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Walking back across the Quad, I felt myself begin to shake. I pulled myself together. Emma needed me to be strong. I needed to be strong for us both.
As I opened the door, I saw she was in tears.
“Are you okay darling, what happened?”
Hugging her, I told her.
I sat with her. We prayed. I was just about to give her a ring when my phone went and Footy’s number came up.
“Did you see my piece, Pixie?”
“Not yet, but you need to know what just happened here!”
I told her, and after cursing loudly she said:
“Get her back to North Parade, I am on my way!”
Emma and I left her staircase, but there was still a mob outside the College, and, as we walked back, I was horrified to see there were people milling around the house. None of them tried to stop us getting in, but I dialled the police when I got in.
Lady F was kindness itself, and AK told me that there had been people outside for the last half an hour. I told them both what had happened. Emma dissolved into tears, and I took her up to my bedroom.
“How is she?” AK asked with concern.
“Not good!” I told her and Lady F more about what had happened in college. Footy arrived a few minutes later and went straight to see Emma. Soon after that, the police arrived, and the crowd dispersed.
After what seemed an age, Footy came down.
“She needs something to help her sleep, Pixie. This can’t go on!”
Footy was right about the former, but wrong about the latter.
Emma slept in the following morning. Lady F had ordered a full set of newspapers, and we were in most of them.
The ghastly Sun ran a picture of a weeping Emma with a caption:
“The turning of the Dyke!”
Even as we were digesting that, Footy’s phone went.
“It’s the BBC, Pixie, they would like you or Emma to be on Newsnight tonight.”
We talked about it. Newsnight was the BBC’s main discussion programme. It meant that the issue was becoming “real” news. But, as I told Footy, there was no way Emma was in a fit state. Indeed, bless her, she had already asked a doctor friend of hers to come round to look at Emma.
Lady F agreed. But, as Footy said, they would go ahead anyway, and someone from “our side” had to speak.
“But that’s the problem, Footy, it is all about taking ‘sides’.”
“I know, Pixie, but the fact is there are sides. Emma can’t do it. It’s either you, or some spokesperson from the LGB Christian group. Which is it?”
I was uneasy about being forced into it and asked if we could respond after I had talked with Emma. They gave us a period of grace.
I went up to the bedroom to see Emma, but even as I did Footy said the Dean’s Secretary was on the line and wanted to talk to her.
A tearful Emma dried her eyes and took the phone from Footy. We left her to it.
“This doesn’t bode well, Footy.”
“Bloody cowards are probably disowning the two of you – makes my blood boil.”
I had hoped she was wrong, but from the state of Emma’s face as she ended the call, I could see Footy had been right.
“She says,” Emma sobbed, “that in view of the publicity they are going to suspend services at the College until further notice. It gets worse. They are withdrawing their approval of our relationship.”
At that point she broke down.
Footy was incandescent with rage.
“Backbone of jelly!”
She was right, but it did not help Emma. Just as we had calmed her down, her phone rang. Footy answered it.
“It’s the Bishop!”
Emma was already white; I thought she was going to be sick.
All we could catch was Emma saying “Yes,” a lot, and a lot of talk from the bishop. She put the phone down and looked like death.
“No going on Newsnight, they are putting up a church spokesperson. They are also going to ask me whether our relationship is sexual. The hint was clear. If I say that in future it isn’t, they will ignore what happened before this.”
My heart sank like the proverbial.
They had gone there. They were putting Emma on the spot.
Footy exploded once more.
“I swear I have seen more spine on a jellyfish!”
Hugging Emma, I said:
“Darling, I have always said I will never get in the way of your vocation, and I meant it.”
She looked at me, tears in her eyes.
“I don’t know what to do Pix. I love you.”
I hugged her. I could see Footy’s eyes were tearful.
“There is nothing to do, my love. I am doing it. I love you enough not to have you sacrifice your vocation.”
At that, Emma burst into tears anew.
AK came in, wondering what was going on. When Footy told her, she, too was angry.
She hugged us both.
“Pix, this is ridiculous!”
Smiling sadly and indicating she should calm down because it was upsetting Emma more, I just said:
“It is what it is. This is Emma’s vocation, and I am not prepared to be the cause of its destruction.”
Emma was in such a state that we put her to bed.
“You are going escort kocaeli to have to do the programme, Pixie. You have no choice.”
Just as Footy said that the BBC rang back.
I nodded. Footy was right, as we discussed after the call ended. This was “news” and if I did not give our side of it, it would be assumed that was because there was nothing to be said.
AK was wonderful. She hugged me – I needed it.
The adrenaline rush was fading, and I felt shaky. AK did us all some lunch and we discussed tactics. Footy said she had managed to get out of the BBC who else would be there; they would send a car for me. She was, she said, coming, either to “hold your hand” or “kick their arses” depending on her mood. That cheered me up.
Lady F was wonderfully helpful with advice about how to conduct myself. Her husband had done a lot of television. It all helped me feel less nervous.
“Right, Squirt, best little black dress. They will do hair and make-up – but let me make you up now so they get the idea.”
Being useless with make-up, I let AK “doll me up” as she put it.
“I am so grateful Footy,” I said, “you are a rock.”
“I have hardly begun darling Pixie. What you did for Emma was the act of a saint. I know how much you love her.”
“Enough not to ruin her life, Footy!”
The drive from Oxford to London took less time than we had thought. Footy briefed me on the way.
Her news was that the Church would have a Bishop on who would repeat the usual line and try to calm things. The critics would be represented to no-one’s surprise by Bartlett, and there would be a person from the LGBTI+ to help make the foursome. We ran through what I might say or do. I was glad to have her there.
At the studio I was taken straight to make-up and thence to the “green room” where we had to wait. Bartlett was there already. He looked at me. I said “hello;” he did not have the grace to respond. The Bishop of Kensington joined us. I had seen John Davies on television before; he was an accomplished performer. Just before we were called, we were joined by the LGBTI+ representative who introduced herself as Judy Jensen.
Under the lights I felt uncomfortable; the brightness I had expected; the heat less so. Then, before I could count to ten, we were on. The Presenter outlined the ‘controversy’, as he put it, then turned Bartlett who ably put the case, but could not resist adding that the whole thing showed that “lesbian predators were treated more lightly than their male equivalents.”
That brought an angry Judy in, who accused him of hypocrisy, quoting adverse comments he had made about gay men. He interrupted her, shouting loudly, and the interviewer switched to the Bishop who, with elegance, outlined the position of the Church, which was that while it recognised that according to the law of the land, gay marriages were legal, they were not acceptable to the Church, and priests and deacons could not be in same-sex relationships. That brought the angry Judy back in, accusing the Church of being “medieval”, which in turn allowed Bartlett back in to say that was where this sort of “crap” led – infidelity. What, I wondered, was the point?
“So, Miss Hoff, as one of the two women at the heart of this story, what’s your take?”
At that point Bartlett butted in, pointing out that the Bible forbade gay sex. I sighed.
“Mr Bartlett, if you want to turn this into a monologue, go ahead.”
He seemed to realise he had overstepped, and motioned to allow me back in.
“Thank you. The Bible does indeed, in places, condemn same sex relationships, just as it bans shell-fish and suggests eating pork is wrong.”
“But tradition…” Bartlett intervened.
There was a silence as I sighed.
The interviewer signalled for me to go on.
“Until recently, tradition said women could not be priests or bishops. It still does in some churches. The one you and I belong to allows it.”
He looked angry.
“Not all of us agree.”
“Indeed, but you are still in the Church. What the Bible condemns are certain types of same-sex acts in the context of temple prostitution….”
The Bishop looked suitably shocked.
I pulled from my bag a list:
“Here are five eminent scholars who support what I have said. The fact,” I said to Bartlett’s face, “is that you cite texts out of context.”
“Bullshit! I quote Scripture!”
“You quote out of context. Tell me, how many times did Jesus condemn same-sex relationships?”
“The Bible condemns them!”
“Jesus says God is love. He does not say that God condemns those who love each other. You say that. The hate is with you, not God!”
I felt I had driven a point home.
“Well,” Bartlett shot back, “all I can say is that your actions have done nothing to help the woman you are sleeping with. You are having sex with her, aren’t you?”
One gölcük escort could have heard a pin drop.
“Pure homophobia!” Judy declared.
“Do you have to personalise everything, Mr Bartlett?” The Bishop asked.
“It’s okay, he has as much right to ask that as I do to ask whether he is sleeping with any of his students.”
“That’s outrageous, I am not answering that!”
It seemed that, accidentally, I had hit a nerve.
“Well, I commend to you, Mr Bartlett, St Luke 2, verses 2-8.”
“That,” the Bishop added helpfully, “is where Our Lord refused to answer a set of hypocrites in authority until they answered him.”
“I will just say this,” I added, “I have, as Jesus said we should, “prayed for you. Have you prayed for me?”
Bartlett was struck dumb.
“On that note,” the interviewer said, “we will end this discussion. No doubt it will run.”
Once the cameras were off us, Bartlett ripped his mic off and demanded his car back to Oxford. He left without saying a word.
The Bishop was nicer.
“He really is the ghastliest man. I hope you and Ms Don can work this through, Miss Hoff.”
“Thank you, your Grace, but I fear that after this, there is nothing left to work through. Be sure to tell the Bishop of Oxford.”
“I am sorry.”
He seemed genuine.
Judy was gracious.
“You did so well. Can I call you Pixie?”
“Yes, and thanks for being here.”
“Sorry I got angry. I don’t know how you put up with these shits!”
As I said to Footy on the way home, nor did I.
Footy said I had more than held my own, a view confirmed when we saw the morning papers. I particularly liked The Sun’s headline above a picture of me talking to Bartlett: “Baby Dyke fights back!” But to be frank, I was more worried about Emma, who was not at North Parade when I got back, and did not turn up for breakfast.
I phoned her, but she did not answer. I texted but got no reply. AK suggested I go to the College.
As I walked in, I was aware of fingers pointing at me. The Porters were, as ever, nice.
“Saw you on telly last night, Miss Hoff, you did well.”
“Thanks George, is Emma in?”
“I have not seen her this morning, but I’d assume so.”
I went to her staircase and walked up. I knocked. There was no reply.
George said he had not seen her but phoned the Dean for me.
“There is a note for you in the post, here, let me pull it out and give it to you now.”
Trembling, I took it and went to the nearest coffee shop.
Almost frightened to open it, I forced myself to:
I am more grateful, and hurt more than I can say, for two things: your love; and your self-sacrifice. The Bishop has advised me to take time at a retreat and I am taking it. If I saw you, I could not go. I feel a coward writing and not saying to your face. But if I see you, my courage will fail me.
I love you, Pixie. I am sorry we can’t be together. I will miss you more than I can say. I love you – always will.
Emma xxx “
I broke down in tears.
I read it again and again as I walked back to North Parade.
AK could see at once that something was not right. I showed her the letter.
She hugged me to her capacious bosom. I just sobbed until, finally, she had to go to take care of Issy.
I went to the bathroom to wash my face. As I looked into the mirror, I hardly recognised myself.
But I had no time to feel sorry for myself.
One of the mid-market newspapers commissioned a piece from me on the controversy, which I managed in record time; to my delight they paid me £1000 for it. Other journalists wanted to talk to me, and by the time Footy arrived with some food, I was about talked out.
I showed her the letter too.
“Pixie, I am so, so sorry. But as your friend and tutor can I speak frankly?”
“Can you ever speak any other way, Footy?”
She gave one of her great bellowing laughs.
“Touché! But seriously Pixie, this needs thought. You have suddenly become notorious. I am sorry about the situation with Emma, but if you two want her to have a career in the Church, it is the only way. But it is you that worries me.”
“How so, Footy?”
“Look Pixie, until now everything was set. You will get your starred first, and your DPhil money, but like it or not you are a marked woman. The Evangelicals will be out to get you, and most of the Church people will do what the Bishop has done, so forget the Church; you are not going to have a career there!”
My face fell, and she lifted my chin.
“But on the other hand, Pixie, you are already making waves in the world you want to. I have had the editor of one of the leading journals in our field ask me to ask you if you could write an article on Junia. If you can get published there while you are an undergraduate, the sky’s the limit.”
And so it was that, from that July day, all rivers ran izmit sınırsız escort in a fresh direction.
Lady F and AK (with the invaluable help of Issy) kept me sane at home; but the aching void left by Emma was a torment to me. I would reach out in the night, and I would think she was there, only to wake up, alone. I wanted to write, but apart from thanking her for her letter, I wrote no more. The pain was too great.
Writing the article, which was accepted, took up much of August, and I was glad of it. It may have been in the night that I missed Emma most, but the days were pretty ghastly too.
Gradually the media fuss died down, and the circus moved on. But as we began to gear up for the new academic year, it was clear to me that Footy had been correct. I noticed in the Bodleian that some people would point me out to others. In the Theological Faculty Library, the same thing would happen. Occasionally someone, usually a woman, would come up to me and say thank you. There would be the odd man who would give me a dirty look, but no one said anything.
To say that the final year’s work was hard would be an understatement. I still had to produce an essay every other week for one of the modules, and Footy’s Special Subject took up every hour I could give it. My relaxation was Issy, and I loved it when Keith was home on leave and he and AK played with her; it felt like the home I had never had. It also reminded me, as my birthday approached, that I needed to contact my mother. But it was too much. Surely, I reasoned, she would get in touch with me? So, I left it.
My birthday came and went. Lady F and AK made a fuss, and Footy turned one of our regular Friday soirées into a party for me.
Unusually for me, I drank more than a glass. It was partly because my article had just been accepted, which was, indeed a cause for celebration. I think I had hoped fora card or something from Emma; but there was nothing.
As the evening came to an end, I could see AK was sad, so asked her why?
“It’s you, Squirt. You seem so alone sometimes. Footy tells me you are going great guns on the academic front, but I know you well enough to see below the surface. When was the last time you came?”
As we had both had a bit to drink, that was the sort of question that seemed quite normal at that time of the night, so I answered.
“About a week before the crap blew up!”
“Sod it Squirt, come here!”
AK pulled me to her. I not only put up zero resistance, I leapt on her.
Giggling, we went back to her room, with her whispering we should be careful not to wake Issy.
As she pulled my dress up and off, I felt myself flood. I wanted her so badly.
I opened her blouse and helped her off with it, unclasping her bra so I could feast greedily on her tits. They were bigger than they had been last time I sucked there. My hands massaged them, with of course, the inevitable result, as I got a mouthful of sweet breast milk.
“Oh Squirt, yes, that feels so fucking good!”
Encouraged, I went for it, suckling harder, loving the taste – and the effect on AK.
My hand pulled her knickers down, and as they fell to the floor, she stepped out of them. I cupped her pussy, pressing her lips into her clit.
“Shush!” I giggled.
She turned down the volume, but not the gyrations, pressing herself onto my hand as I sucked hard. As I got into my stride, she pushed herself onto my hand in time with my sucking. The scent from her pussy was filling the air, and I was loving the taste of her milk, but even more, the effects it was having on her body. She moaned, low and long, falling back on the bed and letting me do as I wanted.
It was so long since I had been with her, and suddenly that, the heartache of missing Emma, and my neediness, came together as I devoured her. I wanted every last drop of her nectar and pushed my face into her almost without regard. My nose found her clit and pushed it, as my fingers parted her lips so I could lick her inner wetness; I pushed my tongue in. AK pushed herself on me, arching her back and wriggling as my tongue delved in and out. How she did not wake Issy, goodness knows, that baby slept soundly.
My hands on her arse, I pulled her to me, slowing down my eager licking and making her groan softly.
“Squirt, oh yes, yes, I missed that tongue!”
I gave her what she had missed. Sliding my tongue upwards, slowly, I stopped just short of her clit. At the same time, I slid a finger across her perineum, scooping some of her juices to tease her arsehole. She groaned and, unable to wait, pressed herself down onto my invading finger, so it pushed in deeper. I felt her clench there.
At that point, I moved my tongue up to push her clit, flicking it, before sucking on it, as I knew she loved. She was now beyond recall; I knew the signs of old. Sucking harder, I let my teeth scratch her.
So I did. Somehow her orgasm failed to wake Issy, but she coated my face with her cream. As I licked, she came a second time, a smaller, but intense orgasm which gave me more of her essence. I felt her hands in my hair. She pulled me up.
“Nice to have you back, Squirt. I love you!”
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