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Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7

I'm drinking coffee as Rachel wanders through from the shower. She's dressed, her teeshirt clinging to her still-damp skin and her hair slick and dark against her head. She looks nervous.

"What's up?" I ask.

"I have to drive to Wellington today, I have no choice," she says.

I nod. "But you'll be back up here next week, you said, yes?"

"Uh-huh. I could be back within three days really. I don't have a lot to pack, my contract job is finished, and I really ought to spend some time looking for somewhere to live here, but..."

She looks like she's about to cry. I don't understand it at all.

"Rachel, what's wrong? Tell me." I go to her and put my hands on her shoulders, stroking the side of her neck with my thumb, locking my gaze on her eyes so she can't look away.

She takes a long, deep, breath. When she speaks, the words come out in a rush.

"I'm terrified that once I walk out of the door you'll convince yourself that this weekend was an aberration, a fun little experiment. I'd be okay with that, if we could be friends. But.... well... I think once you've done that, you'll be ashamed, and embarrassed, and then you won't ever want to set eyes on me again. I'll get back, and I'll call you, and you'll be polite and friendly, but you'll have an excuse not to see me, and I'll call again and you'll be busy again, and..." her voice peters out into silence.

I'm about to deny it, vehemently, tell her how wonderful the weekend has been and how I would never want to cut her out of my life that way, but I realise suddenly how easily I could do exactly that. I'm not gay, after all. I don't feel gay. I'm attracted to Rachel, and I adore what she does to me, what we do together, but I can see myself getting cold feet if I'm left alone to think about just how far out of my comfort zone I've stepped.

I'm silent, thinking, though my thumb still moves up and down the soft, soft, skin of her neck.

What do I want here? Do I want a friend? A lover? A memory of a weekend to file away for the future but never repeat? I can see it's down to me 100%.

"Bel? Say something, please." Her voice is anxious, pleading.

She really is so beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

"Why don't I come down to Wellington with you?"

She looks stunned. I can understand that, I'm fairly surprised myself. Ever since she walked into my life decisions seem to be taking themselves. It's as if my body has taken over my thinking for me.

"I've finished my major project at work," I say, "and I'm due so much holiday that I'm sure if I call Richard he'll give me three or four days off. I could drive down with you, help you pack, and then you could stay here for a couple of weeks while you find a place to live. If that suits you, of course."

"God... yes... of course. Bel, are you sure?" there is almost a yearning in her tone.

I'm not sure, of course. I'm not at all sure; but I nod as if I am.

I slip my arms down from her shoulders and around her, pull her close, and kiss her, deeply, intensely, to make up for my hesitation.

"I'll call Richard now," I say. And I do.

As I'm talking, she comes and slips her arms around my waist, cuddling up to me. I feel the swell of her breasts pressed against my back, and her breath on my neck. Her proximity is disturbing. The level of affection it seems to convey arouses me and terrifies me, simultaneously. But the way my pulse is pounding at least tells me that I'm fully alive again, and right now I'm much more scared of slipping back into the dull black-and-white half-life I've been living after this Technicolor experience than I am of any consequences of moving forward.

As I hang up, after agreeing to take the whole week off, and go back next Monday, she whispers "Thank you," and kisses my cheek.

I want to drag her to bed, there and then. I want to lay her down and fuck her, fast, hard, and furiously, to drown my doubts in a frenzy of love-making, lose myself in the beauty of her body and the softness of her skin, simply to remind myself why I've just made the decision I did.

But it's a long drive, and maybe, just maybe, I should make it sober, rather than intoxicated by her.

"Just give me five minutes to throw some clothes in a bag and I'll be with you," I say.

I'll be with her. Oh god, what am I doing?

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7

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