The Realms of Thrice (Lesbian Fiction)

Chapter XIX - Home

Late evening swept over the Capital and both women found themselves safely tucked away in Emri’s residence. It was a cool mid-spring evening on this forty-fifth day of the Eclipse of Dawn. Cool enough that it allowed Emri the pleasure of lighting her beloved hearth aglow. Fire had always given her hope—life. Fire gave light, warmth, morale, and, on occasion, a full belly. When one had fire, he or she was never truly alone. So even in this modest home, where a fire was not necessary, it flooded it with life.

Nora took note of the simplicity of the space and how it differed in its own unique way from any of the other realms, or the small village. The hard lines that made up the space appeared clean and true. The geometric design alluded confidence—something very much Emri. But Nora had a difficult time envisioning her young friend, who was the epitome of humbleness and sensibility, calling such a place home. It was so glaringly different from the young girl who trudged around with tattered, torn, and stained clothes, hair mussed, with a huge toothy grin upon her face—proud of the fresh kill thrown over her shoulder. Nora witnessed that same young girl in the few months they had spent together in the hollows. But as Emri moved about the small home, Nora realized, she adapted seamlessly, because, whereas, the environment might have changed, the atmosphere was all Emri. The smells, the smallest and grandest of touches spoke volumes to its inhabitant. The sweet, heady aroma of mulled wine steeping, the lightness of citrus and various herbs, the warmth, both physically and mentally emitted from the small hearth. It all showcased tenderness.

She followed Emri back to what she assumed were the sleeping quarters.

Emri had suggested a change of clothes, something that Nora would not argue with. The linens Kaleisha had been so generous to provide, where filthy and in need of a good tailor to be truly comfortable.

So, after no more than a few minutes time, Emri returned freshly clothed and had Nora’s clothes in hand.

Emri donned loose fitting, faded gray breeches with a silk white button-up shirt and an unbuttoned black vest. Emri moved fluently and Nora couldn’t help but believe Emri felt most comfortable in the casual clothing. She had brought Nora back a standard ivory silk robe that appeared a staple in the Gray. It was sewn together from the high waist down, but the bodice had to be secured with a decorative straight pin for any modesty. The thin robe swallowed her small frame, but after a few small alterations with the ties, it clung to her frame in the most pleasant of ways. She sighed as she ran a hand over the front of the robe, smoothing out the garment. It was an old, steadying habit.

Mimicking Emri’s casualness, she stepped out of the room barefoot, but noticed the occasional hand stitched rug stole the hardness and coolness from the smooth concrete floor.

She blushed as Emri’s eyes traveled the length of her, wordlessly taking her all in.

Emri inhaled sharply with how incredibly young she looked with the youthful, loose fitting garment and her long flowing hair tied back in a single braid. Her crimson eyes danced with splendor from the soft dome lights of the room.

That’s when she noticed it. A familiar object hung around her slender neck, falling over her pronounced collarbone.

“My necklace,” she spoke in wonderment as she walked to the older woman, her gaze moving from Nora’s eyes to her neck. She hesitated as she lifted her hand and allowed her fingers to trace the necklace. “I can’t believe you kept it after all these years.”

Nora smiled as she covered Emri’s hand with her own, stilling her fingers over the soft skin of her neck. “Of course I kept it. It was yours, a part of you,” as she spoke, she brought a calloused hand to her mouth and placed several kisses against her palm and fingers before pulling Emri forward and kissing her lips.

It didn’t take long for the kisses to turn heated as their bodies desperately sought after something they had denied themselves for so long. Whereas the time grew nearer, it was not at this moment. Emri pulled back, out of breath as she looked into darkening eyes. She swallowed and spoke, “Let’s get some food and wine in our bellies, then we can rest for what short time we have. I think we’ve earned that,” she finished with a soft smile.

That they had.

The soft sound of metal clinking against metal could be heard throughout the common room of the home. Emri had been stirring the kettles that rested at the edge of the hearth. One contained a simple broth and the other, a fine mulled wine.

Emri had noticed Nora standing in front of her large window. Her gaze was glassy as she looked out at the darkened cityscape. She walked up to her and placed a calming hand on her lower back. Nora had simply been perplexed by the change in living compared to her old world.

“I can understand why you adore this place so. It is magnificent here,” the older woman said softly, the awe in her voice unmistakable.

Emri just laughed as her mind forged a memory of her first time here. “Yeah, y’know, Ma always spoke of glorious kingdoms beyond ours. Out of all the possible things I imagined, nothing was ever like this. So you can imagine my shock when I first arrived here.”

“Probably similar to mine, darling,” Nora spoke with amusement.

“I think I actually blacked out in the Spheric Sanctum.”

Nora looked at her disbelievingly. She could have seen herself doing such a thing, but not the experienced free transcender. “Truly?” she asked.

Emri snorted. “Truly, I mean … it was my first experience with transcendence, like that. It was stronger—more powerful than I was used to, and I was very young. Terrified, actually. But now, living here, it’s everything I dreamed of and more … but, it’s always been missing something,” she said. “You.”

A faint blush rushed over the older woman’s skin at Emri’s not so subtle words. With all they had been through together, it was fascinating how her words still affected her. They made her feel young and open once again.

Some time must have passed between them, because she saw Emri staring at her anxiously. Like Nora’s lack of response put her on edge; afraid that she had misspoken in some way. But before Nora could speak, Emri spoke.

“I always told you we’d escape together,” she said; her voice soft and deep—full of untold emotion. “I’m just sorry it took so long. I hope I’m not too late.”

The statement stole the breath from Nora’s lungs. Never, she wanted to say, and so she did. “I truly believe I could have been an old crone, minutes from death, and you would not have been too late.”

Emri pulled her in close and kissed her; something she would never tire of.

A small shiver traveled up Nora’s spine and she shook within Emri’s arms. The draft from the pane window was partially responsible, but it wasn’t the sole cause.

Emri noticed and began to lead her to the hearth. “Come on, we’ll go over where it’s warm.


It wasn’t much later, after they had finished what supper they had, that both women found themselves in the commons area of Emri’s home. The comfortably sized divan was bypassed in favor of the floor which was warmed nicely from the blazing fire. Emri’s back rested against the front of the divan and she called Nora to her. “Hey, c’mere,” she asked. Without hesitation, she nestled herself between two protective, strong thighs as her back met Emri’s front. This allowed them the close proximity both craved. The safety they so endlessly pursued.

Emri called the lights to her receptors and the room darkened, the only light emitted by the flames in the fireplace.

“It amazes me so,” Nora spoke as her fingers traced the now glowing, yet cool, bands on Emri’s wrists. “I’m still transfixed with it all, I suppose.”

Emri chuckled in her ear as her lips placed gentle kisses against the skin there. “That’s natural. When I first learned, my mentors teased me. They said I sat on my bed and called the lights back and forth—off and on, for hours at a time. I can teach you if you’d like. It’s easy.”

Nora wanted to protest, because it was gift practiced for many years, and took persistence and dedication to master. Yet Emri appeared willing to teach her.

She nodded and Emri smiled.

“You just … call them,” she explained just like she was explaining why the sky was painted blue or why the moons shined so bright at night, as if it was something natural. If the air around them hadn’t been so thick and heated, exploding with untold desires, Nora would have rolled her eyes in playful irritation.

Instead, Emri pulled her closer, her front to Nora’s back and interlaced the fingers of their right hands.

“Focus on the lights,” Emri whispered. “Whether you want ‘em on or off. Where the energy passes—how the energy passes. It goes from here,” she said grasping Nora’s wrist for emphasis, “to there,” she said again, this time motioning toward the light, “and so on. Command it with you mind. Feel the light pass through your fingers and settle at your wrists.”

Nora was breathing deeply and Emri’s tone had taken on a husky quality. But before she realized what was happening, one of the lights dimmed, going out completely, and ended up at her receptor.

Emri grinned proudly as she hugged Nora even closer.

“See?!” she exclaimed in elation.

Nora just gaped at her receptor in astonishment. With tentative fingers, she traced the now glowing bracelet. Emri held her close and let the pivotal moment sink in as she herself recalled how much progress and change they both had experienced in such a short amount of time. To her relief, most of the change had been for the better. Sure, they had faced many tribulations and trials, but in her opinion, it had only succeeded in making them stronger. Not but a few months prior, Nora had been imprisoned—held captive and secluded in her own Void on Earth. Void of love, happiness, and life—void of all the rights passed down by the gods to humans, yet here she sat, encased within Emri’s protective embrace. Nora’s chance at happiness began now, whether it would be with her or not, Emri didn’t know, but she could hope Nora’s happiness could be with her.

For Emri, those same months prior had been lived halfheartedly. She went through the daily routine as air filled her lungs and her heart pushed life through her body. She had been surviving, not living. The only emotion she felt was emptiness and an ache that never dulled. But, here she sat, with the one person who completed her, nestled safely within her arms. For the first time in many years, Emri wished to cry; express tears of joy and relief, for this is how she envisioned life.

“This has been some crazy journey, eh?” Emri finally whispered against the shell of Nora’s ear. She felt her break from her trance and trembled at the unexpected sensation.

Nora swallowed as she formed her next sentence. “Indeed it has,” she began. “But I do not regret one second. I believe we have learned more about each other than we ever would have otherwise. I’ve learned your many strengths, as well as your weaknesses, and I know you’ve witnessed mine, as well. And I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Emri snorted in a slightly self-deprecating manner. “Yeah, ‘cause haulin’ my limp body around the hollows told you plenty ‘bout my strengths, or lack thereof,” she said trying to make it seem as if she was teasing, being lighthearted. However, that was until she noticed the flinch in Nora’s eyes and neck.

Emri had felt weak—powerless on those days. She knew it had been out of her control, but Nora had experienced far too much negative to, in turn, have to care for Emri the way she did. Emri cursed at herself for such impuissance. But her time was now, and she would gladly give Nora everything she had to offer. She would give back all that Nora had given to her and more.

“You were strong out there when I couldn’t be,” Emri spoke in earnest. “You saved us. Thank you … for what you did for me … for us … and for the three.”

Nora shook her head, disagreeing. “You needn’t—”

“But I do.”

Emri looked at her. Truly looked at her and took the time to trace every inch of her face in the soft, golden light. At this moment, with them impossibly close, sharing the same breath, she noted how much of her dispiritedness had dissipated, and how she reflected more hope and contentment than she had seen in a lifetime. However, something else remained hidden away; carefully masked. And that scared Emri, because the unknown—that uncertainty was perhaps more terrifying than the most fearsome of beasts, because what she saw radiated anguish and insurmountable pain. For tonight, however, that fleeting flicker of something , was outweighed by far more pleasant emotions, and Emri was set to see those through. That was what Nora deserved, above all.

Emri’s fingers drew lines from her temple, across her cheeks, down her jaw, only to settle upon plump lips that parted involuntary at the light touch.

Nora’s eyes shimmered in the dancing light, and Emri wondered for a moment if she had ever seen her so unguarded—beautiful.

“Gods, you’re beautiful,” Emri declared; her voice full of ardor. “It still seems like a dream, even after these past months … it’s like, I still can’t believe you’re here with me. I mean, you’re really here, in The Gray, in my home, in my arms. I had lost all hope.” Her tone held a tremor and Nora’s heart ached at the confession.

Emri’s next declaration died on her tongue as Nora kissed her.

“I know you don’t believe it, but you deserve happiness, Nora. You deserve so much happiness. You above all … and I will gladly spend the rest of my life reminding you of that imperative fact.” Emri spoke gently as her eyes slid shut and she lifted her head enough to brush her lips against the smooth plane of the older woman’s neck. She heard and felt the sharp intake of air as a pair of hands found support around her shoulders. She took a deep breath before continuing. “You deserve so much, and I would give my all to ensure you have everything you deserve … to make you happy,” and Emri sealed each avowal with an impassioned kiss.

“You already do. You make me happy, so unbelievably happy,” Nora began but stopped short of completing her thought. Should she voice such feelings?

Emri, sensing her love’s turmoil, encouraged her softly to continue. “Say it, please.”

“But I’m terrified I will end up hurting you more than I already have. I’m scared you will eventually see me for who I am—my past, because deep down, Emri, though I’m ashamed to voice such thoughts, that person is me. And once you realize this, you will leave me. You will leave me in the end. You’ll find out in awful detail who I was, who I had become, what I’ve done, and you’ll leave. And I’ll lose everything once again. Resilience was never in my character, each blow I take breaks me even more, and I don’t know if I could take another blow such as that.”

Nora was crying by the time she finished, and the sheer fear and torment she heard laced within the fallen Queen’s words tore her to pieces. She wanted nothing more than to pickup each delicate piece, one-by-one, and help make this strong woman whole again. She wanted to do the one thing no one else had ever had the will, desire, or fortitude to do.

“I never wish to hurt you, but I’m human, as are you. And because of that, we make mistakes, I make mistakes, and mistakes can hurt people, especially those we hold most dear. I love you, Nora, and I want to try this—us. Tonight, it can be just us, and tomorrow… it is a new day. But I want to try because you are worth everything … and I want to show you that. That you are someone so unbelievably special, and you deserve to be loved as such.”

“I love you, I always have, and I want … I want you,” Nora whispered with so much love and adoration that Emri swore she felt her heart slam against her chest and her grip tightened against their now interlaced fingers.

Nora did her best to steady them, to steady their labored breaths and racing hearts, but she didn’t wait too long before she moved closer, erasing the already minute distance between them, and brought their lips together.

This kiss was much different than the first they had shared not but a few moons ago. Where that kiss had been tentative and gentle, this kiss was certain and filled with passion. They both knew what they wanted this time, and there was no going back. They were about to give into something both women had yearned for for so long: the love and affection of another.

The kiss deepened and Emri allowed her body to succumb to the feeling of delicate hands brushing and gliding along her cheeks. Their lips continued their dance as the fallen Empress’s surprisingly strong fingers pressed into her cheek and encouraged their kisses further, each drawing deeper. Emri vaguely registered the soft pressure of movement and before she could open her eyes,  Nora broke the kiss, lips not but a hair’s breadth apart,  and moved in to straddle her hips.

Emri drew Nora closer, encasing her in an intimate embrace. She traced her tongue over full lips, softly urging Nora to part them. Nora granted her entry with a quiet moan as four of her senses became overwhelmed. The taste, touch, smell, and feel of the woman whom she had pledged her love to felt intoxicating. Moments ticked by as the two women lost themselves in the languid kiss that was both slow and exhilarating. It left them with a deep seated longing—a feeling neither was willing to ignore any longer.

Emri pulled back first and looked into darkened mahogany eyes. They held a certain fierceness—unbridled desire, yet interestingly enough, spoke tenderness and love. It took her breath away.

“I want to make love to you this night,” Emri whispered as she pulled Nora’s hips closer. “Show you how much I love you—how much you are truly loved. I wish to show you how much you mean to me … if you’ll allow me, but only if you’re ready, Nora. For all you’ve been through …”

“No more waiting … not for this. Not knowing what tomorrow might bring.” Nora breathed against the heated flesh of Emri’s cheek. Her hands rested on strong shoulders as they occasionally left to brush through the soft hairs at the base of Emri’s head. She trembled as graceful fingers moved up and down her back, gooseflesh forming with each pass.

Gods, Emri almost lost all sense of control once those words had been uttered from the fallen empress’s mouth. Her eyes slammed shut as a violent shudder ripped down her spine, caressed her thighs, and quickly settled between her legs. Her eyes remained heavy, but she opened them and locked gazes with her lover.

What she saw there was breathtakingly beautiful. There, within those deep and dark crimson eyes, emotions were read like a book. They were showcased proudly and without contempt. Emri saw love, respect, wonder, and maybe the slightest of fear. But that single emotion was hastily being pushed aside as Emri’s hands tucked underneath her thighs, bracing herself for when she went to stand.

But any thought of moving was whooshed away in one breath when soft lips found the way to Emri’s neck and fingers fumbled blindly with her blouse buttons.

“You deserve a bed,” Emri said as she regarded the woman sitting astride her hips with much fervor.

Nora could not help the bright smile that broke free. Emri’s words meant more to her than any she had ever heard. They were honest and beautiful, and they made Nora’s stomach flutter with excitement. “We’ll get there, darling,” she spoke as she lowered her mouth to the smooth skin of Emri’s neck.

Her hands traced down Emri’s cheeks, neck, and came to rest right at her collarbone before moving down and clutching desperately at her hips. She felt Emri respond just as eagerly as one hand found purchase in her long, dark locks, and the other grazed her lower back. When Emri reached the opening of her robe, her fingers unlatched the pin and guided the garment open. She slipped deft fingers underneath the fabric, caressing skin for the first time, and pushed the material over defined shoulders. Nora moaned softly as she felt nimble fingers splay out across the rough skin of her back.

Not one person had touched her—truly, intimately touched her since her imprisonment. The disgusting marks that rose against her flesh made her own stomach knot in repugnance, so she couldn’t even imagine the repulsion someone else—Emri, might feel. The thought alone made her self-conscious, because her markings were the last thing she wanted Emri to see—to feel, and she certainly didn’t want them to be the cause of any hesitation. Who would want to touch something so maimed … blemished? She felt damaged beyond repair—beyond saving, but with each considerate brush, every affectionate touch and kiss, and the tenderness bored into her very soul through Emri’s expressive eyes, Nora could feel the beginnings of healing.

“Nora,” Emri whispered longingly as she cupped the back of Nora’s neck and brought their mouths together once again. “You are so beautiful.”

They had finally made it out of the small commons area, and had moved to the more intimate location of Emri’s bedroom.

Nora walked toward the center of the room and turned around when she heard the doors snick shut and the lock guided swiftly into place, sealing them away together, if not for but a few hours. Thoughts of what obstacles and troubles awaited morning were long forgotten. Tonight was their night, and they would treat it as if it were their last; although, neither woman wanted to allow that dark and ominous thought the luxury of passing within their mind.

Nora smiled nervously as Emri drew near. Why was she so nervous? This was not new territory, but it felt immensely different. Almost as if there were new and undiscovered emotions at play, and perhaps there were.

The younger woman approached her lover, gently cradling her face within her hands, and pressed small kisses against her brow, cheek, and nose, before connecting their lips.

“I love you, Nora Blackheart, you are my love, and I want to make you the happiest woman in these worlds if you’ll let me.” Emri spoke softly as she stroked her cheek.

Nora swallowed thickly and nodded only because she couldn’t form words at the moment. Finally, she was able to speak. “I love you, too.” Nora stuttered as Emri trailed her fingers across her cheeks, down her throat, and coming to rest right over her heart.

“I want you,” Emri mumbled against the shell of Nora’s ear; her hand tracing patterns across her chest; directly over her fiercely beating heart. “May I make love to you?” She asked softly. She was rewarded with a small shudder and the motion of her nodding before lips claimed her own.

“Please … Emri.” Nora breathed against her lips.

Emri broke the kiss and looked at Nora’s form with wonder and tenderness. Her hands trailed down Nora’s body, finally coming to rest at the back of her thighs. She gave an upward motion with her hand and soon hoisted Nora up onto her. Long legs wrapped around her waist as she carried Nora over to the bed.

Soon, Nora was fighting Emri’s clothes with zeal, deciding she had waited long enough to be with her beloved in the most intimate of ways. Smooth ivory discs slipped from their restraints as inch by beautiful inch of pale skin was exposed. The tips of her fingers were occasionally met with the silky plane of Emri’s chest, the valley between her breasts, and her abdomen. Nora’s kisses never faltered as she slipped the blouse free of Emri’s shoulders and peppered them with loving kisses.

Emri felt nimble fingers retreat to the front of her pants where they grasped at her belt. She felt the fumbling and finally the release of the buckle in which the belt was slipped through the holdings and tossed absentmindedly to the side. With a slight nudge, her pants cascaded down her legs before resting with flutter on the floor. They never broke their kiss as Emri blindly stepped out and away from her clothes. She was left in nothing more than her unbutton blouse that rested at her elbows and back, and her modest undergarments.

She moved to draw the energy away from the softly glowing lights when a hand lifted and caressed her own, stopping the pull. Emri looked down at the beautiful woman beneath her, and held her gaze. “I would like to see you,” Nora whispered shyly. “So I can always remember. I want to remember … everything.”

And no truer statement had ever been uttered. This would be Nora’s last night—her last night with her truest and only love. Her last moments with the only person who had ever cared enough to save her—to give her a chance. Emri had been the only one to deem her worthy of saving. Why? She would probably never understand. Perhaps, that was just in Emri’s nature; to see the best in people—to see the best in her.

Nora’s breathing increased as Emri’s lips brushed against her own. Her heart pounded within her chest and she was sure she’d faint from the sheer pleasure her body was experiencing.

“My dearest Nora …” Emri whispered shakily against her ear and Nora shuddered from the sound alone.

“Make love to me, Emri … make love with me … please.” Nora whispered.

Their contact was broken only momentarily as Emri pulled away. Nora opened her eyes and was greeted by the most beautiful sight. Her hand went straight to Emri’s face as she traced her features, trying to commit it all to memory as the soft light illuminated the area around them in a soft glow. The image took her breath away. They had come so far, and tonight, their love, was proof of that.

“I love you,” Emri spoke passionately as she claimed Nora’s lips once more.

Not long after, all remnants of clothing were shed as both women lay bare to the other.  Their forms were silhouetted in the ethereal light from the wall domes shinning ever so softly. Touches were felt as strong and determined arms wrapped around each other.

“Gods, you’re fucking beautiful, do you know that?”

Nora felt strong and protective hands caress her thighs as she was carefully pulled onto Emri’s lap. Their normal height difference was reversed as it was Nora who now looked down at her love. Her eyes were heavy with desire, but she closed them taut as slightly rough hands whispered across her upper legs.

Nora clutched desperately to her lover’s back as Emri settled against the most intimate part of her. “Emri,” she gasped and her eyes slammed shut. She was feeling too much already as her body trembled from the myriad of emotions spilling into her heart and soul. Never had she allowed someone so close. Never had she allowed her heart to be so completely taken by another. Never had she been filled with so much love and tenderness. Her breath was stolen at each loving touch and as jade eyes glossed over—filled with unspent desire, bored into her, setting her body alight. Nora’s gaze never left the sparkling depths of emerald as her arms moved to caress Emri’s neck and allowed her closer to the young woman who she had idolized for so long. Their gaze was passionate, and it simply entranced Nora. With as much tenderness as she could bring forth, she reached up and brushed Emri’s long hair away from her face before moving to cup a heated cheek. They were close. Breathing the same air. Filling each other with new life after each breath.

“Emri,” Nora breathed, barely above a whisper. She leaned down and brushed their lips together softly before completely enclosing Emri’s lips within her own. It was brief as they moved together in tandem. Nora pulled back the slightest, still remaining within a breaths distance of Emri. Her hand that had remained at Emri’s cheek moved shakily over to trace full lips with her thumb. Soft kisses were placed upon it as it retreated and the motion shot tremors through Nora’s body. The beautifully strong woman beneath her, who looked to her with so much adoration, had completely divested Nora of her armor and had buried herself deep within Nora’s very being. It was the most terrifyingly beautiful sensation she had and would ever encounter. Right now, as darkened maroon eyes settled on darkened jade, there was no force within the realms or the realms beyond that could match this moment.

Nora released her grip long enough to comb back the long brown locks that had fallen into her lover’s face. She held them in place as she looked at her beloved. “I love you, Emri … so much.” She uttered before lowering her head and connecting their lips.

Both women took their time. There was no need in rushing or fumbling through such a powerful moment because the time for that would come soon enough. For now, it was simply about exploring and discovering each other. Their bodies were unfamiliar lands, just waiting to be claimed and uncovered.

Nora inhaled sharply as she was overpowered with sensations. Emri was all around her: underneath her, within her, against her, and, most importantly, loving her with every touch, kiss, caress, breath, and sparkle in her eyes. It was all there, in front of her, encasing her, and she was falling beautifully into it. This was where she was meant to be. Out of all her trials, out of all her trespasses, everything she suffered; she was finally being loved and giving all her love in return.

Soon, their movements became one as their souls united; their bodies rising higher and higher but never fully cresting. They moved rhythmically to the sound of a silent beat, the pulsing of their heartbeats, the rush of their breath, and the blood within their veins was the only metronome for them to follow.

Nora buried her hands within light brown locks as her eyes slammed shut and breathing increased, along with her raging heartbeat.

Suddenly, Nora had a strong desire to see Emri. She wanted to look into her eyes as they made this ultimate show of intimacy, trust, and love, when they both were at their strongest and their most vulnerable. Out of all that she has witnessed with her eyes, both good and bad, this moment alone would supersede all previous, because in this moment, it was just them: two beings connecting as one.

“Emri?” she managed to ask as her voice broke from both exertion and passion. When her eyes found their mate, she whispered, “Will you … will you look at me?”

Emri stilled her movements as she looked into eyes that were brimming with loyalty, warmth, and devotion. She resumed her motions as fingers traced their way up her chest, over her neck, and laced themselves through her hair. “Always,” Emri breathed against her lips. “Forever and always.” She closed the remaining distance and kissed Nora with all she was worth, allowing all the love she harbored to rush into the woman.

“I love you … please let go for me.” She whispered against Nora’s lips as their pace increased. Nora shuddered with a quiet gasp as she released; her lover not far behind her.

They clutched each other desperately as their bodies settled and minds cleared.

“I love you, too.” Emri whispered as she brushed damp hair away from her lover’s face. “My dearest Nora.” She softly spoke as she reached down and grasped Nora’s left hand. She guided it to her face and kissed each finger and her palm. Her lips ghosted over the rough skin forever marred before interlacing their fingers. They both smiled as their matching bracelets connected. They signified all the vicissitudes both women had suffered and endured, but they also signified hope and redemption. They may have come from the darkest of places, but they escaped the darkness together and with the help and perseverance of each other.

“How have I come to deserve you?” Nora asked as her breathing had finally slowed.

Emri smiled and brushed some damp strands of hair from her face. “You were just you, Nora,” she said. “You are so love worthy, and I love each and every part of you. Every part. Even the parts you don’t see worthy of love, because they are you. But you deserve this and so much more. We both do. We both deserve this. For once in our life, we deserve this break—this chance at happiness.”

Emri applied the smallest amount of pressure to her cheeks and brought their lips together for a gentle kiss. A kiss that sealed and signified every word they had just uttered.

“Thank you,” Nora whispered against Emri’s lips.

They continued their lovemaking until the first rays of sun began to stream through the open windows. At times, they would fall asleep underneath the thin blankets, naked and intertwined, as they made up for years lost. But now, they were connected in the most intimate of ways. Two souls that now beat as one.

“Close your eyes, love.” Emri whispered reverently as she looked into sated crimson orbs. Nora did as she was asked, and as soon as they fluttered closed, Emri lifted her right hand and gently trailed her hand over Nora’s face—from her brow to chin. Her forefinger and ring finger glided over closed eyelids. When Emri finished, she smiled and leaned forward to brush her lips against her eyelids. “You can open your eyes now,” Emri said quietly and she watched with bated breath as beautiful hazel eyes opened to greet her.

“I felt it,” the older brunette spoke as tears unwillingly gathered within her eyes and began to spill out.

Emri smiled and said, “They don’t own you anymore.”

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