She's Funny That Way
“I need to go,” Lily told Hal, already rummaging in her closet. Grabbing a day dress at random, she pulled it over her head, but his befuddled expression didn’t escape her.
“Is everything all right?” he asked
“I don’t have time to explain.” Seeing his crestfallen face, Lily softened. “I’m sorry, Hal. I just really need to get in a cab.”
“Marry me, Lily.”
He stood opposite her, ever the picture of sophistication despite his unbuttoned shirt and rumpled hair. The very man she’d dreamed about meeting while she was still on the farm.
“What did you just say?” Surely she’d misheard.
“Marry me,” he repeated, getting down on one knee.
Was this a strange dream? It was midnight, she wasn’t wearing panties, and she really needed to go. Not how Lily imagined a proposal.
“I – I don’t know what to say.”
“Lily,” Hal said. “I know our relationship of late may be…confusing, but the minute you walked into my office, I knew we had something very special. And other courtships have been far shorter, don’t you agree?”
He had a point. Her sister Hannah hadn’t even been alone with her husband before their wedding night. (Her sister Rebecca had, leading to very rushed nuptials and their mother keeping Lily on an even tighter leash.)
“I’ll give you everything,” Hal continued. “You’ve seen the way I live. You know firsthand how well the company’s doing. We don’t even have to have children if you don’t want them. We can travel, grow the business, well, I can grow the business…”
Of course. She’d have to quit her job, give up the first income she’d ever earned. Lily’d even opened a bank account, though she needed a letter from her father back home. Was she really ready to give up her independence?
But she’d have Hal – sweet Hal who was so generous in bed. Who wasn’t expecting her to raise babies. Who could buy her all of Marshall Field’s if she wanted.
“This is all too much,” Lily said. “I have…I have to think about it.”
Right now, she needed to get to Fleur.
“Of course,” Hal said, face soft. “Take as much time as you – “
But Lily was already gone, click-clacking down the stairs as fast as she could without falling, before hailing the first cab she saw.
Fleur pulled her into the apartment, with a long, grateful kiss. Lily could taste the salt of Fleur’s tears, feel her whole body shaking.
Placing a hand on Lily’s cheek, Fleur whispered, “He’s going to be all right.”
“Is that Lily?”
The voice was croaking, unsure, coming from Fleur’s bedroom. It was the most beautiful sound Lily had ever heard.
She rushed in and threw herself on Fleur’s bed, sobbing.
“Easy, doll!” Charles said from under her.
Lily pulled back. His face was thinner, with cheekbones so sharp they could cut paper, his hair a little longer from almost a week in the hospital. But his eyes were clear and bright, looking at her with love.
“Horsefeathers, Charles!” Lily squeaked, laughing. “There are ways to get me into bed that don’t involve getting shot!” The second the words came out of her mouth, she started crying all over again.
“My doll,” he whispered, pulling her close. She breathed in the scent of him, still antiseptic from the hospital but under it all, sharp and masculine and essentially Charles. Fleur stood in the doorway, a fresh crop of tears raining down her lovely face.
It was one a.m. and Lily’s dress was twisted around her. Her leg was at an uncomfortable angle. One of her lovers was weeping while another lay weak.
There was no place she’d rather be.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered to Charles, hearing the creak of Fleur’s bed as Fleur settled behind her, wrapping her arms around Lily’s waist and kissing her cheek. “If I hadn’t insisted we stop and…”
“Love,” Charles said, his mirthful face growing serious. Lily’s heart leapt at the word. “You don’t blame yourself, do you?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered.
“Well, don’t,” he said, gingerly lifting his bandaged arm to stroke under her chin, just like a cat. The simple gesture calmed her. “It was a stray bullet. Could have happened to anybody.”
“So no one’s after you?”
“No!” Charles laughed, and Fleur pulled Lily closer. His grin quickly faded. “Though I have to warn you, Lil: liquor’s still illegal. If you go into business with me and Fleur, you have to know you’ll be putting yourself at risk, at least a bit. This ain’t no office job.”
Business. Speakeasy. Office job. Risk.
What – and who – would Lily choose?
Epilogue: Three Months Later
“It looks wonderful!” Lily said, spinning in a circle as she took in the new space. For now it was empty, but in a fantastic location with oh so much potential.
“Coming along nicely, huh?” Charles said, slinging an arm each around Lily and Fleur. “Construction crew has the day off, but I thought we could christen the space with some stars.” With a wink, he made his way to the rough-hewn bar area and pulled out a bottle of champagne.
Lily jumped up and down, not caring how silly she looked. With these two, she could be silly. And they loved that about her.
After Charles survived, Lily’s choice was clear. Hal had taken both rejections – her turning down his marriage proposal and resigning from her job – with his trademark class, and Lily knew he wouldn’t be looking for a wife for long. But she really belonged in this underground world, taking risks as they came, her two lovers by her side.
Lily, Charles and Fleur had fallen into a relationship, unusual but so natural. Working together on the club all day, enjoying Chicago nightlife – then going to bed together. For now they were alternating staying at their separate places, but they planned to look for an apartment together once the club was up and running.
Lily’d never been happier – until right now, when Charles poured champagne.
“To my dolls,” he said, looking at Fleur and Lily, and they clinked glasses.
“Oops!” Lily giggled as champagne dribbled down her low-cut dress.
“Let me get that,” Fleur purred. Putting a hand on Lily’s waist, she licked the sliver of champagne off Lily’s neck, tongue traveling down to her cleavage.
“I think there’s another way we can christen this place,” Lily breathed, beckoning an already-aroused Charles.
Giggling, Fleur pushed the champagne glasses aside and hopped on the bar. Lily stood on her tiptoes and kissed her deeply, moving to her neck and biting her earlobe the way she knew Fleur liked, before letting her fingers travel under the neckline of Fleur’s dress to fondle her small, soft perfect breasts. “Oh, I can’t wait,” Fleur moaned, scooting her dress up over her bum, resting back on her hands as Charles bent Lily over, fondling her ass and fingering her already wet center.
Lily wiggled her bum at Charles, tempting him, his groan of pure want the only encouragement she needed. Just as she settled between Fleur’s shapely legs, Charles entered Lily with a lovely urgency, inch by perfect inch until her body tightened around him.
“Oh Lily,” Fleur murmured as Lily’s tongue circled her sweet spot. Lily breathed in the other woman’s spicy, earthy scent as she got to work, using her mouth to the fullest, knowing just what Fleur liked. She felt the pressure of Fleur’s legs closing in around her, relishing the close quarters. Moaning, she savored the sensation of Charles thrusting hard and deep into her, his fingers massaging her throbbing nub. They were too rushed to get undressed, intent on pleasing one another.
“Oh god,” Fleur said, and knowing she was close, Lily slid two fingers inside her lover. Fleur’s inner walls pulsed around her and Lily kept her tongue active, tasting every inch of this beautiful burlesque dancer. She heard Charles grunting behind her, a telltale sign. Lily tasted champagne and Fleur on her tongue, heard both her lovers sighs of pure pleasure, felt it building inside her, and she knew it was going to happen.
“Mmmmmm,” she murmured into Fleur, and above her the burlesque dancer let out a scream Lily had never heard before, her center growing wetter and wetter as Lily moved her fingers in and out, lapping up Fleur as quickly as she could. “Ohhhh,” Charles groaned behind her, his fingers and cock still working as he climaxed, and Lily reached her peak, the three of them coming all over each other, in a space that was now truly and completely theirs.
Meanwhile, in the here and now…
“Your great-aunt was in a throuple?”
“Shhhhh!” Jules giggled, kissing Jack soundly. The walls in this little house were thin, and she didn’t want to wake her summer-stock castmates in the next room.
“I can’t believe it either,” she whispered giddily, settling into Jack’s arms as they lay together in her small bed. “I only met Lily once, and I was so little I don’t remember it. But…wow. What a life, right?”
“Just as awesome as my girlfriend,” Jack said, and Jules shivered – they were still new to this relationship thing, and she savored every time Jack used the G word.
Jack had arrived for the weekend yesterday, bearing a package Jules’ mom had sent to her and Evie’s apartment, containing Great-Aunt Lily’s journal. Between performances of As You Like It, Jules and Jack had read it out loud to one another, unable to tear themselves away from Lily’s story. Even some of Jules’ fellow actors had gotten into it.
“So I guess we need to have a threesome in a speakeasy now,” Jules murmured with a naughty smile, looking into Jack’s magnetic eyes.
Pulling her on top of him, Jack started kissing her neck and Jules moaned her assent. “Now that,” he said, biting her earlobe, “sounds like a dare.”