How long she had been listening and watching, Eden didn’t know. She had lost track of the time and was feeling soft and light, a snifter of El’s brandy in her hand, as she lounged in a wing-backed chair.
Eden’s glance moved from Sophia’s hands, skipping over the keys, to her feet pressing and lifting the pedals, to the back of her neck, where a tiny strip of flesh peeped between her collar and her low-gathered hair. She was overtaken suddenly with a desire to kiss that strip of flesh, and she rose quietly from her chair, putting her drink on the table beside it and stepping lightly to the piano.
Sophia played on as Eden stepped behind her, reached out and drew an index finger gently from her ear to the lace of her collar, then bent and kissed her neck. She kept playing still, as Eden began to draw out the pins that held the girl’s hair in place, slowly combing it through her fingers. At last, Sophia sighed, stopped playing and leaned back against Eden, asking, “don’t you like the music?”
“I love the music,” Eden said with a smile, “but the musician is irresistible.”
“Perhaps it’s time we went to bed,” Sophia suggested.
“But it’s so far,” Eden pretended to complain.
“It’s further than three steps across the room, like a boarding house.” Sophia smiled and rose as if to take Eden’s outstretched hand, but rather than let Eden kiss her, she ran lightly through the big room, down the hall and up the broad staircase.
“Sophie!” Eden followed her.
A fire burning high in the hearth was the only light in the room as Eden half kissed, half pushed Sophia to the bed. She began to gather the girl’s skirt up in her hand, whispering, “did you hope to evade me?”
“Never,” Sophia said, and put her arms around Eden’s neck, pulling her closer. “You are my own beautiful…boy…”
It was like a magic word. Eden blinked back sudden tears, but her heart surged with the satisfaction of being known in the exact way she had always longed to be known, by the girl she most longed to know in all the world.
“Sophia…Sophie…” was all she could say. But Sophia kissed her into silence.