Hi! I’ve been holding off on sending this story out while waiting for some news to drop, but since a watched pot never boils, I decided to send out the story alone without the rest of the Girls With Glasses extras. It’s a sapphic short I wrote a few weeks back after getting major inspiration from the following two tweets:
Vicky @romancingreadThrowing this interesting history factoid out there, for anyone who would like to write me an f/f blacksmith romance: In 1851 14 girls were employed as apprentice blacksmiths in England and Wales.* *That’s in contrast to 15,066 boys. Stats from the census. https://t.co/5uIGIl9V0E
It’s more spec fic romance than paranormal romance, fyi. This is labeled Part I because though it works fine as a stand alone, I imagine this will be a serial in a few parts dropping every month or so. Enjoy! 1) It has not been edited so be aware there will be typos and stuff. 2) There is sex!
Of Fer and Fer, Part I
First thing I thought when I saw her was, That’s a damn shame, dying ass-up in the snow like that.
No, actually the first thing I thought was, That’s a pretty ass, with the light of the gibbous moon hitting it just so, but even though I’m strange and unnatural, I didn’t disrespect the dead by letting that thought linger.
It was an early-dark winter evening and I was returning from the forge, the heat of the iron still in my blood and the pounding of metal against anvil still throbbing in my hands. You can’t work with the metal all day and just leave it at the threshold when you go, like the grocer locking the door against his grain and perishables every evening.
The old folk used to say that people like me, who live for the heat, who hear the iron scream and sing as we work it, that we got the old gods in us. The ones even this fresh country gone rotten couldn’t kill. Metal don’t burn to ashes, like wood, after all. Heat it hot as you want and all you can do is shape it or let it shape you.
Snow from the edges of the big storm coming our way was whipping in my face and going up my nose, and it was cold enough to crack your toenails. So when I saw her—hunched up like a cat in heat, not a stitch of clothes on her lean, dark frame—I thought she was dead. She should have been dead. But when I got closer I realized something: the snow wasn’t sticking to her skin. It was beading up like dew drops on velvety leaves, rolling down over the sinews of her back and the dip in her hip. The ground showed bare and brown for the width of the tip of my thumb, all the way around her.
There were pink spots in the snow near her head.
I couldn’t see her face; I kept my hair short, curled tight to my head, but hers was long, even matted as it was, covering her.
My belly had gone tight with anger and fear; folks had always talked about spirits and devils in these wood, but the bodies showing up around here since the war had ended had fallen pray to a different kind of evil—the kind that claims fear while stalking those that just want to be free.
I’d met those kinds of demons, and they’d learned in their final moments what real fear was.
The woman wasn’t moving, not even to shiver, not even when my heavy boots crunched in the iced over snow. When I touched her, she went from stillness to motion, rearing back and glaring up at me with wide brown eyes that were vulnerable and vicious both—I’d seen that look before too many times. A woman who had something soft in her once and maybe still did, but knew you had to fight to keep anything like that in this hard world.
There was red streaked over her mouth, and when I looked at her hands, there was the source of that red—a rabbit from one of my snares, gnawed on, gore spilling out.
I don’t know why, but I laughed; it just came up out of my belly, that loud laugh that everyone always tell me to hush up about when it makes its rare appearance.
“I’m starving too, but I plan to cook my meal before I get to eating it,” I said. “Come on. That’s my rabbit, but since you got to it first I suppose we can share the stew that comes of it.”
She stood, and as she did I saw the moment when the viciousness left her and the shame set in. She looked down at her body, as if naked was somehow worse than the blood ringing her mouth.
“These woods aren’t safe, especially not for a lady like you, and a storm is coming,” I said. I shucked off my canvas coat and handed it to her.
“You ain’t scared of me?” she asked as she slid it on, pulling the warmth in the lining closer like she just remembered how to be cold. “Come on.”
“Not scared of nothing, Miss, except striking the iron wrong,” I said, with a chuckle. “If there’s anything else I should be scared of, I haven’t met it yet. Might could be you, but I guess we’ll find out after supper.”
We didn’t see anyone on the short walk to my cabin, living out on the edge of town like I do, and I didn’t talk. It was a bad day at the forge, hearing our delivery of ore got blocked again and knowing we couldn’t do nothing but wait for the people blocking it to get bored or find other Negroes to bother and know that’s why they left off of us.
When we got there, I did like I would have if I was alone. Got the fire going in the wood stove that I’d made all those years back, melted some snow in a pot, then handed her a clean rag and some soap.
“I don’t wanna answer no questions,” she said in a voice like cotton in my mama’s lap, though she was trying to sound like nettle. I been a blacksmith since I could lift a hammer, got the feel for hardness down in my bones, and this woman was silver playing at steel. I let her play. Sometimes when I get a piece of iron that has a natural resistance in it, I let it think it can’t be bent before doing the bending. No reason to make it think otherwise, or her either.
I tilted my head. “I don’t recall asking none. You hearing questions? Might be ghosts because it wasn’t me.”
She just stared at me as I put a bowl of heated water behind the curtain hung over twine, then I came back out.
“You can wash back here. Some clothes in there.” I pointed at the chest that I hadn’t opened since I’d moved alone into this cabin built for two. “About your size, though might be a stitch too big.”
I grabbed the rabbit she was clutching like it was a rag doll and headed to the shallow winter cellar I’d dug out, pulling up the flap over it. My back was to her, but I heard her struggle with the heavy mahogany lid and then the creak as it opened. I heard the water slosh as she cleaned herself.
I gathered potatoes and dried maize, and set to skinning the rabbit—if she’d been trying to eat it, she was more successful at ripping it apart than getting it in her belly, so there’s still plenty of meat. I was curious, but I’d seen all kinds of things out here on the edge of the woods. Seen even worse out in them fields when the war was raging and men were being killed just like this—shredded to bits on account of what looked like a necessity from afar but was maybe greed and maybe a whim.
That anger jumped in me again, when I thought of the men at the forge that never came back. Of the hook I made for Henry ‘cause he left his hand behind in some Virginia wood but escaped with his life.
This country always taking pieces of us, then leaving us to fill the space left behind with their castoffs.
The woman came and sat down next to me, smelling clean. Now that she was next to me, I couldn’t believe I’d thought she was dead. I felt the life in her strong, like a good piece of ore, her pulse throbbing in me, waiting to be shaped—to be touched.
The edge of Addie’s dress, the green striped one she used to wear to church, spread out over my leg before the woman tucked it beneath her and got to helping with the food.
“Tell me your name,” I said, and it came out all harsh. “That’s not a question. It’s what you owe me if you want to shelter here. Don’t gotta be your real one, but I can’t have some no name under my roof.”
“Page,” she said quick—too quick to lie. “I’m Page.”
“Page,” I repeated, because there had been something kind of needing in her tone, like she wanted me to know this one thing about her. “I’m Kisey.”
“Kisey,” she said, that soft voice brushing my own name over me, and I looked at her then.
Her hair was tied back in a bun, so I could see that her face was too thin—cheeks hollowed out and eyes too big, the circles beneath them so dark that they looked like the ash god’s thumb prints. I thought maybe it’d been so long since she’d eaten that she forgot how, and that’s why she made a mess of the rabbit. But even so, her face was just as pretty as her ass, and I felt a hammering fire in my blood. This kind had nothing to do with iron. It was a different kind of heat, the kind that made my whole body burn like the first time Addie tapped me on the shoulder and said, I’m here to see a woman about a fence.
I looked away from her, and we prepared the food together in silence. She kept brushing up against me as we cooked, and set out the plates, and when I would glance at her, she was always looking at me. Even when I went to wash behind the curtain as the stew cooked, I could feel Page’s eyes on me. It felt wrong, how the rough cloth made my nipples go hard because she was so close, this stranger. How I imagined her pulling the curtain back, and touching me. It was the first time I wished cold water had any effect on me.
When I came back to serve our meal, I swear she knew what I’d been thinking. She was still cautious, but had a kind of secret smile.
It was too cold to eat at the table, so we ate on a blanket in front the hard-packed dirt in front of the wood stove. My hearing isn’t so good and the snow and wind were blowing hard against the cabin, but it was like every motion Page made drew my attention: the brush of her bare foot against wool; the suck of her mouth as her lips closed around bone, rooting out every morsel of flesh; the moan of contentment low in her throat after each swallow. I could have talked to drown it out, like I do when I don’t feel like hearing Ezekiel jawing about disrespectful customers, but I didn’t know what to say that could make the awareness of her less and not more. I wasn’t sure I wanted it to be less and not more.
Page didn’t speak either; it wasn’t until she was done with her second bowl that she said something. She placed the bowl beside her and then curled up right on the floor, soaking up the heat with her eyes fluttering shut and a smile tugging her lips up.
She gestured toward the stove with her pinky, too satiated to move. “You make that?”
I grunted in affirmation; I wasn’t used to dinner time chatter and I didn’t know I could say anything that wouldn’t have the telltale husk of desire in my voice.
“I knew it. All these tools and fine cutlery and prettiness in this cabin.” She opened her eyes and looked up at me, the firelight dancing in her dark brown eyes like the mischief in her words. “Good with your hands, gods in your hands.”
I grunted again, because I knew better than to talk about that with a stranger, especially one who had no business knowing such things.
“Kisey is a pretty name,” she tried, still playing with me though I wasn’t sure how. “It feels good, like this fire warming up my toes.”
I scraped the last bit of stew from the bottom of my bowl, thinking on how things might go if I took her bait, then wiped my sleeve across my mouth and put the bowl down with a clatter. “You can’t say something like that when I’m not allowed to ask questions.”
She rolled onto her back, keeping her eyes on me. “Like you said before, you didn’t ask no questions. Ask, Kisey.”
“What business you got here in Unionville, and what you was doing ass naked out in the snow?”
“I’m looking for somebody. Earlier, when you found me I…got distracted,” she said, grinning big at me.
I cut a narrowed eyed glance down at her, but respected how she avoided answering without losing any of the sass that was starting to show now that she was clean, warm, and fed.
“A relative?” I asked. Since the war ended, there’s always somebody coming through looking for a family member who was sold away.
“In a way.” She screwed up her mouth like she was tasting how to say something. “I’m looking for somebody I gotta kill. I heard they been around here. So here I am.”
I think on that for a long moment as I look down at her. “I see. Well, long as it ain’t me, that’s none of my business.”
She laughed then, and reached her hand out to rest it on my knee. Her hands are big for her small frame, and warm enough that even I could feel it through my denim. At her touch, a tingle of pleasure traveled up my thigh to my cunt, and I tried not to make a sound.
She inhaled deeply, then sighed with contentment.
“You the first person I met who ain’t tried to pry my business out of me, and even when I give it to you, you don’t seem to care.”
I shrugged, all my focus on her hand still resting on my knee, her fingertips rubbing back and forth. “If you telling me, you got a reason. Some people need killing. Even the Lord thinks so.”
She laughed again, more quietly, and her fingertips stop moving. “Someone told me that I been cast out from his grace.”
“Unless he told you so himself, that’s just talk.” I brushed my fingertips over the back of her hand, and the skin was so smooth I almost did it again, but she returned her attention to me so I had no reason to keep at it aside from desire.
She grinned. “Told me?”
I nodded. “When a god wants to talk to you, you get the message. Did a man come down from the sky and tell you that?”
“No,” she said. “But I think the person who told me was right. I done bad things, broken a commandment or two.”
I shrugged again. “There’s more gods than the white one. One of ‘em will have you, I bet.”
She laughed again, and when she looked at me this time, the heat was in her eyes and not just her hands—not just in me.
“It’s getting late,” she said. “I’ll clean up since you cooked.”
We didn’t talk about where she’d sleep. I prepared my bed and pulled out an extra blanket and bed roll while she cleaned up supper. Her touch burned on my knee and the mischief in her eyes had pulled my imagination places it’d long since abandoned.
After putting out the candles, I stripped and got under the covers. A moment later, her shadow passed in front of the low light thrown by the wood stove fire as she stepped over the bedroll and got in with me.
“This okay?” she asked, and her voice was a different kind of soft now—the softness of plush lips against mine, of smooth breasts heavy in my palms, of folds spreading between my fingers. An urgent kind of softness, a hungry kind, that made my cunt ache for her touch and my mouth long to taste hers.
“I run hot when I sleep, like a furnace” I said, my voice sounding all funny.
“Like a forge,” she whispered, and I felt her voice all through my body.
I was lying on my back, so I laced my arms behind my head like a knight placing his steel between him and a maiden in one of them ancient stories. “I don’t wear a nightshirt.”
I’d slept alone for so long, I hadn’t even thought of putting on proper nightclothes. Or maybe I had but the tension that had been coiled in me all night, pressed down by the weight of her knowing gaze, was ready to spring.
She turned onto her side beneath the blanket, facing me, and slid her body up against mine; more softness, along with the bony jut of a hip against my thigh and the less sharp, more seductive poke of her hard nipple pressing into the sensitive skin below my armpit.
“Good,” she said. Her hand went to my knee again, and this time it was bare palm against bare skin. My knees were ugly things, scabbed over from falls and burns, but she touched them so lightly, petting me almost, and my hips bucked up, seeking.
“Page,” I whispered without thinking, my voice trembling. I wasn’t scared of nothing, but her light caress of my knee pulled up something close to fear; my desire for her was almost overwhelming.
She slid her hand up my thigh, squeezing as she pressed it down into the mattress. Her nipple grazed my side as she moved her mouth to my ear. “Do you want me to stop?” she asked before pressing a soft kiss to my earlobe.
“No.” I slid one hand from behind my head and wrapped it around her shoulders, pulling her to me. I tilted my head down, finding her mouth. “Don’t stop,” I said against her lips as I kissed her.
I felt her smile against my mouth, a wicked, delicious sensation, and remembered how I’d found her, lips streaked in a rouge of gore.
“Someone told me that I been cast out from His grace.”
I didn’t care who she was or what she was in that moment. I only cared that she was in my bed, in my arms. We were both graceless; we would sanctify each other.
Her tongue pressed into my mouth hard, slicking over mine; at the same time, her hand left my thigh to cup me at the juncture of my thighs, her fingers quickly finding my swollen clit and stroking it.
“Oh hell,” I groaned into her mouth, freeing my other hand from behind my head as my pretense of courtesy burned away. I palmed over her body in a fast swipe, my burned and scarred hands roughing over her shoulders and breast, over the dip of her hip and then grabbing a fistful of that ass that I’d seen glistening in the moonlight. She moaned deep in her chest, almost a growl of pleasure, and hooked her leg over mine. The curly that at her mound brushed over my skin as she settled into place, grinding her clit against my hip as her fingers toyed wickedly between my thighs, rubbing and retreating, slicking and sliding over the tight bundle of nerves.
She pulled her face back to look at me with those hungry eyes of her; they caught the firelight from a funny angle and glinted green for a second, but I couldn’t care then.
“Kisey,” she murmured. “My pretty Kisey.”
“Page,” I panted, dropping my head back into the mattress and lifting my hips seeking more pressure, more pleasure. She’d said I had gods in my hands, but maybe there were devils in hers because the sensation wasn’t like I’d felt before; my whole core was clenching, I was so wet that I could feel my juices sliding though my folds.
Page was hot and slick as she worked her clit against my, thigh, too. She made another animal sound, like a whimper this time, and then turned her hand slid two fingers into my cunt, pressing gently upward as she slicked in and out of me. The storm faded into the background; all I could hear was the crackle of the fire, the sound of her fingers driving into my wetness, and our moans.
“Hot like a furnace around my fingers,” she said in a low voice as she pushed into me, again and again. “Hot and wet and smelling so good.”
She ran her nose along my earlobe, inhaling deeply at my neck before swiping her tongue over my skin, and I cried out.
“Yes, Kisey. Moan for me.” She thrust her fingers in hard and rubbed her thumb over my clit when she could go no further, dragged her fingers out with a twist, then did it again. I clamped around her, my stomach rolling with pleasure, my body trembling. “You like that?”
“Yes, Page. Don’t stop, please don’t stop.”
I had never begged for a damn thing a day in my earthly life, but I wasn’t thinking of anything but Page’s touch and how I needed more of it.
Passion swirled all through my body like the sparks that go flying when I bring hammer down on hot metal; people like to think that’s rough work, but it’s gentle. Precise. You have to know where to bring it down hard, where to pull back, and mosy of all, if you’re good, you gotta know how to worship that thing you’re changing from one thing to the other with your bare hands. Page was transmuting me with her hands and her words that were perfect, wicked prayer, stoking them sparks everywhere in me bright and burning, like she had the power to create a million starbursts of pleasure in just her two fingers.
I writhed beside her, back arched as the pleasure tore sounds from me that sounded something like dying even though I had never felt more alive.
She kissed her way down the slop of my breast and sucked a nipple into her mouth. Gripping it in her teeth with a sharp bite of delicious pain and then circling it with her tongue.
Just like that, the sparks exploded all in me; I yelled as my release zipped through my body, a hoarse ugly sound that covered Page’s quiet growls as she humped frantically against my thigh. There was nothing pretty or dainty about that climax, for either of us, but when I crashed back into the mattress, there were tears in my eyes—not from pain, or fear, but from beauty.
I made beauty our of lumps of ore damn near every day, but I hadn’t cried about that—about anything—since I was a girl at my mama’s knee. I lay there like a woman with her chest blowed open as Page kissed her way up my arm, up my neck, and took my mouth again. My legs was still shaking, but, as I would come to discover all too well, my Page was ravenous—and so was I.
When I woke up the next morning, after I had barely slept, she was gone. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about that, but I learned long ago that sadness don’t change much of anything for me.
I ate my breakfast with the too-quiet quiet, and when I opened the door to see if walking in to town would be practical, the snow was dotted with pink.
A stack of rabbits were piled in front of the door. Beside them lay Addie’s dress, folded neatly. And behind them, in the snow leading away from the cabin, two sets of tracks, one human and one not.
I lived out on the edge of the forest for years and years now, and like I said, I’m strange and unnatural. I know how to track and how to tell your dog from your fox, your stray cat from your bobcat.
Them tracks belonged to a wolf, and a big one.
I smiled, bringing the game inside, and closed the door.
I didn’t lock it.
Copyright Alyssa Cole 2021
If you like this, you can order my upcoming F/F contemp romance romp, How To Find A Princess, out May 25, 2021!