Once I got to the bathroom I dropped the backpack, closed the door, locked it, and collapsed back against it. I sagged down toward the floor. I tried not to hyperventilate. I succeeded by merit of not breathing at all. My heart was still pounding, though. I focused on that for a while and it slowed. Then it stopped.
It was kind of amazing how quelling the symptoms of a panic attack could do so much to avert the attack… without getting rid of the panic at all.
I let my heart start beating again and this time tried to keep it to a sane pace. I took a deep breath and let it out in relief. I didn’t get that pins-and-needles feeling any more, but I couldn’t help thinking that starving my body of oxygen was one of those things that would make me get hungry quicker.
I really didn’t want to freak out and bite Emma after I’d promised not to. I took another deep breath. I seriously needed to come up with a better way to cope. When I’d been really alive, my masochistic tendencies had been… well, masochistic. But at least then I’d only been hurting myself. Now if I took them too far I might vamp out and kill someone.
I wondered if they made anti-psychotic medication for vampires. God, if they did Mr. Salvatore should’ve been on it. Maybe I needed to do the responsible thing and get a therapist. I’d thought about it, when I’d been alive. But it had been impossible for me to bear admitting to anyone just how screwed up I was. I shied away from the thought now, too.
This bathroom was smaller than the master bath. It didn’t have a tub, although it did have a shower. It was also below the master bath. I didn’t even need my super enhanced vampire senses to hear the shower running upstairs.
Oh, God: there was a distracting thought. Hans was naked up there. And, according to my imagination’s interpretation of Emma’s comments, right now he was probably using his large, surprisingly sensual hands – hands that had cupped my head and stroked my hair and fondled my chest and squeezed my ass – to enthusiastically jack off over the thought of my girlfriend and I making out.
I blushed furiously. Okay, sure, I’d teased him badly enough that he couldn’t be begrudged some relief. But still… Gross! I’d just bathed up there. To his werewolf nose, the whole room probably still smelled of me. In fact, that was enough to get imaginary Hans going again – pumping with long, slow strokes while the shower cascaded water over his chiseled, washboard abs. Groaning as his strokes gathered speed; his ass clenching and hips bucking in an unconscious jerk as his enthusiasm mounted – his nostrils flaring to drink in my scent while his eyes remained closed and fixed on his mental image of Emma and I with our lips and limbs entwined, and…
I gulped and turned around. There was a hook on the door where I could hang up Emma’s robe, so I did.
I was going to have to let Emma know that if she ever stayed over she had to take her showers down here. It wasn’t really fair, but I wasn’t sure if Hans would be able to take it if he could scent both of us when he excused himself to take some of the pressure off after my neurotic teasings. As it was, I was alarmingly turned on just thinking about it.
I mean he was. Hans was.
The realization that I was standing around naked, blushing, and imagining Hans masturbating while imagining Emma and I making out made me scramble for clothes. The skirts Emma had packed had a better chance of looking like they fit me – but they were also out of the question while I didn’t have panties. And I wasn’t going to borrow one of the pairs that were rolled up at the bottom of the backpack. I wasn’t sure if Emma would be okay with it and I wasn’t ready for that much kink.
I tugged on a pair of jeans that were a little too long and a little wide in the hips, butt; basically everywhere that Emma was appropriately curvy and I was a twig. There was a belt of decoratively braided faux leather that I could use to hold them up, so I wasn’t too worried about embarrassing myself. I topped it with a babydoll tee shirt that bore a teddy bear on the chest and the slogan ‘Free Hugz.’ Then I rolled up the cuffs on the jeans and put on a pair of striped socks.
I took another deep breath and blew it out. I tried to take some confidence from the fact that I was now fully dressed. Except for shoes.
Alright, so the lack of underwear somewhat undermined my attempt at being confident. I resolved to just fake it instead. After all, I couldn’t just hide in the bathroom forever, could I?
I squeezed my eyes shut and forced myself to open the bathroom door. Then I opened my eyes again. Emma was standing in the hall, waiting for me.
“So,” I asked, “downstairs?”
Emma led the way to a door at the end of the hall and I followed. Behind it was a spiral staircase leading down to the basement.
I was expecting a dank, unfinished dungeon with all sorts of bondage devices mounted to the walls and maybe a bed with chains affixed to the corner posts and a cage or two arrayed beside it. Instead, the basement stair opened into a large, clean, well lit (when Emma flipped on the lights) room.
There was a bar across from the stairs – an actual bar, with stools in front of it and shelves of ornately bottled beverages behind it. To our left a long couch sat facing a coffee table, a large flat screen TV, and several racks of DvDs. Behind the couch was an area with a folding table, a few chairs, and a couple of shelves with what looked like board games and puzzles.
On the far wall there was another door. Okay. The scary bondage stuff was probably through there.
Emma sat down on the couch. I joined her. I was feeling decidedly self-conscious and awkward. I wondered how much of my earlier aggression with Hans had been from his primal desires lingering after I’d fed on him. It had been so clear, in the moment, but now I was doubting my recollection.
I looked at Emma. She was really pretty, I realized all over again, in that girl-next-door sort of way. She was also watching me watch her, and she started to blush. I didn’t know what was going on in her head – but I did know what went on in mine when I started blushing for no apparent reason.
I wanted to kiss her, but I couldn’t. I felt too intensely self-conscious; too awkward. Too aware that I wouldn’t do as good a job as Hans was probably imagining. And my libido had been seesawing viciously all morning – but right now it was down as I struggled with everything else.
I was dimly aware that Emma was visiting me. And that meant I was the hostess, even if she was probably more familiar with – and more comfortable in – Mr. Salvatore’s… I mean Hans’… house than I was. “Um,” I offered, “Would you like to watch a movie?”
“Sure,” Emma accepted. “Anything in mind?”
“Uh,” I stumbled on words. I glanced at the DVD racks. All I wanted was something to use as a distraction; something to provide some noise and make me less aware of my heartbeat – or Emma’s heartbeat, which was just as audible to my vamp-enhanced hearing. “Anything we don’t have to pay much attention to would be awesome,” I said.
Emma chuckled and got up to put something in. I did my best to pretend I wasn’t watching her butt while she did it. I think she caught me when she turned around, though.
Emma snagged the remote off the coffee table on her way back to the couch. I kept my eyes fixed on the TV. Previews.
Emma sat down next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her glance at me. I wondered if she could tell how nervous I was.
Emma skipped to the DVD’s menu and I caught a glimpse of something that looked romantic comedy-ish before Emma hit play. Then she put down the remote and settled in, laying back in the crook of the couch’s arm and back.
I sat twitchily straight. I was well aware that Emma had a clear view of both the TV and myself – but I could only just barely see her out of the corner of my eye. Could she tell I was watching her? And why was I so nervous? I mean, just because I had absolutely no framework on which to operate for a lesbian relationship, it didn’t mean…
Well, actually, that would do it. What did I know about being in a lesbian relationship? In any relationship?!
…only what I knew about being in a relationship with Hans.
“Okay,” I said. I didn’t want Emma to be disappointed that I wasn’t the aggressive, barbarous fling she’d almost had last night before Katherine had interrupted us. “So: rules,” I added.
“Rules?” Emma asked.
I nodded and made myself face her. Setting rules had helped me cope with Hans. I needed something like that for Emma. “You should definitely set some if I start to push your boundaries,” I said. “Like… no biting.” I had no idea what Emma’s boundaries were, but that was going to be one of mine. I wasn’t going to bite her.
Emma raised her eyebrows. “If you start to come up on mine, I’ll let you know,” she promised.
Well, that didn’t help me know where to start. “Good,” I said anyway. “That’s a rule,” I added. “I don’t know what I’m doing, so if I start to do something bad or stupid or wrong, you have to tell me.” Hopefully before I embarrassed myself too horribly.
“Oh,” said Emma in reply. “Okay. And the other way around, right? You’ll let me know if you don’t like something I’m doing?”
I nodded jerkily.
Emma’s eyes turned speculative. “You’re a lot more nervous than last night,” she noted.
I laughed shakily. “Well, you know, I’m a vampire now so I’m extra worried about hurting you and I don’t even know what to do, anyway, because I’ve never been in a lesbian relationship because I’m not a lesbian because I’m attracted to guys or why would I have a Hans?” I gasped while gesturing toward the absent Hans.
Emma blinked a couple of times in rapid succession. “Okay,” she said slowly. “Then what do you want to do? I mean, you do want to do… stuff, right?” She seemed to be getting a little nervous herself. “Last night wasn’t just experimenting for you?”
“No!” I said hastily. I hated seeing that look of worry on Emma’s face – and hated still more that I was making her doubt herself. “Last night was good. I liked last night. I mean… wow,” I babbled. “I was terrified, but… wow,” I said. “I’m not trying to break up with you!” I finally blurted.
Emma’s eyes narrowed slyly. “You know, you seem to be a little on edge because you’re ‘not a lesbian’ but… that isn’t the only way you can ‘have a Hans’ and an Emma.” She winked. “Maybe you’re just bi?”
My jaw worked soundlessly. Verbal filters were gone, but Emma had just KO’ed my brain. I mean, I thought she was beautiful and I really liked to kiss her, but that didn’t mean… I would have known if I was bi! Wouldn’t I?
No. I wouldn’t have known, because I wouldn’t have been able to think about it because I would have panicked because it would have meant I was less normal than I already wasn’t. That was why I was freaking out about not being a lesbian despite knowing I thought Emma was attractive.
Identifying as bi did make plenty of sense given the whole ‘I have a Hans’ thing. It was just that I had never thought about my sexuality because I had never thought I would have sex, and I’d just gone with the default assumption of the world: straight. And now I was trying to cope with having that revealed as a convenient lie – and reacting with knee-jerk denial. Just like I had when Hans revealed the truth about history as I knew it and the existence of magic.
Emma’s lips curved up at the edges. “Want to make out?” she asked.
“Oh, God yes,” I gasped. Anything to get out of this conversation.
Wait, was she trying to make a point?
If she was, I didn’t get any time to contemplate it. As soon as Emma had my assent, she pounced.