This was a woman like her, a woman in a bar filled with other women, all of them linked by a single common bond. What had she been expecting, she wondered, that these women would be so different from all the other lesbians she had known? She had been so caught up in the mystique of the dress and the attitude of these leather-clad figures that she failed to recognize the women beneath the costumes. Her body relaxed as her old confidence returned.

"My name is Kyle," she said.

"I know."

Kyle raised her eyebrows slightly.

"Chris informed me."

"I'm slow tonight," Kyle said, shaking her head.

The woman was standing only inches away from Kyle, and her next words were spoken so softly only Kyle could hear them. "I'm not rushing you." She had not changed her stance, still standing boldly in Kyle’s view. Kyle realized that this stranger was presenting herself to her, a gesture at once arrogant and vulnerable.

Kyle took advantage of the moment and appraised the figure before her. She had the lean look of a runner as opposed to her own more muscular build. The blond hair which had first caught Kyle's eye was subtly layered and fell naturally back from her forehead, outlining the clean lines of her face. Her cheekbones were sharply sculpted, accentuating her nearly perfect features. Her blue eyes returned Kyle's gaze with penetrating directness.

Kyle forced herself to continue her slow survey, despite her natural urge to look away when she found the stranger watching her. The woman's slim torso was covered in faded denim, her collar and the first several buttons opened to reveal her upper chest. The merest suggestion of breasts pushed against the worn fabric. The shirt molded to her slim waist and her jeans outlined her hips and slender thighs. A well-worn black leather belt rode low over her pelvis. Kyle took note of the few keys hanging from a leather strap on her left hip and a leather band buckled around her left wrist. Kyle's study was interrupted by the woman's steady voice.

"Like what you see?" Her voice was low, intense, intimate.

"Yes," Kyle answered honestly.

"Come dance with me then." It was not a request.

The room came sharply into focus as a low, pulsating beat filled the air. This is it, Kyle. Do you really want to do this?

Without a word, she followed the woman onto the dance floor. There were other couples there, but they quickly faded from Kyle’s awareness as the stranger stepped close, taking Kyle firmly into her arms. As they moved easily together in the crowded space, Kyle felt for the first time the strength contained in her companion's deceptively lithe body. The sheer physicalness of the other woman's embrace awakened her desire. The hand in the curve of her back held her confidently while the woman insinuated one tight thigh securely between Kyle's own. As they danced, the woman's breasts molded to hers, the nipples hard beneath the fabric of her shirt. Kyle’s nipples stiffened in response, painfully taut and aching. The hand on her spine pressed Kyle’s hips rhythmically against that slow-moving thigh, seemingly focusing all the heat of their two bodies into one point between Kyle’s legs. She moaned without meaning to. Kyle could almost feel those long fingers on her skin. Never had she responded so quickly nor so certainly to another's touch. Her mind lost contact with the sounds and forms around her as their bodies sought to fuse, pulsating inwardly to the beat of the music. As Kyle slid her hands down to the woman's hips, striving to pull her closer, hoping to ease the aching pressure, the woman's voice penetrated her swirling thoughts.

"You don't get it for free," the denim-clad stranger whispered. Her breath was hot against Kyle’s ear.

"Tell me the price then," Kyle responded instantly, wanting only for the exquisite torment not to end.

"Later," came the reply. The woman reached one hand up into the hair at Kyle's neck and spread her fingers in the soft curls there. "Come home with me. Now."

For an instant reality intruded. Kyle knew nothing of this woman except the sensations her presence instilled in her body. The blond slipped a hand between them, grasping Kyle’s nipple, sending a flood of arousal directly to her clitoris. Oh, Jesus, god! Kyle’s eyes nearly closed with the sweet torture. The demands of her body obliterated any thought of caution, and she answered to it.


Kyle allowed herself to be led from the bar by the woman's touch on her back. She followed her out into the night on shaky legs.

"What about my bike?" Kyle asked hoarsely as they reached the street.

"We'll take it. I'll tell you where to go," the woman said.

Kyle took a deep breath of the cool night air, hoping to clear her head for the drive. She was uncomfortably swollen inside her tight leather pants. She unlocked both helmets and handed one to the woman.

"What's your name, " Kyle asked quietly.

The woman stared at her for an instant, and for a moment, Kyle thought she wouldn’t answer. "Dane."

Kyle nodded wordlessly as she straddled her motorcycle. She kickstarted the engine and felt Dane climb on behind her.

"Do you know where Church is?" Dane asked, her voice cool once again.

Kyle nodded in acknowledgment.

Dane reached around Kyle's waist and placed both hands in the angle formed by Kyle's thighs and pelvis, commanding, "Drive."

As Kyle maneuvered her bike quickly through the nearly empty streets, she was aware only of the engine throbbing rhythmically beneath her and the pressure of Dane's hands. By the time they reached Church Street and Dane signaled for her to pull over, she was trembling. She needed Dane's hands against her naked flesh, unencumbered by the barrier of leather and denim.

She followed Dane into the vestibule of one of the buildings, scarcely taking note of her whereabouts. Dane led her up a flight of stairs and into a darkened apartment. Once inside the door, Dane said, "Wait here."

Kyle was aware of lights being turned on in other rooms and the sound of soft music. She stood and waited, not thinking at all. When at last she heard Dane's sure footsteps approaching, she body stirred in anticipation. The effect this woman had on her was inexplicable, and in the moment, she didn't try to understand. She was responding purely with her senses, and she liked it. She didn’t want to think.

Dane took her hand, saying, "This way."

Kyle moved behind her into a bedroom lit solely by a soft blue light in a recessed ceiling track. She could make out a small table next to a large rectangular bed which dominated the otherwise bare room. When Dane turned suddenly to face her, Kyle stood absolutely still.

Wordlessly Dane reached for the buttons on Kyle's shirt and began to slowly unbutton them. She was careful not to touch the skin laid bare by her motions. She pulled the shirt out of Kyle's pants and stripped it off her arms.

"Your boots," she said. She stepped back to give Kyle room to bend over. Kyle hesitated only for a second, and then she unbuckled each of her heavy black boots and pulled them off. Naked except for her leather pants, she stood before Dane, waiting. Dane reached out a slender hand and traced the muscles in Kyle's shoulders and arms with a finger. She placed both palms flat against Kyle's chest and pressed, softly massaging the muscles beneath the smooth skin. Her hands moved down to Kyle's abdomen, carefully avoiding her breasts, until she stood with her thumbs together in the middle of Kyle's firm body, her fingers splayed out against Kyle's sides.

The slow, wordless survey of Kyle's body rekindled the fire simmering in her belly. Kyle felt herself swell and flow in response. Her chest was covered with a thin film of sweat. Still, she waited silently.

"Lie down on the bed," Dane instructed, her voice perfectly controlled. "Face me."

When Kyle complied, Dane came to stand at the foot of the bed, her eyes traveling from Kyle's leather-bound crotch slowly up to her face. Her eyes locked onto Kyle's, and she could read the wanting there.

"You can say anything you want to me right now," Dane said, "but after this, no more. I won’t hurt you, but I won’t stop until I’m done."

Kyle looked back at her steadily, searching for a clue as to who this woman was. Dane’s face was clear and strong, and Kyle sensed only honesty.

"I'm all right."

Dane nodded once and then moved purposefully to the side of the bed. She reached somewhere beneath the frame and pulled out soft padded leather shackles attached to short chains. She deftly bound Kyle's left hand and ankle, and then moved to the other side, repeating her actions. When she was done, Kyle was securely but not painfully bound with her arms and legs spread.

Dane stood once again at the foot of the bed between Kyle's outstretched legs. With her gaze fixed on Kyle's face she unbuttoned her own shirt, slowly baring her upper body. Small high breasts accentuated the finely muscled torso, and a pulse beat close to the surface in her throat. Silence enclosed them in the cone of blue light.

Kyle was bombarded with conflicting sensations. The feeling of being helplessly bound was at once frightening and exhilarating. She wanted this woman on top of her, she wanted her inside of her, she wanted more than she could put words to. Her inability to actually seek her own release made her even more acutely aware of her desires. Her clitoris strained against the seam of her pants, threatening to explode just from the constant contact as her hips rocked back and forth. She stifled a groan as she stared transfixed at Dane's body, so close to her and yet so completely untouchable.

After what seemed like hours to Kyle, who had lost all sense of real measure, Dane moved to the head of the bed. From there Kyle was totally exposed to her view but she, in turn, could barely see Dane. Dane placed her hands firmly on either side of Kyle's face with her fingers curled around Kyle's lower jaw. She moved her fingers not ungently over the flesh and bones of Kyle's face, imprinting the physical sense of her in her mind. With one hand under Kyle's chin she pulled her head back, exposing Kyle's neck to its fullest.

"Keep your eyes closed," Dane said tersely when she saw Kyle's eyes searching her face. With her hand still firmly controlling Kyle's head, Dane traced the vulnerable structures of Kyle's throat, feeling Kyle's breath flow in the fragile windpipe and her blood ripple through the pulsating arteries just below the skin. With her fingers pressing the muscles on either side of Kyle's neck, Dane leaned closer to Kyle's face. She ran her tongue lightly from Kyle’s collarbone to her ear. When she spoke, her voice was barely a whisper.

"I don't want you to move. Just keep remembering my hands around your throat while I’m making you come."

Kyle’s hips jerked at her words. She bit her lip to stifle a cry. She had never felt so physically vulnerable in her life. The restraints on her arms and legs were barely perceptible and yet she was totally immobilized. Now, with her throat exposed, locked in darkness, she felt as if she had lost control of her very life. Despite the helplessness of her position, she was powerfully excited. The merest touch was going to set her off.

Dimly, in the last part of her thinking mind, she knew she could break the spell of her own bondage by a word to Dane. But she didn't want to. She wanted to feel what Dane aroused in her. She wanted to know how far into her physical self Dane could take her.

A slight motion near her feet told her that Dane had moved onto the bed. She sensed that Dane was close to her, but she did not open her eyes. Suddenly a sharp sensation centered in each nipple as Dane's hands caught her breasts, squeezing the erect nipples sharply. Kyle gasped at this sudden contact, her back arching, pressing more of herself into Dane’s hands.

Still Dane held back, forcing Kyle to focus all her sexual energy in the two points beneath her fingers, kneading and massaging until she brought a moan from Kyle's parted lips. Only then did she trail her fingers ever so lightly down Kyle's abdomen, watching the tense muscles contract at her touch. Deftly she pulled the snap at Kyle's waist and slid the zipper down on her leather pants. Leaving Kyle for an instant, she released the buckles on the ankle restraints to free Kyle’s legs and remove the last vestige of her clothing. Just as quickly, she re-secured her ankles. Now Kyle lay bound and completely naked before her. The dark triangle of soft hair between Kyle’s legs was glistening with pearly fluid. Dane could almost taste her.

Kyle waited for the next contact from Dane, the entire surface of her body sensitized with need. Where was she?

What Kyle could not sense in the heady mist of her own desire was the control that Dane now exercised on her own raging senses. The image of Kyle lying helpless before her, ripe with readiness, was powerfully erotic. Her clit had been twitching urgently since she first restrained her. Dane ignored her own rising passion so that she could concentrate on bringing Kyle to the razor's edge of ecstasy, and the restraint it required of her was enormous. Dane longed to press herself full-length against Kyle's naked body and feel her move beneath her. She held back, knowing it was not yet time. Soon.

Kneeling upright between Kyle's spread legs, Dane slipped the leather belt from around her waist. She placed it vertically down the length of Kyle's body so that the soft tongue of it rested in the moist fold between Kyle's legs. With the thin barrier of leather between them, she rested her body fully upon Kyle for the first time, her hands pulling Kyle's hips up to meet her own as her tongue sought Kyle’s mouth.

The weight of Dane's body pressed the edges of the belt against Kyle’s distended clitoris, and the roughness against the sensitive tip pushed her close to orgasm. She pulled against her restraints for the first time, wanting desperately to feel Dane with her own hands. Her mouth opened to pull Dane inside and still she could not get enough. She wrenched her head away from Dane's seeking lips.

"Please, no more," she groaned against the sweat-covered skin of Dane's neck. "Please, let me come."

"I'll decide," Dane whispered harshly into her ear, thrusting her denim-clad hips tantalizingly against Kyle's body.

Kyle sobbed deep in her chest and turned her face once again to Dane, claiming her lips.

As their mouths found each other and their tongues met in a probing duel, Dane lifted her body slightly and slipped one hand between their bodies. Her fingers slipped into Kyle's wetness, and Kyle moaned into her mouth. Then she was inside of her, and Kyle's muscles contracted around her hand. Slowly Dane pressed further, feeling the flesh open beneath her. With her thumb she beat an insistent rhythm against Kyle’s clitoris. She closed her eyes tightly and clenched her jaw, determined to resist her own rising need. Kyle, however, would not be denied. Kyle's body arched and bucked as her inner self closed down on Dane's hand, ripples of sensation flooding into her thighs, coiling through her belly. A strangled cry escaped her lips as the pounding in her head fused with that of her body in one tidal wave of unbound fury. Dane gripped her firmly, riding out the raging storm as time hung suspended.

Kyle's body had barely begun to relax from the paroxysms of pleasure when Dane reached up and released the restraints on her arms and then her ankles. Kyle was dimly aware of Dane gently massaging her wrists and then rolling her over onto her stomach. She was drifting on the edge of consciousness when Dane straddled her hips from behind.

Suddenly Kyle was jolted back to the moment by the pressure of Dane's body moving against her and Dane's ragged breath in her ear. Kyle pushed her hips upward to meet Dane's downward thrusts, reaching an arm back to encircle Dane’s neck, pulling her close. All of her energy immediately focused on bringing Dane the same pleasure she had just experienced. Dane’s hips jerked erratically as her fingers clenched Kyle’s upper arms. There would be bruises. When Dane stiffened against her, moaning uncontrollably, Kyle closed her eyes, triumphant.

Chapter Three

Kyle opened her eyes to the gray light of early morning. There was no hint of sunshine through the shutters on the window and no noise in the building. She lay quietly without moving, adjusting to the strangeness of her surroundings. Dane lay naked beside her, close against her back. She slept deeply, the slow, steady rise and fall of her breasts comforting against Kyle’s skin. Even in sleep, Dane related to Kyle's body possessively. She held Kyle as if she always had, without question. Oddly, Kyle felt comfortable with her nearness, even though she almost always slept alone.

Her thoughts returned to the evening before as the events and sensations replayed in her mind's eye. Dane had collapsed as her climax ebbed, silent except for her uneven breaths, her body trembling like a thoroughbred after a hard run. Her cheek lay softly against the moist skin of Kyle's neck, her fingers now gentle on Kyle's upper arms. Kyle was exquisitely satisfied knowing that Dane had found satisfaction in her. Just thinking about it now made her clitoris swell and throb. She wanted it again. She wanted Dane's touch; she wanted Dane to take her outside herself again. And she wanted the ultimate satisfaction of stirring Dane to the point where she lost control. Dane’s orgasm was her power. Kyle's body responded to her mental images with a flood of excitement, and she unconsciously pushed her hips back against Dane's body.

Dane stirred slightly and moved closer. Kyle lay very still as Dane's hand moved over her abdomen to rest against her breast. She wasn't sure Dane was awake until she felt the slight pressure against her breast become a gentle massaging motion and fingers tugged lightly at her nipples. They remained pressed close together, back to front, as Dane slowly caressed her. Kyle shifted slightly as Dane slid her hand into the soft hair between her thighs, parting her, finding her clitoris, beginning the circular motion that caused it to stiffen further. Kyle whimpered softly with each teasingly slow touch, wanting to ask her to press harder, but knowing instinctively that she would be denied. She would wait, as long as it took. Finally, Dane leaned up on one elbow, her hand still between Kyle’s legs, and looked at her.

God, she’s beautiful, Dane thought.

Kyle stared wordlessly into Dane's blue eyes, her breath catching. Her own desire was reflected there. She held the hypnotic gaze as Dane slowly stretched out on top of her, her thigh gliding easily between Kyle's.

"Oh," Kyle cried softly as Dane’s smooth skin rubbed over her clitoris. The friction triggered spasms down the shaft into her pelvis. Her thighs tightened around Dane’s leg.

"Don’t," Dane warned.

Kyle wanted to surrender to the sensations stirring in her body, but she willed herself to hold on until Dane gave her permission. She closed her eyes as her hips rocked in cadence with Dane's, their passion fusing and becoming a force of its own. For many moments they remained suspended on the brink of desire, holding back the moment of release as the intensity heightened. Kyle began to slip beyond the point of control, the distant pulsations beginning to grow, eclipsing reason.

"I’m coming," she whispered, her hands clutching Dane’s back.

"Wait," Dane gasped, even as she thrust harder against Kyle’s thigh. She was nearly blind with the pounding pressure threatening to explode her entire body. "Oh, Jesus," she gasped as the fire burned along her legs, into her spine.

Her words robbed Kyle of the last vestige of restraint. As her back arched and her thighs clenched around Dane's in the first seconds of orgasm, Dane groaned deeply, going off with her. For one instant, as the titanic contraction fused their bodies, their souls were one.


When Kyle awakened again, Dane was propped up beside her, smoking a cigarette, the covers resting across her naked thighs. As Kyle stirred, Dane looked down at her.

"Good morning," Dane said softly.

"Hi," Kyle said, stretching languorously, " What time is it?"

"Umm—about ten, I think."

Kyle laughed. "Indulgent, aren't we?"

"Do you mind?"

Kyle turned shyly toward her and rested her head against Dane's bare shoulder.

"Not at all. You?"

Dane twined her fingers in Kyle's thick hair. "Absolutely not." She was silent for a moment, and then said, "Are you hungry?"

"I think I might be, as soon as my body wakes up."

"Do you have to be anywhere this morning?"

"Nope! You?"

Dane sighed. "I usually make it a point never to work on Saturday, but today I have an appointment."

Kyle knew absolutely nothing about the woman beside her, except how she felt about her physically. She wasn't sure how personal to get with her. Some women were more comfortable after a night of lovemaking just saying good-bye in the morning, careful never to dispel the mystery of a brief encounter by dealing with the ordinary chore of living. Kyle herself had often felt uncomfortable with a stranger in her house in the morning. The woman she had desired in the early morning hours might not be someone she wanted to face across the breakfast table.

Cautiously she asked, "Would you rather I left?"

Dane looked down at her curiously, her surprise at Kyle's straightforwardness concealed by an old habit of keeping her thoughts to herself.

"No. I'd rather you made some coffee."

Kyle stared back at her in amazement, unable to read anything in Dane's smooth features.

"All right."

As Kyle slid out from under the covers and reached for her pants from the pile of clothing on the floor, Dane began, "The kitchen—"

Kyle interrupted her as she pulled on the soft worn leather. "I'll find it."

Dane smiled, admiring Kyle's naked back as she left the room. She smoked another cigarette and listened to the sounds emanating from the kitchen. Soon she could smell coffee brewing. She was amazed at how much she was enjoying these first moments with Kyle on a nonsexual basis. Usually she found her bed partners disappointingly boring, and often discovered she hadn't a single thing to say to them. She had gotten into the habit of finding some excuse to get them out of her apartment as quickly as possible. Her reluctance to become involved with anyone had enhanced her reputation in the bar as a loner. Dane found this an agreeable situation as it released her from the pressure of being sociable. No one expected it of her. She remained something of an enigma to the women in the bar and because of that, she felt unaccountable to anyone.

This morning was surprisingly different. When she had awakened next to Kyle, it seemed natural. Kyle's calm acceptance of the events of the past twelve hours and her unhurried approach to the morning put Dane at ease. For the first time in a long time, Dane wasn't sure of what was going to happen. That was both exciting and disquieting.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Kyle returning with two steaming mugs of coffee. Dane pulled the blankets back for Kyle to crawl under. She accepted her coffee gratefully and stretched one leg out over Kyle's.

"So, how are you this morning?" Dane ventured.

"Fine," Kyle said. She sipped her drink and continued. "I guess you know last night was new for me."

"You mean sleeping with a woman?" Dane said, purposely being obtuse.

"Of course not!" Kyle flared. Looking quickly at Dane, she caught the twinkle in her eyes and laughed.

"Very cute! No, I meant sleeping with a woman in quite that way."

Dane nodded, serious again. "I knew. Did you enjoy it?" Again, she surprised herself. Why does it matter? She came; she got what she was looking for. What else is there?

"Yes, I did. It wasn't what I expected."

Dane studied her face curiously. "Oh? What do you mean?" She usually wasn't interested in how other women felt about their encounters with her. They all seemed to have their reasons for seeking her kind of company, and she rarely took the time to understand why. They had come home with her; sometimes it was good and sometimes it wasn't. With Kyle, it seemed to matter. She no longer could remember how she had felt at the beginning. She had changed so much since then.

Kyle thought carefully for a moment before answering.

"In some ways it was more than I anticipated," she began. "It was more natural than I had thought it would be, for one thing."

"Oh?" Dane replied, raising an eyebrow, instantly defensive. "Did you expect it to be unnatural?"

Kyle caught the hint of sarcasm in Dane's voice but continued unperturbed. "No—I guess I thought it would be more contrived. Somehow, I couldn't imagine feelings just flowing when there were so many other things going on. The roles we both played—the separateness of our positions. I thought I would be too conscious of the external things to relax."

Dane relaxed, somewhat assured by Kyle’s frankness. Thank god she’s not feeling guilty. "It can seem artificial, I guess. I've never thought of it quite that way because I like all the externals. I like creating the mood, setting the scene. I like being in control." She realized she had never talked about these things with anyone she'd had sex with. In fact, only a few friends knew how she felt. Kyle certainly had a strange effect on her—but it wasn't unpleasant.

"I found out I like it, too," Kyle responded. I especially like it when you’re in control! She sighed and stretched, enjoying the contented way her body felt.

Dane reached over to the bedside table and picked up her watch.

"Damn, I'm going to have to get up soon."

Kyle turned toward her, "Oh?"

Dane smiled and kissed her lightly on the nose. "Work, remember? I'm self-employed, so I'm afraid I have to work when the work is there," she said as she swung her legs over the side of the bed.

Kyle watched her move about the room, enjoying the long, strong lines of her body. She liked Dane's unselfconsciousness about her nudity and the graceful way she moved. She was in splendid shape and Kyle took advantage of the opportunity to imprint each small detail of her form in her mind.

"What do you do?" Kyle asked.

"Dogs," Dane replied, her head in the closet searching a shirt.

"What?" Kyle asked, not sure she had heard clearly.

"Dogs," Dane repeated, turning toward her with a smile. "I breed dogs."

Kyle looked about her in surprise.


Dane laughed. "No—I own a kennel. I only keep one here, and he's been away at a show." She pulled clean jeans from a drawer, glancing over at Kyle. "I'm going to shower."

"Want company?"

Dane surveyed Kyle's face for a moment. "Yes."


The water flowed over their bodies in soft rivulets, outlining the curve of breasts and thighs. Four hands entwined in soapy circles as they gently caressed each other, first front to front, then turning about each other in an unchoreographed dance. They took turns washing each other's hair, laughing as the suds made white sculptures on their faces. Moving close together, their forms blended into one as the warm shower cascaded about them. Kisses exchanged at first lightly, then more deeply as tongues found lips, thighs fitted to thighs, breasts nestled against breasts. Finally, it was Dane who broke the contact.

"One minute more in here and I'll never leave," she whispered.

Kyle sighed regretfully, feeling their tenuous connection break.

"Besides," Dane continued, "I'm starving."

Kyle stepped back a little and shook the water from her eyes. "It's breakfast that you want, then?"

"Well, actually, it's you I want right now, but I have to go."

Kyle sighed. "Yes, ma'am."

As she stepped out of the shower, Dane laughed. If only she knew.

They shared their first breakfast together on the run. While Kyle dressed, Dane poured juice and put bread in the toaster. They munched toast while scrambling eggs and rinsed the dishes as they finished off the coffee. Silence descended as they both gathered their things to leave.

Kyle zipped her jacket and watched Dane slip a wallet into her jeans and pick up her keys from the table. When Dane turned toward her at last, Kyle couldn't read the expression in her eyes. She wasn't sure where to begin.

"Dane," she ventured softly.


"Will I see you again?"

Dane hadn’t expected this. She sighed slightly. "I don't know. Do you want to?"

Kyle nodded, not saying anything.

"Maybe you should think about it a while," Dane responded. "What happened last night - the way we were together- it might not be what you really want." She hesitated for a second. "And it is what I want."

Kyle answered carefully, sensing that Dane would withdraw at the slightest misunderstanding. "You'd know I was lying if I said I understood why last night felt right to me. But it did, and I'm not turning my back on that. For no reason I can clearly explain, I want you to touch me again."

"You'd better be sure what it is you want, before you find yourself somewhere you don't want to be," Dane said darkly. For a moment, her mind was clouded in memory.

"And do you know exactly what it is you want?" Kyle queried.

Dane reached for the door and said quietly, "I thought I did—until now."

Chapter Four

Dane drove the familiar route to her kennel lost in thought. The image of Kyle, resplendent in black leather, driving away on her motorcycle was still fresh in her mind. It had been a strange encounter. She realized she had enjoyed the night with Kyle more than any she could remember recently. Kyle was surprisingly receptive to her brand of lovemaking, and it had been easy to fall into a scene naturally with her. Still, she was wary. Kyle was on the threshold of a whole new sexual arena, and Dane knew from experience that the process of adjusting was a long one. She wasn't sure she wanted to be placed in the role of teacher. Teachers were usually replaced as time went on. When the lessons were over, the students moved on, leaving the teachers drained if they were lucky, broken if they had been foolish enough to care. Her life of casual encounters suited her. She was comfortable with the limitations, and also the freedom such anonymous liaisons afforded her. She hadn't wanted more than one night with anyone in a long time. She sensed that Kyle might be capable of awakening long-dormant needs within her, needs which she had learned to ignore.

As she pulled her van into the small lot beside the low building bearing the name "Daneland Kennels," she resolved to let the issue rest. She would probably never see her again anyhow.

She got out of the van and stretched. It was a full-blown spring morning and the clear air and blue skies lifted her spirits. She whistled a little as she let herself in a side door with her key.

"Hey, Boss," a voice called, as she closed the door behind her. "There's someone out back to see you."

"Hi, Anne. Sorry I'm a little late."

The tanned young woman, dressed casually in a plaid flannel shirt, work pants and heavy work boots, smiled back.

"Well, it is Saturday morning," she replied. When she stood up, the keys which dangled from a belt loop on her right hip jangled. "I understand that, but I'm not sure our friend out back does."

Dane's heart lifted. "Is he here already?"

"They got back about half an hour ago. He's very sassy, too. If he gets any more pleased with himself, there'll be no living with him," Anne replied, laughing.

"Where's Caroline?"

"She went out for coffee. She'll be back in a minute."

Dane headed toward the back door.

"Tell her I'm out back. I want to talk to her."

Behind the low sprawling building, secluded from the highway, were fenced-in runs where the dogs could be safely let out. As Dane stepped into the largest area directly behind the office, a large dog turned at her approach. Dane laughed as she saw the familiar form. "Baron!" she called as the powerful animal raced toward her, barking excitedly. She braced herself as he approached, used to his exuberant greetings after each of their separations. When he pushed his head into her chest, she rubbed his ears and heavily muscled neck fondly. He tried to return her affections by licking her neck, threatening to topple her over with his weight.

"Enough!" she commanded after a moment, staggering back. He sat down immediately, his eyes fixed on her face, his body still trembling with excitement. She moved to the top step and said quietly, "Baron, come."

He responded instantly, pressing close up against her left leg. She stroked the soft short fur on his back while she lit a cigarette with her other hand.

"So you did it again, huh, boy?" she said. "I sure missed you while you were gone, but you have to do this once in a while. You're too good to just stay home and keep me company. Besides, I know you love getting out there and strutting your stuff. Not letting it go to your head, are you?"

He put his large, heavy head on her knee and half closed his eyes as she stroked him. She smiled, remembering how small and cuddly he had been as a puppy. It was hard to believe that he had grown into such a magnificent animal, his body nearly the perfect example of his breed. Despite her pride in him as a champion show dog, she loved him best for his gentle loyal spirit. He was special to her far beyond his worth as her kennel's premier stud dog. He was her dog, before all else. They sat contentedly together, enjoying one another's company in the warm, still morning.

The door opened behind them, and Dane looked up.

"Hi! Glad to be back?" she asked.

"Oh God, yes! I'm getting too old for the circuit. Sleeping in vans and eating at McDonald’s is killing me, to say nothing of my home life. Anne threatened to take a lover if I left again before June."

Dane laughed affectionately at the tall, slightly gray-haired woman who sat down beside her. Caroline had been her friend for many years and was the only one she would trust to handle her dogs at shows.

"After all this time you don't really think Anne would stray, do you?" Dane queried.

Caroline sighed and studied her boots for a moment.

"You know, three years isn't very long, as these things go. And I am twelve years older than she is. I still worry about it. I don't think I could start all over one more time."

Dane placed her hand lightly on her friend's knee. "You could, and you would, if you had to. But Anne is a lot more mature than her age, and she's had enough experience to know what she wants."

"You should know!" Caroline retorted good-naturedly.

"Are you ever going to forgive me for getting there first? After all, it's you she chose to be with." Dane didn't mind a bit that she had lost a lover to her closest friend. It happened all the time, and as much as she had enjoyed Anne, she hadn't cared when she had left. It avoided complications.

"Oh, I forgive you," Caroline said, meaning it. "I still can't figure out what she saw in me though—especially compared to you."

"Oh, I can," Dane replied seriously. "You loved her—I didn't."

Caroline looked sharply at Dane, surprised by the coldness in her voice.

"You sound like you have something against love."

"Not so," Dane said, twisting her finger in Baron's rich coat. "I don't have any problem loving this guy."

Caroline snorted. "Small wonder! He's an absolute sweetheart. He'd die for you, and he never asks for anymore than a few strokes." She scratched his black muzzle and smiled. "He just gets better and better. The judges pretend to look at the others, but there was no competition. He just presented himself and stole their hearts."

"It scares me when I realize how really great he is," Dane agreed. "Sometimes I forget he's a lot more than just my dog."

"So how have things been around here?" Caroline asked.

Dane replied nonchalantly, "Nothing, the same old routine. I've put in a bid for a puppy bitch out of Kitty Graham's new litter. I thought we were ready for a little expansion."

Caroline nodded her assent. She had a large financial investment in Daneland Kennels, but she was totally comfortable allowing Dane to make all the decisions regarding their breeding program. Her own talent was in training and handling the dogs.

"Sounds good. But I didn't mean on the dog scene. I've been gone six weeks. What's been happening with you?"

"Not much."

"Come on, Dane. This is me—the big C. You know I love details. Something, or someone, must have happened while I've been away. Give me a break. All that time with straights, I'm dying for a little gossip. Come clean."

Dane wouldn't ordinarily tolerate any intrusion on her private life from anyone, but with Caroline, she couldn't put up a fight. They had been friends too long, and as much as she hated to admit it, sometimes she needed to talk to someone.

"Well," she began cautiously, "the bar scene hasn't changed much. More new faces all the time. And it's getting so you can't tell who's for real and who's just there for the show. There's so much leather everywhere these days I'm not sure what's going on." She paused. "Remember when a handful of us carried signs that said, 'Radical dykes, in five years we'll be everywhere'? Well, now it is everywhere. Except I'm not certain it means the same thing anymore."

Caroline laughed. "I know what you mean. Every time I walk down the street, I see handkerchiefs and keys all over the place. I'll be damned if I can tell whether they're for real or not. But at least women are talking about it—and more and more are thinking about it. That's some kind of progress."

"Yeah, I guess," Dane muttered. "I met this woman—a real novice, totally uninitiated. But she was so cool about the whole thing. She'd thought about it, and then went out and tried it. Just like that."

"Well, what's wrong with that?" Caroline said. "That's what we've been saying all along, right? It's just another way that people relate. Not for everyone—but so what?"

Dane lit a cigarette and slowly inhaled. "Yeah, but this was different. She wasn't some kid out for an adventure—she thinks, you know. And she talks."

"You mean she wasn't just a nice body in your bed for a night?"

Dane looked at Caroline, surprised once more by her old friend's ability to understand her.

"I guess so."

"So, what did you do with her?" Caroline asked, aware that Dane hadn't talked about anyone in particular for a long time. She had always hoped that Dane would get serious about someone again, but it had never seemed to happen. Dane kept her feelings deeply hidden, even from Caroline.

"Nothing," Dane said.


Dane smiled ruefully. "Well, I brought her home, of course."

"Of course!"

"Cut it out!" Dane said. "I'm not that much of a stud, you know. It's not like I have a different woman in my bed every night!"

Caroline nodded. "I know. But, you don't do too badly. So, then what happened?"

"She left. And I came here to see you and Baron."

Caroline looked into Dane's blue eyes with surprise. "This was last night?"

Dane nodded. "Uh-huh."

"Well, come on, woman—tell me! What's she like?"

"I don't know, just a woman."

"Just a woman! There is no such thing. Is she young, old, tall, short, fat, thin, butch, femme, right, left—"

Dane grinned. "She's gorgeous, actually. Black hair, gray eyes and a great body. Rides a motorcycle, likes leather, and she has a brain."

"Sounds nice."



"So what?" Dane asked, pretending not to understand.

"So what are you doing about it? Do you have her number? Are you going to call her?"

Dane was silent for a moment.

"No, I don't have her number. And no, I'm not going to call her."

"Why the hell not?" Caroline asked impatiently.

"Because I don't feel like it!" Dane replied shortly as she stood up and stretched. Baron got up immediately and looked up at her expectantly.

"I think I'll take Baron through his paces," Dane said as she walked away. "He's been taking it easy too long."

"And you've been hiding too long," Caroline muttered at Dane's retreating figure.

Chapter Five

Kyle closed the door gently behind her and surveyed the room before her. Benches lined the walls, piled high with half-finished pieces and dismantled forms. Paint cans and brushes were neatly stacked in one corner and a central worktable lay buried under current projects. A fine layer of wood dust covered everything, and particles big enough to touch floated lightly on the still air.

She slipped on her coveralls and tuned the radio to the station she was looking for, the one that played all the 'oldies'. As was often her habit when she had something on her mind, she sought refuge in work. She began hand sanding the top of a table, her thoughts drifting. Scenes from the bar kaleidoscoped in her mind, and she was back in the smoke-filled room, music and bodies swirling around her. Dane's face appeared before her, imperious in her aloofness, just a hint of a smile lifting the corner of her mouth. Kyle stepped into her arms again, and they danced. The moment flickered by too quickly as they took the cold ride on her cycle through the dark early morning streets. The strangeness of their silent entrance into Dane's house and the delicate balance of their love exchange stirred unfamiliar emotions. She was excited and yet uncertain. How was she to reclaim that moment of intense union with a woman she barely knew? Somehow, she sensed she would not see Dane again, and that thought saddened her.

Rarely had she been so moved by someone physically, only to have it end so quickly. Usually her sexual involvements were superficial, engaging little of her emotionally. She never missed the deeper aspects of a relationship--she had friends for that. But with Dane, it had not been the kind of sexual encounter she was used to. By the very nature of their exchange, she had been changed. By allowing Dane to restrain her, and then to control her, Kyle had granted Dane a degree of trust she never shared with casual lovers. Why she had done it didn't matter -- the fact was that she had done it, and she had been touched in some way so fundamental to her being that she felt empty now in the ordinary light of day. She wondered if she would ever be content again without that kind of intensity. She feared Dane had released a hunger that could easily consume her.

She sighed and lightly dusted the top of the table. The swirling grain appeared and rewarded her labors. When she applied a light oil, the wood took on a dark warmth before her eyes. She set the piece aside to dry and began on another. She worked steadily for a long time, lulled by the old romantic tunes that filled the air. When she finally straightened up, she grimaced at the cramp in her lower back.

"Too much activity," she thought to herself, remembering the night before. "Still, it was worth it."

The phone rang and startled her back into the present.

"Hello?" she said, resting one hip up on the counter.

"Hi! Where are you?" a familiar voice said.

"In the shop."

"Oh no, my friend. Not on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The wine is chilled, the sun is coming around to the deck, and I have been deserted. When can you be here?"

"Where's Roger?"

"Roger who?"

Kyle laughed. "The handsome man you live with."

"Oh, him. He has some terribly important something or other to do at the hospital. I've written him off for the day. So are you coming over, or what?"

"Well, I'm right in the middle of finishing that table."

"It doesn't have to be done until next weekend."

Kyle sighed. "I know, but…"


"Oh, all right. I'll be there in an hour."

"Thirty minutes."

Kyle laughed. "I'm leaving now." She hung up the receiver, off pulled her coveralls, and headed for the door.


Twenty miles south of Kyle’s coastal community, Anne pulled the jeep out onto the highway and reached for Caroline's hand. "I'm glad you're home."

Caroline squeezed Anne's fingers lightly and smiled over at her.

"So am I, babe. I missed you."

Anne deftly negotiated the heavy expressway traffic, smiling softly.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes—your sparkling conversation, your great dinners, your wonderful backrubs, and—"

Anne looked over at her lover. "And?"

"And your tender services."

"Let's talk about that some more!" Anne said lightly, as she drove off the exit toward their apartment.

"I've got a better idea, Caroline replied.


Caroline smiled. "Let's not talk at all."

Anne nodded as she pulled into a parking space and switched off the ignition. Once in the apartment, Anne went directly to the kitchen and opened the bottle of champagne she had placed there that morning. The shower was running in the other room as she filled a plate with cheese, crackers and fruit. She arranged iced glasses on a tray and folded linen napkins into small brass rings, completing the arrangement with small candles.

She carried the tray to the bedside table in their room and sat down on the edge of the bed to remove her boots. Caroline walked in with a towel draped around her and smiled at the top of her lover's curl-covered head.

"Leave your jeans on."

Anne looked up, her face flushed. She stood and unbuttoned her shirt, stripping it off to expose her small firm breasts. Caroline came to stand before her, turned her back, and handed Anne her towel. Anne slowly dried Caroline's back, gently rubbing the nubbly cotton down the soft curves of her thighs. When she was done, she folded the towel neatly and placed it on a chair.

Caroline stretched out on the satin comforter covering their bed and reached for one of the glasses of champagne. She sipped slowly, her gaze traveling appreciatively over Anne's body.

"Why don't you pull the drapes," Caroline said softly. "And light the candles."

Finished, Anne looked at her questioningly.

"Would you like some of this very nice champagne?"

Anne nodded, not moving.

"You'll have to earn it first."

Anne gently climbed onto the bed and stretched out between Caroline's parted legs, resting her face softly against the inner curve of Caroline's thigh.

Caroline laced her fingers through the wispy curls on top of Anne's head and guided Anne's face toward her. As Anne began to kiss her lightly, Caroline closed her eyes and took another sip of the cool, bubbly liquid. Yes, it was very good to be home.


Kyle turned her motorcycle up the tree-lined drive leading to a wood structure nestled at the top of the knoll. The house commanded a view of the ocean far below, while blending imperceptibly into the hillside where it stood. Kyle walked around the side of the house to the deck in the rear. Mounting the steps to the raised platform, she smiled at the fashionably dressed woman stretched out in a recliner in the sun.

"Hi, Nance," she said as she climbed to the top step.

"Hi yourself," her friend said, shading her eyes with one well-manicured hand. "Could you pour me some more wine?"

Kyle grinned. "Sure." The wine bottle stood chilling in a gold-plated bucket, and an empty glass of expensive crystal stood beside it on the tray. She refilled the half-empty glass by Nancy's chair and then poured a second for herself.

They reclined in silence for a while until the small trim woman beside her sat up with a sigh.

"So, where were you last night?"

Kyle looked up in surprise. "What do you mean?"

"I called at eight this morning—I know you never sleep late. And no one answered. Therefore, you must have been out somewhere last night."

"How do you know I didn't get up early and go out this morning?"

"Kyle!" her pretty companion said, pretending to pout.

Kyle laughed. "All right. I spent the night in the city."

"Oh?" Nancy inquired, arching her neatly contoured brows. "A little wanderlust?"

"Is it all right if I go out once in a while, Nance?" Kyle asked, suddenly not sure she wanted to talk.

"Of course. I'm always trying to get you to go out!"

"You mean you're always trying to fix me up with someone!"

"Well, what's wrong with that?" Nancy feigned a hurt look and reached for a cigarette. She looked expectantly at Kyle, who reached into her pocket on cue and pulled out her lighter.

Kyle leaned forward and touched the flame to her friend's cigarette, catching the twinkle in her eyes. "Don't be dense, Nancy. " Kyle answered. "First of all, I can choose my own companions. Secondly, half the time the people you're trying to fix me up with are men."

Nancy drew deeply on her cigarette and looked out over the two acres of her prime coastal property.

"Men aren't all that bad, you know."

Kyle sighed. "Nance, we've been having this conversation since our freshman year in college. I never said men were bad—I just don't feel the same way you do about them."

"I can remember when you didn't mind sleeping with them."

Kyle could tell her old friend was in a mood to bait her. Whenever the subject of Kyle's sexual preferences came up, they went through the same arguments. Underneath Nancy's superficial-appearing exterior, Kyle knew there was a very complex woman. They often didn't agree, but they did care for one another. Not only were they business associates, they were close friends.

"It's not that I mind sleeping with men, Nance. You know that. It's that I prefer women. There is a very real difference. Women are not substitutes, alternatives or second choices for me. They're…"

"…a positive first choice," Nancy finished for her. "Did you read that somewhere, or are you writing propaganda for all the lesbian groups in the area?"

"Nancy!" Kyle exploded.

"Oh, all right," her friend replied contritely. "I know, I know. It's important to you—that distinction. I just don't see why you have to be so hard-line about this gay thing. You could settle down with some nice, unassuming guy, get a few of the advantages it would bring, and have a lover on the side."

Kyle knew Nancy was serious and tried for the hundredth time to explain.

"I don't want to do it that way. I don't want to live with someone I don't love. I want the person I live with to be the only one. And I don’t want to hide!"

"Isn't that a little unrealistic? After all, people aren't perfect, you know. No one person would ever be enough."

Kyle knew very well that her business partner had affairs outside her marriage, and she also knew that Nancy's husband, Roger, was aware of them. Roger and Nancy had agreed years ago that both of them were free to explore as long as they weren't serious about anyone. It seemed to work well for them, and Kyle respected that. But not for her.

She shook her head stubbornly.

"It's not right for me."

"Oh, Kyle," Nance said in exasperation. "You're impossibly romantic!"

Kyle smiled and refilled their glasses.

"No, I'm not."

"Do you think you're going to find the woman of your dreams in those bars you go to—when you can't stand the silence of your own home any longer?"

Anger flashed in Kyle's eyes. Nancy was getting a little too close to the quick today, of all days.

"It's not as easy for me to meet people as it is for you, you know. I can't just go to some respectable university function and pick someone up."

"Touché," Nancy replied softly. She leaned back in her lounge chair and sipped her wine. "All right. So you have to go to gay bars to meet gay women. Did you?"


"Is it any different this time than all the other times? Did you find someone you can stand to be with the next day?" Nancy knew she was pushing Kyle's limits, but she didn't care. She had watched Kyle struggle with her loneliness for years, and she truly wanted to see her friend find some kind of happiness.

"Can you always stand them the next day?" Kyle retaliated.

Nancy laughed. "Usually I don't have to worry about it. They have to go home to their wives. Besides, I asked you first."

Kyle drained her glass and reached for the bottle.

"The wine is gone."

"In the kitchen. I put two more on ice." Nancy followed her friend's muscular form into the house, noting with a practiced eye the sensuous way she moved. She thought about how Kyle's body would feel on top of hers, and she knew she would like it. She also knew Kyle would never consider such a thing with her. Roger and Kyle were friends, and Kyle, unfortunately, was a woman of integrity.

Kyle returned carrying a fresh bottle of chilled white wine. She removed the cork, filled their glasses again and leaned her back up against the railing of the deck.

"Nancy," she said seriously, "Why are you always going on at me about this? I don't bother you about your life, do I?"

"Why should you? I have a great home, plenty of security, all the money I need and a husband who doesn't mind my—ah--flirtations."

"I don't believe for a second that's all you want," Kyle replied. "You're intelligent, talented, warm and loving. All those nice things you have can't be enough, or you wouldn't be sleeping with every good-looking, horny guy you meet."

"I haven't slept with all of them, Kyle," Nancy said demurely. "Not yet."

Kyle laughed. "Oh hell, I give up."

"Good! Now tell me about your latest. Was it any different?"

"Yes, for me at least."

Nancy waited expectantly. "Well?"

Kyle turned to look down across the bluff to the ocean, stretching for miles before them. "I went to a leather bar last night."

Nancy sat up straight in her chair. "Do you mean an S /M bar?"

"I guess you could say that."

Nancy was surprised, and intrigued. "So, tell me."

"I met this woman. I went home with her. A lot happened. I felt differently with her than I've ever felt before. I felt things about myself I never felt before."

"Did she beat you or something?" Nancy asked in amazement.

"No, it wasn't like that. It was like being in another world. We were making love, except so much more was happening. I almost didn't know myself. It was physical, and emotional, and something else, too."

"What else?"

Kyle sighed in frustration. "I don't know. And I don’t know how I’m going to find out."

Chapter Six

Kyle looked up from the chair she was stripping and sighed.


"Hmm?" Nancy replied absently, her mind on the design she was outlining on a tabletop.

"About that party tonight—"

"Yes," Nancy murmured, still engrossed in her painting.

"I don't think I can make it."

Nancy looked up quickly. "Bullshit. You don't want to."

Kyle tossed her stripping knife onto the counter. "It's not that I don't want to; I just don't feel like meeting a lot of straight doctors from the hospital."

"Well, all those straight doctors have wives, you know."

"I don't want to meet somebody's wife!" Kyle said. "I don't even want to meet the doctors who are women. Roger does know a few female doctors, doesn't he?"

Nancy laughed. "There might be one or two of those! I don't usually notice! So, will you come?"


"It's been a month since you went into the city. I know, I've counted. You must be ready for a little diversion by now."

Kyle looked uncomfortable for a moment.

"Actually, there was something else I wanted to do tonight. I read about this meeting in the city. It's a discussion group. I thought I might go."

"Oh, that sounds like lots of fun!" Nancy said sarcastically. "You could spend Friday night sitting around talking about how tough it is being gay, or single, or green, or whatever tonight's topic is."

"Oh, give me a break, Nance!"

Nancy was suddenly serious. "Well, what is it about, then?"

"It's about power, and how we use it."

Nancy looked at her astutely. "You mean sexual power, like S/M? Right?"

"That's part of it."

"Are you serious about this thing?"

"I'm serious about finding out about it."

Nancy turned back to her design. "Well, I suppose I'll have other parties."


Dane strode rapidly across the room, her voice tight, her back stiff with contained anger.

"There is no way, no way, that I'm going to some discussion group tonight!"

Caroline sighed resignedly and led the dog into the open crate.

"Why not?"

Dane turned toward her, blue eyes flashing.

"Because it's always the same thing. A bunch of intellectuals sitting around discussing the 'politics' of power and what they think about it. It's always what they think, never what they feel. It's an academic discourse by people who are afraid to do more than just talk about it. And they always have such a superior attitude about anyone who actually does something to find out what it's like."

Caroline looked at her friend in surprise. The vehemence in her voice was startling. Dane was usually so cool.

"That's not fair, Dane. Anne and I are going—and we do more than talk about it."

"Good! You can be the guinea pigs, then."

"How do you expect women to discover how they feel if no one who knows something will get it out in the open? It's like refusing to talk to straights about being gay. Ignorance doesn't go away by itself!" Caroline crossed her arms and sat down on the corner of the desk.

"Let them come to the bar, then, and see what it's all about if that's what they really want," Dane persisted.

"Maybe they're afraid to," Caroline said quietly. "It's as threatening to some of them to go to a leather bar as it used to be for all of us just to go to a regular gay bar. Just because you had to find out by yourself doesn't mean it still has to be that way. Maybe you can help other women understand."

Dane stared at Caroline. "I don't feel like telling a bunch of strangers what I do in bed!"

Caroline looked at her in exasperation. "You don't have to. But you could talk about why you do what you do in bed. Come on, Dane, what are you afraid of?"

"I'm not the one who's afraid!"

"Then why not come?"

Dane sighed. "I'll think about it, okay?"

Caroline smiled. "Okay."


Kyle checked her reflection in the mirror for the tenth time. She couldn't believe how nervous she was about going to this discussion group. She had participated in group sessions on lesbianism a few times and it was fine. Tonight she felt different. She was a newcomer, not at all certain what to expect, and she was afraid she would stand out. Still, she wanted to go. She wanted to know if other women were as affected as she had been by her brief exposure to sexual power roles. The memory of that night still elicited an intense longing whenever she thought of it. And she seemed to think of little else! Her denim-clad figure stared back at her from the glass, the same person that always stood there. But, tonight she seemed different even to herself. Who was that woman in there?

When she pulled her cycle in between several cars at the address the notice had given, she realized it was someone's apartment. She hadn't expected the meeting to be in somebody's house. She hoped she wouldn't be the only one there who didn't know anyone. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

A young woman in a tee shirt and blue jeans opened the door when Kyle rang.

"Hi!" she said, smiling up at Kyle.

"Hi," Kyle said, a little uncertain. "I saw this notice about a discussion group."

"Right," the woman said, extending her hand. "I'm Jean. Come on up."


Continued - Part 2

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