Mating Rituals of the American Midwest

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The day I meet Katrine, I know I am going to struggle: do I want to fuck her, or do I want to *be* her? Or, as is the rare, tragic case, both? Behind her vintage glasses is a pair of twinkling, cobalt blue eyes that seem to be telling a joke even as the house burns down around her. Something in the way she flips her ebony, shoulder-length curls suggests she started the fire herself, on a day she knew to be dry and windy.

We work together, tending bar at a place with a screen door entrance and three illegal poker machines along the back wall. Well, I work. She sits behind the bar and blows smoke past the shoulders of men in alternating John Deere and Colts caps. She flirts with the younger ones, and puts Folsom Prison Blues on repeat for the old guys in the same ironic spirit. Both result in tips for the smallest of mercies; she’s making money simply by passing the pretzels.

“Where ya from, darlin’?” They often ask, taking her in with a lot less subtlety than I do every shared shift. She is tall and thin and unmarked by the hard living and high fructose corn syrup of rural Indiana. In her lilting, vaguely European accent, she lies that she is from just outside of Paris. About fifty percent of our regulars mistake Paris for its own country, so she doesn’t bother to tell them she’s really from Luxembourg.

During slow times when I’m trying not to stare at her, I look up Luxembourg on my phone. It is a tiny speck surrounded by more important places with a population half the size of Indianapolis. They speak three languages there, and I ache to hear her say something in any of them. I want to watch her lips forming the foreign noises and pretend she is telling me things she’d never tell anybody else. I stabbed my green card husband with a corkscrew and had to flee Chicago, she’d intimate to me in German. In the softer Luxembourgish, she’d confide that she’s actually a duchess with a dark past.

Meet me in the back office in five minutes. Take your skirt off. This daydreamed directive is naturally in French.

Reality is a walk-in cooler, however. The only source of heat is her breath on my neck while she helps me maneuver the keg. I shiver being so close, and she confuses this for something else.

“Silly girl. Why do you not grab the jacket if cold? He is right behind the door.” Her smirk, though rendering her face terribly asymmetrical, makes her even more attractive. I feel goosebumps forming along my shoulders. Her softer, larger hand grazes my own while we wrestle the Miller Lite onto the dolly; a second kind of warmth spreads between my legs. Do I gasp aloud or is it only in my head? I have my answer when she flashes that crooked grin again.

“Anna, do I scare you a little bit, yes?” She pronounces my name “Ah-na,” and it conjures up an image of a much more sophisticated person. Ah-na does not wear a frayed jean skirt and a Ramones t-shirt on the busiest night of the week. Ah-na buys makeup that actually suits her coloring instead of pilfering it from her much-fairer roommate when she’s not home. Ah-na would press this slightly older, intensely sexy woman against the back of the cooler with her smaller frame, look up at her defiantly and tell her that after all these weeks, she’s tired of the teasing and the broken English innuendoes. She would bite the woman’s bottom lip and ask if she seems scared.

But Anna flushes, stammers something that sounds like “no” and wishes, for maybe the tenth time today, that she was somebody else.

***

Five minutes before last call on Friday night, the place buzzes with what I have come to think of as the Mating Rituals of the American Midwest. Middle-aged patrons lean their heads together, kicking off their long night of regret with sloppy kissing. The younger set hangs boozily on one casino oyna another, rubbing each other through their jeans on the dance floor to a 90’s power ballad. I watch Katrine watching it all, a wry smile condemning it even as she mirrors it. She leans her considerable cleavage over the bar and pouts playfully at a regular who is insisting she do a shot of Jack with him. She’ll do the shot, but only after she puts his ten in the register and sinks two singles into our tip jar without asking first.

“You as well!” she motions to me with one hand and with the other she taps on the bar until a five appears underneath it. She pours me a generous one, deposits the five in the register, fishes a one out and silently drops it into the jar. The fire goes down quick and hard while the horny patron looks on, nodding his approval.

“Another,” he booms, and Katrine and I lock eyes. Because I am small and not a drinker, the whiskey warms me almost instantly, making me brave. As I pour three I feel her hand on me, sliding bills into my back pocket. She wants another embarrassed gasp; I respond by shaking my ass against her palm. This earns an appreciative hoot from the customer and two gentle swats from Katrine. Another shock between my thighs is quieted only by the second Jack Daniels.

Katrine rings the last call bell and we are both busy for several minutes, pulling drafts and selling half a bottle of Cuervo to the just legal crowd.

“Please for them to wait to vomit until they are out of the carpark,” she mutters, and I laugh, too loudly. I feel targeted by that fucking sexy, lopsided grin and it undoes me. “She is a bit tipsy, no?”

“One more for the road?” asks the regular, gesturing towards the bottle still on the bar.

“You drink any more and you have—how do you say? Cock of whiskey.”

He guffaws at this, charmed by the insult. “Darlin’ when I get home, whiskey dick is gonna be the least of my problems.” I cringe but pour the shot anyway. Domestic bliss and the bartender are natural enemies, after all. “You’re not joining me?”

“I need to start closing up,” I say, sliding the drink over.

“Buzzkill,” Katrine shouts, correctly using the term I taught her last week. She grabs the Jack and pours two more, clinks them together and passes one to me. “I promise I do most of it, ok?”

The third shot doesn’t even burn when it goes down. With inhibitions suitably lowered, I stare at Katrine as she knocks the shot glass back. I allow my gaze to linger at her lips, painted a light magenta that sticks to the rim. I know I am officially drunk because I can’t stop thinking about her lips, and that color, marking my naked body.

***

We’re empty, lights are back up and Katrine switches the stereo from Tom Petty to some European trip-hop that would confuse and anger the farmers around here. I don’t mind it—the lazy haze it invokes makes me think of it as her soundtrack.

“Pass to me the mop?” she asks. I’m dumbfounded that she’s actually keeping her promise. All I’ve done is close out the register while she fills condiments, washes glasses and sweeps up. I’m half-heartedly wiping the bar down when I feel her suddenly at my side.

“Men to me are very easy,” she muses.

“Oh? Why’s that?” Ah-na goes with it, because she is bold and because Katrine has positioned herself so very close.

She smiles and leans in even further, taking the rag from my hand. “He wanted very much to fuck us, no? We make a lot of cash from him tonight. When I say ‘cock’ to him I think he gets hard one.”

“Hard-on,” I mumble, “And yeah, probably.” My attention is elsewhere, however. Katrine fixes her deep-set eyes on me and places her hands on my shoulders to square me towards her. I have to brace my knees from buckling,

“And slot oyna if his cock does not go,” she whispers huskily, “I think he is happy if we fuck each other for him to watch.” These words hang in the air as she tucks her fingers under my chin, forcing me to meet her gaze. “This is not so bad, I think.”

I am no longer that girl who blushed madly in the walk-in. I sense the heat coming off of Katrine, the floral notes coming from her hair, her soft fingertips stroking my face and I am somebody else entirely. “There are much worse things,” I agree.

“Yes. Only I think he does not watch. I think I keep pretty girl all myself.” And with that, she lowers her face to mine and kisses me. There is no hesitation. The whiskey and weeks of teasing loosen my tongue into putty for hers to mold. She licks and sucks and bites it with a zeal atypical for a first kiss, making me lean on the bar for leverage. I squeal when she nips particularly hard at my bottom lip, and she laughs.

“So delicate.” In her accent it sounds like deli-KATE. I answer her playful scorn by grabbing a handful of her thick, black hair and pulling it, hard. “Mmmm. Now she is feisty.”

Her hand slides over my chest, clutching my right breast and resting there. With her other hand she grabs my ass, pinching it, then kneading it with her long fingers. Her mouth on mine, a dance she is definitely leading with more confidence than anybody I’ve ever known. Her nails dig into me and I feel myself opening, relenting. I want to give her more, or I want her to take it.

“Anna,” she coos in my ear. “Since now you are with boys only, I think.”

I freeze. Am I doing something wrong? I reflexively draw back, disengaging my fingers from her silky curls.

She snorts, not unkindly. “It is okay. I know you like me when we meet.” She strokes me underneath my shirt, working her expert fingers around my nipples. “I like you too. Americans worry too much about such things.”

I moan my agreement, kissing her from her earlobe to her collarbone. My hand roams over her gorgeous tits and I mimic her, massaging her petite, pale pink nipples, feeling them spring to life at my touch, hardening more.

“For many weeks I wonder,” she whispers into my neck. “How does she taste like?”

A sharp intake of breath followed by a further dampening between my legs, I can only make noises, not form language.

Katrine shoots me that crooked grin and I instinctively part my thighs, nervous but needing. I am self-conscious about the heat and scent of arousal radiating from me, but once her fingers slide my panties aside and enter me there is nothing but sensation. I shut everything off and focus on the in and out, how easily she works herself inside me, soaking her fingertips and painting the outside of my lips with my slickness. I hear myself growl when Katrine’s index finger settles on my clit, at first gently tapping it, then encircling it with slightly more pressure. I am her puppet, her piano and any other toy with which she wants to play—responding to her touch with no real will of my own.

Katrine must sense the surrender, because she removes her hand from between my legs. I whimper involuntarily, eliciting a laugh. “Somebody is greedy.” Then she brings two fingers, doused in my wetness, to her impossibly soft, swollen lips. “Finally I know,” she winks. I watch her swallow them, lick them clean, making noises as though she’s savoring my juices. “Sweet. Like I think already.”

I blush at this revelation and it does not go unnoticed.

“You never taste,” she asks. I shake my head, blushing deeper. Then she grabs my face with both hands and pulls me to her, kissing me with a renewed intensity. Her tongue overlaps with mine and I am awash in my own salty sweetness; I suck canlı casino siteleri myself off of her until there is nothing left. “I tell you so,” she says as she takes a step back. “Now I want more.”

Once again I freeze, not understanding. Should I do to her what she just did to me? Underneath this slight panic is an undercurrent of wonder: how does *she* taste? I realize that I want very much to know.

My reverie is broken by her undoing the buttons on my jean skirt and sliding them past my thighs onto the floor. Now I understand, and another type of panic sets in. I have recalled this scenario several times as I touch myself in the shower, or after a long night at the bar, trying to quiet my mind and body for sleep. Tracing my fingers along my slit, imagining her dark head of springy curls nestled between my thighs never fails to bring me over that edge. That it’s about to happen now, in reality, is almost too much for me to bear. The muscles in my legs tense and she seizes them harder like she feels my hesitation.

“Sweet girl,” she cajoles, kissing my right knee and working her way up. “Please to not be shy.” She removes my panties and I wince but acquiesce, feeling the cool air meet and mix with the warmth she has caused. She spreads my lips apart with her fingers and pauses. “Why keep a pretty pussy such as this away?” She answers this hypothetical by nuzzling my clit with her lips, briefly running her tongue over the hood. This quick contact alone causes me to shake, and another growl escapes me. “Oh…she is sensitive, yes?” Katrine looks up at me, eyes laughing, teasing.

“Yes,” I murmur. But I don’t want to be teased anymore. I do the thing in my daydream; I run my hand along the back of her bowed head, I channel Ah-na and give her a slight push towards me.

Katrine runs her tongue in circles over my lips, occasionally flicking against my clit. I swell and harden from the intermittent shocks, encouraging her to suck longer, harder. I grow so wet that I start leaking down my thighs and I am embarrassed at how primal it all feels. As if on reassuring cue, she licks the droplets from my skin and declares me delicious.

I am very close. Without her hands holding my legs, I’m not sure I could stand on my own. I shiver, I swear, I lose myself and everything for seconds at a time. She fucks me with her tongue, in and out, in and out, and I feel myself clenching around her, contracting and releasing. Suddenly, she removes her hand from my right thigh and deftly slides three fingers inside me. With her lips wrapped tightly around my clit, teeth slightly clamping down, she licks and sucks in the same rhythm as she fingers me, and that is when it happens.

I scream out, start sliding downward, my juices streaming out of me, the first drops hitting the ground. The rest Katrine collects in her mouth. She drinks me, laps me up like a thirsty animal at a scarce water source. When the waves finally subside, I crumple against her a moment, leaning on her in order to stay upright.

“Come here,” she says, drawing to her feet. She grabs me at the waist and flashes me the Picasso grin. “You are okay?”

“I am,” I choke, my voice cracking on the second syllable.

“You are more than only okay, pretty girl.” She leans in to kiss me and my smell and taste all over her is enough to prompt a twinge between my legs. This, along with her compliment, causes me to redden.

“You see. I am not so scary,” she laughs, planting a kiss on my nose before collecting my clothes from the floor and passing them to me. “And now we know quite some things, yes?” Her smile, her scent, her accent—they are infinitely more intoxicating now.

As my brain returns to my body, I watch her resume closing and I wonder, for the hundredth time, what Katrine is doing in this place. It’s a nearly self-contained population. Outsiders who stumble into this town rarely stay for long, she can’t possibly be different. I knew after three years here that two years was my limit.

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