"All done," Gina said as she stepped back into the living room, noting that during her brief absence Kellie had put away the folding tables and moved their glasses and the nearly empty bottle to the coffee table.
She joined Kellie on the couch, curling up on the far end of it as she picked up her glass and drained the last of its contents. A smile filled her face as she put it back on the table.
"Do you think we should open another bottle?" Kellie asked as she poured the last few ounces into her own glass.
"Well, it's not like we're going anywhere," Gina offered, glancing in the direction of the window where it was still coming down.
"That's true," Kellie agreed as she rose from the couch and stepped back into the kitchen area, emerging with another bottle less than a minute later.
She'd just placed it next to the first one on the table when the sound of the doorbell filled the air. A look of annoyance flashed across Kellie's face as she looked up at the clock on the opposite wall. It was nearly nine o'clock, a bit late for uninvited visitors.
Moving to the door, Kellie bent slightly to look through the peephole, then paused a long breath before reaching for the double lock to her right. In that brief interval, Gina noted a momentary frown on the tall woman's face and, while she was sure it was just her imagination, it looked to her that Kellie was considering whether the caller might just go away if she didn't answer porn games
"Oh good, you are home," a thirty something woman with curly, strawberry blonde hair, wearing a green dress, said as, once the door was open, she stepped right past Kellie without waiting for an invitation. "I did call first, but all I got was your answering machine."
"I must've forgotten to turn the ringer back on," Kellie said, not an uncommon occurrence since she normally left that and the speaker off when not home.
"No matter," the woman, who Gina now saw was carrying her own wine bottle in her hand, continued, "I was afraid that you were still stuck at your office and I'd have to ride out this dreary storm all by my......"
She paused in mid-word as she noticed Gina sitting on the couch. An observation that caused her demeanor to abruptly change.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you already had company," she said, her tone now a bit less forward.
"Dorothy, I'd like you to meet Gina Giordano," Kellie said as she motioned in the direction of the couch with her outstretched hand. "Gina and I work together at Casella and North."
Dorothy took another, longer look at the younger woman on the couch, noting at the same time the open bottles of wine on the coffee table.
"Gina, this is Dorothy Freeberg, my neighbor from down the hall," Kellie said to continue the introduction.
"A pleasure to meet you, Gina," Dorothy finally said, a hesitant smile leaving the validity of her sentiment in doubt.
"It's nice to meet you as well," Gina said, her smile more genuine.
"Gina got waylaid by the storm, so I offered her a safe haven for the night," Kellie added, repeating what she had told the doorman earlier.
"Oh, I see," Dorothy said, glancing at the bottle in her hand.
"Was that for me?" Kellie asked, recalling that Dorothy actually owed her several bottles.
"It was going to be," Dorothy replied, " I had thought we might share it, but now I think I'll just take it back home with me."
"Suit yourself," Kellie said, a slight annoyance flashing across her face as her neighbor made no effort to do so.
"Was there something you needed, Dorothy?" Kellie asked, drawing the curly haired blonde's attention back to her.
"No," she said, turning her gaze in the direction of the couch and the young woman sitting there.
"Fine, I'll talk to you tomorrow then, and..." Kellie said, making it clear that she wasn't going to ask her neighbor to stay.
"Actually, now that I think of it, there is something that I need," Dorothy interrupted. "The batteries on my ... my remote died on me last night and I was wondering if you might have a couple that you could spare.
"Your remote?" Kellie repeated hot cams
"Yeah, you know I like to turn down the volume when the commercials come on," she added. "My favorite show is on later and I really don't enjoy it as much if I have to listen to them."
"Alright," Kellie said, agreeing to anything that would send her on her way, "I should have some batteries in the kitchen drawer. What do you need, AA or 9 Volt?"
"Actually, I need a couple of C batteries," Dorothy replied, her voice dropping so that only Kellie could hear her.
That confused Kellie for a moment; then she realized that it wasn't the TV remote that Dorothy needed fresh batteries for. There weren't many things that used that size battery, but knowing Dorothy, it wasn't hard to guess which of those she needed them for.
"I think I have some," Kellie said. "Will two be enough?"
"Two will definitely get the job done," Dorothy said with a broad smile.
As Kellie excused herself for a moment to get the batteries, Dorothy turned her attention again to Gina, this time not bothering to hide her resentment, causing the younger woman to wonder what she could have done to incur it.
"Here you go," Kellie said as she came out of the kitchen and handed an unopened package to Dorothy, adding in a lower voice, "Enjoy ... enjoy your program."
"Thank you," Dorothy replied, "and you have a good evening too." she added, again with a noticeable lack of sincerity.
With that, she stepped through the door which Kellie had opened and out into the hallway.
Kellie took a deep breath once she'd closed the door, then turned back to rejoin Gina.
"Now, you wanted to watch a movie, right?" Kellie asked as she settled down on the empty side of the couch.
"Your neighbor seems nice," Gina said, opting to ignore the negative reaction she'd displayed toward her. "Have the two of you known each other long?"
"About five years," Kellie answered, "Dorothy already lived in the building when I moved in."
"I got the impression that she was hoping to be asked to stay," Gina noted. "I really wouldn't have minded if she had."
"Oh, trust me, ten minutes from now, you would have," Kellie replied. "Dorothy is really a dear, and she can be a lot of fun, but she also likes to be the center of attention. Once she got to talking, you'd have never gotten a word in edgewise."
"I guess you know best," Gina conceded.
"Besides, despite the circumstances, I was hoping tonight would be a chance for you and me to become better friends," Kellie added.
"I'd like that," Gina replied, realizing that she was actually happy at how the night had turned out.
"But before we put on a movie, why don't we get ready for bed first?" Kellie suggested. "That way we get good and comfortable while we watch it."
"That's a good idea," Gina agreed, "but I don't even have so much as a spare toothbrush in my bag."
"Not a problem," Kellie replied with a warm smile. "If you look in the cabinet under the bathroom sink, you'll find an extra toothbrush, plus, if you give me a few minutes, I think I have something you can wear to bed."
"Fantastic," Gina smiled.
Gina waited a few moments as Kellie headed for the bedroom, then turned in the direction of the bathroom. Sure enough, there on the bottom shelf was a tall ceramic cup filled with a couple of individually wrapped toothbrushes, each with a tiny travel sized tube of Crest. Right next to them was a small stack of paper Dixie cups, each also covered in plastic. As she ripped one open and began to brush her teeth, Gina wondered how often Kellie had unexpected overnight guests, that she felt the need to store little kits like these for.
Gina had just finished rinsing out her mouth when there was a knock on the bathroom door and, after waiting for a few seconds to make sure that her guest didn't object, Kellie let herself in. In her hand was a pair of light blue unisex pajamas, also wrapped in plastic, along with a washcloth and bath towel.
"I bought these for my niece when she visited last summer, but she never got around to wearing them," Kellie said as she handed the package to Gina. "I think the two of you are just about the same size."
Gina glanced at the product tag and decided that it was close enough not to make a difference. She hadn't given any thought to taking a shower, but recalling how long a day it had been, was glad that Kellie had simply assumed that she wanted to.
After unwrapping the pajamas and laying them on the top of the hamper, Gina stripped off all of her clothes, including her now slightly soiled underwear.
'I guess I really should've gotten that clean pair from my desk,' she mused before using some of the plastic covering from the nightwear to wrap up her panties. 'Oh well, it won't be the first time I went home in the morning without underwear.'
Now totally nude, she turned on the water in the shower, adjusting the hanging curtain to be sure none of it splashed onto the floor. Then, after giving it a few minutes to warm up, she stepped under the pleasant stream.
As she covered her body with soap, running her hands across her breasts and down between her legs, Gina was even more thankful that Kellie had opened her home to her. If she had stayed back at the office, the odds were that, despite her initial disinclination, she probably would've wound up at the party at Clancy's and once there, who knew what might've happened. Given her long dry spell, that night with David notwithstanding, plus her tendency to drink too much at parties, she could have woken up tomorrow morning having done something, or more specifically, someone she'd later regret.
As she rinsed herself off, Gina's mind drifted a bit and she found herself wondering what Kellie did for sexual relief. She was, even close to forty, still an attractive woman, but in none of their conversations had she ever mentioned a man in her life. And from what several co-workers had told Gina, Kellie never brought anyone to corporate social functions. Some said she was married to the job, while others just thought she was a private person who preferred to keep her professional and personal lives separate. An even smaller few had more salacious theories.
Sandra Collins, who had been at the firm nearly a decade, believed that Kellie was having an affair with her boss, an idea that, given recent events, Gina was no longer so quick to dismiss as ridiculous. If nothing else, it might explain how Kellie could afford an apartment like this. Private secretaries were often called "office wives" and the distinction between them and actual wives could easily blur. She and Abraham Bernstein were only eight years apart in age, the financial wizard having been something of a 'wunderkind', and their relationship, whatever the details might be, had lasted longer than his two marriages combined.
'Whatever the truth, it's really none of my business,' Gina thought, putting the matter out of her head as she finished drying and tried on the pajamas.
Examining her reflection in the mirror, Gina thought the outfit was actually sort of sexy, especially with the top few buttons left open. It displayed a good amount of cleavage and the material, while not silk, felt rather nice against her skin. It was also thin enough to show off her pert nipples through it. If they weren't too expensive, she considered buying herself a pair.
Exiting the bathroom, she found Kellie waiting with a similar outfit draped across her arm, one in dark navy blue. She took a moment to examine Gina's, declaring it a perfect fit.
"They're very comfortable," Gina replied, thinking that was the safest thing to say about them.
"Then of course they're yours to keep," Kellie replied."
Gina was about to object, then realized; what else was Kellie going to do with them, give them to her niece as second hand goods? Not likely, especially after Gina had worn them without panties.
"Thank you," Gina said with a grateful smile.
"I'll only be a few minutes," Kellie said as she passed Gina and stepped into the bathroom. "The cable guide is on the end table; why don't you check the schedule and see what might look good?"
Picking up the guide, Gina spent some time going through it. There were certainly a lot more choices than offered by the regular broadcast stations. In the end, she settled on two likely prospects, each different enough from the other to give Kellie a choice. Hearing the shower turn off, Gina put down the guide and got up to turn on the television, when a silver framed photograph resting on the top corner of the console set that she hadn't noticed before caught her attention.
The photo featured two young women in graduation robes. The girl on the left was obviously a much younger Kellie, and since it was a college photo Gina guessed she was about twenty-one in it. The other young woman looked to be the same age, with long straight brown hair and an equally impressive physique. They each had an arm tightly wrapped around the other and shared an expression that said they were close. There was no inscription and Gina wondered who the other young woman was.
"Class of '61," she heard Kellie unexpectedly say as if in response to her unasked question. "Full of fire and fury and ready to change the world."
Startled, as she hadn't heard the taller woman come out of the bathroom, Gina turned to face her. Her first thought was that the unisex pajamas looked even better on Kellie than they did on her, especially the way her even larger bust practically cried out for attention as the material struggled to contain it.
"And did you?" Gina asked, hoping to draw attention away from the fact that she had been staring.
"Rachel did, or at least a small part of it," Kellie replied. "That was her name, Rachel Bernstein."
"Bernstein?" Gina repeated, her inflection making it a question.
"Abraham's youngest sister," Kellie confirmed. "After we graduated, she joined the Peace Corps and helped create a water irrigation system in a village in Ghana. I wanted to go with her, but I didn't have the right educational background. She had an engineering degree, while I'd majored in liberal arts."
"That's really impressive," Gina said, looking back at the girl in the photo, who, now that it had been pointed out, did have a family resemblance to her older brother. "What does she do now?"
"Rachel died fourteen months after she got there," Kellie replied, a sadness in her voice, "from a fever that seemed to come out of nowhere. She was gone before they could airlift her to something better than the local clinic."
"I'm so sorry," Gina said.
"Thank you," Kellie replied. "It's been seventeen years, but I still miss her."
"How did you wind up working for Mr. Bernstein?" Gina asked, thinking to move away from the sad memory.
"I pretty much went to pieces after Rachel died," Kellie said. "Abraham helped me put my life back together, saying that I was as much his sister as Rachel had been and he wasn't going to lose me too. He gave me a job and has been looking out for me ever since. In fact, he even co-signed the lease for this apartment, but make no mistake, I pay all my own bills."
"I've only said hello to him in passing," Gina commented, "but he sounds like a good man."
"He is," Kellie confirmed, "a lot better than those bimbos he keeps marrying deserve."
That, Gina thought, at least answered how Kellie could afford this place. Even if Abraham Bernstein wasn't providing direct financial help, he had undoubtedly provided investment advice that was even more valuable.
"Rachel was a force of nature, living life on her terms and social norms be damned," Kellie said as she took the frame out of Gina's hand and put it back on the television. "Without her, I'd never have had the courage to venture out on life's stage, at least not as the person I am, rather than the one people expected me to be."
A silence filled the air for a long minute as Gina wondered how to take that, or what to say at all. A glance toward the window gave her an answer.
"Hey, look at that," she said, "It's stopped snowing."
Sure enough, the view had cleared enough to see the distant outline of the most famous building in the city. Moving to the window, they looked down, but still only saw blankets of white covering the streets. It would be late tomorrow before any landmarks were recognizable, and then only after a couple of hours of shoveling.
"Should we put that movie on?" Gina said as they turned away from the bland view.
"We can, if you still want to," Kellie said, moving a bit closer to Gina, close enough to slip her arm around her waist, "or we could do something more ... entertaining."
Gina reacted to Kellie's unexpected touch by not reacting, which was a lot harder to do than it might have sounded. If she'd been more honest with herself, she'd have admitted that there had been a kernel of suspicion in the back of her mind as to why Kellie had come to her rescue tonight. One that, as unlikely as it probably was, hadn't been one she'd wanted to even consider, because to do so would've forced her to ask how she felt about it. Now that it had come to the forefront, it was question she could no longer avoid. Also, with her blinders now removed, Gina also had to admit the reason for Dorothy's resentment to her, that the woman from down the hall had hoped to be where Gina now found herself.
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