The soft wooden sound alone would not have been enough to divert Catarina’s attention from the screen in front of her, but her eye instinctively tracked a flicker of movement in her peripheral vision. When she tried to turn to look, though, she found her scalp blessed by a warm, slightly wet point of pressure on her scalp, a necklace of arms embracing her upper chest from behind. Smiling, she rolled her head back, allowing it to rest on a welcoming chest standing just behind her chair.
“And to what do I owe this pleasure?” purred Catarina, looking upwards to meet Bianca’s eyes. Her slender hands met Bianca’s much brawnier forearms which remained around Catarina’s shoulders, rubbing her fingers softly against her affectionate, comforting imprisonment.
Bianca’s eyes were round with concern, though she matched Catarina’s smile with a warm one of her own. “Just wanted to say hi and bring you some coffee,” she murmured, shifting a few strands of hair off Catarina’s forehead to bestow another sweet, gentle kiss there. “You’ve been at it for a while, I thought you might need some rest.”
Catarina’s grin widened. It felt as though the giddy warmth of the beverage Bianca had laid on her desk was seeping into her heart before it had even been drunk. Catarina reached up, craning her neck sideways to get a better look at her lover’s soft, round cheeks as she put one hand on the back of Bianca’s neck. “You’re too good to me,” she hummed with understated glee. She flexed her arm, gently pulling Bianca into a full kiss in silent gratitude.
Bianca had to stoop quite a bit to meet her; Catarina was not only a good head shorter than her, but also sitting down. She practically had to bend over double, but the reward of a kiss made the effort all the more worth it. Moving her arm out of the way, she laid her head on Catarina’s shoulder, nuzzling gently into her neck. Her nose perked up; Catarina’s natural scent was graced today by an additional rich, sweet note, the unmistakeable aroma of vanilla. Memories tugged at the edge of Bianca’s consciousness, stirred by the familiar scent, but they scampered off into the dark corners of her mind as she tried to focus on them.
Though Bianca couldn’t see it with her nose pressed against her neck, Catarina’s grin took on a decidedly more mischievous twist. “Something on your mind?”
“I…” Bianca mumbled into her neck, drinking in the scent as though that would make the memories refocus. Yet the stronger the scent became, the more the memories stubbornly refused to come, the more comfortable their absence felt. “I… I can’t remember.”
Catarina’s fingertips scritched along the back of Bianca’s head, not pulling, just letting her feel her fingers against a vulnerable spot. “Good girl,” she chuckled, before sitting up to pick up her steaming cup of coffee. “I’m almost done with this, but thanks for keeping an eye on me,” she said, her teasing purr replaced by slightly tired professionalism. “I’ll take a break soon. Can you wait on the couch for me?”
Bianca straightened up, nodding. “Sure. Just don’t overwork yourself, okay?”
“’Course. I just need another… twenty, twenty-five minutes or so.”
Giving her lover another absent-minded shoulder rub, Bianca crossed the apartment to the living room area, slouching on the squeaky, aging sofa, the satisfied exhaustion of her own full day of work weighing on her. She laid down, propping her head so that she could still watch Catarina as she sipped her coffee. Irritated by the late afternoon glare, she reached up, twisting the long thin rod at the edge of the window to tilt the shutters, blocking out the worst of the sunlight. “Too dark?”
Catarina took a moment to respond, being mid-sip when Bianca spoke. “No, I’m good.” She barely seemed to notice the change in light level as her eyes were drawn back to the long list of emails in front of her. Sighing, she laid down the cup and resumed the insistent clacking of the keys. “Do you mind if I talk while I type?”
“Nah, go ahead,” replied Bianca, fishing out her phone from her pocket to check a few messages of her own.
Catarina did not start speaking right away, first tapping out a paragraph’s worth of characters with lightning speed, then leaning back. She picked up a pen, beginning to spin it through her fingers. There was a time when she had needed to focus intently on such a task, but now it had practically become a nervous tic. “I’ve been working on… for high-performance applications, with…” She mumbled the words, going through each of them in her mind but only passing perhaps half of them to her mouth, not bothering with enunciation or good diction. Nonetheless, the sound carried easily over to Bianca, who perked up momentarily, wondering if she was talking to her, but resumed her focus on her own device once it was clear Catarina was otherwise occupied. Several minutes went by, Catarina leaning forward every so often to take a sip of coffee, adjust her wording or type a new paragraph. Otherwise, the hum of half-formed words whispered its way across the room. Bianca truly didn’t mind, though; Catarina’s voice was pleasant to listen to, even indistinctly.
“…reminded me that we need to submit weekly progress reports…”
Bianca jolted upwards at the phrase which had fluttered through her ears. Catarina didn’t notice her sudden movement; she was too focused on her task to pay much attention to what Bianca was doing. She spun the pen through her fingers with practiced ease, the end inscribing translucent blue rings through the air as it turned. Her fingers arched, twisted, turned with masterful grace, twiddling the pen back and forth, up and down, round and round and round again. Even though Bianca knew her lover’s deft and talented fingers all too well, it was still enthralling to see such precise, delicate movements done practically as an afterthought.
“…pressed down into the surface… making it sufficiently malleable to…”
Though the words murmured and indistinct, Bianca still hung on Catarina’s absent-minded mumblings with absolute fervour. The pen spun ever faster and faster, becoming almost a halo-like blur through which her fingers danced. Arching, weaving, curling, fluttering, her well-tended fingers moved with both masterful smoothness and supple grace. At times, it looked almost as though she was about to seize something out of the air with deceptive strength, at others her hand was splayed wide as if preparing a mighty slap or spank. It was such a simple, repetitive movement, and yet Bianca found it utterly mesmerising.
“…and I want you to drop it by point-one volts…”
Some secret switch was flipped, deep in the back of Bianca’s mind, suddenly unseating it from its focus on Catarina’s fingers. She wobbled on the edge of the couch, her muscles intent on falling slack. She was barely able to wrench her mind back from the brink, her arm shooting out and seizing the back of the couch to prevent her from toppling onto the floor. It was only now that she realised how fuzzy and indistinct her mind had become, how entirely her focus had accidentally centred on Catarina’s fingers. She blinked hard, doing so several times as she tried to drag her thoughts back into order.
Catarina had noticed the sudden movement out of the corner of her eye, turning towards Bianca with a frown of concern. “Everything OK?”
“Y-yeah…” Bianca said, her voice unexpectedly soft and demure. “Just… got a little into watching you…”
“Watching me?” Catarina cocked her head in confusion, twiddling the pen between index and middle finger. Then, her eyes widened in realisation. “Oh… oh.” The smile spreading across her face was halfway between gleeful and sheepish. “Sorry about that, didn’t realise that, uh… that you were in that headspace.”
“No, no, no need to apologise,” Bianca waved away, colour filling in her cheeks. “I should have been more careful.”
Catarina leaned back, inspecting the hand holding the pen. “I know you said you liked my hands, but... wow, I didn’t realise you were that easy for them,” she smirked.
Bianca spluttered, halfway between embarrassment and indignation. “H-hey! I’m not that easy! It’s just… well, it’s been a long day, and I didn’t have much else to do, and you were doing your pen thing anyway, and – ”
Catarina’s laugh cut off Bianca’s flustered babbling. “I know, sweet, I know. I just couldn’t resist teasing you a little. And,” she continued, dropping her voice to a low purr, “once I’m done with this, I might be convinced to tease you a little more… maybe. If you’re very good.”
Bianca’s heart skipped a beat. The trickle of blood rising to her cheeks turned into a surge, turning her face cherry-red with anticipation. Instinctively, she curled up, kneeling on the couch to make extra room and dipping her head slightly.