Playing by the rules

illustrThe deal was this: I had to go to a certain apartment block, take the stairs up to a certain floor, walk along to a certain room, put on the sleep mask, and, at a certain time, knock on the door. I didn’t know why I hadn’t been allowed to take the elevator, but as I tied the ribbons of the sleep mask behind my head, I realized that I was glowing and panting a little from the climb. Maybe that was it. Maybe the woman who had answered my ad had a thing for out-of-breath women.

Oh, the ad. Let me explain.

I don’t usually do this kind of thing, but I guess I was kinda frustrated, lonely, whatever, and that’s what made me search on line amongst the contact sites. There’s one – it’s like a sexy Craigslist – where you can hook up in any way imaginable. They have some basic rules, like no under-age grooming, no animals, no criminal acts, no harming, never anything that is not consensual, but apart from that, pretty much anything goes. By ‘anything’ I’m talking about from meeting for a coffee to dogging in an Interstate rest area. From casual to serious. The one that caught my eye went like this:

‘DEAD GIRL COME ALIVE’. If you are female, gay, like nipple-play, and are ready for some Blind Man’s Buff, reply.

As simple as that. Well, okay, I knew the game of blindfold tag by both names, and for some reason that made me feel a connection. So I clicked on ‘reply’ and typed in my contact details. I felt stupid for having done so right away, but said to myself that at any time, right up to the last moment, I could pull out. Twenty-four hours later an email came for me, asking me for a few basic details about myself – like, what part of the city I lived in, how old I was, body type, and so on. The email itself was on the friendly side of matter-of-fact, and it was signed with initials. When I replied I asked if the whole thing was on the level, and importantly whether the initials belonged to a woman, because the last thing I wanted was to be set up for something pervy. The reply to that was reassuring, told me not to worry. Did I have a sleep mask? No, but I could get one. I did.

So, at the appointed time, I was there. Putting the sleep mask on I felt a little dizzy and swayed slightly. Reaching out my hand, I rested my fingers on the door to hold myself steady. I realized that the contact of my hand on the door had made a little sound, and now I felt as though someone on the other side was listening, wondering whether anyone was here outside. That decided me – I balled my fist and rapped on the door with my knuckles. Almost immediately I heard the sound of footsteps, quick, and with the tap-tap of high heels. In relief at recognizing something female, I let out the breath I had been holding. The door opened. A cool, dry hand was put into mine and I was led into the apartment. My footsteps and hers echoed along what must have been a passageway, then she pushed open another door and led me into a room – all this I was working out by sound. The touch of her hand was reassuring, and the perspiration that nerves had made prickle in my armpits when she had first taken my hand was now drying. I felt myself being led across the room as far as somewhere where the warmth of sunlight fell across my legs. There I was stopped. All this time my hostess had not said one word. Now she simply put two hands on my shoulders and, by gentle pressure, turned me round through one hundred and eighty degrees, and made me sit down. I sat with a bit of a bump. It felt like I was in one nook of an old, leather sofa, the warm sunlight now comfortably on my shoulders.

I sat there, expectantly. After about thirty seconds, during which I felt as though I was under scrutiny, I heard the scrape of high heels turning, then footsteps retreating across the room and down the corridor, and lastly the front door of the apartment open and shut. Then silence.

“Well!” I said after a few seconds. “Am I supposed to sit here on my own?”

“Oh!” there was a little exclamation from the other end of the sofa, and I too jumped.

“It seems I’m not alone after all,” I said.

“No, you’re not,” came the reply. It was a pleasant voice, contralto, with the merest hint of an accent that I couldn’t place – South American? Caribbean? British?

“Are you the other half of this game?” I asked.

“Yes. I’m sitting here with a sleep mask on.”

There was an awkward silence. I began to speak again. “My name is…”

“Whoa! Whoa! That’s against the rules. No names. Got to play by the rules.”

“Sorry. I guess we do,” I said, remembering what had been stipulated in the most recent email. No names. No taking off the sleep masks until outside the apartment once again. A whole lot of other stuff. “You want to do this?”

“Yes, yes, I do!” I could hear movement, and I guessed she was nodding her head. “Reach over. Take my hand.”

I could hear a shuffling as though someone was sliding along the sofa. I reached out with my left hand, waved it about, felt it touch fingers. The fingers slid away but found my hand again within a second and held it. I felt a slim hand take mine and tug at me. I slid closer too.

“Give me your other hand,” said the other voice, and I held it out. Now she was holding both my hands lightly. We stayed like that for a while, and I could hear her breathing. What else? No other sound in the room, not even a clock ticking; but I could smell something – her scent? – with a slight aroma of oranges. I tried to sniff quietly to see if I was perspiring too much, but couldn’t detect anything. She gave a slight tug on my hands, and I slid a little closer to her, hearing her shuffling too. We were sitting close now, both waiting for something to happen. She shifted her grip on my hands so that she had hold of my wrists, gently forcing my fingers to turn upwards and the palms of my hands to face her. Then she gave another little tug, and suddenly I was touching the cotton of a t-shirt, and beneath the fabric a pair of small, neat breasts.

For a moment I thought of an incorrigible male cousin of mine, and how he would have described what my hands were now in contact with as, “A little shy of a Standard American Handful”, and I couldn’t help smiling. She – who? I was eager to know her name, dammit, her whole biography – loosened her grip and stroked my hands, encouraging me. I explored this new, cotton-covered country. Had I ever been somewhere like this before? I had known women with small busts, but when was the last time? No matter. I moved my hands, cupping them a little to hold a breast in each, lightly, feeling the cotton move over them. I could easily tell, by touch alone, that she had no bra underneath, as her nipples seemed to trace little circles against my palms. They were hard, like a couple of little beans, and each time I rolled them upwards I heard a sharp intake of breath from her. One nipple caught in the V between a couple of my fingers – that brought an “Ooh!”

I heard her stir, and suddenly there were a couple of slim hands cupping my breasts.

“Oh wow!” she exclaimed. “You have gorgeous boobs – bigger than mine.”

She had to deal with two layers of clothing, my shirt and my bra, but straight away I felt her reverse her hands so that her fingers fanned out underneath and supported them, while her thumbs discovered where my nipples were and began to play. This was so, so nice. My nipples responded, feeling tight against my bra, and much more sensitive than usual. My mind wandered, one moment concentrating on the glide of my hands over her breasts, the next on the sensations her thumbs were causing.

“There’s nothing wrong with small ones,” I said, my voice lower and softer than usual as I struggled to keep calm. “Yours are very, very nice.”

“Do you prefer big ones or small ones?”

“At the moment I prefer… yours,” I chuckled.

I tugged at her t-shirt, pulled it free of her waistband, and slid my hands underneath. She flinched a little, as though my hands were cold, and her teeth chattered for a second or two. Then another intake of breath and an “Ooh!” on the exhale as my fingers made contact with her nipples again. I touched each one with the tips of my index fingers, describing circles round them, feeling the slight roughness of her areolae, judging how large they were, or in this case how small. Everything about her suggested miniature, including the bean-like nipples that I now gently pushed upwards.

I hardly realised that the fingers of her right hand had been carefully unbuttoning my shirt until I felt that hand inside, resting on my midriff. As I gentled her breasts, she moved it up and around, exploring the boundaries of my bra. Every time she brushed my nipples, whether deliberately or not, I couldn’t help swallowing hard – they were on fire, a kind of cold fire, hypersensitive, every little touch sending messages to my brain that were suddenly beyond pleasure. She found the shoulder-straps of my bra and loosened them, bringing both her hands inside my clothes and under my breasts, supporting them again.


“Oh wow!” she said again.

We stayed like that for… oh I don’t know how long… just fondling each other. Then she let go of me. I was momentarily disappointed, I wanted her hands back on me so much. I might even have made a little grumbling noise. However, she made a movement that I felt, her breasts were pulled upwards, tighter, and I realised she had raised her arms. I guessed she wanted me to pull her t-shirt off, so I tugged it upwards, over her torso and her head. I heard it drop to the floor with a slight swish. I found an extra breeze of her scent on the air, and guessed that she had shaken her hair. I felt her reach over to me, grasp my shirt and push it down over my shoulders, and then the same with my loosened bra-straps. I pulled my arms free, feeling the warm sunshine from the window on my naked shoulders. Briefly her hands found my breasts again, and mine hers.

“Kneel up,” she said, and I felt her shift. “Rub your nipples against mine.”

It was awkward, blindfolded as we were, but with a bit of bumping against each other and giggling we managed it. I cupped my hands under my breasts and leaned in towards her, feeling a little shock of pleasure when my nipples made contact with her skin. I rubbed them against her, roving around the front of her body, wondering where hers had gone to.

“Has she retracted them into herself?” I thought, laughing. “How much travel must there be before I find them, or even just one.”

“You’re going round them but missing them.” She must have read my thoughts.

Just then my left nipple caught against her right – a little courgette against a littler bean – and then my right on her left. Having made that contact, I concentrated on rubbing both of mine back and forth against hers. The intimacy of this was intoxicating. I could hear her breathing deepen, and feel her breath on my face. I wanted so much to lean forwards and kiss her, but this too was against the rules we had agreed to. I tried to keep quiet, but every time I breathed out there was a little murmur on my lips as I kept them clamped together. Then at last, as I parted my lips, a little gasp escaped. She had been whimpering slightly, but when I gasped she replied with a moan, as though the sounds I had made had affected her.

“I want to kiss you,” I said.

“Can’t… against the rules…”

This was driving me crazy. I was incredibly turned on, in fact I couldn’t remember ever having been this turned on. My whole world was centered on my nipples – ours, rather – but I could feel how damp I was getting under my panties, and surely that was my arousal scent on the air. Or was it hers? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was this electric, zinging pleasure in my nipples, so intense it was almost painful.

“Are we allowed to… to use our mouths?” I asked. I wanted so much to lick and bite hers, and to have her do the same to mine.

“Uh-uh,” she said. “You know we’re not… rules… rules…”

I was beginning to curse the rules, and to consider ripping off my sleep-mask and kissing her all over, when she suddenly disengaged and pulled away from me. I felt her hand on my shoulder as she stood and moved round me. She knelt on the sofa again, but this time behind me. Reaching round, underneath my arms, she took hold of my breasts from behind. Then she leaned towards me until her nipples were brushing against my back. She swayed back and forward, gently rubbing them on my skin, meanwhile caressing my breasts and playing with my nipples. Little beans against my back… courgettes in her fingers, being pulled and gently squeezed… a fingernail tracing a half-moon under my left areola…

On and on. I didn’t know whether to push back against the nipples that tickled my back or forward against her squeezing, caressing hands. I tried to do both, failed, sometimes pushed one way then the other, always wanting mercy but always wanting more. She buried her face in my hair, against my neck, as though to muffle her vocalizing. I was sure that was against those damn rules but right now I was lost, totally lost, amazed that with nothing but breast-play I was so close to my climax. I closed my hands over hers, and she clawed at me, fingernails digging slightly into my flesh as she shuddered and pulled herself close. I arched my back and let out a yell.

I think I said “I love you” as I came, but I can’t be sure. It was like a hundred camera flashes had gone off in my head. All I know was that I came to, slumped against the back of the sofa with her spooning me, breathing like a baby that has just been fed and has dropped off to sleep.

I had a moment of sobriety. I wondered whether we had been fooled, whether there was a camera somewhere in the room – bound to be – and we would find ourselves on RedTube in the time it took to get home. I stroked her arms, which were wound around me.

“We’d better get dressed,” I said.

She pulled away from me with a sigh. I heard her searching for her t-shirt. I started to rearrange my bra and my shirt.

“What now?” she said. “Um… by the way, that was good.”

“I don’t know. We wait, I guess. And yes, it was. No, I’ll be honest, it was fucking fantastic!”

She laughed. “Yeah.”

We sat down on either end of the sofa and waited. No more than half a minute passed before I heard a door catch click and footsteps approach along the passageway – those quick, high heels I had heard before. Whoever she was, she came into the room and walked over to us. I heard and felt my breast-play partner get up and, as she was led across the room, I heard “Um… goodbye, then.”

“Goodbye,” I said, suddenly feeling bereft.

Two sets of footsteps receded down the passage, the front door opened and closed again. I sat there feeling a little foolish and more than a little lonely for about five minutes. Then I heard the single set of high heels approaching again, then felt a hand on my shoulder, and I stood up again. The same cool hand as before took mine and led me out of the room, down the passageway, and out of the front door, which clicked shut behind me.

I ripped off the sleep-mask, dropped it on the floor, and ran to the window at the end of the corridor. I couldn’t see down to the street. I turned and ran back up the corridor, not knowing whether to take the elevator or the stairs. I chose the stairs, ran carelessly down them, nearly falling a couple of times, then out of the building and into the street. I looked this way and that. There were people, but no one that I could have imagined as my recent partner. Those rules said that when we came out of the apartment we had to go straight home as quickly as possible. Hanging around near the apartment building was not allowed. With a sense of anti-climax I walked off to find the cross-town bus.

That was that, I supposed.


A few days later I got another email. It hinted at a follow-up. It told me that if I was interested, I should go and get myself a latte at a certain coffee shop – I didn’t need to bring a mask. I have to confess that I debated whether to bother, whether it would be wise, whether I would meet… someone… there for whom the blind attraction I had felt would be let down by seeing her. Or vice versa, of course – what if I were the disappointment? But I went anyway. I dressed in the same clothes I had worn for the game of Dead Girl Come Alive. I figured that would help me be recognised. I had my hand on the door-handle of the coffee shop before it occurred to me, did I want to be recognised?

Inside there were very few customers. I didn’t look to left or right, but went straight up to the counter and ordered a coffee from the barista. While he was getting it for me I studied my shoes, the bottles of syrup on the shelf, the covered tray of biscotti on the counter, anything but my fellow customers. The barista served me, I took my cup from him, and turned around.

At first none of the other customers seemed at all familiar to me. As my gaze swept them quickly, component after component eliminated each of them. Wrong sex. Wrong age. Wrong build. I asked myself what the hell I was doing, and why. What had I imagined would come of all this in the first place. Not for the first time I felt like I was being messed with, that I was the butt of an elaborate practical joke. Then suddenly I realized that there was one customer to whom the points of elimination were not sticking. Sitting on her own was a young woman, maybe in her early twenties, her hands around a tall latte. She seemed nervous, gazing out of the window but occasionally looking at the other customers and just as quickly jerking her head away to stare out of the window. The door of the coffee shop opened, and she startled. I studied her. She was slim, her hair was black, curly, and shoulder-length, and her skin was somewhere between a very light olive and the color of her latte. She had full lips and what used to be called a ‘Roman nose’. Any one of those features on its own would have been unremarkable, but together in this particular context they were attractive. She was dressed in jeans, as far as I could see, and a gray cotton t-shirt. I found myself staring at her breasts. They were small. One by one the points by which I had been eliminating people in the coffee shop became positive points of recognition.

She looked up and caught me looking at her. For some reason I looked down at my own boobs, and when I looked up she was grinning, a broad, open, friendly grin that filled her whole face. Her eyes, deep brown, were sparkling with merriment. And… was it… relief? I walked over and pointed to the other chair by her table.

“May I?” I said.

“You have to ask?”

“I was only being polite.”

Her grin hadn’t lessened. “Come on. Park!”

I sat opposite her. I didn’t know what to say, so I sipped my coffee, looking at her over the rip of my cup. I hoped she didn’t mind my staring, but she really was attractive.

“I’m Carlotta,” she said.

“Oh… yeah… hi, I’m Yveline,” I said. I had forgotten that we hadn’t been allowed to give our names before now. There was a silence. I kept on sipping from my coffee-cup, even though the drink itself was still a little hot and scalded my lips. I looked at hers. I wondered what it would be like to kiss them. It seemed to me that if and when we did kiss, it would be even more intimate than all the breast-play and nipple-play we had indulged in during the game.

“I’m glad we got to meet properly,” said Carlotta.

“Me too. Um… sorry, I’m kinda tongue-tied.”

She shrugged. I felt that if I didn’t do or say the right thing at this point, then the moment would pass, and something that had started wouldn’t continue.

“Look, I really want to have a long talk with you,” I said, “I want to ask you stuff, like where you come from and what you do, and what can I hear in your accent. But somehow I don’t feel right about doing it here, in this coffee shop. I feel like we’ve been set up. I know – let’s walk down to the park, let’s walk and talk. Let’s finish our coffee and go. You okay with that.”

“Sure,” she said, and gulped down the remains of her latte. I drank as much of mine as I could manage and we got up to go.

“Is that the t-shirt you were wearing…” I began to ask as I held to door open.

“Uh huh.”

We began to walk down the street. We hadn’t gone more than ten yards when something struck me.

“Wait there a moment,” I said, and sprinted back to the coffee shop. It had barely registered with me, but I had been sure that a woman had been sitting at the table nearest the door, a handsome woman in her forties, one of the people I had eliminated during my initial scan of the customers. I had just realized that she had been wearing high heels, the type that might make a rap on the floor of an apartment, and that she had, I’m sure, also been wearing a smirk on her face as we passed out of the coffee shop. I got to the door and peered in. The table where she had been sitting was empty. I walked back to where Carlotta was waiting.

“What was that all about?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I said. As we walked away I caught hold of her hand, and we twined our fingers.

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