What If It’s…

This is slightly out of order in terms of when it happened for the players, but makes sense to be discussed here in terms of Katherine’s timeline: I wanted a Black Box scene to show how Katherine’s friends and family would react to her near-death experience.

I lay in bed, coughing uncontrollably. Santiago, Charlotte, my little brother Artie, and Sinclair are gathered in my bedroom. Artie is holding a cool washcloth to my fevered brow.

“So cold,” I mumble. “Why is it so cold in here?”

Artie calls to the others, “Can we get some extra blankets?” Santiago gently lays another comforter over me.

After a moment, I throw them off. “Too hot.” A moment later, I start shivering again.

Artie covers me with the blankets again and takes a step away from the bed. “She’s burning up,” he murmurs. “Cold sweats. We have to do something.”

I can hear Sinclair on the phone, giving a list of my symptoms. He sounds tense. “That’s right. Swollen lymph nodes, fever, cold sweats, and she can’t keep anything down. … No, no rash or lesions. ” His voice quickly gets louder and turns angry. “What do you mean, you can’t see her? Don’t you know who I am?!” he yells into the phone. This is the third or fourth hospital he’s called.

Charlotte yanks the receiver from his hand. “You can’t do this! You have to treat her! This is discrimination!” She launches into a tirade of legalese and then stops abruptly. “They hung up,” she says quietly. I hear a chorus of sighs.

Artie mops my brow again. His image becomes fuzzy. All of a sudden, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am dying. “Daddy?” I whisper weakly. He hovers over me, looking concerned. I reach out to clutch his hand and see a female figure just to his left. “Mommy?” My mother backs away from the bed as I reach for her. I look at my father, confused, and his face morphs back into Artie’s. I glance up and see Charlotte staring at me, horrified. I convulse as another coughing fit takes wracks my body.

“Isn’t there anyone else we can call?” Charlotte says desperately. Santiago sighs heavily, and the others turn to look at her.

“What?” Sinclair asks her.

“…Enrique” she answers. “He’s a med student. He might be able to help.” Sinclair hands her the phone without another word. She takes the phone and dials a number.

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.