by Kate Elizabeth
"Tell me something," Chloe says. They're sitting together, pressed close, Lana's back against the stable wall and Chloe's cheek warm on her shoulder. Faintest smell of herself, lingering hint of girl on Chloe's lips from when she licked her fingers clean.
Lana thinks. "There are no white horses," she says softly. Touches the back of Chloe's hand where it lies on her thigh. Soft skin and tiny hairs the color of hay. Elegant fingers and chewed nails. Pruned fingertips, slightly sticky.
"No knights, either." Chloe snorts, little puff of breath on her neck.
"Seriously." She turns over Chloe's hand, looks at the palm as she talks. Traces the creases there with the edge of her fingernail. "Horses that look white are actually grey. Technically. There's no such thing as a white horse."
The folds in Chloe's palm form an M. The ball of her thumb is firm and muscled. Lana pushes at it with her fingertip, watches a little white half-moon indentation form and disappear in the skin. Just like Chloe to spring back so quickly, on the surface.
"I like grey," Chloe says, determined, and laces their fingers together.
Lana presses her hand against her mouth and squeezes her eyes shut. Her fingers are leathery and gritty from holding the reins. They smell of stable dust: the scent of things old and worn and soothing, of saddle soap and clover hay. The smell doesn't comfort her. Her eyes still sting with tears and wind.
Splotch tosses his head a little, jingling the cross-ties, when she slides her fingers across his damp chest. She rode him hard to get away from Clark. She wipes her hand on her jeans, bends down to pick up a curry-comb. Rubs in firm slow circles over the horse's back.
"I don't know crap about horses, but it looks like you're doing that awfully hard," says Chloe from behind her.
Lana turns. Chloe wears a hesitant glossy smile and a pink shirt bright as a shout. She blinks in the low light. "He has thick skin," Lana tells her. "Unlike me."
Chloe looks at her for a second, eyes narrowed. "Okay," she says slowly. Gentle version of her usual skeptical tone. "Lana, are you all right?" One of her hands flutters against her thigh as if she wants to touch. She looks impossibly brilliant and beautiful there, white-gold and alive with color. Lana takes a deep shuddery breath.
And god, tears again, when she thought she'd conquered them. Lana turns away from Chloe. Drops the comb and leans against Splotch's arching muscled neck, pushes her face into his rough tangled mane. Quiet, for a long minute. Just the puff of the horse's breath, the scrape of a hoof on the concrete floor as he shifts his weight. She waits.
Chloe's hand falls warm against the curve of her back, just as she hoped it would. "Lana, hey," she says. "Hey. What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she says to the horse's neck.
"Don't bullshit me." Chloe's fingers stroke lightly over her thin shirt. "What happened?"
She takes another long breath. Smoother, stronger. She pulls back, turns her head slow and deliberate and catches Chloe's gaze. Grey-green eyes wide and concerned, wrinkle between her brows.
"I hate Clark," Lana says. She says it without irony, without the dry sharpness that crept into her voice when she spoke to him. Says it like the truth and it's surprisingly easy to do.
Chloe's pink mouth quirks. She says, "Yeah?"
"I hated him first," Chloe says. Lana blinks, and Chloe gives her a sly smile from beneath flickering eyelashes.
"I guess you did," she says.
The smile doesn't disappear. Chloe steps in even closer, puts a hand lightly on Splotch's withers, strokes at the matted place where the saddle had been. Follows the boundary between chestnut hairs and white, and still her other hand splays out against Lana's back, holding her there so gently. "I don't want to talk about Clark," she says suddenly and Lana knows that quick fluttering nervousness. It sets off a flare in her own stomach, a burst of heat and hope.
"Good," she says. "Me either."
Chloe grins. That's what Lana loves best about her, how she just lights up. Sun behind her eyes, shining out, and Lana turns her face up to it like a flower. Chloe lifts her hand from the horse's back, reaches out and touches the prickles of sweat at Lana's hairline. Her fingers are cool. Tracing down Lana's face, along her cheekbone and jawline and a light, light touch at the center of her lower lip. Chloe's fingertip resting there and Chloe's brilliant sly smile marred by teeth lodged in her own lip, a face full of want.
The long moment is the same no matter whom she's about to kiss. Except with Clark, who stole her mouth, took her by surprise, gave her no choice, she tells herself. No choice.
Now Lana chooses Chloe. She leans in, Chloe's hand falling away from her mouth. They kiss. And Chloe is good at this, really shockingly wonderfully good, all parted lips and sliding tongue and the soft push of breasts against her chest. She wraps her hand around Lana's neck - so much smaller than a boy's hand - and closes her teeth on the place she'd touched, soft flesh of her lip. Lana slides a hand around Chloe's hip, another in her hair and pulls her in warm and close.
They break away after a long minute, panting.
"The horse is watching," Chloe says, deadpan and breathless. Her hair is sticking up. "Can you... put him somewhere?"
"Okay," Lana says, distractedly, petting down the wayward lock. Realizes, after a second, that she has to move. "Stay here."
"Don't worry," Chloe says, and licks her lips. "I'm not going anywhere."
Secret shared smile. Lana ducks her head, feeling air against her hot cheeks. Unclips the cross-ties and lets them drop jangling against the walls. Splotch tosses his head, jerks her arm up but she gets him walking, leads him into his stall in a circle and unbuckles the halter. He tosses his head again, slips it off easy and free. And she smiles as she slides the stall door closed. Turns to Chloe and holds out her hand. Quick light kiss as Lana tugs at her hand, walks them to the far end of the stable with their fingers loosely linked.
The floor of the last stall is blanketed in clean hay but they don't make it that far. She leads Chloe into the stall and gets turned and pushed against the stable wall. Chloe is laughing. She has surprisingly strong arms.
Against the rough wood, Chloe's hands curved on her breasts and her fingers pinching at Chloe's nipples. All their sweet girlheat pressed together. And maybe together they'll make a whole, something healthy and complete, self-sufficient. Maybe together they won't need Clark.
Chloe bites her shoulder through her shirt. Her mouth wets skin through the thin material and Lana makes a surprised little noise, a triumphant noise. "Quit thinking about him," Chloe mutters.
"I'm not," Lana says, faint and untrue, and takes Chloe's face in her hands. Tangles her fingers up in blonde hair, kisses Chloe's jaw and her pink mouth. Chloe makes a pleased animal sound. Lana pulls back, looks into her darkened eyes and shivers.
Chloe's hands go under Lana's lacy shirt, push at her ribs. "You're so damn thin," she says, and only sounds a little jealous. "It's a good thing I actually see you eat on a regular basis."
She still sounds like herself and that makes it right. Lana tries to breathe normally. Fails. "You're so pretty," she says on an exhale, hands traveling over Chloe's smooth back. Little swells of flesh below the horizontal elastic of her bra, softness between waist and hip. Chloe's slender but so real. So present. So everything she's not and everything Clark isn't, either.
"Keep talking," Chloe says, grinning, and dives back in, knocking a braid out of the way. Chloe's tongue swirls on her collarbone. Hot little wet muscle. Chloe's mean teeth fasten there, testing.
Lana hisses, grabs Chloe's waist and pulls her closer. But Chloe draws back a little, looking at her with hot promise, maybe a little surprise, and her fingers trail over Lana's stomach, over the place where she's holding her breath in tight. She pauses there for a second. Pops open the button of Lana's jeans and slides down the zipper and Lana just lets her.
Hand down inside her jeans. Harsh rub through cotton, then fingers slipping down beneath her underwear. A clever flick makes her squeal, high girlish sound that falls into a giggle. Chloe looks up at her, beaming like she's just gotten the best exclusive ever. "You're so wet," she says. Matter-of-fact, not nearly as awed as Whitney always was. Shoving the jeans down a little and she rubs faster, her hand curving. Lana throws her head back, dull thunk against the wall, squeezes her eyes shut. Pink and gold shapes against her eyelids and a thumb slipping around in little marvelous circles.
Slow push in - she opens her eyes and Chloe's there to kiss her. Soft sweet mouth and frantic tongue. Her hips are moving against Chloe's clever clever hand and she moans into the kiss, long spiral of sound. Chloe pulls away from her mouth.
"This is okay, right?" Chloe asks, breathy and shockingly tentative. Her eyes are very close and Lana can see gold rings around the pupils. All her lipstick is gone, smudged faint around the edges of her mouth. She looks-
"Perfect," she manages to gasp. "Oh, oh god Chloe, perfect."
And who needs white horses? Who needs knights?
Not Lana, not when Chloe is so close. Laughing again as Lana lifts their entwined hands to her mouth and kisses Chloe's fingertips, one by one by one. The taste of her own wetness lurks around the edges of the nails. She curls her tongue like a snake, flicks it over the whorls of Chloe's fingerprints.
"You know I wanted this," Chloe says to her. Direct.
"I know." Lana releases the hand. "Me too."
"Good." Smile in her voice, and a little relief she can't hide. Her hand settles on Lana's leg again.
Lana smiles and slips her shoulder out from beneath Chloe's leaning head. Moves in front of her. Kneeling there between Chloe's spread legs, she reaches up and pulls the elastic bands off the ends of her mussed braids, shaking her head to loosen the plaits. When she looks up, Chloe's wearing a soft smile. Hands reaching out to card gently through her hair, drawing it out long and letting it fall.
"Pretty," Chloe says quietly, dropping her hands back in her lap.
Lana looks at her sprawled against the wall, a pink flush still spread over her neck and the tops of her breasts. She leans forward and braces a hand on the rough wood beside Chloe's head. Chloe's eyelids dip and lift. And so much heat there, so much Chloe to learn.
She bends down silently and kisses the valley where Chloe's breasts meet: happy and hungry and only a little afraid.
Chloe lets her touch and it's everything Clark isn't, easy and free.
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