“So, Boston,” said Alexandra. As agreed the previous night, she was behind the wheel of her girlfriend’s Wrangler, cruising north toward O’Hare airport. “In November?”
“Boston in November,” replied the blonde in the passenger seat. “It’s not that bad. At least as compared to here, that is.”
Alexandra fiddled with the heater, adjusting its temperature upward.
“What’s in Boston?” asked Alexandra.
“A lot of things,” said Kira, turning her head to smile at her partner. “You ever been?”
“Yeah. Last September we played Tufts up at their place,” Alexandra said. “We won, 3-1 I think. Yeah, 3-1. Sam had two of them and the last one was a header off a corner.” Alexandra neglected to mention that she had scored the third goal.
“Then you’d know it’s a nice city. To answer your question, I’m dog-sitting for a friend who’s going to a wedding in New York,” said Kira.
Alexandra laughed. “She can’t find a pet sitter closer than Chicago? Is she paying you for this?”
“Oh, I’m sure she could. Find one, that is. But remember, my brother’s a pilot for United, so I can fly for free if there’s space. And there are so many flights that I can always snag a seat, even if it takes patience.” Kira shook her head vigorously, letting her long hair re-settle itself in a new order. She’d let it air-dry this morning, and it was still damp despite having been washed hours before.
“Besides, this is like my favorite dog on the planet. She flunked out of service dog training midway through, so she has all these cool skills.”
“Then why’d she fail?” said Alexandra, accelerating past a slow middle-lane driver.
“She learned the skills fine, but she has a mind of her own as to when to use them. It’s not that she’s a bad dog. Overall, she’s great. She just uses her skills to her own ends,” said Kira.
“When she wants to go out at night night, she noses my friend and waits a minute. If Ashley doesn’t get up, Phoebe goes over and turns on the overhead lights. No barking, no whining. Just turns on the light switch,” said Kira, finishing the story just before erupting in laughter.
“Wow,” squeaked Alexandra, laughing too.
“Yeah, Ash had to have every single switch in the entire house replaced to put a stop to that. Some of the door levers, too. Phoebe opens doors, including the fridge. Which therefore has a lock.”
“She opens doors? Like, with her mouth?”
“No,” explained Kira. “They were those paddle-type doorknobs. She opens them with her paw, then pushes the door closed with her head. It’s hilarious to see. Ash left a few the way they were in rooms where she doesn’t care if the dog comes or goes. So you’ll be sitting in the basement. You’ll hear the door at the top of the stairs open, then close, and then Phoebe appears. You know, like this is completely normal.”
“Sure, a dog that opens doors,” said Alexandra. “Normal.”
“Alexandra, it’s not that she opens them. She closes them too. Every time. She’s like the world’s most polite canine miscreant.”
“I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that phrase before, ‘canine miscreant,'” said Alexandra.
“Not sure you ever will again,” replied Kira. “Next exit.”
Alexandra moved to the right lane. A couple minutes later, they were sitting curbside in front of the terminal.
“Enjoy Boston,” said Alexandra, leaning over for a brief hug.
Kira grabbed her by the top of her shirt, just below the collar.
“I’m going all weekend, and I’m just getting a hug?” she asked, extending her lower lip in a mock pout.
Alexandra glanced sideways between the seats, checking for anyone watching. Then she kissed Kira, letting her lips linger for a long second, feeling the softness of Kira’s full lips on hers. Her eyes closed involuntarily.
“That’s better,” said Kira, removing her seatbelt. “Take care of the car. Don’t use it to pick up too many girls.”
“And how many is too many?” asked Alexandra, her eyes following Kira’s backside as she dropped out of the truck.
“Mm, more than two?” Kira winked as she said it, then grabbed her bag from the back. “Drive safe!”
Within seconds, she was inside the terminal. Alexandra could swear she’d given her hips an extra wiggle just before she entered the revolving door.
She managed to find a parking space with a block of her building. Once in the warmth of her apartment, Alexandra composed a mental to-do list for the day.
A shower came first. She’d slept in while Kira had gotten ready earlier. Other items included a trip to the gym, catching up on some reading for class, and possibly finding something new to wear for the party. Time permitting, of course.
She stepped into the steaming water. Oh, who am I kidding, she thought. I’m getting a new dress for tonight. It’ll need to be cheap, but canlı bahis şirketleri I’m doing it. I might as well do the H&M run sometime midday instead of later, when traffic gets bad. But why?
Her mind flashed back to Kira exiting the car at O’Hare. She knew Kira had been teasing her, but their flirting also covered the elephant in the room: apart for the weekend, they were — per their agreement — free to sleep with others. And she wasn’t sure how the idea of other women checking out her partner made her feel.
She has great hair, Alexandra thought while rinsing out the shampoo from her own. The kind that people compliment. She paused, wondering whether her own mousy brown locks had ever garnered a compliment. Not that she could remember, at least.
And then there’s Sam’s hair. That’s in another league. Thick, chestnut brown waves well past her shoulders. The last time they’d seen each other, Alexandra had struggled to resist reaching out and running her fingers through it. But that would be super creepy, even if the rumors are true and she’s into you, she thought.
Alexandra turned off the water and sighed. Sam, Sam, Sam. Sam was a whole different ballgame from Kira. Where Kira was several years older than Alexandra and took the lead both in and out of bed, Sam was Alexandra’s quiet soccer teammate. Confident on the field, Sam was at least as introverted as Alexandra off of it.
She turned off the water and grabbed her towel, mind still fixed on Sam. Besides Kira, Alexandra had been with one other woman, her old classmate Katy McLean. Like Kira, Katy had taken the lead in all matters seduction and sex. Was she, Alexandra, actually ready to take the leap and try to get Sam into bed?
A mental picture answered the question for her. Sam in front of her, long hair flowing over naked shoulders, then flipping her tresses over her shoulder as she knelt on a bed between Alexandra’s legs. Sam, who would be at the party at Lydia’s tonight, supposedly willing to make some version of the daydream into reality.
Alexandra bit her lip and knew her answer. Yes, this was something that needed to happen.
From there the morning proceeded easily. It was as if some inner conflict had resolved and her mind simply moved to the next problem. Her classwork presented no substantial difficulty, mere words that needed to be absorbed, albeit in large quantity.
When she looked up from the pile of books, Alexandra was startled to realize it had been four hours. A quick check of her fridge revealed enough to microwave something for lunch, but precious little more.
OK, she thought. Groceries. Gym? Run? Oh, I need something to wear. This is a going-away party, which means there will be pictures. Pictures means I need to look cute. Looking cute means…ugh. I definitely don’t have anything cute that is clean, given how long it’s been since I’ve done laundry. Laundry. Dishes.
She made a mental list while completing the last item first. She’d put the laundry on next, then go for a quick run while the washer ran. Turn it over, shower, then go try to find a damn dress. Breathe. It was nice to have Kira’s car for the weekend. Now she could drive to the mall and go to H&M in person, rather than needing to plan ahead and buy everything online, hoping it would fit. Poor quality or not, at least the clothes are cute, she thought.
It was only when she was standing in the store that she realized she didn’t need to be there. She’d just done her laundry. Hence her clothes were clean, even a couple dresses that didn’t require dry cleaning.
Nonetheless, she walked a quick circuit of the store, only bothering with dresses that might be right for the party that night. Casual, or close enough to look casual. Not black. Tight enough, but also enough coverage to not look skanky. Nothing seemed to quite fit the requirements.
She was about to head for the exit when a dress on a sale rack caught her eye. She checked the size. Small. Alexandra smiled, wondering at what level of cheapness stores stopped bothering with numeric sizes and reverted to descriptions. Not that she objected: “small” was probably a more accurate description of her body size than some arbitrary number chosen by a corporation.
She pulled the dress off the rack. Not black — check. Dark green. Long sleeves, high neckline, but short enough to get some attention. She eyed it, guessing it would fall mid-thigh. All good, including the price tag. Deal, she thought. Sam’s going to die when she sees me in this.
Five minutes later the dress sat in a bag on the front seat next to her, the Jeep backing out of a parking space and headed back to Hyde Park.
New dress unbagged, laundry folded, lunch eaten, Alexandra sat down to cross off items on the “classwork” to-do list. canlı kaçak iddaa The recent past had been full of personal upheaval — meeting Kira and the reshuffling of priorities that entailed — but she nonetheless did not wish to neglect her studies. And once she got into the rhythm, she found the concepts of advanced economics again folding themselves together in her mind. She was able to efficiently plow through most of the preparation she would need to begin her next week of class on Monday when her phone buzzed.
Lydia: Hey, favor for the best person ever?
Alexandra: Sure, but what do I need?
Lydia: Besides better jokes?
Alexandra: 😛 Seriously, what’s up?
Lydia: I need a little help cleaning this place beforehand. You game?
Lydia: Be here around 7:30?
Alexandra: Sounds good.
Lydia: No need to get ready first. Can do that over here?
Alexandra: OK, I’ll just have to bring my stuff…
Lydia texted again before Alexandra could hit send. Lydia: No need to bring anything but what you’re wearing. I’m doing your makeup, ok?
What’s this really about? She must be getting all sentimental, Alexandra thought. We’ve known each other for years and her makeup is always perfect, but she’s never offered to do mine.
Lydia: Just in case you end up meeting someone tonight you’d like to look good for. 😉
Oh, that’s what this is about.
Alexandra: You trying to set me up?
Lydia: Sure am. 7:30?
Alexandra felt her throat constrict slightly. Should she have kept her secrets from Lydia? And why was the party’s hostess trying to set her up, seeing as she already had a girlfriend? And most of all, why do I want her to?
Alexandra arrived at the appointed time and was greeted by Lydia, glass of champagne in each hand.
“Kelly’s out picking up some dinner for us,” she said, gesturing vaguely toward her roommate’s bedroom. “She has another party to go to later, so don’t worry. You won’t have to hang out with her.”
“Good.” Alexandra’s and Kelly’s mutual distaste was evident to all three women. Kelly was exactly the type of fake-nice sorority girl, heavy on the pearls and light on brains, that Alexandra had spent her entire college career avoiding. If she could bring dinner and shut up, it would be ideal.
As it turned out, she did just that. After she slid a pizza onto the table and took a piece, Kelly vanished into her room. A faint whiff of a scent that might have been called Bitchy by Chanel trailed in her wake.
“I’m surprised she even took a piece,” said Alexandra. “Didn’t know she actually ate.”
Lydia, already halfway through her second slice, glared at her. “And you say she’s the mean one, huh?”
“Suppose you’ve got a point,” Alexandra replied. She does. What the hell’s gotten into me?
Alexandra nodded and slid the glass across the table.
“It’s in the fridge, sweetie. This isn’t a restaurant. And top mine off too, will ya?” At least Lydia laughed as she said it.
As they drank their second glasses of champagne, they slowly tidied the apartment. It wasn’t messy to begin with, but Alexandra could see where Lydia needed the help: dust in the corners, a few too many dishes, crumbs in the sofa.
They had almost finished when Kelly stepped out of her room, coat in hand.
“How do I look?”
“Good,” said Alexandra, forcing a smile. Good, if you’re going to the country club for dinner with a fifty-year-old. You look like a housewife in training. “Where are you heading tonight?”
“Oh, to Jeff’s fraternity house. A date function,” she said. “You can use my room to store coats or anything if you want to, Lydia. It’s unlocked.”
“Thanks. See you later?”
“Probably tomorrow,” said Kelly, winking as she slid on her coat. “Have fun, ladies.” The door closed behind her.
Lydia sighed as they set to drying the last dishes.
“What’s up?” asked Alexandra.
“I just could do with hearing less about her boyfriend. Jeff this, Jeff that. Jeff likes my legs, so I’ve decided to wear more dresses. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. Thing is, it’s good Jeff’s name is only one syllable because that’s about all he gets out before he bores you to tears.”
“Lydia, unfiltered,” replied Alexandra, placing a final glass into a cabinet.
“By the way, you look way better than she does tonight,” said Lydia. “And at least you bothered to wear tights. Fucking freezing out there.”
Alexandra laughed. “So, now?”
“You drink — or not. canlı kaçak bahis I make you look hotter. Definitely not to set you up with a particular Miss Reynolds, no way.”
“Definitely not,” said Alexandra.
“I mean, I don’t think you’d need any help, but hey. Friends are friends.”
And I don’t understand why you’re pushing this so hard, but hey, thought Alexandra. I’m going for it anyway, so might as well let her tease me about it.
Lydia did Alexandra’s makeup at the table, away from any mirror, so Alexandra had no idea what to expect when she walked into the bathroom to check. It had been years since anyone had done this for her. The last time had been her senior prom in high school. The memory of that night sent a shudder through her.
Lydia wasn’t lying, she thought. I look fucking hot. Like, Instagram makeup girl hot. Wow.
“OK, so,” said Lydia. “Since I won’t be here to do this for you in the future, it’s not too hard. You have nice skin, so just a little bit of color to pull out your complexion, the same winged look you’ve been doing on your eyes. A tiny bit of contouring on your nose. But some fucking fancy false lashes, ok? And then I think this lipstick is perfect on you. You can have it, by the way. It looks awful with my hair color.”
“Doesn’t sound so easy,” Alexandra said. But Lydia was right. She couldn’t stop staring at the dark red lipstick. It made her mouth look pouty and huge and… Fuck. This is so not me. But it’s me. What is this?
“I already put the tube in your purse,” said Lydia. “Just in case you need to touch it up later. You’re welcome.”
“Thanks,” Alexandra muttered, staring into the glass.
The guests began arriving shortly after nine. A mix of people she knew — former soccer teammates, mostly — and some she didn’t. Alexandra made small talk as others hurried to catch up with her alcohol consumption: she’d polished off a third glass just before Lydia did her lips. That would suffice for a while.
She was standing in the kitchen with her back to the door when it opened at ten-thirty.
“Sam!” she heard someone shriek, and only then did she turn around.
Sam Reynolds was pretty much as Alexandra’s mind had pictured her looking best. Coat already slung casually over one arm, hair down, strappy silver heels, matching tights, and delightfully form-fitting burgundy dress. Shit, thought Alexandra. The exact dress I’m wearing, but a different color. Ugh. She turned back to the kitchen, pretending to look in the fridge. Oh, well.
Sam made her way around the apartment, greeting everyone but keeping the conversations short. Within minutes, she had arrived in front of Alexandra.
“Nice dress,” she said, reaching out to Alexandra for a hug.
“Looks better on you.”
“It really doesn’t,” Sam replied. “And your lipstick is…perfect.” The short pause before “perfect” gave Alexandra all the information she needed.
Their eyes lingered a moment extra on each other. Someone in the living room squealed — a spilled drink, possibly. “Flip cup!” came a shout.
“Ah, I guess we’re at that portion of the evening,” Sam said, drily. “Guess we have to join, hm?”
They did, taking the same side of the table. Sam was immediately to her right as the competitive juices began to flow. They won. Again. And then again. The thing about drinking games is that more winning begets more drinking. Even if you’re not trying to get wasted, it sometimes happens. And I’m getting close.
“I’m going to take the next game off,” Alexandra said, making sure only Sam heard. “Had three glasses of champagne beforehand, so…”
“I’ll step out too,” came the brunette’s reply. “Champagne, hm? Fancy. I might have pounded a beer or two before coming over, but that’s between you and me.”
They stepped away from the table to a few sarcastic cracks, including one from their hostess. Lydia seemed to be having a blast, if the giggling and slurred words were any indication.
Alexandra had gone into Kelly’s bedroom to dig her phone out of the piled jackets and purses. No texts. Odd. I expected Kira would have texted me. Of course, I didn’t text her either. She reached into the side pocket of the purse and found the lipstick, reapplying it in Kelly’s mirror. Useful for something, finally, she thought.
Her back was again to the door when she heard it close with a click. Sam strode over, their eyes meeting in the mirror.
“Having fun?” Alexandra asked.
“I guess. You know how I am with groups of people,” Sam replied. She was now standing on Alexandra’s left, shoulder-to-shoulder. “Good call on the touch-up. Solo cups aren’t quite conducive to looking your best.”
Alexandra could feel their arms brush as Sam leaned in to check her own reflection.
She held out the lipstick. “Actually, it’d look really good on you too. Match your dress, you know?”
Sam turned to her. Something in her eyes had changed. They weren’t the relaxed girl from the party a few minutes ago. This was Sam’s game face.