Authors: Jill Gates
"Truth: do you want to see me again, after tonight?"
"Yes," Sophia whispered, sliding her hands around the other woman's waist. She leaned forward and kissed her forehead, not trusting herself to say more. "Dare: post a photo of me, naked, on your Facebook wall. Below, write the caption, 'I kissed a girl, and I liked it.'"
"What?" Vanessa exclaimed, shocked. She pulled back and looked up at the brunette, unable to fully process what she'd asked.
"Post on your Facebook page, I'm sure you have one," Sophia said, "A nude photo of me. With a caption, that says, 'I kissed a girl, and I liked it.'"
"I can't," Vanessa cried, frustrated. "There's no way I could post a nude photo of you on my wall!"
"Then I win," Sophia replied, smiling.
"Fine," Vanessa replied, crawling over the bed, heading for the bathroom. "You win, I'm leaving."
"We had a deal," Sophia called, nervous she'd gone too far. "If I won, I got what I wanted," she heard the bathroom door slam and walked over. Knocking softly on the door, she said, "Don't you want to find out what I wanted?"
Irritated, Vanessa pulled on her dress and strapped on her heels, seated on the toilet. For some reason, she felt tears welling up in her eyes, and she wanted to strangle the other woman. "Fine. Tell me what you want."
Not that I'm going to give it to you
, she thought.
What's wrong with me?
"Please open the door, then I'll tell you."
When the blonde emerged, Sophia noticed her eyes were bloodshot, and her nose a little red. "Vanessa, I'm sorry for doing that. I realized it was a long shot, but I wanted to know." She paused, reaching out to grab the other woman's hand. Vanessa almost tugged her hand away, but let the brunette caress her fingers. Shivering, she continued, "I want to see you again."
"Whatever," Vanessa said, uncomfortable. She looked into Sophia's eyes and only saw concern. "So what did you want, after all, you won the game."
"To see you again," Sophia repeated, gripping her fingers harder. "Tomorrow, I'm flying away. But I really, really want to see you again. Can I?"
Breathing hard, Vanessa looked back at the brunette, her youthful, pretty face serious. "I'm not interested in women," she said, lamely. The pounding of her heart only told her how confused she was in that moment. "We probably don't have anything in common, either." Sophia only toyed with her fingers, caressing them, causing Vanessa to shiver. "Long distance never works, you know."
Sophia gave a small chuckle, "That's all true. Still, it's what I want." She paused, her voice cracking, "What's the penalty for not giving the victor their spoils in a game of truth or dare?"
"I don't know," Vanessa replied, then smiled impishly, "Okay, I'll give you what you want." Sophia smiled wide, and Vanessa showed her teeth. "But it's going to be on my terms," she said. "I think you cheated." Taking a deep breath, Vanessa pulled her dress down, the top still uncomfortable across her chest. "Find me, if you can. I'll hang out with you again."
"Deal," Sophia said, without hesitating.
Vanessa could not help crooking an eyebrow, "You seem awfully confident. What makes you so sure you can find me?"
"I have my ways," Sophia replied, giggling. "Tell you what. If I find you, we'll hang out, and have a rematch. I won't try to get you to post anything obscene online, either. And I'll still win. Deal?"
An impulse shot through the blonde and she leaned forward, kissing the brunette lightly on the lips. "Good night," she said, and tugged Sophia's towel so hard it fell to the floor. "Have a safe flight," she said, stepping quickly to the door and letting herself out. Sophia's face had turned bright red when she tugged the towel free, and for a brief moment, Vanessa had thought about trying to play a second game, with more brazen stakes.
Walking down the hall, she shook her head, trying to clear some of her confusion. The evening had been fun, titillating and like nothing she had ever experienced before. On entering the elevator, she was relieved to be alone still, lost in her thoughts. Pulling her phone out of her purse, she started to find a taxi company that could take her back to the bar. It was too late to grab another drink, the bar closed more than an hour ago. But she was sober enough now she could at least drive home.
Early the next morning, Vanessa woke in her small, one bedroom apartment with only a mild headache. She shivered, clutching her robe around her athletic frame, and thought about the previous night. "Sophia," she said, savoring the strange young woman's name. "Crazy," she muttered, rising and heading for the bathroom.
Thirty minutes later, while drying her hair, the phone rang. "How did it go? Spill it, I've been dying to find out." Leticia, her best friend, sounded girlishly excited that morning. For good reason, at least, as she saw it. After more than a month of flirting with the mysterious James, Vanessa had finally agreed to go on a date with him. She had a few photos from his online profile, but you never knew if the reality matched up with the digital version.
"Sorry, Letty. He never showed. I met somebody else, though."
, Vanessa thought.
Why did I say that?
"Ok, spill it. Was he cute? Smart? What's he do for a living? He's not broke, is he?"
"Very attractive, a programmer, and no, not broke."
Not rich either, and a woman besides
, Vanessa continued. Still, she felt her heart pound a bit faster when thinking about Sophia.
Did her flight leave safely? I should have gotten her number.
"Lives in Boston, though."
"You know long distance relationships never work," Letty said, sounding disappointed. "If he wasn't Mr. Right, he must have been Mr. Right Now, eh? How big was he?"
"You're terrible! I'm not saying and no, he was not Mr. Right now." Face flushed, Vanessa added, "We had a very interesting night, and only kissed once."
"So romantic. He's going to call you right?"
Sighing, Vanessa said, "No, he said he can find me. But he didn't get my number."
"That makes no sense," Letty replied. "Oh, well, I'm sure the next guy you meet won't be such a flake." Pausing, Letty added, "Or James will explain why he never showed, and whisk you off your feet!"
"Sure, Letty, sure," Vanessa said. "How about I meet you for coffee later today? You're off, right?"
"Yep, how about that Starbucks around eleven?"
"See you there." Hanging up, she tossed her cell phone to the bed and walked back to the bathroom, still finishing up with her hair. After getting ready, she felt close to normal, and her hangover had all but disappeared. Breakfast was a small yogurt and some fruit, along with dried granola, all mixed into a bowl with a fresh cup of coffee.
Sighing, she walked to her desk and sat in front of the computer, wondering why, after nearly a month of flirting, James had pulled a no show. Did he think she was a flake, or not for real? Checking her email, there wasn't a single message. A few pieces of spam in her junk mail, a short note from her parents saying hi and that they were enjoying their time in Florida. Other than that, not a sign of the handsome stranger. As she finished her breakfast, she found herself growing more and more irritated.
Setting the bowl down on the desk, she crafted a scathing note, accusing James of being a inconsiderate lout, a time wasting, self absorbed, egotistical maniac who probably stalked women for fun. Then feeling bad, remembering all the sweet, wonderful things he had said, she finished with,
if you ever want to have a second chance to make a real first impression, you'd better make some serious plans. And, they'd better be amazing.
With her pent up energy, and the lack of any significant release the night before, Vanessa started up her television and inserted one of her pilates discs. A half hour later, covered with a light sheen of sweat, she realized lamely that she should have pushed off the shower until after a work-out. Shrugging, she changed her clothes and finally clad in t-shirt and jeans, checked the time and decided to head out early.
On her way, she grabbed her Kindle e-reader from the bed. Not only did it provide a great escape anytime from the present day world, it also served to send a strong signal to guys that she was otherwise occupied. The trouble with looks, she decided, was that very few guys wanted to know what she thought, outside of the bedroom. Given her career in the health industry, she found herself increasingly with less patience for those who weren't patients. Especially men. Almost two years ago, her college sweetheart had dumped her for a stripper. A stripper! To this day, she did not know which was worse, that he went to strip clubs behind her back, or he shacked up with some bimbo just because she was slightly more flexible.
While walking down the hall from her apartment, she tried to put on a friendly smile for a neighbor, but she barely managed a scowl. "Morning," the older couple said, nodding. She nodded in response, her temper flaring. The emotional roller coaster she'd been on the past month made her snappy with anybody she didn't consider a friend, or patient. The beige hallway was lightly decorated with a few paintings, and cheap green carpet. The building wasn't as new as many others, but the rent was reasonable, and on her salary, reasonable was still expensive. She reached the elevator and pushed the G2 button to descend to the second lowest garage, the parking permits on the first level were sold to the residents would could afford them. Free parking started in G2 and continued into G3, with limited guest access on G1.
Ambitious residents had already left for their Saturday plans, and the lazy ones wouldn't go out at all. The net result was when she entered the garage floor, it was completely quiet. She hurried to her dilapidated Accord, not worried, but not exactly relaxed, either. From her years of self defense classes, Vanessa knew the best way to ensure you weren't a victim was to never put yourself in that position. The light blue paint looked washed out in the dim light of the garage, and she noticed, not for the first time, the myriad scratches and a few spots where another car door had opened into hers.
, she thought,
I'll send this thing off to the great big junk heap in the sky and get a new one.
Starbucks covers every third corner of the San Jose neighborhood where Vanessa lived, but the best one she'd found was a few miles away, in a little neighborhood called Santana Row. Letty loved to have coffee there, simply because the crowd, the people watching, was like nowhere else in the city. Pretenders to money mingled with actual money and the women sometimes dressed sluttier than escorts. The drive there was uneventful and only took ten minutes. Grinning to herself, Vanessa parked her car in the public garage a few blocks from the coffee place. She took her time getting out, making sure her jeans and t-shirt were not wrinkled and showed off her assets.
Despite her general distaste for makeup, she wore lip gloss that morning, just to highlight the pink shade of her lips. Smiling into her rearview mirror, she caught site of a few guys walking back to their car in the garage. She winked at them, and the shorter of the trio tripped, crashing into one of his buddies. Standing back up straight, she looked over at them and said, "Be careful you don't trip on your tongue." Laughing, the two taller ones gave her bolder looks, while the guy who tripped turned beat red. Strutting away, she ignored them and allowed herself a wide smile as she walked. If only men would be nicer, more charming, less,
The up scale development was several blocks of shopping and condominiums, with every luxury brand imaginable on offer. Even a cigar shop, for the villain who has everything, and luxury cars, despite the impracticality of attempting to hold inventory in such a small showroom. Since Silicon Valley was populated with geeks that often times had more intelligence than street smarts, and more money than sense, Santana Row was filled at all hours of the day with the rich, the pretentious and the wannabes. Vanessa refused to rightly put herself in the last category, even though with each visit, a small part of her hoped she would meet a truly nice guy who, like her, wanted to heal the world.
Once entering the main street, Vanessa paused, just to the side of the walk way, looking around at the Saturday crowd. So many
people crowded the street, which in her view, was the easiest way to see the highest number of hot, eligible and rich guys in the valley. Carrying her small clutch slung over her shoulder, she held onto it casually as she made her way down the street, mingling with the crowd. The air was warm, despite the late fall season. Men, whether or not they were with a spouse or girlfriend, always gave her a long glance as they walked past. Women too, not always in hateful,
I want to stab that blonde bimbo
kind of way either. By the time she reached the cross walk, Vanessa felt immensely better.
A little ego stroking never hurt anybody,
she thought, stepping out into the street and reminding herself to forget about the random guy she'd been emailing for a month online. Crossing the street, she noticed again the cute little wine tasting area in the middle of the strip. Decorated like a Mediterranean bistro, they seemed to have a large selection of wine. Anytime she passed, a half dozen fashionably dressed couples sat, sipping and laughing. A pang of jealously stabbed through her, despite the looks she was getting, and ruined her buoyant mood for a moment.
Vanessa had a circle of friends from past jobs, the medical center and some others, but none as close as Letty. When she approached the Starbucks, she saw the petite Latina waiting outside, holding down a table. "Hey girl," Letty said, jumping up to give her a hug.
"Hey yourself," Vanessa replied, smiling to see her friend. Letty was shorter than her, despite the two inch pumps, and her outfit was skinny jeans and a baggy shirt. Despite her lack of fashion sense and plain face, Vanessa always thought of her friend as an angel. "How's Ernesto doing?"