Chapter Thirteen
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My new favorite chapter.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

It’s difficult not to feel as though something grand and mysterious has changed as Annette reenters 167th Mill Street, once again knowing that it was, in some impossible way, her home. The smell is slightly different, or the temperature changed with the season, or perhaps something even less detectable than either detail. Perhaps it is simply Annette who has changed, or Cordelia; or, and what is most likely, they have all departed from their former selves and stepped forth into something new. 

Annette puffs out a long breath, running her fingers across the wooden walls as she ambles down the familiar foyer and into the hallway. Cordelia stands at the threshold, almost as though concerned Annette might change her mind and pitch another escape. A small part of Annette wonders if she should be worried about her own capacity or desire to flee. 

“It’s… you’ve cleaned,” she remarks, stepping into the familiar living room once more. At a closer inspection, it isn’t exactly clean, per se, but an effort has been made. The shelves have been piled full of notes and books and scattered trinkets, all teetering precariously as though ready to fall at any moment; but at least the tables are clear. 

“I made my best attempt at replicating your organization,” Cordelia steps inside, quietly shutting the door behind her. 

Annette turns and turns, taking in the sights of the home and trying to settle into the space once more. The two months away from the townhouse feel both like no time at all, and eons. She releases a breath that was somewhere between melancholic and nostalgic, and clasps her hands together. 

“Well… I suppose I should get started on dinner preparations,” she nods in resolution, feeling the collar around her neck complain at the quick movement. 

“I forbid you from doing so,” Cordelia asserts. 

Annette raises an eyebrow, spinning around to face her. “Forbid?” 

“You’ve only just returned,” she fidgets with her hands. “Please, take the day to yourself.” 

“I’ll need to eat sometime.” 

“I’ll cook.” 

“You’ll cook,” Annette repeats quietly. Her eyes peer over towards the pantry. “Do you have sufficient ingredients? Should I make a trip to the market?” 

Cordelia places her hands on her hips. “It’s almost as though you believe me incapable.” 

Annette smirks. “Recall the state of your home when I first arrived.” 

“Incisive strike, Miss Baker.” 

Annette pauses, frowning thoughtfully. “It’s been some time since you’ve called me ‘Miss Baker.’” 

Cordelia takes a slow breath. “I… I suppose it has.” She furrows her brow, then shrugs. “The afternoon is yours, Miss Baker.” 

Cordelia steps past her into the kitchen, and Annette is left with a strange feeling of coldness in her presence. She watches Cordelia's back for a few moments as the detective begins preparations, then relents and ascends the stairs to her former room, now hers once more. 

The room is just as she left it, small and cozy, with a lovely window overlooking the street. She absent-mindedly thumbs through her dresser, letting her hands feel the forgotten fabrics of all the dresses she had left behind. Annette looks down at her tunic and trousers and sighs, accepting that she would need to change at some point. After a few days in her current attire without changing… they needed to be washed, and so did she. She exits her room and strolls down the hallway to take a bath. 

After bathing, Annette spends a significant amount of time simply staring at her reflection in the mirror. Her hands run through her short hair, over and over again, trying to adjust to the strange feeling of it. She received plenty of harsh glances from passersby on the streets as Cordelia walked her home, and she’s sure that it’ll be common for some time until it fully grows out again. It frames her face surprisingly well, despite being a little haphazardly done, and a small part of her enjoys the novelty of the look. Slightly begrudgingly, she pulls a dress over one of her button-up shirts, leaving the top buttons open to display the collar, and returns to her room. On her bed, she notices a single envelope. 

 

Dear Annette, 

 

In some ways, I must lament the fact that you will return to 167th Mill Street so soon after your last departure. Whereas days ago you were an exciting new penpal, a perfect candidate in all regards to be a fascinating partner in written correspondence, I now find that this prospect has been snatched away from me. I was excited to discover the hidden quirks behind the stroke of your pen, and was likewise eager to witness the translation of your wit into a new format. Thus, I have come to a decision. Whereas I previously believed it frivolous to prepare parchment and ink for a guest in my own home, I have decided to withhold my sense of shame and write to you regardless. 

 

A word on the ring now positioned upon your collar - it is actually a highly sentimental artifact. The symbol enshrined upon it is that of my father’s home, the Hasting’s family Coat of Arms, with a slight modification. My mother, during my pursuit of the good graces of high society, saved up a great deal of money to add her own crest to join it. She designed it herself, possessing no inherited wealth or coat of arms to join it, but wished to have the ring connote a certain honor to represent the dignity she believed our family to be worth regardless. I regret to say that I had been too ashamed to wear it during that time of my life, and took little pride in who she was then. I give it to you now, with the hope that it might represent a new awareness of dignity, especially the dignity of those who come from humble backgrounds, and that you might not experience the same shame that I was previously trapped by. 

 

I hope you find your former room comfortable, and your circumstances sufficiently to your liking, all things considered. 

 

Cordelia

 

Annette closes the letter and lets her hand rise to the collar. Her finger circles around the ring, tugging on it absently as she gazes around her room once more. She thinks about writing a reply to Cordelia but feels no inspiration draw forward. She sighs, feeling a creeping emptiness dangle inside. Compared to the constant excitement and anxiety of life with the Mallets, her room now feels so terrifyingly calm. She thumbs through the modest bookshelf that she acquired before her departure, disinterestedly flipping through the pages of a few books, and shakes her head. She leaves her room and goes downstairs. She makes an effort to poke around the shelves in the living room, hoping to begin reorganizing them, but is gently scolded by Cordelia to rest and relax. 

At dinner, Cordelia places the table with a surprising seriousness. She’s prepared a simple meal - some turkey alongside a side of greens and baked carrots - which smells fresh and delightful. She sits across from Annette, quietly serves her a plate, and begins eating. 

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, Cordelia finally asks, “Is your room to your liking?” 

“Just as I left it,” Annette holds her next bite. 

“But it’s to your liking?” 

“Yes.” 

“Good.”

Cordelia nods, returning to eating. She continually glances back up at Annette, as though worried she might disappear if not checked upon regularly enough. Annette meets her eyes a few times, furrowing her brow and trying to read the detective’s deadpan. 

Eventually, Cordelia speaks up once more. “Did you have a chance to read my -,”

“Your letter? Yes.” 

“Good,” Cordelia nods. “Good.” 

A pause. 

“Dinner’s lovely,” Annette attempts. 

“Thank you,” Cordelia swallows another bite. “It was taught to me by my mother. She enjoyed the simplicity of it.” 

“It’s delicious.” 

“It was actually from Susan,” Cordelia adds quickly. “Samantha’s mother. Susan taught my mother, who taught it to me.” Her face drops nervously down to her plate, and she quietly takes a few more bites. “Are you… is your hair alright?” 

Annette smiles politely. “It’s colder than I expected.” 

Cordelia appears concerned. “I can acquire you some new hats-,” 

“That’s alright. I can cope.” 

“Very well,” the detective nods. “It looks nice. It suits you.” 

“How kind of you.” 

There’s another long pause, and it takes Cordelia a few minutes to break her silence. “Regarding dinner tonight, and the rest of your duties,” she begins, “would you like to do the same tasks as before, Miss Baker?” 

“I was expecting to,” Annette furrows her brow, confused by the formality. “...Miss Jones,” she adds. 

Cordelia stands quickly. “Christ, I’m being an ass.” She darts away into the kitchen, and Annette calmly follows. 

“You are acting quite strange-,” 

Annete stops herself as Cordelia turns, holding a small dish of gravy in her hands. They make eye contact, quickly sizing one another up, and Cordelia tilts her head and mutters, “I’m acting… strange?” 

Annette looks at the dish, then back at the dinner table, and says, “You called yourself an ass for forgetting a component of dinner?” 

“It completes the meal,” Cordelia objects. “... I’m acting strange?” 

Annette returns to the table, giving Cordelia a moment to sit as well. “It’s… it’s as though nothing has transpired between us but a short holiday.” 

Cordelia holds her breath, then releases it slowly. When she speaks again, her voice is filled with burden. “You are dependent on me again,” she says gently. “And I understand that it was the best option to prevent ruin… that it was the deal you struck.” Cordelia sighs and places her head against her hand. “You told me last time you wouldn’t want to return as my servant, and now you’re here against your will. I’ll not add insult to injury by being enthusiastic about your circumstance.” 

“But you’re happy I’m back?” 

“Painfully so,” Cordelia replies tersely. 

Annette smiles, a little amused. “Cordelia, I’m not your prisoner. I chose to return.” 

“Under duress,” the detective rebuts. “It was the lesser of two evils.” 

She shakes her head. “I wouldn’t consider you an evil.” 

Cordelia takes a sharp breath and sits up straight, holding her posture firm and proper. “I think it’s only fair we amend the rules from your previous employment here. You do not need to provide anything for the upkeep of the house, save that which you do of your own volition. Should you desire to have company over, and have privacy, you need only say the word.”

Cordelia quickly adds, “Actually, you needn’t even say the word. I’ll not stand in any way between you and Marian, or whomever-,”

Annette rises from her seat, crossing around the table and pulling out the chair directly next to Cordelia. She leans in, grimacing gently, and asks, “Might we simply talk about it?” 

“I am,” Cordelia insists. “I want to ensure you are as unhindered in my house as-,”

Annette interrupts, lifting herself forward to calmly kiss Cordelia. The detective pulls away quickly, flustered, with a look of surprise on her face. 

“Pardon me,” Cordelia chokes out, rising from her seat.

“Cordelia, I am not different simply because I wear a collar again,” Annette insists. 

“But you are.” 

“I don’t wish to be,” Annette drops her shoulders. “Not with you.” 

Cordelia shakes her head, seeming as though convincing herself of something. “You are living under my care. You had to dispose of your connection to the Mallets and the work that brought you meaning.” 

Annette stands as well. “And I am still your friend.” 

Cordelia frowns. “Who has kissed me thrice now.” 

“Be happy that I’m back, for my sake.” Annette tries to take Cordelia’s hand into her own, but the detective steps back apprehensively. 

Cordelia’s walls return in full force, and she shoves her reaction behind a painful expression of neutrality. “Do you require anything further from me, Miss Baker?” 

Annette sighs and shakes her head. 

– – – 

 

Annette wanders through the assembled stalls and vendors across Market Street, and quickly feels unwelcome in a way she should have expected. It was difficult to predict how much the news about her had spread; but even without the rumors of her associations with the Mallets, the knowledge of her escape and the scandal of her hair is enough to cause the market to treat her with suspicion. She shops in silence, deeply missing the familiar comfort of casual conversation. The market had been her most joyful place in her first days as a servant, a bastion of affirmation that she could be trusted and honored in society. Now, it was a cascade of reminders that she broke social convention. She may as well have been outed as an adulterer, or a lesbian, for the way she was now treated. She grimaces at the culpability in both she also possessed. 

At one point, she even notices Guy quietly canvassing potential recruits. She and him share a tense glance, and his face softens enough to crack a gentle smile. But, he makes no motion to greet her, and Annette knows the implications are clear. She was burned in the eyes of the Mallets, and no association with her could be tolerated. She briefly contemplates going to see Marian, simply for the sake of having any comforting company, but sighs and relents from the idea. Marian may have always been a reluctant Mallet, but she was a Mallet nonetheless. 

She spends the rest of her afternoon half-heartedly cleaning her home, carefully reorganizing everything into an order that made sense. She cooks dinner, ears constantly perked up to hear if Cordelia might return home at all today. Annette sits at the dinner table and eats alone. 

When she does eventually attempt to accept the day was lost and go to bed with the intention of sleeping away her feelings, the sleep is only a temporary escape. Annette awakes around midnight, restless and exhausted. She tosses and turns for another hour, eventually giving up and accepting her fate for the evening. She begrudgingly pulls out a piece of parchment and a pen, starts and stops a half dozen letters, and grumbles to herself. It takes some time to construct a passable response to Cordelia’s letters. 

Cordelia, 

 

I am sorry to say that I have little experience in writing letters outside of my general instruction at St. Bartholomew’s orphanage. I will endeavor to be a satisfactory partner in the medium, though I cannot say with any great confidence that I will be memorable in the form in any way. I trust you will be generous and forgiving if I allow this letter to be direct and to the point; the late night has a way of pulling honesty out of oneself, willingly or otherwise. 

The night of the thunderstorm, I kissed you simply because I wanted to. It was an impulse I might not have indulged without your past encouragements for me to be as authentically myself as possible, and for the practice of living in such authenticity with the Mallets. But, I desired to do it and I did. As for the second kiss: I was preoccupied with the fear that I might never have the opportunity to do so again. As for the third… 

I do not desire a position of neutrality between us. 

 

Annette 

 

Annette sighs, feeling her fingers slightly cramped for the stress of writing with so much tension in her body. She folds the parchment in on itself, rises from her desk, and ascends the stairs to Cordelia’s study with the intention of sliding it under her door. But, just as she kneels down to place it, the door suddenly pulls open. 

Cordelia makes a noise of surprise, and Annette mutters, “Pardon.” 

“It’s alright, Miss Baker.” 

Annette rises, holding her letter tightly in her palms. “I was delivering a response for you.” 

“So late?” Cordelia cocks her head to the side. 

“I could not sleep until it was written,” Annette utters gravely. 

It is then that she gazes down and notices a bottle of whiskey in Cordelia’s hands. Annette frowns, flicking her eyes worriedly back up at the detective. 

Cordelia meets her gaze, sighs, and gestures towards the roof. “Would you care to join me?” 

Annette nods, and the two of them rise through the attic and onto the roof, sitting down against the frigid tiles in the brisk evening air. A small amount of frost slowly forms on the nearby roofs, and Annette watches her breath condense in the space in front of her. 

She places a gentleness into her voice and looks over at Cordelia. “Have you been coming up here still?” 

“Not for a couple nights,” Cordelia replies. She notices Annette staring apprehensively at the bottle. “It’s unopened.” 

“I thought you had removed them from your home.” 

Cordelia shrugs. “I purchased it today.” 

“How long has it been?” 

“Two weeks,” she mutters. 

Annette nods and looks away, trying not to allow Cordelia to feel her judgment or her worry. “Do you want to drink it?” 

“No,” Cordelia exhales slowly. “But I should.” 

“I don’t see why you must.” 

“Are you cold?” The detective asks suddenly. “With your hair so short?” 

“I am,” she replies. 

Cordelia looks away. “You may go inside if you wish, Miss Baker.” 

“I would prefer to stay,” Annette says simply. She feels a resolve inside of her, a mixture of concern and determination combining with her general feeling towards the detective.

Cordelia taps her nails against the glass, thinking quietly for a few breaths. “It would warm me up,” she says at last.

“There are other ways.” 

“I miss the taste.” 

“There are other tastes.” 

Cordelia turns it over and over in her hands. In her eyes, there’s a painful and tired expression, almost a sense of inevitability and an inescapable destiny. Annette extends her hand. “Give the bottle to me,” she orders softly. 

“Okay,” Cordelia nods, passing it over. She looks a little lighter as it leaves her hands. 

“Would you like me to tell you what I wrote in my letter?” 

The detective smiles weakly and shakes her head. “It would spoil my fun. You truly stayed up writing it?” 

“I cannot promise it will be the next Shakespeare,” Annette smirks. 

“Doubtful,” Cordelia puffs. “I am confident in your talents.” 

Annette shares a gentle look with her. “I enjoyed your first letter a great deal. I’m not sure If I told you that yet.” She gazes away at the sky, seeing the moon as a bright crescent amongst the stars. “If only there were a thunderstorm tonight,” she whispers longingly. 

“If only,” Cordelia agrees, shivering slightly. 

“Are you cold?” 

“Yes.” 

“Would you like to return inside?” 

“No,” Cordelia says after a moment.

Annette looks down at the bottle in her hands, noticing Cordelia taking a glance at it. “Would you like a drink?” 

“God, yes,” Cordelia sighs. 

Annette frowns, but nods. She breaks the seal on the bottle, pulling out its stopper and inhaling the scent. She takes a quick drink, stomaching the burning feeling of it entering her throat and chokes it down. She then proceeds to pour the remainder of the bottle out onto the roof, emptying it. 

“What are you-”

Annette interrupts her. “If you are cold, allow me to be your warmth. If you desire its taste, you will find it upon my lips.” 

Cordelia shakes her head incredulously, watching the liquid slowly trickle down off of the roof. “I’m not going to kiss you.” 

“Tell me why,” Annette demands. 

“I won’t.” 

“I deserve to know why.” 

“You do,” Cordelia affirms. “And I won’t. I can’t.” 

Annette sets the bottle aside and shifts to sit closer to Cordelia. “Nothing has changed between us, Cordelia. I need to know what I’ve done wrong, or if you’ve changed your mind about me, or…” 

Cordelia rises slowly, but instead of standing, she carefully climbs into a position hovering just over Annette. She moves gracefully and purposely, letting her face hold its place just a half foot above Annette’s while her eyes fill with a painful sense of longing and burden. Annette feels her breath catch in her throat. 

“If I kiss you again,” Cordelia whispers slowly, “I’ll never cease wanting to. I cannot endure the unbearable weight of needing something that I can’t have.” 

“Then have me,” Annette begs. 

Cordelia lowers a hand to Annette’s collar, sending a warm shiver of desire through her. The detective’s thumb slowly rubs along the leather, only to drop down and gently hold the small ring attached to it. “You know why I can’t.” 

Annette raises a hand and places it on top of Cordelia’s, pushing it against her neck. She furrows her brow, declaring, “I am not Samantha. I am not ‘Miss Baker.’ I am Annette, and I want you to have me.” 

Cordelia grimaces, pulling her hand away and resting it in Annette’s short hair instead. “You are only here because you have to be,” she sulks grimly, “You have no other option.” 

Annette stares deeply into Cordelia’s eyes, trying desperately to let her see the passion underneath. “I am in your home because I have to be. I am on this rooftop because I want to be.” 

Cordelia sighs. “I’ll always be afraid you are simply trying to appease me.”

Annette leans forward. “Taste my lips and tell me that all that is there is appeasement.” 

Cordelia gazes over her for a long moment, weighing the words in her head and letting them settle for a long moment. Just as Annette begins to fear that she may have pushed too far, or scared her away in some form, Cordelia gives in, pushing her body down onto Annette and letting her lips meet hers. 

Annette feels a small, involuntary whimper leave her throat as she melts into the kiss. She throws her arms around Cordelia, pulling her in closer and trying to distill all of her emotion into the movements of her tongue, and body, and breath, and lips. She presses deeper and deeper into the kiss and embrace, grabbing hold of the folds in Cordelia’s clothes as though she might be swept away into the dark sea if she did not hold on tight enough. 

Cordelia pushes her back into the tiles. The hand on the back of Annette’s head, fingers running through her hair, locks her in place, holding Annette with such a tender desperation that it is difficult to feel anything other than this moment. The cold fades away, as does her fears, and Annette simply relinquishes all of her reservations and replaces them with conviction. 

When Cordelia finally does remove her lips, there’s a nervous and moving tremor in her eyes. They dart all across Annette’s face, scanning for any possible reaction that might indicate she did something wrong. Annette smiles, her face warm and flushed, and asks, “Do you have your answer?” 

“Annette…” Cordelia sighs, descending to kiss her once more. 

Annette finds herself giggling delightedly. “Will you please bring me in from the cold?”

She watches her breath condense in the air and blow against Cordelia, and the detective smiles along with her. She nods, pursing her lips and trying to contain the beaming expression building. They slowly climb down, returning to the merciful warmth of the third floor, and stop just in front of the door to Cordelia’s study. Cordelia turns, her face once again grave and burdened, and she quickly exhales: 

“I don’t want you to have regrets.” 

Annette takes her hand, stepping forward into her space. “Cordelia, you have seen me in ways that no one else ever has, believed I was capable of more than I ever could have imagined, and have given me a home I didn’t know I needed.” She places a soft kiss on the detective’s cheek. “I want you to have me.” 

Cordelia nods, her face proper and restrained. She nervously peeks back at the door, whispering, “Once I cross that threshold…” She looks away, unable to meet Annette’s eyes. “Annette, I cannot bear the heartbreak of losing you.” 

Annette tilts her head down, forcing Cordelia to meet her gaze. “Then I will not be lost.” 

Cordelia frowns apprehensively. “You cannot make that promise.” 

Annette gently runs her fingers along Cordelia’s arm. “Allow me to try.” 

The detective takes a long moment to think, her eyes darting all of the room in a frantic display. When she speaks once more, her voice is filled with a tender and sorrowful concern.

“I…”

Annette steps back slightly. “I understand.” 

“A day,” Cordelia adds quickly, still holding Annette’s hand tightly. “To consider carefully.” 

She nods, slowly, and smiles up at her. “A day,” she affirms.

 

– – – 

 

Annette eventually finds her way to sleep, and when she awakes, she smirks at the realization Cordelia must not have had the same success. Just underneath the door to Annette’s bedroom, she sees an envelope. 

 

Dearest Annette, 

 

Before this letter causes you pause, alarm, or relief, I would like to be forthright and inform you that I have not yet come to an answer for you. I have not yet, and truly doubt I shall at all, found the graceful rest of sleep this night. Instead, I have watched the dawn come, pouring over pages and pages of my journal, unsure of how to chart a path through the treacherous waters I find myself in. Do you journal? I find that it is among the only ways I can make sense of the world apart from my own intuition; which is at its best, insightful, and at its worst, suspect. I wrote a great deal about you over our time together, and I have prepared a selection of excerpts from these volumes that I believe you may find illuminating in some way. Perhaps not. I shall pursue the point nonetheless. 

 

Entry One: 

“Miss Baker appears to be cut mostly of the same cloth as dear Miss Pennyworth. She retains many of the same neuroses as Penny, insisting that my natural organization is void of any sense of purpose. She does not possess Penny’s incessant formality or deference, however, and instead has replaced these characteristics with a penchant for wit. Interesting.” 

 

Entry Three: 

“Today, Miss Baker stood her ground in order to defend her position that basil is a superior herb to dill. I care not for dill in any notable way, save the odd dish where it is necessary, but I persisted in allowing her to believe that I value it greatly, curious to see if she might fold upon meeting resistance to her opinion. She remained unwavering in her conviction, naming a veritable cornucopia of dinners featuring dill that could replace it with basil and be improved. She then challenged me to name even a single dish where dill might perform the same feat.” 

 

Entry Six: 

“Kereland. Of course she is from Kereland. Might she have been orphaned by the famine? She must be a hearty sort, indeed, to have survived such an ordeal. I shall avoid requesting dishes featuring the potato in any prominence.” 

 

Entry Seven: 

“I lost my temper with Miss Baker tonight. Unacceptable.” 

 

Entry Nine: 

“Observation: Miss Baker recognizes and deduces far more than she lets on. It is clear that her mind is constantly at work, though she seems sometimes hesitant to allow such sides of herself to be put on display.” 

 

Entry Ten: 

“It has been all but confirmed: Annette experiences the feeling I have so oft been burdened by. It is unclear if she is entirely aware, or whether or not she has always felt so, but it cannot be doubted any longer. She is inconsistent, and occasionally frustrating in her resistance to turmoil, but I hope such things are temporary defenses.” 

 

Entry Fourteen: 

“I have been thinking about the twice-born; specifically, my old friend Mister Monroe, and of course, Annette. I think, in some ways, that I possess a certain jealousy of them; to have understood oneself so clearly at such a young age that they were able to articulate this desire for rebirth - that, I would not have been capable of. I could hardly have enumerated even a singular one of my emotions as a child, yet it seems that both of them could bear comprehensive witness to a legion of such feelings. I contend that it is a contributing factor to provide an explanation for why her mind is so astute and focused.” 

 

Entry Seventeen: 

“Miss Baker has yet to complain to me about wearing dresses; though she seems to have found great joy in sporting my wardrobe this evening.” 

 

Entry Twenty: 

“So it seems Annette has fallen under the spell of Lady Deveroux; how poetic. It is likely that they met as Lady Deveroux was on her usual prowl at the Fleeting Faery. One part of me wonders what responsibility I have to inform Miss Baker of our past, whilst another has no wish to disrupt what appears to be her happiness.”

 

Entry Twenty-Five: 

“A recipe recovered from my mother:

One round onion, diced. 

Three carrots, cut into disks. 

Two stalks of celery, diced. 

Two Bay leaves, and assorted herbs. 

A half teaspoon of ground ginger. 

Salt, to taste. 

Cook with chicken on bones, simmer for multiple hours. 

Add barley, approximately one cup. 

According to her, this soup was well regarded by Susan for improving my mood as a child, which I can corroborate from my own memory. I recall that it unfailingly cured whatever despair had befallen me in a given moment. I am unsure of whether or not heartbreak is beyond its capacity to heal, but perhaps it will assist Annette.” 

 

Entry Twenty-Eight:

“A part of me resents Annette for her initiative and resolve. Only a part, though I cannot help but wonder from where this part has come to be. Her absence from the home is striking, and I keep finding myself stating something clever aloud and hoping she will reply; the silence in response is quite tedious. To say that I think about her constantly in her absence would do an injustice to the frequency of my consideration for her while she was still here. It seems my mind cannot quit pondering what she might say or think in a given moment; what emotion will decorate her face as she witnessed me today; or what exciting insight I might glean from her mind today. Perhaps it is time to face the music, so-to-speak.” 

 

Entry Thirty-One: 

“The house is empty. And empty. And empty. And empty.”

 

Entry Thirty-Two: 

“Another collar escaped this week. I wonder if their owner may also dread the loss of companionship; how pitiful it would be if all they missed was the emptiness of their dinner plate and the not sting of a quiet house. Perhaps Annette was responsible, and if so, I commend her.” 

 

Entry Thirty-Seven:

“It is time to accept that she will not be returning. Perhaps in another month, I shall not feel such a desperate angst as I watch the door for her. Should I simply replace her? How wretched an idea. Could Michealangelo replace his David? 

It is done, Cordelia. You must relinquish your naivety and return to the world of reality, for your own sake.” 

 

Entry Thirty-Eight: 

“‘Thank you for teaching me to be Annette.’”

 

Entry Forty: 

“Her heart was beating so fast.”

 

Entry Forty-One:

“‘Taste my lips and tell me that all that is there is appeasement.’” She tasted of whiskey, and something far greater. 

I hope you will find these entries illuminating in some way. I have now read your first letter, and I cannot help but wonder what you mean by abandoning a position of neutrality; the logical meaning is clear, of course, but perhaps I am more concerned with the question of motive. I consider it incomprehensible that you could desire such a thing as me; that I could endear in you such a level of depth of feeling that justifies your actions of late. The concept of being sought after in such a way is as foreign to me as a frog must be to a star. I feel as though I am trapped within some grand comedy, or a building tragedy, as though there is no conceivable way that a woman of your immeasurable quality could find my companionship suitable. I beg of you, from the greatest depths of kindness you can summon, be merciful with my heart. 

 

With great consideration, 

Cordelia. 

 

– — – 

 

Cordelia is away from the house for the entirety of her day of consideration, and Annette cannot tell if that improves or worsens her nerves. She putters about the home all day, fretting and tittering with energy. She cleans, she bathes, she listens for the door. When evening finally comes, she’s long since prepared dinner and allowed it to simmer over a low fire, ready for Cordelia’s return. She sets the table, returns to the living room, and waits. 

When the lock on the door finally clicks open, the sun is just beginning to set. Cordelia tosses her cloak onto the rack, carefully strolls down the hall, and joins Annette on the couch. She smiles politely. 

“I made dinner,” Annette breaks the silence. 

Cordelia nods, grinning apologetically. “Unfortunately, I have no appetite.” 

“Neither have I,” Annette exhales. “Are… are you ready to talk?” 

“I am. I-,”

“Allow me to speak first,” Annette blurts out, “if you would be so kind.” 

Cordelia smiles and gestures for her to speak. 

She takes a breath, feeling her passion take hold of her, and leaps into the speech she has been rehearsing all afternoon. “I could never have envisioned the person I’ve become as a result of your influence, Cordelia. I could have lived a thousand lives and never become this person.” 

“You give me too much credit,” the detective dismisses. “You were always capable-,”

“I became this person because I desired so deeply to impress you.” 

“Impress me?” 

Annette bobs her head quickly, ruffling her fingers through her hair as she gathers herself. “I think constantly about how I might earn your approval; and once gained, I immediately seek out my next opportunity. It was you and your vision that emboldened me. You made me realize that all of this, this person I am now, was possible.” 

Cordelia raises an eyebrow. “Even despite your objections?” 

Annette restrains a smirk. “Cordelia, you are eccentric.” 

“I am unaware of-,”

“I adore the way your mind works,” Annette interjects. “I may not always understand it, but it is so clear to me that you perceive something of the world that no one else dares to witness. It’s invigorating. It’s refreshing.”

Cordelia shrugs. “All I do is pay attention.” 

“And it is remarkable what you see!” Annette shuffles forward in her seat excitedly. “I am constantly astounded by you. You are undoubtedly the most incredible woman I have ever met.” 

The detective blushes graciously and looks down at the cushions. “Thank you.” 

Annette feels her energy still press forward, but notices Cordelia remains quiet despite it. “You… you still seem hesitant,” she ventures. 

“I can be remarkable and not attract your attentions,” she sighs. “You could so easily return to Marian, or any number of beautiful women.” 

Annette snorts. “I would get bored.” 

“I don’t bore you?” She asks slowly. 

Annette lets out a bark of laughter, incredulous and amused. “How could you possibly bore anyone?” 

Cordelia grimaces and drops her shoulders. “You should see me make conversation with anyone other than you. Especially when in polite society.” 

Annette grabs her hand quickly, squeezing it. “Cordelia, if your mind were a book I would never stop reading it. The whole time I was away from here, I wished you could be at my side.” 

“You said you needed space to develop yourself.” 

“I needed space,” Annette affirms, then adds a second later, “I wanted you.” 

The detective is quiet for a breath. “And what do you need now?” 

“You,” Annette scoots forward. 

“I see,” Cordelia nods. She furrows her brow and stares back at Annette, her emerald eyes glimmering with curiosity. “Why?” 

“My life has never been so good as it has been since the day you entered it,” she answers quickly. “I could never return to the way things were before; you have ruined me for normality. I want to exist only in the world as you see it. I need it.” 

Cordelia’s thumb gently strokes the back of her hand. “You speak with such conviction.” 

Annette lowers her head and looks back at her, trying to read the mild confusion upon her face. “Your letter made it seem as though you needed reassurance regarding my intentions in order to make a decision.”

“Oh,” Cordelia pips. “Not anymore.” 

“Not anymore?” 

“I’ve made my decision,” she says nonchalantly.

“Which is…?”

Cordelia leans forward, lifting her thighs to straddle Annette, pushing her back into the couch. “Damn the consequences,” Cordelia exhales, throwing herself into a kiss. 

Annette’s heart bursts as Cordelia kisses her, and she feels a wave of relief and elation pour through her. She wraps her arms around Cordelia’s waist and sighs as she feels the detective’s tongue slowly push inside of her. It explores her excitedly, and she allows her the pleasure for as long as she desires it. Annette’s pulse races inside of her chest, and she feels a powerful bubbling of enrapture race through her sternum. 

She pushes Cordelia off of her, guiding her to lay down onto the couch so Annette can fall into her embrace more fully. She melts into the feeling of their limbs intertwining, dropping her kisses onto Cordelia’s neck and bursting with pride as she can hear the detective’s breaths grow louder and louder. Cordelia soon after returns the favor, running a hand through the girl’s hair and pulling her head back softly, kissing the space between her jaw and her collar. Annette relinquishes her sense of shame, allowing her soft moans to wash over the room. 

They trade control back and forth for some time, until the two of them slowly and organically allow the kiss to fade. It’s replaced with a warm embrace, and Cordelia folds the smaller woman into her chest, allowing Annette’s head to rest against her collarbone. Her fingers slowly trace along Annette’s back as the two cuddle for a while, sending delightful tingling feelings through her body. Her heart glimmers with warmth and she can feel her cheeks burn from smiling so deeply. 

“I… I am quite relieved,” she whispers after some time. 

She feels Cordelia’s chest bounce gently as the woman laughs. “And I do believe I am now hungry.” 

Annette lifts her head, meeting Cordelia’s gaze and drinking up the satisfied expression decorating it. “And how might I serve you, Miss Jones?”

Cordelia places a kiss on Annette’s collarbone. “Accompany me to the table, if you would be so kind, Miss Baker.” 

“But of course,” Annette beams. 

She slowly rises, slinking away to the table whilst Cordelia retrieves the simmering pot from the kitchen. Cordelia is chuckling with amusement and appreciation as she sets it down onto the table and serves a pair of bowls. 

“You… you made the recipe from the letter,” she remarks happily, “my mother’s soup.” 

Annette bites her lip mischievously. “I… in the event you decided not to pursue me… ahem… I was hoping you would eat dinner first and its reported effects on your mood would tip the balance of your decision into my favor.” 

Cordelia takes a seat in the chair just beside Annette, turning it to face her slightly. She shakes her head and laughs in disbelief. “I…” She gives up on speaking and kisses Annette instead. 

Annette smirks as they exit the kiss. “I would hate to distract you from your dinner, Miss Jones.” 

“Then you must be filled with loathing, Miss Baker.” 

“Then I shall endeavor to be less distracting.”

“As though such a thing were in your control.” 

The two of them eat, sitting in a place of excitement and comfort. The mood between them feels light and free and relaxed and electric, and Annette is constantly meeting Cordelia’s gaze as the two of them sneak glances at one another. 

Eventually, Annette says, “I enjoyed your letter this morning.” 

Cordelia blushes, laughing with a twinge of embarrassment. “I was quite burdened by a foreboding sense of angst as I wrote it… I even tried to retrieve it from your room in embarrassment, only to find that you astutely locked your door to prevent such an attempt.”

Annette grins. “I’ll not make your detective work regarding me too easy for you.” 

Cordelia sits forward, placing her arm onto the table. “Are you suggesting that there might be reason for me to investigate you?” 

“How forward, Miss Jones,” Annette scolds playfully. “At the dinner table?”

“Given your reactions to Lady Deveroux in this place,” Cordelia quips back, “who could fault me for believing a dining room to be a place of arousal for you? Would you rather I believe it to be the result of exhibitionism instead?” 

Annette flushes bright pink. “Nothing of the sort,” she chokes out. 

Cordelia gives her no reprieve, grinning wickedly and ordering, “Feed me my next bite, Miss Baker.” 

“You’re incorrigible.” 

Cordelia feigns offense. “So Lady Deveroux is owed deference, and not I?” She opens her mouth wide in expectation. “Feed me my next bite.” 

Annette rolls her eyes, swiping Cordelia’s spoon and gathering some of the soup on it. Careful not to spill any, she places it in Cordelia’s mouth, and once the detective’s lips enclose around it Annette lets go of the utensil, leaving it between her closed lips. She folds her arms across her chest, playfully annoyed, only to blush as Cordelia’s hand rises to hold Annette’s jaw and meet her gaze. She swallows the bite, removes the spoon, and stares at Annette with an intimate, commanding, and seductive grin. Annette flusters and looks away nervously. 

“Ah,” Cordelia laughs softly. “So it is neither the location nor the exhibitionism. It is the submission.” 

Annette swallows dryly. “I assure you that-,” 

Cordelia grins and interrupts, “Might I tell you an embarrassing secret?” 

“Oh, do tell.” 

“The night I left you to kneel and solve Lady Wilva’s case-,”

“So you had no faith I would remain kneeling, and planned for me to study it all along?” Annette scowls. 

“None whatsoever,” Cordelia confirms, gently poking a finger against Annette’s cheek. “I didn’t intend to leave the home; I had originally planned to simply retire to my room for a time. But, seeing you kneeling for me, with your eyes torn between annoyance and a hint of excitement…” Cordelia’s face turns a little pink. “It left me in such a state that I paid a visit to Elenore’s Gallery instead.” 

“Cordelia!” Annette scoffs, delighted and scandalized. 

“It’s true,” she admits. 

Annette leans forward, meeting her eyes and giggling alongside her. “I knew you had the marks of kisses on your neck when you returned!” She shakes her head in amusement. “So I am to believe you already loved me by that time?” 

Cordelia bites her lip. “There are many activities one can desire to do with a beautiful woman that have nothing to do with love… many carnal activities.” 

“Yes, I quite understood your meaning,” Annette shoves her and blushes. 

“So bashful, Miss Baker,” Cordelia sits back into her chair, crossing her leg over her lap. “Adorable,” she purrs. 

Annette’s face remains a vibrant shade of pink. “So… at what time did you discover that your desires for me were not strictly recreational?” 

“Witnessing you in my clothes,” Cordelia replies. 

“Truly?” 

Cordelia nods, her voice sweet and sincere, “There’s something so charming about the notion you might be swaddled in something of mine and enjoy it. It feels… it feels so innocently possessive.” 

Annette smirks and taps the collar on her neck. “Possessing me must be a novel idea.” 

“That doesn’t count!” Cordelia laughs. “Seeing you in my clothes… it becomes easy to imagine that you are fresh from spending the night with me. Perhaps something spilled upon your clothes, or they were otherwise rendered out of commission; and now, you’ve elected to give me the honor of bestowing you with my new attire.” 

“I never figured you a fan of chivalry.” 

“I’m not fond of receiving it,” Cordelia asserts, “but giving it is far more enticing.” 

A little idea bubbles forth in Annette’s mind, and she prepares her next bite of dinner. But, just before bringing it to her mouth, she allows a little bit of it to spill upon her dress, directly on her chest. “Oh heavens,” she jokes, “it seems we’ll simply have to retire to your room, where I might find a suitable replacement to fix this wardrobe scandal.” 

Cordelia smiles, placing a hand on Annette’s cheek and meeting her eyes for a sweet breath. “Might I have a word with you first?” 

“Of course.”

“I do not desire parting with you, Annette,” she begins. “But before we proceed any further, I should like to know the depth of your commitment. I cannot bear the thought that I might only be a temporary amusement for you.”

Annette covers Cordelia’s hand with her own. “Then I shall not be temporary.”

Cordelia’s eyes glimmer sweetly. “You truly care so deeply?” 

“I cannot fathom what life might be if I were not beside you.” 

“Thank you,” Cordelia whispers. 

Annette brings Cordelia’s hand to her lips and kisses it gently. “If you can believe it, Marian actually advised that I ought to have you court me before proceeding any further.” 

“Do you desire to be courted?”

“Lesbians don’t get to-,”

“Do you desire it?” Cordelia asks again, a little more firmly. 

“I… I suppose?” Annette shrugs. “And yet I don’t see the point. It’s not as though I could marry you at any point.” 

Cordelia smiles, her hand rising to rest on Annette’s neck. “See you no irony in the fact that of all the tokens I may have placed on your collar, I selected a ring?” 

“Oh God…” Annette raises a hand to cover her mouth. “Is that why you whispered ‘I do?’ You think us to be married?”

“Christ, no,” Cordelia chuckles. “But consider this, Annette. You and I, by nature of being collar and owner, have a socially expected duty to live together, be in public together, possess symbols declaring out binds to one another… the resemblance is uncanny.” 

“Very well,” Annette rolls her eyes and grins. “Might you finally bring me to your chambers so that I may perform the sacred duties of a wife?”

Cordelia smiles and runs her fingers along Annette’s collar once more. “There is a certain convenience about having you as my collar.” She purses her lips and takes a breath, and when she speaks again, her voice is over-exaggerated. “Dear me, Miss Baker, it seems there is a spill upon your dress!” 

Annette kisses her. “Bring… me… upstairs…” she commands.

Cordelia grins and rises from the table, pulling Annette up with her. She places a hand on the small of Annette’s back, guiding her to the stairs and up towards the third floor. Annette trembles excitedly at the feeling of warmth between her shoulders, her breath shaky with the feeling of Cordelia so close. They arrive at the doors to Cordelia’s study, where the detective quickly throws them open and leads Annette t her bedroom. 

She stops at the door inside, turning to Annette and saying, “I would like to give you a final opportunity to change your mind-,”

Annette ignores her, pushing her back into the doors with a desperate kiss. She throws her hands onto Cordelia’s face, pulling her lips back into her own and sighing with a feeling of rapture. Cordelia’s hands scramble for the door and she twists it open, allowing Annette to continue kissing her while stumbling back towards her bed. 

Cordelia twists just before the edge of the large mattress in the middle of the room, allowing Annette to fall first into the sheets and landing on top of her. Annette’s legs hang over the edge of the bed and Cordelia lowers herself to meet her lips once more. She kisses Cordelia with a profound enthusiasm, relishing the feeling of freedom that comes from her touch; the overwhelming sensation of liberty that flowed from the warmth building between them. 

The detective’s hands run across her dress, gliding over her waists and chest, settling in such a way that one hand rests on one of Annette’s breasts while the other pulls Annette’s waist up higher into her own. Annette arches her back and sighs, her body coming alive at the glittering sensation. Her hands claw across Cordelia’s back, pulling against the fine cotton of her buttoned shirt and tugging against the band of her suspenders. 

“Another day…” Cordelia hums as she continues pouring herself over Annette’s body. “I should like to understand more of this element of submission you so desire. But for tonight…” She tilts Annette’s chin up and kisses her. “I want no pretense, no complications, nothing other than the woman I adore so deeply.”

Annette feels her heart blossom, and she rests her hands on the back of Cordelia’s neck, feeling radiant and necessary. “She’s yours,” Annette breathes out.

Cordelia lowers the straps of Annette’s dress, pulling the collared shirt up from its tucked position. She methodically and purposefully undoes each button from the bottom up, and at last opens it wide to remove it from Annette. Her bare arms buzz with excitement as Annette feels her shoulders dig into the soft fabrics of Cordelia’s bed, and as the detective drops down to pull away her small undershirt, Annette feels the homely scent of Cordelia fill her senses. It’s an earthy and fresh smell; her beloved pine soap mixing with her natural odor, which is warm and comforting.  

She closes her eyes and allows her breaths to grow deep and open as Cordelia’s lips work their way across her exposed breasts. Her tongue flicks across Annette’s nipples, sending a twinkling pleasure through her chest and back. The detective is so seductively deliberate in all of her motions, somehow resisting the overwhelming urge to race towards something greater as Annette feels. Her legs wrap around Cordelia’s back as her hands massage Annette’s soft skin, venturing out all over her before consistently returning to an enticing place on her lower waist. 

“I… ah…” Annette attempts between panting breaths, feeling her body flush with heat. “I know you are… you are intellectually aware that I’m… ahh… twice-born… but I just want to be clear that you are p-prepared before…” 

Cordelia rises from her work at Annette’s chest, grinning and kissing her lips gently. “I am aware,” she hums. Her eyes dart down lower on Annette’s form, and the detective smirks and says, “I can feel you straining already.” 

Annette’s face brightens with bashful indiscretion and she giggles weakly. “But if you’ve never…'' Her words are cut off by an amorous breath as Cordelia returns to kissing her breasts, her palms cupping the soft flesh and massaging them. “I understand if you prefer… mmphf… other…” 

“There is not a portion of your body I don’t hunger for,” Cordelia answers back. She pinches Annette’s nipples teasingly, making the girl squirm and release a pained moan. 

Annette nods quickly, feeling helpless at Cordelia’s touch. It’s impossible not to feel herself sinking into the comfortable purpose of existing for her pleasure, and she feels a glimmer of pride in her form each time the detective smiles up at her. Her touch is so measured and particular, gliding over Annette as though studying each and every inch of her, as though collecting data on every reaction she has, every needed movement to elicit a sensuous gasp from the girl. 

“That is not to say, however,” Cordelia perks up, her hands drifting down the sides of Annette’s hips, “that I instinctively understand what you desire.” She rises forward once more, kissing Annette’s neck. “I desperately wish to know what I must do to continue hearing your delightful cries.” 

Annette flusters softly, feeling a well of nervousness pour forth. “I… mmmm… I’m not sure how to say…” 

“There is no shame in anything but a missed opportunity,” Cordelia’s voice bounces back soothingly. “And I should not like to miss any opportunity with you.” 

Annette nods quickly, closing her eyes and focusing on the feeling of Cordelia’s palms instead of her bristling embarrassment. “You can use your mouth… similar as you would with any other woman…” she gasps, her voice weak but functional. “And… there is space for your fingers… mmphf…  it is simply a little ways below…” 

“Excellent.” Cordelia’s hands quickly drop to Annette’s dress and she slides it down past her hips and off of her completely. Annette feels her clit fighting her panties, and once Cordelia begins placing kisses all across the area, the struggle grows significantly worse. 

“I cannot help but feel… mmmhhf… that there is a lack of balance… in our attire, Miss Jones,” Annette smirks. 

Cordelia releases a hasty bark of laughter. “How inconsiderate of me,” she muses, dropping the straps of her suspenders to her sides and using the same methodical approach to unbuttoning her own shirt. 

Annette watches excitedly as the fabric slowly opens wide, and as Cordelia pulls the shirt off of her, leaving behind a simple tunic as an undershirt, Annette is amazed at the strength in her arms. It seems obvious in retrospect, with how successful a boxer Cordelia was, but because of how gentle and restrained the detective’s touch is, Annette’s image of her was less toned. Her shoulders aren’t particularly broad, but a firm set of muscles set atop them, descending down her arms with crisp lines that solidify each time she flexes or moves. The veins on her forearms are defined and strong, and despite the strength in her fingers, Cordelia’s hands are especially soft. 

The detective leaves the undershirt behind, and Annette marvels at the power and grace of her figure. Cordelia’s torso is such a masterful conjunction of delicate and powerful, chiseled and soft, elegant and practical; her form possess the sort of impossibly quality of beautifully sculpted marble, somehow able to capture the grace and fragility of the fabric of a dress, for example, while simultaneously embodying the durability and physicality of stone. Annette had always assumed she was mostly attracted to the delicate femininity of women… but gazing upon Cordelia, she realizes that it was just an intrinsic interest in women without qualification. Her mind races with excitement at the thought of feeling their skin pressing against one another. 

“I shall take that expression as a compliment, Miss Baker,” Cordelia’s face splits open in a proud grin. 

“Of the highest order,” she gasps as Cordelia returns to placing kisses across Annette’s inner thigh. She kneels down at the side of the bed, pulling Annette by her hips to bring her closer to the detective’s position, and Annette throws her hands down onto the sheets, clenching them desperately. 

Cordelia’s tantalizing pace relents as she finally removes Annette’s panties entirely, sending her clit darting upwards, straining for attention. Her eyes glow excitedly as she takes it in, and she uses one of her hands to gently lay it flat against Annette’s lower abdomen, lowering her lips down to kiss the underside of its tip. Annette tenses at the sharp pleasure, and lifts her hips closer in the hopes that she’ll provide more pressure. Cordelia’s tongue slowly glides along the shaft, occasionally flicking seductively at the tip and sending Annette trembling into the sheets. 

The detective’s free hand lowers to the space underneath Annette’s clit, slowly massaging the soft skin and running her fingers through the little hairs. Cordelia smiles as she works, and everytime Annette looks down and meets her gaze, she feels a flutter of delight bustle in her chest. As Cordelia’s wandering fingers finally press against Annette’s tight hole, the girl tosses her head back and allows a needful moan to escape her lips. 

“Adorable,” Cordelia quips happily, relishing in each expression of Annette’s enjoyment. The detective stops for just a moment, retrieving a small tin of petroleum jelly from her bedside table, and returns to the side of the bed. She opens it, dipping her index finger in and lathering it carefully, while Annette watches with a desperate elation. 

Cordelia places a long and teasing string of kisses across her inner thigh, gracefully returning to running her tongue across Annette’s sensitive clit, while her finger returns to her bottom, carefully pressing against her once more. Her eyes flick up to Annette, quietly confirming her continued enthusiasm, and as Annette nods quickly the detective allows her finger to push inside. 

Annette rocks back into the mattress, shivering with delight and gasping happily. The finger slides into her, slowly pressing inside and resting apprehensively against the soft skin within her. 

“Just… mmphf…” Annette gulps down her pleasure and tries again. “Hook the tip of your finger slightly,” she directs, “there is a small s-spot!” 

Her legs wrap around Cordelia's shoulders as the detective’s finger finds her prostate, and Annette feels her hips crash with warmth and an ecstatic feeling of bliss. Cordelia giggles delightedly at the strong response from her, and pushes down even harder on the location, causing Annette’s clit to stiffen desperately and sending her shivering down into the sheets. Her mouth picks up its task in earnest, and between the two feelings Annette feels her mind descend into the frantic and necessary feeling within herself. 

She rocks her hips down onto Cordelia’s finger, guiding her into a slow movement that pulls a whimpering moan from her with each rotation. The detective encloses her mouth around the tip of Annette’s stiff clit, and the warm feeling of her tongue flicking against it is almost too much for Annette to bear. She drops a hand to Cordelia’s head, her fingers running through her dark hair like a plea for salvation, while her other hand clasps the sheets tightly, balling them into her palm. 

Cordelia stops for a quick moment, only enough to add jelly to a second finger, and then pushes that one inside Annette as well, causing her to let out an excited and pained moan at the feeling of being stretched open. She rocks her hips forward even more, squirming into the mattress every time the tips of Cordelia’s fingers reach their apex and push into the rapturous button within. 

“Cor… Cordelia,” Annette whimpers, locking eyes with the detective and relishing the look of adoration that meets hers. She’d done this plenty of times - with Samantha, with Marian, and with a scattered array of hasty love affairs - but none of it compared to the feeling of it being with Cordelia. The pleasure racing through her body was powerful and consuming, but it wasn’t just the physicality that was bringing her towards the edge, Annette realizes, it was the knowledge that it was Cordelia doing so. 

It was the comfort and challenge of her being. It was the beauty and uniqueness of her looks. It was the knowledge of a being touched by a mind that saw her own and could meet it there, could understand it in a way that no one else ever had. It was the feeling of devotion in Cordelia’s touch, and the presence of confidence and gentleness she carries. 

The orgasm consumes Annette like a revelation of something far greater than herself. It pours over her, baptizing her into a feeling of divinity and wholeness that was simultaneously able to satisfy her, and also leave her pleading for more. Her body clenches and tightens around Cordelia’s head and torso, lifting off of the bed as she gasps loudly into the room around her. It crashes through her as she feels it fill her, and with each surge her breath races out of her lungs as a cry of delight. 

She falls backwards into the bed, her hips trembling into Cordelia’s fingers, still inside her, as the detective slowly continues her delicate motions, encouraging every last drop of lustful need to release her. Annette drops her arm against her forehead, her face contorting into a firm grimace as she feels the hot and buzzing feeling settle inside of her. Cordelia allows Annette her enjoyment, watching contentedly as the girl lays motionless in the sheets, only moving when her muscles tense as a residual wave washes over her. 

Eventually, Cordelia rises from her knees, lifting herself up to lay her body into Annette’s arms, climbing forward and pulling her into another sweet kiss. Annette sighs drowsily, melting into the comfortable feeling of warmth of their bodies mixing together.

“Have you enjoyed yourself, Miss Baker?” Cordelia asks at last, beaming proudly. Annette can only nod in response, still feeling the occasional rush of pleasure. “I’ll need you to recover quickly,” Cordelia chuckles. “I am in great need of your unique attentions.” 

“I… I am eager to provide them…” Annette pants. 

“Wonderful,” Cordelia pips happily. She stands up, removing her shirt and unbuckling the belt of her pants. “Do recover quickly, dear Annette. I do not see this evening ending anytime soon.” 

35