THE CURIOUS CASE OF KARRIN LAU

Part 1: Tennis the Menace

I sat on the very edge of the low bench in the Downtown Athletic Club’s changing room , my face resting in the palms of my hands, as I listened to my doubles partner ramble on about our practice. Teresa was already finished dressing and taking the time to carefully pack her practice clothes into a shoulder bag as she sat across from me. That’s how it was with Teresa; she had a tendency to take three left turns to make a right, so you just let her carry on and pick out the important phrases to remember later. From what the periphery of my mind could tell, she was very happy with our game.

I, however, was in a much more somber mood and not the Chatty Cathy I tended to be at the best of times. My boyfriend of seven years and I had broken up; a relationship unceremoniously ended by the end of a broomstick that he swung at me in anger three weekends before. I could still feel the twinge of pain in my thumb and I narrowed my eyes as I thought about it. For me, competitive tennis and practice had been good escapism while I sorted out what to do with my current life situation. Now that Teresa and I were done with practice, I was feeling the depressing weight of reality settling on my shoulders. So I stared blankly, my eyes transfixed on the socked toes of Teresa’s foot in front of me, and thought about my ex.

I met Benji for the first time in grade school. Of course his name was Benjamin but I liked calling him Benji. It had a cute ring to it and he resembled the shaggy stray more often than not growing up. His family lived around the corner from me and our houses were close enough that we couldn’t take the bus but far enough that we needed to start walking to school early. Those half-hour walks told me a lot about him. He was shy, somewhat reserved, but could be hilarious when given enough slack. He was always prepared to say or do something that would make me laugh in those cold winter mornings, and it didn’t take long for our friendship to grow.

It also didn’t take long for me to discover there was something different about him. I was the youngest of three, my two older brothers being the coveted males of my Chinese family, and it made me somewhat of a tomboy in our sibling rivalry. I never subscribed to being the squeamish and annoying girl who couldn’t take matters into her own hands. I prided myself on my ability and desire to take a situation and move it to the next level. It was a social dynamic I had become somewhat famous for and I milked it for every last bit of grade school reputation that I could. So when Benji would taunt me to step on bugs during our walks home, it was a challenge that I was only happy to oblige. I can still remember the soft crunch of their bodies under my shoes and the exasperated expression on his face as he watched me do it. I could tell that he liked it, but at the time I didn’t know why.

The tail end of Teresa’s voice disrupted my reverie: “…next Saturday, we can check with the travel agent.” Her voice stopped, and as I stared, she wiggled her toes after a moment. What was left of my thoughts vanished and I suddenly looked up at her face, scrunched in a sort of curious half-grin.

“Sorry, I was lost in thought,” I said, and added, “But I heard you!” I didn’t want her to repeat any of it.

“Uh huh,” she replied, and stood up, putting her bag over her shoulder and slipping into her athletic sandals.

I grabbed my bag and followed her out of the dressing room and through the club. We picked up our picture ID at the front desk and stepped out into the parking lot, the warm summer air hitting our face. Teresa fumbled for the keys to the rental and clicked the trunk. We tossed our bags inside and she slammed it close with one swift motion.

“So…” she said, dragging it out, “are we going back to the hotel?”

I shrugged. “Are you hungry?”

“Not really.”

“We might as well go back,” I said, and walked around to the passenger side. “I should check my email.”

Teresa climbed in and started the car, and for the first ten minutes or so, she said absolutely nothing. It felt like some kind of record of quietude I thought she was incapable of. I watched the southern California palm trees whiz by as we headed back towards our room near the outdoor competition courts. Tomorrow we would be competing in the first ATP Tour tennis match of the season. Win or lose, it was at least nice to be away from home. I heard the car rev suddenly and it turned my gaze from the window to the floor. I could barely see her foot flex back, and for some reason, it subconsciously caught my attention. Teresa gave me a sideways look.

“So what were you thinking about before?” she asked.

I shifted my gaze back out the window. “When?”

“Back at the club.”

I snorted. “You should change your lure if you are going to go fishing like that!”

“Oh come on Karrin, you know I love juicy gossip!” She slowed the car as we approached a red light and it afforded her time to turn to face me. “You’ve been acting weird since you got here. What’s up?”

I sighed. “I was thinking about Benji.”

Teresa’s steel blue eyes flared and her face contorted into her usual snarky lopsided grin. “Oh yeah, your boyfriend with the foot fetish?”

“Ex-boyfriend with the foot fetish,” I corrected.

The car started moving again. “Didn’t he hit you with a broom?”

“Yes…….” I replied, rolling my eyes. “I told you that, like, yesterday.”

“Aren’t you proud of me that I remembered?”

“This is serious Teresa.”

“I know, I know. I’m just teasing,” she replied. “Is your hand okay?”

“Yeah, I should be fine tomorrow.”

Teresa giggled suddenly. “I thought all Chinese people knew Kung Fu. You should have been like waaaaaa!” and her hands left the wheel to mimic the broomstick disarm.

I turned towards her and said, “Hey, Psycho, hands at ten and two o’clock!” Teresa returned her hands to the wheel and kept the smile on her face. “And you need new material, you said that yesterday.”

“It’s still funny.”

“Maybe professional tennis isn’t your calling. Maybe you should do standup!”

“Way ahead of you,” Teresa replied, turning the car into the hotel parking lot. “Next show at 10:30pm!”

I made the most sarcastic laugh I could and Teresa stopped the car near the hotel door closest to our room. She popped the trunk, we grabbed our bags, then spent the next thirty seconds trying to get our room key to open the outside door. My head was on a swivel; this was the perfect time to be accosted by reporters and media covering the game tomorrow and I wasn’t really in the mood for an interview. Finally the green light came on and we hurried inside.

“Breach! Breach!” Teresa shouted, mocking our entry as some kind of SWAT Team insertion.

“Team One is approaching the door!” I added.

“Cover me,” she said, and huddled over the room lock. It beeped and we both rolled inside like professionals.

The door swung closed with a bang and I sighed loudly. “Thank God no one was in the hallway,” I said, and put my gym bag down on the center chair.

Teresa kicked off her sandals and padded over to her bedroom. The rooms provided by the event were very nice. Each team had a two-room suite connected by a center living area where you could watch TV or use your computer. It allowed space for teammates to communicate with each other or their coach, and also privacy if you things weren’t going well and you just wanted to slam your door and hide under the bed. I flopped down onto the couch and pushed my sneakers off as well. The professional sports life contained a lot of hotels on the road, and they quickly became your home away from home.

My iPhone sat attached to its white power cord beside me and I picked it up. My thumb unlocked it in a practiced sweep and a blind touch had me viewing the hundred emails in my inbox before I even aimed it at my face. It was filled with the usual fan mail, a reminder from our coach to be at the morning press junket, and…an email from Benji. My heart stopped for a moment, and my quivering thumb hovered above it as I contemplated touching the tiny trash can. The subject simply said: PLEASE READ.

“I’m going to go get some ice,” Teresa said, cradling the container and plastic bag in her hands.

I didn’t acknowledge her. Once the door slammed I clicked on the email:

     I just wanted 2 wish u luck at the tournament. I am so sorry Karrin. I know u probably don’t want 2 talk 2 me right now but if u change your mind im here! – Benji

My hand, gripped around the phone, fell against the soft cushion of the couch and I left it there as tears came to my eyes. Why was he doing this to me? Not a word from him in three weeks and now on the eve of our game he decides to be magnanimous and apologize. At some point Teresa must have come back into the hotel room and saw me, because the next thing I knew, she was sitting beside me on the couch and her blue eyes were fixed with concern.

“What’s going on?” she asked, and lifted my hand with the phone in it. After a moment’s read she took it away from me. “Oh I see.”

I wiped my eyes with the palm of my hand. “I’m fine,” I said, mostly to myself.

Teresa sighed. “Listen, from what you’ve told me, you’re better off without this guy in your life Karrin. It’s one thing to get into a verbal argument, it’s another when it becomes physical.”

“I know…”

“He crossed the line. Of course he’s going to beg to get you back.”

I sniffled and shook my head. “I’m just being stupid and emotional. I just wanted to come down here and focus on tennis and get away from all of this.”

“Well that’s what we are doing,” she replied, her voice trailing as she tapped at my emails. A smile formed on her face and it seemed to grow wider as she kept clicking on my phone. I reached to take it from her but she pulled it away.

“Hey, give me that back,” I said.

Teresa tilted the phone to change it to landscape. “So these are like…fetish pictures?” she asked and pointed the phone at me. She was in my old Sent Mail, clicking on the picture attachments I had sent to Benji weeks before. Each picture was something different, but usually a close-up of my foot standing on various things in different shoes. Some of them were video clips and Teresa cackled as she went through them, fending me off with her free hand.

“Give me my phone,” I growled. “This isn’t funny.”

Teresa ignored me. “So this is his fetish? He gets off watching you step on…what are you stepping on anyway?”

I glared at her and said nothing, but she kept going through the pictures and videos anyway. Finally I said, “It’s part of his fetish.”

She nodded and said, “Well it’s certainly different! I thought he just liked feet.”

“Thanks for making fun of my personal life, I really appreciate it.”

Her blue eyes set on me again. “I’m not making fun. To each their own. I just wanted to see what he was all about.” She handed my phone back to me.

“Yeah whatever,” I snapped. “I’ve had to put up with his weirdness for years. Honestly, I’m happy to be done with it and maybe now I can find a normal relationship. I’m taking the first bus out of Crazy Town.”

Teresa eyed me suspiciously and stood up to get her phone from the outlet across the room. As she opened its web browser, she asked, “How long were you guys dating?”

“Seven years.”

“That’s a long time to do something and not be affected by it,” she added as she stared at her phone.

I paused. “What do you mean?”

“I just mean that you’ve indulged his idiosyncrasies all this time, it has to have affected you a little.”

I waited again for her to say more, and when nothing came, I asked, “Are you trying to infer that I am turned on by Benji’s fetishes?”

Teresa shrugged. “Well aren’t you?”

I laughed, probably a little more exaggerated than was necessary, and when I opened my eyes she was still looking at me. “That’s ridiculous.”

“It’s not ridiculous, it happens all the time. Besides, I don’t think you would actually have participated in it if you didn’t like it a little bit.” Her lopsided grin made her eyes twinkle.

I could feel my face getting flush and I decided it was out of anger. “I’m nothing like that freak of nature Teresa. I did those things because I loved Benji,” I said, though some part of me felt unconvinced of my own words. My doubles partner just watched me for a moment and then settled back onto her phone’s web browser.

“Here, listen to this,” she said suddenly, and sat down next to me again, her socked feet folded beneath her. She started to read the text that was displayed on her phone. “Dear Abby, I recently came home from work early and walked in on my son lying on my bed with several pairs of my high heeled shoes by his face. At first I didn’t know what he was doing but then it became clear to me that he was masturbating while licking the sole of one of my upturned shoes!” Teresa giggled and looked at me. I’m not sure what expression was on my face, only that I felt dumbfounded that she was reading me a Dear Abby article. She continued: “Clearly he has some kind of shoe fetish and I am not sure how to approach him. Should I say something or just pretend it didn’t happen? Thanks! MomInDistress.”

“Sounds like a Benji story,” I grumbled. “Why are we even talking about this? Who cares?”

“This is great,” she said, her eyes tearing with humor. “This kid is getting off licking his mom’s shoes. It all starts somewhere! But it’s more common than you think.”

It was then I noticed that the sole of her foot had touched my knee. It made me jerk and shudder, just the tactile sensation of something unexpected. I don’t know why I reacted that way, and I could feel the prickly heat of the skin on my arms and legs. It further made its way to my tummy and the tingling of butterflies in my stomach harkened me back to all those afternoons with Benji; watching him meticulously lick the bottom of my shoes or feet and the bubbling over of the arousal that it elicited within me. He would look so caught up in the moment, his expression taut, his pleasure of it obvious that I couldn’t help but feel the same way. My eyes dimmed at the memory as Teresa looked on.

The warmth of her foot disappeared as she stood up. “I’ll tell you what,” Teresa said. “I’ll make you a bet.”

I shook the images from my head. “What are you talking about?’

“So Benji is turned on by watching you step on…what exactly?”

I shrugged and said, “Anything really. Toys, candy…bugs.”

Teresa looked around the room for a moment. “Okay, here’s the deal. I am going to find something to step on and you are going to watch me do it. And if it turns you on…then I win.” At this, she smiled.

I, on the other hand, scoffed. “And just how are you going to know that, Dr. Ruth?”

“Oh I can tell,” she replied, grinning still.

“So what do I get if I win?”

“Anything you want.”

I shifted uncomfortably. “And what do you get?”

Her teeth showed in an almost wolfish smile. “Anything I want. But I’ll tell you up front what it’s going to be. If I win, you have to… ” she paused in thought before brightening “…lick the bottom of my shoe.”

“What? I’m not doing that, that’s gross!”

Teresa pressed her lips to suppress a laugh. “What do you have to worry about? This is all just Benji’s bizarre fetish anyway, right?”

I stared into her eyes, that competitive dare pushing me towards the bet, but at the same time I felt warm and flustered. I looked down at her socked feet and back again, setting my jaw. “Fine, you’re on!”

“Hehe,” Teresa said mischievously and went towards the kitchen sink. She came back towards me with a plastic cup wrapped in cellophane. She dropped the cup at her feet and pointed. “On the floor, I want you to see it up close!”

Seeing Teresa standing there, smirking and pointing at the floor, and the somewhat commanding tone of her voice amplified the butterflies already flying around in my stomach. I started to slide off of the couch and there was an uneasy nervousness in my knees. My heart was racing. I lowered myself to the floor and tensed when Teresa put her foot on the plastic cup and moved it to within inches of my face. I could see the bumps of her toes encased within brand new athletic socks, the faint scent of chlorine still lingering despite the shower. Her black Adidas sandal was slightly worn from months of pavement walking to and from the fitness clubs. Teresa set her heel on the floor so that her foot was raised precariously above the doomed cup, and it was then that I took my eyes off her toes and stared at the sole of her shoe.

I could feel my breathing becoming labored and the beginning of a cold sweat starting to form. How long had it been since I had any kind of sexual release? Weeks? Months maybe? What was it about Teresa’s shoe that was turning me on? Or was it Teresa herself! My mind raced with questions in the same way that it raced with the rapid arousal building within me. Past the cup I could see the slightly dusty sole of her sandal ready to crush it flat. My eyes continued upwards. I looked again at her toes, poised to press down, and upwards still to the tan line above her ankles from playing tennis in the sun. My heart skipped a beat, and as if timed perfectly to coincide with my own hidden desires, Teresa shifted her weight onto her foot. The plastic crackled within the cellophane as it relented beneath the increasing pressure. Like a rubber band my eyes darted back to the cup, causing a murmured giggle from Teresa standing above me. I watched in a muted sense of awe as her sandal crushed the cup flat. Teresa dragged out the drama as long as possible before her foot touched the floor. I bit my bottom lip in subconscious approval, and when the crackling of the plastic stopped and the flattened cup protruded from beneath her shoe, I found myself staring at her toes again. My hand reached out as if it had a mind of its own and I traced her tense toes with my index finger. The electricity of the touch made me suck in a breath and then my life changed forever.

Just as slowly as she had stepped down, Teresa lifted her foot back onto her heel, the dusty sole unobstructed by the smashed cup beneath it. And in a half-commanding, half-amused voice, she said, “I win. Now lick.”

My body froze, and the hand that had only moments before had been caressing her toes retracted back and remained hidden beneath me. I looked up at her bemused face as I lie vulnerable on the floor. I was flustered, my own face red from embarrassment and anger, and her cocky expression only made me feel like a fool. I pushed myself up from the floor and ran into my bedroom, slamming the door and locking it behind me. I threw myself face down onto my bed and started to cry as the emotional impact of it all finally overwhelmed me. I like to think of myself as someone in control at all times, yet Teresa had obviously tapped into a primal desire I did not fully know existed. And to make matters worse, I didn’t even try to pretend it didn’t turn me on. My life suddenly felt like a lie. Was this the beginning of an emotional breakdown? I slowed my breathing and swallowed and only a moment later did I hear the soft tapping at my door and Teresa’s muffled voice.

“Karrin, let me in please,” she said.

I ignored her. But no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the image of her foot out of my mind; the sound of her voice, the crackling of the plastic. The sole of her sandal seemed larger than life in my daydreaming. I could see the fine details of the rubbery tread. I wanted to touch it…I wanted to…

“Karrin. Come on, open the door.”

My hands were shaking. I felt nervous, scared, aroused, embarrassed and stupid at the same time. When Teresa knocked for a third time I finally made my way to the door and unlocked it. I let her open it herself and sat on the edge of the bed, wiping my tear-wet face. Teresa came into the shadowed entrance of my bedroom and paused at the doorway.

“Why are you crying?” she asked.

“I’m going through a really tough time right now, okay?” This outburst caused another round of tears to spill from my eyes. “I really didn’t need you mocking me right now.”

Teresa turned on the light and sat beside me on the bed. She put her arm around my shoulder and hugged me tight. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m not mocking you. I kinda thought you would be happy.”

“Do I look happy to you?”

“Well no, but maybe you are just making things more complicated than they need to be. You should go with the flow, girl!”

I sighed and leaned my head against hers. “I’m twenty-seven years old. I didn’t really think I would be alone at this stage of my life.”

“Oh Jesus Christ Karrin, is that what this is about? You’re attractive, funny, smart, rich…you are every guy’s dream. All you have to do is put yourself back out on the market! Get out there and start dating! When you get home, find the first nice guy that you can and go out to dinner or a movie.”

I sniffled and said, “And start over.”

“Listen, you’re not looking for Mr. Right. You just need Mr. Right Now! The last thing you want to do is get back into a relationship with Benji. Let’s go to that pre-game party tonight. Who knows, you might hook up with a cute tennis dude. It’s clear that you need to vent a little pent up frustration.” I felt her foot nudge my ankle for emphasis.

I tried to recoil away but her iron-gripped hug held me tightly. “I’m not going to go sleep around with some random guy at a party, Teresa. I’m not that desperate!”

“Well…I think there’s still one more of those plastic cups in the kitchen. Crunch!” Teresa giggled. I started to object but she abruptly cut me off. “Oh don’t even try to deny it Karrin, you like it.”

I sat there in silence.

Teresa said, “I told you, you can’t do something that long without it affecting you. It’s not rocket science.”

I turned to her, the sincerity of her face rewriting my thoughts. This was not the Teresa I was used to; the perpetual twelve-year-old. There was something distinctly adult and responsible lurking behind her eyes and it took me aback. Tears dripped down my cheeks and I wiped them absentmindedly. Maybe I was still emotional, or maybe I just wanted to latch on to that fleeting enjoyment I had just felt after three weeks of heartache, but I decided I could confide in her and be honest about my feelings.

“You’re right, I do like it,” I said quietly. “I guess I wasn’t really expecting to.”

Teresa squeezed me. “I know.”

“When did you…realize?”

“Oh I’ve known for a long time. You’re not exactly subtle when you stare at my feet.”

I lowered my head and added, “When you lifted your foot and told me to lick it, the whole world stopped. I couldn’t even move! I can’t get it out of my head.”

She chuckled. “Well sure, you were probably too excited! Sensory overload!”

I made a nervous acknowledgment of laughter but said nothing else.

“So…it wasn’t stepping on the cup that turned you on, but me telling you to lick my shoe?”

“It was both I guess,” I replied, the beat of my heart thumping loudly in my ears.

Teresa crossed her right leg so that her sandaled foot rested on her knee, the sole aimed so that we could both see it. I tensed again at the sight of that familiar tread pattern and I could tell she felt it. She shot me an encouraging smile and asked, “Does looking at my shoe turn you on?”

All I could do was nod.

Teresa craned her neck to look at it from my vantage point. “What are you thinking about?” she asked casually.

“I’m…not sure…exactly,” I managed. “I guess maybe I feel like I want to…try it.”

“Try what?” she asked, blinking.

My mouth opened but nothing came out. My brain knew what it wanted to say, but I couldn’t make myself say it. It was as if some kind of invisible force was stopping me from speaking honest words. Teresa waited a few seconds for me to answer, her eyes unfocused as she thought of the answer on her own. Finally she said, “You mean try…licking my shoe?”

I swallowed nervously. “Yeah,” I replied, in a pathetically sheepish voice that surprised even me.

Teresa’s broad smile was like a weight being lifted from my shoulders. “Then go ahead.”

“I…I…can’t…” I said.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s weird!”

Teresa rolled her eyes. “Oh stop, seriously. You need to loosen up.” I stared quietly at her shoe until she waggled her foot to get my attention. “What are you waiting for?”

I found myself in conflict with my brain; one half of me wanting to fall at her feet and let myself go, the other half of me urging restraint. Teresa was not known for keeping secrets, and the last thing I wanted was her to tell everyone I knew that I not only licked her shoe, but that it turned me on as well. I saw Benji grow up with that stigma in school once people found out about his foot fetish. I saw how it tore at him to be teased by others on a daily basis, and I wanted no part of that life, no matter how it made me feel.

But at the same time, I was tired of feeling miserable.

“Actually, these shoes are kinda dirty,” Teresa said, inspecting them. “Is that why you don’t want to do it?”

“Um…yeah…I don’t want to get sick or anything before our game,” I blurted out. I felt like I had been thrown a life line to exit the situation gracefully, but the cord was quickly cut.

“I have a brand new pair of sneakers, let me go get those.” Teresa popped up off my bed and left my room, returning only moments later with an orange Nike shoebox. She took one shoe out of the wrapping and sat beside me, slipping it on her foot and tying the laces. Her cross-trainers were impossibly white and immaculate, and she crossed her leg again so we could see the rubbery sole.

I shuddered.

“Well?” she said. “These are brand new. No excuses this time…lick!”

I slid carefully off the bed and faced her as she stuck her foot out and into my trembling hands. As I raised her shoe to my face, I could see the light blue Nike swoosh on the bottom and her curious anticipation watching me from beyond. She pressed her toe playfully against my nose and I could smell the fresh rubber.

“Come on,” she cooed. “Lick it. You know you want to.”

And as if a switch was flipped in my head, I stopped listening to my cautious inner voice and embraced the surging arousal. Teresa’s smile widened as she realized I was about to give in to the pressure. I closed my eyes, stuck out my tongue, and gently touched the sole of her sneaker with the tip. The sensation was strange, an odd twinge of taste, and I sucked my tongue back in.

Teresa frowned. “Oh come on, you can do better than that,” she said.

I looked past her foot. “This isn’t easy for me, Teresa.”

“Why not? Don’t you like it?”

“Well…”

“Well what?” she blurted out. “Stop thinking so much. Stick out your tongue, like this!” and she stuck out her tongue. “And…lick…from heel to toe.” Her foot tapped my nose again.

My heart pounding, my hands shaking, her commanding voice in my ears, I squeezed my eyes shut, stuck out my tongue and pressed it against her heel. The dull taste of rubber filled my mouth, and as carefully as I could, I dragged my tongue across the sole, following her instructions to the letter. As I got to the middle, I heard her giggle and whisper, “There you go….lick it…” and the words alone made me tremble with excitement. I could feel the machinations of sexual energy building and the familiar wetness between my legs as I cleaned her foot. I couldn’t lie to myself anymore, I had a fetish, and I wondered just how long it had been there.

When I reached her toe, I opened my eyes and tasted the rubber on my tongue. Teresa smiled warmly at me. “Do it again,” she said.

Without hesitation, I started over, focusing on the taste, the feel of the rubber, and the excited tingles of a nearing orgasm. Teresa gently pressed her foot more firmly to my tongue as I climbed higher, and my fingers tensed against the leather of her cross-trainers. Finally I reached the toe of her shoe once more and my face was flush with sweat.

“How do you feel?” she asked me.

I breathed deeply, as if I had just finished a five set match, and rested my forehead against her foot. “I feel…great…” I said, managing the words as I tried to control my arousal.

“Who would have thought, Karrin Lau, licking my feet,” she said with a smirk. “See how much more fun life is when you stop being so uptight and just let everything go?” Teresa took her foot out of my hand and pulled off her shoe, setting it by the pillow on my bed. She then walked back to the door and winked at me. “Now when you are stressed, you have a fun memory to think about and make you feel better.” And with that, she turned off the light and closed the door.

I saw the upturned sneaker beside my pillow still glistening with saliva and found myself climbing into bed on top of the covers. It felt like every nerve ending in my body was on fire and I wanted so much to finish what I had started, to enjoy the exhilaration that the end result gave me. Benji never entered my mind. All I could see was Teresa’s smiling face, and when I picked up her empty shoe I could almost imagine her foot still in it, pressing down on my lips and demanding that I lick it clean. My tongue touched the cold wetness of my previous efforts, and without any argument from either half of my brain, my free hand found its way inside my tennis shorts, completing the most wonderful epiphany I had ever experienced in my life.

As I came down, some part of me wondered if Teresa were out in the living room writing to Dear Abby…

Part 2: Once More Unto the Breach

I woke up with a start and sat upright on my bed. The entire room was dark and through the crack in the curtain I could see the lights of cars passing by on the freeway outside. My clothes felt damp and my mouth had a sour taste that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. It took me a moment to get my bearings and I rubbed my eyes to get a better look at the digital clock illuminated across the room.

11:34pm.

I exhaled and fell back onto my pillow. When I did, the back of my head collided with a solid unexpected lump. I reached behind me and brought the object before my eyes, barely making out the gray silhouette of a tennis shoe in the dim light. So it wasn’t a dream, I thought to myself, and pushed it off the edge of the bed where it landed on the floor with a thunk. Slowly the memories of the past few hours trickled into my mind; each situation making me cringe further and further with embarrassment. Teresa, my doubles partner of almost ten years, the motor-mouthed can’t-keep-a-secret-if-her-life-depended-on-it and oldest of my friends in professional tennis circles, had figured out something about me that I had kept hidden even from myself.

Teresa outed my shoe fetish. And worse, she got me to lick her shoe to prove it was true.

I put my hand on my forehead and cursed myself. How could I have been so stupid? I took a deep breath and did a mental inventory of my body. Gone was the tension of the past three weeks. Gone was waking up to the persistent heartache of my failed relationship with Benji. Gone was the desire to do the wrong thing and try to reconcile it with him. It almost startled me to admit it, but I felt…good. More than good, I felt like my old self again. And when my thoughts drifted to the excitement I felt as I licked Teresa’s shoe, it dawned on me that I had obtained a level of Zen I had not known before. All those years I stepped on helpless insects or let Benji worship my feet, I never felt the calm that a couple of minutes beneath Teresa’s shoe had produced. She had cultivated feelings in me I had suppressed. It was like being out of prison and into the light for the first time in my life.

I turned my head and saw the crack of light from the living room under my door. Teresa would be asleep by now; we had to be at the event center for the press junket bright and early. But I had to get the taste of shoe rubber out of my mouth, so I swung my legs off the bed, my bare feet touching the rough carpet, and made my way out the door.

Teresa sat curled up on the couch, the light of her iPhone reflecting off her face, and looked up at me when the door opened. “Hey, you’re awake,” she said. “I thought you’d sleep through the night.”

I paused for a moment, unsure whether I was ready to engage her in conversation, but relented before the silence became awkward. “Hey yourself,” I replied. “I thought you’d be asleep too.” I sauntered over to the refrigerator and found a Diet Pepsi cooling on the lower rack. The carbonated drink did wonders to wash away the dull taste.

She said, “I couldn’t sleep. I got wrapped up doing research,” the last part with more whimsy than I was expecting.

“Research on what?” I carried my soda with me and sat down in the chair across the coffee table.

Teresa beamed. “Fetishes.”

I was speechless and hid the fact by taking another sip of soda.

“So…how did my new Nikes work out for you? Did you two…go all the way?” Her infectious giggle almost made me join her.

“He’s sleeping it off. I’ll leave him a nice note in the morning.”

“I shouldn’t even joke. The party tonight was dullsville. My shoes are probably going to get more action than I am before the tournament is over.”

“You went to the party?” I asked.

Teresa scrunched her face dismissively. “Yeah, but you didn’t miss anything. I didn’t even stay that long.”

“And you’ve been here surfing porn sites this whole time?”

“What good is the internet if you can’t use it to get the dirt on your best friend?” Teresa said, pursing her lips.

“Don’t flatter yourself, you’re not my friend.”

She put her hand over her heart. “You’ve cut me deep, Lau.”

I took another drink from the soda can and rolled my neck until it popped. “So what did you learn about me that you’re going to put on your blog tomorrow? That I’m a shoe closet lesbian?”

“That’s exactly what I found out. How did you know?”

“Oh just a wild stab in the dark…which is what you are going to get if you don’t start being more helpful,” I said cheekily.

Teresa smiled and glanced down at her phone. “Actually, I didn’t get too wrapped up in the psychodrama of it. Just because you like to lick shoes doesn’t mean your parents didn’t love you enough or that you were a cobbler in a past life. Really it just boils down to you being submissive…and that apparently gets you off.”

I felt a twinge of nervousness now that the conversation swung to a more serious note. It seemed odd to talk about something so raw and misunderstood out in the open, especially with Teresa. Plus, though I joked about it, it was like we were dancing around what had happened tonight. I wondered if she found something that made her nervous about me. Or maybe she had decided I was sexually attracted to her in some subconscious way and it made her uncomfortable. The thought of it even made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but think that Teresa turned me on in a way that broke through all of my heterosexual barriers and I just wasn’t fully aware of its true impact yet.

“Hey, Teresa,” I said slowly and it got her attention. “Are we…okay?”

Teresa shrugged. “Sure, why? Are you freaked out about your shoe fetish?”

I blinked and said, “I am absolutely freaked out about my shoe fetish! I just don’t want you to think…you and I…that I feel…”

She exploded in a fit of laughter. “It hasn’t bothered me in ten years, why should it matter now? I always thought you were bi anyway.”

My mouth dropped open. “I’m not bi!”

Teresa rolled her eyes and smiled, saying nothing.

“And even if I were bi, you’re not my type. Southern California surfer girls are so last week…and thirty years ago.”

“We both know you prefer your type to hang ten,” she replied, extending a bare toe toward me.

“Funny.”

“Oh, don’t be such a sourpuss. I thought I told you that you need to loosen up. Didn’t you learn anything from all that shoe leather?” Teresa flicked her phone a few times, switching pages.

I watched her for a few moments. “You know, for someone pretending to be an impartial observer in all of this, you are certainly going out of your way to study it. Have a fetish of your own, hmm?” I mocked.

“Oh more than you know, but this one is new to me,” she said, not even bothering to lift her eyes. “No one has ever licked my shoe before. I thought it was kinda cool. Especially since that person was you.” At this, she directed her smile at me.

“And why is that?”

“Because you surround yourself in this impenetrable suit of armor and you don’t let anyone in. Being submissive? That’s not something I really thought was your bag. But then again, that is exactly how it works. It turns out, for control freaks like you, this is a typical release. The internet is full of stories of high stress company presidents getting off to being slapped around or degraded in front of others.”

“Those people are kooks,” I murmured.

“Maybe, but for these dudes who spend hours each day controlling the lives of others…what they really want is to be out of control for a little while. I think that’s the way it is with you. I think you latched on to some aspect of Benji’s fetishes and made them your own. I think licking my shoe turns you on partly because I told you to do it.”

I sat quietly and reflected on her words. The memory of her lifting her foot back and the directness of her voice when she told me to lick it sent shivers up my spine. She was right. Part of that arousal went into high gear the moment she told me to do it. I felt like I wanted to please her. I felt like I needed to clean the sole of her shoe. And the fact that she stood over me gave me a sense of fear and comfort that only made me want to stay there and hinge upon her every word.

“That is very astute,” I said finally.

“We USC girls take our studies seriously.”

“Oh so you studied porn, did you? No wonder they call you guys the Trojans.”

“Hey that’s pretty funny…coming from a Beaver.”

I rolled my eyes at her time-worn stab at my alma mater. “Tapping that well again, huh? Your originality always impresses me.”

“Trojans, Beavers, Cougars…quite a lot of sexually themed team names in the Pac-12,” Teresa said absentmindedly. “Cardinals? I guess that works, don’t they sleep with boys?”

I drank the rest of my soda and put the can down. She wasn’t just telling me what I wanted to hear, she really was okay with our little soiree. When Teresa was truly uncomfortable, she tended to clam up or laugh nervously to hide it. Humor, and even poor attempts at humor, did not flow naturally from her in those situations. But instead she sat across from me, perfectly engrossed in her self-titled research, and it felt like we could be talking about anything right now; discussing the finer points of a serve-and-volley strategy even. Anything other than the fact I had licked her shoes.

My heart warmed. In ten years, I had never really known her like I did tonight, and it felt like I was falling in love. I broke the silence: “Thank you, Teresa.”

“For what?”

“For just…” I hesitated. “For being understanding about all this. I feel like you’ve unlocked something in me, and for the first time in awhile, I woke up feeling…excited to see a new day. It’s been awhile…” Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked away to hide them.

Teresa left her spot on the couch and crossed the room to hug me around the shoulders. I took a moment to find comfort in that embrace. “Once more unto the breach,” she said, her eyes dazzling in the dim light. “You and I have been down in the trenches, fighting it out on the court against all those Euro tennis mutants. And every game we are the victors. Every game we come out on top!

We bumped fists.

“Hell yeah, and you know why? Because we are the smartest, we’re the most talented, we are ridiculously attractive….oh my God don’t hate us because we’re beautiful!
I laughed.

“But also because I know you have my back,” she said. “And I have yours. I’m not going to let that insect Benji hurt you Karrin. I’ll squash the little bug and smear him into paste.”

“Stop it, you’re turning me on,” I joked and wiped my eyes.

Teresa touched my chin so that I was looking at her. “You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until tomorrow night,” she said with a wink. “I have a surprise for you, but we are going to have to win for you to get it. A little incentive to dig deep.”

My eyes were wide with anticipation, and when Teresa retreated to her room to sleep, I found myself struggling to do the same. It was like Christmas Eve…and I was five years old again.

The day of the tournament dragged on for an eternity. The two of us were inseparable. First we met our coach to go over first round strategy, and later passed the time by talking to the sports reporters working the event. Teresa was wearing the new cross-trainers I was so intimately involved with and smiled at me mischievously every time she caught me stealing a glance at them. I felt so excited as I wondered what she had planned for later that it was difficult to focus on anything else. Though I cursed her manipulation of my new-found fetish, I couldn’t deny that the plan paid off with dividends. When the match finally came, I attacked our opponents with a ferocity I hadn’t had since I was a teenager. We won in straight sets and the post-game interviews couldn’t finish quickly enough. On the way out of the event center, I was almost dancing like Snoopy as we walked together back to the hotel. Fans came up to greet us and I giddily signed my name to whatever they held out.

Teresa grinned at me. “If I had any idea this whole thing would turn you into a monster on the court, I would have done this long ago,” she said tactfully as the fans wandered off.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I lied. “My game is the product of healthy living and perfect training. The Karrin Lau machine…zero defects.”

“Well I promised you a reward, and you’re going to get it. God knows you’ve earned it.”

“I feel like such a kid,” I said. “Getting worked up over a stupid fetish. I hardly had any sleep last night and yet I am wide awake.”

“You’ll sleep well tonight.” Teresa nudged me on the arm, causing me to stumble off stride and veer into the grass off the path. As I did so, a black beetle the size of a quarter scurried out from the edge and tried to make its way safely across the concrete walkway. Teresa watched it for a moment, and with one quick motion, stomped onto the poor bug. Her worn Adidas sandal landed on it with a loud pop.

“Splat!” she exclaimed, and lifted her foot to see it squirming in its own white-colored guts, a stark contrast to the mangled black body.

We traded looks and a realization crossed our faces at the same time. Teresa hadn’t squashed the bug for my benefit, she had simply done it out of habit, but my reddening face and surprised expression betrayed that I liked it nonetheless. She stared at me for a few seconds while a smile made its way across her lips. As her grin widened, her eyes dimmed with smoldering seduction. She took a small step towards me and the familiar crackling of the dying bug met my ears. My gaze snapped to her feet so fast it nearly made me dizzy. Her foot covered the bug once more, but this time the tips of her bare toes turned white from the pressure she exerted on it. The crackling continued, and part of my brain pondered what it must have been like for the beetle, the firm sole of her shoe compressing its body relentlessly into the hard sidewalk. Then she ground back and forth, turning the fading crackles into a scraping of mush spreading from around the edges of her shoe. I couldn’t help but stare as she pulverized what was left of it; the weakness returning to my knees as I became aroused. It took every ounce of strength I had to tear my eyes away, and when I finally managed to look at her, I saw that she had been watching me closely the whole time, peering deep into my soul, studying my every reaction with each twist of her foot.

“That really turns you on, doesn’t it?” she said, continuing her destructive pirouette, the noise a fitting backdrop to the question.

“Yes,” I replied in a hushed whisper.

Teresa dragged her foot back, smearing the bug guts in a straight line. “So much for Benji,” she added with a bemused smirk. “Squish……..”

I bit my lip again and closed my eyes, trying to calm myself down. I had never had to struggle to maintain self control before. But it was like everything Teresa did and said pushed my buttons. There was something liberating about letting myself succumb so easily to her wiles, but at the same time I didn’t want to do it where everyone could see me. Nor did I want to seem like a stray dog in heat every time I was with her.

Teresa understood this without me saying a word. “Come on, let’s get inside so we can…vent some of that stress.”

I followed her like a caboose, and every time she took a step I could see the wet spot where the bug had lost its life. I don’t know what turned me on more, the flippant way she had went about dispatching it, or the power of the act itself. I thought of how I felt personally when I had stepped on things for Benji. The turn on for me was largely the feel of it beneath me and that precious moment just before I smashed it flat. It was a rush, one that is almost impossible to experience any other way. And Benji would be lying at my feet, much the way Teresa probably saw me last night, his eyes staring anxiously at my foot’s slow descent, his hips shifting back and forth to create the friction he needed to masturbate in his pants. I reveled in the glee I felt when it would finally succumb to my foot and Benji would hold back until that moment before releasing his tension. It was like having sex, the two of us working in concert for the pleasure of the other.

And now I was on the other side of the fence, finding myself turned on by being the voyeur. It didn’t turn me on the same way as licking Teresa’s shoe did. There was a subtle dichotomy that shifted gears on my sensibilities. When I licked the sole of that sneaker, I was aroused by the helplessness of the act and Teresa’s authoritative demeanor. The word she had used, submissive, described it perfectly. There was nothing submissive about watching that beetle perish beneath her for me. Instead it was like I was living vicariously through her; where in the past it would have been my foot crushing it, and the crackles of its very fading existence making their way up my spine to empower me. This time I wanted to see that destruction up close; and it was my turn to release tension when it relented with a final crunch.

We entered our hotel room through the usual door and I moved like a zombie to my bedroom to put down my bag. Teresa had gone to her room, and when she finally came to see me, she was wearing a loose teeshirt with matching gray shorts and bare feet. She paused in the doorway as if contemplating something, and finally said, “I had an idea for your present, but seeing your face when I squashed that beetle…maybe you’d rather watch me step on something.”

“Would you?” I asked, almost desperately.

Teresa smirked. “Sure, if you want. It’s your present.”

The butterflies flew at full speed in my stomach and I simply smiled in reply.

“Do you want to do it now?”

I couldn’t bark out an affirmative any more quickly than I did. Teresa left the room abruptly, the front door slamming as she went out. A few minutes later and a click of the lock, she returned to my bedroom with a couple of candy bars in her hands from the vending machine. My eyes lit up as she placed them on the table, explaining her choices.

“I thought we could try one of these Reese’s cups and maybe this Almond Joy,” she said. “The Almond Joys might be fun because they have the crunchy middle.”

Just hearing her talk about it so casually made me break out in hot flashes. “Either sounds great,” I replied in a shaky voice.

“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because you’re going to watch me step on both, Karrin,” she snapped. “So on the floor.”

And not a moment later, I found myself lying on my tummy, waiting with baited breath and staring at her feet. The silver anklet she wore was a perfect compliment to the metallic silver polish on her toes, something I had never really taken notice to before. Suddenly a pair of thin-soled flip-flops landed on the floor and she slipped her toes between the black straps. With a sound of them flicking against her heels, she walked straight up to my face and stopped so close that I could feel the warmth radiating from her skin. I didn’t dare look up; but in my mind’s eye I could feel her scrutinizing me with a lopsided grin. I heard the crackle of a wrapper coming apart and she took a step backwards, placing the small wooden cutting board from the kitchen on the floor and one of the Almond Joy candy bars in the very center. I folded my legs up behind me and waved them in the air as the moment intensified. This was it.

With a fluid motion, Teresa placed her heel behind the candy and kept the sole of her foot above it, just as she had with the plastic cup. She held it that way for a few seconds and I found myself tensing as I waited. It felt like hours. Then her sandal started its slow descent until it touched the very top of the candy. The chocolate pressed down briefly and she stopped.

Her voice was low, but direct. “Are you ready?”

I nodded in response, my face sliding forward a centimeter at a time.

Her toes pressed and forced the sole of her shoe to bear down on the chocolate candy. The chocolate mashed itself against the rubbery tread of her shoe, but the almond inside gave resistance, and her foot hesitated. I watched her shift more of her weight onto her foot and heard the creak of the almond as it began to flatten. Teresa used this moment to start to grind her foot slowly, encouraging it’s quick demise beneath her.

I gasped as I watched, the sweat starting to drip into my eyes, and I felt the tingly sensation deep in my tummy. My arousal was ratcheting up quickly towards an orgasm, and every wave of pleasure it sent me made me whimper. I imagined all kinds of scenarios; would she make me eat it? Would she not be able to flatten it? I wanted to stay frozen in this moment forever.

Teresa didn’t hear my whimpering at first, she kept twisting her foot, trying to crush the almond flat against the cutting board in a smear of chocolate. I heard her say, “Come on…break…” as she ground with more force, until finally the almond made a satisfying crunch and her foot dropped to the board.

“Yeah!” she said, a victorious exclamation. And then she must have noticed me, quivering with arousal, watching her foot, because she giggled. “Look at you, you can barely hold on. We just started. Do my feet turn you on that much?”

There was no doubt in my mind that they did. I gave into my primal desires, and before I could think better of it, I lurched forward and buried my face on top of her warm foot, my lips kissing her toes in smacks of passion as she continued to grind the candy beneath her. I was lost in a sea of euphoria and I didn’t care how silly it made me look. I don’t know what made me want to do it, but every kiss, every crunch, every twist of her foot sent me closer and closer to the edge. Teresa did nothing to stop my self deprecating behavior and let it go on for a few minutes before commenting further.

“You’re really going to have an orgasm right here at my feet, aren’t you?” she asked, the amusement in her voice piercing through the veil of my arousal. The ridicule slowed my eager kisses as I realized how foolish I must have looked. And like a bucket of cold water, I started to come down.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and started to push myself away.

“Where are you going?” Teresa’s foot stopped its merciless grinding and stood on the crush of chocolate and almond. “Kiss my toes, Karrin.” I hesitated and her voice became much more forceful. “I said, kiss my toes…now!”

I blanched at the sound of her voice, and with no further prompting, my lips were back at her foot, smacking in carefully placed kisses. She let me do this for a few moments more until the very action of it reignited the engine of arousal.

Teresa said, “That’s better. Remember I’m the one in control here. And you are going to watch me step on this candy.” Her foot returned to its twisting motion and my kisses accelerated. “And then I am going to make you lick it off my sandal.”

Just her saying the words sent a jolt of electricity through me. The cold water bath was gone, and my orgasm was returning in full force. Teresa chuckled. “Does it turn you on when I say that? That I am going to make you…lick…my sandal clean?”

I nodded hurriedly as I was beginning to lose myself. I was approaching the point of no return and my pathetic whimpering escaped my lips before I could rein it back in.

“Aww,” she said, “it won’t be long now. I can feel what’s left of it crunching. I’ll just get it smooshed into my sole, and then I want you licking my sandal from heel to toe, just like yesterday.”

Teresa’s twisting foot rubbed my face, and my body was twitching just from the arousal alone. I wanted to touch myself, but the simple motion of pressing my hips against the carpeted floor sent me into a spin. I reached the edge and started to tense as the wave washed over me. Part of me wanted to stop the oncoming rush, to not shame myself further, but Teresa kept talking to me. She knew she was going to push me the rest of the way in a matter of moments.

“You can’t stop it Karrin,” she cooed. “I’m going to make you have an orgasm. Just let it happen.”

My voice came out in muffled whimpers.

“Shh…don’t talk…just listen to it crunch…” she continued, the crumbs of the almond rolling under her like gravel, and my body tensed one final time. She stopped grinding and let my sweat-drenched face remain planted onto her foot, the tip of her big toe in my mouth as I bathed it with labored breaths. I could feel the surge of wetness spreading in my shorts, but I did nothing except enjoy the sensation. Each lesser wave of my orgasm forced my hips to mash against the carpet. I must have looked like a dying fish to her, flopping helplessly as my body exploded with pleasure. Then all of my muscles went limp at the same time and I exhaled.

“Oh…my…God…” I gasped, resting my face on my cheek and blinking the wetness from my eyes. I finally afforded myself a look up at Teresa standing above me. She was chewing on the other half of the Almond Joy candy bar, grinning as she snacked.

“Wow, are you finally done?” she said, then added, “Sorry I didn’t think we’d need this other candy bar anymore. Looks like one was enough! We’ll save the Reese’s for later.”

I laughed and felt the tingling in my fingers and toes start to subside before taking a deep breath and focusing my eyes on the foot inches from my face. There was an aura about it, a sort of soft glow that mesmerized me. Or maybe it was the euphoria of an absolutely mind-shattering orgasm. I rolled on to my side and reached out to touch it. My hand was rock steady, calm, with none of the nervous trembles that plagued me before. Teresa flinched her toes when I touched them, but otherwise stood there in silence as I traced her skin with my index finger. I smiled contently, and as my finger drew a path up the strap of her sandal and to her ankle, my heart beat louder in my chest. I really was falling in love, but in this case, head under heels.

Teresa’s foot lifted back, the sticky chocolate peeling away from the cutting board, and pressed against my idle lips. My eyes met hers and my fingers curled around her ankle in response. No words had to be said, no commands given; I knew what to do. The smack of my tongue dislodging clumps of chocolate filled the room. At first it was all I could hear over the quickly accelerating beats in my chest. Then my ragged breathing overtook it as I struggled with the candy caked into the thin grooves. I used the tip of my tongue to dig it from the trenches and Teresa would help me by stepping down with some counter-pressure. Soon the difficult part was over and I had settled into a relaxed rhythm. What was left of the chocolate was smeared flat to the sole, and I licked it like a child savoring an ice cream cone.

With my clothes still wet from my foray into the sexual unknown not ten minutes before, I found myself laying the track for another orgasm. It also dawned on me that Teresa had not said a word, electing to simply watch me enjoy the taste of her shoe, swallowing what chocolate I cleaned off as often as I could.

Finally, she spoke gently, as if to avoid making ripples in the pond. “How does that feel?”

I returned a breathy reply, “I feel like I am in heaven. This can’t be real.” My fingers moved from her ankle until both hands held her foot to my face.

Teresa pressed down in perfect time with my licks. “Do you like it when when I do that?”

I moaned. “Yes..”

“Roll over on your back,” she said.

I kept a firm grip on her foot which made her hopscotch closer to me when I squared my shoulders to the floor. My view of the ceiling soon contained Teresa’s down-turned face and my hands moved with her as she swung her foot over my lips again. I picked up where I left off, tongue to shoe, only this time she pressed down with more force than before. At first it was merely difficult to repel her advances with my tongue. Then as she added more weight, it became difficult for me to lick it at all. Her eyes seemed like dark obs in the shadow of the ceiling light, but I could tell she studied me with curious intensity. Finally she gave me a slight release and my tongue lapped at the bottom for all it was worth.

“So tell me,” she said casually, “what turned you on when I stepped on that beetle?”

Teresa gave me enough latitude to answer. “I…don’t know…I guess…imagining what it was like?” I offered, then returned a dutiful lick to not break stride.

“Oh, so you wish you were the bug then!”

I shook my head as briefly as I could. “No…I just…wanted to watch you smash it. I wanted to…see it.”

“Hmm,” she replied and absentmindedly put weight onto her foot. I whimpered as the pressure began to hurt my face. She focused on me again. “Do you like it when I step on your face?”

I didn’t answer at first, though I definitely didn’t enjoy the pain. My hesitation made her grin and the weight increased.

“So you do like it, being under my foot.” Teresa’s sandal twisted slowly and I halfheartedly tried to push it away. “Do you think this is what it was like for that beetle? When I…stepped…on it and it went…crunuunnch?” She emphasized each word to gauge my reaction. By the way my knees trembled and waved in the air, she knew she had hit gold.

I said nothing. My eyes were squeezed closed and I was doing everything I could to minimize the pain short of rolling away altogether. When she said the word ‘crunch’ my brain went manic and my tongue tried to squeeze past my lips to continue cleaning the chocolate dessert she offered me.

“I’m going to make you cum again, aren’t I?” she said. “Poor thing, you are so easy. Do you want me to?”

I struggled to nod.

“I want you to say it.” Her foot twisted a bit faster on my face, turning it flush red.

“Please…Teresa…” I gasped, “make me have another orgasm.”

Her foot suddenly pressed down so hard I cried out in pain. “No, say you want me to make you cum,” she said. I squirmed as she pushed my face onto its side. “Come on, say it.”

Tears were beginning to roll down my eyes and I blurted out the words. “Please make me cum Teresa, please!” My legs gyrated in the air as my orgasm grew nearer.

Teresa giggled and let up her assault. I grabbed her foot and resumed licking, only this time I lapped savagely. She resumed her timely downward presses, the flexing of her foot acting like a metaphorical pump to the machinery of my submissive engine. The chocolate was almost gone, most likely smeared to my face in her footprint, but I remained compelled to clean it anyway. My stomach fluttered, my knees squeezed together, and the flood gates were finding their way open.

“Lick my foot…” she teased, speeding up her press and release as I went faster. “That’s it…eat all that chocolate I squished, all that dirt….get it all nice and clean . If you don’t do a good job, maybe I’ll make you eat what’s left of that beetle!”

Time stopped. A soft ringing in my ears threatened to block out her voice as I wrapped my mind around her words. It threw my approaching orgasm into overdrive, my legs churned, my breathing rasped. I pictured the squashed bug stuck to her shoe, the white guts, the twitching legs, and the astonished expression on Teresa’s face as I ran my tongue over its remains. Soon I imagined that’s what the chocolate was, and part of me reeled at the disgust of such a degrading act. But I could not deny how absolutely excited I felt at the idea. I locked my thoughts into this fantasy, that not only was I eating a bug from my teammate’s shoe, but that she was beside herself that I was capable of it.

Part of that imagination was true. Teresa’s mouth was agape and her eyes wide. She knew she had touched a nerve in me and the incredulity was hard to ignore. “Oh my God, Karrin,” she awed. “That’s what you want? You want me to make you eat that bug I stepped on? Oh wow…you are a wild child!” My whimpers were full-fledged cries of passion as I neared the end. I felt her foot press down with one last surge of finality. “You want to lick its gooey guts off my foot where I squished it? You want to eat that bug? Then do it. Eat it, Karrin…slowlonglicks…”

And that did it. The gates opened, I cringed, my fingers clamped into her skin, and her mocking laughter was drowned out by the most intense orgasm I had ever had in my entire life. My hands fell to my side and I quivered from the waves of pleasure still navigating their way through my body. I basked in its afterglow, stretching my legs out and making one last exasperated exhale. When I opened my eyes, I saw Teresa chewing on her lip with amusement. Her foot had moved from my face to my chest, holding me down as if she had slew me in battle.

“I…um…need a shower,” I said.

“Ya think?” she laughed. “Wow, you have some pretty pent up desires going on in there, girl! I don’t even know what to say! You’ve completely thrown me into a tizzy!”

I caressed her toes and relaxed my weary body. “I have never felt this way before in my life. What is going on with me?”

“You’re coming out of your box, Karrin Lau,” Teresa said. “Doesn’t it feel good?”

“Yeah,” I smiled.

“Damn, I envy you. I wish my orgasms were a tenth of what I just saw you go through. You were in a place only illegal drugs and rock and roll can take you! Holy moly!” She stepped off of my chest to let me up, releasing me to my own recognizance. “Go get yourself cleaned up and let’s go get something to eat. I’m starving. And man…we gotta go to some of those tournament parties tonight because I gotta find some hot stuff baby this evening! Aww great…now I have to change too!”

I sat up as Teresa fled my room in a hurry.

Part 3: Feet and Loathing in Los Angeles
The air conditioner fought to cool the mid-size rental from the sweltering southern California sun barreling through the window, but I kept it rolled down anyway, the tips of my fingers dancing to avoid being scorched by the red hot trim. I loved the ocean, the scent, the summertime breeze, the scores of beach-goers enjoying a break from work on the crowded sand. Teresa flew along Pacific Coast Highway as quick as traffic would allow, and as I sank contentedly into the leather seat, she reached over and ruffled my hair and gave me a smile.

I rolled my head to look at her and caught the last glimpses of the smile before she turned to pilot us safely along the road. In truth, I expected so little from this tournament trip that a quick first round exit was what I had planned for; but making it to the semi-finals and coming only a few unforced errors short of a Finals berth was going above and beyond. Sure, Teresa and I didn’t win the big prize, but our streak did give us a nice infusion of cash and some momentum to start the season. Now we had two weeks before the venue shifted even further south to San Diego, with one of those weeks being used for welcome rest and relaxation. I looked forward to this the most, and taking time to understand myself in the process.

What a crazy trip this has been. Who would have thought I would come to California and  have my life change in a matter of hours. It was like walking in the desert for years without knowing the taste of cool water, only to find a sparkling lake just over the hill from where you started. Now suddenly everything that I had been carrying around with me felt like baggage I didn’t need. All of that sadness, all of that anger, all of that turmoil that I wrestled with every day, all of which I assumed was the status quo of my life was cast aside. I pushed my sunglasses down over my eyes and the colors of the world muted into a pleasant shade of brown. My future seemed bright again.

“Hey,” Teresa called, “I’m going to a drive-thru, do you want anything?”

“Just a diet,” I replied and pulled the rubber band from my hair to fix my loosening ponytail.

We got in line at one of the taco chains. Teresa relayed her order to the speaker far louder than she needed to. Minutes later we were back out on the road, Teresa jugging a burrito, drink, and her iPhone while trying to keep us between the lines. When things were too hectic, she would steer with her knees. Any normal creature with thoughts of self-preservation would have been terrified of this scene, but Teresa Hawkins was born and raised in the insanity of Los Angeles and navigating it was a badge of honor. Moving to Seattle apparently did nothing to dull her expertise, and I could have fallen asleep without a care in the world.

I pulled the straw from my drink cup and jabbed it between the melting cubes of ice. “When is that tourney party tonight?”

“I think it starts at 9pm,” she said. “But I’m not sure I’ll have the energy, I am hitting the wall already.” She sighed, “Damn it. I wanted to go to that party too.”

“We can still go.”

“If I go when I’m tired, I’ll just drink too much and wake up next to some troglodyte in the morning. No thanks, I have standards.”

“So what are you doing to do then?”

Teresa grinned. “I’m going to find something on that pay-per-view thing and…she-bop, he-bop a we-bop!”

I snorted, “Well, those standards were short-lived.”

“Hey, a girl has needs, even finicky ones like me,” she replied and cut from the coast road to the lookout near the boardwalk. We stopped in one of the open parking spaces and the entire Pacific Ocean sprawled before us, the sky reddening against the blue from the setting sun. On the sand below a thousand families milled to catch the last rays of the day. Teresa rolled down her own window and shut the car off, leaving the quiet slurping of straws and the thrum of the ocean as the only sound.

“Speaking of needs,” Teresa began, “how are you recovering from your intergalactic orgasms? Have you transcended to a higher form of being yet?”

I blushed, and somehow with everything Teresa was holding, she managed to find a way to playfully ruffle my hair again. “I’m still trying to sort all of that out,” I said coyly.

“No worries girl, I’m sure you are up to your eyeballs in mixed messages and crazy sensual ideas! This whole thing goes way beyond any simple shoe fetish or whatever you thought it was. If you follow this thing the whole way, who knows where you might end up! Kinda exciting, don’t you think?” She beamed at me with impossibly white teeth.

I frowned at the possibility of being caught in a huge web of sexual confusion. “What do you mean?”

Her arms widened, phone and burrito and drink cup clutched in her hands. “You’re at the tip of the iceberg! The beginning of the journey! You are going to find out stuff about yourself that will blow your mind. Look how far you’ve come in, what, a couple of days? Imagine a month! A year! You can completely redefine your life.”

I nodded and said, “A reset button right now doesn’t seem so bad.”

“Tell me about it! It’s like you are being given a do-over. And I thought I knew you, too…how wrong I was! I thought you were this stuck up prude. I guess what they say is true, it’s always the quiet ones.”

“Stuck up prude?” I felt my hand wanting to rest against my hip in a no-you-didn’t fashion.

“Don’t even start. Every time you meet someone it’s: sorry, I can’t have a drink with you, I don’t drink. Sorry, I can’t go back to your room because I have this boyfriend who loves me and holds me and squeezes me tight! Blah blah blah,” she flapped her hand. “All those guys you coulda-shoulda-woulda been with…all that opportunity wasted because you were too stuck up to let your hair down and enjoy life for a change. You’re Chinese, you weren’t born in China. Stop trying to be your parents.”

I pursed my lips and said, “I’m sure from your point of view that might be considered prudish, you who has never met a guy she didn’t want to sleep with. I like to take my life and responsibilities a little more seriously. I stopped being sixteen years old a long time ago.”

Teresa slurped more drink. “Oh yeah, and how’s that master plan working out for you?”

I said nothing and just stared at the breaking waves down at the shore.

“I think part of you wants to convince yourself that you are this angel of purity, and another part of you wants to be the naughty girl,” she explained. “Who says you can’t be both? You obviously have some very…intense…desires that need to come out. Seriously Kerrin, don’t hide under your broken halo now when you’ve finally got a glimpse of the light.”

I let my gaze fall to the dashboard. “This has been pretty overwhelming for me.”

“But overwhelming in a good way, right?” she asked and I nodded. “So explore it, see where it goes. Take the paths you want to take. But don’t lie to yourself or put the brakes on what could be a wonderful thing. Listen to your heart.”

My face broke into a weak smile and I nodded to her again in agreement. We spent the next half hour watching the sun creep down into the ocean until all that was left was a red band of light and the twinkle of stars. The absence of the sun brought with it the cool moist air and it blew through the open windows in short gusts. Teresa was reclined in the driver’s seat, her eyes heavy, and her hands resting carefully on her stomach as she dozed. I spent some time watching her sleep until I could barely see her in the dark, then turned my gaze to the crashing ocean waves, only the white foam visible in the night air.

As I started to drift off myself, I heard Teresa take a deep breath and say, “Hey…what was that all about anyway, the beetle thing?”

I blinked my eyes awake. “What?”

“The beetle thing,” she repeated and stretched. “Did you really want to eat that beetle off my shoe?”

“No, not really,” I said. “Why?”

“I was just thinking about it,” she replied. “I wasn’t really expecting that. Kinda weird.”

After all we had been through, I was hurt by this. “Isn’t all of this weird?” I snapped.

Teresa chuckled quietly. “Yeah but there are subtle layers to everything. When I saw how you reacted, I thought: oookay, she wants to eat dead bugs, and it turns her on.”

I sighed and leaned my head into my hand. “It’s not like that at all. It just seemed…risque…taboo. I don’t think I would ever do it in a million years, it’s gross and disgusting, but pretending to do it just made me feel so good. I don’t even know why. Partly because of your attitude I guess.”

“Because I was making you do it?” she offered.

“Yeah. Kinda like you were the bully.”

“Oh, I get it,” she replied and turned to me. “That makes sense actually.”

I looked into her dark eyes. “It does?”

“Oh yeah, it’s that dominance and submissive behavior thing. You have that going on in spades. When I dominate you, you get off on the idea. Who knows, maybe that’s why you liked watching me step on the bug in the first place. Exerting dominance.”

“Maybe,” I said, my voice trailing.

“Would it turn you on if I crushed something with my hands?”

I thought about that for a moment and the idea sparked absolutely no interest in me. I shrugged and said, “I don’t think so. Not as much.”

Teresa nodded. “So you just like it when I use my feet.”

“Yeah.”

“What about…shoes? Does any particular shoe turn you on more than others?”

Again, I took a moment to consider the question but shook my head. “No, not really. I don’t think it matters much…except…”

“Except what?”

“Except that I like it more when you are wearing the shoes,” I continued.

Teresa chortled, “So no more late nite trysts with the Nike brothers?”

“It turns me on, just not as much. All I did was imagine you were wearing them.”

“What about…bare feet? Did you like kissing my toes?” she giggled at the question. Before I could answer, she continued, “Actually scratch that. I already know the answer. You were practically on cloud nine looking at my feet.”

I blushed. “You have cute feet.”

“Oh yeah?” she said and paused. I heard a thunk near the floorboards of the car and she carefully turned in the driver’s seat, swinging her bare feet onto my lap. My small hands touched them both; they were slightly cool in the midsummer air and coarse from walking in the sand. I squirmed a bit from the suddenness of it.

“I…um…” The words struggled to get out, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I started to massage her feet out of lack of anything better to do with the situation, using my thumbs to massage the pads. She curled her toes.

“Oh, that feels good,” she said behind a smile and stretched her legs. “My feet have been killing me this whole tournament.”

I kept up the massage, rubbing my thumbs in circles at all of the usual tension points. The muscles in the soles of her feet were taut from the rigors of competitive hard-court sports, and I spent several minutes working the knots free again. Teresa just purred at the attention, watching me through heavily-lidded eyes, as I focused diligently on my task. Despite how rough tennis was on our feet, Teresa’s were cute. I did not exaggerate that fact for her benefit. Her toes were long, but proportionate to the size, and she kept her nails trimmed short like I did. I was able to lightly touch the tips with my finger, feeling skin, as I went from each to her pinkie and back again. I was lost in a dream, with only her toes in focus.

She shifted her feet until her anklet tinkled. “What are you thinking about?”

I raised my head. “Why do you always ask me that?”

Teresa shrugged and said, “Because I like to know what you are thinking. You always seem someplace else when you are looking at my feet, I was just curious.”

“I don’t know what to say, it’s hard to explain. It’s not so much that I’m thinking…it’s more what I’m feeling.”

“Well, what are you feeling?”

I looked back down and started working on her heels. “They just…make me feel…content,” I managed.

Teresa grinned. “How do you feel when you are kissing my toes?”

“Even better,” I mused.

“Me too,” she said finally and folder her arms closer to her body, as if bracing for the cold.

Surprised, I looked back at her. “What, really?”

“Yeah, duh,” she replied beneath rolling eyes. “I’m not bi, but you don’t have to be to get a little hot from that scene the other day. That was pretty intense!”

For a reason I could not entirely fathom at first, it had not occurred to me that Teresa would be affected by any of the sexual exploration she undertook with me. In focusing on what this had all meant, I realized that I was being a bit self-centered and wrapped up in my own instant gratification, to the point that I had ignored the obvious signs. The night she made me lick her shoe, were her eyes dilated from the excitement? And the next day when she stepped on my face, didn’t she say she had to change clothes? Had there been a slightly wet spot on those loose shorts of hers before she ran out my bedroom door?  I had always known her to be far more libidinous than I thought a person should be, but on this trip she was not finding the usual creature comforts that came with being a professional sports celebrity. Maybe she was just as pent up as I was coming into John Wayne International Airport. Maybe she needed a release too.

“Teresa, I’m so sorry, I had no idea I was having this effect on you!”

Her eyes opened a little wider to consider me before closing again. “Don’t be, it beats pay-per-view. Cheaper too.”

“But…”

Teresa lifted one foot from my hand and pressed her clammy toes against my lips, trapping the reply in my throat. “Shush,” she said, “and rub my feet.”

I carefully took her foot away from my face and resumed the massage. The last vestiges of sun were gone with only the sound of traffic and the ocean to split the air. I spent some time with my face slightly out the window, trying to pick out more than a handful of stars in the light-polluted sky, but it ended up being too difficult. Finally I shifted in my seat to get more comfortable, Teresa’s feet resting heavily across my legs, and rubbed her calves. The change of location did not disrupt her dream, and I could still hear the steady rhythm of her breathing as she napped. My eyes had adjusted to the dim light inside the car and I found myself studying her toes again, washed in amber from the digital dashboard clock. I touched the tips once more, letting my finger slip between her big toe and back again. The sensation tickled her and she gripped my finger gently in her sleep.

What was it about her feet that was turning me on? Over the years I had seen her feet plenty of times and never once felt the slight bit aroused. She even joked on more than one occasion that I should kiss them, but I laughed it off or gave her a playful slug on the arm. Now I felt compelled to touch them, to just feel the smoothness with my fingers, or the tension when they distributed her weight. I wanted to look at them, up close if possible. I even wanted to kiss them and hear her approving giggle as I suckled each toe. Was it because I knew it pleased her? Was it different now because she knew she could tell me to do it…and I would?

An image, a vague memory of being at the feet of someone else, came back to me in bits and pieces. It was an old memory lost over the years, but I grabbed at strands of it trying to put it back together. How old was I? Seven or eight years old maybe? I remember crying and the smell of tar from the blacktop, my hands and knees scuffed and my books scattered around me. I remember the laughter of older girls circling me like vultures, calling me racist epithets, spitting on me and in my hair. I could see my wire-frame glasses lying on the pavement between the sandaled feet of one of my assailants. Then I saw the shadow of her foot pass over them, the other voices goading her to stomp on them if I didn’t beg her not to. I did, and I cried, and then my face was shoved down onto her foot by someone else, and I kissed those pink toes with every plea. I remembered how those toes felt when they tensed, and the sound of bending metal and scraping lenses filling my ears as she stepped down anyway. Worst of all, I remembered the laughter pitching louder as I sobbed…

I shook myself out of my haunted reverie. Teresa had not moved, and her cool feet seemed even colder now. I quickly rubbed her soles, her ankles, flexed her toes and put as much warmth into them as I could. The activity elicited an approving moan from her, and she stretched again, her heels digging into my tummy. I sat and stared at those pretty feet in my hands, and I tingled at the thought of them against my lips. Where once they were steady, my hands started to shake nervously, and I took a deep breath.

“Teresa,” I whispered.

“Hmm?” she said, her eyes still closed.

“Can I…kiss your feet?” I asked.

A small smile formed on her face. “Sure, hon, you can do whatever you want.”

I paused. “Really?”

“For reals,” she replied and tucked her head deeper into her shoulder.

The car was once again quiet and I looked around the parking lot to see if anyone was watching. The only other car there was parked at the far end and the windows were dark. I couldn’t see nor hear anyone along the foot paths and no one was pulling in. We were alone, at least, for now. I turned slightly in my chair so that Teresa’s feet were planted directly on my tummy and slid down the seat. When I thought I was far enough, I carefully lifted her right foot and brought it to my face. The sole was slightly dusty with granules of sand from her walk on the beach after the game. I wiped at it with my hand, freeing as many of the stuck pieces as I could, then placed a slight kiss on her instep. The second my lips touched her skin, that familiar jolt of electricity coursed through me and her toes bent back from the sensation. The butterflies were free and I wanted to go further. This time I pressed my lips against the pad of her foot and touched it lightly with the tip of my tongue. The taste was sour and I made a face before staring at the dark sole before me.

I decided to try her heel instead and kissed it once, then once more with a quick lick. The same slightly sour taste filled my mouth and I hesitated. Would I get sick if I did this? I had never licked someone’s bare foot before, yet the opportunity was here in my hands, and I wanted to so much. I wanted to feel that excitement again tonight that had changed my life only a couple days before. I went for broke. With my eyes shut, I put my tongue against Teresa’s heel and I licked in one long, slow streak to her toes. As I rounded the ball of her foot, she fidgeted and giggled quietly, making me stop and smack my lips at the sourness.

“How does it taste?” she asked around a sleepy smile.

I scrunched my face at her. “Kinda yucky,” I said.

“Mmm, but it feels good,” she replied and lifted her eyelids, tapping me on the nose suddenly with her toe. This was quickly becoming her Do-It button. “Lick my foot,” she said at last.

I wasted no time putting my tongue against her heel and tracing the path I had started before. This time her pleasure was more pronounced and she moaned as I made my way past her instep and over the ball of her foot. Her toes curled at the sensation and released in their usual manner. I repeated the task, pressing a little more firmly, and spending more time cleaning her instep and pad. She squirmed a bit in my hands, her calf muscles tensing, and pleasure sounds escaping her lips. I smiled to myself; after she had forced me to orgasm, this felt like turnabout is fair play.

So I focused on that, bathing her foot with slow, long licks, each one designed to stimulate Teresa as much as I could, and finishing by nibbling on the tips of her toes. She was breathing heavily now with her eyes closed, and her legs bicycled as she started to really get into it. My own excitement was growing in concert with hers and I had no doubt I could work myself to a happy conclusion just by doing this alone. It was a serene moment, a metaphysical understanding between two people connected by the sensual touch of skin, and it felt like we were the only ones in the entire universe.

That is, until a whiskey-slurred voice called out, “Hey you two…getta room why-don’t-ya!”

The two of us bolted upright in our seats and looked around outside the car. Not ten feet away stood a homeless man using an overloaded shopping cart to keep himself upright. He grinned with missing teeth and made a perverted kind of ‘tee-hee’ sound when we noticed him.

Teresa fumbled at the keys in the ignition. “God damn it!” she shouted, then as if to think better of it, made a crucifix on her chest. The car roared to life and I sank down low in my seat, hiding my face behind my hand. As we pulled put, Teresa yelled out the window, “Get the hell out of here you damn hobo!”

The hobo cackled and continued on his way before I lost sight of him in the glow of our red taillights. Teresa pulled quickly out onto Pacific Coast Highway and the car revved as we picked up speed. Soon we were gliding along the freeway once again and heading back to our hotel. I didn’t want to be the first to say anything, the sheer embarrassment of it all sabotaging what was left of my fading passion.

Instead, I mumbled to myself, Mal-lut-lo, in Cantonese.

Teresa took a deep breath and fixed her crooked tee-shirt. “I should have got out and kicked that guy’s ass, damn pervert. He was probably standing there jacking it too.”

“I wonder if he watches tennis,” I added offhandedly. “Next thing you know there will be photos of us up on TMZ.”

“Nothing says ‘you’ve made it’ better than some candid photos or a sex tape!” Teresa glanced at the clock. “Great googly moogly, it’s almost 10pm! Time flies I guess…until some crazy hobo interrupts the most relaxing foot massage you’ve ever had.” She winked at me and then exhaled loudly. “Wonderful…and I hate morning flights too.”

The nervous amusement vanished once my face fell in shock. “Morning flight?” I asked slowly. “What are you talking about?”

Teresa Hawkins shrugged her shoulders. “I’m flying home in the morning, I told you that.”

“No you didn’t tell me that Teresa,” I said. “ I would have distinctly remembered if you had said something like that to me.”

“Well I thought I did…” she replied, giving me a sheepish sideways glance. “Why are you mad? We always go home between tourneys. You know that I can’t leave my family alone for a week without some stupid drama popping up. My brother called needing money last night and I figured I would just go back and deal with it.”

My mouth agape, I said, “Why am I mad? I thought…” and I let my voice trail. Suddenly my warm California adventure seemed to be coming to an end and I wasn’t prepared to abandon it so soon.

Teresa sighed again, her eyes rolled up to the ceiling of the rental as she blew at the wispy bangs covering her forehead. “It’s not like we aren’t coming back next week Karrin. We’ll be down in San Diego! Think of the fun! We’re two seconds from Mexico! We can buy taffy and and go out to Imperial Beach…step on people’s sand castles…” she grinned at me but I offered no response. “Come on, don’t make me feel bad.”

But I said nothing the rest of the way back to the hotel. When we arrived, I walked barefoot up the rough concrete path from the parking lot to the door, my flip-flops dangling from my fingers, and waited for Teresa to finish struggling with the card key. It clicked open, and after doing the same at our room door, I went straight inside and towards my own bedroom. As I turned to slam the door shut, I saw a brief glimpse of Teresa watching me from the living room, her hands in her pockets and a sad frown on her down-turned face. It was the first time I had seen her unhappy in years, and the image of that face was frozen in my mind as the door crashed closed between us.

That night I couldn’t sleep, I just stared at the ceiling, listening to the sounds in the hotel. Teresa had left her TV on all night and its muted dialogue carried its way into my dark bedroom. Later I heard her voice as she spoke to someone else on the phone, catching the slight intonation of her words. She sounded perfectly normal and that made my heart ache. I was beginning to realize that she didn’t feel the same way about me as I did about her; that this was all just some sort of game or experiment or means of amusement for her. A warm tear found its way down my cheek and to my pillow. I had been so happy, I thought I had finally found something and someone special to share it with in the unlikeliest of people and places. But there I was, out in the cold and once more on my own, left to my own devices with a gap in my heart and nothing to fill it with. Sure, Teresa could fly back to Seattle and chum around with her friends and family, her boy-toys and groupies, and when she got tired of them I would be here to bridge the gap until next time. In the meantime I had nowhere to go and wanted to be anywhere else but home.

I heard the sound of running water and the buzz of a toothbrush, and only a few minutes later, the soft commotion of someone in the living room. I burst out of bed and listened carefully. It was after 5am, maybe she was getting ready to leave. I decided to pretend I was going out for water and opened the door. Teresa stood by the center table dressed in a dark gray hooded pullover, Capris and sneakers. She was huddled over her phone, tapping at it with her thumb, and her flight bag was packed and standing behind her. She looked up when she heard me and her lips were locked in what seemed like a permanent frown. My heart ached once more, and I ignored her to go to the refrigerator. She stared at my back for a moment before speaking.

“Don’t be mad at me, Karrin,” she said softly. “I don’t want to leave with you mad at me.”

“Then don’t leave,” I snapped, taking a bottled water from the refrigerator and twisting open its cap. I turned and saw her in the same place, the sleeves of the pullover almost covering her hands when she shrugged.

“It’s just for a week and then I’ll be back!” When I didn’t respond to this, she continued, “And we can do anything you want. I’ll bring some different shoes! We can try out new stuff if you want. I don’t know…”

I dismissed her and started back to my room. “Forget it. I don’t want to play anymore.”

Before I reached the door, her arms wrapped around my neck and hugged me from behind. I tried to pull away but her strong upper body strength held me in check. She leaned her head on my shoulder until I finally relented and leaned my head against hers. I could smell the sweet fragrance from her body wash, and it soothed my anger with its jasmine scent.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered in my ear. “I know you think I am bailing on you but I’m not. I have some personal stuff I need to do at home, but I promise, I mean it…really promise…that when I get back we are going to continue where we left off.”

Tears welled and I sniffled, nodding reluctantly. “Okay,” I said.

“Now you have to promise me that you are going to be strong until then, and you are going to enjoy yourself this week, and not spend it feeling sorry for yourself and cooped up in some hotel. Or worse, consider getting back together with that cockroach.”

I nodded again. “I promise.”

Teresa turned me around by my forearms and I looked into her crystal blue eyes. “You are my wild child, Karrin Lau,” she said, “and I totally dig turning you into an exhausted mess. If you are feeling down, think about me and all the mean things I am going to make you do when I get back. And if you are really naughty, maybe you’ll think up of some on your own. Can you do that?”

My toes tingled. “I can.”

Teresa kissed me on the forehead and stepped back. “Good. Now if you don’t want to keep the rental, just leave the keys in the return lock and they’ll come pick it up. I am going to take the shuttle to the airport, it leaves in a few minutes. My return flight is next Saturday. Can you pick me up?”

“Sure Teresa,” I said, in an almost detached and businesslike fashion.

My doubles partner raised her fist and I bumped it. The extension handle on her travel luggage clicked into place and she pulled it to the door, checked her pockets, and stepped out into the hallway. I went to the door and she turned, glancing back and forth to see if anyone was listening. “Oh, and by the way,” she whispered, covering her mouth, “I left my sneakers on the bed.” She sent me a familiar wink and walked off, waving. “Lata Gata!”

       I watched her go before retreating back into the room. I was sad, but the slight tingles of excitement of the weeks to come fended off the negative tide of emotion. I padded into her dark bedroom and switched on the light, and there by her pillow was her white cross-trainers, paired neatly with a Post-It note sticking out from beneath one shoe. On the stop side, the note read in her flowing handwriting:

FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY!
– turn over –

I flipped the shoe over and saw that the note contained a set of instructions:

  1. PLACE TONGUE HERE (and an arrow drawn towards the instep)
  2. LICK TO HERE (and an arrow drawn to the toes)
  3. REPEAT AS NEEDED

Luv, Teresa

       I smiled to myself. The destruction of my self-doubt vanished and I felt the pangs of heartache being overshadowed by Teresa’s support of me. It didn’t fill the gaps, and it wasn’t fair to expect her to, but like a big sister she was protecting me from myself, and I stood under that metaphorical umbrella to keep out of the rain of tears. I could make it a week, and being alone was something I was accustomed to, the only question now was what to do with my copious free time.

The television was left on, and a sudden flicker of its array of images caught my attention. An advertisement for the Las Vegas strip went by, complete with images of the Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, the Bellagio with its synchronized fountains, all meant to entice the viewer. I watched people cheering and smiling as they seemingly won thousands of dollars gambling before stepping out to romantic dinners, shows and resort hotel amenities. A grin spread across my face, and my eyes caught sight of the keys to the rental sitting on the nightstand.

I looked down at the shoe in my hand, the words Air Max on the heel peeking past my palm, and shrugged. “Well Max,” I said, “looks like you and I are going to Vegas.”

Part 4: My Dinner with Avery

Half asleep, I moved the electric toothbrush around the foam of paste in my mouth, a beige Mandalay Bay towel knotted atop my head. Steam from the shower had fogged the corners of the mirror so I had to crane my neck to present myself a clear reflection. Three days in the Nevada sun had given my skin a dark cinnamon sheen, the kind of natural suntan that you had to fake with booths back home in Oregon. I prodded at the bags under my dark brown eyes; even the shower had done nothing to erase the weariness and stress from my face and it was beginning to take its toll. My ears caught the sound of my phone vibrating across the tabletop back in the suite; the constant flow of text messages, phone calls and voicemail had awoken my phone, and myself, bright and early. I ignored it and leaned over the basin to spit out the toothpaste.

I unwrapped the towel from my head and let my shoulder-length hair fall in strands around my face. The chlorine from the lazy river and wave pool were already doing a number on my gold highlights, fading them back to the natural jet black color I almost never kept. I ran a brush through it and padded back into the suite and to the window. The view from my room at THE Hotel looked east towards McCarran airport and over the sprawling pools of the Mandalay Bay resort where I had spent most of my afternoons. A plane landed every minute or so, some of the bigger ones looking like they would set down on Las Vegas Boulevard itself, and the walls would literally rumble as they approached. I could already tell the sweltering desert heat was in full force just from standing close to the bay window and feeling it radiate against my damp skin. It extended up from the floor so I could look straight down the length of the building; it was like being a hundred feet tall. Brightly dressed families made their way in and out of the pool area along the ivory paths, and I watched them with interest until my phone buzzed again.

My shoulders slumped and I went to the nightstand where my iPhone was charging. The screen was full of missed calls and text message alerts, most starting around the time I entered the bar last night. The casino floors and their signal blockers wreaked havoc on cell phones, which was perfectly fine with me since I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I had heard terrific things about the live band at the Nine Fine Irishmen bar and had made my way to the New York, New York casino to just pop in and see. A brief visit turned into four hours of singing, dancing and drinking way too many mixed drinks than my small frame was designed for. The house band Sin E Ri-Ra dazzled everyone with their folk tunes and pretty brogues, and I couldn’t help but get caught up in the mood,. I even danced with an adorable elderly Polynesian woman in a flowing hat who probably didn’t speak English but knew every word to their songs. In addition to the band, they employed Irish toe dancers, clicking loudly on a raised dais that was at eye-level for me in the crowded room. I watched their feet dance in hard shoes to the music and it made me think of Teresa.

My heart was heavy, but this felt like the norm. Since returning to Seattle, Teresa had only texted me twice; once to let me know that she had made it and another to ask how I was doing. In contrast, my agent had sent more messages, and my thumb skipped through his panicked texts wondering where I was and why I wasn’t with any kind of protection services. I rolled my eyes; I didn’t need a bodyguard following me around. The only thing protective services does is draw more attention to you, not less. Down here, I’m just another Asian tourist enjoying the sun and gambling. No one would notice me or likely care even if they did.

I sat on the edge of my bed and finished getting dressed. Nike Air, the moniker I had given to Teresa’s left sneaker, was sitting on the floor neatly by the nightstand. Nike Max, the right one, was on his side beside my pillow, laces undone like we had had some wild night of passion. I let my eyes flick to and from the shoe, never quite able to look at it directly. Seeing it there would be an admission of my lack of self control and I felt pathetic enough as it was. Though, I mused, I was pretty tipsy last night, and I brightened at the idea that my inhibitions were on gone simply because I liked the taste of Irish Martinis.

I scrolled through the rest of the messages so that the phone would stop making noise. Friends, fans, my coach, my agent, and none from Teresa. I let my hand drop to the bed and took a deep breath, deciding what I was going to do with another goalless day. My stomach rumbled; how long had it been since I last ate? I couldn’t remember. But it was going to have to wait until I had my half hour on the treadmill. My workout clothes adorned, I put the white headphone pips into my ears and went down to the fitness room.

Only a handful of people used the machines this early, and likely only the hardcore fitness nuts. I stepped onto the rubber track and started my usual pace. The treadmill came to life, and with a few button presses, I had the incline adjusted and was on my way up the imaginary hill. Robbie Williams’ voice filled my ears, singing about addiction, the ’80s, and his grandmother, and I let my mind clear like a blank canvas. My heart beat steadily, and between that and the music, it was all I thought about. Flat screen televisions hung off the far wall, subtitled with news from every network, and they made for an occasional diversion from my workout.

The machine next to me switched on and I watched a man take a towel from his neck and put it around the handle as he programmed it. We exchanged glances and smiled, and I got the impression that he took a moment longer to stare at me. I returned to looking straight ahead. The incline leveled out on my machine and the cooldown portion of the workout began. I picked up the pace, and five minutes later, it was over.

I hopped down from the machine and dabbed at the perspiration on my forehead. Despite what was going on within the confines of my head, I felt great. I treated my body like a temple and tended to its athletic efficiency with an unrelenting and obsessive compulsive directive. I was not about to let myself get beat on the tennis court due to poor conditioning, and there were few things in this world I despised more than losing. If someone wanted to beat Teresa and me, we wouldn’t make it easy. I frowned as her face crossed my mind.

As I started to walk by the man beside me, he looked over his shoulder. “Excuse me, miss?” he said.

I made brief eye contact with him, catching only the olive green of his eyes and the neatly trimmed beard on his chin. I passed him so that it would seem that I was in a hurry. “Yes?” I asked.

“Are you Karrin Lau, the tennis player?”

Damn it, I cursed myself. I decided to try on my fresh-off-the-boat persona and broke up my English. “I…sorry…I….speak…no…English…” I said slowly, wondering if I should have used ‘engrish’ instead.

The man climbed down from his treadmill. He was tall, maybe a little under six feet, and probably in his mid-thirties. He wiped his hands on his towel and said, “Ah, okay. I thought I would ask because isn’t that you on the TV over there?” he motioned towards one of the monitors showing my interview from last week’s tournament, my face plastered front and center. “And,” he continued, “it says ‘Team Hawkins/Lau’ on your shirt.” I looked down at the black lettering across the hem around my neck.

“Huh,” I said finally.

He raised his hands defensively. “Hey, I understand if you don’t want to talk to me…”

“No, no,” I said, cutting him off. “I’m sorry, I just wasn’t…I’m…ugh…obviously if I want to learn to be incognito I should take classes.”

He smiled. “Well I won’t keep you any longer, I just wanted to say that my daughter and I are huge fans…and…uh…”

I held out my hand, though it felt more like I was throwing him a life preserver. “Karrin Lau,” I introduced.

He shook it. “Michael Avery…but everyone calls me Mike.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded. “Oh? That’s clever of them.”

He laughed nervously and said, “Yeah…yeah…uh…what brings you to Las Vegas?”

“Debauchery,” I straight-faced. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen a grown man blush. Mike Avery ran the gamut of shades of red, some of them were quite pretty.

Struggling for a reply, he opted instead to just increase the volume of his already strained and nervous laughter. “Yeah?” he said at last. “Me too actually. I’m down here…to debauch!”

I chuckled. “And your wife is okay with that?”

He stared blankly at me. “W-wife?”

I pointed to the tan line on his ring finger and said, “You’re not the only detective in Las Vegas, Columbo.”

He squeezed his hand into a fist and shook it. “Oh, well I just take it off when I exercise, you know how it is.” Mike glanced around the room like he was being watched.

“So Mike,” I continued, “would you like me to sign something for your daughter?”

He snapped out of his trance. “Oh…would you? That would be terrific! But I don’t have anything…” he patted the pockets of his shorts, as if expecting an autograph book to suddenly pop out.

“Are you staying here at the hotel tonight?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah until Friday. Farm supplies convention,” he said, smiling awkwardly, “boring stuff.”

I nodded. “Well, I am going to lunch in about an hour at the cafe. You are welcome to join me if you like, and maybe by then you can find a pen and something that reacts to ink.”

Mike’s eyes lit up and he shook my hand again. “It’s a date!” he blurted out, then followed it with, “Well…I don’t mean a date-date, I just mean…I’ll see you there.”

“That sounds wonderful,” I replied around a smile and turned on my heel.

I left Michael Avery in the fitness room and went to the crowded elevator banks. I’ve seen all kinds in my life, but they boiled down to carefully defined stereotypes more often than not. Mike was one of those guys who probably worked away from home and family quite a bit. Some of those guys found it difficult to stay on the path when confronted with temptation. He had clearly wasted no time pulling that wedding band off in the event that some woman he chatted up would accidentally find themselves leaving his hotel room the next morning. Maybe he thought I was another opportunity, another potential conquest.

When I got to my room, I took another short shower to get rid of the sweat and changed into comfortable warm-weather clothes; a loose teeshirt and shorts. This time I made sure my name was not labeled any place, and quietly cursed myself for my stupidity. A quick glance at my phone showed no more missed calls or messages. I banded my hair into a ponytail, placed my sunglasses on top of my head, and headed back downstairs.

The cafe had a line for people waiting to be seated and I was somewhat surprised to see Michael Avery already standing casually by the wall waiting for me. His face brightened when we made eye contact. Gone were his exercise shorts and sleeveless teeshirt and in its place was the look of a car salesman; long sleeved shirt, dress slacks and shoes. I smirked as I approached and he shook my hand again.

I looked him up and down. “Handing out copies of The Watchtower later?” I asked.

“What?” He looked at himself and replied, “Oh…this? I thought I’d put on something nice. It’s not like I am going to stray too far from the air conditioning. Who wants to go out and melt during the day, that’s what nights are for.”

“True, though now I feel horribly under-dressed.”

“Not at all, you look very nice,” he said and a strangely hungry expression crossed his face.

We got in line and were seated a few minutes later. I accepted the glass of water as it was set down and sipped at it gingerly; the cool liquid soothing my lips. Our corner table was backed by one wall and the window facing towards the paths around the pools. Michael sat across from me, smiling nervously, and rubbing his hands. I reached across the table and touched his wrist, and the action soothed him for a brief moment.

“Mike,” I said, “it’s okay. I’m not going to bite you.”

“I know, I’m just being an idiot. I don’t know why I’m so nervous.”

I leaned back and picked up the menu. I found the salads, and when the waiter returned, that is what I ordered. Mike did the same and stirred his soft drink with the straw.

“So you’re here for a farm equipment convention?” I asked, starting things off.

He nodded. “Yeah, I work for Culligan out of Boise. They send me down here once a year to pick up whatever I can on the cheap. Most of the time it’s a wash but, you never know. This week I managed to arrange for a four percent discount on a couple tractors we need. So yeah, it’s been a good trip so far. What about you? I saw your match last week in LA, you two did great.”

“Thanks, not a win but a good start,” I said.

“Where is your partner?”

I looked sideways. “She went home but she’ll be back down in a couple of days.”

Mike said, “Are you two down in San Diego next week?”

I paused briefly. “So you are a fan,” replied. “Yeah we’ll be there.”

He smiled. “I can’t wait, you guys are a powerhouse. Teresa Hawkins can really blast those serves! What does she hit, 110? 120MPH?”

“Sometimes. Her serve has gotten us out of some tough spots. It’s not fun to be on the receiving end of them though.”

“Definitely, definitely. You are my daughter’s favorite though,” he added. “She loves your net game. Nothing gets by you. You are the total package! You should be ranked higher!”

“My agent agrees,” I said. “Does your daughter play?”

“She plays for her high school tennis team. She’s not as good as you, I mean, you were a World Champion when you are a teenager. But she’s great in my eyes…I guess I am a proud papa,” he blushed. “She will be knocked out when I tell her I saw you down here.” He leaned to one side to fish into his pocket. “I got a card from the gift shop, it’s corny but, would you mind signing this?”

I took it from him. “Sure. What’s her name?”

“Emily.”

I scribbled as I spoke, “To Emily…be quick…like cat! Karrin Lau.” I handed it back to him and he thanked me again.

“So…” he said at last, “you just decided to come to Las Vegas for a little debauchery before the big game, huh? I would have thought you’d be married!”

I shrugged and said, “It’s not easy to keep up a relationship when you travel all over the world.”

“You can take your husband with you,” he said, nibbling at a breadstick.

“Do you take your wife with you?” I asked and he answered with silence. “Well, there you go.”

He took a drink. “So no boyfriend? No one back home?”

I imagined the sight of a bobber hitting the water of a pristine lake, the lure was cast. “I am between relationships right now,” I said slowly.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to pry. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” I stated. “He was an ass that hit me with a broomstick and he can burn in hell as far as I’m concerned.” I surprised myself with the amount of vitriol in the response, and the whites of Michael’s eyes showed an equally shocked reaction.

“He hit you?” he asked. I nodded. “What did you do after?”

I glanced out the window and watched some of the people go by. “I cried for a few days, packed my bags, and came down here for the tournament.”

“This was recently then?” The breadstick crunched between his teeth. “Wow, well, you did the right thing getting away from that guy. You should have him put in jail.”

“Eh, I don’t care,” I said. “I just want to move on.”

“I don’t blame you. Spouses can be…difficult.” He fidgeted with his hands and looked down at the tablecloth. “You’re a beautiful woman, you will have no trouble rebounding from this.”

“Thanks.”

Michael looked up, his green eyes focusing on me. “Was he a violent guy? Did he have a history of abusing women?”

I shook my head. “No, if anything, he was the exact opposite. He had a lot of…peculiarities…that gave me a false impression that he wasn’t like that deep down. Clearly I was wrong.”

“Peculiarities?” he questioned, his eyebrows raised.

“Nothing,” I said dismissively. “Just some fetishes.”

Michael almost choked on his beverage. “Fetishes? What kind of fetishes?”

I smiled slyly and replied, “The kind you don’t talk about at lunch.”

“You can’t leave me hanging,” he laughed. “Were they that bad?”

I chortled. “No, no wax on the nipples or witchcraft or anything.”

“Then what?” He leaned forward a bit, as if the sound of my voice wouldn’t carry past the edge of the table as long as he did that.

I narrowed my eyes and said, “He has a foot fetish.”

Michael leaned back, intrigued. “How did that work?”

I wasn’t really expecting this question. I suppose the idea of a foot fetish had been a part of my life for so long that I never thought of it in terms of someone who was completely new to it. And here, Michael wanted me to give him some details. I lowered my voice and made sure no one was walking by the table. “You know…toe sucking…um…footjobs…that kind of thing,” I whispered.

Michael thought on that a moment. “I don’t know about sucking on toes but a footjob?  That’s where you…” he paused “…and then the guy…with your feet?”

“Yes, Captain Obvious,” I sneered.

“And that works?”

I burst out in laughter. “Yeah, pretty sure it works. It has an unmistakable way of letting you know. Come on Mike, you can’t tell me they don’t have fetishes up in Idaho.”

“Sure, but I guess I’m old-fashioned,” he replied. “I was brought up to appreciate the feminine form. For me it’s the whole picture. When I think of my love for a woman, it’s everything from the top of her head down to the tips of her toes. I don’t really do fetishes.”

My thoughts went on in silence as I pondered this. I could see Teresa Hawkins in my mind’s eye. First I selfishly thought of only her feet, those ankle socks at the club, the dark silhouette of her sole by the dashboard light. But I stepped back from that picture and instead I saw her in another vein, working her zone at our semi-finals match in LA. The ball darted at us and she smashed it with a perfect two-handed passing shot, arms and calves tensed with power and form, her face steeled in concentration. The crowd cheered and she pumped her fist, turning to tap rackets with me as we switched sides. I thought about how cute she looked in her tennis outfit; the skirted white shorts, the matching shoes, the thick wristbands, the way the freckles stood out on her cheeks in the sun. She grinned back at me with sparkling eyes, and in front of a million people, she lifted the toe of her left foot just enough so I could just barely see the rubbery sole. It was a not-so-subtle reminder of what lie ahead for me if we won. Our little secret inspiration. Michael was right;  maybe for Benji his love for me didn’t go past my ankles, but I loved Teresa, and everything about her gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I wanted to be in her arms again, hugging me, adrift in the scent of jasmine as she rocked me gently.

“I believe you are right about that,” I said at last.

Michael bowed his head briefly. “Yes ma’am.”

I dimmed my eyes and looked up at him. “But,” I added, “I have a feeling you would think differently about those kinds of fetishes if it happened to you.”

“Nope,” he said and reached for another breadstick in the basket.

I smiled. “Care to make a bet on that?”

Michael broke the breadstick in half and made an amused face. “What? Here?”

I checked the nearby tables. Everyone was fully engrossed in their conversations and the tablecloth hung down about halfway to the floor. From my vantage point I couldn’t see anyone’s knees so it seemed like a safe bet they couldn’t see mine. I let my right flip-flop fall from my foot and stretched out my leg, first touching his knee with my toes and sliding down the smooth fabric of his trousers. Michael jumped at this, and looking both ways, he quickly dropped the his dinner napkin over his lap to hide my approaching foot.

Michael Avery squirmed, grinning nervously. “Ms. Lau,” he gasped, “what are you doing?”

I grinned coolly. “I’m proving a point,” I replied. When my bare toes finally reached the front of his pants, I traced out the shape of his expanding erection and pressed against it with the ball of my foot. He jumped. “I don’t know Mike, I get the impression that you like this.”

Sweat beaded around his brow and he cleared his throat. “Of course I am going to…”

I squeezed my toes around the end of his excitement and it stopped his objection. “I’m sorry, did you say something?” I said mockingly. He shifted in his seat to release some of the leverage I had, but I merely moved with him, resting the sole of my foot along its length and pinning it against his stomach as it threatened to break through the fabric. I could feel it pulsing, and still it grew.

Mike was exasperated, his expression a mix of fear and arousal that I was only beginning to truly understand in myself. In his place I couldn’t help but imagine Benji sitting across from me, and a comfortable familiarity set in. How many times had I done this for Benji? Dozens? Scores? I felt like a professional, knowing which buttons to push with every touch of my toe or press of my foot, or the star of my own sitcom, coming back from a hiatus to play the role I had played so many times before. I wiggled my foot to keep him excited and slowly pumped once, then twice, each time making him twitch in his chair.

I rested my chin in my hands and watched him, my own body moving slightly with each press of my foot. He didn’t look me in the eyes at first, electing instead to stare at the pair of salt shakers in front of him as he fought my advances. Every time I felt his erection wither, I stimulated him with a squeeze of my toes or a sensual tickle. Like magic he would bounce back and my rhythmic pumping would continue. It was my subtle way of saying that I planned to win, and no thoughts of ‘baseball’ were going to change that.

The waiter approached our table and I stopped pressing, leaving my foot idle against his warm trousers. Michael readjusted the napkin to make sure all was hidden when our server spoke: “How is everything going? Are the salads to your liking?”

“Everything is wonderful, thank you,” I replied. Michael said nothing.

“Would you two care for some dessert?” the waiter inquired.

A slow smile spread across my face and I adjusted my foot, starting at the base of Michael’s erection and kneading upwards in one firm stroke. Mike’s fingers tightened around the edge of the table and I knew I had found the button that would take him all the way. All that remained now was figuring out how many times I would need to press it.

I looked back to the waiter. “Um, what kinds of desserts do you have?” The conversation between us continued, and I used this time to repeat the slow, upwards motion of my foot. I could feel him throb in response and it was like trying to squeeze toothpaste from the end of a tube.

The waiter nodded at me. “I definitely recommend the Tiramisu,” he said.

My leg pumped a little faster and I did my best to keep still. “That would be fine, I’ll have that,” I replied.

“Excellent. And for you sir?”

Michael froze and I hid a laugh behind my hand. Part of me wanted to let him off the hook and continue my relentless assault later, especially since it was clear he was not going to be able to hold back much longer, but then I remembered the tan line of his missing wedding band and I thought better of it. Nah, I mused, I’m going to embarrass this guy. So while he tried to have an intelligent conversation with our server, I focused on stimulating him as much as possible. My foot slid up and down on his erection with practiced motions, and each time I felt it throb I made it a habit to press a bit harder. Michael reacted to this like any red-blooded American man would, and I could feel the wetness starting to permeate his trousers.

I was pretty sure that my steadily pumping foot was moving the dinner napkin in his lap even though I couldn’t directly see it. Michael fumbled both over his own words and in trying to keep the napkin in his lap while shielding it from the view of anyone around. Our waiter, realizing something more was going on between us, eyed us suspiciously with a mischievous smile on his face.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the waiter said, “what was it that you wanted?”

Michael stammered, “I…uh…whew…um…could you come…back in a minute?”

I sped up my foot, timing it with the pulsing I could feel against my sole, and the table literally creaked from the strength in his fingers. The waiter put his order book back into the pouch of his apron, glanced down at Mike and left us alone without a word. Suddenly there was no one around to expose him, no one to call into question our elicit activities, and I could feel Michael subtly relax at this knowledge, and it allowed him a brief respite from the stimulation I was giving him. But the break didn’t last long, and soon his hips were beginning to pump against my foot as I pushed back against him. His eyes snapped wider and he finally looked directly into mine, and I knew that he was at the point of no return.

Instead of masturbating him fast as I could, I slowed the pace and treated his erection like a gas pedal, pressing forward with my toes cupped firmly around the end. Michael would almost sit up in his chair each time I did this, his eyes betraying a wild abandon, as the semen rushed up to meet me. I felt the wet beginnings of his last pulsing throb and saved one last firm press of my foot for the very end. My toes squeezed and I sensually licked the edges of my teeth for his benefit before flooring him like a sports car. His wide eyes glazed, pupils dilated in a sea of olive, and I smiled to myself when I saw them finally give way to the weakness and endorphic pleasure of his orgasm, like a window to the soul. Spurts of semen crashed against the inside of his trousers and between my toes, his fingers unraveling from the tablecloth as the excitement wore him down. Despite this, I kept pumping my foot, and still the spurts continued until finally his pants were soaked through and what was left of his erection had retreated back into his body.

I took my foot out of his lap and brought it back to my knee, leaning over to wipe the damp sole with a napkin. “You don’t have any diseases I should know about, do you?” I asked with a smile.

Michael Avery didn’t reply, he simply stared at me, deflated.

I glanced around and, when I was sure no one was watching, I intentionally tipped his soda glass over. Ice and liquid splashed into his lap and I gasped loudly as he bounced up from the chair. All eyes were on us in the cafe, and Michael stood there dripping, his shirt and trouser pants wet from what only we knew was both Coke and semen. The blank stare was gone and he looked at me with questioning eyes.

“Oh I am so sorry, Michael,” I said. “You should get to your room and change out of those clothes! I’ll pay the dry cleaning bill, just send it to my room!”

The rest of the restaurant went back to their meals once the show was over. Michael Avery, not the sharpest tack in the drawer, stood confused for a moment until the situation became clear to him. He smiled at me, mouthed a thank you, and hurried out of the cafe. I sat down and watched him go, slipping my bare foot back into my empty flip-flop. The waiter returned, bill in hand, and I signed the slip to charge it to my suite.

The waiter grinned. “Did you two have a good lunch?” he asked.

“Well he certainly did,” I replied, adding a forty-percent tip. “Thanks for being discreet.”

The waiter shrugged. “You know what they say, what happens in Vegas…” and he scurried off to another table.

I sat by myself for awhile, the sticky feel of semen still trapped between my toes. In times past, I recalled how aroused I would be at feeling Benji release. Even seeing him succumb to an orgasm was enough to drive my heart rate up. But something was missing here, and I chewed absentmindedly on a breadstick as I pondered it. I used to love the feeling that I could make him do whatever I wanted. And though Michael Avery was no Benji Botan, I should have felt something, just from the fact that I was masturbating a complete stranger in plain view of a hundred unsuspecting people. But there was no feeling, not even a fleeting interest, only a detached clinical view. I may have changed Mike’s life forever with one press of my foot today, but for me it just seemed like another day at the office, not even worthy of remembering tomorrow. I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t aroused, I only felt more alone. And everywhere I looked, I would catch a glimpse of Teresa’s smiling face on every person in the cafe. She seemed to be everywhere at once, everywhere except in the empty chair across from me at my own table.

I found myself back in my hotel room washing my feet with hot water and sitting on the inside edge of the tub. Soapy bubbles formed around my toes and I squeezed body wash on them from a bottle. The irony that I was using a white creamy substance to get rid of what was essentially a white creamy substance caused me to laugh a bit to myself. I let the water run for awhile and it scalded my feet before I turned it down. My reflection peered back at me from the mirror across the room, my countenance no different than it had been hours before, only hidden with the expert use of eye shadow and concealer. My mask was firmly in place and I was ready to go back out into public and play my part as the happy-go-lucky athlete.

I left the bathroom, not even bothering to dry my feet, and tossed my flip-flops into the round waste basin beside the bed. The Las Vegas Outlet Mall was not far from the hotel and I could replace my spent footwear there with anything I wanted. Teresa’s shoes, Air and Max, were paired together in the walk-in closet after housekeeping had swept through my suite while I was away. Just seeing them made my heart flutter and it was the first sensual experience I had had since falling asleep this morning. I carefully lifted them up and carried them back to the bed, grabbing a pair of socks from the top drawer of the dresser. Once the socks were on, I decided to put on those shoes. They were big on me, but not so big that I couldn’t tighten them to my feet with a stronger pull at the laces. When I stood up, it felt strange seeing them from this perspective. I twisted my right foot back and forth experimentally as I looked on, and for a brief moment, it was like I was my old self, smashing things for Benji and driving him crazy with every subtle movement of my foot. But like the shoes, that life didn’t fit me anymore, and I felt nothing but detachment towards the very idea. I had lost that part of me forever, swept away in the rush of new-found desires with Teresa I didn’t know I had. When I was with her I wasn’t an actress anymore, I simply enjoyed the show, and it took me places I had never been. That was the life I wanted. I yanked her shoes off my feet and threw them at the closet door before falling onto the bed with heavy sobs. I wanted her to call, to text, to say something that let me know she was thinking of me as much as I was thinking of her. But apparently she couldn’t be bothered with sentiments like that. My heart floated in a purgatory that looked like a lot like a southern Nevada oasis in the desert.

There was a knock at my door. I ignored it until it persisted long enough that I had to go see. I peered through the hole and Michael Avery stood outside, hands in pockets, looking back and forth as he waited. I sighed and unlatched the door, swinging it open to his smiling face. He had changed clothes, and after seeing me, his expression darkened.

“Are you okay?” he asked. “What happened?”

I wiped my eyes. “Nothing, just being emotional.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

I smiled. “Thank you, but no, I’ll be all right. Is…there something I can do for you?”

“Well,” he began, “ I thought I would first come up to say, again, thank you for lunch and the dry cleaning. “ He shuffled his feet nervously. “How much do I owe you for the salad?”

“Don’t worry about it Mike.”

“No, really, how much do I owe you?”

I lifted my hands as if to push him away. “If you feel that strongly about it, go down and give it to the waiter. He was a very understanding man,” I said.

“Oh,” was his only reply.

I bowed my head with polite Asian mannerism. Dau Je, I said in Cantonese.

He smiled, a lack of comprehension clouding his face, and said hopefully, “So…I was wondering if maybe later you’d like to go out and get a drink?”

I let my shoulders slump weakly. “I think I am going to stay in, if it’s all the same to you Mike.”

“Oh, okay,” he followed. “That’s probably best, I don’t want to intrude. Rain check?”

“Sure,” I replied, but I wasn’t interested. And for all his slowness in catching on, he realized it too.

Michael Avery scratched the back of his head and retreated down the hall to the elevator. I closed the door and never heard from him again.

Part 5: On Earth as it is in Heaven
I sat with my legs crossed at the San Diego Airport, phone raised to my face playing iNetHack, and waiting for Teresa’s flight to arrive. Her peculiar communication silence of the past week was only broken early this morning when she undoubtedly was preparing to leave home; and even then all the message said was: on my way, c u soon! Part of me wanted to just go back to the hotel and let her find her own way there, but as much as I wanted to lash out and punish her for her thoughtlessness of the past seven days, the thought of her sadly waiting by herself ate at my heart.

It irritated me that goofy sentiment like that could get in the way of my deserved revenge. A few weeks ago, had Teresa ignored me like this, I wouldn’t have hesitated stranding her at the airport. The way I see it, you reap what you sow! While I fumed over this thought, the little @ sign representation of my video game hero died to a horrible beast shaped like a # sign. I clicked the Home button on my phone and closed the game, taking another sip of from my half-empty bottled water. Beside it was an unopened one, still cold, that I had bought for Teresa on the way in. I stared at it and shook my head. Why couldn’t I stay mad at her?

The phone buzzed in my hand from an incoming text message and my heart raced; she was here. I tried to remind myself that I was still angry, but deep down in my bones I trembled with anticipation. It was like a battle was being waged between the vindictive side of my brain and the caring side of my heart, and my heart was clearly winning. I stood up from the tiny round table near the check-in gate and went as far as I could without passing the threshold and ending up in Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of weary travelers filed out through the exit, all from different flights and most greeted by people standing near me. I moved between the people blocking my view, craning my neck for any glimpse of her that I could, until finally she came into view.

Teresa Hawkins pulled her carry-on bag behind her by its wheels, head lowered, and her thumb tapping out messages on her phone as she followed the throng of people towards me. She wore a baby blue pullover, white and blue shorts with matching tennis shoes and socks; an outfit that made her look more like a five-foot-ten smurf than a professional athlete. I stood up on my tiptoes to make sure she could see me. It took her only a moment to notice.

Her face split into a broad smile and she squealed in delight once she reached me. I stuck to my guns and simply made a small wave, but she crashed into me and gave me a warm hug. I held that embrace for a moment and all the tension in my muscles faded away, taking what was left of my anger along with it.

She spotted the second bottled water in my hand and beamed. “Is that for me?” she asked. I handed the sweating bottle to her and she had its cap off in moments.

I said: “Did you have a good trip?”

“Oh my God,” Teresa blurted, and fixed the sunglasses that came loose on her head, “I am sooo happy to be on the ground! Turbulence! The whole way here! The only smooth part was the two times we landed…and some dude that tried to pick me up at the lounge.”

I nodded. “How were things back at Smurf Village?”

Teresa smiled, showing teeth. “Oh fine. How are things in Oompa Loompa Land? Where did you get that tan?”

I turned and started for baggage claim. “Las Vegas.”

She gasped. “You went to Vegas without me?”

I stole a look over my shoulder and said, “You would have known that had you bothered to call me or send me a text. What happened, did you sprain your thumb on your way back to Seattle?”

Teresa hit me in the arm so hard that my jaw dropped and I rubbed the bruise. She said, “You have a lot of nerve saying that. You haven’t bothered to say more than two words to me all week, except ‘okay’ any time I messaged you. I figured you just wanted some alone-time. But you could have at least called me to see how I was doing.”

“What? You mean…you thought I was ignoring you?”

She pressed her lips. “I didn’t have to think that at all, that’s what happened. So were your thumbs broken while you were down having fun in Las Vegas and I was home dealing with my brother’s mess? Must have been nice.” She continued on and I struggled to keep up.

“Hey,” I called out, “I didn’t have fun in Vegas! In fact, it was mostly miserable!”

Teresa rolled her eyes and kept walking. “Leave it to Karrin Lau to find a way to be miserable in Las Vegas.”

“That’s not fair!” I said, furrowing my brow. “I thought you were freaked out and didn’t want to talk to me. I waited every day for you to call me or let me know what was going on, and I heard absolutely nothing!”

Teresa turned to me so suddenly that I almost crashed into her, and though she was only two inches taller than I, she seemed to bear down on me from above. The anger in her crystal blue eyes was as intense as I had ever seen it. “Why in the f-,” she stopped herself and started again, “Why would you think I was ignoring you Karrin? Why would I do that? I told you I had to go home and deal with personal issues! I even went out the other day and bought some shoes I thought you would like.” She shook the handle of her carry-on for emphasis. “And now I’m the one that’s freaked out about everything? I’ve been supportive of you from the beginning! I’ve been there for you every day! Maybe if you looked around and got off of Planet Lau for awhile you’d see that instead of finding reasons to feel sorry for yourself all the time.”

Teresa stormed off and left me where I was standing in the middle of the busy airport. When I had plotted out how I would confront her during those lonely days in Las Vegas, this was not how I saw it turning out. Somehow I had become the selfish ass in the equation, my own arguments turned against me without even the slightest hint of objection. And there would be none because I knew deep down she was right. I could have picked up the phone and called her, but I didn’t. I had no excuse; I wasn’t the one at home dealing with family drama. It was easy to see her point of view in this, but I wasn’t sure I could get her to see mine. I wasn’t even sure I could see it myself anymore.

I drove the rental back to the hotel and it was a mostly quiet affair. Teresa sat next to me, smacking her gum annoyingly and staring out at the San Diego coastline through her mirrored sunglasses. Occasionally she would reply to a text message as it appeared on her phone and the rings on her left hand would click against the case every time she put it down. I sighed and tried to offer apologies at several points during the drive but I ended up talking to myself. When we pulled into the hotel parking lot and stopped, Teresa grabbed both of her large bags herself and waited impatiently for me to let her in.

This time it was Teresa’s turn to slam the bedroom door in the suite. I threw the car keys down onto the kitchen bar out of frustration and went to my room. About twenty minutes later I heard Teresa leave, the hotel door crashing closed behind her either intentionally or unintentionally. Some part of me had hoped by now she would have cooled down and come talk to me, but I was getting the impression that our friendship had become irreparably damaged. She and I had had our share of spats over the years, what teammates didn’t? But usually it was Teresa who smoothed out the ruffled feathers of those arguments. I sighed and sat up on my bed; it was my turn to be the adult.

The car keys were still where I had thrown them, so I grabbed my hotel key and went out the door. Teresa was not down in the lobby and she wasn’t by the pool. I walked around the grounds outside until my ears picked up the familiar pop of a tennis ball. I homed in on it, and soon I found Teresa giggling and gently hitting the ball to a young teenage girl as her parents looked on. I walked up to them and watched the game. The girl’s parents, seeing me beside them, turned and showered me with praises, that familiar starstruck glaze to their eyes. I took a moment to sign the obligatory autograph while Teresa faked missing the teenager’s passing shot. The young girl cheered and her parents laughed at the win.

Then the teenager came up to me with her racket in hand. “Ms. Lau?” she asked politely, “would you care to play?”

“You want me to play her?” I asked and motioned towards my doubles partner.. Teresa Hawkins stared at me from behind her sunglasses, her jaw working her gum, and said nothing.

“You can use my racket,” she added.

I smiled. “Thanks, but I would ruin your racket. We play too rough.”

Teresa’s game bag lay open beside the court and I went to pick up her black spare, testing the tension in the strings. It had good weight and feel, the grip slightly wider than I was used to, but I would make due. I stepped back behind the line and watched Teresa quietly bounce the ball. We sort of fell into our usual practice regimen, and as the family looked on, I gave them a reassuring smile that we were going to put on an impromptu Grand Slam for their benefit.

Little did I know that Teresa wasn’t playing. She tossed the ball and the racket smacked it with a pop. I lunged and almost fell trying to catch it before it zipped by for a service ace befitting the #4 player in the world. I stumbled to my feet and glared back at her questioningly. She simply blew a bubble and popped it, switching sides casually, took another ball from her pocket, and waited for me to take up my position. The family clapped and cheered, clearly unaware of the drama unfolding between us.

“Okay bitch, let’s dance,” I muttered under my breath and crouched into my ready position. Teresa bounced the ball and watched me like a baseball pitcher. She would take me outside this time, I knew it, going for the quick volley to end the point. And sure enough, once the ball darted in the air, Teresa Hawkins sent it to the outside corner. I was ready and lunged, but wow that ball moved so fast, it was all I could do to get a flat surface to reflect it back. She rushed to the center of the net and smashed the ball with so much power that it bounced over the high chain link fence and onto the hotel grounds. Our one-woman teenage fan club ran after it diligently, turning herself into the impromptu ball girl.

With a pop of her gum, Teresa walked to the deuce court and waited for me. I tapped my racket edge against the court and bounced a bit on the balls of my feet to stay limber. I thought about my coaching over the years and how to deal with power hitters like Teresa. As long as she was accurate, I was in for a long game. I had to get a racket on at least one of her attacks and use that power against her. She bounced the ball, picking her spot, and sent it my way with blinding speed. Its approach slowed in my head, the spin becoming predictable, and I reared my arms back in a perfectly timed double-handed strike that returned it to Teresa’s side with a crack. Using her own momentum against her, the ball flew by before she could react, and just like that, the score was 30-15.

This time I had the luxury of strutting to the advantage court and I saw Teresa’s teeth for the first time in her smile. The game was on. Our audience had grown from the small family of three to twenty, then fifty, and soon it seemed like half the hotel was watching us, as if the San Diego Open was born. Teresa took the first set, overpowering me with her serves for a 6-4 victory, but where she had speed I had placement. I moved her all around the court and attacked with my tried-and-true serve and volley game. Each service ace or timely return elicited a cheer from the gallery and our game carried on into the dusky night when I evened the match at 1-1.

The third set was a battle as our arms, legs and bodies tired. Knowing each other well only made the competition more difficult. I knew what Teresa was going to do, but it was hard to sometimes get my body in place to do anything about it. Soon I wasn’t able to get good placement on the ball without taking some of the power away, and it was all the room she needed to get the advantage. On the other side, I couldn’t counter, as Teresa’s serves still seem to pass me at a hundred miles an hour. And soon, despite my best effort, #4 beat #10, two sets to one. I imagined the SportsCenter highlight that would go along with it.

I leaned over, hands on knees, to catch my breath and then went to greet her at the net. We tapped rackets politely and Teresa climbed over to my side. We both sat down shoulder to shoulder and listened to the excited conversation of the crowd talking about our game. I saw a pink bubble form from between her lips and pop, giving me the lightly sweet scent of strawberries.

“What kind of gum is that?” I asked.

“Hubba Bubba,” she replied, blowing another bubble.

“Can I have some?”

Teresa fished into her pocket and gave me a cube. I unwrapped it and chewed it. Soon the two of us were blowing bubbles as the crowd dispersed and the cool night air began to set in. I lifted her black racket and inspected it carefully, like a warrior examining a sword, and gave it a respectful nod.

“This is a good racket,” I said.

Teresa paused. “Only in good hands.”

I turned and smiled at her. Her eyes were tired but they stayed fixed on me anyway. “I’m sorry,” I said slowly. “You’re right, I should have called you. Maybe all this time with Benji has given me a prima donna complex. It’s just that…I missed you. And when you left and didn’t call, I just assumed you…didn’t miss me.”

Teresa laughed quietly. “For a smart person, you can be a real dumbass,” she replied. “I told you, you’re my wild child. What more do I have to say to convince you?”

“I don’t know,” I spat, angry with myself. “I always find some way to screw good things up instead of just being happy that I have them in the first place.”

“You think too much,” she said and popped another bubble. “Just go with the flow…”

I finished, “…like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream.”

The outdoor flood lights bathed the court in white as moths fluttered around the bulbs. The salty night air was filled with the sound of airplanes, traffic and the commotion of travelers settling in for the evening. Teresa and I sat there on the cool court a bit longer and she tapped my foot with her shoe, getting me to look at the white and blue cross-trainers on her feet.

“Do you like my shoes?” she asked.

“Yeah, they’re cute. Where did you get them?”

Teresa said, “Sam sent them to me on that endorsement deal. This was my first game in them; they’re actually pretty comfortable.”

As I stared at her foot, watching the leather move as her toes wiggled inside, the familiar pangs of arousal emanating from my tummy. Teresa chortled quietly and let me enjoy the show. My nightly excursions with Air and Max had their benefits to stave off my desperation while in Vegas, but to actually look at her shoes and know that her foot was inside, and once more, that she was teasing me with them just amplified my excitement. Our San Diego Open had sapped me all of my strength, and with it, whatever energy I had left to energize my willpower. I felt my eyes drooping heavily, hungrily, and found my breathing becoming erratic. Suddenly a week away from my doubles partner seemed too long and the mechanism of my sexual desires strained to turn their gears again.

Teresa Hawkins looked around to make sure there was no one in earshot, then whispered in my ear, “Do you want to go back to the room and lick my new shoes?”

I nodded at her wordlessly.

“Maybe you can give me another one of your foot massages too later,” she added with a wink.

I required no more encouragement. We packed her bag and made it back to the room, taking showers to clear away the grime from the game. I emerged from my room first, dressed for bed and in my pajamas, before sitting eagerly on the couch. This suite wasn’t quite as large as our room in Los Angeles, but the typical railroad-room layout remained the same; two bedrooms connected to a center living area and kitchenette.

Teresa emerged in a long black tee-shirt that hung well past her waist, long shorts, and bare feet with pink polish the same shade as her fingers. She dried her ears carefully with a room towel.

“So,” she began, “I brought heels, flats and tennis shoes. Which would you like?”

I felt nervous and giddy. “Are tennis shoes okay?”

“Sure,” she said, eyes twinkling, and returned to her room.

I waited for her to come back and made sure that all of the windows had their opaque curtains drawn closed to discourage walk-by onlookers. A few moments later, Teresa came out of her room with her game shoes in hand and a pair of white socks. I watched her sit down onto the couch and put the ankle socks on before following it with each sneaker and a tie of their laces. She glanced up at me and seemingly read my mind.

“Oh my shoes are still a little sweaty from the game, and I just took a shower, so…” she said, explaining the socks.

“That’s fine, I was just wondering,” I replied, my eyes crossing at the contrast of black and white that came from her. She had suddenly transformed from smurf to chess board.

Teresa finished and both of her feet landed on the floor together with a thud. She put her hands on her knees and grinned at me. “I’ve been waiting for this all week,” she mused, and beckoned me with a curved finger. My legs moved me forward with a mind of their own and soon I was on my hands and knees looking down at the tops of her shoes. She shuffled them up and down playfully and my arms quivered with anticipation. Suddenly I felt her hand on the back of my neck and I let her guide me straight down until my nose pressed into the blue and white laces and my lips against the leathery toe. I could smell the salty odor of sweat on her shoe enshrouded by my damp loose hair.

I breathed deeply and something about that scent made me tingle. I concentrated on the feeling, breathing again, letting that sensation grow and expand within me. Teresa kept her hand on my head, needlessly pushing my face down, but the effort gave me a sense of supplication. I squirmed a little as I became more aroused and licked at the bump of her big toe in a passionate kiss.

“We need to get this first orgasm out of the way so you can really focus on that foot massage,” she said matter-of-factly. I nodded with an affirmative whimper, and it made her giggle. My heavy breathing continued and I shifted my nose to different places to experience the scent beneath her forceful hand. I heard her say, “Do you like that, smelling my foot?”

“A little,” I replied in a muffled voice.

Teresa lifted her toe and forced my nose onto the leather above. I could feel her toes inside stretching up to make sure it covered each nostril, and I inhaled, my arms turning rubbery and finally lowering my prostrate form to the floor in a heap. I heard her satisfied chuckle and felt some of the pressure in her hand let up as she let me get carried away.

She said, “I read this on the internet at home. Smelly feet is pretty common in a foot fetish. Pheromones I guess. Do you like smelly feet?”

I shook my head, but continued to sniff at her shoe. Something about the idea of pungent feet was a complete turn-off for me, but the slightly salty scent of Teresa’s shoe was clearly keeping the fire of my arousal burning.

“No?” she asked. “Just a little bit smelly then?”

I nodded at this.

“Okay,” she replied and pushed down a bit harder. “Smell my foot.”

I let my loose hands wrap around both of her feet and did my best to keep my nose buried onto them. The musky scent drove me to gyrate my hips against the floor and Teresa’s pressing hands and commanding tone sent the gears within me turning as fast as they could. It was like I hadn’t had an orgasm in months, and as it built up in me, I found myself untying her shoe and pulling it from her foot. The moment I did so, my face was rubbing against her white athletic sock with panted breaths, the soft fabric caressing my cheek.

Teresa watched me, moving her foot each way so that I could enjoy the feel of it. “My you’re a naughty girl,” she said behind a smile. “You really love my feet, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I managed, dreamily.

“Roll over,” she said,  and let me do so. I was lying parallel with the couch and as she shifted positions to sit over me, her left sneaker stepped onto my loose hair, holding my head in place. I recoiled at this a bit, but feeling the warm shoe at my cheek gave my sense of helplessness a heightened appeal.

I had no choice but to look up, and Teresa studied my reddening face with interest, her white sock coming into view and tracing my lips with her toe. I tried to kiss it but she would tease me by lifting it away and putting it back. Soon her toe was touching my teeth and I dimmed my eyes with pleasure as the cascading waves of an orgasm swelled.

“Did you miss me?” she asked.

I nodded.

Teresa took her toe from my mouth and caressed my cheek again. I moaned from the sensation, a slight tickle mixed with the smoothness of fabric. Then she took her foot away and held it over my face, her toes flexed within the web. My eyes betrayed my lust for that foot and I wanted so much to raise my head, but she kept me firmly pinned to the floor. Then she lowered her toes until they covered my nose in a perfect fit, and I breathed deeply, the clean socks having only a trace of the salty interior of her shoes.

She smiled. “How does that feel? Are you going to cum?”

I whimpered, my eyes quivering.

Teresa sucked in her bottom lip and shifted forward so that she could press down harder. Her soft foot crushed against my nose, and with slow twists, she rubbed those toes back and forth over it. I gasped at the sight of her ankle swaying each way, gold anklet tinkling, and my legs almost lifted into the air. I cried, mostly out of passion, and my body began to tense.

“You know what you have to say,” she said, continuing her grinding motion, “or I won’t let you do it.”

I squeezed my eyes shut to block out the image and found my voice. “Please Teresa, make me cum!” My voice was ragged.

“Once more with feeling!” she grinned.

“Please!” I gasped. “Make me cum!”

“Good girl,” Teresa said and her foot stopped twisting. “Now look at me.”

I opened my eyes and blinked away the tears, my orgasm teetering on the brink, as I looked past the fuzzy white toes. Teresa stepped off my hair and bent her knee, bringing her face only a few inches above mine and her foot. Her blue eyes sparkled as they always did, and I felt myself lost in them like a shipwrecked survivor in the ocean.  She reached down with a caring hand and brushed some of the strands of hair from my face.

Then her toes pressed harder, flattening my nose, and she resumed her savage twisting motion. I teared as I looked up at her, the scent, the pressure, the amused wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, all pushing me past the breaking point. I could tell she was watching me like I had watched Michael Avery, waiting for that moment when my eyes would betray I had lost all control. I felt the wave swell to its peak and my legs started churning. I saw her grin spread to a wolfish smile when she witnessed that moment, and she stood up to step with all of her weight onto my blushing face.

Cum,” she cooed, and ground my head beneath her heavy sock.

I cried out as the orgasm overtook me and let my eyes squeeze shut to contain the pain and the pleasure it. My nightgown stuck to my legs with saturated wetness and my muscles convulsed in kind. Teresa kept twisting, each pass of her foot triggering an orgasm within an orgasm. I clawed at the floor, exasperated with pleasure, until finally the tide had settled and her foot was resting against my chest as it had so many days before.

Teresa giggled and waited for me to enjoy the last echoes on the way down. “It’s like I’m squashing your head when I do that,” she said at last. “Did you have fun?”

I blinked. “Are you kidding?

“Silly me,” she replied, and started to step away but I grabbed at her retreating foot. She turned to look at me with a perplexed gaze.

“Can you just…stay like that for a minute?” I asked coyly.

Teresa put her foot back onto my chest and stepped down. I grunted as she pressed the air out of my lungs, replacing it with a deep breath while my eyes peered up at her through tired lids. The sight of her above me was enough to give me chills. I wanted to take this moment to experience all of Teresa Hawkins, and not just her toes and feet. There was a comfort to her standing on me, a certain amount of erotic danger at being vulnerable, but at the same time I also felt safe. I knew she would never hurt me or try to hurt me, and that certainty allowed me to take risks and open myself to the possibility of more. I touched her soft foot with my hand, feeling her toes, and stared longingly into her beautiful face. She watched me enjoy that sensuality without a doubt in the world; her warm smile a permanent fixture of approval. My fingers made their way into the cuff of her sock and I tickled her ankles. Instead of pulling away, she lifted her foot and gently pressed her toes against my lips. I kissed their warmth and my body relaxed like putty.

“I think I-,” I stammered.

“Shush,” she said and kept her foot there for a moment longer. “Think you have time for that foot massage now?”

I nodded my head and she stepped away, bathing me wholly in the living room light. I found enough strength in my legs to carry myself back to my room and change, throwing my soiled pajama bottoms into the hamper and climbing into clean ones. When I entered Teresa’s room, only one light by the bed was on, and she lay on one side of it above the covers, her bare feet together and an excited anticipation splayed across her face. I climbed up beside her and crawled down to her feet. She didn’t move them, she just let me get comfortable until I had my arms around both and I was looking at her perfectly cute toes.

Teresa asked, “Can we make this a hobo free massage?” and we both laughed.

“I will try my best,” I smiled.

She folded her hands onto her stomach and leaned back against the headboard, her eyes closed and prepared. I took one last look at her and then focused on massaging her heels. My fingers kneaded those pressure points, and occasionally she would suck in a breath when either the pain or tension would release. Being so close, I could smell that familiar body wash I liked on her skin, and it wasn’t long before I added to the massage by peppering her feet with kisses. She squirmed at the sensation of this until I settled on deep, passionate kisses against her toes, my hands caressing the insteps of both feet.

Feeling my own twinge of nervousness at rebuilding my own arousal, I began to lick the top of her foot, stopping at the tips of her toes and repeating. Teresa would tense, especially when my tongue touched the base of her toes, so I focused there. I licked between them like I had with the candy bar in the grooves, exploring every inch that I could and tasting what was left of the soapy residue trapped there. Teresa’s breathing was steady and strong, and before it picked up, I could hear her hand moving to the elastic band of her shorts. Her body moved in a rhythm, and I decided to try one last thing.

I opened my mouth a bit wider and sucked on her big toe. Unlike me, Teresa did not twitch or challenge the sensation, but I could feel that she was close just from the pulse in her feet. My tongue swirled around that toe and I suckled it for all it was worth before moving to the next. My hands in turn still continued their methodical manipulation of her pressure points and I began to feel like a professional shiatsu. Soon her toes started to curl and it was harder for me to suck on them, but from the subtle panting of breaths I could hear behind me, we had reached the end.

I nibbled on the tips of her toes and finished by lavishing them with kisses. The motion of her body behind me stopped and her breathing gradually returned to normal. I turned around, my head resting against her feet, and she looked back at me through slits; a satisfied grin frozen in place.

“Did you…?” I asked and she nodded. “Seriously?”

She shrugged, and with a snap of the elastic band, her hands were resting on her tummy once more. “I couldn’t help it. You give good foot.”

“No,” I coughed, “I mean, that was it?”

“Were you expecting fireworks?”

“Well no. I just thought…”

I felt her nudging the back of my head with her toes, as she said, “Hey, we can’t all have seismic  orgasms like you. I take what I can get these days.”

I smiled and pet her bare leg below the knee, the skin smooth, and let each of my fingers feel it. “Was what I did okay then?”

Teresa laughed. “Oh yeah, that was more than okay.”

“So it’s safe to say that you will want me to do that again?”

“Oh you’ll be doing it again, there is no doubt of that,” she replied. “You have made a believer out of me with this foot thing.”

I said nothing for a long time. Teresa did her best to stay awake but the rigors of the flight and our hard-fought three set game had taken their toll. Her glassy eyes slid closed while I kept my ear resting against her feet. I was tired but I wanted to continue watching her a bit longer. All the while my heart was busy making connections, setting up freeways, and doing whatever it physically needed to do to enamor me to Teresa Hawkins. I stopped stroking her leg and simply let my hand rest against it, her muscle tensing at the warmth of my touch. She looked so content and peaceful, and I knew that I was responsible for much of it, despite my selfish detour that afternoon. With my ear cupped I could hear my own heartbeat and it mixed with hers, and I pulled my knees in towards my chest to get comfortable at the foot of the bed.

Then the last thing I remember, my own eyes were heavy. I listened to her breathe, watched her chest rise and fall, and slowly drifted off to sleep. Before I went, I finished the sentence I tried to say before:

“I think I love you, Teresa.”

Part 6: Karrin Go Bragh!

The second half of the professional tennis tour was in full swing, with Teresa Hawkins and I flying all around the world to compete at the ranked events. I had modest showings; a couple early first round exits in Belgium and Japan before finally putting my serve and volley game to work at the French Open. Clay courts were my specialty and it showed as I raised the tournament trophy over my head for only the fifth time in my career. My momentum sputtered again at Wimbledon with a second round elimination, but it afforded me the time to watch Teresa’s meteoric rise with a huge upset over top ranked Madison Beamish.

And that is when Teresa Hawkins took tennis by storm. It seemed like everywhere we went we would see pictures of her; in magazines, on sports programs, commercials, even billboards. I remember the flash of embarrassment I felt when she appeared on the jumbo screens of Time Square, her countenance larger than life, her huge feet poised like a cat to attack the ball, looming over me as she did in real life. I remember how the tiny freckles on her cheeks stood out when she saw me staring in awe, laughing that mirthful laugh of hers and hugging me close with an arm around my neck. Soon she had climbed two ranks to #2 and was poised to overtake Madison with a strong showing at the US Open this week.

Our doubles tournaments were another thing entirely. After the misstep in Los Angeles, Teresa and I began to gel at just the right time. We cruised to an easy straight set win at Roland Garos to finish off the top ranked team of Kirilenko and Rurac, stealing their spot and becoming the team to beat at Wimbledon. Another dominant performance there and our status as the best duo in tennis was assured. Now we were in New York, ready to destroy the competition at Flushing Meadows and leave here with our names on the US Open trophy, and our mark on the world of womens’ tennis.

It’s probably not a coincidence that our success on the court came at the same time as the bond between us grew stronger. What had began for me as a simple infatuation with her feet and shoes blossomed into a love greater than any I had ever known. When she spoke, I hung on every word. When she smiled, I felt my heart dancing. When she laughed, I wanted to close my eyes and let it echo in my ears. As the weeks had gone on, I noticed that her nightly forays with male company slowly diminished, and she seemed content to spend her evenings with me, helping me explore my burgeoning fetishes while reaping the attention I would bestow to her bare feet and toes. It was the little secret we shared that no one else knew, not our closest confidantes, family or acquaintances. Out in the public eye we were simply long-time friends and teammates; in the darkened hotel rooms, we were something more.

A soft voice awoke me from my sleep and my blurry eyes opened to get my bearings. As was the norm these days, I found myself lying face-down with my cheek against Teresa’s ankle, her lightly tanned skin and metallic blue polish coming into view as I blinked the sleep away. She felt me stir against her legs and curled her toes, leaning forward to caress my shoulder. I turned over and saw her with a phone pressed against her ear, stretching her mouth apologetically and miming the words: I’m sorry as she listened to the voice on the other end.

I gave her a reassured smile and climbed off of the end of the bed. My pajama bottoms stuck to my thighs and I took a moment to straighten them out, stepping accidentally on the edge of one of Teresa’s up-turned sandals. The rough sole still gleamed wet from the previous night’s ministrations. I scratched at my knotted hair and made my way to the guest room for a set of clean clothes and a towel.

Teresa Hawkins’ midtown condo wasn’t large and she almost never stayed there, but it afforded her a beautiful view of Central Park and the west side of the city. It had immaculate wood floors and plenty of open space, with a master bedroom, guest room and two full baths. Huge windows brightened its interior with natural light and it was difficult for me to not stare out of them at the bustle of the city. When I had lived in New York years ago, it was as a poor graduate student staying in a four-family townhouse in Brooklyn. It wouldn’t take long for me to adjust to uptown living, and I stopped in the rays of sunlight to let them wash over my face.

I took a shower changed into jogging clothes. New York summers were a humid affair and getting started early was the only guarantee that you wouldn’t collapse from exhaustion midway during a run. Teresa was already dressed and ready to go, and while drinking a cup of coffee, she looked at both sides of a folded newspaper. At my approaching footsteps, she set her earphone pips in, nodded at me, and downstairs we went.

The doorman tipped his hat politely to us as we went out, turned the corner, and started our jog through Central Park. Growing up in Oregon, I found the idea of a small patch of green in an otherwise dreary city somewhat comical. But the Park was pretty in the morning light, and we kept respectful pace with the other uptown joggers on the paths.

Teresa turned to me as we ran. “Sorry I woke you up,” she said.

“No worries,” I replied and settled into my jogging rhythm. “Who was it?”

“Sam, of course,” she said. “More endorsements.”

I smirked. “You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too far, ’cause you know it don’t matter anyway!”

“Ha,” she said and we turned a corner. “There is some truth to that. What am I going to do with more money? I have everything I want anyway.” At this she looked at me briefly and I glowed in the morning sun.

I kept up the pace and shook my iPhone to shuffle it. “What is on the agenda today?” I asked.

Teresa buzzed her lips in thought. “Let’s see…we have to be out in Queens by 10am to start the Open preliminaries. After that, probably get screamed at by Coach for awhile…”

“In Romanian,” I added.

She looked sideways at me. “He does realize that we’re not Romanian right?”

“I think he thinks I’m Mongolian.”

“Ugh,” she snorted and shook her head. “That guy will never be happy. Complete slave-driver. And he always smells like canned tuna, what’s up with that?”

I nodded. “Great coach though.”

“Yeah,” she agreed with a smile. Then her face brightened further. “Oh hey, did you want to go to that cheese and wine get-together tonight?”

I scrunched my face as I looked at her, my bouncing steps making my ponytail popcorn on my shoulders. “Is that the social with the guy who Tweets about you all the time?”

“Yeah,” she said. “But he’s crazy-rich and I like him, he’s fun…in many many ways.”

I scoffed and crashed into her with my shoulder as we ran. “You are a total ‘ho, Teresa Hawkins.”

She stuck her tongue out at me, giggling. “And you love it!”

I considered it for a moment. This week was going to be an absolute nightmare preparing for the Open, and there wouldn’t be a lot of time for fun. Besides, I had never been to a cheese and wine party before. So I said, “Sure, I’ll go. But does this mean you won’t be…home…tonight?”

“Neither of us will,” she replied, “this guy lives out in the Hamptons. I figured we could just stay at my uncle’s house in Montauk. He’s visiting my family in Dublin until Friday. It’s a nice place.”

“Oh,” I said slowly and there was an awkward silence between us.

Teresa said, “It’s okay if I go and have some boy-toy time, right? You’re not going to get weird on me?”

“No I’m not weird about it,” I said honestly. “I want you to go have fun. Really.”

“And that’s why I love you,” she replied and jogged close, giving me a quick peck on my cheek. “But don’t worry, I’ll make sure my wild child is sound asleep before I leave.” I didn’t see it, but I knew she was winking at me, like she always did. My heart did somersaults. But somehow, I couldn’t shake the fact that I had a bad feeling about this.

That night, Teresa and I stepped out of a limousine in front of one of the biggest mansions I have ever seen in East Hampton. We stood nervously in exquisite flowing gowns bought only hours before during a last-minute midtown shopping trip. I wore a moonlight white affair, with gloves and matching shoes, while Teresa wore a much more standout red dress hanging off one shoulder. Our high heels clicked on the ground as we walked up the path, and the both of us struggled a bit with it, hiding giggles behind our hands. When you spend most of your time in sneakers, sports bras and shorts, navigating a pair of heels and thousand dollar dresses becomes something of a challenge. And really, at the end of the day, you could dress us up like Barbie dolls but we were just a couple of city girls from the west coast, not the portrait of high society life. Give me a tennis racket and a nice outdoor court any day.

We handed our invitation to a man in an immaculate tuxedo and he smiled and let us inside the marble entryway. The double-doors gave way to a massive foyer, complete with a sweeping double staircase winding its way to a second floor indoor balcony. I couldn’t help but think that this room alone was probably four times as large as Teresa’s condo. From the look on her face, I got the distinct impression she was thinking the same thing.

Teresa whistled between her teeth. “Well I guess this is what you buy when you have too much money,” she said.

We followed the gathering of people through the foyer and into another room that seemed more like a convention center than anything that belonged in a house. Tables were set up around its periphery and guests mingled in the center, complete with waiters bringing about various vintages. Teresa quickly grabbed a white wine from a passing tray and gulped it, looking at the empty glass with a satisfied nod.

“Teresa!” I gasped. “You’re supposed to taste the wine, not get drunk off your ass!”

“I have yet to drink a wine that can best my Irish liver,” she replied, and set the glass down. “Besides, no one comes to these things just to eat cheese. Judging from the stiffs in here, I’m going to need all the wine I can get.”

I looked around the room, it was like being surrounded by royalty; a coat and tails party if ever I had seen one. “Tell me about it,” I muttered. “I feel like I’m on the Titanic.”

The mood music was classical,  J.S. Bach I gathered, and I made my way to one of the cheese tables. The assortments of cheeses were spread out in such a decorative fashion that I felt nervous about touching any of it, in fear of spoiling the artwork. I watched a man approach my table and pick up a tiny plastic fork. He used it to spear a sample of cheese, taste it, and follow it with a swirl of wine that he then spit out into a container. It all seemed so regal and at the same time grossly obtuse. My face had scrunched at the sight, and when he turned to regard me with a smile, I shifted gears instantly and put on my best wedding photo grin.

Beside me, Teresa had picked up one of the tiny forks and was stabbing at several cheeses, gathering them all up at once. Then, using her fingers, she took the cuts from its tip and ate them carefully. Her swig of wine ended with a swallow, and she smacked her lips. “Um….Southern Peru…” she recited in a faux accent. “…’74….before the rains.”

I smirked. “Stop it! Why do I feel like we should leave before someone realizes we don’t belong here?” I went to grab a fork and when I did so, I knocked several from the edge of the table. They all hit the marble floor with a tinkle of plastic, and my head was quickly on a swivel to see if anyone had noticed.

“Nice work, Grace,” Teresa teased and gave me a lopsided grin. “Hey…psst…” she whispered to get my attention. “Look down.”

My eyes fell to her feet, and through the slit of her red gown, I watched her high heel peep-toe shoe extend forward and step on one of the forks with a soft crunch. She lightly rocked the platform sole each way, forcing what was left of the plastic to snap flat beneath her. I looked back up at her face and her eyes were fluttering like she had epilepsy.

She took in a deep breath, pretending to calm herself. “That was so…hot!” she said breathlessly, then unable to contain her mockery of me any longer, she giggled.

“Hey, cut it out!” I said, trying not to smile, and threatening to slug her. “That’s not funny! I’m nervous enough here as it is!”

Teresa stepped off of the broken plastic and kicked the rest of the pieces under the table. “You should be proud of yourself,” she began. “A couple of months ago, a scene like that would freaked you out! You would have been salivating like Chekov’s dogs!”

I pressed my lips. “It’s Pavlov’s dogs.”

Teresa glanced at me. “Jesus, you are such a nerd,” she said and looked around. “Why do I even hang around with you? I feel like Peppermint Patty.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” I droned.

The party continued on much the same way it began, with more people showing up to socialize around the allure of smelly cheeses and booze. The host of the event eventually made his way down to greet the rest of us. He was a handsome Middle Eastern man in his thirties with a neatly trimmed goatee and a shining gold chain around his neck. He made his rounds through the tangle of guests while Teresa tracked him wherever he went. I stood patiently beside her, sensing her sexual tension, until he finally stopped before us, his head bowed respectfully. Teresa introduced us, and I could tell from the expression on his face that he was looking forward to speaking with her at great length later.

We left the party sometime later and found the limousine waiting for us in the circular drive. Several glasses of wine had made Teresa a bit tipsy and I could smell the various vintages on her when we climbed in the back. It was a short drive up the coast to Montauk, and despite the lateness of the hour, my keen ocean senses could feel we were surrounded on all sides by water. I opened the roof and climbed out, breathing in the salt air, and craning my neck to view the dark hazy sky. The car wound its way near the shore a few more miles before stopping in front of a brown beach house set in a small copse of trees.

“This is it,” she said, and tapped on the inside window. The driver rolled it down. “We’ll be a little bit, and then I need to go back to East Hampton.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the driver acknowledged.

I climbed out of the car with Teresa in tow. She adjusted the hem of her dress and led me through the gate and down to the front door. Every light was on in the house and I looked around curiously to see if someone were home.

“Oh, he leaves the lights on all the time,” she said, and checked beneath a couple of the pathway rocks until she found a small gold key. With a click, the door unlocked and we went inside.

The limousine driver approached us with our bags in hand and we graciously took them from him. After coming from a palatial home like the one in East Hampton, her uncle’s beach house was fairly spartan in comparison. But where it lacked in flowing chandeliers and marble floors it made up in charm. The entire house was decorated in earth tones, from solid wood floors to tan and gold painted walls, tastefully adorned with enlarged photographs. I found myself walking around to each one and taking in their stunning beauty. Some of the photos were of Montauk Point and the lighthouse, local to the house itself. Others were of towns in Ireland, beautiful pubs in Galway and Dublin, horse-drawn carriages, and rain-soaked hills of green grass.

Teresa stood beside me. “Isn’t my uncle great? He took these himself.”

“They’re beautiful,” I echoed.

I heard the clatter of her high heels step away from me as she looked around the living room. The room itself jutted out on three sides towards the crashing ocean waves, allowing one to sit comfortably indoors and admire the serenity of the ocean by day. With the onset of nightfall and the lights on inside, it was practically impossible to see out the windows. Teresa took one of the plush pillows from the couch and fluffed it before setting it down by her feet. She then looked at me and flashed me a seductive wink.

“Sheesh, give me a second,” I laughed. “I need to change out of this dress!”

She rubbed her hands together. “Hurry up, I want to put you to bed,” she replied.

I took my bag into one of the smaller bedrooms and set it down on the neatly made twin bed. It took me a few minutes to get out of the dress and into my pajamas, and I took the time to hang my dress in the closet. With a wet towel I was able to get most of the makeup and lipstick from my face, and I set my jewelry down carefully by the tap in the sink. My plain face reflected back at me in the mirror, and I sighed; Cinderella was home from the ball.

I went back to the living room and saw Teresa sitting on the couch, her feet still in the red heels as they rested on my pillow. She worked her phone with both thumbs in landscape mode, making it clear she had a lot to say to someone. I looked on for a moment until she glanced up at me.

Her face brightened. “Oh hey,” she said. “Are you ready?”

I dismissed her with a wave of my hand. “If you want to go Teresa, go ahead. We don’t have to do it tonight. I feel fine.”

“I told I would and I meant it,” she said, standing up and straightening her dress again. She tapped the pillow with one foot. “Come on, on the floor.”

My stomach stirred and I took another look at the dark windows. “Is anyone going to see us?” I asked.

She looked around. “Nah, no one comes out here. Now stop stalling and get your face down at my feet…now.”

The casual authority of her voice spurred me into action and I made my way down to the wooden floor, the knees of my pajamas bunching a bit as I crawled towards her. When my head was close, I felt her fingers pat me gently on the head, then wind their way into my hair. She sat down at the same time she pushed my head towards the floor, and the very action raised the hem of her dress. Soon I was presented with a clear view of the patent leather of her red peep-toe heels, buckled to her feet with tiny clasps at the ankle. Teresa forced my lips against the pantyhosed toe of her left foot and I instinctively kissed it as I stared.

Our hotel antics had covered a wide array of shoes and sandals, but never heels despite many opportunities to do so. This was new ground for me, and as I licked the tip of her toe, I let my eyes stay focused on her feet. The shape they made in those heels accentuated her arch, and for some reason that made it all the more alluring to me as I explored this desire further. I stared at the buckle, the redness of the leather, the bright sheen it cast, and finished lowering myself the rest of the way to the floor. Teresa let go of my hair and soon I was lapping my tongue along her smooth shoes, tasting every inch of them without needing any encouragement from her.

Teresa said nothing and instead shifted her feet to make sure I had access to anywhere I wanted to go. I huddled those shoes close to my face, mixing passionate kisses with my sensual desire to clean them as best as I could. My hips rocked on the floor, my aroused whimpers filling the quiet room, and soon Teresa raised a toe, indicating it was time to start on her soles. I pushed myself back a few inches and closed my eyes, letting my tongue touch the underside of that shoe. The electricity of it made me pause, and I moaned, slowly sliding my tongue back into my mouth and tasting its rough surface at the same time.

I stole one more lick of her shoe before taking a moment to glance up. Teresa was leaning over her knees, watching me as she always did, her cheeks dimpled in smile. It seemed to me that no matter how many times I had thrown myself at her feet, she always looked on with a smile, and that unspoken approval made my tummy warm. I dimmed my eyes and let those thoughts steer my budding orgasm.

Teresa stood up and I knew it was time to for me to lie on my back. I folded my legs around and got myself comfortable, pulling the pillow behind my head and looking up at her. She looked so different, so elegant, in her dress that I sucked in a breath and smiled. Teresa stepped over me and soon was straddling my face with her feet on both sides. I swallowed nervously as she tapped the heel of her right foot. It clicked loudly in my ear, almost ominously.

“I’m trying to decide what to do with you,” she said, a mischievous grin spreading. “I could step on you, but you probably wouldn’t like it with these heels.”

I shook my head and wondered how tipsy Teresa was.

Then she slowly lifted that tapping foot and pressed its platform sole against my forehead. Unlike her sneakers or flats, the firmness of it was unforgiving, and she quietly added pressure to my face. I tensed and let her do so, my knees squeezing together to prepare for the upcoming onslaught. But before I could steel myself from the inevitable pain, she stopped pressing down and simply remained standing on me. My eyes focused at the circled (9) on her high heel instep, and I waited patiently for her to continue. It was like the calm before the storm; the exhilaration of danger and the sexiness of her shoes and outfit threatened to make my heart beat out of my chest.

With a slight adjustment, she repositioned her foot and I felt the tip of her heel touch my lips. I licked at it, thinking that was what she wanted, but her foot flexed and continued to press down. Soon  I had to let the heel go past my teeth and it made me squirm uncomfortably. I reached up to hold her foot, the pantyhose slippery in my grasp, and still she eased lower around my suckling cheeks. Then her face craned to one side, grinning as wide as ever, as she watched me fight off her advance in vain.

Her heel sank lower, filling my mouth, and I squeezed my eyes shut to suck on its expanding curve. And just before I thought she would force it to the very back of my throat, the pressure receded and it started its upward motion. I kept my lips formed around it, tasting the smooth rubber, and let it slide upwards and out of my mouth again with a smack. Teresa, arching her foot to remove it, pressed down with her toes as she did so, and I shuddered, panting with numb desire.

Teresa’s lip stuck out between her teeth in a lopsided grin. “Well, I think we found something else you like,” she laughed.

With a shift of her body weight, the red heel returned to my mouth, and this time I eagerly accepted it, suckling desperately with collapsing cheeks as she forced it in. The motion of her foot became something akin to a piston, starting slow and then picking up speed. One hand held her foot, squeezing it with taut fingers, while my other hand was at my waist, trying to control the orgasm that was threatening to burst out of my body. Teresa kept up the pumping motion and giggled as I squirmed in ecstasy beneath her.

I tried to talk around the heel in my mouth, but as I got closer to my orgasm, I didn’t want to stop sucking her shoe. The very act of feeling it between my lips was fueling my arousal more than anything else. My nose crinkled at the smell of patent leather and I allowed myself a few moments to watch her foot step on my face over and over again. Finally, I couldn’t take anymore and cried, “I’m going to cum, Teresa!”

She giggled at me again. “Aww, are you there already?”

“Yes!” I gasped, “please don’t stop!” I churned on the floor.

“Do you really want me to make you cum?” she asked.

I nodded with so much force that it almost knocked her heel from my mouth.

Then to my dismay, Teresa’s foot stopped its relentless pumping and she pulled her heel from my mouth. I looked up at her with pleading eyes, my face burning and my orgasm poised to overtake me. She sat down quietly onto the couch, crossed her right leg, and started unbuckling the shoe, all the while looking at me with heavily-lidded eyes. The shoe fell from her foot and she wiggled her toes in the sheer pantyhose as if to get some of her circulation back.
Her head tilted to one side, studying me, and suddenly the room became very quiet. “Do you trust me?” she asked at last.

I panted, “Yes.”

Teresa licked her lips and grinned, and with a careful extension of her foot, she pushed it between my quivering knees until the toe touched pajama bottoms and the sensitive region of my vagina. The whites of my eyes exploded in surprise, and my legs immediately clamped down around her foot in defense, but she would not be deterred. She squirmed her foot past my thighs and her toe traced me with careful probing presses. My hips smashed their way up against her sole in an almost autonomic response.

“You’re just a fountain of excitement down there, aren’t you?” she said, the wine adding some flavor to her voice.

I whimpered as she continued to stimulate me, my knees grinding, my body tense. I felt  frightened at the thought of crossing a boundary I couldn’t uncross. Part of me wanted her to stop, to push her away and to run before she did something we would both regret, but the intense pleasure of it, the unrelenting waves trying to crash ashore forced my body to simply do nothing. I was quivering, trying to make as much contact with her foot as I could just to get my orgasm underway, but it must have seemed desperate. She chuckled, manipulating my arousal, and held me at the brink as long as she wanted to.

My eyes teared, and with a shaky voice, I decided to stop fighting her and just let go, my mouth reciting the words I had come to know by heart. “Please,” I gasped, gathering my strength, “make me cum, Teresa.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. Her pupils were like tiny dots.

My head nodded slowly and with certainty. It wasn’t fanatical, it wasn’t forced, it was simple acceptance. I might have changed my mind later, but at that moment, to feel her inside me, was what I had always wanted. I relaxed my knees and let the sexual energy disperse across my body, if for only a brief moment.

Teresa smiled and the muscles in her outstretched leg tensed as she felt me acquiesce. “Okay,” she whispered, “Cum.”

I felt her pantyhosed toe press firmly against my pajamas and then inside me in a slow, agonizing circle. Just the entry was enough to send me over the cliff, but she continued to wiggle her toe inside to stimulate me as I melted beneath her. Every nerve ending in my body exploded at the same time. I cried out, elated with the most primal pleasure I had ever experienced, and let my body rock. She kept up the massage, the rapidly spreading wetness covering me, and I dug my nails into the wood to hold on. Wave after wave washed over me, and when I thought it was over, I would feel her toes squirming to force another. Soon I realized she was holding my knees with both hands, her foot twisting, until I had nothing left to give and came down from my perch in heaven.

Teresa took her damp foot from me and leaned over to remove her other shoe and then her pantyhose. I remained on the floor, sobbing quietly to myself, and twitching at the last remnants of my orgasm. I saw her face come into view over mine, and I wiped my nose with the back of my hand.

Her eyes were concerned. “Why are you crying?”

“I’m not sad,” I said, the tears dripping down my cheeks. “I’m happy.” I watched the alarm drain from her face and into a warm smile. “Thank you.”

Teresa learned forward and gave me a soft kiss on the forehead. “You’re welcome, hon,” she said. Then she stood up, shoes in hand, and looked down at me past that glittering red gown. Without saying another word,  her bare foot was on my chest and pressing me to the floor, letting me enjoy the rapture that came with the feeling of subservience. My hands caressed her strong toes and I let my drowsy eyes flutter closed. A moment later, the security and warmth of her foot were gone, and I heard the front door of the beach house shut quietly behind her with a soft click.

I allowed myself a few more moments to unwind on the hard floor before getting to my feet. I was a mess, more so than I cared to remember, even in the weeks of my sexual renaissance. My knees still trembled but I was able to find my way to the bathroom with a clean set of pajamas. All I wanted was a nice hot bath and to reflect on the fleeting arousal before it vanished entirely, but the beach house came only with a walk-in shower. My shoulders slumped and I removed my sticky clothes. Hot water cascaded around me and I leaned my head back to let it run through my hair and over my shoulders.

With the excitement of the night fading, I let the discerning part of my mind decide if we had gone too far. There was no denying it, I had fallen madly in love with her. And now in a moment of unrivaled passion, it felt like we had just consummated that relationship. I tried to find some shame in the act, some lingering doubt in the back of my mind that could convince me that I wasn’t prepared for the responsibility it entailed, but I couldn’t. I lathered up soap in my hands and found myself grinning broadly. I wasn’t scared of what had just happened, or fearful of its consequences. I felt like I had just made love to the most wonderful person in the world, who understood me better than anyone I had ever known. I started sobbing again, and the hard water washed  my salty tears down the drain.

Showered and dressed, I knotted the towel to my head and returned to the living room. A dark shape appeared by the outside window and I nearly jumped out of my skin, looking wildly for any place I could hide. A sandy haired man slid open the back door and came inside with hands raised in a placating gesture.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, his blue eyes darting around. “I’m not going to hurt you, miss! My name is Cilian, this is my house.” I kept looking for a quick exit, like a trapped animal. “You’re Teresa’s partner, right? Karrin?”

The tension drained from my shoulders and I sighed. “Oh thank God.”

Cilian came in a bit further and lowered his hands. “Sorry to have scared you like that,” he said, an Irish brogue drifting lightly between his words. “I didn’t know anyone was here.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hawkins,” I said, “Teresa thought you were in Dublin this week. We only came here to stay the night.”

“Ah, I got in last night,” he said, unzipping his jacket and crossing the room towards me. His eyes, though softened now that I knew who he was, still seemed to be scanning me strangely. “Would you like something to drink, miss? Some tea, perhaps?”

I bowed my head. “Thank you,” I said, and watched him go into the small kitchen. His boots were still caked with sand, as if he had spent some time on the beach outside. He glanced over his shoulder at me, scrutinizing me up and down once more, and I shuffled nervously. A question formed in my mind and it came to my lips almost before I could stop myself. “Mr. Hawkins, did you say you got in last night?”

“Aye,” he replied, taking a teabag from a jar.

Then it hit me. I felt like the floor was being pulled out from under my feet. My jaw quivered and I stared at him aghast. He simply regarded me with disapproving eyes, his hands casually cleaning a coffee mug with a dish towel, and that’s when I knew that he knew.

“Have you…been home…this whole time?” I stammered.

He put the mug down and grabbed another. A frown on his face, he nodded, “Aye.”

I turned myself around on shaky legs, my hand reaching out to steady myself, and like an arrow I bolted from the house, the towel flying from my head. My bare feet trampled through sharp sticker bushes, cutting me painfully, but I kept running towards the water until I crashed into it in an explosion of sand and tears and pajamas. I screamed and turned to face the house with clenched fists. Even from this vantage point I could clearly see into the well lit living room. I imagined spying Teresa Hawkins standing there in her bright red dress, her torso just visible over the window pane. I moved forward in my mind’s eye as I got closer to that window, and there at her feet I saw myself, licking her shoes and tensing in orgasmic pleasure. And if I could see all of this, certainly Cilian Hawkins could.

I fell to my knees and a cold Atlantic wave surrounded me. I was shivering, and I wrapped my arms around myself for warmth. The dark silhouette of Cilian Hawkins came to the shoreline. He let me wallow in the water without an offer of help, but still kept a watchful eye that I wasn’t in danger. I could almost feel his strict Catholic gaze staring at me from the dark recesses of his face. I sobbed at my own foolishness, and I thought of Teresa, and the call she would get in the morning from her family. Soon they would be upon her like vultures, and everything she had worked so hard for would teeter on the brink of ruin. I didn’t care what people thought of me; I would thumb my nose at any person willing to dispense labels, and my parents had long ago given up on me being their ideal Chinese daughter. But for Teresa, her family was her life.

And I had just destroyed it.

Part 7: And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Teresa Hawkins found me the next day sobbing on the beach in the morning hours. I refused to say anything; I felt it wasn’t my place, but it didn’t take her long to put the facts together. I remember  listening to the confrontational grunts of her uncle making their way across the Montauk air, and Teresa’s shrill tone as she gave it back to him in kind. A car came for us, shortly afterward, and she hauled me to my feet and put me in the back seat. The final coup de grâce of the argument played itself out on the porch while I watched her hastily scribble out a check and throw it in his face before storming back to me.

Every day leading up to the US Open played out in much the same way. I would wake up early to Teresa’s frantic voice attempting to deflect her mother’s anger over the phone. She would hang up, and for the first few days, wail softly with the most heart-wrenching sob I had ever heard. I would cower into the corner of my bed, pillows to my ears, trying vainly to block out that wretched sound and not add to it with my own. Later the arguments went on with the same bitter vitriol, only they would end in dull silence. At night, Teresa would offer to entice me with her feet, sometimes even ordering me to do so. I would, but I could tell our hearts weren’t in it anymore, as she would stare blankly at me as if her mind were anywhere else but there.

Our only respite came from practice. Our coach kept us very busy, both on our individual games and in team play, cursing us with his thick accent whenever we made a mistake. We took to it as two professionals, and it helped for awhile. By the time the first day of competition began, Teresa and I were like ticking time bombs, exploding on our opponents with pent up anger, frustration and vengeance. In our doubles matches, we fed off each other, working in tandem to power our way to the trophy, like cutting down trees in a forest. In the singles brackets, we worked alone, but the fire was still there and we fought our way through the ranks with steely resolve. Eventually, we ended up faced off at center court together, me looking across the net at her; racket in hand, pink outfit and shoes, bouncing at the ready. I imagined her as she was that night in San Diego, popping her gum at me, being sassy and cute. But she wasn’t of course, and I went down in straight sets as she dispatched me with a cool professionalism to become the #1 player in the world. I’m not sure I could have beaten her that night in Queens; and I’m not sure I would have wanted to if I could.

After that I barely saw Teresa Hawkins. The final championship event of the season was more of a formality than anything else. I went back home to Oregon and worked with my personal trainer to keep in shape through the off-season. Teresa, on the other hand, was tennis’ new star, and I was hard-pressed to turn on a television or pick up a newspaper and not see her smiling face. She had new friends now, new people in her life, and I even got the impression that she was finally mending the damage between herself and her family. It pained me to think that it was at my expense, but I would smile to myself anyway, and brush away the errant tear.

It was Christmas time, and being unseasonably cold for us I preferred to shift my morning jogs to the early evenings, and layer myself in thick jogging pants and cap. As I approached the front door to leave, it chimed, and I opened it to find Teresa Hawkins standing in front of me, a colorfully wrapped box in her hand, and dressed in a long winter coat. My jaw dropped, and it took me a moment to get my composure as she made an apologetic smile and short wave.

“Hi,” she said.

I snapped myself out of my surprise. “Hi yourself,” I replied.

Teresa looked past me and whistled. “You have a really nice house, Karrin.”

I shrugged. “Life’s been good to me so far. Would you like to come in?”

Teresa glanced over her shoulder at the car waiting near the gate. “I can’t,” she said, “I have to catch my connecting flight soon. I just wanted to stop by and give you this, in person.” She handed me the small box. “Merry Christmas.”

“Oh, dau je, dau je,” I said, my head bowed. “Where are you off to?”

Teresa sighed and raised her left hand. The light from my foyer caught the glitter of diamonds and gold, and she wiggled her fingers. “Sam proposed,” she added. “We are going on vacation in Europe.”

“Sam? Your agent?”

“Yeah,” she laughed. “Who would have thought?”

We shared a moment, just looking into each others eyes, and I felt the excitement of seeing her face fall away into the cold recesses of my heart. She looked at the floor briefly to break eye contact and the awkward silence stretched on a bit. Then she raised a hand and gently caressed my cheek. I could feel the tears beginning to well up in my eyes, but I stopped myself.

“I feel bad,” I finally said. “I didn’t get you anything for Christmas.”

Teresa smiled, and for a brief instant, her eyes twinkled. “I already have everything I want.”

The car horn honked.

I said, my lip quivering, “I guess…I will see you when I see you?”

“Yep!” she suddenly beamed. “Next month! We can work on our Australian tans!”

I didn’t reply right away, and Teresa stepped forward, hugging me against her warm coat. I closed my eyes and let the embrace linger until she kissed me on the cheek and turned away. As she walked down the lighted path, she called out, “Lata Gata!” and waved one last time. I watched her go, and with the thunk of a door, the dark car turned and splashed away through the rain slick street.

Suddenly I didn’t feel like jogging anymore, and crawled up the stairs of my home on weary knees, removing my outerwear and letting it fall where it may. Seeing her again after all those weeks wrecked me and it was all I could do to not break down and cry. I had long given up on the idea of any kind of reconciliation of our relationship, so seeing her engagement ring did nothing to defrost my heart. But knowing that we would play together next season, being comfortably neutral, was something that I felt I couldn’t bear.

I sat on the edge of my bed and stared at my feet. My tan was long gone now, leaving a dull pallor to my skin as if it didn’t know how to glow anymore. I started to put the gift box down when I realized the ribbon had a small tag that read:

FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY!

      Curiously I unwrapped the box and inside was a small flash drive, the kind which plug into personal computers and players. I took it out carefully and padded into my workroom. With a touch of the mouse, my computer came to life and I inserted the drive into its serial port. A video began to play, and my chair creaked a little as I leaned back to watch it.

The camera was shaky, and most of the time it showed a lightly blue sky with Teresa’s bemused voice in the background, laughing that infectious giggle of hers. Then her face appeared, close-up, and I could see the little freckles on her cheek as she smiled and stared into the lens.

“Is this on?” she asked, then when satisfied with the answer, the camera was steady and she stepped back. She stood on a paved country road in the middle of a sunny afternoon, the fields behind her waving with tall yellowing grass, and made a sheepish grin.

“Hi Karrin,” she began. She was dressed in tennis wear, from the visor cap all the way down to her sneakers. “I have never done this before, so, I’m not likely to get it right. But…I remember how you had those videos on your phone, that you used to send to Benji when you were on the road, you know? Of you stepping on stuff?” She leered mischievously. “Well this is going to be my special super secret video for you. So…I hope you like it!”

She then went out of camera range and came back with a small cardboard box. Fishing around inside, she giggled and took out her iPhone, showing it to the camera. “My old phone!” she said and threw it on the ground with a grunt. The electronic marvel bounced away, seemingly unscathed, and she chased it down, her stamping feet pounding at it, her face bursting with laughter, like she was a kid again. Finally it cracked, and another well-placed foot shattered it into pieces. With a cheer, she pumped her fist, a match point victory.

Gah, that thing was hard!” she gasped, wiping her forehead and coming close to the camera so that it filled with her face. “Let me see- aaah!” Teresa yelped and batted at her legs. Then she made a solid stomping motion and said, “Got you, you little bastard!” Her face was in camera again: “A freaking grasshopper just attacked me and I totally squashed it! Here, look!”

The camera shook and pointed downwards, closing in on a brown splotch beside her shoe. My fingers tensed as I realized she was wearing the Air Max sneakers I had come to know so well. The imagine closed in, and I crinkled my face at its flattened body. “Yeah, you can see all the guts,” she was saying off-camera. Then her foot rocked to the side and some of the splatter was stuck in the treads. “Can you see that, all squished on the bottom of my foot? Doesn’t it look yummy?” Her voice pitched as she giggled. “Anyway, enough of that! I have more stuff to destroy!”

And for almost an hour, that’s how the video went. Teresa Hawkins would take toys and candy out of the box and smash them under her feet, all the while grinning and excitedly commenting about what it was like. My knees trembled as I watched, and it went on for so long that it felt like it would never end. But finally she ran out of things to break and came back to the camera. It shook a bit as she removed it from the tripod and then closed in again on her tired face, the flush of red on her cheeks drenched in perspiration.

“Now that…was a workout!” she gasped, her teeth showing. Then her face settled in, the smile fading, and she blinked her eyes.

“Before I go, I wanted to say something to you that I have been meaning to say for a long time. I didn’t give up on you after that night in Montauk. I fought, God knows, every day, to keep you…but it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe we were really never meant to be…or maybe the world isn’t ready for us yet. All I know is…you are, without a doubt, the most beautiful, the most courageous person I have ever met in my life. And though I know you are sad, and it didn’t turn out the way we hoped, remember that it’s never too late to be the person you want to be.

“Life is wonderful! You can make the best of it or the worst of it. But I know you’ll make the best of it. I want you to leave the house each day, hoping you might see things that will startle you. I want you to feel things you’ve never felt before. And more importantly, I want you to live a life you are proud of. Because I’m proud of you. I love you, Karrin Lau. You will always be my wild child.”

Teresa puckered her lips and kissed the lens. Her face receded back, lost in the smudge, and her blue eyes sparkled above those freckled cheeks. Then the image went black, and I sat back in my chair, weeping gently.

And that was the year my life changed forever, when Teresa Hawkins saved me. Sometimes you never really know who it is that you might meet that will alter the course of your destiny. It might be someone new, who comes into your life like a ship passing in the night, or it might be someone you’ve known forever. Everyone has a part to play in the grand scheme, and if you don’t stop to look around sometimes, you might just miss the joys in this world. They can be subtle, but they are there.

Some people buy farm equipment. Some people live in mansions. Some are agents. Some are coaches. Some know photography. Some know how to open doors. Some are parents. Some are bullies. And some people…play tennis.

THE END

This story is taken from:

http://themousepad.yuku.com/forums/97/Classic-Story-Library

Special thanks to: Yurei

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