Chapter 33: The Invitation

An artist survives between two bowls. In the first is the time to concentrate and sink into the heated depths. The other is the acidic virtues of conflict. — Sadenmúsa Kanachyo, The Painter of Blood and Ash and Sorrow (Act 1, Scene 3)

Lily almost floated over the chair as she finished the last of her embroidery for Nirih’s dress, her needle working steadily as she rocked against the ridge of her foot. The grinding pressure against her sore labia felt good as she smiled to herself.

It was late morning on Reldei and the world felt right. At least until she looked over at the nearly assembled dress and focused on the collar. She still hadn’t removed the incorrect piece that was attached with only a few stitches. It was too low and scandalous but she was afraid of falling into a pit struggling with the perfect design instead of completing the rest of her dress.

She sighed and returned to her embroidery. Running her thumb along the delicate whorls and patterns, she smiled. The thread color was wrong but she wasn’t ready to tint it until she finished everything else. The contrasting colors, bright greens and yellows, looked better to her eyes.

Pulling herself up, she winced at the ache between her legs. Last night with Kendrick was active and enjoyable, enough to keep her smiling, but it was also sore on her nethers. It was a good sort of pain, she designed, before walked over to the dress form to attach the sleeve.

The bell on the door rang out. The door creaked as it opened.

“Good morning,” said Mindil. She spoke with a guarded voice.

Lily froze, one hand on the dress form’s shoulder and the other holding a needle. A wave of guilt slammed into her, scraping against her nerves before pooling in her gut with a sour taste. As sweat prickled her brow, she stared at the dress form and struggled with a sudden urge to race out of the room.

“Lily?”

Tears blurred her vision as she gathered up the courage to turn around. Her hand tightened on the needle, bending it with her cowardice. Taking a deep breath, she slowly turned around to face her friend.

Mindil leaned against the door, half in the store and half out. Like usual, her dress was out of season with a frilly collar and deep colors. It would have been perfect for fall with the royal reds and oranges. The material was light though, fluttering with the wind that blew in from the street. The ripples caught on the hang of her belly. Lily caught a glimpse of a black garter when the wind blew up her skirt. Mindil’s thigh was pale and curvaceous, it looked perfect for Lily to rest her head. It also looked like the perfect place to rest her head for other reasons; she wondered what Mindil would taste like underneath her tongue.

Flushed, Lily sharply looked down to avoid distracting her thoughts.

“Something wrong?”

“I… no, nothing is wrong.”

Lily turned away, berated herself mentally for not speaking up. She had to tell Mindil, she had to confess before it ate her up inside. She peeked up at Mindil who looked worried. The guilt stabbed Lily in the gut again and she looked away to avoid the sharp agony of betraying her friend.

“How was your weekend?”

Images of Hasan’s head buried between her legs flashed across her mind along with the incredible sensations of Kendrick’s cock driving deep into her body. A flicker of heat raced along her skin, quickening her breath and crinkling her nipples.

Inhaling sharply, she shook her head. She couldn’t get her lips to form the words over the overwhelming fear that Mindil would be devastated. She wiped the tears from her eyes. “It was good.”

She turned back to the dress form and grabbed her needle. Her hand hovered over the fabric, though, the storm of her emotions preventing her from doing anything. She sniffed and stared at it, silently willing Mindil to leave before Lily said the wrong thing.

The breeze continued to tease through the building, the door was still open.

Slowly, Lily looked over her shoulder at Mindil who remained in the door.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“I… I,” Lily choked on the words. “I think I did something terrible.”

Mindil rushed from the door, dropping her bags and opening her arms.

Lily cringed but let her friend hug her tightly.

“Oh, what happened? What your mother did? Something else?”

The tears started to fall. “No, yes. First there was mother because Djulian talked to her. But just when I got to focus, Kendrick was drinking himself and I had to do that and then I… I…” Lily babbled but it trailed off as she almost came to confessing herself. Guilt and fear stopped her, she didn’t want to lose Mindil.

“Oh, honey,” breathed Mindil. She ran her thumb underneath Lily’s eyes, wiping away the tears. “Your mother and Djulian are a problem. But this Kendrick? Was he really that bad?”

Despite her fear and guilt, Lily shook her head and found a bashful smile.

“See, nothing everything is entirely bad. Was he fun?”

Lily nodded.

“Well,” Mindil said with a smile. “I really want to hear how that turned out.”

“Really?”

The curvy woman leaned forward until they were only inches away. Her large breasts rested lightly against Lily’s. “Of course. I would never get in the way of you having fun.”

Lily trembled underneath Mindil’s touch.

“Though, I’m also hoping that you still have a little bit for me.” Her lips curled into a smile. “A certain kiss has kept me company for quite a few days. I’m hoping to continue yesterday’s welcome.”

Blushing, Lily nodded.

Mindil lifted herself up and brought her lips to Lily’s. It was a light, electrical touch between them. It stole Lily’s breath as she found herself transfixed by kiss, a moment when her body and mind were stunned by the caress.

When she broke it, Mindil stepped back. “There we go. I like to see your smile.”

“T-Thank you.” Lily smiled, feeling better about herself despite the guilt still gnawing at her stomach.

“How about lunch? Hasan is going to pick me up after shopping and I’d love to just chat.” She grinned. “You know, without distracting your work.”

Lily froze again, staring at Mindil.

“I’ll bring the carriage around noon? Maybe fifteen minutes before?”

Unable respond intelligently, Lily just nodded slowly.

Mindil beamed happily and kissed her again. “I can’t wait.”