“So what’s my surprise?” Erica asked expectantly.
“What do you think it is?” Franky asked in response.
Erica could sense a restless energy radiating off Franky. She was either nervous or excited. Erica didn’t know her well enough to know which it was. They had been walking for a little while, maybe half an hour, away from the camp. They hadn’t talked much but it hadn’t felt uncomfortable. It had been a companionable silence between two people intent on the same outcome. Erica had broken it because she was desperately curious about where Franky was taking her and to what end. It seemed Franky was going to be a hard nut to crack.
Erica didn’t know exactly what Franky’s surprise was going to be. At her most optimistic it had involved some comfort from civilisation but more realistically she thought Franky would take her to see some wonder from nature.
When she explained as much to Franky, the guide smiled. “Well maybe this is both,” she said mysteriously.
“Okay, don’t tell me,” Erica conceded. “How much further is it?”
Franky laughed softly. “Has anyone told you patience isn’t your strong point?”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Erica countered. “Impatience, ambition, they seem to be dirty words but there’s nothing wrong with wanting something and going for it.”
Franky chuckled. “True,” she acknowledged.
“So what’s your ambition?” Erica asked because she was pretty sure from her response that Franky had one.
“You mean apart from the one where I get the girl?” Franky’s tone was teasing.
Erica blushed. “Apart from that one.”
She saw Franky’s shoulders shrug. “Maybe start up my own adventure business, be my own boss, I’d like that.” Suddenly she stopped and turned to face Erica. “Wait here until I come back.” She instructed.
“Where are you going?” Erica asked.
“I’ll be back in a sec,” was all she said.
Erica settled on a rock. The second turned into about five minutes. She waited impatiently until she heard Franky’s footsteps returning from the direction she’d gone. Her face lit up into a smile when she saw her reappear.
“What are you up to?” She asked curiously.
Franky approached her, taking Erica’s hands in her own. “Close your eyes.”
“Why?” Erica was immediately suspicious.
“Do you trust me?” Franky asked, her eyes serious as she waited.
Erica thought about it. She didn’t trust Franky when it came to her teasing and games. The guide had too much fun at her expense. She did trust her as a guide though. She trusted her knowledge and skills implicitly to get them out of tight situations. She thought about Franky’s care of Liz, of Bea’s regard for her, of how Dan had supported her when she’d had that complaint hanging over her head. All these spoke to Franky’s character and her as a person.
“Yes,” she said simply. She felt Franky squeeze her hands gently. She closed her eyes.
“No peeking,” Franky commanded, “or I’ll have to blindfold you.” Erica thought that could lead to interesting extracurricular activities but didn’t say anything. She let Franky lead her, listening to her voice as she guided her safely past obstacles. It took almost no time before they stopped. “Don’t open your eyes yet,” Franky told her.
The guide let go of Erica’s hands and she could hear her moving about. “Okay,” Franky said after a moment.
Erica opened her eyes. They were in a cave. Franky had scattered various torches so it was softly illuminated. It looked amazing. In the centre were mats piled on top of each other and draped in a fluffy navy blue towel. Somewhere towards the back of the cave soft music played. She wasn’t sure what she was looking at but it was obvious Franky had gone to some effort.
She turned away from the scene to give Franky a questioning look. She received a smile in return. “You have the cutest frown you know,” Franky told her.
Erica felt her face relax into a smile under Franky’s admiring gaze. “Well no one’s ever told me that before,” she admitted, “so,” she tailed off uncertainly, feeling slightly off balance by Franky’s open admiration. She wasn’t sure anyone had ever seen her quite the way Franky did.
“So now you know,” Franky finished for her. “How’s your shoulder?” She asked conversationally.
”Still sore,” Erica admitted. It had started hurting days ago and despite adjusting her pack numerous times, it hadn’t eased.
“I think I can help,” Franky offered.
“You’re going to carry my pack?” Erica asked hopefully.
“You wish,” she replied with a laugh.
Erica suddenly realised what Franky’s surprise was. “Wait, you’re going to give me a massage!”
“Yeah, well, if you want me to,” Franky said with grin, laughing as Erica almost knocked her over with the force of her embrace.
On the first day Erica had caught Franky giving Bea a shoulder massage. By the dreamy look on the red head’s face, Erica guessed the guide had a talent for it. “Could I get one of those?” Erica had asked light-heartedly.
Franky had studied her thoughtfully. “Maybe,” she had answered, “if I decide I like you.” She had grinned mischievously.
“Hey! Get in the queue,” Liz had said at the same time.
“There’s a queue?” Erica had asked, “you must be good,” she had said to Franky with a smile.
“Magic fingers,” Liz had said, “right, Franky?”
Franky had laughed. “Only one way to find out,” and she had raised her eyebrows and poked out her tongue at Liz provocatively.
Erica had picked up on the innuendo and had smiled uncertainly.
“I don’t put out for just anyone though,” Franky had continued.
“Could have fooled me,” Dan had said as he came up behind Franky and everyone had laughed.
“I like you too,” Erica murmured now as she kissed Franky.
“Well, good,” Franky replied laughing. She directed Erica over to the mats and handed her a towel, a proper fluffy towel, which Erica was pretty sure Franky hadn’t had stashed in her pack.
“You planned this,” Erica said shrewdly as she took the towel.
“Gotta do it right,” Franky told her, “so remove all your clothes except your underwear and lie down on the mat on your stomach with your towel draped over you,” she instructed.
“You’re being serious,” Erica stated after a moment.
“Yeah, come on, think of it as role play,” she said cheekily. “I’m the masseuse and your the client.”
Erica laughed. “Oh God, all right,” she agreed. She couldn’t imagine Franky taking a subservient role but the idea of bossing her around was appealing she had to admit.
“Good, I’ll leave you to prepare,” Franky said in a good imitation of one of the women at Erica’s Thai massage place in town.
Alone, Erica wasted no time stripping off her clothes, putting up her hair, and lying down on the makeshift massage table. She closed her eyes and waited with slight anticipation. She didn’t really mind if Franky wasn’t much good, there was no such thing as a bad massage in her opinion and all her muscles were sore from the constant demands she was putting on them. It was quiet in the cave except for the soft music. Her breathing slowed and deepened. She didn’t know how long it took, just that it happened, again. She had fallen asleep.
One moment she’d been thinking and the next Franky’s strong fingers were working along her spine, rhythmically and soothing. She must have made a sound or a slight jerk as she woke because Franky spoke.
“This is gonna be a thing, is it? You falling asleep on me?” She said. Erica could hear the smile in her voice.
“Looks like it,” Erica mumbled into the towel she was lying on, feeling slightly embarrassed and apologetic. “Oh,” she gasped as Franky found a knot and began working it out.
“Tell me if I go too hard,” Franky directed.
“I will,” but she doubted Franky had the strength to go beyond Erica’s pain tolerance. She felt herself relax. It felt fantastic.
Franky didn’t talk as she worked her way down Erica’s back then her legs and Erica was in danger of falling asleep again.
“How did you arrange all this?” She asked in an effort to stay awake.
“Oh, you’re still with me, are you?” Franky laughed softly. “Well, I had the idea and called base on the sat phone to ask for the towels and massage oil to be brought out with the supplies. I borrowed the mats and torches from some of the others. The music is from my phone. Pretty simple really,” Franky explained. “I was a bit worried when you said you were going down to the caves with Liz and Red, that would have ruined things,” she admitted.
“I didn’t really want to,” Erica confessed to her. “Don’t tell them that!” She added hastily. “I thought you’d ditched me,” she chastised lightly.
Franky chuckled. “I just needed some time to get ready.” She explained.
“I know that now,” Erica acknowledged, “and it’s a lovely surprise.”
“So I did good, huh?” Franky’s voice held a hint of uncertainty, which Erica hadn’t heard before.
“You did,” she confirmed softly.
“Okay, if you want to turn over I’ll do your front as well,” Franky offered, sounding like her usual self again.
Erica giggled as she tried to roll herself over. She was so relaxed nothing seemed to want to work. “No peeking,” she said.
“No promises,” Franky responded but she draped the towel chastely over Erica’s body and only moved it aside in sections.
She was careful around the gash on Erica’s shin. “This looks like it’s on the mend,” she commented.
“We can do a doctor patient role play if you want,” Erica tone was flirtatious.
“I was thinking more doctor nurse actually,” Franky smirked, “you’d be fucking hot in a nurse’s outfit.”
“I played Florence Nightingale in a re-enactment at school,” Erica remembered, “I don’t think any of the other girls thought I was remotely hot in that uniform. What is that!” Erica exclaimed suddenly, her eyes focused on the ceiling behind Franky’s head.
“What?” Franky looked behind her.
“Something small and dark, over there,” she pointed.
Franky shrugged. “Probably just a bat,” she returned to her task, uninterested.
“I hate bats,” Erica said with a shudder.
“Do you like tequila?” Franky asked randomly, her fingers returning to their task.
“Not particularly,” Erica replied.
“What about mangoes, or bananas?” she continued just as randomly.
“Yes,” Erica answered, slightly confused.
“Then you like bats,” Franky told her with a grin. Erica frowned. “They pollinate those plants. No bats, no mangoes.”
“Did anyone tell you being a smartarse doesn’t win any favours,” Erica told her grumpily.
Franky laughed. “So you think I’m smart, do ya?”
“Shut up,” Erica muttered then promptly groaned as Franky eased a particularly tight section of her quad.
She felt light and her skin felt supple and vibrant again after days of sun exposure. Her favourite part of the massage was when Franky worked on her tired feet, easing the hundreds of tiny aching muscles. She would get a pedicure as soon as she finished this hike, she decided.
“What is the first thing you do when you get off trail?” She asked Franky curiously.
“After a long hot shower, I get a proper expresso coffee,” Franky told her. “Wanna join me?”
Suddenly Erica wanted nothing more than that. If only her life was that simple. If only she could accept Franky’s easy, lighthearted offer. If only she didn’t have that other life, the one with expectations and obligations. For a brief moment she imagined never going back to that life. She felt a certain tightness in her chest. “I wish,” she murmured fervently.
Their conversation stalled after that. Franky seemed focussed on the task and Erica became lost in her own fantasy where she and Franky had a life together beyond these 16 days. She wondered how it would look. Franky experimenting in the kitchen, Erica experimenting in the bedroom, fighting over who would take the rubbish out or empty the dishwasher.
“What are you smiling about?” She heard Franky ask and opened her eyes. Franky was standing behind her head, her hands resting on Erica’s shoulders, watching her curiously.
“Nothing,” Erica said immediately, embarrassed to be caught out in her daydream.
Franky’s eyes held hers. Her hands slid firmly over her collarbone, easing the tension in her chest.
They continued, rubbing her breasts before sliding back up and repeating the motion. She could feel her nipples reacting, waking suddenly, and responding to Franky’s attentions.
She closed her eyes. In her imagination Franky’s next pass had her palms sliding over her nipples, almost incidentally. Erica resisted the urge to arch her back, pushing against those imaginary hands. With each pass though, that resistance weakened as her nipples seemed to grow impossibly hard. She wondered if Franky had noticed anything or if the towel was hiding her physical reaction to her thoughts. She imagined them in their role play. Franky would not escalate matters, she would wait for Erica to give permission from her client.
“What are you doing?” She would question sharply as those hands slid firmly across her nipples again, the calluses rough against her sensitive skin. Franky would have stopped using the oil by now.
“I’m sorry, should I stop?” Franky would sound demure, pausing in her attentions, awaiting instruction.
“No,” Erica would concede, her tone still holding authority. The hands would once more slide over her tight buds, massaging them. “Pinch them,” she would instruct eventually, needing more.
Franky’s thumb and forefinger would pinch and pull slightly on her engorged nipples, making them ache and stand even taller. Her fingers would circle her nipples softly, expertly, her hands would cup each breast, massaging them gently before returning again to the nipples, pulling and pinching.
Erica grasped the towel under her fingers and clenched tightly lost in her fantasy. “Lower,” she would demand at some point and Franky’s hands would comply, sliding over her stomach, stopping at her pelvic bone, massaging gently before returning to her nipples. “Lower,” she would demand again and Franky’s hand would slide between her legs over her mound, massaging her opening through her underwear. She would be so wet, Franky would feel it through her underwear.
She wouldn’t be able to stop herself from thrusting against those fingers, rubbing herself against the heel of Franky’s palm as she came. She would sink back onto the mat, lost in the exquisite sensation, but Franky wouldn’t let her rest. She would only give her a moment before she continued her attentions and Erica knew she would climax again and again. It would be embarrassing just how quickly she came. Her legs fell apart as her imagination gave herself to Franky.
“So good,” she murmured.
Franky straightened the towel that had been pushed aside as she had worked. “How are you feeling?” She asked with a grin, as though she knew exactly what had been going on in Erica’s raunchy mind just now.
“Sensational,” Erica murmured truthfully, her eyes warm as she regarded Franky.
“Well that was what I was aiming for,” she said, pleased. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
By the time Franky returned with some water, Erica had dressed and packed up the towels and mats. “I’ve got one more surprise for you,” the guide told her.
“Okay,” Erica smiled at her. Franky was certainly going all out to impress and she couldn’t help but feel flattered by the effort.
Franky took her hand and led her towards the back of the cave, away from the light of the torches. Erica realised this was just the first in a series of caves. Franky climbed up to where there was a narrow opening. She turned sideways and squeezed through the gap. Erica followed suit. This cave was smaller and pitch black except for the red glow from Franky’s torch. She switched it off as soon as Erica was safely through. Erica shivered slightly in the colder air.
“What is it?” Erica asked. She felt Franky cup her face and kiss her softly.
“Look up,” Franky whispered as she pulled away.
She did. “Wow,” she breathed out.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Franky whispered.
Erica just stared up at the spectacle awe struck. The roof of the cave was covered with lights, glowing in the dark, some had threads hanging down which glowed intermittently. She had never seen anything so beautiful in her life.
Franky took her hand. “Here,” she said. She sat down, stretching out her legs wide so Erica could sit between them and lean against Franky’s chest.
“Sleep in my tent tonight,” Franky murmured in her ear.
After the afternoon Franky had given her, Erica would have given Franky anything she asked for. With difficulty she turned and kissed her. “Okay,” she agreed, “but I'm sneaking in,” she added, a smile in her voice.
Gently, the guide sank backwards until they were lying down staring up at their own natural version of Van Gogh’s starry night.