The Outside Edge
Previously published in Girl Crazy, edited by Sacchi Green, published by Cleis Press (2009)
Suli was fire and wine, gold and scarlet, lighting up the dim passageway where we waited.
I leaned closer to adjust her Spanish tortoiseshell comb. A cascade of dark curls brushed my face, shooting sparks all the way down to my toes, but even a swift, tender kiss on her neck would be too risky. I might not be able to resist pressing hard enough to leave a dramatic visual effect the TV cameras couldn’t miss.
Tenderness wasn’t what she needed right now, and neither was passion. An edgy outlet for nervous energy would be more like it. “Skate a clean program,” I murmured in her ear, “and maybe I’ll let you get dirty tonight.” My arm across her shoulders might have looked locker-room casual, but the look she shot me had nothing to do with team spirit.
“Maybe, Jude? You think maybe you’ll let me?” She tossed her head. Smoldering eyes, made even brighter and larger by theatrical makeup, told me that I’d need to eat my words later before my mouth could move on to anything more appealing.
The other pairs were already warming up. Suli followed Tim into the arena, her short scarlet skirt flipping up oh-so-accidentally to reveal her firm, sweet ass. She wriggled, daring me to give it an encouraging slap, knowing all too well what the rear view of a scantily clad girl does for me.
I followed into the stadium and watched the action from just outside the barrier. As Suli and Tim moved onto the ice, the general uproar intensified. Their groupies had staked a claim near one end, and a small cadre of my own fans were camped out nearby, having figured out over the competition season that something was up between us. Either they’d done some discreet stalking, or relied on the same gaydar that had told them so much about me even before I’d fully understood it myself. Probably both.
Being gay wasn’t, in itself, a career-buster these days. Sure, the rumormongers were eternally speculating about the men in their sequined outfits, but the skating community was united in a compact never to tell, and the media agreed tacitly never to ask. A rumor of girl-on-girl sex would probably do nothing more than inspire some fan fiction in certain blogging communities. That didn’t mean there weren’t still lines you couldn’t cross in public, especially in performance—lines I was determined, with increasing urgency, to cross once and for all.
But I didn’t want to bring Suli down if I fell. That discussion was something we kept avoiding, and whenever I tried to edge toward it she’d distract me in ways I couldn’t resist.
Suli’s the best, I thought now in the stadium, watching her practice faultless jumps with Tim. You’d never guess what she’d been doing last night with me, while the other skaters were preparing for the performance of their lives with more restful rituals. She’d already set records in pairs skating, and next year, at my urging, she was going to go solo. It was a good thing I wouldn’t be competing against her.
I won’t be competing against anybody, I thought, my mind wandering as the warm-up period dragged on.
It had taken me long enough to work it out, focusing on my skating for so many years, but the more I appreciated the female curves inside those scanty, seductive costumes, the less comfortable I was wearing them. Cute girls in skimpy outfits were just fine with me—bodies arched in laybacks, or racing backward, glutes tensed and pumping, filmy fabric fluttering in the breeze like flower petals waving to the hungry bees—but I’d rather see than be one.
I’d have quit mainstream competition if they hadn’t changed the rules to allow long-legged “unitards” instead of dresses. That concession wasn’t enough to make me feel really comfortable, though, and I knew my coach was right that some judges would hold it against me if I didn’t wear a skirt at least once in a while. This year I’d alternated animal-striped unitards with a Scottish outfit just long enough to preserve the mystery of what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, assuming that he isn’t doing much in the way of spins or jumps or spirals. I knew this for certain, having experimented in solitary practice with my own sturdy six inches of silicon pride.
So why not just switch to the Gay Games? Or follow Rudy Galindo and Surya Bonaly to guest appearances on SkateOut’s Cabaret on Ice?
If you have a shot at the Olympics, the Olympics are where you go, that’s why. Or so I’d thought. But I was only in fifth place after the short program—maybe one or two of the judges weren’t that keen on bagpipe music—and a medal was too long a shot now.
I knew, deep down, what the problem was. Johanna, the coach we shared, had urged me to study Suli’s style in hopes that some notion of elegance and grace might sink into my thick head. Suli had generously agreed to try to give me at least a trace of an artistic clue. But the closer we became, the more I’d rebelled against faking a feminine grace and elegance that were so naturally hers, and so unnatural for me.
This would be my last competition, no matter what. Maybe I’d get a pro gig with a major ice show, maybe I wouldn’t. If I did, it would be on my own terms. “As God is my witness, I’ll never be girlie again!” I’d proclaimed melodramatically to Suli last night.
“Works just fine for me,” she’d said, kneeling with serene poise to take my experimental six inches between her glossy, carmined lips and deep into her velvet throat.
Ten minutes later, serenity long gone, I stood braced against the edge of the bed and bore her weight while she clamped her thighs around my hips and her cunt around my pride, locked her hands behind my neck, and rode me with fierce, pounding joy. I dug my fingers into her ass cheeks to steady her, and to add to the driving force of her lunges. Small naked breasts slapped against mine on each forward stroke. When I could catch one succulent nipple in my mouth her cries would rise to a shriller pitch, but then she’d jerk roughly away to get more leverage for each thrust.
My body ached with strain and arousal and the friction of the harness. My mind was a blur of fantasies. Whirling in the arena, my skates carving spirals into the ice, her dark hair lifting in the wind…
“Spin me!” Suli suddenly arched her upper body into a layback position, arms no longer gripping me but raised into a pleading curve. Adrenaline, muscles, willpower; none of it was enough now. Only speed could keep us balanced. I stepped back from the bed and spun in place, swinging her in one wide circle, then another, tension hammering through my clit hard enough to counter the burn of the leather gouging my flesh.
Suli’s voice whipped around us, streaming free as her hair. I held on, battling gravity, riding the waves of her cries, until, as they crested, the grip of her legs around me began to slip. In two lurching steps I had her above the bed again, and in another second she was on the sheets. I pressed on until her breathing began to slow, then covered her tender breasts and mouth with a storm of kisses close to bites until I had to arch back and pump and grind my way to a noisy release of my own.
When we’d sprawled together in delirious exhaustion long enough for our panting to ease, I raised up to gaze at her. The world-famous princess of poise and grace lay tangled in her own wild hair, lips swollen, skin streaked with sweat, and most likely bruised in places where the TV cameras had better not reach.
“And you lectured me about never jumping without knowing exactly where I was going to land!” I said. “How did you know I wouldn’t drop you?”
“Aren’t you always bugging me to let you try lifts?” she countered drowsily. “You’ve spun me before, on the ice; you’re tall and strong enough.” She rolled over on top of me and murmured into the hollow of my throat, “Anyway, I did know where I was going to land. And I knew that you’d get me there. You always do.” Then her head slumped onto my shoulder and her body slid down to nestle in the protective curve of mine. In seconds she was asleep.
I always will, I mouthed silently, but couldn’t say it aloud. Giving way to tenderness, to emotions deeper than the pyrotechnics of sex, was more risk than I could handle. Wherever I was going to land, she belonged somewhere better. How am I going to bear it? How can we still be together?
I shook my head to clear it. Suli and Tim were gliding with the rest of the competitors toward the edge of the ice and I realized suddenly that it was time to take my seat in the stands. The final grouping of the pairs long program was about to get underway.
Suli and Tim skated third, to music from Bizet’s Carmen. Somebody always skates to Carmen, but no one ever played the part better than Suli. The dramatic theme of love and betrayal was a perfect setting for her, and today the passionate beat of the “Habanera” was a perfect match for my jealous mood.
Watching Tim with Suli on the ice always drove me crazy. When his hand slid from the small of her back to her hip I wanted to lunge and chew it off at the wrist. His boyfriend Thor, a speed skater with massively muscled thighs, would have been highly displeased by that, so it was just as well that I resisted the impulse.
It wasn’t really the way Tim touched Suli that burned me. Well, okay, maybe it was, with every nuance of the traditional lifts and holds pulsing with erotic innuendo. Still, my hands knew her needs far better than he ever could, or cared to. But he was allowed to do it publicly, artistically, acting out scenarios of fiery love—and I wasn’t. Knowing that the delectable ass cheeks filling the taut scarlet seat of her costume bore bruises in the shapes of my fingers was only small comfort.
His other hand rested lightly on her waist as they whirled across the ice. Any second—in six more beats—she would jump, and with simultaneous precision he would lift, and throw… Now! For all the times I’d seen it, my breath still caught. Suli twisted impossibly high into the air, and far out…out…across the ice…
Yes! Throw triple axel! A perfect one-footed landing flowing into a smooth, graceful follow-through, then up into a double loop side by side with Tim in clockwork synchronicity.
It was the best. The audience knew it, the judges knew it. I knew it, and admiration nearly won out over envy when Tim lifted Suli high overhead, her legs spread wide, in the ultimate hand-in-crotch position known as The Helicopter. Envy surged back. Her crotch would be damp with sweat and excitement, not the kind I could draw from her, but still! Then she dropped abruptly past his face, thighs briefly scissoring his neck, pussy nudging his chin. I shook, nearly whimpering, as Suli slid sensuously down along Tim’s body. As soon as her blades touched down she leaned back, back, impossibly far back, until her hair brushed the ice in a death spiral. I tensed as though my hand, not Tim’s, gripped hers to brace her just this side of disaster.
A few judges always took points off for “suggestive” material. What did they think pairs skating was all about, if not sex? But it was a technically clean and ambitious program, beautifully executed. Suli and Tim won the gold medals they deserved.
I got no chance to go for the gold of Suli’s warm body that night. When I came up behind her in our room and reached around to cup her breasts, she wriggled her compact butt against me, then turned and shoved me away.
“No,” she decreed, putting a finger across my lips as I tried to speak. I nibbled at it instead. “You have your long program tomorrow, and I know better than you do what you need.”
I tried to object, with no luck.
“Sure,” Suli went on, “fast and furious sex and complete exhaustion were just what I needed, but you’ll do better saving up that energy and channeling the tension into your skating.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said sulkily. “I can’t medal now anyway. I was thinking, in fact, that this might as well be the time…”
She knew what I meant. “No!” Her scowl was at least as alluring as her smiles. “You can still win the bronze, if you want it enough. At least two of those prima donnas ahead of you have never skated a clean long program in their lives. Medal, and you get into the exhibition at the end. That’s the time to make your grand statement to the world.” She saw my hesitation, and gripped my shoulders so hard her nails dug in. “Think of Johanna! You can’t disgrace your coach during actual competition. And think of your fans!” Her expression eased into a smile she couldn’t suppress. Her grip eased. “Okay, your fans would love every minute of it. I’ve seen the signs they flip at you when they’re sure the cameras can’t see. ‘We Want Jude, Preferably in the Nude!’“ She drew her fingers lightly across my chest and downward. “Can’t say that I blame them.”
Suli was so close that her warm scent tantalized me. I thought I was going to get some after all, but the kiss I grabbed was broken off all too soon, leaving me aching for more.
“Please Jude, do it this way.” She stroked my face, brushing back my short dark hair. I wasn’t sure I could bear her gentleness. “Even your planned routine comes close enough to the edge. One way or another, it will be worth it. I promise.”
So I did it her way, and skated the long program I’d rehearsed so many times. Inside, though, I was doing it my way at last, and not much caring if it showed.
I skated to a medley from the Broadway show Cats. My black unitard with white down the front and at the cuffs was supposed to suggest a “tuxedo” cat with white paws. The music swept from mood to mood, poignancy to nostalgia to swagger, but no matter what character a song was meant to suggest, in my mind and gut I was never, for a moment, anybody’s sweet pussy. I was every inch a Tom. Tomcat prowling urban roofs and alleys; tomboy tumbling the dairymaid in the hay; top-hatted Tom in the back streets of Victorian London pinching the housemaids’ cheeks, fore and aft.
Suli had been right about storing up tension and then letting it spill out. Like fantasy during sex, imagination sharpened my performance. Each move was linked to its own notes of the music, practiced often enough to be automatic, but tonight my footwork was more precise, my spins faster, my jumps higher and landings smoother. I had two quad jumps planned, something none of my rivals would attempt, and for the first time I went into each of them with utter confidence.
The audience, subdued at first, was with me before the end, clapping, stomping, whistling. I rode their cheers, pumped with adrenaline as though we were all racing toward some simultaneous climax, and in the last minute I turned a planned double-flip, double-toe-loop into a triple-triple, holding my landing on a back outer edge as steadily as though my legs were fresh and rested.
The crowd’s roar surged as the music ended. Fans leaned above the barrier to toss stuffed animals, mostly cats, onto the ice, and one odd flutter caught my eye in time for a detour to scoop up the offering. Sure enough, the fabric around the plush kitten’s neck was no ribbon, but a pair of lavender panties. Still warm. It wasn’t the first time.
Suli waited at the gate. I gave her a cocky grin and thrust the toy into her hands. Her expressive eyebrows arched higher, and then she grinned back and swatted my butt with it.
The scoring seemed to take forever. “Half of them are scrambling to figure out if you’ve broken any actual rules,” Johanna muttered, “and scheming to make up some new ones if you haven’t.” The rest, though, must have given me everything they had. The totals were high enough to get me the bronze medal, even when none of the following skaters quite fell down.
Suli stuck by me every minute except for the actual awards ceremony, and she was right at the front of the crowd then. In the cluster of fans following me out of the arena, a few distinctly catlike “Mrowrr’s!” could be heard, and then good-humored laughter as Suli threw an arm around me and aimed a ferocious “Growrr!” back over her shoulder at them.
Medaling as a long shot had condemned me to a TV interview. The reporter kept her comments to the usual inanities, except for a somewhat suggestive, “That was quite some program!”
“If you liked that, don’t miss the exhibition tomorrow,” I said to her, and to whatever segment of the world watches these things. When I added that I was quitting competition to pursue my own “artistic goals,” she flashed her white teeth and wished me luck, and then, microphone set aside and camera off, leaned close for a moment to lay a hand on my arm. “Nice costume, but I’ll bet you’ll be glad to get it off.”
Suli was right on it, her own sharp teeth flashing and her long nails digging into my sleeve. The reporter snatched her hand back just in time. “Don’t worry,” Suli purred, “I’ve got all that covered.”
Don’t expose yourself like that! Don’t let me drag you down! But I couldn’t say it, and I knew Suli was in no mood to listen.
I was too tired, anyway, wanting nothing more than to strip off the unitard and never squirm into one again, but Suli wouldn’t let me change in the locker room. Once I saw the gleam of metal she flashed in her open shoulder bag—so much for security at the Games!—I followed her out and back to our room with no regret for the parties we were missing.
The instant the door clicked shut behind us she had the knife all the way out of its leather sheath. “Take off that medal,” she growled, doing a knockout job of sounding menacing. “The rest is mine.”
I set the bronze medal on the bedside table, flopped backward onto the bed, and spread my arms and legs wide. “Use it or lose it,” I said, then gasped at the touch of the hilt against my throat.
“Don’t move,” she ordered, crouching over me, her hair brushing my chest. I lay frozen, not a muscle twitching, although my flesh shrank reflexively from the cold blade when she sat back on her haunches and slit the stretchy unitard at the juncture of thigh and crotch.
“Been sweating, haven’t we,” she crooned, slicing away until the fabric gaped like a hungry mouth, showing my skin pale beneath. “But it’s not all sweat, is it?” Her cool hand slid inside to fondle my slippery folds. It certainly wasn’t all sweat.
Her moves were a blend of ritual and raw sex. The steel flat against my inner thigh sent tongues of icy flame stabbing deep into my cunt. The keen edge drawn along my belly and breastbone seemed to split my old body and release a new one, though only a few light pricks drew blood. The rip of the fabric parting under Suli’s knife and hands and, eventually, teeth, was like the rending of bonds that had confined me all my life.
Then Suli’s warm mouth captured my clit. The trancelike ritual vanished abruptly in a fierce, urgent wave of right here, right now, right NOW NOW NO-O-W-W-W-W! Followed, with hardly a pause to recharge, by further waves impelled by her teasing tongue and penetrating fingers until I was completely out of breath and wrung out.
“I thought I was supposed to be storing up energy,” I told her, when I could talk at all.
“Jude, you’re pumping out enough pheromones to melt ice,” Suli said, “and I’m not ice!”
It turned out that I wasn’t all that wrung out, after all, and if I couldn’t talk, it was because Suli was straddling my face, and my mouth was most gloriously, and busily, full.
The chill kiss of the blade lingered on my skin the next day, along with the heat of Suli’s touch. I passed up the chance to do a run-through of my program, which didn’t cause much comment since it was just the exhibition skate. Johanna, who knew what I was up to, took care of getting my music to the sound technicians with no questions asked.
There were plenty of questioning looks, though, when I went through warm-up muffled in sweats and a lightweight hoodie. Judging from the buzz among my fans, they may have been placing bets. Anybody who’d predicted the close-cropped hair with just enough forelock to push casually back, and the unseen binding beneath my plain white T-shirt, would have won. The tight blue jeans looked genuinely worn and faded, and from any distance the fact that the fabric could stretch enough for acrobatic movement wasn’t obvious.
It was my turn at last. Off came the sweats and hoodie. I took to the ice, rocketing from shadows into brightness, then stopped so abruptly that ice chips erupted around the toes of my skates. There were squeals, and confused murmurs; I was aware of Suli, still in costume from her own performance, watching from the front row.
Then my music took hold.
Six bars of introduction, a sequence of strides and glides—and I was Elvis, “Lookin’ for Trouble,” leaping high in a spread eagle, landing, then twisting into a triple-flip, double-toe-loop. My body felt strong. And free. And true.
Then I was “All Shook Up,” laying a trail of intricate footwork the whole length of the rink, tossing in enough cocky body-work to raise an uproar. Elvis Stojko or Philippe Candeloro couldn’t have projected more studly appeal. When my hips swiveled—with no trace of a feminine sway—my fans went wild.
They subsided as the music slowed to a different beat, slower, menacing. “Mack the Knife” was back in town: challenge, swagger, jumps that ate up altitude, skate blades slicing the ice in sure, rock-steady landings. Then, in a final change of mood, came the aching, soaring passion of “Unchained Melody.” I let heartbreak show through, loneliness, sorrow, desperate longing.
In my fantasy a slender, long-haired figure skated in the shadows just beyond my vision, mirroring my moves with equal passion and unsurpassable grace. Through the haunting strains of music I heard the indrawn breaths of a thousand spectators, and then a vast communal sigh. I was drawing them into my world, making them see what I imagined… I jumped, pushing off with all my new strength, spun a triple out into an almost effortless quad, landed—and saw what they had actually seen.
Suli glided toward me, arms outstretched, eyes wide and bright with challenge. I stopped so suddenly I would have fallen if my hands hadn’t reached out reflexively to grasp hers. She moved backward, pulling me toward her, and then we were skating together as we had so often in our private predawn practice sessions. The music caught us, melded us into a pair. Suli moved away, rotated into an exquisite layback spin, slowed, stretched out her hand, and my hand was there to grasp hers and pull her into a close embrace. Her raised knee pressed up between my legs with a force she would never have exerted on Tim. I wasn’t packing, but my clit lurched with such intensity that I imagined it bursting through my jeans.
Then we moved apart again, aching for the lost warmth, circling, now closer, now farther…the music would end so soon… Suli flashed a quick look of warning, mouthed silently, “Get ready!” and launched herself toward me.
Hands on my shoulders, she pushed off, leapt upward, and hung there for a moment while I gripped her hips and pressed my mouth into her belly. Then she wrapped her legs around my waist and arched back. We spun slowly, yearningly, no bed, this time, to take the weight of our hunger. And then, as the last few bars of music swelled around us, Suli slid sensuously down my body until she knelt in a pool of scarlet silk at my feet. She looked up into my eyes, and finally, gracefully and deliberately, bowed her head and rested it firmly against my crotch as the last notes faded away.
An instant of silence, of stillness, followed, until the crowd erupted in chaos, cheers and applause mingling with confusion and outrage. TV cameras were already converging on our exit. I pulled Suli up so that my mouth was close to her ear; her hair brushing my cheek still made me tingle.
“Suli, what have you done? What will—?”
She shushed me with a finger across my lips. “Sometimes, if you can’t stand to be left behind, you do have to jump without knowing exactly where you’ll land.”
So I kissed her right there on the ice for the world to see. Then, hand in hand, we skated toward the gate to whatever lay beyond.
About Sacchi Green
Sacchi Green is a Lambda Award-winning editor and writer whose work appears in scores of books, including nine editions of Best Lesbian Erotica, and she’s edited seventeen anthologies, most of them for Cleis Press. She started out writing science fiction and fantasy, with marginal success, but was seduced by the erotic side of the force when her first attempt at lesbian erotica was published in Best Lesbian Erotica 1999. She got her chance in 2016 to edit The Year’s Best Lesbian Erotica (the title slightly tweaked by the new owner of Cleis Press) and may have been the only person in the world who realized that it was the 20th anniversary of the series, begun by Tristan Taormino in 1996. That’s how the 2016 book became Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year 20th Anniversary Edition. Now Sacchi is presenting Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 2, and currently working on Volume 3. She’s especially happy that she finally managed to return to her fantasy roots with her recent anthology Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales.
Sacchi lives and writes in the Five-Follege area of western Massachusetts, with occasional retreats to a cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and forays into the real world—assuming New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts qualify as the real world. In any case they’re her favorite places to arrange readings with contributors to her anthologies. These readings may, in fact, be what keeps her writing and editing short erotica stories in a world that wants only novels, but the likelier reason is that she’s a short story writer to the core.
Books by Sacchi Green
BEST LESBIAN EROTICA OF THE YEAR, VOLUME 2
This 22nd anthology in the iconic Best Lesbian Erotica series, with a slightly updated title, presents settings ranging from a Korean restaurant to the Mojave Desert to a comic book store to a silent-movie theater and beyond. The protagonists in these eighteen stories are all ages, from young students to seasoned self-identified dykes to elders whose fires still burn fiercely. You’ll find love and romance, power exchange, over-the-top sex toys, a superheroine, a Prohibition-era detective, and much more. And, of course, there’s sex as varied and vivid as the settings and characters: explicit, often inventive, sometimes transformative, always steamy. Each story is distinctive in its own way. Don’t try to swallow too many all at once; take time to savor your favorites. Getting there is half the fun.
BEST LESBIAN EROTICA OF THE YEAR 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Seventeen new stories continue the tradition of the Best Lesbian Erotica series on its 20th anniversary. While “best” is necessarily subjective, here it includes original ideas, vividly drawn settings, creative imagery, fully developed, believable characters, and, of course, intensely erotic scenes that flow naturally from the story as a whole. D. L. King melds the familiar tropes of werewolves and lesbian auto mechanics into a character as likable as she is sexy. Megan McFerren’s characters take refuge in a London bomb shelter during WWII. Emily L. Byrne’s brilliant incarnation of Miss Scarlet seduces a police detective in the NYC subway system. Louise Blaydon’s “nice girl” and “bad girl” strike sparks together forming a band on the gritty side of Liverpool in 1961. R.G. Emanuelle sharpens your appetite with an artistic slant on the pleasures of eating. There are stories with touches of humor, or moments of tenderness, or immersions in the no-holds-barred depths of bondage—and now and then all three at once. What you get, in this anthology, is a seemingly infinite variety of lesbian erotic desires, in all the heat, beauty and power of both our darkness and our light.
WITCHES, PRINCESSES, AND WOMEN AT ARMS: EROTIC LESBIAN FAIRY TALES
Lesbian Erotica, Fantasy
Never mind all those heroes winning the day, and the girl. Here we have heroines who win each other. You’ll find erotic romance, magic, and wild adventure, with women who use their wits, special powers, and/or weapons, and come together in a blaze of passion. Some of the writers adapted traditional tales, and some updated old stories to contemporary times, in every case not merely changing the gender of a character but making the female aspect essential. Some created original plots with a fairy tale sensibility, while some wrote with merely a subtle aura of fantasy. Their heroines are witches, princesses, brave, resourceful women of all walks of life, and even a troll and a dryad. There is laughter, sly wit, and an occasional tear. There are curses and spells, battles and intrigue, elements of magic and explorations of universal themes, and, yes, sex, sensuality and true love, all bound skillfully together into complex and many-layered stories. Whether royalty or a miller’s daughter, a woman warrior passing as a man, a sorceress in flowing robes, or even a window inspector dangling in harness on a modern high-rise building—who better to rescue a long-haired captive in a tower?—all of them are drawn so believably that you long to touch them, and to be touched. The relationships are passionate, intense, sometimes quick to ignite, sometimes all the hotter for restraint that flares at last into a fierce blaze.
ME AND MY BOI: QUEER EROTIC STORIES
Here is a celebration of all things boi, butch and masculine-of-center, in those who include lesbian as a part of their identities and put their own personal spins on the gender spectrum. Bois who like girls, bois who like bois, bois who like both; those who don’t label themselves at all but can’t stand to wear a skirt; screw-the-binary free spirits of many flavors. Cool bois, hot bois, swaggering bois, shy bois, leather bois, flannel bois, butch daddies and the other bois and femmes and mommas and tops and bottoms and even girls next door who wouldn’t have them any other way. The settings range from a charming English garden and an equally charming (if greasy) English car-repair garage, to a racing sailboat, to quiet forests and rushing cities and dimly lit bedrooms where the rest of the world might as well not exist. Some take us back in time, to a Regency drawing room and an old-school, pre-Stonewall lesbian blue-collar bar, but most could take place just yesterday, or today, or tomorrow. And, of course, there is steamy, explicit sex developing naturally out of the arc of the story. Kinky, or hard-edged, or sweet, or passionately emotional—or blends of all those—if these writers don’t push the buttons you already have, maybe they’ll hook you up with some new ones. Gender has no boundaries, and neither does lust.