Unconventional people don’t easily mould in. No matter how much individuals wave their flags about open-mindedness and acceptance.
Arianna had to learn it the hard way. People don’t always voice their dislike and lack of comfortability. Instead, she received odd looks, sudden silences, started to realize hidden whispers and veiled reticence to interact with her.
The weirdest part of it all was that it involved her association with Alexandra, her co-worker. Alexandra wasn’t exactly open about her lesbianism, but when their professional partners started to notice it, she didn’t deny it either. It just flowed. Facebook posts, Instagram stories. It only took time.
Arianna enjoyed her company, which slowly developed into a full-fleshed friendship. It is hard to make new friends in adulthood, even less real bonds. Both ladies shared interests, fandoms, music, and outings. Throughout the four years they worked together in the hellish world of customer service, each one had found someone to confide in about family matters, romantic issues, jobs, and life experiences.
But people wouldn’t stop giving them side-glances, at first. Arianna had learned to ignore them, though it sometimes made her work hard. At the bottom, she knew that if it weren’t for her friendship with Alexandra, they would have found other reasons to be wary of her. Sometimes, things cannot be changed. It always was like that for her: at high school, a failed trial for college, neighbours. Arianna always had trouble fitting in, and it didn’t stop when she reached adulthood. It had gotten worse: youngers, while mean, are also naive and flexible, however, adults are not that nice: some are fully aware of what they do and keep going on with it.
It was just that Arianna always had a tendency to realize when things would be odd. Be it a group project, dinner plans, or an outing with buddies. There are times when people would immerse themselves with their opinions, Arianna would note some detail, some mistake, and state it only to be ignored, and then when plans went awry, she would suddenly be called negative, to be guilty of the mistake or even, to transmit bad vibes. Prejudices are hard to deal with, especially when confronted. Of course, Arianna wanted things to march well, that is why she bothered pointing out odd details. But then, stuff would be blamed on her.
Did her mind work differently? Why did she have such ease in finding out failings?
And especially, why was she blamed one?
It wasn’t vanity for sure. Neither a need to control things, if her relatives and few friends could say something about her, it was the relaxed way Arianna approached life. Never one for leading roles, nor public discussions.
‘You just have a natural talent to detect bullshit’ would say Alexandra. ‘That itself is cleverness, not negativeness. You are not some witch from the medieval age, sending bad crops to farmers’.
When males stated their opinion on logistics, those were well-received. When popular ladies expressed their opinions, such contributions were acknowledged. But, when it was Arianna giving her part, her contributions were mostly ignored or met with veiled disinterest. That is why when her predictions turned out to be true, people would get annoyed. Arianna had a talent for finding odd circumstances and a natural orientation to solve things, however, it didn’t mean events would go well.
´´Man, you are clever. Just that. I wish I had your talent to spot details´´
Alexandra always seemed to be so refreshing for Arianna. She had a knack to go directly to the subject when communicating.
As time passed, Alexandra too, started to be more open when introducing herself to new employees. Time passed, and Alexandra found herself becoming more assertive.
Arianna sometimes thought she was the only one who couldn’t change.
´´Relax, girl´´ said Alexandra one day ´´Once we get in Bucharest, I really hope you get some air on that head of yours´´
Alexandra was Romanian. Born there, moved to another country with her parents when she was four. As their friendship grew, she would tell Arianna about trips to visit their relatives, anecdotes of her parent’s lives under the Soviet regimen, about life in the countryside, and folktales.
Arianna especially loved those.
One day, Alexandra told her about planning another visit to her home country.
Enthusiasm flowed, and, as both chatted about the upcoming trip, an invitation appeared. Alexandra’s past lover had suddenly ended their relationship, and the young woman couldn’t have been more broken-hearted: Selena and she were together for two years. They even shared a small apartment, they lived together!
Arianna herself had gotten accustomed to seeing both. Alexandra, with her dark long curly hair, and Selena, dark-skinned and with a warming smile. It turned out to be so out of the blue when Arianna, one night, saw the change in her friend’s relationship status on Facebook.
Alexandra didn’t talk about the issue for three days, until one day she suddenly opened up to Arianna during their lunch break.
The main idea behind the trip was to refresh Xandra’s heart, but, a month later, the woman didn’t give any signals about sadness. She would often joke about Arianna being the one who needed to experience more sadness.
And soon, the day came.
Alexandra and she spent three days in Bucharest, visiting museums and immersing themselves in the old city. Neoclassical and medieval buildings, ancient churches, communist architecture, bridges of white bricks, rivers, and, the unavoidable: Dracula and witchy merchandise.
To top it all, Alexandra’s relatives were divided between Valaquia and Transylvania.
´´This is so cliché it hurts´´ Xandra had told Arianna the first time she opened up about her family ´´Sadly, we lack werewolves and vampires´´
The idea was to rent a car, and travel around while randomly stopping in small villages, doing as both women saw fit. They had made sure to save money and plan their travel expenses in advance. As they journeyed up the north, Arianna found herself immersed in cold woods, kind farmers, and tales. Folk tales about witches, vampires, and werewolves. Stories about the old Ottoman rule, about knights and cruel events. And sad anecdotes about the Soviet rule.
She knew two of Alexandra’s uncles were murdered during the 1989 revolution. As her friend didn’t get to meet them, there wasn’t much to tell about it. Sometimes, there were comments about them from Xandra’s parents, and that was all.
A change was going inside Arianna too. She was finding herself more and more in a dreamlike state. Relaxed and enjoying the medieval atmosphere of the countryside. And thinking more about Xandra. About her refreshing bluntness, her spontaneous laughs which made her curls agitate, and good humour in general.
A lightweight on her back, soul peace reaching her heart and a realization appeared in her mind.
Alexandra’s behaviour didn’t change. Always good friends. Arianna was informed by Xandra that her relatives knew about her preferences, but to not push the subject too much once they meet them.
Another environment made wonderful effects on Arianna. She’d laugh more often, make more jokes and sleep better at night. Xandra was her tour guide, giving her information and trivia about tourist spots, data they would later check on the internet to see if it was truly right and then both would share joyful laughs.
In a small Transylvanian village lived Alexandra’s paternal relatives. A remaining grandmother, and uncles, aunts, and cousins. Dogs, sheep, horses, and woods. Kind people, they were. Arianna always found it a be odd how they treated them, sometimes, she had the impression they were dealing with Xandra’s girlfriend rather than a friend but didn’t bother to correct them. If luck could only hear her.
And then, one afternoon it happened:
They were driving from visiting Bran’s castle, which, to Arianna’s disappointment, apparently wasn’t where The Impaler had truly lived. The GPS was odd and, despite Xandra’s warnings, Arianna tried searching for information on her phone. Nothing useful came from that.
Soon came the night, the car was dangerously low on fuel and despite the indication of the maps, they didn’t found any gas station on their way. Arianna suspected Alexandra wasn’t fully sure about her confidence in driving: she had taken a rural road, stating they would reach their destination faster, but pointing it out would not bring any change. In truth, both women were completely lost. As such, the car suddenly lost the remaining fuel and stopped moving.
They left it in order to see where they were: hilly countryside to their left, dark woods on their right. Arianna thought she could hear water flowing somewhere in the direction of the trees.
And then, both heard it: a howl.
Soon, others followed.
A shiver travelled down Arianna’s back. The romantic atmosphere around her disappeared in the back of her mind.
A cold night, few clouds in the sky and no civilized place to be seen.
‘This is bad’
´´Stay calm'' it was as if Alexandra had read her thoughts ''Well, you have the fear written all over your face´´
´´What do we do now? There’s no signal´´
´You are a grown woman, for fuck’s sake´
´´Let’s walk and wait. We may have a chance to call someone´´
´´Walk? To where?´´
A note of terror appeared on Arianna’s mind.
Alexandra laughed, and it made her contort her body. Suddenly, Arianna’s fear was replaced with something else. Her friend noted her change but put her mind to trying to communicate with the outside world.
´´Get in the car´´ she instructed Arianna ´´Turn on the lights´´
Another howl sounded, closer.
´´We both are getting inside the car´´ was the answer.
‘Listen, if wolves are out there, they will take a while to come here. Let’s walk a bit to see if there is some signal’
She knew it was a bad idea from the very first moment, but saying it aloud wouldn’t change it. Both walked in opposite directions from the car to no avail. Both kept trying to make a call: Arianna, to car service, as she kept the pamphlet the assistant at the agency had given her; Alexandra, to her relatives. Giving side glances to one another, to check if their friend had success in calling for assistance.
Suddenly, a cry from Alexandra’s side.
Something was moving in the woods, but it was dark and Arianna couldn’t afford to see much.
A loud scream. She didn’t need to have it repeated. A chilly temperature, hard ground, and grass appeared to be making her steps slower on purpose. Arianna didn’t know when she reached the car, nor when shapes started to take form.
´´Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. How many of them?´´
Both counted. Four dark wolves, one smaller than the others.
´´Let’s put some music on. It may scare them´´ Arianna didn’t remember thinking about it ´´and let’s turn on the lights of the car´´
An unusually silent Alexandra obeyed. Suddenly, yellow illuminated wolves, bushes, rocks, and a long road. And 80’s pop music.
The animals ran back into the woods, then disappeared into the trees as a cheerful song in the dark environment sounded loud. Alexandra’s phone suddenly was in front of Arianna, as the girl tried to spot the animals with the lantern.
The song ended. Alexandra turned off both lights and the radio.
And then, laughter and adrenaline.
´´Did we just sent fucking wolves away?´´
´´Won’t they come back?´´
´´We only have to turn the lights and music on´´
More laughter. Relief, lightheartedness, and tension flowing away.
Then, an electrifying silence.
Both looked at each other.
In the future, Arianna wouldn’t be able to recall who started it. Who moved first? Who took the initiative? Even if the other wouldn’t be able to know it, who thought first about it?
In the end, thoughts didn’t matter either.
Suddenly, both kissed softly. They stopped, looked at each other, then kissed again, tenderly, slower, taking their time to adjust to something new.
A third kiss and Arianna’s hand clenched Alexandra’s lustrous curls. It felt soft, every small hair curling itself, forming strands. Both inclined their heads, wanting to be closer.
A mischievous feeling started to rise inside Arianna, sparks started to grow, the heat started to disperse itself around her, and a beat of confidence she couldn’t identify where it came from.
More kisses, heads inclined, lip coordination. Few things in the world could reach the ephemeral pleasure of a good kiss.
And there were more of them, more intense, faster. Suddenly, an arm held Arianna’s shoulder, her head went up. Lips descended towards her chin, then marked their path towards her neck. It had become a canvas for Alexandra Creţu, to draw trails of butterfly kisses, that then started to get slower, open-mouthed. Arianna let a moan go out of her mouth, still clenching Xandra’s hair, feeling the tension build up in her body. Her friend took her time kissing her neck, then licking sensitive skin.
Arianna shuddered, Alexandra kept going on. The heat was involving them, Arianna pushed herself against Xandra, needing more. The Romanian started using her teeth, nibbling the tender skin. Another moan. Desire. Abandonment of reason.
´´Shall we go to the back?´´
Back to the present world.
She didn’t notice it before, but Xandra had acquired a soft accent during their trip. A good look at her friend set her ablaze: long curly hair, dark as night. Brown eyes, warm, soft clothes and a heart-shaped face. Parted lips, fast breath. Arianna couldn’t see it in the darkness, but she was sure her friend was blushing as much as her.
´´So, the vampiress will have her way with me?´´
´´Oh my god, is that how you want it?´´
´´Well… you started with my neck already…´´
In a boost of confidence, Arianna kissed her, slowly caressing her shoulders and arms. She was hot, the clothes were giving her more heat, and suddenly, she wanted them out. Out.
Xandra took her wrists, pushing for control. Arianna gave in.
´´Yes, please. Let’s go back´´
They moved between the seats, in a mess of broken laughs and legs.
Arianna was pushed against the seat by Xandra, who resumed their kiss. Plump lips. Soft Lips. Chemistry and coordination.
Xandra’s hands took her coat away, never leaving her mouths. Then, her lips gave her wet kisses, down her neck. A hand on her chest, covered by a thick knitted sweater. It curved the shape of her breast, and Arianna shuddered. The hand slowed down, to her jeans, and nestled itself in the warm space between her legs. Nibbles and breath against her neck, a hand slowly pressing against her core.
It was too much, and she moaned, arching her back.
Her back arched, but Arianna regained composure and pushed her friend back. The heat was burning inside her body and her head was dizzy but she managed to take her friend’s jacket, then her yellow sweater, then her shirt…
...and was pushed back against the seat.
‘But I only want to give her something back’
One thing was to imagine it. Another to be in the act with another female. Her clumsiness was still there, but Arianna pushed it back.
She started to remove her clothes, leaving them on her left. No more sweater, nor t-shirt. She struggled to take her pants off, cursed her leather boots and socks. There was no time for that, yet, the garments needed to be away. Somehow, she managed to put them off, didn’t hit her head with the roof and found herself back in the cushy seat.
Arianna looked at Xandra, but her friend was faster.
She found herself laying on her back, Xandra friend above her. Long dark curly hair fell around them, contrasting with pale skin against the moonlight.
A true vampiress. A lady of the night.
‘She could do me anything right now, and I wouldn’t mind’
Their lips found themselves again. Xandra’s hands caressed her breasts, cursed in Romanian and struggled again, to take her bra off her body. Xandra was bare already. For a moment, Arianna thought she saw something black on the side of Xandra’s thigh, but the thought went away when Arianna lifted her own back to help her partner to take the bra away, then (to her short surprise) her panties.
Why did she got surprised?
‘Well, your friend is not some dude’ purred a voice in her head.
They started to kiss, Xandra’s hands made their work on the breasts: first, fast touches. Then, slower caresses around her mounds, never fully touching her nipples. Arianna felt Xandra’s tongue, as they deepened their kiss. Her mind went white. Fingers around her nipples, hard and then, softly. Taking their time, driving Arianna wild with heat. Lips against her neck, a tongue, shivers and small nibbles. Both shivered.
Xandra’s hands went lower. Her belly button, mischievous fingers painfully caressing her lower abdomen, as if they know the effect it had on Arianna. On the smooth, sensitive skin. As delicate butterflies dancing against her skin.
A bite on her clavicle, another moan. And a shudder.
And then, a finger on her core. Superficially at first, (Arianna was trembling), then, on her clit. Soft touches that became caresses. More moans, and a finger that went inside.
Arianna couldn’t take it anymore and managed to pull her friend's hair. Xandra stood above her, her breasts hanging, and Arianna wanted to feel them. Please, please. Arianna raised her hand but another finger from Xandra distracted her. The movements felt soft, then hard. Arianna bucked her hips and her head fell back against the cushion.
Everything turned out to be a mess, they were in the backseat of a car, surrounded by discarded clothes, in the middle of an earthy rural path, during the night, in the middle of a foreign country.
But it didn’t matter. Xandra moaned, then used her free hand to move Arianna’s chin upwards. Xandra’s ministrations continued, getting deeper and faster. Arianna wanted more, more, more. She opened her legs, kept bucking her hips. The tension was building up, and she concentrated.
Things got more heated, Xandra added another finger. It was as if her friend could read her thoughts.
Arianna’s head fell back on the seat, as an orgasm took over her head. Shivers, moans and an intense feeling involved her. She was out of the world but slowly came back.
Then, she saw it. Alexandra, hot and bothered above her, was resting straddling her now. Under the moonlight, a wolf head of black ink looked at Arianna. The tattoo was on her friend’s thigh.
She moved her fingers above it, caressed the skin and Alexandra shuddered.
Both women looked at each other in the eyes.
It became a long night. Of moans, new experiences and learning. And of heat and shudders. Outside the car, wolves howled in the woods, covered by the darkness.
Ok, just like ''Un incubo para ella'' (Sorry, guys. In Spanish only) this is a short tale I wrote last year during the lockdown, under the self-imposed challenge of writing smut in English. I still remember the amount of research I had to do for Alexandra's background, man. I think I got very fond of her as a character.
Thank you for reading!