First Lesson

“Good morning, darling. Did you sleep well?”

Karie looked up from her cup of coffee, eyelids fluttering. Her mind was still lost in a haze from the night before, her first weekend night in Paris had been dizzying, to say the least. Her mind was still heavy from drink, and song, and the raucousness of dancing two inches off the surface of the street, meandering around other people as heady and laughing as she was.

She remembered fragments. Glasses of wine and liquor clinking together, often with strangers she had never met, and would never meet again. Jokes that her loose grip on French had only half-understood, but that she had laughed along with anyway. Two young men making out in an alley, one pressed up against the old brick wall behind him, the other moving his hand down his partner’s flat stomach and into his pants as their mouths intermingled.

She had gone to bed that night dreaming of being the lover pushed to the wall. In another lifetime, with enough alcohol in her to forget, she might have been.


She blinked again, lifting her head quickly to meet Tina’s eyes. “I’m. I’m sorry. I had a rough sleep last night.”

Tina laughed, resting her thumb against the rim of her coffee cup, tracing its circumference back and forth. Brown hair rested against her cheek, tumbling down in a sheet to her shoulder. “A little too much time spent taking in the music festival, I take it?”

Karie sighed. “It was my first time.” She combed her fingers back through tousled blonde hair, pushing her glasses back from where they had slid down her nose. “I hadn’t really experienced anything like it.”

“Fair enough. But you have to take things slowly.”

Nodding, Karie picked up her coffee, sipping slowly, letting espresso and foamed milk swirl over her tongue. Warm and soothing, she thought, like the press of two bodies against one another.

“Karie?” Tina’s voice was warm, soothing, like the drink in Karie’s hands. “Would you like to try something? A game, of a sort, but… something a little more serious than that.”

Hesitating, Karie held her coffee in her hands, frozen in place. Tina had a talent for being cryptic, saying things loaded with meaning. Their conversations online had been filled with such talk. To hear it, face-to-face, however, had an entirely different weight to it. Her lips trembled, if only for a moment. “How do you mean?”

She felt a pressure, light but present, against her shin. Karie looked down; the front of Tina’s shoe, a simple, glossy black pair of high heels, rested against her leg. They were shapely, slender, the toe of Tina’s shoes bringing the front of her foot to a trim point, while the sharp spike of the heel scratched against the front of her jeans.

“Go on and choose what to do,” Tina said, hands folded on the tabletop, a breeze drifting down the sleepy morning street, fluttering her hair. “But choose quickly. I will give you a minute, maybe two, to decide how you wish to act.”

Karie’s cheeks burned warm. Tina was beautiful; Karie had told her so in passing on several occasions, online. The other woman’s posts on social media, showing off favorite new outfits, casual strolls in the city, made Karie’s heart sing every time she saw them. But she particularly felt something potent whenever Tina showed off her newest pair of shoes, her feet pointed just-so.

Her throat twitched. They were out in public, though. The cafe’s outdoor tables were moderately occupied by young couples enjoying an early breakfast together; lone, older men reading through the newspaper; middle-aged suited businessmen and women thumbing through email on their phone. Surely, Tina meant nothing by this gesture. What she meant, however, was a mystery.

She leaned forward, aware of Tina’s steady gaze. Her belly pressed against her thighs, sending more color flooding to her cheeks. Hands reached downward, arms stretching awkwardly, fingers moving toward the straps on Tina’s shoes, starting to ease them loose from the slender, silver buckles.

“Karie.” Tina’s voice was pleasant, peaceful, but cool, carrying a gravity that Karie couldn’t quite put into words, but that she could feel in her gut. “Are you trying to take my shoe?”

Karie sat immediately upright, back pressing against her chair, heart skipping a beat as the color drained from her face. What was she doing? “I’m… I’m sorry. I think I misunderstood.”

Tina nodded, eyes half closed. Setting her coffee cup aside, she reached across the table, brushing fingertips against Karie’s cheek, tracing down downward to her jaw. Her lips curled up into a smile. “I meant for you to kiss them.”

The red ran back into Karie’s cheeks. Surely, she thought, Tina didn’t mean that! Her lips sputtered; words, however, failed to materialize.

“No matter now, darling.” Settling back into her seat, Tina picked her coffee back up, taking a long drink, her fingers curled around the cup. She held it close to her face, letting the steam drift upward. “I would, however, appreciate it if you put my shoe back where you found it.”

Sputtering soundlessly, Karie nodded and bent forward again, fingers hurrying towards Tina’s shoe, slipping the strap back into its buckle. She was careful to tighten her shoe comfortably to her friend’s foot, not too tight, though attentive enough to see what pressure she was pressing down with on the young woman’s feet.

They were lovely, Karie thought. Soft and smooth, so much unlike her own – too large, too ungainly, too bulky and crisscrossed with veins. Tina’s comment, her intention to have her friend kiss her feet, whispered at the back of Karie’s mind and sent a shiver rattling down her spine.

“I could have done that myself,” Tina said, still settled back in her seat. “Why do you think I asked you to do so?”

A flurry of thoughts raced through Karie’s head as she sat there, bent over, hands hovering over Tina’s feet. “Because,” she said, stumbling over her words, “I decided to remove it. There’s a consequence to my actions.”

Tina, however, shook her head. “Darling, what position are you in?”

Karie’s throat tightened, her heart running faster. Where was Tina leading? She felt like she was on a tightrope, body swaying, stomach slowly turning back and forth. Still, she felt frozen in place, that it would somehow be wrong to sit back up.

“Physically, I mean.”

“Oh,” Karie shook her head, clearing the tumble of thoughts from her mind. Still, she remained bent forward. Why couldn’t she sit up? “I’m… I’m bent over. At the waist.”


“And reaching down. Stretching my arms so I can reach your feet.”

Karie glanced upward and saw Tina nod through the tabletop. “And how does that feel?”

Karie’s throat clenched; she could feel tears starting to well in the corners of her eyes. “I don’t… I don’t know.”

Tina’s hand reached under the table, extending across the diameter until it rested in Karie’s hair. Karie closed her eyes, sighing as she felt Tina’s fingers comb through the thin layers flowing down from her scalp. “Are you uncomfortable?”

“Yes. And no.”

“This is the foundation of tension. Of intimacy.” Tina’s hand withdrew, slowly, fingertips gliding light against Karie’s cheek. “The interplay between fear and anxiety, and desire. Do you feel a warmth in your stomach? Your heart fluttering inside you?”

A bead of sweat ran down Karie’s forehead. Where was Tina leading her? She still didn’t know, yet she felt urged to go deeper. “I do, yes.”

“Then I would like to give you a second chance to kiss my feet.”

A lump formed in Karie’s throat, a tight, solid knot that took power and pressure to loosen. She looked down again at her friend’s shoes. At the perfect shape of her feet. Filling her lungs, Karie slid from her seat, wincing as her knees pressed down against the warm concrete beneath their table. Her mind tried not to focus on whomever might be watching her from another table; her eyes zeroed in their focus on her companion’s feet so as not to be frightened by anything else.

Resting her hands against the bottom of Tina’s shoe, she lifted it upward, pressing her lips to the polished leather covering her toes. She could think of nothing else, nothing but the sight of immaculate skin and the scent of skin and freshly powdered insoles.

Laughter, gentle and tender, tickled at Karie’s ears. She looked up, meeting Tina’s face through the wrought iron, crisscrossing lines of the tabletop.

“I meant for you to kiss my foot,” Tina said, her voice gentle, kind, even as she stared down at the woman kneeling before her. “Not my shoe, darling.”

“I’m very sorry.”

“Don’t be. I wanted to see where you would take things, if given a subtle direction. Perhaps I should have been more clear.”

Karie bowed her head, looking down at her knees. “I must be frustrating.”

“This is something outside of your experience. You learn by doing,” Tina answered. “Or by trying, in this case.”

“I… I think I understand.”

“If you do, then kiss my toe. If you are still uncertain, kiss my ankle.”

Karie considered this, still holding Tina’s foot in her hand. By all rights, she should be embarrassed. By all rights, she should feel shameful for sitting under the table like this, humbling herself before her friend. Even further still, she should feel humiliated for trying Tina’s patience as much as she had. Her head felt dense and wooden, both fogged from the previous night’s revelry, and… something else, she realized. But she feared the words that might bubble up from beneath the surface, and swallowed them back down again.

She leaned forward, pressing her lips once more to the polished toe of Tina’s black heel.

Her eyes darted upward again, her lips hovering just above her friend’s foot, her every exhalation spilling over the young woman’s skin.

Tina smiled down at her. “Well,” she said, hands folded on top of one another on the table. “We know what to do now, don’t we?”

Nodding, Karie lowered herself once more, this time laying her lips against the soft, pale skin of the top of Tina’s foot. Warmth against the warmth of her lips, Karie thought, the sensation of heat against heat driving a still-hot breath spilling from her mouth. She longed to kiss again, and again, but the uncertainty of how far to go rolled over her like a wave.

She looked back up again, meeting Tina’s eyes. “Very good, Karie. You can sit up again.”

Nodding, Karie eased herself back, sliding back up into her seat. A thin line of steam still drifted above her coffee cup. Her heart still raced, her lips still warm.

Tina took a slow drink from her coffee. “Did you enjoy that lesson?”

Karie nodded, only to be surprised when Tina wagged a finger at her. “Speak out loud,” Tina said. “Let yourself hear what you’re feeling. What you’re expressing.”

Another knot in her throat. Karie swallowed. “I did.”

“Would you like to learn more, darling?”

Karie thought back to the night before. To the two young men in the alley. Replacing them, instead, with herself being pressed to the wall, her cheek against the brick, her friend’s thumbs pressing into the divot between her hips and her thighs. Then, to the scent of her feet, the slick cool of leather and the warm sweetness of skin.

Her mind wandered to darker, more embarrassing places. She took a deep breath, shivering.

“I would love to.”

Tina reached across the table, touching the tips of her fingers to Karie’s cheek.

“Then, welcome under my wing, dear student.”

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