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"You need to get out more," Tamara said. She was lounging on the couch with a glass of red wine in one hand, and her tone suggested that she wasn't going to let Regina argue with her. "When was the last time you actually left the house?"

Regina sighed. This was a conversation they'd had too many times over the past few months.

"This morning, when I took Henry to school."

"That doesn't count."

"Why not?"

"Because you don't talk to anyone – you just drop him off and then leave."

"I go to work," Regina bristled.

"You work from home and only speak to people via email. Besides me and your son, who was the last human you had actual contact with?"

Regina looked up from her position on the living room floor, where she'd been busily tidying up the remains of Henry's science homework. "Are you going to tell me that the cashier at the grocery store doesn't count?"


"Then Robin, a week ago."

"Regina," Tamara sighed, leaning forward onto her knees. "You know this isn't healthy, right? If your ex-husband is your only source of adult conversation then something has gone very wrong."

Regina scooped up the remaining coloured pens. "I'm fine. I'm busy all day with my clients and I spend my evenings with Henry. I'm happy."

"I've known you for 10 years," Tamara said slightly more gently. "You're not. Ever since the divorce, you just lock yourself up day after day and let life rush past you."

"No, I don't."

A voice wafted over from the staircase. "You do, Mom."

Regina turned to her son and glared. "Who asked you?"

"No one," Henry chirped. He was wearing his pyjamas and carrying an empty water glass. "But Tamara's right – you need a hobby."

"Thank you, young man, for getting involved in a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with you."

Henry grinned. "No problem. Let me know the next time you need an unwanted opinion."

He tripped off into the kitchen to refill his glass, and Regina fell back against the foot of the couch with a sigh.

"I'm doing my best," she said. "But it's hard. I haven't felt like myself since Robin left."

"I get that, Regina, I really do, but you can't just coop yourself up in here hoping that he'll come back."

"I'm not hoping he'll come back," Regina protested, speaking quietly so that her son wouldn't hear. "I don't miss him."

"I know you don't, but you do miss the companionship," Tamara said. "You need friends, or at least a reason to leave the house. You'll never meet someone new if you're stuck in here all day."

"I've only been divorced for a year. I'm not looking for someone new."

"Even better," Tamara said cheerfully, reaching out for Regina's laptop. "The best people always come along when you're not expecting them."

She started typing, and after a minute Regina was forced to cave to her curiosity. "What are you doing?"

"Looking for evening classes," Tamara replied. With a groan, Regina pushed herself off the floor and joined her on the sofa.

"But I don't want to do an evening class."

"Sure you do," Tamara said. "It'll be good for you."

"I have a 10-year-old son, if you recall. Am I supposed to just leave him on his own?"

"You know I'll watch him whenever you need me to. Anything to actually get you out the house."

"Am I coming to stay with you, Aunt Tamara?" Henry suddenly piped up from across the room, the kitchen door swinging shut behind him.

Before Regina could scoff and protest, Tamara was answering, "You sure are, little man. Your mom's going to go make some new friends."

"But I don't want to do any of these," Regina said, her eyes on the listing that Tamara was scrolling through. "I'm 37 years old and I'm not about to learn how to do macramé, thank you."

"That might be a bit retro," Tamara admitted, wrinkling her nose. "Henry – help us out. What should your mom do?"

"Henry is supposed to be in bed," Regina interrupted, but her son was already wedging himself between the two of them over the back of the couch.

"How about a book club?" he asked. "You like reading."

"I like reading by myself," Regina said. "I don't need other people sitting around telling me about the symbolism of a pair of red curtains."

"Gardening, then. You like that too."

"At night time?"

"Fine," he huffed. They kept scrolling, and then he said, "Look! An art class."

"Henry," Regina sighed. "You know full well that I can't draw."

"That's not true – you always help me do my diagrams for science and they're really good."

"Being able to draw the life cycle of a plant does not make me a budding artist."

"Um," Tamara interjected. "Actually, I think Regina might be right about this one."

"How?" Henry demanded. Without a word, Tamara tilted the laptop toward Regina so she could read the class description more thoroughly.

"Oh," she said, her cheeks turning pink. "Right."

"What?" Henry asked, peering at it. "'Life drawing class.' What does that mean? You're just drawing stuff from life?"

"It when you draw people, Henry," Tamara said, then leaned right into his ear with a smirk. "Naked people."

Henry almost fell off the couch in sheer horror. "Ew! Why would you want to do that?"

"I guess it's supposed to be a challenge."

"That's gross," Henry said, finally backing off. "Grown-ups are weird."

Regina sent him off to bed with a firm ruffle of his hair. Once she heard his door click shut, she turned back to the computer.

Much to her annoyance, Tamara was still reading the description for the life drawing class.

"Tamara. Drop it."


"Because the point still stands," Regina said. "I'm not an artist. I don't want to go to some dusty community college just to be told by a middle-aged hippy that I don't know how to shade properly."

Tamara was suddenly smirking again. "I have a solution, in that case."


Tamara pointed to a line of text at the bottom of the page.

We're always looking for new life models – if you're interested, contact Eugenia Lucas on the number below. All body types welcome.

There was also a line detailing the pitiful payment of $25 for a two-hour sitting, but that wasn't the reason why Regina was snorting so emphatically.

"What?" Tamara asked. "It's perfect."

"It's insane," Regina corrected. "Why is your automatic thought after me saying 'I don't want to draw naked people' that I must want to be the naked person instead?"

"Regina," Tamara said coolly. "You don't want to do anything. You need to try something that will get you out of your frigid little comfort zone, and this is perfect. You won't even have to talk to anyone – you can just show up for a couple of hours, get your hot MILF body out, and make a few people blush. Easy."

Regina scoffed. "You're a moron. I'm not even considering this."

"You are," Tamara said, because she knew her too damn well. "I can tell."

Glaring back at her, Regina tried to summon a comeback. The problem was, though, that a tiny part of her did actually like the sound of it – sure, it would be mortifying and terrifying and ultimately pointless, but getting out of the house and doing something a tiny bit scary sounded kind of fun. Her life was dull, and maybe it was what she needed right then.

She caught sight of the smug expression on Tamara's face and sighed. "I hate you."

"Just call her," Tamara said. "What harm can it do?"

"I could end up actually having to disrobe in front of a room of strangers."

"Sounds like a fun Wednesday night to me," Tamara said. "Just do it. Otherwise I'll sign you up for this pottery class here, and we both know how much you hate getting your hands dirty."

With a groan, Regina pulled out her cell. "Fine. But she probably won't even answer at this time."

She was wrong – Eugenia picked up with a brusque "Yes?" after two rings.

"Ms Lucas," Regina said, trying to ignore the excited grin on Tamara's face. "I… My name is Regina Mills. I'm sorry for disturbing you – I just saw your advert for life models online and was wondering if you could tell me more about it."

"Ah," Eugenia said, sounding marginally less hostile. "Well, we're all booked up for the next couple of months. I can put you on our reserve list, though."

Regina frowned. "You're booked up?"

"I'm afraid so. Life modelling is a competitive game – we're essentially paying people to sit still for two hours. I have dozens of college students who are interested just for the extra cash."

"Oh," Regina said. She couldn't explain why she felt so disappointed by that. "I see. Well – I guess you can put me on your back-up list, then? How often do openings come up?"

"Infrequently," Eugenia said, scribbling something in the background. "But I'll be sure to let you know if one does."

She took down Regina's name and number, then hung up. There was a bitter taste in Regina's mouth when she put her phone back on the coffee table.

"Well then," she said. "I tried."

"You did," Tamara admitted. "You got lucky, I guess. Now, let's try and find something else for you to do while I've got you somewhat willing."

"Sure," Regina said, her voice sounding flat. "Go ahead."

Tamara eventually bullied Regina into signing up for a cooking class. Regina had told her countless times that she already knew how to cook, which made it pointless, but Tamara wouldn't listen to that reasoning – she put her name down for the 'beginner's introduction to advanced gourmet' and even offered to pay the fee if that would shut her up, then she'd come round to collect Henry on the first Tuesday night. Regina traipsed off to the class and dutifully learned how to make bouillabaisse. She didn't say a word to anyone during the whole two hours.

The next week, she returned and was absolutely determined to try harder this time. She stood close to a table of young women who already appeared to know one another and tried to make eye contact. One of them smiled faintly at her, then turned away without a word. Regina skulked off to her cooking station and endured the rest of the class in silence. When she got home, she looked up the college's cancellation policy.

"You look grouchy," Henry said the next morning. She scowled at him.

"I'm not grouchy. I'm tired. I was out late learning how to make mille-feuille, remember?"

"You didn't enjoy it, then?"

"Not especially," she sighed. "I think I'm going to stop going."

"Mom," he whined. "You can't quit right away. It takes time to make new friends."

"Right, and that's already the case when you're 10 – by the time you're my age, it's basically impossible," Regina said, dropping her cereal spoon with a clatter. "You should go get ready for school."

Henry skulked upstairs with a grumble. Once Regina had dropped him off, she went into her home office and settled down at the computer.

She worked as a freelance legal advisor, which meant spending long days holed up with her books and emails and very rarely leaving the house to actually meet people. Sometimes it felt like she'd spent her whole life in one windowless room or another, waiting for someone to talk to her.

Her cell phone started ringing and she picked it up with a crisp, "Regina Mills."

"Regina," the woman at the other end said. "It's Eugenia Lucas. From the life drawing class."

Regina nearly slipped out of her chair. "Oh! Oh. Ms Lucas – how are you?"

"I've been better," Eugenia sighed. "Seems like some sort of bug is going round campus and 90 percent of my regular models are out sick. I'm working my way through my reserve list trying to find someone who can make tonight's class. Is there any chance you're free?"

Regina's mouth popped open. As disappointed as she'd been when the teacher had first rejected her, terror was immediately fizzing inside her.

"Tonight?" she asked, hoping the shake in her voice wasn't too audible.

"Yes – I realise it's last minute, but I'd be very grateful."

After opening her mouth and then closing it again a few times, Regina heard herself stammer, "S-sure. I mean… fine. Yes. Why not."

"Oh, excellent. I really do appreciate it. Do you have a pen and paper? I'll give you all the details you need. Have you ever done one of these classes before?"

As she chattered away in the background, Regina rummaged for her work phone and started typing out a text.

Tamara – I don't suppose you're free to watch Henry again tonight?

She couldn't tell Henry where she was going – the disgust on his face would have tipped her back into not leaving the house. Instead, she pretended that she'd made a friend at her dismal cooking class and was going out for dinner.

Tamara, unfortunately, knew the real reason.

"You're going to kill them," she hissed in Regina's ear as she came round to collect Henry. "Please, God, count how many boners you cause."

"Tamara," Regina shoved her away. "You're disgusting."

"What? You're going to have a lot of time to kill. Might as well use it to boost your ego."

Rolling her eyes, Regina pushed Tamara back out the front door just as Henry came thundering down the stairs. "I'll stop by in the morning to take Henry to school."

"Don't worry about that – I'll get him there. You'll need the morning to recover."

"Why?" Henry piped up. "Is Mom going to get drunk?"

"Wildly drunk," Tamara said, her eyes glinting. "Your mom's leaving her comfort zone big time tonight."

"That's good. Can we go now?" Henry asked with total disinterest, because Tamara had a PS4 and that was precisely the reason why he always wanted to go over there rather than simply letting Tamara stay at theirs.

"Sure thing, kiddo. Go wait in the car."

Henry gave his mother a hug and then scampered off down the path. Regina looked expectantly at Tamara, who was still loitering on the doorstep.


"I just wanted to say good luck," Tamara said, surprising her with a hug of her own. "I'm proud of you for going."

"Thanks," Regina said uncertainly. "I feel… really sick."

"You don't need to be nervous. You know how hot you are."

Objectively, Regina did. She worked out five times a week and even giving birth to a nine-pound baby hadn't done much to ruin her taut abdominals. Aside from a few silvery stretch marks that she actually happened to love, her body was good. Great, even.

She'd only been naked in front of two people, though – Robin, and then Graham, the awful one-night stand she'd tripped into a week after Robin had announced he was leaving because he'd fallen in love with his secretary.

The thought of stripping off in front of an entire room of total strangers made her go hot and then cold all over, but she shook off the anxiety. She'd committed to this, and she was going to see it through. Tamara had been right all along – it really was time to get out of her comfort zone.

"At least I'll only be doing it once," she said, squeezing Tamara's shoulder. "And you'll drop it after this, right?"

"I promise," Tamara said. "Now, text me later. I still want that boner count."

"Get out," Regina said flatly. Tamara disappeared with a grin, and Regina was left to stew in her own terror until she finally left 20 minutes later.

The classroom at the community college was smaller than she'd been expecting. In her head, she'd pictured some kind of cavernous cafeteria complete with strip lighting and the residual smell of baked potatoes, but it was actually more like a homey living room. A circle of wooden chairs and easels lined the perimeter of it, and in the centre was a series of large blocks, where she had to assume she'd be nonchalantly draping herself for the next two hours.

"You must be Regina," a voice boomed at her from across the room. Regina looked up to find a portly woman with grey hair and tiny half-moon glasses making her way toward her.

"I am," Regina said slowly. "Are you Eugenia?"

"It seems that way," she replied, holding out a hand. It was splattered with dried paint. "Thanks for coming in on such short notice. I don't know what these filthy college kids are getting up to, but as soon as one of them gets sick, they all do. It's like a damn petri dish on campus."

"Right," Regina said, glancing around. Her stomach was twisting.

"Nervous?" Eugenia asked, leading her toward the back of the room. "Don't be. These guys are just here in their spare time and have seen it all before. Don't be surprised if they don't even seem to be interested in you physically."

"Right," Regina repeated. She wished she'd brought some water with her.

"I have some brandy if you need to take the edge off," Eugenia said, reading her thoughts.

"Oh. Um – that's okay. I have to drive later," Regina replied. "So, what do I…?"

"Class starts in 15 minutes," Eugenia answered. "There's an office back there where you can get undressed and leave your bag and clothes. Did you remember to bring a bathrobe?"

Regina gestured to the bulky bag on her shoulder.

"Good. Get that on and you can either wait in the back room or come back out here. The students will start arriving pretty soon, and then once it hits 8:30 you just get your robe off and I'll put you in position."

She spoke so casually, and Regina couldn't tell whether than made her feel better or worse.

"I see," she said. "And how many different…?"

"Three poses," Eugenia anticipated her question yet again. She was rummaging through her desk for some slightly sorry-looking art supplies. "The first two are 30 minutes each, and the final one is an hour. There won't be time for breaks so if you need the bathroom or to have a drink or anything, do all of that now."

The door behind them opened and a couple of students walked in. They were both women, and neither of them could have been older than 30. Regina clutched her bag more tightly to her side.

"I'm fine," she said, although she knew she didn't sound it. "I guess I'll go get changed, then."

"Room's over there," Eugenia said, gesturing to the far corner.

Taking a deep breath, Regina walked off with as much purpose as she could summon. She already hated this – she was so used to commanding authority over everyone during her work, to the point where people rarely wanted talk to her because she was so scary and intimidating. Her clients did whatever she asked without question, as did the other legal advisors whenever they felt the need to contact her. And yet here she was, trembling because she was uncomfortable and desperately wishing she could go back home and crawl into bed.

She wasn't going to, though. Now she was there and she felt possibly more terrified than she'd ever been before in her life, she was determined to push herself through it. It was just two hours, and after that she never had to come back. No one would even care that she was there, anyway – like Eugenia said, they'd already seen it all. They'd probably just be glad that her breasts were still pointing in the right direction.

Regina stepped into the tiny office and shut the door behind her. She undressed quickly, trying to ignore the chill and focusing instead on the fact that she'd shaved and exfoliated and moisturised and, as far as any of these budding artists would be concerned, she looked pretty damn good.

She trailed her fingers over the stretch marks on her stomach, feeling uncertain about them for the first time in about nine years. But before she could spiral into a whole new mess of anxiety, she grabbed the robe out of her bag and pulled it on.

There was a mirror hanging above a messy desk, and she took a second to look at herself. Her cheeks were slightly flushed, but the rest of her could still pass for being calm and collected. She took a deep breath and put on the expression that Henry always called her 'Evil Queen' face. He only saw it when she was telling him to do his homework or go to bed, and as effective as it was, her son still found it slightly hilarious.

The woman in the mirror looked cold and uncaring. Regina instantly felt better.

"Alright," she muttered to herself, tightening her belt. "Showtime."

Emma kicked the door of her car shut. The damn engine had cut out on the ride over, and although she'd just about managed to get it started again, she was late. Not late enough to have missed the start of class, but enough to attract Eugenia's icy glare when she eventually tumbled through the door.

She grabbed her art supplies from the back seat and hurried across the parking lot. The community college was a sprawling brown building all built across one level, and as with every other school in existence, the art department was hidden at the very back like some kind of shameful secret. Emma all but ran across the scrubby courtyard to get to it, dropping a pencil on the way and swearing as she skidded to a halt so she could go back and retrieve it.

This weekly art class was the only reprieve Emma got from the rest of her ridiculous life. She was a bail bondsperson and had been for three years. It paid the bills – it paid them well, in fact – and technically she was pretty good at it, but she couldn't pretend that she enjoyed it. She finished every day feeling exhausted and angry, and there was only so much bourbon she could drink to make the bitter taste in her mouth go away. Since she wasn't one for relaxing bubble baths, she'd had to find a hobby instead.

When she'd been growing up in the foster system, art was one of very few things that she actually enjoyed. Even when the other kids found her rough sketches of trees or dragons or misshapen cats and dogs and laughed hysterically at them, she kept going. As she grew older, she got better at it. In high school she hadn't been particularly adept at math or biology or even PE, but she was good at art. She could hole away in the art department for hours and ignore the fact that the world outside was fucking terrible.

Taking two hours a week to draw the curves of people's bodies was maybe the only thing keeping her sane.

She hurried into the main foyer and headed toward the small classroom at the back where they did they life drawing class. She hoped her favourite model was in tonight – he was a huge, cheerful man whom they affectionately called Tiny, and he was by far the most interesting person to try and carve out with chalk and charcoal.

She glanced at her watch just before she opened the door: 8:32pm. If she was lucky, they wouldn't have even started yet.

Emma opened the door a crack and slipped inside. She didn't look at the centre of the room, because making eye contact with the life model right as you brought a cold breeze in from outside was one of her least favourite things to do, but she caught sight of Eugenia's displeased scowl as she skulked round the circle of chairs looking for an empty spot. She found one on the other side of the room and sat down with a thump, dropping her backpack at her feet and rummaging around for her supplies. Eugenia provided the huge pieces of paper, but the scrabble for half-chewed pencils and crumbled charcoal had gotten too much for Emma after two classes, so she'd started bringing her own a few months ago.

She took a breath and looked up. Every drop of blood in her body rushed up to her face.

The model was new – Emma knew that for a fact. She would have been able to recognise those dark eyes anywhere. She was older than the college students who Eugenia often paraded through, but not old enough to stop Emma's face from burning bright red. Her dark brown hair skimmed over her shoulders and was impossibly glossy under the soft lights, and her lips were pouted as she held Emma's gaze.

Under all that, she was naked. She was perfect. She was so beautiful that Emma nearly knocked her easel over.

"Emma," Eugenia hissed from behind her. "You're already late – would you care to start drawing before the entire half hour is over?"

Emma jumped in her seat, looking down at her blank paper, before glancing back up. The model was still watching her, but it almost looked like she was smirking. She was standing in a typically simple first pose – one hand over her stomach, the other on her hip – and her chin was raised slightly, but she didn't look away from Emma as she struggled to regain her composure.

Regina could feel her cheeks getting hotter, and she hoped it wasn't showing. The blonde woman who'd tumbled in late had given her the exact reaction she'd been secretly hoping for – the one that no one else in the class had, because they'd all been too busy examining her like she was a wooden mannequin – and all of a sudden, she was glad she'd come. Just like that.

Taking off the robe had been the most terrifying five seconds of her life, including the time when she'd told her mother that she was getting married at the age of 25, but once that first awful moment had been over and done with, it actually wasn't too scary at all. No one had laughed, or leered, or made a muttered comment behind her turned back. The students had simply dived into their work, eager to start working with a new body, and Regina realised quickly that that's all she was to them – a body.

It was a strangely comforting thought.

The blonde woman in front of her, though – Emma, she thought she'd heard Eugenia snapping at her – obviously hadn't got that memo. Her eyes had gone straight from Regina's face to her breasts and then paused dramatically at the junction of her thighs, and even in the dim light, Regina had seen how red her cheeks had gotten. She'd looked away immediately, obviously trying not to make Regina uncomfortable or make a total fool out of herself, but it was too late. Regina had already seen something that looked like awe on her face.

She tried not to smirk when she was supposed to be maintaining a neutral expression, but it was hard.

The poor woman looked completely at a loss. She was glancing around at her neighbours' easels to see how far they'd gotten with their sketches, then she slowly picked up a piece of charcoal. Regina saw the deep breath she took before she forced herself to look up again.

Regina so wanted to look away, to give her a chance to regain her composure, but God help her – she couldn't do it. The edges of the room were too dark for her to be able to make out any specific features, but she was certain that Emma's eyes were green. Her curls were long and a bright, bright blonde, and they were totally at odds with the way her face seemed to settle into a permanent frown. The corners of her mouth pointed downward, and Regina couldn't help but wonder if they stayed like that when she was smiling.

She really wanted to see her smile, she realised. She wanted to see her maybe-green eyes gleam.

Emma took another steadying breath and lifted her charcoal to the paper. She glanced up, found herself staring directly at Regina's breasts, and looked away again.

Panic was throbbing in her temples. She could feel herself starting to sweat.

Get a hold of yourself, you stupid fucking lesbian, she told herself. She'd never had this problem with any of the other models, even the 21-year-old college girls who didn't need to wear bras. With them, she'd been able to look at them objectively as a matter of shapes and angles and shadows. She hadn't worried about getting arrested for being a big fat pervert because she simply didn't care very much about them.

This woman, though – this woman was making her thighs clench together of their own accord. Even looking at her felt wrong. She felt like she didn't deserve it.

When she glanced up again, the model had finally averted her gaze. Emma sighed with relief and forced herself to take a proper look, absorbing every part of her from her luxurious hair down to her perfectly painted toenails.

Her pussy was totally waxed. When Emma realised that, she nearly choked.

Dragging her eyes away from that little surprise, she lifted her gaze a few inches and focused on the model's stomach. The muscles were toned, maybe even more toned than Emma's own, and there wasn't much definition to her waist. Emma found that she liked that – her body was tight and compact, and it looked like it wouldn't go down easy in a fight.

Then Emma noticed the faint silvery lines that ran over her abdomen like spider's webs. They were too pronounced to be simply from puberty, and they made Emma pause. She had to assume they meant that this woman was a mother, and she couldn't tell whether that was an upsetting thought or not. Clearly she was straight, although she wasn't wearing a wedding ring, so although it was disappointing, she wasn't exactly surprised by the realisation. But the thought of her with a son or daughter was weirdly endearing. Emma wondered what kind of parent she was.

"Emma," Eugenia snapped from directly behind her. "You haven't even started."

Deliberately not looking up at the model, whose attention was on her again, Emma gritted out, "I know. I'm studying the shape."

"Regina's the smallest model we've had in about six weeks. It doesn't take that much studying," Eugenia said. "Get a move on."

She walked off, leaving Emma reeling but also throbbing from the knowledge of what this beautiful woman's name was. Regina.

She glanced up, caught her eye, and smiled weakly. Regina sucked in her cheeks in an attempt to not laugh.

Emma finally went back to her paper, lifting her charcoal and sketching out a basic outline. It was wobbly, and it was immediately wrong. She gritted her teeth and tried again, immediately making it worse.

Sudden perfectionism washed over her, and she screwed the paper up and threw it to the floor. She could feel two dark eyes watching her curiously as she started again. Her second attempt was marginally better so she stuck with it, focusing on Regina's body because she couldn't look at her face without turning beet red. She glanced up and took in the firm plane of her shoulders, the way her breasts were lifted by her stance, the toned arc of her biceps. She sketched out the curve of her ass and the lines of her thighs. By the time the half hour was up, she had something that almost looked like her.

"Where's her head?" Eugenia demanded, making Emma jump yet again. Regina had finished with her first pose and was sitting on the edge of one of the boxes, waiting for her next instruction. She watched the interaction in front of her with great interest, even though she knew she was being nosey – she decided she was probably allowed to be, though. She had her breasts out for them, after all.

"I ran out of time," Emma said. Eugenia scoffed.

"You did not. You always start with the face normally – it's your strongest area."

Emma grimaced, glancing up to find Regina watching her with amusement. She had her hands tucked beneath her thighs and she was swinging her legs. In that position, her breasts were pushed together and they looked even more enticing than before.

"I know, but I… decided to mix things up," Emma said weakly.

"Well, that would be fine if you'd done the rest of the body properly," Eugenia scoffed. She leaned over Emma's shoulder and jabbed at the drawing with her finger. "What's this?"

Emma blinked. "Her arm."

"Regina doesn't have meaty ham arms," Eugenia said. "Look at how slim and toned she is. You haven't captured any of her properly."

Regina could see the excruciating pain that this woman was in, and she couldn't help but laugh. Emma was wriggling uncomfortably in her chair, and when she tried to justify her terrible drawing with, "I'm sorry, I guess I'm not really in the right mindset today," it just made her appear even more endearing.

Eugenia snorted at the excuse. "You can say that again. Try harder for the next pose – I know you can do better than this."

She finally walked off to look at someone else's work, leaving Emma to sweat with sheer mortification. When she glanced up, Regina wasn't looking back at her, but she was smiling. Her eyes were on the ground and she was still trying not to laugh.

When Eugenia was done commenting on everyone's sketches, she turned back to Regina and said, "I actually quite like this for the second pose. Are you happy to stay this way?"

Regina nodded. "Sure."

"But," Eugenia continued, looking pointedly at Emma. "I want you to face in the other direction. It seems you're distracting people on this side of the class."

Emma blushed furiously as Regina turned away, grabbing the blanket that she was sitting on and taking it to the other edge of the platform. When she was perched on the boxes again, Eugenia instructed her to sit up straighter and cross her ankles. From that position, Emma could see the sharp jut of her shoulder blades and the long channel of her spine. She breathed a sigh of relief – she could deal with all that, and the fact that she now had a perfect view of the most sublime ass she'd ever seen before in her life, as long as Regina's eyes weren't on her.

The second half hour started, and this time Emma dove in. She blocked out the rest of the room – including Eugenia, who was still skulking around like a shark off the Gold Coast – and focused on Regina's body. She somehow looked even more perfect from behind – more vulnerable, maybe, and yet strong enough that Emma could see the muscles shifting beneath her skin whenever she breathed in. She sketched the ribs that were just about visible in certain lights, the cluster of freckles on one shoulder, the glimmer of her hair as it fell down the back of her neck. She was so lost in it all that she barely noticed when Eugenia called out for them to stop.

Emma felt somehow breathless as she waited for their teacher to walk back round again. Ahead of her, Regina was still sitting, but she was stretching out her legs and tilting her head from left to right as she worked the kinks out of her neck. Emma saw a tendon in her back shift, and she shivered all over.

"Ah," Eugenia suddenly said, sneaking up on her yet again. "Now, this is more like it. You found your stride."

Emma blushed again, though thankfully it was from pride this time. The sketch was good, she had to admit – she knew she wasn't the best in the class by a long shot, but occasionally she shone through with something really great. This was one of them.

Regina heard the exchange going on behind her and she longed to turn and look, but she forced herself not to. She knew she was the reason why Emma had done so badly the first time round: every time they'd made eye contract, she'd turned red and looked away. Emma had eventually stopped looking at her entirely, because it was far easier to just guess what she looked like than it was to draw someone who kept curiously watching you in return.

Spending the next half hour facing away from her had been painful, but Regina had enjoyed knowing that Emma's eyes were on her. She'd felt them burning into her shoulders. Any time she shifted position ever so slightly, she thought she could feel two green eyes latching onto the way her muscles moved. She knew she was supposed to stay still, but it was impossible when there was such a warm gaze on her body.

"Regina," Eugenia said, and she finally turned her head. "Are you ready for the final pose?"

"Of course," Regina said, going to stand up. Then she paused. She adjusted the position of her thighs, and then froze entirely.

Oh my God. She swallowed hard, hoping that no one sitting opposite her was watching. She parted her legs again and felt the exact same sensation directly between them: it was hot and cloying, and she usually only felt it very late at night once Henry had gone to bed and the parental lock on the Wi-Fi had been switched off.

She was soaked.

She'd been breathing fast for the past hour, but she'd chosen to blame it on the nerves and the fact that 20 sets of eyes were on her naked body. Now, though, she knew she'd been kidding herself. She didn't care about a single other person in that room – all she'd been thinking about for every second since she'd arrived was the blonde woman who couldn't take her eyes off of her, who was obviously fascinated by her, and who seemed to like looking at her in a way that was considerably more personal than just an artist staring at someone who'd been hired to take her clothes off.

Fuck, she groaned to herself, keeping her thighs pressed together as she waited for Eugenia to rearrange the boxes until they almost resembled a low table.

"Right," Eugenia said when she was done. "We normally get the models to do a lying-down pose for the final hour, if that works for you?"

Regina nodded. "Fine."

"Good. So, hop up on there – maybe you can drape the blanket over part of your body to give everyone the chance to work on their fabrics."

Regina slowly lowered herself onto the boxes, uncertain whether she was safer keeping her head or her throbbing pussy closer to where Emma was sitting. In the end, she decided to stretch out perpendicular to her, so Emma could see the full length of her and the lift of her breasts. She grabbed the blanket and draped it carefully over her pelvis, hoping that it would stop anyone from noticing the pearly liquid that was seeping down from her pussy and towards her ass.

"Bend your right leg," Eugenia instructed. It was the leg on Emma's side, so at least Regina would look good to her, but she immediately felt a burst of air against her wet skin as she shifted position. She clamped her thighs together and prayed that there weren't any lights in the room that would be able to glisten off of her.

"And lift your left arm over your head," Eugenia continued. "Excellent. And… turn your head to the right. Just like that."

Regina did as she was told and found herself face to face with Emma once more. She couldn't help but smile. It was shakily returned.

"No grinning," Eugenia scolded. "I need you looking stoic. Emma, can you stop making our life models laugh, please?"

Emma snorted into her sketchbook. She didn't correct her.

"I'll do my best."

As the last hour slipped by, Regina felt her pulse get even faster. Her eyes stayed on Emma, but this time round Emma seemed to have finally gotten used to it – she had a faint frown on her face as she concentrated on her work, and when she went to draw Regina's eyes and nose, she didn't waver. Regina just stared evenly back at her, momentarily wondering whether the drawing was going to turn out like a carbon copy of the one from Titanic before getting distracted again by the way that Emma was biting her lip. She reached up to brush her hair out of her eyes and immediately got charcoal on her forehead.

Forcing herself not to smile at this ridiculously endearing woman, Regina focused on keeping her breathing even. Goose pimples were prickling across her entire body even though the room was warm, and every few minutes she felt the pool of wetness between her legs sink lower. She grimaced, imagining getting up and finding a dark patch on the blanket beneath her hips, but then Emma's gaze flicked up and looked at her again. All her embarrassment faded when she had those soft eyes on her.

The class passed too quickly. When Eugenia called out that it was 10:30pm and they were done, Regina nearly moaned in protest.

"Let's give our wonderful model a hand," the teacher said, grabbing Regina's bathrobe and handing it to her. Suddenly self-conscious, Regina shrugged it on and knotted the belt as the students gave her a half-hearted round of applause.

"How did you find it?" Eugenia asked her as everyone began to pack up. Regina perched herself on the edge of the boxes again, her hands clasped between her knees.

"Nerve-wracking," Regina admitted. "But I enjoyed it. I think."

"The first time is always intimidating, but you did great. I'll keep you on our list if you're interested in trying it again?"

Regina glanced to the side and caught sight of Emma. Someone had obviously told her about the charcoal on her forehead and she was frantically trying to scrub it away.

"Sure," Regina heard herself say, tearing her gaze away. "I'd like that."

"Excellent. Now, feel free to go round and take a look at the drawings – most of the students will be happy for you to take photos as well. Or you can just head home," Eugenia said, then paused. "No, wait. I need to go write your check. Don't go anywhere."

She rushed off to grab it, leaving Regina perched uncomfortably with her thighs still sticking together.

Telling herself that she didn't need to be shy now that 20 people had seen her ass, she got up and started to slowly walk around the room. Most of the students had already put their sketches away, but a few were still out and the artists were more than happy for her to take a look at them. A few of them even talked to her, asking whether she'd be back and what she'd thought of the experience. Regina smiled and responded to them as fully as she could, because as nice and surprising as it was to be having actual, human conversations with the people who'd just been drawing the scars and moles and stretch marks that littered her naked body, her attention was still elsewhere.

Emma was packing up, but Regina could see that she still had her sketches out. Her hands were covered in charcoal, and every time she tried to put something into her backpack, it just spread further.

Regina excused herself and slowly walked over. Emma seemingly didn't see her coming, because she carried on scrubbing at her hands and frowning to herself until Regina was right by her side. Regina opened her mouth to say something, then she caught sight of the drawings. Her sentence dried up in her throat.

They were good. Not the best in the class – Regina could already see that much – but there was something about them that sucked the breath clean from her lungs. The one from the disastrous first pose was half hidden beneath the others, but the second two were bold and expressive and glimmering with Emma's own personality. Regina leaned forward to look at the expression on her own face – her dark eyes were glinting, and Emma had managed to capture her Evil Queen smirk. In spite of everything, she found herself wishing that she could show Henry.

"Oh," Emma said, suddenly noticing that someone was standing beside her. That one syllable sounded dry and painful. "Hey."

Regina smiled back at her, but didn't respond. She was still examining the drawings, taking in the shading of her muscles and the slope of her stomach. She looked good naked, she already knew that, but these somehow made her look even better. It wasn't even that Emma had been exaggerating her features – her breasts were still smaller than average, and her waist didn't have much curve to it. Emma had just captured something about her that the others hadn't, and she couldn't stop staring.

"You…" Regina said eventually. "You have a talent."

Emma blushed furiously. "Not really. It's just a hobby."

"You're not an art student?"

"No," Emma laughed slightly. "I'm 27. I just come here in the evenings."

"I see," Regina replied, looking back at the sketch. "Can I take a photo of these?"

Emma's foot slipped on the shiny floor. "What? Really?"

"Only if you're okay with it," Regina began uncertainly, but Emma was already leaping to her feet.

"Of course," she blurted out. "I was just surprised. No one normally asks that from me."

Regina smiled at her. "People are idiots."

"That's… true," Emma said, looking down at her charcoal-covered hands. "But anyway – yeah. Of course you can."

"Great," Regina said. "Can you wait a moment while I get my phone?"

"Sure. I need to go clean up anyway."

Emma paused like she was about to say something else, then thought better of it. With an awkward smile, she turned and rushed out into the hall, going in the direction of the bathroom.

Regina went into the office and hurriedly pulled her clothes back on. One quick dip between her legs told her just how drenched she was.

Blushing hard, she finished getting changed and glanced in the mirror. How was it possible that her eyes already looked slightly brighter?

When she returned to the classroom, most of the students had left. Eugenia handed her her check and thanked her again, and Regina was left to amble back toward Emma's easel. The drawings were still there, but Emma was nowhere to be seen,

She took a couple of photos, then a couple more as she waited for Emma to come back. Eventually, the room emptied out entirely. Knowing she was overstaying her welcome, Regina waved goodbye to Eugenia and slipped out into the foyer. It was deserted, and Regina wondered whether she should hang around a bit longer.

Don't be crazy, she scolded herself. She's a stranger. Go home and leave her in peace.

Disappointment threatened to choke her, but she followed her own advice. When she got home, the house was quiet without Henry running around. Regina went straight to bed.

Before she turned the lights off, she pulled her phone back out and – ignoring the increasingly curious messages from Tamara – opened her camera roll. The sketches were there, not quite as impressive as they had been in real life but just as mesmerising. Regina scrolled through them again and again, her heart pounding harder as she remembered the feeling of Emma's eyes on her naked body. She thought about the awkward smile she'd given her, and the wetness between her thighs immediately grew.

Dropping her phone to one side, Regina slid her hand into her panties and moaned. She was soaked, and the fabric was clinging to her. It didn't take long before she'd worked her way up to an orgasm that left her trembling and gasping, and when she came all she could think of was Emma's downturned lips, her permanent frown, her green eyes flashing and her blonde curls tickling as she hovered above Regina's body and kissed her way down, down, down.

Chapter Text

Regina could hear how shrill her voice had gotten, but she couldn't stop it from happening. Her palms were sweating, and her legs were still trembling from all the orgasms she'd had over the past few days.

"No, really," she said, pressing the phone closer to her ear. "I just have the supplies lying around the house. I'd be happy to donate them."

Down the line, she could hear Eugenia's disbelief. "You just happened to have 20 new sets of pencils, paints and charcoals lying around?"

"Yes. I… Um," Regina floundered. "I won them in a raffle."

Eugenia didn't laugh at that, but it was obvious that she'd come close.

"Well, that's very generous of you," she said. "Feel free to bring them by whenever you have time. Or I can stop by your house and collect them, if that's easier?"

"No, no," Regina quickly said. "That's alright, I can stop by. In fact, you know what? If you need a model for this week's class, I could bring them by then."

Eugenia hesitated as they finally reached the heart of the matter.

"Well. Technically I don't have anyone booked in yet, but most of my regulars are healthy again, so—"

"You don't need to pay me," Regina blurted out. She forced herself to take a breath when she realised how desperate she sounded. "I mean – I'm just trying to get out of the house and I enjoyed the experience, so you'd be doing me a favour. I don't need the money."

She could practically hear Eugenia's thought process down the line: she's insane. She's got absolutely no life. Inviting her back might be a recipe for total disaster. We do need the supplies, though. Saving $25 a week would be helpful.

Eventually, she sighed. "Fine. If you're sure you're happy with that, then we'll be glad to have you back again on Wednesday."

"Great," Regina breathed. "I can't wait."

"But," Eugenia continued. "We can't use you every week – there needs to be variety, otherwise the students won't learn anything."

She had a point, unfortunately. Regina deflated.

"How about every other week?" she asked weakly. She heard Eugenia sigh again.

"Very well," she said. "But you need to prepare for your poses getting more and more unorthodox if we're going to keep this interesting."

Regina had a sudden flash of herself posing like a porn star, her legs spread wide and her fingers in her mouth as Emma looked on. Her pussy throbbed automatically, and she shook the thought out of her head.

"Not a problem," she said. "Like I said – I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone."

Eugenia's laugh was soft and disbelieving. "Alright then. I'll see you on Wednesday."

"Great," Regina replied, hanging up with a grin. She looked at the calendar: three days to go. Three days until she could stop imagining Emma and actually see her in person instead.

Emma was on time for their next class, but she couldn't say she was looking forward to it very much. The previous week, she'd scampered from the classroom in a panic so she could clean herself up and make herself presentable for when she returned to speak to Regina. The charcoal had been stubborn on her hands, though, and once she'd finished scrubbing them she'd found herself having a borderline insane conversation with herself in the mirror as she tried and failed to remember how normal, human adults talked to one another. When she'd walked back into the classroom, she found it deserted and the lights off. She looked at the clock and realised she'd been gone for nearly 15 minutes.

"Fuck," she snapped to herself as she collected her belongings. It was only then that she realised the room wasn't entirely deserted after all.

"Language," Eugenia said from the back of the room. Emma jumped and turned to face her.

"Sorry. I just… didn't realise how late it was." After a long pause, she added, "Did Regina leave already?"

"I believe so. She took some photos of your sketches, though. They're very good."

Emma smiled tightly at that. "That's great."

It didn't feel great. She'd missed her chance to talk to her, and it was all her own stupid fault.

"Will she be back again?" she heard herself ask. Eugenia looked up from her work.


"Regina. Or whatever her name was," Emma tagged on like that would convince their eagle-eyed teacher. Eugenia was already looking at her over the top of her glasses with her eyebrows raised high into her hairline.

"I doubt it," she said slowly. "She was on my reserve list, and you know that we normally rotate models."

Disappointment swelled up inside Emma like high tide in the harbour. She could feel it leaving slime and annoyance up her ribs.

"Sure," she said, grabbing her belongings and turning for the door. "See you next week, then."

And now next week was here, and she wished she were anywhere else. She'd spent hours Googling variations of 'Regina', 'life drawing' and 'Boston' the day before just in case Regina was a professional model, but she'd had no luck finding her. And given that she knew absolutely nothing else about her apart from the fact that she had eyes that reminded Emma of 90 percent cocoa chocolate, she was stuck. She just had to accept that she'd never see her again.

She walked into class and threw herself into her usual chair. The stage was all set up for the model, but they hadn't arrived yet.

Emma slumped lower and reached for her backpack. Just as she was rummaging inside it for her supplies, Eugenia appeared at her elbow holding out a brand new pack of watercolours and charcoal sticks.

"What's this?" Emma asked, slowly taking them.

"They were donated."

"Really?" Emma asked, frowning. Donations to their crapheap college were almost unheard of – most of the supplies in that room had been purchased by Eugenia herself and had been there since 1986. "By who?"

Before Eugenia could answer, the door to the back office swung open and a familiar figure approached them. Regina was wearing her robe, and her face lit up when she saw Emma sitting a few feet away.

"Oh," Emma choked out. "It's… Hey."

"Hi," Regina replied, turning to smile at Eugenia. Her hair was different to last week – it was curlier and messier, and it also looked like she was wearing slightly more make-up. When she brushed past, Emma could smell her perfume.

As Regina settled herself down on her little platform, still wearing her robe and with her phone in her hand, Emma forced herself not to stare. She was a mess that day, because she'd been in such a bad mood that she hadn't even bothered to brush her hair, and now Regina was sitting in front of her looking like a Greek fucking statue. Emma glanced at the door and wondered whether she could get away with rushing for the bathroom again.

But then Regina glanced up, caught Emma's eye and smiled. Emma all but melted into her chair.

The class was just as painful as the week before – worse, even, because Eugenia got Regina to sit or stand in even more provocative poses to try and mix things up a little. By the end of the two hours, when Regina was kneeling on the platform with her knees slightly apart and her hands resting on her ribcage, just beneath her breasts, Emma realised that she was struggling to breathe. Her childhood asthma hadn't been much of a problem in the past 10 years, but now it had suddenly come careering back at full force. She took one look at Regina's cocky face and felt her lungs close up entirely.

Forcing herself to focus on her work, Emma dipped her brush back into her new watercolours and went back to filling in the shadow between Regina's thighs. Her bikini wax still hadn't started growing back, because evidently Regina was the type of person who was always smooth and silky and infuriatingly perfect, and every time she glanced up at it, Emma felt her vision go hazy. She idly wondered what it would feel like to pin Regina's hips to the table and run her tongue along the full length of her slit.

"Alright, everyone – I think we're done for the day."

Eugenia's voice made Emma drop her paintbrush entirely. She ducked under her easel to collect it, hoping no one would notice the new redness in her cheeks, then immediately smacked her head on the wooden frame on the way back up.

"Jesus," she hissed, rubbing the back of her skull. When she looked up, Regina was watching her with an anxious frown on her face. Emma turned away to hide her embarrassment and hurriedly began to pack her paints away, trying to ignore the fact that Regina was still watching her as she slowly pulled her robe back on.

After a few moments, Regina stood up and tightened her robe around her. People were packing away and, just as she had the previous week, she began to take a slow walk around the class so she could look at their paintings. Emma watched her. Regina was so much smaller than everyone else in the room, but she had a strange kind of presence that commanded attention no matter who she was standing next to. Emma sighed wistfully, praying that when she finished her journey, she would stop by Emma's easel so they could finally have the talk that they'd missed out on last week.

But right at that second, a young woman rushed over to Regina's side fast enough to make her jump.

"Hey," she said. Emma immediately glared at her: she was an overenthusiastic Australian called Billie or Belle or something, and although she'd never had a problem with her before, Emma suddenly wanted her dead. "I just wanted to say hi."

Regina looked slightly taken aback. "Oh. Hi."

"How long have you been modelling for?"

Emma watched as Regina awkwardly pulled her robe closer together over her throat. "Not long – last week was my first class."

"Really? You're a natural," Bella or Becky said. "Are we going to be seeing you in more classes now? I actually quite like it when models come more often – it gives us a better chance to work on the details."

Regina glanced up then, saw Emma staring at them, and smiled. Emma turned away at once, her cheeks prickling. She was basically packed up and Regina wasn't even halfway around the room yet.

She sighed, realising she'd lost her chance for yet another week – and, yet again, it might be the last time she ever saw Regina. She couldn't very well hang around just waiting for her to approach her – it would look utterly pathetic, and Regina would probably assume she was only interested in her because she wanted her to compliment her work.

With a groan, Emma grabbed her stuff and picked up a loose pencil that she'd managed to drop. Just as she was reaching for her paintings, she paused. She looked down at the object in her hand.

Regina was still talking to Belle, but surely at some point they'd finish and she would resume her loop of the room. She'd arrive at Emma's easel eventually. She might even stop if she saw that something had accidentally been left there.

Before she could tell herself that she was being stupid, Emma grabbed her favourite painting and scribbled a note at the bottom.


Give me a call? I'd love to buy you a drink.


She wrote her phone number underneath it. Putting the paper carefully back on the easel, Emma took a step back and turned toward the door. When Regina caught her eye again, Emma smiled at her. Regina seemed to shiver with relief.

But Emma had to leave, because she couldn't just hang around watching everyone else take turns trying to win Regina's approval. Besides, if she stayed there a second longer, she'd probably chicken out and end up snatching the painting back before Regina could even see it.

So instead she hurried for the door, not looking up again even though she could feel Regina watching her hopefully. She was determined to regain some kind of composure after all the times she'd made an ass of herself in front of this woman.

Emma told herself that Regina probably wouldn't call right away. She was busy and, yes, probably straight, so she would read the message and think it was a casual attempt at friendship. She'd be grateful and pleased and then she'd text the next day to arrange a drink. Maybe it would even be Friday. Because of this, Emma spent the next two days with her phone clamped in her hand at all times, even when she was out on jobs. On Saturday evening, she found herself on a stakeout staring down at her silent phone for so long that she nearly missed her perp as he strolled right by her car.

By Sunday, her mood had begun to descend.

When she walked into their class on Wednesday, she was a mess of nerves. She'd nearly worn a hole in her phone screen from all the opening and closing she'd done on the messages app, and now she wasn't entirely sure how she'd cope with seeing Regina at all. Her original plan was to completely blank her, but deep down she knew she wouldn't be able to manage that. Instead, she'd made herself look as pretty as possible and had worn a white shirt that was borderline see-through in some lights. If Regina didn't want to text her then that was fine, but Emma would be sure to show her exactly what she was missing out on in the meantime.

Except she walked into class with her chin thrust in the air and her tight jeans cutting into her stomach, and she ground to a halt. The person sitting on the boxes in the centre of the room definitely wasn't Regina.

Tiny waved at her. "Hey, Emma."

"Hey," Emma replied slowly, thankful that he was still wearing his robe. "You're back?"

"Looks like it. I was out sick for a while but I'm back in the game."

Emma nodded tersely. "Great. Good to see you again."

She turned and headed for her seat, her shoulders slumping. She suddenly didn't even want to be there anymore.

Her favourite hobby had turned into an exercise in sexually frustrated torture, but right then she wasn't even getting that – Regina was nowhere to be found, and maybe she'd never come back. Maybe she'd taken one look at Emma's message and run for the hills.

Then Eugenia appeared in front of her, pulling her from her dark thoughts. She was watching her curiously.

"What?" Emma asked.

"I feel like I had something to tell you," Eugenia said. Hope sparked up inside Emma once more.

"Really? Is it about Regina?"

"What? Why would it be about Regina?" Eugenia asked. When Emma just blushed, she rolled her eyes and leaned forward. "Look, I know you're not exactly straight as a pole, but could you try and keep your tongue in your mouth when the models are around? I don't want you making them feel uncomfortable."

Emma's heart sank. "Is that why she's not here? She's uncomfortable?"

"I was speaking in generalities, you silly girl. No, that's not why – I just can't use the same models every single week. We need some diversity. She'll be back another time."

"Oh," Emma said, trying to decide whether she should be happy about that or not. She hadn't scared Regina off, which was good, but she also still hadn't gotten a message from her. She hadn't exactly come out of this as the winner either way. "Then… what did you want to tell me?"

Eugenia looked at her thoughtfully for a moment before sighing. "Ah, I'm sure it'll come back to me later. I tell you, appreciate your memory while you're still young – it doesn't take long before that goes south along with everything else."

Once she'd wandered off, Emma forced herself to endure a full two hours without Regina. She thought ahead to the next week – would she be back then? Did she even want her to be back? If she clearly wasn't interested then was it even worth going through this at all?

"Emma," Eugenia snapped from somewhere behind her. "Focus. You're all over the place today."

Gritting her teeth, Emma hunched closer to her easel.

No more thinking of her, she told herself, dipping her brush in the water. Not now – not all week.

Going two full weeks without the class was going to be sheer torture. That Wednesday, Regina sat on the couch with her eyes glued to the clock, thinking about how Emma would be drawing someone else right then. Maybe she blushed and got nervous around them, too. Maybe her eyes got a little wider whenever she tried to sketch their—

"Mom," Henry interrupted her thoughts. "Are you listening to me?"

Regina looked round at him. "Sorry – I was miles away. What were you saying?"

"You look all pink," Henry said, frowning. Regina felt herself blush even harder – she'd been thinking of Emma, and thinking of Emma always did one very specific thing to her body. She was glad it was nearly nine o'clock, which meant soon Henry would be bundled off to bed and she could do something to remedy it.

"It's just warm in here," she said, reaching out to scrub a hand over his hair. "Now, what were you saying?"

"I was asking about your cooking class," he said. "You said it got moved to Wednesdays, but now you're here."

Damn her son for being so perceptive. "It's every other Wednesday now," she lied. "I don't know what happened. Some scheduling problem."

"Oh. Okay," he shrugged. "Have you learned anything fun?"

Given that she hadn't been to that particular class since the second week, it was hard to answer that. "Not recently, but they said we're going to tackle lobsters soon."

"Ooh!" Henry's eyes widened. "Can you bring me some home?"

"I don't know if you'll like it."

"I want to try."

"Fine – I'll do my best," she said, making a mental note to pick something up from the gourmet supermarket across town before he could get suspicious. "Now, young man – I think it's bed time."

"But it's not even nine yet!"

"Right, and you keep dragging it out for as long as possible while thinking I won't notice. Come on, you need some sleep."

"I do not," Henry grumbled, although he was clambering off the couch already. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and mumbled, "Night, Mom."

"Goodnight, Henry."

He hurried up the stairs in pyjamas that were still too big for him even though Regina had bought them the previous Christmas, and he shut his bedroom door. The second she was certain he was gone, Regina rushed into her office and locked it.

As soon as she'd collapsed into her chair, she unbuttoned her pants and slid a hand into her panties. She whimpered out loud at how wet she was. It never seemed to lessen anymore – no matter how many times she thought about the exact same scenario, where Emma got up in the middle of their class and crawled on top of her and thrust her fingers deep inside her over and over and over again, the excitement never faded. She particularly loved imagining it where everyone else around them continued painting, and she had to try and remain as motionless as possible even as Emma brought her up to her limit.

She writhed her in her chair and plunged her fingers inside again before pulling them out and rubbing them hard over her clit, not working up gradually but just diving right in because she was supposed to be in the same room as Emma right at that second and the distance between them was making her cunt needier than ever. She didn't even care why she felt this way – she'd had maybe a two-day period of panicking over the fact that she clearly had a crush on another woman when she'd spent 37 years resolutely believing that she was straight, but soon enough, that got boring. Eventually she'd realised that it was much easier to just accept that fact, grab her vibrator and hold it firm against her clit while she gripped hold of her headboard, imagining that it was Emma's hands pinning her there.

The following Wednesday came around with a little too much fanfare. Regina had called Eugenia to confirm that she was still booked in – much to the older woman's annoyance, since she'd already spoken to her three times that week – and had spent most of the day buzzing around her office with excitement. By the time Tamara came to collect Henry, she was close to delirious.

"Aunt Tamara," Henry said as he opened the door. "Mom's acting weird."

Tamara glanced up at Regina, who was bouncing on the balls of her feet at the bottom of the staircase. She raised her eyebrows.

"Wow. She sure is. That excited to cook a casserole, are you?"

Regina tried to glare back at her, but it was futile. "The pair of you spent weeks trying to get me to leave the house and make new friends, and as soon as I'm excited to do so, you mock me?"

She watched as Tamara and Henry exchanged a look before Tamara said, "Yeah, that pretty much sums it up."

"I immensely dislike you both," Regina said, swooping down to kiss her son's cheek before giving Tamara a hug. Tamara nearly staggered backward with shock.

"Since when have you been a hugger?" she asked. "And why are you wearing so much make-up?"

"I'm just excited," Regina said, because she was too buzzed to even think of an excuse. Tamara was watching her curiously – she knew the cooking class was a fake excuse, but that still didn't explain any of this. The Regina she knew should still be dreading going to a community college and whipping her clothes off for a bunch of sort-of-artists.

She turned and nudged Henry out the door, and as soon as he was a few steps away leaned in to Regina's ear and muttered, "Are you getting laid?"

"What?" Regina asked, flinching. "No, of course not."

Tamara looked down at the tiny diamond necklace she was wearing. "Right. But you want to be?"

Regina opened her mouth to protest it, but the words got stuck. She'd never been a particularly good liar.

"Oh my God," Tamara gasped. Henry turned back to look at them. "You need to tell me now."

"There's absolutely nothing to tell you."

"Henry, go wait in the car. There's candy in the glove box," Tamara called over her shoulder. Henry ran off at once, and before Regina could scold either of them, Tamara was asking, "Who is he?"

"No one," Regina insisted, though she could feel her cheeks starting to turn red. "You're reading too much into this."

"I am not. I know you so much better than you give me credit for. Is it the teacher?"

"No!" Regina said, trying to take a step back. Tamara immediately grabbed her wrist. "The teacher's a 60-year-old woman."

"Hm," Tamara mused, still sounding unconvinced. "Then who? I knew there had to be a reason why you agreed to go back. Is he younger? Is he an artist?"

"Oh my God, stop," Regina sighed, snatching her arm away. "Fine. I'll tell you, but you can't make a big deal out of it."

"You know full well that I'm not going to agree to that."

Regina groaned. "Then I won't say anything."

"Fine. I promise – I'll be good. Tell me about him."

Glancing over Tamara's shoulder to check that Henry was still waiting safely in the car, Regina took a deep breath. "It's not a him."

"It's not?"

"No. Her… her name's Emma."

For a second, Tamara just stared at her. Regina had a horrible moment of realising that they'd never even discussed same-sex relationships before and there was every chance that her best friend could turn out to be a closet homophobe.

But then Tamara squawked out loud and grabbed Regina's arm once more. "You're kidding."

"Of course I'm not."

"How did you meet her? Have you kissed her?"

"No. Nothing like that," Regina blushed furiously. "It's not a big deal. We've barely even spoken. She's just in the class and she's… very pretty. I want to get to know her better. That's all."

A glimmer of disappointment crossed Tamara's face before she said, "You need to invite her out for a drink."

"Excuse me?"

"Come on – you're trying new things, remember? We're getting you out of your comfort zone. Getting your clothes off for a bunch of strangers was a great start, but deciding to bat for the other team is an excellent development that I never would have expected."

Regina snatched her arm back again, although she was struggling to suppress her grin. "I'm already way out of my comfort zone, thank you. I don't need to start asking random women out too."

"Do it for me," Tamara begged.

"I'm already in the middle of doing something for you!"

"Only the first class was for me – everything since then has been purely you."

"I'm not asking her out," Regina insisted. "She might be straight."

"Just like you are, you mean?" Tamara pointed out. "Does she seem interested in you?"

Regina thought back to their last class – Emma's face had lit up like a sunrise when she'd seen her, and at the end of the class, when that Australian girl had been hogging Regina's attention, she'd looked so disappointed. When Emma had left, she'd deliberately caught Regina's eye and smiled at her. She'd even spent a while at her easel scribbling something down, although when Regina had stopped by five minutes later, there had been nothing there.

Her hesitation told Tamara everything.

"Henry's with me all night," she said firmly. "You've got the house to yourself. If you don't invite her back here to fuck your brains out, I'll never speak to you again."

Regina spluttered. "I am not—"

"Tamara," Henry suddenly called from the open window of the car. "Can you hurry up? I want to play Mario Kart."

Tamara waved in acknowledgment, then turned back to his mother.

"Send me an update," she said. "And leave your hair down. It makes it look more grabbable."

With that helpful piece of advice, she swanned out of the house and down the path. Regina was left loitering in the doorway, her heart pounding and her palms sweating as she imagined Emma sliding her fingers through her hair and finally pulling their mouths together.

Emma was in absolutely no mood for painting when she arrived at the classroom. She'd failed spectacularly in her mission to not think about Regina all week, and instead had spent the majority of the past seven days frantically plugging her first name followed by all the most common job titles she could think of into LinkedIn. Her total failure had led to a very bad headache and possibly a few restraining orders from all the profiles she'd ended up clicking on, and by the time Wednesday had rolled around, she almost hoped Regina wouldn't be there at all. Maybe the distance would be good for her.

But she was, of course. As soon as Emma walked through the door she spotted Regina sitting primly on the edge of one of the blocks, her legs crossed and her lips pressed together. She turned her head as the door opened and, when she caught Emma's eye, threw her an enormous, beaming grin.

Emma nearly staggered back a step. What the fuck?

She'd left Regina her phone number – the message had been very clear. She'd also given her that stupid dopey smile before she'd left the classroom and she'd spend the entire class staring at her ass, for crying out loud. There was absolutely no way Regina could have misinterpreted her meaning, and yet two weeks had gone by without a single word from her. And now, this – a huge, relieved smile with absolutely no trace of regret in it. It made no sense whatsoever.

Regina must have seen the confusion on Emma's face, because her grin faltered. Emma offered her a quick quirk of her lips in response, but it was half-hearted and they both knew it.

She hurried to her normal spot and sat down, glancing up at her easel in case Regina had left a note there in reply to her own – My phone's broken, I'm so sorry – but there was nothing. Swallowing down her residual mortification and the need to run for the hills, Emma pulled out her charcoals and settled down, waiting for the class to start. She didn't look up again.

Regina watched her with her happiness slowly dimming. She could see from Emma's face that she wasn't pleased to see her again, although she had no idea why. Was it just because she hadn't been there the week before? Maybe it was because Belle had spent so long talking to her at the end of the previous class – she'd been very sweet, but that was all, and Regina had spent every minute trying desperately to wriggle away from her. She'd seen Emma watching her on the other side of the room and she'd wanted so badly to go and join her. She thought she knew that.

She stared at Emma's profile, hoping the burn of her gaze would eventually force her to look at her, but it didn't.

Emma pulled her phone out and, with her cheeks slowly turning red, began lazily swiping across the screen. She wasn't doing anything – Regina knew it. She was just avoiding looking at her until she absolutely had to.

When Eugenia put her in her first position, facing in the opposite direction, Regina nearly screamed.

She endured the first half hour with tense shoulders and a piercing headache until she was finally told to turn around. As she positioned herself sitting cross-legged on the blocks with her hands resting in her lap, she locked eyes with Emma again. Emma looked back at her and smiled for half a second, but then glanced away again. Her demeanour immediately went cold.

Regina kind of wanted to cry. She'd spent two weeks building this moment up in her head – she'd even gone and forced a beautician to do a bikini wax on hair that was barely a millimetre long just so she'd be smooth and perfect again, and she'd imagined the hundreds of different ways Emma would smirk and blush and glitter as she watched her. It had all been completely over the top and ridiculous, like something a love-struck teenager might do to try and attract the attention of her crush for five measly seconds, but the worst part was that Regina hadn't even felt embarrassed. She'd been excited. It had been so long since she'd felt like this that she'd gotten way too ahead of herself, and now she was left disappointed again. She wished she could reach up and scrub her make-up off.

Forcing herself to sit still, she kept her eyes on Emma's face and watched as she drew her. It was the only shred of pleasure she had left. Emma seemed to have settled into her sketching, as she usually did about halfway into the class, and her eyes weren't so hard anymore. She was glancing up at Regina every few seconds, taking in her body without paying much attention the frown on her face. She wondered whether this would be another headless drawing simply because Emma couldn't bear to make eye contact with her.

By the time she was in her third pose, lying on her stomach with her chin resting on her hands, Regina just wanted to go home. The room seemed colder that week and she was starting to realise that everything she thought she'd seen over the past few weeks had been entirely in her head. Emma didn't like her – she was just interested in her body because she was a fucking nude model, and after this Regina would have to go home alone and take off her stupid diamond necklace and find a way to convince herself that this all meant so much less than she thought it had.

She sighed and closed her eyes. You should have just stayed straight.

The last hour passed slowly, and when Eugenia finally told her that she could get up again, Regina wasn't surprised to find that her eyes were scratchy. Sniffing hard, she tugged her robe back on and hoped that no one was watching her. Emma, for one, was already shoving stuff back into her bag, obviously just as desperate to get out of there as she was.

"Regina, you should really take a look at this week's paintings," Eugenia suddenly said. "Some of them are excellent."

Regina groaned. She couldn't very well say no without looking rude, so she forced on a smile and walked toward the nearest easel. She barely paid attention to what was on it, because her eyes were already on the blonde head on the opposite side of the circle. No matter how hurt and how disappointed she felt, she still hoped she made it over there before Emma vanished.

Emma's final drawing was still on display by the time she arrived, and she felt herself pause. It was good – really good. Probably her best one yet. The lines were soft and tentative, like Emma didn't trust herself to look too closely but had Regina's shape memorised anyway. Regina stared at it for a solid minute, and if Emma felt her presence beside her, she didn't comment on it.

But eventually the silence got too much, and Regina had to do something. Her pride was already at rock bottom and she still felt dangerously close to tears, but she had nothing else to lose. If nothing else, talking to her might finally give her some kind of closure on this whole stupid ordeal.

She cleared her throat and, summoning every ounce of bravery she possessed, said, "Hi."

Emma looked up at once. She smiled at first, like she just couldn't help herself, before her expression slipped again.

"Hey," she said slowly. After a beat, she asked, "Regina, right?"

Emma wanted to kick herself as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Eugenia had been shouting her name across the room for long enough that of course she knew it – she was just filling the empty air with nonsense, and Regina was going to think she was even more idiotic than before.

Except Regina was already beaming. "Yes, that's it. And it's Emma, right?"

Emma nodded. "Yeah. Hey."

And then silence fell.

Emma was so fucking confused. Regina looked so tentative and uncertain, like she wasn't sure she should be there at all, and for a second Emma wondered whether maybe she'd gone into gay panic mode and simply not texted her because she thought that refraining would somehow lessen her huge crush. She was right there, though, sneaking over as soon as she possibly could, which meant none of this made any sense at all. The confusion was making Emma's temples throb.

She looked away with a sigh and she felt Regina's face crumple. The silence that stretched out between them was agonising.

Deciding that she couldn't feel any shittier if she tried, Regina took a breath.

"Sorry," she said quietly, waiting for Emma to look up again. "Did I… Have I done something wrong?"

Emma's expression flickered. She looked so uncertain.

But just as she was opening her mouth to respond, they were interrupted.

"Emma!" Eugenia suddenly bellowed from behind them. They both turned sharply and found her watching them with a large piece of paper in her hands. "Remember last week when I said I needed to tell you something?"


"Looking at your drawings just now reminded me," Eugenia said, holding out one hand. "You left this here the week before last."

Emma and Regina looked down at the drawing at the same time. There was Emma's version of Regina, sitting in her final pose from two weeks ago. In the bottom corner, as clear as day, was the message Emma had scribbled.

Emma felt her face go bright red. Beside her, Regina had gone still.

"I thought you must want it," Eugenia continued when neither of them reacted. "It's one of your strongest pieces so far."

She was clearly oblivious to the mess she'd made by picking up Emma's drawing as soon as she'd vacated the room. Emma reached out and snatched it off her, muttering her thanks, and waited for Eugenia to amble off again before she put the lost piece of paper back on her easel with a huge sigh.

Before she could say anything or try to push the picture away where no one would ever see it again, Regina slowly reached out. She picked it up and stared at it for a good minute, her lips twitching at the corners.

Emma watched her, following her gaze as it dropped time and time again to the note at the bottom.

Regina was beaming when she asked, "Did you leave this here for me?"

All the disappointment from the past two weeks left Emma's body with that one question.

"Yeah," she said awkwardly, rubbing a hand against the back of her neck. "I… I thought you got it."

Regina could see the relief in Emma's eyes. Her mysterious coldness from earlier that evening had entirely vanished.

"No, I didn't," she said, handing the picture back. "I saw you writing something but when I came over, there was nothing here."

"Right," Emma replied, shoving the picture away. "That… makes a bit more sense now."

Regina genuinely thought she could cry with relief. She tugged her robe more tightly around herself and shifted from one foot to the other.

"It's great," she said, nodding to the bag where the drawings were now stashed. "The picture."

"Thanks," Emma said. She slowly stood up and lifted her backpack onto the chair. "Is it weird? Seeing drawings of yourself?"

"Not really. It was at first, but you're all so talented and I mostly just find it interesting."

"Well, it's easy to do a good drawing when you have a good model," Emma said before she could stop herself. She visibly cringed. "Sorry. That sounded weird."

"No, it didn't," Regina said softly. Now that Emma was at the same height as her, she could see her eyes properly for the first time. They were so perfectly green.

Emma gave her a jerky nod. It was the only gesture she could summon when relief was swelling inside her and her face was burning just from the fact that Regina was still talking to her. "Cool. Well – I'm glad."

"Glad about what?" Regina asked. Her voice was tender and it didn't feel like she was trying to trip Emma up, so she answered honestly.

"Glad to see you again."

Regina's face lit up at that, and when Emma realised she could see pinkness staining her perfectly smooth cheeks, she felt her legs go weak. She'd spent hours staring at Regina's naked body, and somehow this was the most intimate moment they'd ever shared.

Regina looked up at the clock and realised what time it was. Emma was all packed up and ready to go, and the thought of her leaving again made her stomach twist.

She thought about what Tamara had said. She paused.

Then, as Emma twitched like she was about to lift her bag onto her shoulder, Regina heard herself blurt out, "How about it, then?"

Emma frowned. "How about what?"

"That drink," Regina said, nodding to the hidden painting. "I'm… free. Now. If you want."

Emma's mouth actually popped open, and it took every ounce of self-restraint for Regina not to step forward and press her own against it.

"Right now?"

"If you're not busy," Regina shrugged, trying to look casual. Her hands were fisted in the pockets of her robe so that Emma couldn't see them fidgeting.

"No!" Emma spluttered, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "I mean – no, I'm not busy. I'd love to."

"Great," Regina shook with relief. "Can you wait five minutes? I just need to go put some clothes on."

She grimaced once she realised how those words had sounded coming out of her mouth, but luckily Emma just smiled. As Regina hurried off into the back office, Emma couldn't help but watch her go.

"Get yourself under control, Swan," a voice said from behind her. Emma turned to glare at Eugenia.

"Shut up."

"If you break her heart and she refuses to come back, I'll kick you out of the class," Eugenia continued coolly. "Although I'm not sure anything would stop her. She's not even being paid for this anymore."

Emma's eyebrows shot up. "She's not?"

"Nope. She decided to forgo payment in exchange for getting a regular slot."

Struggling not to crash to the floor at that news, Emma turned for the door with an enormous grin on her face. "See you next week, Granny Lucas."

"Watch it," Eugenia replied. "I'll tell her you're waiting outside. And maybe run a brush through that mane if you want her fingers anywhere near it."

Chapter Text

The bar they went to was dark and crowded. Emma managed to grab a booth by kicking a college student out of the way as he tried to dive for it, and Regina followed her into it with a small smile on her face.

"Sorry," Emma said as they settled down opposite one another. "Is this too loud? We can go somewhere else if you want."

"It's fine," Regina said, looking around her at the chaos. The bar was filled with people who were all 15 years younger than her, but she found she didn't care all that much. Just being out at 11pm on a Wednesday was exciting enough to make her feel like she belonged. "Do you come here a lot?"

"Not really – I've been once or twice, but I'm starting to get a bit old for it."

Regina raised her eyebrows. "And how old are you, exactly?"

"I'm 28," Emma said, pausing before she asked, "How about you?"

Regina's cheeks had already turned pink. "I'm not sure I should say."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not 28."

"Do I look like I care about that?" Emma asked. She suddenly grinned. "We can play a guessing game, if you like."

"No, definitely not," Regina recoiled. "Fine. I'm 37."

Emma just smiled. "Good to know."

"Does it bother you?"

"Absolutely not," Emma replied. She said it so adamantly that Regina didn't even consider not believing her.

"Good," Regina said, smiling back at her. "I mean, not that it matters. It's not like we're… you know. Anything."

Emma couldn't help but laugh at that. If this were another day, or if she were with someone else, maybe she would have been concerned that they didn't want to do anything with her either. But there was a neediness in Regina's eyes that she hadn't seen in anyone for a while, so she wasn't concerned about her real intentions – Emma wasn't conceited, but she also wasn't blind.

"True. I guess we're not."

Regina's next smile was slightly more awkward, and Emma tried to rein things back in.

"You know," she said, tilting her head to one side. "It's a little weird that this is the first time I've ever seen you with clothes on."

There was a pause as Regina absorbed this, and then she was tipping her head back and laughing. "Don't say that. People might hear you."

"Relax – no one thinks we're having a torrid affair. They'd never believe it, anyway."

"Why not?"

"Well. Because, look at you," Emma said, gesturing to Regina's perfectly pressed shirt. It somehow matched both her lipstick and her glass of wine, and it was tucked into a high-waisted black skirt. "You're a solid 10. I'm a six on a good day, and today is not one of those days."

Although Regina flushed with pleasure at the compliment, she said, "A six? Don't be so ridiculous."

"Oh yeah? Where would you rank me, then?"

"You know full well you're a 10," Regina said without a moment's hesitation.

"That's a weak answer," Emma replied. "You're out of my league."

"9.5, then. I won't go any lower."

Emma was pretty sure she must have charcoal on her face again, and her hair was knotty and she was wearing a plain grey sweater that did absolutely nothing to flatter her figure. Regina didn't sound like she was lying, though, and her gaze was intense and sincere.

"If you say so," Emma shrugged, hoping that her pleasure wasn't too obvious. "So. Tell me about yourself."

Regina smiled tentatively. "What do you want to know?"

"Everything?" Emma suggested. "I know literally nothing about you."

"You know my name."

"Only the first part."

Regina smirked and reached into her purse. Emma was a little startled when she was handed a business card.

"Regina Mills, freelance legal advisor," Emma read it. "Wow. I was way off."

"How do you mean?"

Emma blushed furiously when she realised what she'd just blurted out.

"Okay – look, don't judge me too hard. But when you never called, I started trying to find you on LinkedIn."

"How did you do that without my surname?"

"I just started searching for jobs I thought you might have, but I totally failed. Even I didn't think you'd do something as fancy as this."

"It's not fancy," Regina said, but she looked pleased.

"Did you go to law school?"


"And do you have a billion leather-bound legal books at home?"


"Right. Then it's fancy."

Regina just shook her head, laughing. "And what do you do, that's so unimpressive in comparison?"

"I'm a bail bondsperson."

"Really?" Regina asked, leaning forward. "I'm surprised we haven't run into each other in court."

"I tend to stay as far away from court as possible," Emma said. "I'm only there if something's gone really wrong."

"And it doesn't often?"

"Not usually. I've gotten good at it," Emma shrugged. "How about you? How come you ended up being a freelance legal advisor instead of a normal lawyer?"

The awkward silence that followed was not lost on Emma. Regina was watching her carefully, like she was trying to decide something.

"It's a long story," she eventually said.

"I've got time," Emma replied. "I know it's a school night, but I can stay out as late as I want these days."

Regina laughed, rolling her eyes. "Fine – I'll give you the cliff notes version."

She still took a breath before she started talking, though. Emma edged forward in her chair so she wouldn't miss a word.

"So… I met my husband at college," Regina started. Emma flinched immediately, then plastered on a big, fake smile that wouldn't have convinced anyone. Regina quickly corrected herself. "Ex-husband, I should say."

"Oh," Emma sagged with relief. "I'm sorry."

"No, you're not," Regina smiled wryly over the top of her wine glass. "It's fine – we've been divorced for a year and I'm not sorry about it. But, anyway, we met at college, and we got married pretty soon after we graduated. Then I went to law school with every intention of becoming a human rights lawyer, but… plans changed."

Emma frowned, watching as Regina pulled her phone out of her purse.

She slid it across the table toward Emma and said, "His name's Henry."

Regina's wallpaper was a photo of her and a young boy with shaggy brown hair. Regina's chin was resting on the top of his head and her arms were wrapped around his shoulders. They were both grinning into the camera.

"Wow," Emma said. She thought back to the faint stretch marks she'd noticed, relieved that at least this time her face didn't betray her shock. "He's really cute. How old is he?"

"He's 10," Regina said, taking the phone back and smiling down at it. "He was totally unplanned, but he's the best thing to have ever happened to me. But it did throw a bit of a spanner in the works with regards to my career."

"How so?"

Regina's expression changed then. It didn't get darker, exactly – it more went flat.

"I fell pregnant when I was 26, right after I graduated law school. I was just starting out at a law firm and everything was going fine, but as soon as I knew I was expecting, Robin said I should quit."

"Robin's your ex, I'm guessing?"

"He is. He had a good job at his dad's forestry firm cutting down half the rainforest," Regina said, rolling her eyes like she was only just realising how stupid this was, "and he said I should quit law, raise Henry, and then work part time once he was a bit older."

"And you did it?"

Regina almost looked sorry as she admitted, "Yes. I didn't… I didn't think I had any other choice."

"Right," Emma said. It was all she could say. "So, what happened?"

"I got bored," Regina smiled playfully. "Henry was a dreadful baby, but he was an excellent toddler and I ended up with more free time than I'd been expecting. I couldn't leave him by himself, but I could work freelance a few hours a day and look after him at the same time."

"And then you stuck with it?"

"I did. I realised that being a human rights lawyer was a very grand and noble ambition, but it's also a flooded market. The people who actually needed my help were right here in Boston, and no one was looking after them because they were all too busy trying to save the world instead."

Emma's heart went warm at that. "That's really great, Regina."

"Not really," Regina shrugged. "I don't get paid much for it, but I get a lot of alimony since I have custody of Henry and Robin broke up the marriage by cheating on me with his secretary, and I inherited my house from my parents. I'm happy with where I am."

There was a whole lot of stuff to be unpacked there, but Emma was pretty certain now wasn't the right time to do it. Instead, she leaned her chin on her hand and asked, "So, what kind of people do you help?"

"All kinds. Young mothers trying to escape abusive spouses is unfortunately a common one, but I think my name's gotten around. They all seem to come to me."

"Do you mind that?"

"No," Regina said firmly. "Even when they can't pay me anything, I'm glad they come to me."

"You do it for free?"

"Sometimes. Usually clients find me via the state or a court, but occasionally they hear about me from a friend and email me some questions. I'm not about to turn them away."

"Wow," Emma said softly. "That's amazing."

Regina heard the awe in her voice and smiled. "Don't look at me like that. I'm not a superhero, Miss…?"

Her sentence trailed off there, and Emma frowned. "What?"

"Your surname. What is it?"

"Oh," Emma said. "Swan. Emma Swan."

"Miss Swan," Regina said, trying it out. She obviously liked it, because she grinned.

Emma raised her eyebrows. "Just Emma is fine. We're not in court now, you know."

"Oh, I know. But I like to use people's surnames – it shows you remember them."

For some reason, that made Emma blush.

"You're weird," she said as she took a tip of her drink. "But I'm glad we're here."

"You are?"

"Mm," Emma replied. Maybe it was because it was late and she was tired, or maybe it was because Regina had just told her something so spectacularly perfect that she wanted to rip her clothes off right then, but she took a deep breath and said, "I've been kind of fascinated by you since the first day you showed up in class."

She was expecting Regina to look taken aback by that admission, but she didn't. She beamed. "Really?"

"Yeah. Not that some of our other models aren't interesting or attractive, or whatever, but when you walked in I nearly died of gay panic."

Regina chuckled, and then she asked a brave question of her own. "You're gay, then?"

"Yeah. I'm guessing you're not?"

It was a simple enough question, since Regina had married a man and obviously liked him enough to raise a child with him. But Regina paused, her nose wrinkling.

"I'm… not sure," she said eventually. "I guess that remains to be seen."

That sounded weirdly like a promise, and Emma felt a throb of excitement between her legs.

"Right," she stammered, looking down at her glass. "Been there."

"You have?"

"Well, yeah. I went through all of high school assuming I didn't have a boyfriend because I was the weirdo foster kid with all the rage issues, but eventually I realised that there was a really different reason."

"You're a foster kid?"

Emma winced slightly. "Oh – yeah. Sorry. I don't normally blurt that out within 10 minutes of meeting someone."

"You've known me for a few weeks now," Regina said, nudging her leg under the table. The feeling of her foot tapping against her shin made Emma's entire body tingle. "You get a free pass."

She was smiling so openly and without any expectation whatsoever. For some reason, that was exactly the thing to make Emma open her mouth again.

"My parents abandoned me outside a diner," she said. "I was six hours old. I only didn't die because some kid found me."

Emma watched the shock flicker over Regina's face. She rarely told this story to anyone, so it was something she didn't get to bask in very often.

"Oh," Regina said. "God. That's… I'm sorry."

Regina's whole body had gone cold, and when Emma just shrugged back at her it only made her feel worse.

"It's okay. I didn't turn out too badly," she said. "Anyway, I was in the system until I was 18. It was a rough few years to say the least."

"I bet," Regina said, the horror still all too audible in her voice. She thought about the stories she'd come across during her work – the abuse, the neglect, and even in the very best cases, the abandonment issues that came from years of feeling like absolutely no one wanted you. Regina had grown up in a loveless household, but even she couldn't imagine what that must feel like. "I'm so sorry, Emma."

She sounded so sincere, and Emma couldn't help but smile. "Don't worry about it. It was a long time ago, and it made me really good at self-preservation. I take that as a good thing."

It was a crappy silver lining as silver linings went, but Regina forced herself to smile back at her. "That's definitely something."

"Don't look so sad for me," Emma said. She wanted to return Regina's earlier foot nudge, but when she shifted position she realised that their legs were still pressed together under the table. The realisation made her throat tighten. "I'm perfectly normal, right?"

"Well. I wouldn't go that far," Regina smirked. "But I suppose it now makes a bit more sense why you're incapable of arriving to class on time."

"Excuse me, but I was only late once."

"That I saw."

Emma paused before admitting, "Yeah, okay. That you saw."

It was worth making a total fool out of herself just to be on the receiving end of Regina's wicked smiles.

"Tell me something else about yourself," Regina said.

"Err. I'm not sure what else there is to say."

"Where did you go to college?"

"I… didn't."

"How did you get into art?"

Emma hesitated. "I don't really know. It was just one of those things I did in the foster homes to relieve a bit of tension, and even though I was never amazing at it, I always really loved it."

"You're very talented," Regina said. Emma shrugged.

"Not really. I'm okay, but I know I'm nothing special. I just go because I enjoy it."

"Why did you choose life drawing over something else?"

Emma's smile was finally a bit more genuine. "Because people are the most interesting. I know Eugenia likes to rotate models so we get practice drawing different body types, but I actually prefer it when the same person comes back over and over again – I love seeing new details and learning more about people just from drawing them."

"Oh really?" Regina asked, her eyes suddenly glinting with a challenge. "What have you learned about me?"

Emma hesitated, flicking through the entire catalogue of stuff she'd picked up on: the fact that Regina was a mother; the fact that she was deeply nervous about being naked in front of so many people; the fact that she loved Emma's gaze on her enough to forgo payment entirely.

Regina was watching her with expectation all over her face, and Emma knew she couldn't settle on something simple.

"That you're not straight," Emma answered. Regina immediately choked on her wine.

"Excuse me?"

"Come on. I think you'd already worked that much out," Emma said. "I'm not saying you're not still interested in men, but you're definitely also interested in women."

Struggling to regain some of her composure, Regina said, "Well, you certainly think a lot of yourself, Miss Swan."

"No, I don't," Emma said calmly. "You just look at me the same way I've been looking at you."

Regina wasn't used to people reading her so well. In fact, she wasn't even used to people paying proper attention to her. Her son loved her dearly, but he was 10 and rarely had any idea what was going on in her life, and she spent so little time with anyone else that it often felt like no one knew her at all. Tamara was the exception to that rule, but she'd been friends with Regina for years and was also insufferably nosey rather than insightful. It was disorientating to sit opposite someone who'd only been talking to her for an hour but had already burrowed a little below the surface.

Emma frowned. "Did I cross a line?"

"No," Regina said. "Not at all. I'm just surprised by your perceptiveness."

"You've heard of gaydar, right?"

"Yes, Miss Swan. I just didn't realise yours had the power of a nuclear submarine."

Emma snorted into her drink. "You're making me out to be some kind of lesbian crusader."

"Aren't you?" Regina asked. She didn't even sound like she was teasing – she was looking down at Emma's strong shoulders and toned arms, which were somehow visible even under her baggy sweater, and it sort of seemed like she might be being serious.

"Nope," Emma replied. "I'm nothing. Just me."

"You're you, but you're definitely not nothing."

Regina's leg bumped against hers again, slightly firmer this time, and Emma had to resist the urge to slide under the table and push her thighs apart. She could feel her face going red as she said, "You don't know anything about me."

"I know," Regina said simply, her lips quirking upward. "But I want to."

Emma felt slightly disoriented when they left the bar, even though she'd only had one drink. Regina, meanwhile, had gotten a whole new batch of confidence from somewhere, and it was dizzying. By the time she suggested they leave and give the college kids their booth back, she looked five inches taller.

They walked outside together and began to slowly amble away from the bar. They weren't touching or speaking, but the air between them was thick. Emma wished she didn't have to go home. It was just gone midnight and all her earlier exhaustion had vanished – all she wanted to do right then was find another place where she could sit opposite Regina and watch her dark eyes flashing.

Two seconds later, she realised that Regina felt the same.

"Come back to mine."

Emma tripped over out of sheer shock. "Sorry?"

Regina stopped walking and turned to look at her. "Should I have said please?"

"No – I just…" Emma paused to take a breath. "You mean, for another drink?"

Her heartbeat was shaking her from the inside and her palms were already sweaty, and she prayed that Regina was asking her what she hoped she was.

For a second, Regina looked disappointed by the question. Then she saw the gleam in Emma's eye and said casually, "If you like."

It was a halfway point between 'Yes, just come in for a drink' and 'No, I want to fuck your brains out on my sofa', so Emma just nodded. Her voice was rusty when she said, "Yes. Please."

"Excellent. Do you trust me to drive us home after one glass of wine, or should I call a cab?"

Emma couldn't imagine anything worse than having to wait for a cab to arrive, so she chose the former. The drive was mostly silent, but Emma only felt uncomfortable because her panties kept bunching against her wet pussy and she couldn't do anything to peel them off.

It felt like Regina knew this, because she had a smirk on her face even though nothing funny had been said. Inside, though, she felt like she was vibrating. Thick need was coursing through her and she couldn't remember ever feeling that before – she felt like she was about to come apart at the seams from the sheer need to wrap herself around Emma's body.

Under that, though, were nerves. A lot of them.

She took a deep breath when Emma wasn't looking and pulled into her street. It was suburban and silent, and she felt Emma shift beside her.

"You live here?" she asked as they pulled onto the driveway of a large white house.

"I do."

"Is your son home?"

"Not tonight. The friend who bullied me into doing the life modelling is watching him for me."

"Right," Emma nodded, unbuckling her seatbelt. "Good friend."

"Some days more than others. Today, though, she's in my good books." She hopped out of the car before Emma could question her on that statement.

As they walked up to the house, Regina could hear Emma stumbling along behind her. Every footstep made her mouth dry out. As thick as the desire in her abdomen was, she was starting to doubt whether she could do this. She wasn't the type.

She had no idea what Emma wanted from her, although it was fair to assume that she wouldn't say no to spending the night in her bed. But as much as she thought she might want that too, she had no idea what that would mean tomorrow. Would she never speak to Emma again? Would they end up dating? Would she have to go and buy herself a Pride flag and roam the streets of Boston pretending to finally like herself?

It was all too easy to descend into a spiral of panic, and when they were inside and she shut the front door behind them, she looked up to find Emma watching her worriedly.

"What?" Regina asked, her voice catching.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Do you want a drink?"

"Not really," Emma said. "What's wrong?"

Regina considered lying. It was definitely the easiest thing to do. But a large part of her didn't want to do that – not only because she felt like it would be a bad start to a potentially great thing, but because she already knew that Emma deserved better.

She groaned and leaned her head back against the door. "I've only slept with two men."

Emma's eyebrows shot up. "What? How?"

"Do you want the specifics?"

"No – I mean, how is that possible? You're…" Emma faltered, waving one hand in the air as she took in Regina's body. "Perfect."

Regina smiled weakly at that. "My ex-husband was the first person I was ever with. After he left, I had a stupid one-night stand that didn't lead to anything. That's all."

"But…" Emma tried again, swallowing thickly. "Every time you go out, people must be throwing themselves at you."

"I don't go out much."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't want to," Regina said, and she was suddenly regretting ever inviting Emma back here. It had been too much too fast, and Emma obviously thought she was some kind of hermit now. She was doing this all wrong and any second now this ridiculous, beautiful woman would grimace and make her excuses and edge past her and Regina would be left alone to—

"Regina," Emma gently interrupted her thoughts. She was still standing several paces away. "Why do you look like that?"

"Like what?"

"Sad," Emma offered. "And scared."

Regina didn't reply, because she wasn't used to spending time with someone who saw so much of her without her realising that she was showing it. Emma's sea-green eyes must have some kind of magic flowing through them.

When she was met with silence, Emma gently added, "I'm not going to pressure you – you know that, right? I wouldn't have forced my way in here if you hadn't asked me to come."

Regina nodded. "I know. I'm just… nervous."

Emma considered asking why, but she already knew: Regina wanted something from her, and it was something she'd never wanted from anyone before. She knew first-hand how terrifying that could be.

"Look," Emma said, holding her hands out like she was trying to prove that she wasn't armed. "There's no pressure. I really am happy to just have a drink and then leave again – I'm not making any assumptions. Okay?"

She waited for Regina to nod and reply "Okay" and lead her into the living room for a glass of wine. She would have been aggressively fine with that – she could still see Regina's eyes swimming, and all she wanted was for her to take a deep breath and calm down and then maybe open up a bit more so that Emma could learn just another single thing about her.

But Regina didn't reply again. She was watching Emma with a crease in her forehead and a slight pout to her lips.

Suddenly afraid that she had already overstayed her welcome, Emma asked, "Regina? Do you want me to leave?"

That finally snapped Regina out of her panic. Dragging Emma there had been the stupidest and boldest thing she'd ever done in her life, and the thought of her leaving again because Regina hadn't been brave enough to do the one thing she'd been think about for weeks made her straighten her shoulders and harden her resolve. Need overtook her, and it was far stronger than the nerves that were plucking at her intestines like harp strings.

She stumbled forward and nearly collided with Emma in her haste to kiss her. Emma blinked as their lips met, staggering back a step to try and regain her footing. Her hands were still awkwardly held out and Regina gripped her outstretched wrists immediately, like she was trying to stop her from running away even though it was painfully obvious to both of them that she had no intention of doing so.

For someone who always seemed so calm and put-together, it was surprising that Regina's kisses were quite so frantic. Her touch was needy and her breathing was coming fast, and Emma could feel the nerves vibrating through her. Regina had no idea what she was doing, and it was totally endearing. She was kissing Emma like it was her first time kissing anyone, and when their teeth clashed together, Emma just moaned.

She pulled her arms free of Regina's grip and gently took hold of her waist, nudging her back until she bumped against the nearest wall. As soon as Regina let out a gasp of surprise, Emma took over the kiss, carefully parting Regina's lips with her own and kissing her so slowly that time seemed to stop around them.

She'd never kissed anyone like this before. Emma had no patience and rarely dragged things out when she could just get right down to the fun stuff, but at that moment she was intent on doing this properly. Regina's body was softening with sheer relief, and when Emma felt a set of greedy hands slip around the back of her neck, she knew she'd made the right call.

Regina moaned against her and pushed herself forward, pressing her chest hard against Emma's, and Emma took the hint: she thrust Regina more firmly against the wall, using her hips to pin her there. At once, she felt Regina tremble. The hands on the back of her neck slid higher and crawled into her hair, and Emma tried not to moan out loud at the shiver they sent rushing through her body.

She could hear Regina struggling to catch her breath and, as their kisses grew faster and more urgent, her hips started to grind forward. Her nerves had vanished, apparently, and she was hungrily sliding her tongue into Emma's mouth to try and bring her to the same state of deliriousness that she was experiencing. She couldn't know just how wet Emma already was, nor how hard her heart was pounding, because Emma was determined to make this whole thing about Regina and not distract her with her own demands or pleas. She ignored the pooling warmth in her panties and pressed herself harder against Regina's wriggling body, and when Regina suddenly bit down on her lower lip, she knew what was coming next.

"The couch," Regina gasped out, her lips still half pressed against Emma's. "Through there."

"No," Emma replied. If she was about to drag Regina over the ledge into her first time with a woman, it needed to be right – she deserved better than a quick screw on a sofa.

Emma pulled back and grabbed Regina's wrist. "Where's your bedroom?"

Regina didn't respond – she just stepped away from the wall and walked purposefully toward the staircase, pulling Emma along behind her. Emma's grip shifted on her wrist and all of a sudden their hands were clasped together, their fingers tangling as Regina all but dragged her up the stairs.

They walked into the master bedroom and Regina quickly shut and locked the door – a force of habit, even though Henry was several miles across town. The clicking sound sent something hot and jumpy through her, and before she knew it, she was pausing again. Her hand stayed on the door handle.

Emma saw her go still and tried to calm her breathing down.

"Hey," she said softly, reaching out to touch her shoulder. "You okay?"

She sounded genuinely concerned, and it was all the reassurance Regina needed. She turned around with resolve plastered all over her face. "I'm fine."

She still looked impossibly tightly wound, though, so Emma grinned.

"You know I've already seen you naked, right?"

There was a pause, and for a second Emma wanted to kick herself. But then Regina was laughing, and it was deep and carefree and ridiculous. A second later, she was stumbling forward again, wrapping herself around Emma like she was trying to climb a tree.

Emma staggered back and felt her legs hit the edge of the bed. As soon as she'd toppled onto it, Regina came down after her, straddling her waist and bending forward to dip her tongue back into her mouth.

Gripping hold of her hips, Emma arched up into her. Regina smelled impossibly good and her mouth still tasted like red wine, and the way her hands were skimming down her body made her feel hot and glittery all over. She noticed that Regina was avoiding certain areas, though – only focusing on her shoulders or waist, but never straying too close to her breasts – and the fact that she was still slightly nervous made Emma feel determined and enamoured in equal measure.

She grabbed Regina's waist and flipped her over, pinning her down against the sheets. Regina gasped and stared wide-eyed up at her, her lipstick now all but gone from her mouth.

"What are you doing?"

"Have you ever done anything with a woman?" Emma asked. The question made Regina blush.

"What? Why?"

"Because I want to know."

"I… No. Nothing."

"But you want to do this?" Emma clarified. Regina's impatient eye roll made her want to laugh.

"No, Emma. I'm soaking wet and two seconds away from fucking you because I'm just a little bored this evening. That's all."

"Don't be cheeky with me," Emma replied, releasing Regina's wrists and placing her hands on her stomach. It was taut with both anticipation and inhuman abdominal muscles, and she felt her entire pussy throb all over again. "I just don't want to pressure you into anything."

The amused look Regina shot her was a little unnecessary considering the panic that had been fluttering over her face 10 minutes earlier, but the arch of her eyebrow still managed to do unspeakable things to Emma's insides.

She decided to ignore Regina's eternal hypocrisy and dove forward for another kiss, surprising her with the intensity of it.

As Regina moaned and wriggled beneath her, Emma slid her hands down the front of her chest and began to slowly open the buttons on her shirt. She waited for Regina to tell her to stop, but she just gripped her hips harder.

"Tell me if it's too much," she murmured, and Regina just ignored her. She lifted her head off the sheets and kissed her again, grazing her tongue over Emma's and smirking when she turned to Jell-O.

Emma had seen Regina naked a handful of times already, but slowly revealing her body by opening her shirt button by button was the most exhilarating thing she'd ever done. Every new inch of bronzed skin made her breath catch, and eventually the kissing stopped altogether so Emma could focus properly on the task in hand. She could feel Regina watching her as she did so.

"Fuck," Emma hissed as the shirt came apart and Regina was left lying in her black bra and skirt.

"You've seen all this before," Regina pointed out.

"I know that. It's not the same."

"It's not?"

"No," Emma said firmly, cupping Regina's breasts and squeezing. Regina's eyes flickered closed at once, whatever comment she'd been able to make slipping away from her. "It's not."

Regina arched her back and pushed herself harder into Emma's hands, and when she felt the cups of her bra being peeled down, she didn't resist. Excitement and nerves were sparking in the pit of her stomach and all they were doing was making her wetness grow and grow with every single second. She'd never been that soaked before – her panties were plastered to her skin and it was verging on being uncomfortable, and yet she didn't care. She wanted Emma to tug them off and thrust two fingers so hard into her that she saw stars.

She was torn from her reverie by the feeling of a tongue lapping over one nipple. Her hands automatically found their way into Emma's hair, and as soon as she fisted them to hold her more firmly against her chest, she felt Emma's resolve harden. She dragged her tongue slightly harder over her skin before sucking the nipple into her mouth, making it stiff and aching for more. When Regina moaned and bucked beneath her, Emma lifted her left hand and gently pinched the other nipple. The hands in her hair suddenly gripped her tighter.

"Emma," Regina gasped, her eyes snapping open. Emma's body was hot and firm on top of her and the feeling of being pinned down by it – somehow tenderly and aggressively all at the same time – made her pussy clench.

Emma hesitated. "Is this okay?"

"Will you stop asking that?" Regina snapped. Her impatience just made Emma laugh, and she pinched Regina's nipple slightly harder. Regina moaned and threw her head back, pleasure shooting through every nerve in her poor, needy body.

"Fuck me."

She bit the words out without meaning to, and she felt Emma's surprise as she lifted her head from her chest. "Already?"

"Yes," Regina gritted out. She was breathing hard and her hips wouldn't lie still, and just the sight of Emma looking curiously down at her made her stomach boil. "Right now."

"But we've—"

"I need you," Regina interrupted, practically whining in her desperation. Her panties were flooded and her thighs were starting to stick together beneath her skirt. She could suddenly feel her pulse in the soles of her feet and in the fingertips that were now digging painfully into Emma's shoulders.

Emma looked pretty smug at that. "Well. Good to know."

Regina couldn't even come up with a witty response to that, because her body was starting to fall apart. It had been 11 months since she'd last had sex – even longer since she'd been fucked properly, because her husband had gotten bored of her around the two-year mark and had seemingly forgotten where her clit was – and just the feeling of Emma slowly working her way down her body was making her brain short circuit. Regina's fingers were gripping hold of her like she was terrified she was about to pull away without making her come, because she needed that orgasm like air and she honestly thought she might die if she was left disappointed.

Emma, though, had one very specific goal in mind, and that was to make Regina come so hard, so many times that she ended up whimpering and pleading and practically kicking Emma away from her. She'd already heard the way Regina gasped her name, and she'd seen the desperate glimmer in her eye, and she wanted to spend the rest of the night committing it all to memory.

She pulled away from Regina's chest and slipped down her body, kissing her across her stomach and ribs as she sought out the zipper at the back of her skirt. Regina lifted her hips with a faint moan, helping Emma peel the fabric down her thighs. When the skirt had been tossed onto the floor behind them, Emma trailed her fingers down the front of Regina's panties. They were wet and sticking to her skin, and Regina's eyes fluttered shut the second she felt the new contact.

Emma paused.

"You're sure you want this?" she said. She was mostly asking because she wanted Regina to scowl up at her again, and when she did, Emma promptly yanked her panties to one side and smeared the whole flat of her palm against her pussy.

"Oh, God," Regina gasped, her hips bucking up. Her entire body was already throbbing from sheer need, and when she felt Emma's thumb graze purposefully over her clit, she thought she might cry. "Get your face between my legs. Right now."

Emma grinned at the panted demand and did as she was told. Only pausing to remove Regina's panties entirely, she settled down on her stomach and pushed Regina's thighs apart. They were trembling slightly, and her skin was burning. Emma moaned and ducked her head toward one of them, dragging her tongue up the inside of it so she could taste the beads of sweat that were starting to spring up. Regina gasped at the feeling and slipped a hand back in Emma's hair, trying to guide her toward her aching pussy, but Emma gently disentangled herself. She moved to the other thigh, lifting it slightly so she could kiss the join of Regina's kneecap. That tiny, tender gesture made Regina release a sound that was so close to a whimper that Emma felt her entire body light up.

When Emma finally slipped her tongue between Regina's folds, the world stopped moving. Regina threw her head back with a long sigh that screamed sheer gratitude, and Emma felt herself go momentarily blind from the pleasure of actually getting to taste her. She was sticky and smoky and as Emma felt her wetness slicking across her tongue and lips and chin, she couldn't help but sigh. Above her, Regina's shirt was still open and her bra was tugged down beneath her breasts, and she looked wild and out of control and totally beautiful. As soon as the flat of Emma's tongue dragged over her clit, she bucked up and moaned out loud, wordlessly pleading with Emma to go faster.

Emma ignored her. She was in no rush.

She eased one hand beneath her chin and gently dipped a finger inside, shivering when Regina's grip tightened on her hair. It was even more enjoyable to pull that finger free again and place it wetly on the outside of Regina's thigh, her tongue continuing to slowly, slowly drag its way up Regina's pussy until her entire body was trembling.

Regina groaned and bucked up. "Emma, please. Please."

Emma hummed to let her know she'd heard her, but she didn't pick up the speed. She had Regina's clit in her mouth and she was gently sucking on it like she was waiting for it to melt on her tongue.

Regina lifted her hips in frustration, and it was only when she felt tears prickling in her eyes that she realised she was close to coming. She gasped at the sudden awareness and gripped Emma's head harder, soaking up the sparking in her fingers and toes. She heard herself cry out, and it was a sound she'd never made before – it was sharp and pleading and it came from somewhere that might have been her heart, and she felt Emma's lips curve up into a smile when she heard it.

That was all it took. Regina's back arched off the bed and she came hard, her nails digging into Emma's scalp as she continued to slowly ravish her like nothing in the world could stop her. Her tongue was determined and steady, and as Regina came and came she realised that she'd never been fucked by someone's mouth before. People had gone down on her like it was an unfortunate rung on a ladder they were intent on climbing as soon as possible, but Emma had set up camp there. Even when Regina thought she was empty and her pussy was fluttering with protest, Emma's tongue kept on sweeping through her, deliberately avoiding her sensitive clit but smearing her wetness as far as it could go until Regina felt herself go boneless.

"You can stop," she heard herself croak. Her voice was shaky and her vision wasn't as sharp as usual.

Emma pulled back by an inch, and Regina took a deep breath. She felt like she was floating.

It was her turn now. But as much as she wanted to dive between Emma's thighs and make her sigh and moan and tremble, she wasn't sure how to go about any of that. She knew how to please men, sure, but women were different. Complicated. They wanted more and they deserved more.

Emma deserved more – that much, she was certain of.

But then she felt a pair of hands on her hips, and before she could fully lift her head or stiffen her spine, she was being flipped over. She landed on her stomach with a gentle thump, and then the rest of her shirt was being tugged from her.

"Emma," Regina whimpered into the sheets, realising a split second too late that she'd never whimpered in her life before that night. "What are you doing?"

"You're not done," Emma said, dropping the silky shirt on the floor before unhooking Regina's crumpled bra. Regina didn't resist as it was pulled off of her body, and even when she realised that she was suddenly fully naked in front of another woman, she didn't care. She just moaned into the comforter and wished, however selfishly, that Emma was about to fuck her for real.

Two fingers slipped inside her and she instantly gasped with both relief and thick need. She could feel how slick and unresisting her pussy was in the way Emma's fingers plunged inside her, and the strange squelching noise that accompanied the movement didn't even embarrass her. She'd never been that wet before in her entire life, and before she could think about what she was doing, she felt herself arching her spine so that her ass was lifted higher. Emma groaned behind her.

"Fuck," she murmured, placing her spare hand under Regina's hip so she could hold her in position. Her skin was smooth and impossibly warm, and Emma could feel her trembling as two demanding fingers plunged back inside her.

"Another," Regina gasped, her voice muffled by the sheets. She was clutching them in one fist, and already Emma hated the fact that she couldn't see the expression on her face.

"Look at me."

Regina groaned. "What?"

"Look at me," Emma repeated, "and then you'll get another finger."

Regina whined and lifted her face free at once. "You're so demanding."

"Says the woman begging to be fucked harder?" Emma asked. Regina's cheeks were already pink but they flushed deep red at that. It killed Emma that she couldn't bend forward far enough to kiss them.

But she had Regina's frantic eyes on her, and she was nothing but a woman of her word. She easily slid a third finger inside, watching as the gratitude ebbed over her face, and just like that Regina's embarrassment was gone again. She moaned and rocked back so she could thrust her cunt harder against Emma's hand. Emma could feel her walls squeezing, desperately trying to cling onto her, and she felt a shiver rush through her entire body with enough force to steal the breath from her lungs.

"Get up on your knees," she said, and Regina scrabbled to comply. Pleasure was already building up inside her and even though her earlier orgasms had barely left her, she needed another one like it her life depended on it.

As soon as she was kneeling with her elbows planted on the bed, Emma drove back into her, using her hips to guide her forward. Regina gasped with delicious surprise, and Emma realised it was her new favourite noise in the world – that, teamed with the sound of slick heat seeping from between her thighs.

When Regina all but cried out, Emma suddenly realised that it would be all too easy to fall in love with this woman. She was wriggling and rocking back and gripping the sheets like she was trying to hold herself together, and when Emma reached round her to gently roll her palm over her clit, Regina stopped succeeding. She let out a shriek of pleasure that shook her thighs, and as Emma started to fuck her harder, Regina's head dropped. She rested her forehead against her arms and let out a shaky breath, and as the orgasm that was twisting its way up and up and up from the soles of her feet finally reached her torso, she let go. Her howl of relief climbed the walls, and Emma felt her hand get suddenly soaked as Regina came with enough force to nearly push her out of her pussy entirely.

Regina tumbled back down to the sheets, her entire body damp and boneless, and she wasn't entirely surprised to realise that she was crying. There was a stupid grin on her face, though, and her hands were trembling, and behind her she could feel Emma tentatively crawling on top of her so she could push her hair away from her face.

"Regina?" she asked. Regina opened her eyes just in time to catch the anxious look on her face. "Shit. Are you—?"

"I'm fine," Regina interrupted her, her voice cracking. "More than fine. I'm just…"

She rolled onto her back, Emma still hovering above her, and tried to think of the right words.

"No one's ever paid that much attention to me before."

Emma's worry immediately melted into a smile. "Well. Men are awful."

"They are," Regina agreed. When Emma reached out to wipe the tears off her face, Regina laughed. "They really are."

Once Emma had finished drying her cheeks, she pulled away and lay down beside her, staring up at the ceiling with a satisfied grin on her face. It was deeply weird, Regina thought, that she could look so content when she hadn't even come yet.

Regina's earlier nerves vanished like a wisp of smoke, and she pushed herself up onto her knees with a resolute expression on her face. Emma blinked at her.


"Don't you want me to return the favour?"

Emma laughed at the outrage in her voice. "I mean – not necessarily. Only if you want to."

"Why wouldn't I want to?"

"Because this was your closet-leaving experience and I don't want you to do anything just because you feel like you should," Emma said, propping herself up on her elbows.

"But I do want to," Regina said, surprising herself with how much she meant it. Her whole body still felt loose and she was certain her pelvis would be aching the next day, and she already couldn't wait for that kind of discomfort. She wanted to remember this until the day she died, so she might as well get the entire experience.

The second she found herself wondering exactly what Emma's pussy tasted like, she knew there was no turning back.

"You're still dressed," Regina pointed out before Emma could make another protest about sensitivity.

"Do you want me to do something about that?"

"Yes. Now."

"God, you're bossy," Emma grumbled, although she was still smirking. She clambered off Regina's bed and turned to face her. "I have to admit I'm not that good at strip teases."

"Good. I don't want to be teased," Regina said, leaning back on her hands. "I just want you naked."

Emma shivered at that, and she tipped back her head with a sigh. "Don't say stuff like that."

"Take your clothes off, and then I'll stop talking."

Regina sounded remarkably confident for someone who hadn't even seen a naked woman outside of porn or the gym changing rooms prior to that moment, but need was starting to prickle at her fingertips and all of her coyness and uncertainty had vanished for good. She wanted to pin Emma down and make her moan. She wanted to pepper sharp little kisses over her ribcage and make her ache tomorrow.

She was so lost in that thought that she almost missed Emma undressing altogether. She was tugging her sweater off, leaving her blonde curls in a mess of static, before reaching down to unzip her jeans. When those were off and she was left in her underwear, she looked at Regina expectantly.

"And the rest," Regina said, her breathing quickening. Emma immediately reached behind her and unhooked her bra.

She left her panties on, though, and Regina looked down at them with annoyance. "What are you doing?"

"I'm leaving these on," Emma said, climbing back onto the bed. She straddled Regina's outstretched legs and kissed her. "Just for now."


Emma dipped her head and pressed her lips against Regina's jaw.

"Because I really like it when a woman teases me through my panties at first," she murmured. Regina shuddered, her eyes closing of their own accord.

"Oh," she said, suddenly nervous again. Her fingers were twitching. "Can I…?"

Emma pulled back and waited for Regina to meet her gaze. "I'm going to help you. Okay?"

"Okay," Regina replied, nodding eagerly. Emma kissed her again before reaching out for her wrist.

Regina didn't resist as her hand was guided toward the fabric between Emma's thighs. The second the tips of her fingers brushed against it, she groaned.

"Oh my God," she muttered, dragging her finger up the very centre. "I can feel how wet you are."

Emma didn't even respond to that: her hands were gripping Regina's shoulders and her head had fallen forward. She took a shaky breath.

"Is this okay?" Regina asked. Her question was immediately met with a violent nod.

"God, yes."

"What do I…?" Regina started to ask, hating herself for not knowing until Emma gripped her wrist harder and ground down against her fingers.

"Just keep doing this," she gasped, her eyes still squeezed shut. "And don't judge me too much if I come in like, 10 seconds."

Regina laughed out loud, her confidence suddenly renewed, and pressed her fingers harder against the wet fabric. She could feel the heat of Emma's skin beneath it and all she wanted to do was tug the panties off her and dive between her legs.

She nudged the fabric to one side and slipped a single finger beneath it. Emma's entire body went rigid as she gasped, "Oh, fuck."

"Bad?" Regina asked, although she knew the answer already.

"No, good – good, good, good."

Emma repeated the word to herself like a mantra as Regina's fingers got braver, delving deeper into her panties and finally sliding inside her pussy. It was hot and slick and Regina recognised the aching, grasping sensation from her own body. She tentatively pushed in further, watching for any sign of displeasure on Emma's face, but all she saw was awe and gratitude and a faint need to hold herself back.

Regina wasn't happy about that.

She yanked her hand free and snapped, "Take them off."

Emma didn't make a comment this time – she just did as she was told. The black panties went sailing down to the carpet and then Emma was naked – toned and trembling and slightly sweating – and she was perfect. Regina sighed at the sight of her.

"I need to taste you," she said. Emma immediately dove forward and kissed her, her tongue greedy and demanding as it slid into her mouth.

"You need to stop saying stuff like that," she muttered against the corner of her mouth.


"Because you're going to make me come before you've even fucked me."

Regina smirked. "Well. We can't have that."

She let go of Emma's waist and fell down onto her back, pausing to fluff up her hair and spread it around her because even then, she knew the benefit of looking as good as possible. Emma watched her go, confusion tweaking at her features.

"Are we done?" she asked.

"No," Regina rolled her eyes. "Come here."


"Here," Regina said, gesturing to her own mouth. "Right now."

All of Emma’s blood rushed into her pussy and she nearly groaned out loud. "You want me to ride your face?"

"More than anything," Regina said, losing patience and reaching out for Emma's hand. She pulled her forward, and Emma immediately began crawling. "Just tell me if I'm doing it wrong."

"Oh, sweet fucking hellfire," Emma murmured to herself, reaching Regina's torso and climbing on top of it. She paused before shuffling forward. "You're sure—?"

"Shut up," Regina interrupted, grabbing her by her ass and tugging her forward. Emma fell forward, catching herself on the mattress just above Regina's head, and before she had time to fully absorb what position she was in, she felt something wet and determined snaking between her legs.

"Oh my God," she blurted out, forcing herself upright so she could look down at Regina's face between her legs. Her eyes were dark and flashing, and although Emma couldn't see her mouth, she could feel the havoc it was wreaking on her body.

Maybe Regina had watched a lot of lesbian porn in her spare time, or maybe she really was just that good at absolutely everything, because her tongue was lapping at Emma's clit with just the right amount of pressure to make her bones go weak. Emma could feel the faintest nip of her teeth grazing against her skin, and she groaned out loud. Her pussy grasped around nothing as it waited to be fucked as roughly as she really wanted.

Her thighs were already starting to shake with the exertion of not sitting too firmly on Regina's chest, and Regina noticed at once. She tapped Emma's hip impatiently and guided her lower, her hands sliding round to cup her ass. She used her new grip to rock Emma forward, giving her a better chance to grind her tongue against her, and when Emma instantly gasped and writhed against her face, she knew she had it figured out.

Emma leaned forward against the mattress and breathed heavily, a corkscrew of sheer pleasure beginning to twist within her abdomen. Everything felt hot and sparkly and she couldn't sit still. Gripping the sheets harder, she rolled her hips forward so she could feel the brush of Regina's nose against her clit, and when Regina moaned from beneath her, it was too much. Her orgasm rained down on her without a word of warning and Emma actually shrieked from the shock of it, her body trembling and arching and desperately grinding down against Regina's face as she tried to drag it out for as long as possible.

Regina held her steady, soaking up the taste of her. It was everything and nothing like she'd been expecting. Her own body was tingling again and she suddenly realised that they were going to be here all night, fucking each other over and over again to see who could make the other scream the loudest, and she grinned against Emma's pussy at the mere thought of it. She thought about all the sex toys she had stashed away in her closet, and she wondered if Emma would be opposed to using some of them together.

When Emma finally came down from her climax, she shakily climbed off Regina's face and tumbled to the sheets beside her. She looked slightly shell-shocked.

Regina rolled onto her side so she could look at her.

"Are you alright?"

Emma just laughed. "Yeah. I think so."

She lifted her hand and rubbed it over her forehead, grimacing when it came away damp.

"Is it going to sound like I'm fishing for compliments if I ask whether that was okay?" Regina mused. Emma snorted again.

"Give me a second to regain consciousness and then I'll see about answering that."

Regina smirked to herself and shuffled closer. Her heart was still pounding, and she was slightly alarmed to realise how much she missed having Emma's hands on her.

Emma felt her moving toward her and rolled over to meet her, pressing their lips firmly together. Regina's mouth tasted of her. Her hands immediately reached out to grip Emma's hips.

"Thank you," Regina murmured when they pulled apart.

"For what?"

"You know what."

"I don't," Emma insisted. "I have to assume you've had an orgasm before."

"Of course I have – but not like that."

Now it was Emma's turn to look smug. "Really?"

"Shut up," Regina nudged her. "The men I've been with before were… I don't know. Selfish."

"They were men," Emma interjected, expecting another nudge. Regina just shrugged.

"I guess they were."

"But this was… okay, right?"

Regina looked bemusedly back at her. "It was really, very okay. I'm just wondering why it took me so long to discover women, to be honest."

Emma grinned. "We are pretty great."

"Yes. And this woman," Regina said, tapping Emma's shoulder, "is definitely pretty great."

She thought she might melt when Emma's cheeks turned a happy shade of pink.

"I'm glad you think so," she said, trying and failing to sound casual as she ran her hands over her messy hair. "It's getting really late, by the way – do you want me to leave?"

"Why would I want that?"

"I don't know. Your… kid."

Regina quirked an eyebrow at her. "You think my son's going to wander back in at 2am? He's gone until tomorrow, Emma."

"Oh," Emma said, pausing. "So, there's no rush for me to go?"

"None at all."

"I see." Emma paused again, glancing down at Regina's naked body. "You want to know another great thing about women?"

"Tell me."

"We can go on," Emma murmured, trailing her finger down Regina's side and watching the way she shivered, "and on, and on. All night."

And just like that, Regina's body was aching all over again. "Is that so?"


"And what about after tonight?" Regina asked. "Should I even bother coming back to class anymore, or are you going to be tired of seeing me naked by then?"

Emma's eyes crinkled at the sides. "Somehow I don't think that's going to be a problem."

"Then why aren't you kissing me?" Regina demanded. With a short laugh, Emma rolled toward her and pressed their lips together, melting into Regina's body as it hummed and warmed beneath hers. She felt so soft and small, and Emma's fingers yearned to touch every single inch of her.

"What time will your son be back?" she suddenly asked. Regina stared at her lips as they moved away, her eyes narrowing like she was furious at them for leaving her.

"Not until after school tomorrow."

"Great," Emma murmured, dipping beneath Regina's jaw and kissing her throat in a way that made her toes curl. "Then I probably have just about enough time."