Read Never Letting Go Online

Authors: Suzanne Graham

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian

Never Letting Go

 

 

Never Letting Go

By Suzanne Graham

 

 

 

Resplendence Publishing, LLC
http://www.resplendencepublishing.com

 

Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 N Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118

 

Never Letting Go
Copyright © 2011, Suzanne Graham
Edited by Jessica Bimberg
Cover art by Les Byerley,
www.les3photo8.com

 

Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-405-5

 

Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Electronic release: September 2011

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.

 

 

 
 

 

 

To members of the LGBT community,
here’s a coming out story for you.
I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

“Wait! I’m not dressed yet.” Leila used her elbow to keep the dressing room door closed while holding up the front of the purple, strapless gown.

“What? You think you’ve got something I don’t?” her best friend Ree quipped as she pushed her way into the small changing room.

“Fine. Since you’re here, help me with this zipper.” Leila faced the mirror and watched Ree in the reflection.

Ree’s gaze slid over Leila’s exposed skin as she raised her hands to the small of Leila’s back. A shiver ran across Leila’s skin as she considered her friend’s eyes. Was there hunger in that look?

Slowly, Ree dragged the zipper up. “Lift your hair.” Her voice was husky and sent tingles swirling in Leila’s stomach.

Leila removed one hand from the front of the gown, tilted her head and swept her long black hair to the side. As she watched in the mirror, Ree bent forward. Her blonde hair tickled Leila’s shoulder as she brushed her lips across Leila’s bared neck.

Shocked, Leila froze as the sensation of both watching and feeling Ree’s kiss penetrated her brain. Before she could respond, Ree finished zipping the dress and stepped back as far as the tiny square room allowed.

With a half-smile, Ree stared at Leila’s reflection in the mirror. “You’re beautiful. Patrick is a lucky man.”

Leila’s gaze flicked from the aubergine dress that complemented her olive skin to Ree’s face. Sadness swamped her. She didn’t want to wear this dress for Patrick, or for any man. She wanted to wear it for Ree, to see the appreciation that now shone in Ree’s eyes as she spun around the dance floor with her best friend. They’d make a striking couple with Ree’s fair coloring and Leila’s darker looks.

She swallowed the words she wished she had the nerve to utter. Instead, she said, “Are you bringing Tony to the charity ball?”

Ree shrugged. “I might go solo this year.”

Solo? Maybe it was time to finally set Patrick adrift if Ree was willing to take that step with Tony. They’d both been dating their men about the same length of time, nearly four months, and for the past three months, Leila had known Patrick wasn’t her one true love.

Leila turned to face her friend. For a moment, she allowed her thoughts to fly free as she lost herself in Ree’s sky blue eyes. How wonderful would it feel to surrender to this magnetism and give herself to Ree?

Then reality grounded her as she thought about what the stodgy conservatives from their office would say about two female employees attending their biggest fundraiser of the year as a couple.

“Did you and Tony have a falling out?” she asked before she did something out of character, like pull Ree into her arms and kiss her lush pink lips.

“I decided he wasn’t really my type.” Ree gently brushed back a strand of hair that had caught on Leila’s eyelashes.

Leila’s breath caught in her throat at the soft touch, and her stomach fluttered with anticipation. “R-ree…?” She stuttered to a stop, not really wanting to know the answer to her unspoken question. Regardless of where her daydreams took her, she wasn’t prepared to act on her feelings if Ree actually indicated that Leila was her type.

“Yeah?” Ree waited.

“Uh, would you unzip me? I think I’ll get this one.” She spun around, putting her back towards her friend and stopping whatever had been about to happen in that moment.

“Sure.” With a quick tug, Ree helped Leila with the dress. Then she grabbed the door handle. “I’ll meet you out front.” Her words came out short and clipped as she slipped out of the changing room.

Leila held the front of the gown to her chest and sank to the bench seat. Staring at her reflection, she watched tears gather at the corners of her eyes as desperate feelings of something wonderful slipping out of her reach flooded through her. Why was this happening to her now?

For the past five years, Ree had been her best friend—ever since meeting on Leila’s first day of work at the nonprofit research organization. They’d bonded immediately with a common interest in science and technology, as well as shared addictions to chocolate and Thai food. Being two of only a few females in a male-dominated field made their friendship even more precious to Leila.

She couldn’t lose her best friend over these feelings, not when she was unprepared to follow through on them. She would just have to leave this dressing room and act as if nothing had happened and hope Ree would do the same.

* * * *

Ree stood on the edge of the dance floor, watching Leila swirl with her partner among the multi-colored-gowned women and tuxedoed men. She sipped from her vodka and cranberry, wishing it were more vodka than cranberry. Coming tonight as a single really wasn’t one of her best ideas because now she had to stand here and watch Leila dancing with Patrick, which really sucked.

She’d nearly believed Leila felt a connection the other day in the changing room, but now, she realized it was just wishful thinking. Thank God, Leila hadn’t acted weirded-out when she’d returned to the front of the store, but Ree could no longer deny that she was in love with her best friend. What a crappy place to be when Leila didn’t feel the same.

What would it take for her to get over this? Living with this unrequited love was killing her. Her chest ached, and she was dangerously close to tears much of the time. That was really not cool when she worked around a bunch of geeky men with minimal social skills.

Dealing with crying females was way out of their league, and it certainly didn’t lend any cred to her place in the lab. It was hard enough to get the men to concede that her rightful place was amongst them—that her brain was just as big as theirs. She couldn’t help it if she looked more like a blonde ditz than an accomplished Advanced Analytics Analyst, and she refused to downplay her looks. She shouldn’t have to camouflage herself with frumpy clothes and no makeup to fit in at work.

The fact that Leila didn’t try to diminish her good looks either was one of the reasons Ree had been so drawn to her when Leila had first started working at Ablis. The woman was stunning with her Spanish and Indian ancestry. Her black hair was silky smooth, her eyes dark and seductive, and her lips perpetually quirked in a wicked little smile. There was no apology in her attitude for having the complete package—beauty and brains.

The dance finally ended, and Leila appeared in front of Ree.

“I need to powder my nose. Come with me?” Leila grabbed Ree’s hand before she could offer a protest and tugged her towards the ladies’ room on the other side of the ballroom.

As she walked alongside Leila, Ree’s senses seemed on full alert as she absorbed the feel of Leila’s soft, warm hand in hers and her flowery scent, amplified from her dancing.

To distract herself from the tempting display of Leila’s smooth, bare shoulders, Ree spoke. “Are you and Patrick enjoying yourselves?”

Leila trained her deep brown eyes on Ree. “He seems to be.”

Ree blinked to sever the pull she felt towards her best friend. “And you?”

Leila shrugged and turned her head away from Ree. “I’m thinking maybe I should have come solo…like you did.”

Ree wished she could see the expression on Leila’s face. Was there more to her comment or was Ree reading something into it that wasn’t there?

They walked the remainder of the way to the bathroom in silence. Slightly taller with a longer reach, Ree reached out and held the door open for Leila, who walked ahead of her with a slight nod of her head.

After using the facilities, the two of them stood side-by-side at the sinks washing their hands. Ree glanced around and found them strangely alone. “They must have started the presentation.”

“It was nice planning to give us a dance break between dinner and the presentation, so we could give our sitting muscles a stretch before the windbags began talking.”

Ree chuckled as she dried her hands on a paper towel. “Do you think they’d notice if we hid in here for a while longer?” She gestured to the red plush settee in the lounging area of the restroom. “That looks a whole hell of a lot more comfortable than the chairs at our table.”

Leila plopped down on the small couch. “Oh, yes! This is much better.” She patted the spot next to her. “Come. Rest with me a bit.”

As the settee was fairly short, Ree had to sit close to Leila—so close she had to slide her right arm around Leila’s waist, not that she minded having to hold her friend, though Leila’s bare shoulder so near to Ree’s mouth did pose almost too great a temptation.

She forced herself to stare across the room at the black and white toile wallpaper. The pattern showed two cherubs tying a long ribbon around a giant vase of flowers with the help of a dove. When she was sure she’d have the image permanently imprinted in her brain, she swept her gaze back to Leila.

“How—”

“Did I—”

Ree gave Leila an encouraging smile. “You first.”

Leila’s eyes flicked away for a second, and she bent her head slightly. “I don’t think I’ve told you how stunning you look in that gown. That electric blue makes your eyes pop. I’ve never seen them look so bright.”

If only her friend knew the source of that brightness…but then, Ree would probably lose their friendship if Leila knew. Ree allowed herself a moment longer to enjoy their closeness before speaking. “How long do you think we can hide out?”

“Long enough for this…” Leila palmed Ree’s cheek and eased close to her mouth, “kiss.”

Before Ree could react, Leila’s soft lips brushed against hers. Ree tightened her arm around Leila’s waist as she returned the kiss, adding a light sweep of her tongue along Leila’s full bottom lip. She tasted an echo of the red wine Leila had drunk with dinner. The world tilted as her head swam, but it was due to the reality of kissing her friend rather than the intoxicating effects of any alcohol.

Leila’s hand slid around to cup the back of Ree’s head as her lips parted and her tongue swiped slowly across Ree’s upper lip, teasing Ree and making her crave more contact, deeper contact.

Ree sucked Leila’s lower lip, ending with a light nip. A breathy moan from Leila was all the encouragement Ree needed. She delved into Leila’s warm, velvety mouth, tangling their tongues. The kiss sped from exploratory to heated within a heartbeat.

Ree couldn’t get enough of Leila’s sweet taste and silky texture. She inhaled through her nose, reveling in Leila’s lilac scent. She kept her hands at Leila’s waist, letting the kiss be enough for now, but her imagination played with thoughts of filling her hands with Leila’s full breasts, teasing her dark nipples to stiff peaks.

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