The shops were quiet. The whole mall was quiet. Helena had been there an hour and it seemed like no-one else was around.
No-one except staff. No-one who was just shopping, like she was.
It was the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week, and pay-day was tomorrow, and that was probably why. And malls had been quiet ever since people had started talking about recessions, and that was probably why too.
Helena didn’t like it so quiet. Shopping almost wasn’t fun any more. With so few people around, with no-one to get ideas from, or spy on, and no-one to race for a bargain, it was almost like there wasn’t any point bothering. She was only there in the first place because she had the day off as time in lieu, so everyone else she knew was at work. She’d come into town for lunch, then stayed afterwards, unsure how to spend her day.
And eventually, because it always happened eventually, she’d drifted towards the mall.
She’d gone upstairs, down the end wing, to the fancier boutiques on the top floor, away from the supermarkets and food-court and noise. She went through the shops one-by-one, looking quickly, but not seeing anything that interested her.
Nothing worth stopping for. Nothing worth trying on.
She probably wasn’t in the right mood. She was probably still too caught up in work, and what had to be done tomorrow, and not able to completely relax and just look at clothes.
She checked two shoe shops, and three boutiques, and a place that claimed to be selling work-wear but wasn’t really, and was almost irritated at the shops for not having things she wanted to buy. She stood outside the last place for a moment, and almost just gave up and went home.
Then she changed her mind and went into the designery fancy party clothes shop next door. Maybe she was in the mood for party clothes, she thought, since she obviously wasn’t for suits.
The shop was as quiet as the rest of the mall. It didn’t seem like anyone else had been in for a while. The sales assistant was leaning on the counter, reading a magazine, flicking the pages slowly.
She jumped when Helena came in. Then looked a bit embarrassed that she had.
“Sorry,” Helena said. “I didn’t mean…”
The sales assistant shook her head, as if meaning not to worry. “Nah,” she said. “I should have been paying attention.”
Helena drifted, looking at racks. Looking slowly. She was supposed to be finding things for work, but she didn’t want more work clothes. She wanted dresses, pretty things, things that made her feel good.
This was the shop for things that made her feel good.
She ended up down the back, past the tops and accessories and the sale racks, looking at a small collection of really over the top party dresses. Dressed to wear to balls and movie premieres, not just to parties.
The woman at the counter wandered over. Her name badge said Zoe. “Hi,” she said.
“Hi,” Helena said, bored enough she didn’t just glare and hope Zoe went away.
“So tell me if being watched is really fucking annoying,” Zoe said.
Helena grinned, and shook her head, and kept flicking through the rack in front of her.
And Zoe watched Helena.
“Maybe a little creepy if you stare,” Helena said, after a moment.
“Only if you stare.”
Zoe grinned, and turned completely around, and seemed to be making a point of looking the other way, towards the front door.
Helena looked at her for a moment, and decided that was exactly what she was doing.
Helena liked that. She liked the sly wit, the way of being clever at work. She decided not to spoil it for Zoe by actually saying anything, and went back to looking at clothes.
“Can I say something?” Zoe said. “Um, suggest something?”
“That one, that you’re about to look at. That would be perfect on you.”
Zoe pointed. Backwards, without looking.
Helena looked at her, and looked at the dresses, and couldn’t quite decide if Zoe was teasing her about not staring, or what.
Zoe wasn’t looking, but she seemed to be pointing quite seriously. So in the end, Helena reached for the dress.
“Next one,” Zoe said. “Left.”
“How…?” Helena said, and then realized Zoe was watching her in a mirror halfway down the shop. Watching, and grinning.
Zoe seemed to think this was pretty clever.
Helena stood there for a moment, trying to decide if she was going to be annoyed. Or impressed. Or just laugh.
She decided to do nothing. If Zoe could undermine being a sales assistant, Helena could undermine being a shopper. Helena moved her hand over to the next dress on the rack. It was shiny and sleek and probably too much for her. It was probably something only a subversive sales assistant like Zoe should wear, not her.
Zoe was still standing with her back to Helena, looking the other way.
“I don’t know,” Helena said.
“Go on,” Zoe said. “Try it on. What’s the harm.”
Helena stood there, undecided.
Zoe turned around. She was smiling, like she still thought she was funny. She was probably just bored, Helena thought, stuck in an empty shop in a quiet mall all day.
“Please?” Zoe said. “For me?”
Helena wondered why for her, particularly, then decided to anyway, just because she was bored.
“Yeah,” she said. “Okay. Why not.”
Helena reached for the dress, but Zoe said, “I’ll get it,” and came over, and pulled it out the rack.
It was that kind of shop, where the staff carried things, and hung them in the changing rooms, and made you feel important. Helena didn’t mind feeling important sometimes.
Zoe looked at the dress Helena was going to try, thinking, then picked four more, quickly. All different, all in different colors.
“You may as well make it worth it,” Zoe said.
The changing rooms were down the back. Four booths in a short hallway that probably led to a storeroom. Zoe pushed the curtain aside on one cubicle, and hung the dresses she was holding on a hook on the wall, then stood just outside the door, hovering.
Like she was bored. Like she had nothing else to do, and planned to stand there and talk.
Helena decided to go with it. Having someone else around to shop with was more interesting, and she liked Zoe, too. She liked Zoe’s odd sense of fun. Even if Zoe was just being sneaky and trying to make Helena buy more, Helena was still glad of the company.
Although Helena didn’t think Zoe was doing that, not really.
Zoe seemed trustworthy. She seemed like someone who wouldn’t push too hard, and wouldn’t lie about whether something suited Helena. Like a hairdresser rather than a sales assistant.
Which was exactly how anyone good at sales would seem, Helena thought. But she trusted Zoe anyway.
Helena tried on the first dress.
“How is it?” Zoe said through the curtain.
“Um,” Helena said. “Yeah, I don’t know.”
“Shit,” Zoe said, and sounded so disappointed Helena laughed.
“It’s not that bad,” Helena said. “It’s just not me.”
“Which is basically bad,” Zoe said. “Is it the first one?”
The first one she’d pointed out, Helena assumed.
“No,” Helena said. “The last.”
Helena laughed again.
“I’m sorry,” Zoe said, like she really meant it. “I thought I was better at this.”
“Nah,” Helena said. “It just looks a bit…”
“Can I see?”
“Yeah,” Helena said.
Zoe opened the curtain. She looked for a moment. Like she was judging herself as much as the dress on Helena. “Yeah,” she said. “I get what you mean. It’s good. It’s pretty good. It’s just not perfect.”
Zoe reached in. She pulled at the hem of the second dress back on hangers. “Try that one,” she said.
“Definitely. That one.”
Helena nodded. “Okay,” she said, then stood there for a moment, looking at Zoe, thinking.
It was almost like they were shopping together, Helena thought. Even though Zoe worked there.
“Nothing,” Helena said. “Just, this would suit you. The color.”
“You think?” Zoe said, and seemed to be considering that too.
“I do,” Helena said.
Helena had only meant that Zoe could think about it for later, for when the shop was closed, but Zoe said, “Okay, give it here.”
Helena was a bit surprised. She hadn’t expected Zoe to try things on too. “Now?” she said.
Helena stood there, looking at her.
“Unless you don’t want me to,” Zoe said. She sounded almost disappointed.
“No, I… Of course I do.” Helena decided that hadn’t been enthusiastic enough, that Zoe might still feel slighted. “I’d love you to, if you’re allowed to.”
Zoe shrugged. “It’s quiet. You’re the only customer in an hour. No-one’ll come in.”
“Then yeah,” Helena said. “Yeah. Of course.”
Helena pulled the curtain closed, and unzipped the dress, and wriggled it off, carefully. If the sales assistant was going to be trying it on right after her, she wasn’t going to risk a tear.
She opened the curtain a little, enough to hold the dress out. “Here,” she said.
Zoe took the dress, and went into the changing room opposite Helena’s. She had on a light dress and tall heels. A dress that looked like it came from this shop, because it probably did. Helena had an idea that places like this made their staff buy their own stock to wear at work, so that was probably why.
Zoe knelt, and undid the straps on the shoes.
“Those are nice,” Helena said. Noticing only because Zoe had started there.
“Yeah,” Zoe said. She looked up and grinned. “Staff discount.”
“They’re from here?” Helena said. She hadn’t seen them on the display in the middle of the shop, and she’d looked as she went past.
“Winter. Not any more.”
“Oh,” Helena said, disappointed.
“Here,” Zoe said. She stood up, and held them out. “Try.”
“It’s really okay. Just try.”
Helena glanced at Zoe’s feet, and didn’t see anything gross, so she held the curtain in front of herself and reached out, into the hallway between the cubicles, and took the shoes.
She slid her foot into one, and decided she liked it. She put both on, and looked at herself, then leaned back out the curtain and said, “These are good. I like.”
Zoe smiled. She was back in her own cubicle, but had left her curtain open.
She started unbuttoning her dress.
While Helena was still standing there watching. While the curtain was open.
Helena watched, through the gap in her curtain, a little surprised that Zoe didn’t seem to care about her own.
Zoe didn’t care, so Helena kept watching. She wasn’t sure why.
Because the curtain was open, she supposed, and it was just a habit to look. Because you assumed that if someone took her clothes off in front of you, she knew she had sensible undies on underneath. Because they’d been talking about clothes, and what suited them, and Helena wanted to see if the dress did.
Because if Zoe didn’t care where the curtain was, then Helena may as well just wait, and watch, and see if she was right and the dress did suit Zoe.
So she did.
Zoe pulled her dress over her head, and did have sensible underwear on. She stepped into the new dress, and pulled it up, and took a moment to get it sorted out because it was more fitted. Helena stood there, watching Zoe tug, and pull, and realized that strangely, confusingly, there was something almost erotic about the way Zoe was moving. Even though she was putting clothes on, not taking them off, and even though Helena wasn’t interested in women, not at all, not a bit, Zoe pulling a dress on, pulling it up, all graceful and unconcerned and half-aware of Helena’s stare, that was somehow sexy.
And Helena had no idea how to cope with that thought.
She’d never looked at anyone like this before. She’d never stared at someone in a gym, or a shop, or any other kind of changing room.
But now she was, and was doing it to Zoe, and that felt wrong. It felt threatening, because Helena wouldn’t have liked it at all if it had been her.
She knew that, and she was staring all the same.
Helena stood there, feeling strange. Knowing she should stop, but not actually stopping. Not even sure why this was happening.
She kept watching as Zoe smoothed the dress, and tugged on the zipper, and stood, peering down at her side.
Helena suddenly realized that the way she was watching could easily be misunderstood. And once she’d thought about the possibility of a misunderstanding, one seemed very likely. And once she’d thought about that likelihood, she was even more self-conscious, and started to feel guilty. And feeling guilty probably made her expression change, made her face look guilty,.
Suddenly, in an instant, she had thought about it too much, and got herself in trouble.
She knew she looked guilty. She had to look away from Zoe. But she didn’t.
And of course, right then, Zoe looked up.
Zoe glanced over, and saw Helena staring, and slowly smiled.
Just smiled, like it was fine that Helena was watching. Then she pointed to the clothes next to Helena and said, “Try shit on.”
Helena nodded, but stood where she was, and didn’t move. She wanted to apologize. She wanted to explain, to say she didn’t mean it how it seemed. She wanted to say something, because she was sure her face had given away what she was thinking, even if she wasn’t completely sure herself what that was.
But Zoe didn’t seem to mind. She looked at Helena for a moment, unconcerned. Then she shrugged, and said, “Or not,” and started looking at herself in the mirror.
Looking at herself, and grinning slightly, like she was so sure of herself, so confident, that she had some idea what Helena had been thinking, and simply didn’t care.
Zoe pulling on a dress had been sexy, and Zoe’s confidence was sexy too. That she could utterly not care, and just get on with trying on clothes.
Helena didn’t know why, but she really liked that.
“Well?” Zoe said, after a moment.
Helena swallowed. She couldn’t think clearly enough to say something sensible about clothes.
“Say something,” Zoe said. “I’m getting worried.”
“I…” Helena stopped. Her mouth was dry.
“Say something about the dress,” Zoe said softly, without looking at Helena. “Just about the dress.”
Helena hesitated. “I don’t know,” she said, in the end. “About the dress.”
Zoe was still looking at herself in the mirror. She turned slightly sideways. “Yeah,” she said. “Me either.”
“Okay,” Zoe said, and pointed to Helena’s cubicle. “So go try the next.”
“Yeah,” Helena said.
“And give it here when you’re done.”
“Yeah,” Helena said again, not sure why she wasn’t already walking out the shop.
She pulled the curtain closed, properly closed, and looked at it to make sure there were no gaps, then took the next dress down from the hanger.
She put it on, and looked for a moment, and then said, “Nope. Sorry.” Her voice seemed to have gone back to normal. Her mouth didn’t feel as dry.
She concentrated on clothes.
“Fair enough,” Zoe said.
“Do you still want it?”
“Yep. Pass it here.”
Helena took the dress off, and held it out through the curtain, and then stood there, watching again despite herself, as Zoe took one dress off and put on the other on, and did it quite calmly, with the curtain still open, watching Helena watch her.
And grinning, like she knew something Helena didn’t.
That grin was somehow unnerving.
Helena closed the curtain and tried on another dress. While she did, she looked at herself in the mirror and thought about clothes and identities and who she was. About how her clothes changed as the part of her life she was involved with changed, how clothes were different at work and at home. About how she became a different Helena with different clothes on, as many different people as she needed to be.
Which meant, she thought, that here, bare of her clothes, stripped to her underwear, she was someone new. Someone she hadn’t had much to do with before. And she didn’t know who that person was.
It wasn’t just being in only her underwear. It was being in underwear here. Not many people saw Helena like this. Only a very few who were already close to her, people who knew her, and saw her as they expected to. No-one new, no-one who was still working her out.
Being seen like this, by a new person, that was something rare.
And now she thought about it, she realized she didn’t even see herself like this very often. Not just to look at in mirrors. Not to actually find out who this Helena was, or how she should be around a stranger.
She didn’t know who she should be, without the identity that her clothes gave her. She didn’t know who she was. Here, away from work and home and bare of all the things her clothes meant and said about her, she almost didn’t know herself.
And not knowing herself was quite exciting.
She could be anyone.
She could react to Zoe any way she liked.
She could be impressed by Zoe.
Maybe she was impressed by Zoe. She thought about that. Maybe this Helena liked to look at women like Zoe while they got changed. Maybe this Helena was impressed by Zoe because Zoe was fun, even at her boring job, and did what she liked, and because Zoe seemed to know who she was all the time, unlike Helena, even without her clothes on, in her underwear. Maybe this Helena found that self-knowledge in Zoe attractive.
Even though Helena didn’t know why attractive would even matter right now.
She decided she was thinking too much. She was unsettling herself. She put on the next dress quickly, and looked in the mirror.
She decided quickly, a bit flustered. Decided maybe too quickly, without quite knowing why.
“Nope,” she called. “That doesn’t work. Do you want this one too?”
“Swap,” Zoe said. “Try this.”
Helena realized Zoe must have gone out into the shop, and got something else, and tried it on while she waited for Helena.
Helena opened the curtain, and Zoe was holding out a dress. Helena took it, and passed Zoe the one she’d just finished with.
“Try that next,” Zoe said. “It might be good. It might really work on you.”
Helena nodded, and pulled the curtain closed.
The new dress was some kind of slippery silky fabric.
It was slippery, and silky, and still slightly warm from Zoe’s skin.
Helena pulled it on, thinking there was something sensual about this, the suggestion of warmth, the whisper of the smell of Zoe’s skin that was left on the cloth as Helena pulled it past her face.
It was sensual to try clothes on one after the other, Helena thought. It was like kissing where someone else’s mouth had been, or breathing in the air from someone else’s lungs. It was having a little of another person intimately near you, and that was sexy.
And perhaps Zoe had meant it to be.
Helena didn’t know why she’d think that. She was getting obsessed. She was behaving strangely.
She stopped for a moment, as she pulled the dress on, with it still over her face.
She breathed in.
Breathed in, and smelled Zoe, and then didn’t know why she’d done that.
She pulled the dress down, feeling the warmth of Zoe’s body still on the cloth, against her own skin. Feeling the slippery silk feel of fabric that had a moment ago been slippery against Zoe’s skin, and was now slippery on hers.
She wanted to touch Zoe’s skin. She wanted to press her face to Zoe, and breathe in Zoe’s smell, like she had from the cloth a moment ago, and she didn’t know why.
She wasn’t interested in women. She’d never been interested in women.
And yet she was thinking like this.
All she had been doing was trying on clothes, and something odd had happened.
As if she was trying on something else at the same time, she thought. As if she was trying on a different kind of thing entirely, not only clothes. Something she didn’t quite want to think about. Something unsettling, and a bit frightening, that she didn’t really understand. But something that seemed to fit her at least as well as these dresses.
Stripping to her underwear, while talking to Zoe, had meant stripping off an identity at the same time. It had meant being open. Being open, while still being unclear what that openness meant. As if somehow this had gone from Helena letting Zoe help her decide on clothes, and indirectly who Helena was, to Helena wanting Zoe to help her decide, actually, who she was. It didn’t make sense, but in a strange way it did. They had been undressing, and Helena been open to new clothes, and somewhere along the way that had changed from open to new clothes, to open to a new her, and now she had no idea what she wanted.
As if she was willing to change her life, because she had tried on a new dress.
And that made no sense at all.
She made herself stop. This was too much. She told herself she was imagining things.
She didn’t have any reason to think Zoe would care what she was thinking. She was getting a crush, almost a crush, and she hadn’t even been hit on yet. She had no idea if anything was being offered, and she was already getting ready to say yes. She was thinking too much, and was probably going to make a fool of herself, and she didn’t know how to stop that happening.
“How is it?” Zoe said, and Helena jumped.
Zoe’s voice seemed completely normal, even though Helena felt confused, almost breathless, suddenly hearing Zoe speak.
Helena swallowed, and opened the curtain. Her mouth was dry.
Zoe looked at the dress. They both looked at it.
“I like that on you,” Zoe said.
Helena nodded, strangely pleased. She didn’t think she could talk, not about anything much, but she could look at clothes. She could talk about clothes. She could still hide behind clothes, and let them decide who she was, even now.
The dress worked. It almost worked. The color was right for her skin, and the cut of the dress fit how it needed to. It was low on her chest, though, and seemed to sit oddly around her waist.
Zoe was waiting for Helena to say something.
Helena swallowed again, and cleared her throat, and managed to speak in the end. “Maybe,” she said. “Not quite, but almost.”
“Yeah,” Zoe said. “Turn around.”
“Um,” Zoe said. “Stand in my shoes for a sec.”
Helena did. Didn’t do them up, but slipped her feet in.
“Yeah,” Zoe said. “That helps. You need to be taller.”
“Hold on,” Zoe said. She went out into the shop, and came back with a belt. She held it out. “Try that.”
Helena did, made herself concentrate on clothes. Not on Zoe. The belt made a big difference. The dress still sat on her a little oddly, but her waist was defined now. Close against her. It and the heels made her look taller, and sleeker.
But it was still hanging a little oddly.
“There’s something…” she said.
“It’s your bra,” Zoe said. “It’s hanging funny off that.”
Helena looked in the mirror, and decided that was true. She reached for the dress zipper, was going to take the bra off from underneath, but groped, fumbled, couldn’t find it.
“Hold on,” Zoe said. “I’ll get it.”
She put one hand on Helena’s shoulder, and undid the zipper. Undid it slowly, watching Helena in the mirror.
She pulled the zipper down to Helena’s bra strap.
She pulled the zipper past it.
She pushed the dress forward, off Helena’s shoulders, and had to stand very close against Helena’s back to do it. So her breath was in Helena’s hair, and on Helena’s shoulders. So one of her knees bumped Helena’s leg as they moved.
Zoe pushed the dress forward, folded it forward and down, so it hung from Helena’s waist, and Helena was standing there in just her bra.
And Zoe was looking at her. Looking as obviously as Helena had looked earlier.
“That’s cute,” Zoe said.
“Thank you,” Helena said. Her mouth was a little dry. She felt flushed.
She looked in the mirror. She looked flushed, she realized. She was blushing, and realizing she was made her blush more.
She didn’t know what to do.
She moved her hand, started to reach backwards to undo the bra, assuming Zoe would leave and let her get changed.
Zoe pushed her hand away.
She pushed Helena’s hand away, and undid Helena’s bra herself. Undid it right then, unhesitatingly, without a word of warning, then slid her hands up to Helena’s shoulders, to deal with the straps.
Completely calmly. Like this was ordinary and natural and just what people did.
She was planning to take the bra right off, Helena realized.
Because Zoe apparently didn’t think it was odd to get changed in front of people. Or she did think it was odd, taking it this far, and wanted to anyway.
Helena wasn’t sure what to do.
Zoe’s hands were still sliding, towards Helena’s shoulders, her touch warm and sensual across Helena’s back.
She didn’t take her hands off Helena’s skin. She could have lifted her hands, but she didn’t. She could have moved as quickly as she liked, but instead she moved slowly.
Frighteningly slowly. Teasingly slowly.
Slowly and warmly and sensually. It felt so good that Helena shivered. She bit her lip and shivered, and then blushed harder.
Zoe was watching her in the mirror.
Zoe saw. She saw how Helena was reacting, and smiled at little to herself, and Helena didn’t know what to make of that. She had no idea what to do.
She still didn’t even know if Zoe actually cared. If Zoe did want her, or was just helping her pick clothes.
“What are you doing?” Helena said, wanting to know, but Zoe just looked at her and smiled, like they both really knew. Like it wasn’t actually a question, so much as encouragement, or flirting, or something else entirely.
“Please?” Helena said, but her mouth was dry, and she wasn’t sure any sound came out.
Zoe was still standing close behind Helena, so close her breath was tickling Helena’s ear. She was still moving her hands. Up to Helena’s shoulders, all warm and sensual.
Helena closed her eyes. She couldn’t help it. She suddenly didn’t care any more what Zoe thought.
She closed her eyes, and just felt Zoe’s touch, and let Zoe do what she liked.
Zoe moved her hands to Helena’s shoulders, and pushed her bra straps down, and Helena let her. She stood there, while Zoe took her bra off, and didn’t move until it was done. Then she caught her bra, and took it off her arms, and just dropped it down beside herself.
Beside Zoe’s shoes, and Zoe’s feet, all while Zoe watched her.
Then Helena just stood there again. Watching Zoe in the mirror, watching past her own shoulder, waiting to see what Zoe did. Watching Zoe look at her, now. Wondering what that meant.
“You have beautiful skin,” Zoe whispered, almost in Helena’s ear.
Zoe stroked some more. Down Helena’s back. A long way down Helena’s back, and all the way back up. Over Helena’s shoulders, past Helena’s neck. Onto Helena’s neck, so for a moment Helena sighed and shivered again.
Zoe breathed onto Helena. Her breath was so close against Helena’s skin it was almost a kiss. So close Helena imagined she could feel the heat of Zoe’s lips through the air, insubstantial, lightly burning, like Zoe’s fingers were.
Helena decided she wanted this, even though she didn’t know what she wanted.
She opened her eyes. She met Zoe’s gaze.
“What are you doing?” she said, again. Firm now, wanting to know.
But Zoe still just smiled and didn’t answer. She kept stroking Helena’s back, and looking at her, and leaning forward a little, so they were pressing together between her touches. Pressing together through the dress Zoe was still wearing, into the air where Helena wasn’t. She kept stroking, until Helena wanted to tell her just to start, and do what she liked. She kept breathing on Helena’s neck, until Helena couldn’t think. Until Helena ached with wanting, still not knowing what that wanting actually meant.
Helena wanted to say she was interested, but scared. She wanted to say Zoe was fun, and confident and that although she’d only known Zoe for twenty minutes, she already liked her at lot. She wanted to say that she wasn’t sure if she wanted anyone like this, like Zoe wanted her to want, but if she did, if there was an anyone, it absolutely would be Zoe. She wanted to say no, she was wrong, that actually she did want this, she wanted whatever Zoe was hoping for, but she just had no idea what to do. She wanted to say she was terrified, standing here, in a shop in a mall with only a curtain between her and the world. Between her, here, and the life she had everywhere else. A life that didn’t involve moments like this, with women like Zoe.
She didn’t say any of that. She just stood there, and breathed, and felt Zoe’s touch.
She thought about the curtain, instead.
The curtain was important. It divided this off. Like taking off her clothes, it let her be someone else, inside this cubicle. Someone who didn’t have to think too much before she acted.
Someone Helena might want to be.
“Close the curtain,” Helena said.
Zoe looked at her in the mirror.
“Please,” Helena said.
Zoe reached up, and did. Carefully. Slowly.
Then she reached down, past Helena’s tummy, and pulled the dress back up. Pulled it up, and onto Helena’s shoulders, and slowly zipped it up.
Zipped it up, without saying a word, so Helena suddenly felt embarrassed, and a bit stupid, like she’d completely misunderstood. As if this was only a normal dress fitting, after all, and that had been a perfectly ordinary way to go about it. As if everyone knew a dress fit better after a quick shoulder-rub to relax the customer. Especially a topless one.
Helena didn’t understand.
She didn’t understand why Zoe had been how she was, but had suddenly stopped. She didn’t understand why Zoe was dressing Helena again, covering her up, if Zoe wanted her. Because she thought Zoe wanted her. She was almost sure. That touch had felt like Zoe wanted her.
But perhaps Helena had been wrong.
Zoe zipped up the dress, and then smoothed it down. Slid her hands down Helena’s body, slid them all over Helena, apparently making the dress settle and sit right.
Making the dress sit right, but also turning Helena on, with that slow sensual touch through the fabric.
Helena wanted this, but maybe Zoe didn’t. Maybe Helena had made a mistake. Maybe Zoe had touched Helena’s skin the way she did, because she touched everyone like that. Not because she wanted anything special from Helena.
Helena had been ready to change her life, and Zoe didn’t even seem to know it. And that just made Helena feel silly.
Zoe finished settling the dress, and looked at Helena in the mirror.
“So what do you think?” Zoe said.
Helena’s breathing was shaky, her heartbeat fast. She looked in the mirror.
“Good?” Zoe said.
Helena nodded. She didn’t think she could speak.
Zoe put her hands on Helena’s hips. She stroked Helena’s hip once, twice, thoughtfully. Each stroke made Helena shiver, and Zoe watched her, and smiled a little more.
“Just one more thing,” Zoe said.
“It’s your underwear,” Zoe said. “I can see the line. It breaks the line of the dress.”
“Oh,” Helena said, and looked at Zoe. At Zoe’s innocent face.
“Yeah,” Helena said. “Okay. I’ll take them off.”
Helena bent a little, and reached up under the dress.
Willing to do this. Willing to do whatever Zoe wanted, without even knowing what Zoe wanted. Agreeing, without even knowing there was anything to agree to.
“Wait,” Zoe said.
And suddenly Helena was disappointed. She was heartbroken, almost. Heartbroken, without actually giving her heart. Missing something she didn’t know she had wanted.
Helena stopped, and stood up, and looked at Zoe.
“It’s all right,” Zoe said. “Let me. I’ll get them.”
Helena went still. Still, and unsure, and then she nodded, very slowly.
“Just I can probably reach more easily,” Zoe said. Still innocent.
“The dress is tight,” Zoe said. “It might be hard for you to bend.”
“Yeah,” Helena said, finally. “Okay. Go on.”
Zoe slid her hands down Helena’s body. Down her hips, and down her legs, making Helena’s skin tingle all the way, then slid her hands back upwards again, pulling the dress as she went.
Teasing Helena. Playing with Helena.
Leaving Helena completely unsure what Zoe meant, or wanted, or planned to do right now.
Helena decided she couldn’t stand it any more. She had to know. She reached down and caught Zoe’s arms, trapped them, even while they were pressed against her thighs, under the bundle of the dress.
“Wait,” Helena said.
Zoe looked at her in the mirror.
“I don’t know what this is,” Helena said.
Zoe thought about that.
“I don’t,” Helena said. “I need to know.”
“I don’t know what you want from me,” Helena said.
Zoe smiled a little. “You know that too.”
Helena looked at her. She couldn’t decide what to think.
“You know,” Zoe said, still innocent. Standing there, close against Helena’s back, her hands against Helena’s legs, under Helena’s dress.
“You know what I want,” Zoe said softly. “To try on dresses. Silly.”
Zoe was grinning again. She must be teasing, playing a trick. Like she had at the very start, when Helena had first walked into the shop. Helena looked at her in the mirror, and couldn’t decide. If this was a trick, a game, she didn’t know why Zoe would. Perhaps Zoe was uncomfortable with this too, with how she felt, or perhaps she just liked games. Or perhaps she really didn’t understand what Helena was thinking right now. Helena didn’t know whether to keep pretending, or to say she was serious, and needed to talk.
“I haven’t before,” Helena said, in the end.
“Of course you have,” Zoe said. “Everyone’s tried on dresses.”
Helena looked at her. “That isn’t what I mean.”
“Then I don’t know what you mean,” Zoe said, and started pulling Helena’s dress up again.
Pulling it up, and staring at Helena in the mirror, and this time Helena let her.
Zoe pulled the dress up to Helena’s hips, and put Helena’s hands on the folded cloth, to hold it there. Then touched Helena, touched Helena’s skin, making Helena sigh. Put her hands on Helena’s hips, on her underwear, and started to slide. Slide a long, slow, slithery slide that rolled Helena’s undies down her legs, and made Helena’s skin burn as she moved. Burn like the touch of Zoe’s breath had on Helena’s neck and ears, and burn like the silky skin-warmed cloth had, when Helena put on the dress.
Helena couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t think. She had closed her eyes again, without meaning to. She felt that slow caress all the way to her calves, to her ankles, inside and out, then felt Zoe moving her feet, taking her underwear right off her ankles.
It was being undressed, and almost like being fucked at the same time. No-one had ever undressed Helena like that before. It felt like Zoe’s touch, and her teasing, and whatever this game was, all happening at once With breathlessness and shivers deep in Helena’s soul.
Helena was turned on. She was so completely turned on she didn’t know what to do. She was aching to be touched all over, and the ache was actually all over, not just between her legs, which made no sense at all.
She was still holding up the dress.
Her legs were bare. She was bare to her waist. Zoe wasn’t touching her any more.
Helena opened her eyes.
Zoe was kneeling, in front of her. Kneeling, while Helena held up the dress.
Helena was bare, and Zoe was kneeling right there, looking at Helena’s pussy.
She was looking, which must mean this was what Helena had thought all along.
But Helena wasn’t sure any more.
She was too turned on to think, and too scared to move. She wanted this. She wanted this desperately, and she hoped she hadn’t misunderstood. Again. She hoped that Zoe wasn’t just the shop assistant with the worst sense of personal space in all of history, and this was actually going to happen.
She stood there, while Zoe looked at her, getting more turned on, just from Zoe’s stare. From Zoe’s interested, intrigued stare.
Helena could feel Zoe’s breath on her tummy. Zoe was moving closer, was leaning towards her, still staring at Helena.
Helena couldn’t move. She didn’t want to move. She hoped, desperately, that Zoe would finally act. She hoped so much she almost couldn’t stand it.
Finally Zoe did.
She leaned forward slightly, and kissed Helena gently. Kissed Helena’s mound. Kissed her, and put her hands on Helena’s hips, and steadied her as she kissed.
It was soft, and intense, and completely not what Helena expected. Helena had never been kissed like that before. Not there, above her pussy, not like that part of her was so wonderful it needed to be noticed along with everything else.
Zoe kissed again, kissed carefully around the shape of Helena. Kissed her mound, and the start of her lips, and then licked Helena with a small pink tongue.
And Helena watched. Too relieved to think.
She watched in the mirror. Watched the top of Zoe’s head, and Zoe’s hands on her hips, and watched what Zoe was doing in the mirror.
She watched Zoe, in a beautiful dress, kneel in front of her and lick her pussy.
It was a strange thing to see.
There was only a curtain between her and the world. Only a curtain between Helena and her life, and that curtain mattered terribly.
In here, behind the curtain, Helena wanted this.
She thought that, and suddenly started to feel Zoe’s mouth. She realized she hadn’t until then, not properly, as if she’d been too startled to feel anything at first, and sensation had just been shut off.
She felt it all at once. Her wetness, and tickle of Zoe’s breath on her skin, and the soft warmth of Zoe’s mouth. The aching slipperiness of Zoe’s tongue, and the tugging lapping sensations it made that went up far deeper inside her than anything as small as a tongue possibly could.
Helena moved her feet a little, to let Zoe reach better, and realized she was still in Zoe’s shoes. She kicked them off, her hand on the wall to balance.
Zoe pulled her closer, and kept licking.
Helena didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know whether saying she wanted this, that she liked it, would spoil Zoe’s game.
She wanted Zoe to know she did, but didn’t want to spoil this. She didn’t know how to tell Zoe how good it was. She couldn’t say anything, so she touched Zoe instead. She stroked Zoe’s back. Stroked her back, and shoulders, and carefully avoided Zoe’s hair, because whatever they were doing, Zoe had to work the rest of the day and probably didn’t want her hair messed up.
Zoe licked deeper into Helena. Licked deeper and faster, licked so that even the tickle of her breath was getting Helena close.
Helena closed her eyes. She was having trouble balancing. She let go of Zoe, and leaned on the wall, pulling Zoe against herself with her other hand. She tried to balance, did the best she could. She leaned in a corner, to hold herself up. Her arm was across the mirror, sliding slowly on the glass, and was probably leaving a greasy mark. She didn’t care.
She didn’t care about anything except Zoe’s mouth.
Zoe slid her fingers inside Helena, and lapped faster, and Helena couldn’t think. Fingers always got her nearly there. She didn’t know how Zoe had known, but maybe everyone was like that.
Maybe it didn’t matter.
It was hot wet fire boiling through her, and it was her body turning inside out and pointed all of her, all of itself, onto the tip of Zoe’s tongue.
Zoe kept going until she was done.
She seemed to know. She lapped, and sucked, and kept Helena going, gently, until, too soon, Helena was done.
Then Zoe kissed her a last time, and stood up.
She stood up, with Helena still wet on her lips, while Helena breathed all ragged and soft in the small changing room. She stood up, and turned Helena slightly, faced her back towards the mirror, then stood behind Helena, and looked at her in the mirror, and slowly pushed Helena’s dress back down.
Pushed it down, like nothing had happened. Like all she’d done was take Helena’s undies off, so the dress sat properly.
She stroked Helena’s hips, and settled the cloth against her, and said, “See, that looks better.”
Her breath was warm and damp on Helena’s neck, and it still smelled of Helena a little, but she still didn’t seem to want to admit a thing.
Helena’s hands were shaking. Her mouth felt dry.
She decided if Zoe didn’t want to say what they’d just done, she wouldn’t either. She nodded slowly, and swallowed until her voice came back, and said, “Yeah, it does.”
Zoe kept stroking her a little, slightly, as if she was fiddling with the cloth.
It wasn’t adjusting the dress, it was stroking. Helena knew that now.
She looked at Zoe, and wondered what to do next. Zoe seemed to be pretending nothing had happened, even though her lips were shiny with Helena.
Maybe for Helena’s sake, Helena thought. Maybe in case Helena didn’t want to admit it either.
Maybe Zoe thought it was easier for Helena this way, Helena thought. Easier for Helena to get used to what had happened.
If it was that, Helena liked Zoe for it. She liked Zoe a lot.
“Let me see you,” Helena said. She stepped to one side, knees still shaking, and looked at Zoe in the mirror.
Zoe seemed surprised. She stood there, and watched Helena, and didn’t move.
“So I think,” Helena said, her voice a little unsteady. “I think that isn’t right either.”
Zoe didn’t answer.
“I think your undies are in the way too,” Helena said.
“Maybe,” Zoe said.
“I’ll get them,” Helena said, and knelt down. Knelt down quickly, before she could change her mind.
She reached up under Zoe’s dress, and grabbed her underwear and pulled them off. Not cleverly like Zoe had. Not with any skill. Just tugged them down, and pushed up Zoe’s dress, and knelt there, and looked.
Looked at something she’d never seen before. Not from this angle. Not like this. Not wanting to as much as she did right now.
It was pink and wet and dainty.
Helena had never been this close to another woman before. She’d never looked at another woman this close, or in this way.
Zoe was wet. She could smell Zoe, a musky desperate erotic smell like nothing Helena had smelled before.
She wanted to smell more. She wanted Zoe in her mouth. She was surprised how much.
She didn’t move, and she wasn’t sure why.
Zoe was watching. Watching and thinking. She smiled, and stroked Helena’s face. “Please?” she said quietly.
That was probably as much of an admission of what they were doing as she would ever make.
Helena nodded, and looked a moment longer, thinking, and then licked.
Licked like she thought Zoe had licked her. Licked like she thought people had licked her in the past, because that was the only way she knew how to do this.
Zoe tasted like wet and electricity and like Helena tasted of herself, but different and infinitely better. Far better than Helena had imagined another person ever could taste, and that seemed strange.
She pressed her face against Zoe, and breathed her in, and slid her tongue over Zoe’s lips. And Zoe stroked her shoulders and just stood there, breathing hard.
Helena moved. She sat down onto her feet, and pulled Zoe closer. She tried to get one finger inside Zoe, but wasn’t sure how rough to be with someone else. She didn’t want to hurt Zoe by mistake, so instead she just licked. She licked, and sucked, and spread Zoe open, and lapped at her as quickly as she could. Until Zoe started gasping, and until Helena’s tongue hurt.
At first Helena was worried about being caught, but she told herself not to be. They would hear someone come into the shop, because there must be buzzers on the door. But it was quiet. No-one would come in. And Zoe obviously didn’t care.
And the curtain was closed. The curtain was what mattered.
No-one would open the curtain, not without calling out first.
And behind the curtain, Helena was someone else. A better her.
So she decided not to care.
She got braver. She slid a finger into Zoe. Slid gently, and felt Zoe all oily hot and soft inside. Zoe gasped, made a sound like a sob, and suddenly tasted different.
Tasted different, and better. Helena couldn’t work it out.
There was a moment of that, a moment of a different taste, and then Zoe sighed, and grabbed onto Helena’s head, and came.
Helena kept doing what she was doing. She didn’t know what else to do. When Zoe seemed done, when she flinched a little, like she was suddenly more sensitive and Helena’s mouth was too much, Helena stopped.
She sat back, and wiped her chin, and looked up at Zoe.
And Zoe didn’t meet her eye.
Zoe smoothed the dress down, over her hips, and looked at her own reflection.
Looked, and said, “That looks better.”
Zoe was flushed, and breathing fast, and Helena could taste her in her mouth. Helena was still on the floor, sitting at Zoe’s feet, but apparently they were still doing this. Apparently Zoe wanted to pretend they hadn’t just done what they had.
Helena didn’t care. She was happy to pretend as well.
“I think it does,” Helena said.
Zoe grinned, like she was glad Helena had understood. She reached down, and held out her hand. “Come on,” she said.
Helena took her hand, and let Zoe pull her up.
“You understand, right?” Zoe said.
Helena nodded slowly. “I think so.”
Zoe bent and picked up her underwear and shoes and took the dresses Helena had already tried on. “Take your time,” she said, and went out into the hallway, and pulled the curtain closed behind her.
Helena stood there, and looked at herself in the mirror, and wondered what she’d just done. She could still feel the wetness of Zoe’s mouth, could still taste Zoe in hers.
But this was how they were going to be, and maybe that was best.
She took off the dress, and put her clothes back on, and went out into the shop.
Zoe was at the counter, again, flicking through her magazine. Like nothing had happened. Like nothing had changed.
Helena went over, and put the dress on the counter. The last dress, the one Zoe had picked out, and that she’d helped Helena put on.
“I’ll take that, please,” she said.
Zoe nodded, and rang it up, and folded it in tissue paper and put it in a bag. Every so often she glanced up at Helena, and smiled slightly, as if they had a secret.
They had a secret. Helena could still taste Zoe on her mouth.
“Thank you,” Helena said. “For all your help.”
“Really,” Helena said. “A lot.”
“Nah,” Zoe said. “Thank you.”
Helena looked at her, undecided.
“Really,” Zoe said.
That made Helena confident. That made Helena brave enough to want to ask. To try and almost hint.
“Aren’t you going to say you appreciate my business?” Helena said.
Zoe didn’t understand. She just stood there, looking puzzled.
“Aren’t you going to say I should come again?” Helena said.
Zoe got it, and grinned for a moment. She was her again, the fun sales assistant. Not distant any more. “Yeah,” she said. “Of course. We appreciate your business. And please do come again.”
“Maybe I will,” Helena said, watching her carefully.
“Maybe you should,” Zoe said, not meeting her eyes.
Helena decided that was the best she’d get, and picked up the bag.
“Hey,” Zoe said. “Your receipt.”
She ripped it off the till. She looked at it for a moment, then picked up a pen, and wrote something on the back.
Helena watched her.
“Just in case you have any problems with the dress,” Zoe said, and held the receipt out.
Helena took it, and saw a phone number. “In case it’s hard to get it to fit right?” she said.
“In case I need a hand getting it on?”
“Or getting off?” Helena said, proud of herself.
It was an awful thing to say, as awful as come again, but Zoe seemed to like her saying it. Zoe seemed more comfortable, and grinned, and looked almost like she wanted to laugh.
Helena decided to leave right then, while she looked good. She did. She smiled, and said bye, and walked out. Walked out without looking back.
Didn’t look back on purpose, because she could play games too. She wanted to play any game Zoe thought up. She liked whatever this had been. She hoped next time it wouldn’t be quite so odd, or filled with denial, but she would play. However Zoe wanted.
She decided she’d done enough shopping, and went to her car. She could still taste Zoe on her lips all the way home.
There is a short prequel-sequel-thingy here too :)