Beth’s Little Secret Ch. 19

Amateur

Being back on days, studying as well as spending time on the ward, seemed more tiring somehow than nights. We missed the interludes with — or without — Tim in the break room, and the times overnight when Beth and I could tease one another and imagine. But the upside was always coming home to whatever Tim had cooked for us, then at the very least a cuddle, usually more, before the three of us drifted off to sleep, tangled up in one another in our big bed.

Liz and Claire were suitably impressed with my ring — “That’s what I like, a man who doesn’t hang about,” nodded Claire — and they approved of our honeymoon plans. “You sure you wouldn’t be tempted to slide in for a cuddle, though, Beth?” Liz teased, glancing at Claire — I managed not to look startled, and wondered if the two of them might be more than just the good friends we’d assumed.

Finally Saturday came round again, and we had an unashamedly lazy morning. “Good job I got all the housework done in between,” Tim teased.

“And we’re really grateful,” I nodded, kissing him. “Right, Beth?”

A kiss from her too. “So we should treat you somehow in return.”

I grinned, pretending to roll my eyes. “I know what that usually means.”

“Hey,” Tim protested with a chuckle. “I’m sure you two can think of a treat where we all keep our clothes on.”

“We accept the challenge,” smiled Beth. “Ideas, Alice?”

“How about a play or something? I think they sometimes do open air Shakespeare at that garden place.”

“Mm, yes.” Beth pulled out her phone. “They have The Merchant of Venice on this afternoon.”

A quick shower and a detour to McDonalds for lunch, and we were on our way to the gardens. “I hope they have tickets left,” Beth crossed her fingers.

There was a ticket booth at the entrance — “These are literally the last three seats,” the girl behind the counter told us — and we parked, then made our way to the grassy area in front of the temporary platform.

The first three actors stepped onto the stage and began their dialogue. I listened intently, trying to follow the archaic language, but their talk of trade and sailing didn’t catch my imagination. Then Bassanio entered the conversation — ‘In Belmont is a lady richly left; and she is fair’– and I threw Beth a grin. “That’s what this is really about, right?”

The other actors left the stage, and two young women entered. “I feel sorry for Portia,” Beth whispered, “having to do what her father’s will said.’

I nodded. “But it’s a good, what do they call it, plot device — the caskets, and the list of awful suitors. Everybody knows that the hero gets the girl, so they can just enjoy how it works out, and the tension when it seems like it’s all going wrong. Like a Mills and Boon.”

Beth pretended to be horrified. “You can’t say that,” she grinned. “This is the greatest playwright in the English language…”

We turned back to the dialogue, listening to the conversation between Bassanio, Shylock and Antonio. “This is a bit confusing,” admitted Tim. “Maybe I ought to dig out Grandad’s old Bible.”

“The main thing is the pound of flesh, though,” ventured Beth.

The action moved back to Portia’s attempt to shake off her suitors, and I looked puzzled. “There seems to be a lot of blood in this — doesn’t it have later, if you prick us, do we not bleed?”

Beth nodded. “And a lot about race, too — the Moroccan is black, but Portia says there’s at least as much chance she’d love him as she might the others, if she was free to choose.”

We chuckled at the exchange between Launcelot and Gobbo — “There’s always some part that’s just supposed to be funny, like the Mechanicals,” supplied Beth — then the scene moved on to Jessica’s intention to elope with Lorenzo. “Still keeping up?” grinned Tim.

Eventually the scene moved back to Portia’s Escort house, and the detail of the caskets and their inscriptions. We held our breath, then Beth gave a sigh of relief as the Moroccan chose the wrong casket. “Oh, that’s where it comes from,” I ventured, “all that glitters is not gold.”

Beth leaned forward. “Did the prince of Arragon really say that? That all the suitors had to swear not ever to marry if they picked the wrong casket? Wow.”

“Look,” I touched her shoulder. “It’s Bassanio’s turn.”

Beth nodded. “Oh, listen, he mentions India — it must have been like, I don’t know, travelling to Mars in those days, and the people so strange, almost alien. ‘The beauteous scarf, veiling an Indian beauty’ — I think he means she was dangerous, maybe in an erotic sense.”

“That’s what the East India Company ended up thinking,” agreed Tim. “Didn’t they eventually ban their employees from liaisons or marriages with the locals?”

“The only liaisons you’d better be thinking about are with your two concubines,” teased Beth. “But we promise to make it worth your while if you buy us enough jewels.”

“Shh,” I breathed, “Bassanio’s about to choose.”

“Oh, wow,” breathed Beth. “The right casket, with Portia’s picture in it. If this is a Mills and Boon, this is definitely the part where you think it’s the happy ending, before it all goes wrong and they’re torn apart again.”

Bassanio read from the scroll — “Turn you where your lady is, and claim her with a loving kiss,” and I felt unmistakeable tears prick at my eyes as he did just that. “I know it’s a bit old-fashioned, but she really means it when she gives herself and everything she has to him.”

Beth chuckled. “Want to write that into your wedding vows?”

She looked thoughtful. “Shakespeare swaps things around — he makes her give Bassanio a ring as a promise. Maybe you could get Tim something, too, Alice?”

“Mm, great idea.”

Salerio entered the stage carrying a letter, and Beth leaned over to whisper. “This is where the bad stuff starts to happen, because Bassanio has stood security for Antonio’s loan.”

I nodded. “But see how Portia loves him already — she says, whatever good or trouble comes in the letter, half is hers because she’s his.”

I glanced at Tim, and brushed at my cheek. “Damn, I hope I can love him like that.”

“We will,” promised Beth, daring a quick kiss at the track of my tears, and I grinned. “You said that right, Beth.”

“Oh, I love that line,” she exclaimed. “For never shall you lie by Portia’s side, with an unquiet soul… The thing she most wants him to feel, is peace.”

The play moved on, and Beth threw me a grin. “This is the really cool part — where the two girls dress up as men and pretend to be lawyers, to rescue Antonio. And they come up with something really clever, that even Shylock has to concede to.”

“Don’t tell me.” I put a finger to her lips, and Beth kissed it. “OK, I’ll let it be a surprise.”

Portia and Nerissa entered with entirely unconvincing mascara moustaches, and began their legal arguments. “Oh,” breathed Beth, “this is the really famous speech.”

We listened, hushed, to Portia as she described the quality of mercy. “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

“Oh, we’re back to blood again,” I blinked. “Have I got this right? They win, because the contract doesn’t say Shylock can have any blood, and he can’t take a pound of flesh without shedding any.”

“That’s right,” nodded Beth. “The bit afterwards is one of the parts that people don’t like, though — they blackmail Shylock into converting to Christianity, forfeiting half his money, leaving the rest to his daughter who’s married a Christian.”

I listened Escort Bayan to the dialogue between Portia — still in disguise as the male lawyer — and Bassanio, she convincing him to part with the ring she’d given him as payment. “So then Portia and her maid make their lovers squirm as they make them admit they’ve both given their rings away.”

“Even though of course they’ve got them themselves,” nodded Beth. She grinned at Tim, wrapped up in the play. “Maybe we can work out a trick like that to wind him up.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “Now the girls are pretending the rings were given to them as a reward for sleeping with two other guys — did that really happen?”

“No,” laughed Beth. “They mean the men they were each pretending to be. But Shakespeare loves to play with sex, and swap gender about, doesn’t he.”

She smiled. “And here’s the happy ending — Antonio’s ships have come safely to harbour, he’s rich again, the girls have forgiven their men.”

The actors took their bow to enthusiastic applause, and I grinned at Beth. “I enjoyed that. Now, did you say something about getting Tim a ring…?”

She nodded. “Tim, can we stop off in town?”

“Sure.”

We parked in the multi-storey, and walked back to the precinct. “There,” Beth pointed towards an old-fashioned jeweller’s. “They’re bound to have something.”

We went inside, and the grey-haired jeweller looked up, taking the loupe out of his eye. “How can I help you?”

I glanced at Beth. “We’re looking for a man’s ring — not a wedding ring, but something special, the sort of gift a girl would give her fiancé?”

The jeweller thought for a moment. “Are you looking for something modern, or perhaps a little more classic?”

“Oh, definitely classic,” I nodded. “I’m not really keen on titanium, anything like that.”

He smiled. “The reason I ask is that we have some pre-owned rings, some of them from as long ago as the 1920’s, fully cleaned and restored of course. Perhaps one of those will catch your eye.”

He reached under the counter, producing a tray, and I heard Beth breathe in. “Oh, they’re gorgeous.”

She gently touched a ring in an Art Deco style. “I love the pattern on this one.”

I glanced at Tim. “Want to try it on?”

He held out his hand, and Beth slid the ring onto his finger, a perfect fit. “Oh, yes, that really suits you,” she said.

I looked again at the tray. “This smaller one seems to be the same pattern?”

“That’s right,” the jeweller nodded. “We were fortunate to get them, not many were made.”

I looked at Beth, then at the ring, and she shook her head, puzzled. “What are you thinking, Alice?”

“I’m thinking that you should try this one on, as well.”

Beth’s eyes were wide, but she held out her hand, and it was my turn to slide the ring into place. “OK?”

She turned her hand this way and that. “It’s lovely, but…”

“No buts,” Tim chuckled. “Sometimes we just have to go with what comes along.”

He produced his card for the jeweller to swipe. “Thank you so much — and we’ll definitely be back to choose wedding rings.”

Beth seemed a little dazed as we walked back to the car. “Wow — I wasn’t expecting –“

Tim chuckled again. “How do the old words go? ‘By the giving and receiving of rings’ — I think we’ve found our own take on that, don’t you?”

When we got back to the flat, of course we undressed as usual, but we all kept our rings on. “Anybody hungry?” Tim queried, getting definite nods from both of us. “There’s pizza in the freezer, it’ll just take a few minutes.”

When we’d eaten, Beth stretched, yawning. “I know we can sleep in again tomorrow, but I’m shattered — anybody mind if I turn in?”

“We won’t be far behind you,” I promised.

I watched Beth go, then sprawled more comfortably Bayan Escort on the sofa. “Did you enjoy your treat?”

Tim nodded. “Very educational — I could hear some of what you and Beth were saying.”

He glanced at me, smiling. “But treats where we lose our clothes are still my favourite.”

“Mm, know what you mean.”

Tim leaned over to kiss me. “If we make it up to Beth tomorrow, do you think she’ll mind if…?”

I chuckled softly. “Well, we are engaged, after all — even if your ring matches hers, not mine.”

Tim raised his eyebrows. “Always good to keep people guessing.”

He kissed me again, and I felt his hand stroking my side softly, then moving up to touch the curve of my breast, cupping it in his fingers. “Alice, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”

“Well, this is the first time we’ve been together properly without Beth…?”

“Mmhm.”

He hesitated, looking almost lost, like a little boy. “Have you — have you minded?”

I touched his cheek. “Of course not, love. Beth is the kindest, most thoughtful person.” I grinned. “And also the most passionate, creative lover.”

He opened his mouth to speak again, and I put a finger to his lips. “Well, equal first with you, anyway,” I teased.

I smiled. “Have you forgotten how I got into this? Because I needed both of you to show me what I really wanted. And what I want is the two of you — mostly together — god, when you’re both touching me –”

I took a deep breath. “But sometimes it’ll be nice with just you, and sometimes with Beth. And if you need me to take a nap once in a while so you two can… well, that’s fine too.”

I chuckled. “I have a confession, anyway — Beth and I have already talked about this, so I know she feels just the same.”

I put my hand over his on my breast. “So carry on with what you were doing…”

I reached down to touch his hardness. “Do you just want to go straight inside me? I’m more than ready.”

Tim’s quiet gasp was answer enough, and I slid out of his arms. “Let’s try something? You stay sitting, and I’ll…”

I turned my back on him, lowering my hips toward his lap until I felt his tip touching my entrance, drawing another murmur of pleasure from Tim. He let his thighs move apart, and I had the delicious sensation of him sliding into me all the way. “Mmm…”

I reached my arms behind me to wrap around him, my breasts exposed, and Tim didn’t disappoint, his hands sliding to cup me. “Oh, this is amazing,” he whispered. “Just wish I could see what we look like.”

I nodded. “At the weekend we’ll definitely put the mirror up at the end of the bed.”

I chuckled softly. “I know Beth’s gone to sleep, but how would it be if she reappeared, knelt in front of us, started to use her mouth on me while you thrust in me…?”

“Mmm…” breathed Tim, “we’ll just have to improvise.”

He slid one hand down between my thighs, splaying his fingers to feel his hardness moving in me, then drifted fingertips to touch my nub. “Oh god,” I gasped, “yes.”

His other hand was still on my breasts, and I heard the smile in his voice. “One day soon I’m definitely going to see if I can make you come just by touching your nipples, like Beth did.”

I nodded. “Mm — oh — but what you’re doing with your fingers — I’m –“

I couldn’t help arching my back, nearly losing Tim from inside me as my hips flexed, a spurt of clear liquid arching to splash on the rug. “Oops,” I murmured, “wasn’t that what happened the last time I came on the sofa?”

Tim chuckled. “Think so.”

I felt him slide back into me. “Oh, yes, your turn,” I breathed.

He started to move, his hips pressing against my bottom, his hands on my breasts, and I felt him kissing my hair, the back of my neck. “Mm — Alice — I love you…”

“I love you too.” I felt him stiffen in me, then push hard once, again, and the delicious sensation of warmth spurting into my depths. Tim’s arms wrapped around my waist, and he buried his face in my hair, his breath warm on my skin. “Thank you, darling…”

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