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So… here it is… a little later than I anticipated but here nonetheless!
It’s be a hot minute, right? I’ve had an exceptionally busy few years. I began a career in a completely new industry and it’s been an experience! On top of this, I’m also starting my second year of a full time, long distance, degree AND I play as much rugby as time (and COVID) will allow.
But, during lockdown, I began to look through my old stories and I’m not going to lie guys… so much made me cringe I am thinking of doing a re-write of everything! Starting with one of my more popular publications… Home.
I am aware this could absolutely tank it as it’s going to be different to the original. But, when I began to write it at the start of lock down during my brief time on furlough… I loved every word. I plan on doing this re-write in chapters and I will follow the two characters you guys have loved through their relationship… the good, the bad and all the rest of it!
Chapters won’t be published weekly, sorry guys. I have notes for the second instalment but I haven’t started it! This final edit has been in my inbox since July (Thanks to LiveCat for once again coming to the rescue) and this is the first time I’ve really sat down to finish the last proof read and post it!
There will probably be mistakes that I’ve missed, but despite that… please enjoy it. I welcome all constructive feedback as always.
Take care out there guys, it’s a crazy time; but be kind to each other, be considerate when you’re out and about and WEAR A DAMN MASK!
CHAPTER ONE — The Beginning
An intense city heat burns around me this morning, the sound of the London traffic is drowned out by the thumping beat of the music playing through my headphones. I love running at this time, dodging morning commuters as they make their way to where ever they need to be and parents taking their children to school or nursery with the typical Starbucks coffee balanced in their hand as they wrestle their little ones along. The hustle and bustle of this city creates a sense of freedom and as my feet pound against the pavement it creates a rhythm, syncing with the city around me as I weave a pattern through the crowds and begin working my way back to the university. I can feel sweat seeping from my pores and as my lips stretch into a small, satisfied smile, I murmur “make the next kilometre count.”
Rounding the final corner I am able to see my dorm building in the distance and I force my legs to push harder, a slow burning sensation begins creeping through my calf muscles. The taste of salt on my lip makes me tilt my head up to the sky, silently appreciating the heat on my sweat soaked skin and for just a moment relish the way my body feels, alert yet tired. The way it balances carefully on the precipice of exhaustion and adrenaline, this is what I love the most about running.
Before I can truly appreciate exactly what is happening I am brought back to reality by the sensation of falling, an uneven, poorly maintained pavement sends me flying into an unsuspecting pedestrian, my head collides with their shoulder, instinctively my hand reaches out and I hold on to their arms as we each fall to the ground in an entanglement of limbs, coffee spills from the container they were carrying and covers both of us in the sticky, brown substance. My unfortunate victim lands on my stomach, winding me as by back hits the ground with force, “ugh, shit!” I cough as air leaves my body violently and the burning sensation of torn skin in my arms makes me wince. “Are you okay?” I begin, “I’m so sorry… I don’t even… know… ugh, what happened, can…” the words fall out of my mouth in a tumble but, when I finally see the person hovering above me, the feeling which begins to stir up inside of me is petrifying.
She is beautiful. Her wide green eyes look down at me in obvious disbelief, but that isn’t the first thing that registers for me, it is their rich colour. I don’t ever think I’ve seen a green as vivid as this before and in this moment I realise I could spend eternity getting lost in them. Her golden hair frames her face, loose tendrils fall down around her cheeks and I have the urge to reach out and tuck a strand behind her ear. Time stands still for just a moment and I completely forget myself, my mouth opens and closes silently as I subconsciously attempt to verbalise exactly what I am feeling. The way her perfect, rosy lips part as her mesmerising eyes continue to stare down at me, the quick way she licks her lip causes me to forget where I am. Until the blaring of an ambulance siren swiftly brings me crashing back to earth and the suppressed cloud of uncertainty twists inside of me and fogs the way that I had just been feeling. Clearing my throat seems to bring us both back into reality, “you should really pay more attention to where you’re going.” The woman snaps at me before pushing herself off of the ground and stands above me with a look of utter annoyance on her face, clearly poker oyna reluctantly offering me an assisting hand up.
Ignoring her tone, I continue to brush myself off, assessing the damage to myself I’ve seemingly caused. Cut elbows, saw stomach but nothing too bad, “are you hurt?” I ask, concern for the beautiful, yet rude stranger now standing before me, her head is bowed as she takes in the damage the spilled coffee has made to her pale blue shirt; she raises her hands up to me and I see minor grazes which have perforated the soft skin of her palms, small drops of blood begin slowly trickling towards her wrist. Offering her a small smile of reassurance. “You’re bleeding, I’m so sorry. I can help get that cleaned and dressed if you need?” I know I am primarily looking for an excuse to touch her hand and the feelings being close to her have evoked are currently causing a storm of internal confusion within me, but I don’t want this to end. Even if she is pissed.
She hesitates for a moment, eyeing me with trepidation before finally shaking her head. “No,” she hesitates and continues “no, thank you.” Her eyes narrow and I swallow drily and clench my teeth, waiting for whatever wrath was about to come my way, “just pay more attention to where you’re going in future.” And without another word, she turns on her heel and walks away leaving me alone, utterly baffled with the bizarre interaction and completely oblivious to the crowd that seems to have gathered around us.
Back in the safety of my dorm room I am able to process what has just taken place and the strong and fierce attraction to an incredibly beautiful woman I am currently experiencing. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way about a girl. I have known that there was a part of me bubbling beneath the surface that I just could not begin to fathom or acknowledge. Having grown up in a strict, Christian household these feelings are supposed to be forbidden.
Throughout my last two years at school, I began harbouring feelings for my best friend. I was never brave enough to act upon them, especially not after two girls from our church were caught together. I bore witness to the horrors that pursued and they have haunted me ever since taking place.
Memories of this flood back, stirring the internal confliction of knowing that how I feel is supposed to be wrong. But, when I saw her eyes, I didn’t feel wrong, I felt more right than I ever have and the years I have spent listening to hateful rhetoric about the sin of homosexuality and the eternity in Hell that would await any-one who succumbs to those temptations. But, now I’m away from that I should have a choice to feel how I feel and love who I want to love.
I know I can’t though, that I there will always be a piece of me that is cursed to be forever plagued by those words. I have been programmed to react to my feelings this way, it is embedded deep inside my core and no matter the distance I put between myself and that place and those who hold these opinions; I know I’ll never truly be free from it.
As I stand here, leaning against the door of my room, my breathing is coming in frantic bursts. There is an anxious knot growing inside my chest and I feel as though I may suffocate. My meeting with this stranger has left me panicked, the way she left me feeling has awoken a need I have spent the last two years burying. Closing my eyes, I work on controlling my breathing first of all, in through my nose and out through my mouth. Silently, I count to ten and then back down to zero over and over again until the dizziness and flashing lights behind my closed lids cease and slowly, painfully slowly, my breathing returns to normal.
I need to shower, to somehow wash away the shame and confusion I am experiencing. Stripping out of my damp running clothes and wrapping my dressing gown around my torso, I allow myself one final moment to compose. Painting a falsely confident smile on my face, I exit my room and head for the shared shower at the end of the hall.
As the warm water cascades over me, I am reminded of the broken skin at my elbows as they begin to burn and act as another reminder of my earlier encounter. I examine them both and clean the cuts tenderly; they’re not serious, thankfully.
The pain brings back the feeling of earlier on, before the panic and I am betrayed by my subconscious as it presents me with a flash of dazzling green eyes. This memory forces a new kind of breathlessness, one I haven’t felt before and I once again close my eyes and paint an image of her perfect face, her lips are parted invitingly and I can almost feel the warmth of her sweet breath on my skin, creating prickles of desire. My teeth close over my bottom lip, my hand skims over the tops of my breasts, my fingertips trace the outline of my tight nipple. My mind drifts to the idea of kissing that girl, of tracing my tongue along her bottom lip before meeting hers in a heated kiss. I let my free hand drift southwards over my stomach to between my parted legs were they canlı poker oyna are quickly coated with my slick arousal, I draw my breath between my teeth, causing a low hissing. My fingers begin a slow circling motion around my clit and for a moment, as my hips sway in time with the rhythm of my ministrations, I lean back against the cool wall behind me and imagine that they aren’t my fingers, but ones that belong to a beautiful and mysterious stranger. My fantasy is tortuous, lips are on my neck and I stifle a moan when my subconscious makes teeth close around my taught tendons there.
A loud bang from one of the communal toilets brings me out of my day dream and my eyes snap open and I automatically drop my hand back to my side. What the fuck is wrong with me? Masturbating in a communal shower whilst fantasising about a stranger. A female stranger. I think of my parents and their reaction to the scandal at church and anxiety once again begins building up again inside my chest as I imagine them looking at me with that level of contempt and disgust.
I don’t want to care as much as I do about them and their opinion. It is creating my constant struggle to continually supress these urges and will slowly destroy me from the inside. I contemplate if I could let myself just feel how I want to feel, if I could just try and be the person I truly am, if I could ever be happy? I shake my head, my eyes burning as tears threaten to spill over, my chest on fire as I drag my wash cloth? quickly, scrubbing the shame away and watching it run down the drain with the soapy water.
Coming here was always my plan to escape from my family and the constant burden of fighting back who I really am. Taking a deep and steadying breath I wrap myself with my towel. The soft white cotton envelops me and leaves me with a nostalgic sense of calm. For the first time since meeting her, I think rationally. This is a big campus located in one of the largest and busiest cities in the world. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever see her again and I can forget this and go on with my life. Maybe even come to terms with who I really am in my own time. However, this rationale doesn’t stop me from secretly hoping that maybe I will see her again.
The start of this year has not gone well. First of all, my long term girlfriend and I have finally called it a day, it may have been a long time coming, but it does not make it any less shit. Secondly, my pre-arranged house share fell through because the owner decided to sell so now I am stuck living in the university’s dorms for another year and finally, I was then knocked down by some careless runner. My palms sting at the memory, the grazes are almost healed now but they’re still an inconvenience.
The first week of lectures has been truly laborious, lots of introductions and icebreakers; I don’t think there’s anything I enjoy less than forced group participation. To top all of this off; I have my first shift at my old job tonight at the university’s student union bar, and its karaoke night. A thing not even the most patient person on earth could prepare themselves for, rowdy teenagers drinking cheap booze and singing off key for seven hours.
I am trying my best to prepare for the night ahead inside my tiny single, sipping on a cup of tepid tea with a generic Spotify playlist currently playing through my laptop speakers. Out of ease I keep my hair in the same plait it’s been in all day and I apply minimal makeup. Mainly just concealer to hide the minor break-out I woke up with this morning. Checking myself in the mirror quickly I decide that I’ll have to make do in the plain, designer polo shirt and jeans I wore to lectures and head out.
I walk through the grounds of the university, enjoying the brief moment of peace before madness ensues. For just a moment, I am enjoying the serene calm of the afternoon, that is until my mobile phone begins bleeping obnoxiously. Honestly, I’m tempted to ignore it, the only texts I usually get are ones from my network provider or automated messages from the bank shaming me for overspending throughout the month by reminding me I’m now using my arranged over-draft and will be charged daily interest fees. I sigh and reluctantly pull my phone out of my jacket pocket and roll my eyes:
Quick message Em, new starter coming in tonight! If you could show her the ropes etc that’d be great. Paperwork for her is on my desk with your keys. Oh, and be nice! Ta.
Groaning out loud I push a loose strand of hair behind my ear, I accepted a promotion as a condition to coming back with the start of my final academic year here. So now I have to put up and shut up whilst I pocket the extra cash.
The bar is exactly the same as it has been every year. It has always had the same stale smell of alcohol and sweet shots intermingling with cheap disinfectant and it’s pretty grim to be quite honest; but I kind of love it. There’s something about the buzz I get from working under pressure and the team are great, so the banter is internet casino always free-flowing.
I wave to the staff behind the bar and head through to collect everything I need from Simon’s office. The new starter paperwork in my hands tell me about the new girl, first year. Rolling my eyes as I dump my bag and jacket unceremoniously in the staff room before clocking in. “Look who it isn’t!” Matt shouts in his thick north-eastern accent from across the bar as I step through the door and wave in his direction. He begins to make his way over to me, a massive grin plastered on his face, “it’s good to see you again, Emily!”
I can’t help but laugh and offer him a small hug, “hey Matt, good summer?”
“Not bad, spent a few weeks travelling through Spain and Portugal. A few friends of mine and I all chipped in for a camper. It was crazy!” He goes on to explain about all of the mishaps that ensued during his European adventures, I laugh and brush off his questions about what I had gotten up to with vague responses. I’m not quite ready to regale him with the story of my breakup just yet. “So, is it true we’ve got a newbie starting tonight?”
Nodding in response as I pour a pint of cheap beer for the girl at the bar, surreptitiously checking her out as I take her payment, “yup, so if you can cope best you can whilst I show her around, that’d be great.”
“No problem, mate,” a breeze from the opening and closing of the front door hits the two of us at the same time and we look up.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I mutter as they nervously walk over to the bar.
“Erm hi,” she stutters out quietly, “I’m Kaitlyn, I’m supposed to start here tonight.”
I extend a hand which she takes, I’m momentarily stalled by the smooth warmth of her skin. It feels unexpectedly nice and I’m reluctant to let go, before Matt clears his throat and I pull away quickly, “I’m Emily, this is Matt. Come through and I’ll show you where you can put your stuff.”
I go through the whole rigmarole of showing her around, I can tell I’m coming off a little standoffish and her painfully shy behaviour is frustrating, I struggle to hear her responses and after asking several times to repeat herself in the most polite way I can muster, I began to snap, “I’m going to be frank, before things get a little nuts here,” I begin, “I get it can be a lot to take in… but you’re going to need to…”
“I’m sorry about the other day,” she interrupts me, talking louder than she has since she got here. “I recognised you when I walked in, and I’ll be honest, I almost walked back out.” She laughs shyly and tucks a ringlet of hair behind her ear.
I shove my hands into my jeans pocket and look directly at her, our eyes meet and I find myself struggling to find the words to reply. We’ve found ourselves inside the manager’s office, alone and something within the room shifts as we stand and watch one another. The air is like static, crackling intensely and I don’t understand it.
Something within me makes me believe that she feels it too, the unmistakeable rise of warmth in her cheeks, the quickening of her breath. Something inside of me is telling me to reach out for her, “sorry.” I murmur, almost too quietly for even myself to hear.
A smashed glass and a raucous cheer brings me back to focus, I shake my head and refocus my eyes, remembering exactly where I am I suddenly feel stupid. “Well,” I start, struggling to form words, “I’m glad you didn’t. Karaoke always gets a little bit… loud.” I gesture to the door and we both laugh awkwardly.
“I’m glad I didn’t,” she pauses and I raise an eyebrow at her, “leave, I mean.” Another pause, “I am really sorry about what happened, I hope you’re not too hurt?”
I shrug and smile warmly at her, “no lasting damage. I promise,” the words are soft but they’re enough to make her smile back.
We stand there for another moment, just watching one another. I take in her face one last time, appreciating the graceful curve of her mouth, her slim build, the dusting of freckles on her nose and the rich blueness of her eyes. The glasses she wears do not detract from their bright colour and warmth. “Come on,” I say, gesturing to the door, “we’d better get on.” Reluctantly, I open the door and we exit to the chaos that awaits us.
The night goes so fast, Kaitlyn is a natural, but that said bar work isn’t exactly rocket science. As the shift continues on, I keep replaying the moment we shared in the office. There’s something special about her that I can’t shake, something that I find both endearing and unsettling at the same time. She has a level of charisma I don’t think even she knows she possesses and a winning smile.
I watch her share easy banter with Matt, and the way she challenges him is hilarious. For the first time ever, I find myself disappointed when I am forced to call last orders and close up. Cleaning down is interesting, I tell Matt he can go just so I can be alone with Kaitlyn and I can utilise the time spent checking her out. Particularly when she bends over to stock up the lower levels of the under-counter and I am presented with quite the view. Kaitlyn stands around a head shorter than me and is built lithe and slim, her arse looks firm and round.
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