“Remind me, please, why I agreed to do this with you?” Bernie Wolfe asks young Dominic Copeland as she swiftly ties her white-spotted teal tie, then pulls on and buttons her waistcoat.
“Because you’re awesome and want to support the local LGBT charities at the annual fundraiser, of course,” Dom says as he grabs an apron and ties it around his waist.
Bernie sighs, but doesn’t argue. She just grabs her own apron and ties it in place, then she picks up a tray of glasses of champagne and follows Dom, who has his own tray, out of the kitchen and into the hotel’s grand ballroom where the Holby City LGBT charities are holding their fundraiser. It’s a black tie affair and all the ‘great and good’ of Holby are there, along with a number of members of staff from Holby City General Hospital who, generously, are giving up their time to serve as waiters for ‘One Night Only’. As the hospital’s newest member of the ‘queer community’, as Dom calls it, Bernie’s found herself roped into the event tonight with the promise that it would be fun and she’d get to meet some very attractive wlw – which, of course, Dom had needed to translate for Bernie because she is, according to him, ‘a dinosaur’. She’d pointed out that it was hardly her fault that she’d spent 25 years serving overseas so had missed out on most of British pop culture, nor that she’d spent her entire adult life repressing her lesbianism right up until the moment Captain Alex Dawson kissed her and she realised what had been wrong with her romantic life all these years.
She’s barely through the door into the ballroom when she’s accosted by a shorter, dark haired woman who very obviously eyes her up, her gaze sliding up and down Bernie’s body in a manner that makes her blush.
“Well, aren’t you adorable?” purrs the woman. “I could just gobble you right up.”
A hand slides up Bernie’s arm and she half expects the woman to grab the back of her neck and pull her head down for a very public kiss, an idea she finds utterly terrifying, when a warm honeyed voice speaks behind her.
“Good grief, Fleur, we haven’t been here even five minutes and you’re already trying to pull? Leave the poor woman alone, for goodness sakes – no one needs an obstetrician mauling them when they’re just trying to work.”
The owner of the voice moves to stand beside the woman identified as Fleur, and Bernie feels her heart leap into her throat, anatomically impossible though that might be, at the sight of a curvaceous brunette who’s as tall as Bernie in her leopard print heels and wearing a killer little black dress.
“Oh Serena, darling, you’re just no fun,” Fleur objects, snagging a glass of champagne from Bernie’s tray with a pout and a flounce.
“I beg to differ,” Serena says, catching Bernie’s eye as she lifts a glass of her own from the tray. “I am the life and soul of the party with enough Shiraz in me.” She winks at Bernie, then leads Fleur away, and Bernie’s simultaneously relieved and disappointed – relieved that Fleur’s gone and disappointed that Serena has left with her. She can’t help thinking that Serena, who seems to be around Bernie’s age, is the complete package – not only does she have that honeyed voice, but also shapely calves, a generous figure, a delightfully dimpled chin, and sparkling brown eyes that had given Bernie a very appreciative, but much less blatant, once-over.
“Put your tongue back away, Major, before you step on it,” says a voice nearby, and Bernie startles a little, not having realised she was still staring after Serena. She’s shocked that her situational awareness has failed her so spectacularly, and embarrassed at being caught staring – she glances around, wondering who else has noticed her far too obvious interest.
“Who is Serena?” she asks Dom before she can think better of it.
The young man chuckles. “I might’ve guessed that it’d be Ms Serena Campbell, former deputy CEO of Holby City Hospital and clinical lead of AAU, who’d caught your eye, rather than Fleur Fanshawe, head of Obs and Gynae.”
“That’s Serena Campbell?” Bernie says. “Damn.”
“What?” asks Dom, his head tilted as he looks from Bernie’s face to Serena’s retreating form.
“Serena Campbell is a very respected vascular surgeon,” Bernie says. “I’ve used some of the techniques she’s pioneered in the field, and saved soldiers’ arms, legs, and hands as a consequence.” She sighs. “She’s way out of my league.”
Dom snorts. “Sure she is, Ms Hot Shot Trauma Surgeon who performed a successful atriocaval shunt in theatre just last week.”
Bernie flushes pink at his words. She’d got into a bit of trouble over that with Henrik Hanssen, the hospital’s CEO, who’d questioned whether she was ready for life as a civilian surgeon. Thankfully, since she’d been able to save the patient’s life with that ‘risky manoeuvre’, she had been sort of forgiven, although she’s sure Hanssen is still keeping a close eye on her.
Dom nudges her shoulder with his. “Serena is definitely in your league,” he tells her. “And you are very much her type. Where women are concerned, she likes them blonde and leggy, and you very much qualify, Ms Wolfe.”
Bernie’s blush deepens at his words. “You think I have a chance with her?” she murmurs.
Dom’s expression goes completely serious. “Bernie, I am one hundred percent certain of it.”
“Thanks.” She gives him a smile, then forces herself to focus on doing the job in hand and begins circulating with her tray of champagne.
Later, everyone sits down to eat and the waiters are assigned one or two tables to look after, and Bernie doesn’t know whether to be pleased or terrified to discover that her assigned table holds Henrik Hanssen, Serena Campbell, and Fleur Fanshawe, along with three more junior doctors, none of whom she knows.
She pulls the notepad and pen she’d been given from the pocket of her apron then, starting with Hanssen, makes her way around the table taking everyone’s orders for starters and drinks. She notices that Serena can’t seem to keep her eyes off her, but then the reverse is also true – she just hopes it’s not too obvious to everyone else there, although she’s fairly sure both Hanssen and Fleur Fanshawe have noticed her drifting attention.
She gets everyone’s starters and drinks brought to the table in a timely fashion, then lurks near the back wall of the ballroom, alongside Dom and a younger blonde woman who’d introduced herself as Leah. She can’t help noticing that Leah’s attention is far more often on Bernie’s table than her own where Ric Griffin, Sacha Levy, and Guy Self are all seated. The thought pricks at her, especially when she realises that it’s Serena that Leah has her eyes on, and she’s glad to be able to nudge Leah when she fails to spot Ric signalling for her attention.
“I believe Mr Griffin requires you,” Bernie says, and Leah tears her eyes away from Serena, who doesn’t seem to have noticed the focused attention coming from the waiters’ area, then hurries across the room.
“Not jealous are you, Ms Wolfe?” asks Dom.
She gives him a look, and he raises his hands in surrender. “Sorry, sorry. Just teasing, but I can see it’s a sensitive subject, so I’ll zip my lip.” He proceeds to mime doing so, startling subdued laughter out of Bernie, which of course makes Dom chuckle.
“Seriously, though,” he says, “I wouldn’t worry about Leah Faulkner. She’s an F1 on AAU and there’s no way that Serena would be interested in a relationship with one of her junior doctors. She’s far too strict about keeping to the hospital’s rules and regs is Ms Campbell and, as far as I’m aware, she doesn’t have any interest in dating someone so much younger than her. I overheard her talking with Ric Griffin not too long ago when she was ribbing him about his interest in a much younger woman as a potential wife number six, and she told him that she preferred partners of her own age.”
Bernie swallows, nods, opens her mouth to speak, then notes that Hanssen is signalling to her, so she picks up her tray, fixes a smile to her face, and goes to see what the CEO needs from her.
About two hours after dinner’s finished everyone is either dancing or sitting at a table chatting and drinking, and Bernie is on her own in the little corridor that leads from the ballroom to the kitchen. She’s got an unlit cigarette in her hand and is wondering whether she dares to sneak out to smoke it when a familiar honeyed voice speaks from her left, coming from the direction of the ladies’ and gents’ toilets.
“I think you’re meant to light it,” Serena says with a smirk, her eyes dancing with mirth.
“I was just contemplating doing that,” Bernie admits. “Outside, of course.”
“Naturally,” Serena says, then gestures at the door to Bernie’s right. “Shall we?” She raises an eyebrow when Bernie doesn’t immediately move, and she ducks her head, then moves towards the fire door and opens it, propping it in place with a brick that’s clearly kept there for just that purpose.
“I’m Serena Campbell, by the way,” the brunette says once Bernie’s got the cigarette lit and holds out her hand.
“I know,” Bernie says, shaking her hand. “Bernie Wolfe. Pleased to meet you.”
Serena gives her a full blown smile and Bernie swears she feels her heart stutter in response. “Oh, I know who you are, Ms Wolfe. I asked Henrik.”
“Oh.” Bernie ducks her head as she feels her face flush with embarrassment.
Serena chuckles, then takes the cigarette from Bernie’s hand and inhales, then exhales a steady stream of smoke, and Bernie has the urge to crowd Serena up against the wall and kiss her senseless because she looks very sexy smoking Bernie’s cigarette. Of course, she doesn’t act on the urge because she could never be that bold and certainly not with a woman like Serena, who is smooth, sultry, sexy, and oozing self confidence, all things that Bernie is not.
“Don’t worry,” Serena says, placing the cigarette back in Bernie’s mouth with a delicate touch, then brushing her fingertips lightly against Bernie’s lips, making them tingle. “Henrik seems to have mostly forgiven you for your ‘maverick stunt’ with the atriocaval shunt, presumably because the patient survived.”
Bernie pulls the cigarette from her mouth and blows a stream of smoke into the night air. When she turns her head back, Serena is staring right at her mouth, and then Serena’s mouth is on hers, and Bernie gulps in surprise before succumbing to the other woman’s kisses.
She has never been kissed so thoroughly or so ardently, and when Serena finally pulls back to let them both desperately heave in great lungfuls of air, she is surprised to discover her tie is hanging undone around her neck, her waistcoat is unbuttoned, and Serena has her hand inside her shirt, three buttons of which are unfastened, as opposed to the one that was open when she first came outside.
“Wow,” Bernie says dazedly. “You don’t hang around, do you?”
“Is that a problem?” Serena asks silkily.
“Not at all,” Bernie assures her hastily. “I just feel a bit like I’m letting the side down.”
“That’s easily remedied,” Serena tells her, and adjusts Bernie’s stance so that her legs are spread a little further apart and her left foot is pressed flat against the wall. Then Serena positions herself so that Bernie’s left thigh is between her legs, and she’s sure that her gasp of shock can be heard all the way to the ballroom.
Serena begins kissing her again, one hand inside her shirt, the other at the back of her head, teasing through Bernie’s hair as she ruts against Bernie’s thigh. She can’t help moaning a little because she can feel the warmth of Serena’s sex even through the denim of her skinny jeans, and that, in turn arouses Bernie so that she can feel heat and moisture pooling between her own legs.
“I’m close.” Serena gasps the words out, and Bernie feels a thrill shoot down her spine.
“What do you need?” she asks.
“Put your hands on my ass and hold me steady. Please?”
Bernie swallows the urge to swear, then does as Serena requested, her hands feeling huge against the silk of Serena’s underwear which has been exposed by her rutting against Bernie’s thigh.
A few moments later the brunette buries her mouth against Bernie’s shoulder to muffle her moan of completion as she climaxes, and Bernie has no idea how she doesn’t also climax at the sight and sound of Holby’s former CEO getting herself off against her leg.
“Fuck,” Serena gasps after a minute or so. “Sorry about that. I – uh – I guess that dry spell I’ve been going through’s hit me harder than I realised. Which is no justification for me using you like–”
Bernie cuts her off with a deep kiss and after lowering her leg, she sneaks a hand beneath the hem of Serena’s dress to press her fingers against the damp crotch of her knickers. “Want me to push my fingers inside you and get you off again?” she asks. “I bet it wouldn’t take long.” (Later she’ll feel both mortified and astonished at this uncharacteristic boldness.)
“God, yes please,” Serena gasps against Bernie’s mouth, then moans into it when Bernie hooks the crotch of Serena’s knickers aside and slides two fingers into the slick heat between her thighs. “Fuck! That feels good.”
“Yes,” Bernie agrees, and proceeds to rapidly and roughly finger Serena to a second orgasm, all the while muffling her increasingly loud moans with her mouth until she feels her spasm around her fingers. “God, now I’m close.”
Serena pulls back a bit, then gets her hands on Bernie’s jeans and unbuttons and unzips them, then she guides the hand that’s just been inside her towards Bernie’s zip, and although Bernie’s not an exhibitionist, she still slips her hand into her own underwear and goes to work on herself. It seems like only moments later that she’s clenching tightly around her own fingers, which were already soaked with Serena’s juices and are now equally drenched by her own.
“Fuck,” she mutters. “That was hot.”
“And sexy as hell,” Serena observes, before drawing Bernie’s hand free and proceeding to leisurely lick her fingers clean.
“Bloody hell, woman, are you trying to kill me?” demands Bernie, rather shocked by the wantonness of both their actions.
Serena chuckles around Bernie’s middle finger. “That would rather defeat the object of the game.”
Bernie snatches her hand away, clearly startling the other woman, and stumbles away on rather rubbery legs, doing her best to restore at least some semblance of order to her clothing and appearance.
“Bernie?” She ignores the brunette as she storms back inside the building. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Bernie says curtly. “You’d better go and join your friends – I have things to do.”
“Oh no you don’t,” Serena says, her tone just as sharp as Bernie’s had been.
A hand grabs her upper arm and starts to turn her, and Bernie reacts before even deciding to do so – spinning around and slamming Serena up against the wall, one arm pinned across her throat.
The next moment a young male voice asks worriedly, “What’s going on?” and Bernie comes back to herself with a jolt of horror, snatching her arm away, then stepping back. She gives Serena a frightened look, taking in the way the other woman’s holding her throat and tears are pooling in her eyes, before she flees in shame, ignoring Dom’s presence entirely.
Bernie spends the next few hours pacing around her flat, with occasional ventures out onto the balcony to smoke furiously. Finally, around 3am, she sits down at her laptop and writes an email to Hanssen, resigning from her role as a consultant in the ED. She leaves it unsent for the moment – wanting to re-read it when she’s less keyed up before she sends it. Then she starts writing a letter to Serena. However, words have never come easily to her and she struggles with it for an hour until inadvertently falling asleep on the sofa.
She wakes to a weak sun pouring through the blinds she never closed last night and a hammering on her door. She groans as a muscle in her back threatens to spasm, then eases herself upright. A glance at her phone on the coffee table tells her it’s 8.30am and she wonders who the hell is hammering at her door at this hour on a Sunday morning.
She stands and carefully edges around the coffee table to cross the room and enter the hallway. Peering through the spy hole wakes her up with a jolt of both desire and terror when she spies Serena Campbell on the other side of the door. She half considers not opening the door to the other woman, but knows she deserves whatever’s coming her way, so she unbolts and unlocks the door, then opens it and directs one frightened glance at the other woman, before stepping back, her eyes fixed on the floor, and pulls the door open in silent invitation.
“We need to talk,” Serena says, and her voice is stern, but not angry, which is only a small consolation to Bernie.
“Yes,” Bernie rasps, her voice hoarse with sleep. She turns and leads the way into her bare, functional sitting room and gestures. “Have a seat. Coffee?”
Serena holds up the cardboard coffee cup carrier that Bernie hadn’t noticed in her right hand, then lifts the paper bag in her left, and Bernie swallows painfully at the realisation that Serena’s been into the hospital this morning in order to bring coffee and pastries from Pulses.
“I’ll get some plates,” Bernie croaks, and stumbles into the kitchen to find two small plates to hold the pastries.
She turns around and nearly drops the plates in surprise when she discovers Serena’s followed her. She sets down the plates, then pulls two napkins from a drawer and sets one beside the plate Serena’s moved in front of the chair she’s chosen. Bernie sits opposite her, and watches as she takes two pain au chocolat out of the bag and puts one on her own plate and one on Bernie’s.
She looks at it and wonders if she’ll choke on it if she tries to eat it before she’s said what she needs to say.
“I apologise for attacking you last night,” Bernie says, voice still hoarse, eyes stinging as well. “I’ve written an email to tell Hanssen that I’m resigning. If you want to press charges I’ll understand.” She has no idea what state Serena’s throat is in this morning as she’s wearing a scarf around her neck, although she’s shed the red coat she was also wearing when she came in, and it’s now draped on the back of her chair.
“Have you sent the email?”
Serena’s question isn’t what Bernie was expecting and she gazes a bit blankly at her for a moment before responding. “Not yet. I wrote it at 3am, and I wanted to check it over before I sent it.”
Bernie frowns at the other woman. “I don’t understand. Why is it good that I didn’t resign?”
“Because you’re a bloody brilliant trauma surgeon and the hospital needs you.”
“But I attacked you.” Bernie decides she needs to drink some of her coffee, hoping it might ease her bewilderment.
“You attacked me after I grabbed you from behind,” Serena says and when Bernie opens her mouth to speak, she holds up her hand to stop her. “Bernie, you reacted in obvious self defence. You didn’t know for certain that I was the one who’d grabbed you – and the speed with which you reacted convinced me that it was an entirely instinctive reaction.”
“That still doesn’t excuse me hurting you.”
“Well, to be fair, I hurt you first.”
Bernie stares. “No, you didn’t.”
“I believe I did. I used the phrase ‘object of the game’, at which point you rushed off, and I realised afterwards that you might have thought that meant that I was simply toying with you. That I didn’t take seriously what had happened between us. I did – I do take it seriously. I’m not one for one night stands, and if things hadn’t happened in the way that they did, I’d have taken you home last night and made that very clear to you.” She takes a swallow of her coffee, then says, “Berenice Wolfe, you are a brilliant, fearless surgeon – the best trauma surgeon in the country, if your peers are to be believed, and I see no reason to doubt them. You are also a very sexy, incredibly attractive woman, and I would like to date you properly. I would also like to take you to bed and have lots of vigorous sex with you. That is if you’re interested.”
Bernie swallows hard, the sound very audible in the quiet kitchen. “What about your neck?”
Serena tugs at the end of her scarf and it slides from around her neck revealing only a very faint red mark across the centre of her throat. “Not even a scratch there,” she says calmly. “It will almost certainly have faded by the time I go back to work on Tuesday.”
“Good. That’s good.”
Serena nods, then picks up her pastry and takes a bite. She looks at Bernie, lifts an eyebrow, then nods at her plate, and after a moment Bernie picks up her own pastry and eats it with gusto. She hadn’t eaten much the night before since she was busy serving Serena and their colleagues, and she realises now that she’s ravenous.
“Can I make you another coffee?” she asks after they’ve finished their pastries and the coffees that Serena brought with her.
“I have a much better idea.”
Something in her tone of voice makes Bernie turn around from putting the empty coffee cups on the side to take them back to Pulses for recycling, and she finds Serena is right behind her. “What?” she asks, suddenly hoarse and nervous as the other woman carefully crowds her up against the counter.
“This.” Serena’s mouth is hot and tastes sweet as she presses it against Bernie’s, and the blonde can’t help moaning as she allows Serena to kiss her and kiss her and kiss her until they’re both giddy from a lack of oxygen.
Serena takes a step back as they both gasp for air, then clasps Bernie’s right hand in her own. “Take me to bed, Bernie.”
It doesn’t occur to the blonde to question this request; she simply transfers her hold to Serena’s left hand and leads her from the kitchen into her bedroom. Bernie undresses Serena first, carefully unbuttoning and removing the bright blue silk blouse she’s wearing over a black camisole, then unfastening her trousers and easing her out of those as well. Next she removes the camisole top, then the lacy red bra, which seems to barely contain Serena’s fuller breasts. She can’t help uttering a soft moan when those breasts are freed, but she concentrates on getting off Serena’s knickers, also red and lacy – which have a damp patch on the crotch, Bernie notices.
“Leave the stockings,” Serena says, and Bernie cannot argue with that – the brunette looks positively stunning in just a pair of nude stockings, her coarse wiry bush hiding her sex, which Bernie abruptly remembers shoving her fingers into last night.
“May I undress you, Bernie?” Serena asks, and although she’s surprised by the rather formal tone of the question, she agrees eagerly.
“Please.” Bernie’s still wearing her clothes from last night, though her tie was left at the hotel as it wasn’t her own.
Her shirt is unbuttoned with what seems to Bernie to amount to reverence, which she finds mildly amusing given that last night Serena’d had it half undone so she could get a hand on Bernie’s breasts. The brunette peels the shirt off, then stands in front of Bernie, gazing at the scar that cuts down her chest from the open heart surgery Oliver Valentine carried out after she got blown up by the IED. She can’t help fidgeting slightly under the weight of Serena’s gaze, feeling exposed despite the fact that she’s wearing most of her clothes and Serena’s mostly naked.
“Some day I should thank Oliver Valentine for getting you back on the operating table,” she says, and Bernie’s surprised by the remark as she hadn’t known that Serena knew that her heart had stopped beating while Valentine and Self were fixing her up. She’s even more surprised when Serena leans forward and presses her lips to the top of the scar. She’s only vaguely aware of her bra being unfastened and it isn’t until Serena kisses down the length of her scar that she realises her bra has been pulled off.
Then the brunette unbuttons and unzips her jeans, but because they’re skinny and therefore tight, Bernie ends up taking them off herself, leaving her in her sensible plain white cotton knickers and her socks. She’s shocked when Serena kneels at her feet to remove her socks and feels desire pool in her belly at the visual that’s presented to her. Then Serena reaches up and tugs her knickers off as well and as soon as she’s stepped out of them, Bernie hauls Serena up and into a scalding kiss that makes the other woman moan in obvious pleasure.
They tumble onto the bed and tangle together as they kiss repeatedly until their lips are sore and neither one of them can breathe properly.
“I want to taste you,” Serena says, and Bernie murmurs an agreement. “Can I pin your arms above your head first? For only a few minutes.”
Bernie feels ashamed that she feels the need to ask that, but nods, and Serena lifts her hands above her head and holds them in place while she kisses Bernie’s throat and along her collarbones. She bites at the tendon in her neck, making Bernie moan and squirm, before her mouth moves down to lick a path between her breasts. Bernie moans again when Serena lifts one of her breasts and nips, licks, and sucks before biting gently, and Bernie gasps, “Please. Serena.”
Serena lifts her head. “Please what?”
“My breasts are really sensitive – I’m going to–” She gets no further, moaning in pleasure when Serena quickly releases her wrists and slides her right hand down Bernie’s body before slipping two fingers straight into her slick heat. She rapidly thrusts her fingers in and out a few times, and then Bernie’s orgasm hits her like a train, and her muscles tighten around Serena’s fingers as her hips jerk upwards and she cries out in satisfaction.
After a good deal of sex and a couple of naps, they eventually shower and get dressed, then go out for a pub lunch – though not at Albie’s as Serena says she spends far too much time in there during the week. Bernie feels some surprise when Serena tangles their fingers together as they walk across the pub car park, but she accepts the gesture, turning her hand so that they can hold hands properly.
“I’m going to talk to Hanssen on Monday and get him to make your contract permanent,” Serena says, apropos of nothing as they’re tucking into a proper roast beef lunch, the like of which Bernie hasn’t eaten in years.
She swallows, then asks, “You are?”
“Absolutely. Now that I’ve found you, I’ve no intention of letting you go.” She pauses with her loaded fork half way to her mouth, then says, sounding nervous, “That is, if you want to stay at Holby? And if you want a relationship with me?”
“Yes,” Bernie says firmly. “Yes, yes I do. Definitely. Yes to both.” She adds the latter just to make it absolutely clear that it is both things she wants.
“Good. I’m also going to talk to Hanssen about Holby having a proper trauma unit, because I do not doubt for one minute that your considerable skills are being criminally underused in the ED, and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t also be underused on AAU.”
“Se-Serena.” Bernie puts down her cutlery, feeling completely overwhelmed by this. “Y-you c-can’t,” she stammers out.
Serena sets down her own cutlery, then moves around the table to sit on the padded bench next to Bernie. “Of course I can,” she says, taking Bernie’s hands in both her own. “You are a brilliant trauma surgeon and the hospital and our patients would benefit enormously from employing your skills to their fullest extent. Which means a trauma unit.” She leans in and brushes her lips briefly against Bernie’s. “Why do you say I can’t go to Hanssen with this?”
“Be-because it’s too mu-much. After–”
“Don’t,” Serena says, squeezing her hands gently between her own. “I told you earlier that we were drawing a line under what happened last night. It’s forgotten, never to be discussed again. Understand?”
Bernie swallows, then nods jerkily. “Okay.”
“Good. Now finish up your lunch, then we’re going back to mine.”
“Thank you,” Bernie whispers.
Serena shakes her head, then does another brief brush of her lips against Bernie’s before resuming her seat on the other side of the table.
“Eat your lunch, Major. I want to take you home with me and have my wicked way with you.”
Bernie coughs in startlement, glad that she wasn’t trying to swallow anything, then manages a grin when she sees Serena’s eyes sparkling with mirth. “Yes, ma’am.”