Maria

Like a literal sex magnet, the group gets larger and larger as we walk over to the Darkroom. All told, we wind up with fourteen people: myself, Santiago, Enrique, Claire, Sam, Pen, Sorrento, Chain, Sinclair, Charlotte, Lawrence, Chantelle, Morgan, and Rain.

When we get there, Enrique empties his pockets and shouts, “Enjoy!” as condoms go flying everywhere. There is a chorus of laughter, and people begin taking over benches and corners. There is a rustling of clothing and the wet sounds of people kissing and licking and sucking each other. At one point, someone calls out, “Who wants to be spit roasted?” and I laugh as Santiago eagerly volunteers. I am gazing at my fiance, enjoying watching her when I hear Lawrence say to Rain, “Don’t ever call me Larry while my fist is in your ass!” Morgan and Chain co-top Claire and Chantelle for a while, and Rain receives one of his infamous “poetry blowjobs,” reciting poetry in between grunts and thrusts. Everyone is enjoying themselves, but it’s not just the sex. There is a camaraderie that permeates the room. A few years ago, this would have felt like a bunch of strangers fucking. It still would have been hot, but this is different. This is a room full of friends and lovers, people who care a great deal about each other, who are not there just to get off. It feels like a community.

Suddenly, a fist grasps my hair and hauls me up from the leather bench I was sitting on. I gasp, a tingle traveling through my body that starts at the hand on my scalp and settles in my loins. Santiago drags me to the center of the room and pushes me down to my knees. “Time to show everyone that you belong to me.” She says something else, but it doesn’t register. It doesn’t matter. I know what she wants.

I grasp her hips and lean forward, purposely letting my hot breath fall against her pussy before I even touch her with my mouth. I kiss her outer lips softly, then open my mouth and lick at them gently. I hear her suck in her breath, and I grin. I love having that effect on her. Parting her lips with my tongue, I begin lapping at her clit. She moans above me and clutches my hair, pushing my face harder between her legs. I tense up the tip of my tongue and swipe it up and down, just the way I know she likes it. After a few moments, I can tell she’s getting close. I slide a finger inside, then another, and fuck her with my hand while she humps my mouth. She convulses around my hand, smothering my face as she cums. I wait until I’m sure she’s finished before removing my fingers.

As soon as she catches her breath, she pulls me up and kisses me passionately. “My turn.” She drops to her knees to return the favor.

“Oh, god,” I cry out as her tongue quickly finds my clit. Hearing her cum has me so turned on already that I’m cumming in less than a minute. “Oh– oh, god– yes, yes– Maria!” I gasp out. “Maria, oh, fuck, yes, please, ahh, god!”  My nails dig into her shoulders as my body shudders. “Maria, Maria, oh, fuck, Ma–Ma–MARIAAAAAA!

I’m leaning against her, still catching my breath, when I dimly hear a voice somewhere in the room ask, “Who the fuck is Maria?”

It’s Not A Party Until…

I am hanging out on the back porch when Enrique, Claire, Pen, Sorrento, Nate, and Sinclair. “Heyyy, Katherine… you busy?” Enrique asks.

I study the group. Claire is watching the exchange and giggling. “Umm… not really. I was just dancing. Why, what’s up?”

“Well, a few of us,” Enrique gestures toward his entourage, “were thinking about going over to the Darkroom.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Okay… so?”

“So, I was wondering if you’d like to come along.” He tilts his pocket toward me, and I see that it’s stuffed full of condoms.

I laugh and I glance over my shoulder at Santiago. “I might be convinced. Is this party invite-only?” Santiago catches my eye and comes over.

“What’s happening over here?” she asks, wrapping an arm around my waist.

“Enrique’s just invited us to a little gathering over in the Darkroom,” I answer, nodding my chin towards the pocket that he is still displaying.

“Oh, fuck yes!” Santiago exclaims.

Dim Stars

I’ve brought some silly stickers with me to the party, stars with a pattern of the American Flag. In good spirits, I walk around and put one on each person I see.

I spot Claire sitting off to the side with a woman I’ve never seen before. “You are a bright, shining star, and don’t you ever forget it,” I say gently.

“My star is burning out,” she says sadly.

“No. It’s brighter than ever,” I say fiercely. “You have much energy left, and you’re going to use it to change the world. No, we are going to,” I correct myself. Claire laughs through her tears.

“And I’ve never met you before, but I’m sure you’re a star, too,” I say, smiling at the stranger as I affix a sticker to the front of her shirt.

“This is Chantelle. She’s a pop star, and part of the Saratoga group. But she hasn’t been here in a few years. And this is Katherine,” Claire introduces us. “Katherine used to work for the Times, but now she’s part of the team that’s helping get this place re-opened.”

I shake Chantelle’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise. Man, it’s such a shame that you’re turning this place into a clinic!”

I freeze. “Excuse me?”

“I just mean, this is such a great party. It’s too bad that this is the last one,” Chantelle says.

“This won’t be the last party,” I say carefully. “We will still have parties. It will just be… different.”

“Well, yeah! That’s what I mean. You’ll have all those sick people here. Don’t get me wrong, what you’re doing is like, really noble or whatever,” she says, “but it seems like a waste to give up such a good party!”

“Uhh…” I’m dumbfounded. “Okay, well… it was nice meeting you.” I walk away before I say something I know I’ll regret.

A Test You Can’t Study For

I almost miss the opening ceremonies again. I hurriedly shove my lipstick into my purse leave the bathroom, wading through the crowd to find Charlotte and Santiago. A couple of people do a double-take as I walk past, and I grin. I’m wearing a long-sleeved gold-colored shirt with decorative cut-outs around the collar. The shirt stops just above my midriff, and I’ve matched it with a pair of plain black slacks. It was not my usual style to show so much skin, but I am having fun showing off a little. Besides, I no longer have a job that I need to “look professional” for. What I didn’t tell people was that the shirt had actually been a loan from Kimberly, and this was my way of making sure she attended the party with us, at least in spirit.

This year, Terrence has arranged for HIV testing to take place on-site. Santiago and I decide to head over and get it out of the way at the beginning of the party. There is a long line of folks ahead of us. We’ve both been safe since the debacle last year, but sitting in the waiting room is still nerve-wracking. I am next in line when I see Sinclair rush through the waiting room. He doesn’t even notice us sitting there. A moment or two later I see Nate rush through the room after him. I turn and give Santiago a worried look, opening my mouth to speak.

“The doctor will see you now,” says the nurse.

I stand up, and Santiago also stands. I turn to her. “It’s okay. I can go by myself.”

“I’m coming with you,” she says. Her voice is insistent.

I sigh. “I don’t need–” I stop when I look at her face, seeing the fear behind her eyes. I nod. “Okay.”

The nurse leads us into a room where the doctor is waiting. “Hello. Please have a seat. Can you confirm your name?” His bedside manner is cold, brusque. I pretend that I’m not bothered by it, and cover up my nervousness.

“Katherine Stockton.”

“And why are you here?”

“For the AIDS testing,” I say.

He studies me. “Hmm.” His face is expressionless, but I can’t help feeling judged. “Tell me about your habits.”

I take a deep breath. “Well, I’ve had some unprotected sex over the years, since the outbreak started. Mostly with women, but last year there were a few men…” my voice trails off. I’m still embarrassed about that night, especially with Santiago standing next to me.

“I see,” the doctor says. “And this is your girlfriend?”

“Yes.”

“How long have you been together?” he asks.

“About three years now,” I answer.

“And you’re exclusive?”

“Well, no… but it’s pretty much just women.” The doctor is scribbling in his notebook and nods without looking up.

“We’re going to do a few tests.” He takes a few vials of blood and hands them to his assistant. The assistant leaves the room while the doctor scribbles some notes and Santiago and I wait silently.

A few moments later the assistant returns, handing the doctor a small slip of paper. The doctor reads it and then looks up at me. He is not smiling, and my heart skips a beat. “I have good news,” he says. I breathe a sigh of relief and sag slightly in my chair as he tells me that my results are negative. Santiago squeezes my hand, and I stand to let her take my seat.

The doctor goes through the same questions with Santiago, and takes her blood. I know that I’ve been riskier than her, so I’m pretty sure that she is fine… but I still let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding when the doctor tells her she’s negative.

We walk back through the waiting room into the hallway, giddy with relief. “Let’s wait for Charlotte and Sorrento,” Santiago says, gesturing towards the window that shows who is still waiting.

I nod. “Of course.”

A few moments later, Charlotte walks out. “Negative.”

“Thank goodness!” I hug her. “Santiago is just waiting for Sorrento, and then we can–” I stop when I see Claire over Charlotte’s shoulder. She’s walking slowly, looking dazed.

“Claire?” I ask. She looks up, and her face immediately crumples. Oh, no. I embrace her. “Oh, honey.” I stroke her hair. “It will be okay. We’ll take care of you. We all will.” I step back and Charlotte and Santiago also hug her, trying to sound reassuring.

Charlotte walks Claire back towards the party while I wait with Santiago for Sorrento. When he finally comes out, we look at him expectantly. He starts talking about something else when Santiago interrupts him. “So are you…”

He hesitates for a few seconds. “Oh! Yeah, I’m fine,” he says, shaking his head. “Negative.” I turn away to roll my eyes at his nonchalance.

No Escape From Death

I honestly don’t remember a lot about the morning after of 1983. It’s pretty hazy. I remember the ominous music, and I remember the Agents of Death demanding thirteen names instead of ten this time. I remember giving them three tickets again, especially since I’d been unprotected not only with women, but with men. I remember holding my breath as I listened to Pepper calling out people’s names. More than half of them were people that I knew and had recently interacted with in some way: Evelyn, Pen, Enrique, Mr T, Steven, Ruben, Abner, Trevor, Nick, Walter, Claire, Max… and Kimberly.

I remember my shock when I hear Kimberly’s name called, and my denial. There’s no way she’s going to die, I thought. She’s part of my group, one of my girls. I’m going to go down to the funeral field and she’s going to be fine. I think I really believed that, too… right up until I saw her laying in her coffin.

I remember waiting as the music continued playing, the only sounds in the room sobs and people shuffling about as they hugged and consoled each other. I remember the feeling of suspense as I wait for the Agents to come back and escort us down to the field where we would learn who passed. I remember the feeling of dread as I pause to peek into each coffin. The first one I stop at is Abner’s. I barely knew him, but he was a friend of Santiago’s, and I’d recently chatted with him about the possibility of including one of his poems in the Times alongside Sinclair’s interview.

I fling a flower onto his chest angrily. “Fuck you, Abner. And I’m still going to print your–” my voice cracks, “–stupid poem.”

I know before I even get there. Kimberly is nowhere to be found… she’s in one of these other caskets. I find her just behind Abner’s and look down for a moment, sobbing. I place a flower gently on her unmoving chest. “You fucking moron!” I gasp out between sobs. “I told you to be careful!” I am crying so hard that I can barely get the words out. But… it doesn’t matter.

The Agents call us back to begin the funeral. The Angel of Death stands before us once again. “We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Trevor.” It’s the same as last year: people hugging and sobbing. “We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Abner.” Grief, fear, determination, anger, sadness… all are present. “And we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Kimberly.” As tears stream down my face, all of my emotions war for dominance.

I wonder which one is going to win.

A Helping Hand

Back at the main lodge, I get another drink and look around for Santiago. “Maria!” I call out to the dance floor. A few heads swivel to look at me questioningly. “Maria!” I yell louder, more insistently. I get a few more funny looks, but no Santiago. Where is my girlfriend? I go out the back door and down the steps. “MARIA!” I yell, slurring slightly. Several people are staring at me now, but I don’t notice. “I’m gonna go find Maria,” I announce to no one in particular. Drink in hand, I leave the main lodge.

I am sooo drunk, I think. So what if I’m drunk as a skunk? I reason with myself. Hell, it’s a party – I deserve to relax! I meander around the campground for a bit, first peeking into the Pillow Room and then into the Darkroom, looking for something interesting to watch. The Darkroom is full of men, so I head back outside. I stumble slightly, pitching forward.

Unexpectedly, there is a voice at my side. “Whoa, you okay there?” I turn to see Barbara holding my elbow.

I stumble slightly again and turn towards her. “Hi.”

“Hey, Katherine,” she says, sounding slightly concerned. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” I wrap my arms around her neck. I am trying to lean in seductively, but in reality I am just leaning on her drunkenly. “I like fucking. Wanna fuck?”

She raises an eyebrow and chuckles incredulously. “Do I want to fuck? Um, remember last year?”

I pause. “Yeah,” I lie, having no idea what she was referring to.

“You fucked Claire. Remember? She was my girlfriend.”

“Oh,” I say. “Yeah. Well…” I pause. “You should fuck me, then. It will be good revenge.” I grin.

“Oh it will, will it?” She doesn’t sound convinced, but also doesn’t look uninterested.

“Yeah. It will make Claire jealous,” I assure her.

“Uh huh,” she answers. But she doesn’t push me away.

“Bathroom,” I say. She lets me lean on her, stumbling drunkenly toward the bathrooms.

“Anyone in here?” I call when we enter. There is only silence.

We grab a bench just outside the showers. Barbara wraps her arms around me from behind and pushes me up against the wall, lifting up my shirt and mauling my breasts aggressively. I moan appreciatively and push my hips back towards her.

She slips one finger easily inside me, then two, then three. I moan and gyrate, bracing myself against the cold wall. I hear the bathroom door open and see someone gaping out of the corner of my eye, but I don’t care. Feeling an intense pressure, I look down and realize that all I can see is her wrist. “Oh, God!” I cry out. I shudder against her as I cum.

After I’ve relaxed, she gently eases her hand back out. I sigh contentedly. “That was good. Thanks.”

Drama in the Darkroom

I head back towards the Darkroom, where the crowd outside seems to gotten larger, to find out what I’ve missed. Before I get there, I hear a shriek of “What the fuck!?” and lots of commotion. When I arrive, I survey the scene in front of me: Claire is at the front of the crowd, tied to a cross and shaking slightly, and Sam is holding her. (I don’t know Sam, but I’ve heard stories: she’s Santiago’s ex, and she’s a troublemaker. I generally tend to steer clear of her.) Barbara, Claire’s girlfriend, is stalking away angrily. “Untie me!” Claire demands hysterically. Sam obliges, and Claire collapses in her arms. After a moment or two, Claire takes off, presumably to look for Barbara.

Steven is standing at the door to the Darkroom. He holds up his hands for silence, and the crowd obeys. “This was a contest for the women to prove that they are just as tough as men. Today, the women have shown us what they can do. Chain, take down that sign.” Chain removes the “MEN ONLY” sign from the door to the Darkroom and hands it to Steven. “From now on,” Steven continues, “women will be welcomed in our space.” He rips the sign in half symbolically. There are whoops and hollers all around.

Hmmm… interesting. I make a mental note of this, and then head back to the main lodge with the others for the drag show.

Challenge Accepted

I sidle up to where Santiago is chatting with some people and nudge her. “Am I glowing?” I ask in a low voice.

She glances up and studies my face for a moment, then exclaims an incredulous, “Already!?” I laugh. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear she sounded jealous.

Still gloating, I saunter off, scoping out the rest of the party-goers. After a few moments, I spot Nick, a former co-worker from the Times.

“Hey, Katherine!” he says.

“Nick! So good to see you! What are you up to these days?” We make small talk for a few moments. I’m barely listening as we make niceties; years of my grandmother throwing parties for New York’s wealthiest has helped me perfect the art of pretending to be engaged when I’m not really all that interested. He tells me about some magazine he’s working for, how it’s been hard to get funding, etc. I nod and smile pleasantly, throwing in an occasional “hmm,” or “uh huh” in all the right places.

“What would really help is if I could get an interview with Sinclair,” Nick continues.

That gets my attention. “With Sinclair?” I glance over and notice that, much like a bloodhound, Claire seems to have found her way back to him. From the look on his face, she is grilling him once again. “Huh. Well, let’s go talk to him. I’ll introduce you.”

Nick’s eyes go wide. “Really?” he gasps. “That would be amazing!”

“Sure, come on,” I said, heading over towards where Sinclair is standing. “He’d probably love to help you out.”

I lead Nick over to Sinclair. “Sinclair, have you met Nick? He used to work with me at the Times.” The men shake hands, and Nick launches into his pitch. I space out a bit, scanning the rest of the party, cataloguing faces both new and old. I snap back to the conversation when I realize Sinclair is shaking his head uncomfortably.

“Out Magazine? I’m not sure that’s such a good idea…” Oh. Shit. I’d heard of it, it was a gay-centered magazine. Whoops. Perhaps my listening-without-listening skills aren’t as good as I’d thought.

“Perhaps the Times would be a better platform for this interview,” I interrupt. Sinclair nods in relief, agreeing with me. I see Terrence out of the corner of my eye. I should go say hello, I think. I clap a hand on Sinclair’s shoulder before I amble off. “I’m sure you guys can figure something out, though.”

“Terrence!”

“Katherine!” He kisses my cheek.

“Excellent party, as always! But, poor Sinclair. That Claire girl is badgering him and threatening to out him to his wife. We should do something.” I lean in conspiratorially. “Blackmail, perhaps? Do you have any dirt on her?”

Terrence shakes his head. “We’re not gonna blackmail her. Look, it’s fine. I’m the one who told her.”

My mouth drops open. “What?? Why would you–”

He cuts me off. “It’s fine. She needed to know. Don’t worry about it, it will all be fine!” He pats my shoulder condescendingly and walks off.

I watch him walk off, shaking my head in disbelief. “I hate it when he treats me like his stupid kid sister,” I mutter aloud to myself.

I make my way back to my friends, who are chatting with Morgan. Morgan is a feisty woman who comes off as a bit rough. She’s loud, she says what’s on her mind, and she knows how to get what she wants. I like her. But I am not really listening to the conversation; I’m already scanning the crowd for new prey. Claire was just too easy.

“Who’s that girl in the copper skirt?” I asked.

Morgan glances over and laughs. “Oh, good luck with that one – that’s Evelyn. She’s Chain’s sister, and she’s straight. Part of the Saratoga crowd.”

My eyes linger. “Straight, huh? Are you sure?”

Morgan laughs again. “Katherine, there’s your challenge for tonight,” she teases. “I’d love to see you try to seduce Evelyn.” Santiago and Charlotte look amused. Welp. I never could resist a challenge.

“I accept!”

Sin: Claire

I stand in a cluster with Santiago, Charlotte, and Kimberly, looking around as the opening ceremonies begin. As per usual, people have gathered into their little cliques. But last year, people had started to mingle more. Not only the usual cliques, but Terrence’s crowd and the Saratoga hippies had also begun to mix as we became more comfortable with each other. I survey the crowd and wonder what kind of trouble I should get up to first. As Dolly croons the last few notes of the Star Spangled banner, Terrence hands an American flag to Steven, one of the leather daddies, who mounts it to the flagpole.

As the flag rises up to sway in the breeze, Terrence greets us. “Welcome back to the party everyone! And thanks for coming out this year! I don’t know all of you nearly as well as I should, but I’m sure we’ll fix that before the end of the night.” He pauses and smiles devilishly at the knowing laughter from the crowd. “Anyway! Take care of each other, and clean up after yourselves. I’m not your daddy; if you want that, talk to Steven.” The laughter is louder and more appreciative this time, and there’s a smattering of applause.

Within the first ten minutes or so, I’ve got my sights set on Claire. She’s a hot young thing, and seems to be engrossed in conversation with my friend Sinclair Everett.

“Well, that’s not good,” Santiago is saying.

“What’s not good?” Kimberly asks.

Charlotte motions toward Claire and Sinclair. “That,” she says. “Sinclair is running for Congress, and Claire is his campaign manager. And she had no idea he was going to be here.”

“Oh. Sounds awkward,” says Kimberly, not sounding concerned at all.

Due to his political career, Sinclair is extremely closeted. He’s been married to his wife Mary for over ten years, and they have two adorable children. I’m not surprised that he didn’t tell his campaign manager that he was planning on going to Mr T’s “Big Gay 4th of July Party.” I glance over, and both are gesturing and looking upset.

Charlotte, Kimberly, and Santiago are still gossiping when I smile slyly and say, “I’ll take care of this.”

“I’m your campaign manager. I need you to trust me to act in your best–” Claire stops speaking as I approach.

“Darling!” I kiss Sinclair’s cheek. “So good to see you! And who’s your friend?”

“Katherine, this is Claire, my campaign manager. Claire, this is Katherine, a good friend of mine. She works for the Times.”

“For the Times? That sounds exciting,” Claire says eagerly, taking my outstretched hand. I look her up and down a little and hold her hand a little longer than is absolutely necessary. She flushes slightly.

“Yes, it is. I love my job, and I’d love to tell you allll about it. May I buy you a drink?” I ask, holding my arm out in the direction of the main cabin where Terrence has set up a bar and hired a bartender for the weekend.

She pauses, glancing at Sinclair. “Well… we were just talking about our next moves, and–”

“Oh, come on,” I protest. “It’s a party! You can talk shop anytime!”

“I guess one drink can’t hurt,” she relents. I smile brightly and place my hand on the small of her back, gently steering her toward the bar. I squeeze Sinclair’s shoulder reassuringly as I lead Claire away, and he mouths a silent ‘Thank you.

When we get to the bar, I survey the items quickly. “Whatever the lady wants, and a beer for me,” I tell Tony. “Put it on my tab.” I smile at Claire again, a predatory glint in my eye. We make small talk for a few moments before I casually place a hand on her waist and gesture outside with my chin. I am pleased when she nods without hesitation.

As I lead her back outside we run into a butch-looking woman. “Hey, Claire – what are you up to?” she asks.

“Hi, honey,” Claire says. “This is Katherine. Sinclair introduced us; she works for the Times. Katherine, this is Barbara, my girlfriend.”

“We were just talking about setting up an interview for a future issue. I don’t want to to bore you; you should go have some fun. I’ll be back soon,” Claire says smoothly.

Barbara smiles and waves us off with a laughing, “Don’t work too hard, this is a party!” but there’s a small shadow of doubt in her eyes.

I smile innocently. “Nice to meet you, Barbara!”

Claire and I continue on down the path for a bit when I spy a small clump of trees just out of view of any would-be onlookers. I stroll over casually, and she follows me. Once I’m satisfied that no one can see, I push her up against a tree and kiss her aggressively as my hands explore her body. Her skin is soft and smooth. I nibble her neck and push her shirt up, pinching and rolling her nipples. She gasps softly.

“Shhh,” I whisper in her ear, and bend down to take a nipple in my mouth. My left hand trails up her inner thigh as my right hand remains on her breast. She lets out a little whimper as I push her skirt out of the way. I grin devilishly at discovering just how wet she is. I cover her mouth with my own as I penetrate her, muffling her cries. It doesn’t take long for her to cum, her hips bucking against my hand as I fuck her hard.

“Holy fuck,” she says. “I needed that.”

I raise an eyebrow. “We’re not done yet.”

We switch places, and I hitch my skirt up around my hips before leaning back against the tree trunk. My dress is thin and the bark is itchy against my back, but I stop noticing when her fingers find my clit. “Yesssss,” I hiss. I rest my hands on her shoulders, and my nails involuntarily dig in as I get closer and closer to orgasm. I hold my breath as I cum in an effort to keep quiet, but a cry still manages to escape my lips.

After I catch my breath, we start to get dressed and straighten our clothing.

“I should, uhh, get back to Barbara,” says Claire awkwardly.

“Yeah, no problem,” I say easily. “This was fun. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

We come out from the clump of trees together and walk back over to the party. “Do you see– oh, nevermind, there she is.” Claire heads over to Barbara who is standing nearby. I see Barbara staring daggers at me out of the corner of my eye, but I ignore her.