Copyright © 2009 A.Matheson. All Rights Reserved.
Feedback: good/bad/ugly, all welcome if constructive. Though flattery is sought.
Part twelve: She kissed her
Place your bets
Kirstin had gone to bed that Saturday night full of intent. Her evening with Grace and all the additional confusion it had brought had made her want to act on impulse the way everyone else around her seemed to do. It wasn't in the least bit her style, but the more she thought about it, the more she didn't understand why she was denying herself the prospect of Megan.
When she awoke the next morning it took a while for her to recall the disastrous, and embarrassing incident that had followed her attempt at spontaneity. She groaned out loud. It took her mere seconds to recant her late evening intentions. There were plenty of reasons for Kirstin not to act, the biggest of which was one she had not previously considered, and it had been staring at her all evening during the party.
As Kirstin rose from a bed that she had obviously been very restless in, she turned over the previous day's events, as she prepared for a new one.
It was so irritating for Grace to appear suddenly and be such a martyr, for her to seemingly want Kirstin's happiness above her own. This had always been a sticking point, something Kirstin could never entirely resolve. How could letting Kirstin go be a show of absolute love? All Kirstin had ever wanted was for Grace to fight. To her it seemed that Grace didn't want her enough to make the bigger sacrifices. But then she was faced with her own hypocrisy; she had stopped making the same sorts of sacrifices.
There was indeed an argument to say that Grace did not love her enough, but perhaps Grace could argue that Kirstin had stopped loving her the way she once had. The problem was, Kirstin hadn't known what was true, neither at the time of their break-up, nor now. All that she was sure of was how confusing it was to have Grace and Megan in such close proximity, both women clearly having a very definite effect on her.
As she studied the hung over face staring back at her, she suddenly felt a blush of shame. Kirstin had firmly told Megan, and herself, that she was not some fucked up little girl. But here she was all pathetically torn between her last girlfriend whom she adored but couldn't seem to live a life with, and the visceral excitement of a schoolgirl crush that seemed to mean more to her than she could currently fathom.
The bloodshot eyes were sad. She pulled faces at herself in irritation. The problem was that to move forward with Megan was to draw a very certain and final line under Grace, and that was something Kirstin had never had to do before. After the first major break-up she and Grace had been through, which had been heartbreaking for both of them, each subsequent one had been more temporary than the last, separations whereby each woman gained perspective, and new boundaries were set. They had learned, and changed in small ways to compensate for the most problems, until only the biggest problem was left, and it lay exposed, gaping, like a wound.
Having scrubbed roughly at her face Kirstin moved back to the bedroom intent on dressing, but instead she sat on the bed in quiet reverie.
How could she move forward with Megan, without explaining to her what she would need to go through in order to do it? How could she tell her she wasn't entirely over Grace, indeed may not ever completely get over that relationship? Did she have to? She wanted to be ready, but was it fair to begin something if she weren't?
It was a very legitimate concern, yet strangely what worried and upset Kirstin more was that fact she might indeed do just that, get over Grace; that the last six years of her life, her love, and her history, could finally come to an end.
No-one knew her better than Grace. No-one on earth, not even her mother, knew as much about her; her likes and dislikes, her strange little idiosyncrasies, what she said, and what she really meant. The woman knew what every flicker across Kirstin's face, or turn in her lip might indicate, sometimes before she knew herself. Surrendering to that knowledge, and allowing someone to settle so closely, had been a long and hard process for someone so secretive, and now she was realising that she would not only be relinquishing their connection, but actually contemplating having to go through all of it again.
That thought in itself was enough to tire the filmmaker. She drew a deep breath. Grace would be her friend, and Megan would be a huge unknown quantity. Then her thoughts turned entirely back to Megan. She remembered the chivalrous gesture of the night before, and smiled, suddenly thrilled by the prospect of it having been fuelled by underlying emotion.
There was no denying that when she thought about Meg her pulse noticeably quickened. The very innocent crush she'd once had on Megan as a teen, so deeply embedded, had flared to the surface with a searing intensity. The more time she spent with her, the more she saw how the broody, angry young woman had not so much changed, as tempered, and quite beautifully. She had put her sometimes wound up energy to good use. She was kind and generous, driven but careful. She spoke her mind, but was respectful, and often acted on her desires.
Whereas Kirstin sat and thought. She was a director, and observer. She saw details, and problems, where most people were carried away by the bigger, more immediate picture. Indeed she was thinking too hard. She was three, maybe even four steps ahead of herself; daring to hope for things she wasn't yet ready for.
Just go and kiss her. Find out what it is. If it turns into something, deal with it then.
“I can do that,” she told herself. “I can totally do that.”
And so, after a few hours of deep and thoroughly sober thought, Kirstin had returned to the same conclusion as the drunken night before.
“You ready to talk yet?” Suze had been sitting on this gossip for long enough. It had been torture going to the Pre Wimbledon Party and not having an opportunity to speak with Kirstin, and it had also been a little enlightening to see Kirstin interacting with Grace. Of all people it was Suze who knew exactly what she was looking for.
A set of green-brown eyes flicked her way suspiciously, as their owner filled a cup of coffee from the vending machine. The glare was accompanied by a long breath that might have been a sigh. “Are you ?” came the challenging response.
Suze frowned. The problem was that as much as Suze liked to hear about other people's romantic entanglements, she also had the burning need to share her own. And the truth was she had plenty she wanted to talk about. Far too much in fact.
The pair stared at one another. “Okay, fine.” Suze spat. “Fine.” She took a quick breath. “Kirstin, Joshua won't invite me back to his room.”
A set of eyebrows raised, “What?” She hadn't been expecting that, she almost spilled her morning beverage.
Suze moved closer to the machine, leaning on it conspiratorially. “We're getting along really well.” She accepted the coffee that was handed to her, in order that Kirstin could wipe her hands on some napkins. “We're, well… dating.” She continued, handing back the coffee and allowing Kirstin to steer them down the corridor towards the side exit. “We're doing everything together, y'know?” It hadn't escaped Kirstin's attention, and she'd been actively encouraging it wherever possible. They left the building, hitting a fresh morning air that smelt wet, and walked toward the live truck. “We get drunk, we laugh, we stay out late, we dance, and then we go back to our separate rooms!”
Kirstin was first to reach the stairs. She spared a glance towards the band's bus parked not too far behind them, but saw no movement. “Have you invited him to your room?” she asked, reaching for the door.
“I can't do that,” Suze hissed, standing at the bottom of the small set of stairs.
Kirstin paused, “Why not?”
Suze dropped her voice, “I can't invite him to my room for sex,” Kirstin pulled a face, “when we haven't kissed.”
“You haven't kissed?!” both women became supremely aware of how quiet it was, and how raised Kirstin's voice had become. She ushered Suze inside, and closed the door. “You haven't kissed?” she repeated, in a calmer tone.
“Well, yeh, we have just… not…” She couldn't really count a kiss on the cheek, but was embarrassed to admit that was as far as they had gotten, “…it's not a regular thing we do. You know?”
No, it appeared Kirstin didn't, in fact she had assumed they were at the very least doing just that. “You don't kiss him goodnight?” They both sat.
“He doesn't kiss me goodnight.”
Her boss opened her mouth to comment, but found herself very amused, and shook her head in an attempt to fathom just what was going on in her assistant's head. “You're waiting for him to make a move?” she guessed. “ You , Susannah Bleich, the woman who rarely takes prisoners, who dates guys who can usually barely handle her, is waiting for Joshua to make a move? ” Suze cocked her jaw. “This is Josh, the pretty boy we work with?” She clarified. “The one who picks up snails from pathways so people won't tread on them in the night? The guy who we joke about weightlifting with kittens because he's toned, but really not the type to visit a gym? That Josh, yes?”
Suze rolled her eyes, “Yes. Yes, I know. It's just… I feel like…” her hand gestured in the air, searching for the appropriate words, and failing.
Kirstin shook her head with a smile. “Suze, you like him, he likes you. Just kiss him.”
“But, I don't want him to think I'm… easy.”
Kirstin almost laughed out loud, but thankfully caught and swallowed her mirth in time. “Suze, the guy has been besotted with you for as a long as I can remember, and you have barely noticed, trust me, in his eyes, you're far from being easy.”
Suze sighed, “Well I'm noticing him now,” she remarked wryly.
Kirstin smiled with genuine glee. “Good. Just… Corner him by the back of the tour bus and kiss him. It's who you are, it's what you want, right?”
“The tour bus?” Suze was sidetracked.
Kirstin was quick to brush it off, “Or, you know, wherever … Just do it.”
“Yes.” Kirstin affirmed, realising as she gave the advice meant for herself that Suze was one of the few people she ever confided in. “And I'm going to kiss Meg.”
Two ears pricked, “You are ? I mean, you don't? Already?”
Kirstin laughed gently, “When did we stop talking about stuff?” Suze just raised a brow at her. “No. We don't. We have, we did, but… I'm… I think I'm being stupid, I'm trying to avoid…” It was so complicated and yet so simple.
“You like her.”
“I like her. A lot.”
“I'm scared,” the filmmaker confessed.
“Me too,” Suze nodded. “We're about twelve right now.”
“What made you decide to…?”
“Um.” Kirstin did her best to explain something she didn't yet fully understand herself. “I can't stop thinking about her,” she answered simply. “She flirts with me even when she's trying not to, and she's driving me crazy .”
Suze smiled, “She's kinda wild , Kirstin. In a Gia kinda way…”
“I know!” she agreed, turning in her chair to start up some systems.
“Were you guys… involved when you were younger? I mean I know you were… friends.”
“No. Well, not exactly,” she conceded.
“I knew it. All that friction. Teenage angst and frustration, right?”
Kirstin spun back to her. “She was horrid to me.”
“C-lassic. I like her more already,” Suze pushed up from the lounging seat she had reclined on, and moved to join Kirstin by the monitors.
“You…” Kirstin was about to ask at what point she hadn't liked her when she was reminded of something. “You talked to her.” It wasn't a question.
Uh oh. “Oh, the other night?” Suze managed to remain nonchalant.
“She say something?”
“She mentioned it.”
“Well, I was trying to get some information out of her, since you weren't talking to me.”
“I was talking to you!”
“Speaking, yes, but not telling me anything. Hey, can you pass me that tape up there?”
Kirstin reached up to grab the article. “There was nothing to tell,” she answered, handing her the tape.
“You slept with her, and then hid it from me.”
“Not this again.”
“I'm just pointing out that that was something for you to tell me.” Kirstin opened up her email account, ignoring the direction on the conversation. “Was it good?” Suze was concentrated on her own screen.
Kirstin smiled suddenly. “Yes.”
Suze started grinning too. “And you want to do it again, right.”
Kirstin coughed gently, still not looking at Suze, “Yes.”
“Kissing her is a good way to start that then.”
“I think so.”
“Well, if you will, I will.”
Now they looked at one another.
“I think we just hit fifteen.” Kirstin commented dryly.
Suze laughed, “Maybe.”
“Yeah. You kiss Meg, I'll kiss Josh.”
“How come I have to go first?”
“Cos you already decided where you're going to do it,” Suze turned her attention back to her screen, clicking through a few items and then searching the tape in front of her for an address.
Kirstin's tongue pushed at her cheek. Caught out. “Okay, smartarse, fine, I'll go first. What happens if you back out?”
“What happens if you back out?”
“Okay, if you don't do it you owe me five hundred, if I don't I owe you five hundred. If we both do, or both don't, we're even.”
“You know I don't have five hundred, right?”
“Seriously, on what we pay you?” Kirstin smiled.
“Are we really going to do this?”
“Um, today is travel day? Not so great for making moves on people.”
“Then we'll have to be inventive,” Kirstin raised a brow suggestively.
Suze frowned, “Can today run into tomorrow provided we haven't slept yet?”
“Sure, we'll say before the next sleep, how's that?” Kirstin was casual.
“That means I have to stay awake until I kiss him,” Suze joked.
“I should hope you'll be awake whilst you're kissing him.”
A short sharp knock appeared at the door, causing both women's stomachs to flutter slightly.
Kirstin recovered her senses first, “Come in.”
The door tentatively opened. “You ladies loaded your luggage?” It was their new driver, a Londoner by the name of Tony.
“Hey Tony, yes we did, we ready to move?”
“Just waiting on some stragglers, should be off soon though.”
“Let me guess, grungy looking, tattooed stragglers?”
“The lad's here, with one of your lot, we're just waiting on the girls.” Kirstin suppressed a smile, it was funny to hear Meg and Jess referred to as girls, since they were her age, and she felt far from being a girl most days. But compared to Tony they were exactly that. He looked like he might have been trucking for thirty years. “You travelling in here?” he asked them.
“Oh, no. I mean sometimes we do, but we just came to check our mail.”
“Okay, well best get a seat on the bus then, I'll let Alan know who you are.”
Tony and Alan, how very English , Kirstin thought.
The pair finished their business, Kirstin downed her coffee and they locked up. They headed off towards the bus they had been assigned, both acutely aware that they had yet to see either Josh or Megan. Voices echoing down the street soon put that to rights.
“Not talking to you.” Shrill and Texan.
“Jess, that's not what I meant.” Gravelly and almost Canadian.
Suitcases could be heard scraping across the stones where the pavement ended and turned sharply in to the back alley by the venue.
“Not talking to you. Not talking to you. Not talking to you.”
“You're being childish!” Meg was apparently trying to catch up to her.
“Not talking to you.” Jess was not giving her opportunity.
“Argh! Fine,” Megan stopped, blowing the word out in frustration and rolling her eyes fiercely, “then I guess we're not talking.” Jess nodded vigorously, but didn't stop.
Kirstin and Suze had frozen, watching the scene midway boarding their bus.
“Why do we keep missing out on stuff like this?” Suze asked.
“Um. I don't think we did,” Kirstin answered seeing Josh tailing them, camera in hand.
“Is he allowed to take a camera out with him?”
“Nope,” Kirstin shook her head deciding to let the scene unravel before interjecting.
Megan sat on her case in the middle of the alley and folded her arms. Josh rounded in on her, “You have anything to say about that?”
Megan frowned at him like he was an idiot. “Don't give up your day job,” she said, observing the weak nature of his question, the irony of her comment fully intended. “No. I have nothing to say about that ,” she gestured toward the rapidly disappearing figure of her lead singer. She was still wary of Josh and so was trying not to be rude, but he was making it very difficult.
Kirstin broke their moment from a distance, sensing Meg's discomfort. “Josh,” she half-shouted, “What are you doing?” He pulled the camera from his shoulder and edged one headphone away from his ear as he turned to meet the two sets of eyes. “Today's not just a travel day,” Kirstin continued when she had his attention, “it's a rest day. That means no work for you, and no bothersome cameras for them.”
Megan's gaze was also drawn to the unexpected intervention, and Kirstin saw her relax a little.
Josh's brow rose, “It is? I thought that was tomorrow.”
“Today and tomorrow,” she clarified.
“Aw, crap. Sorry boss.” He turned back to the drummer apologetically, “Sorry Meg, thought you were fair game.”
She dragged her gaze away from Kirstin and glared at him a little before shrugging, “Whatever, you're the least of my problems,” she told him with a half-hearted, lop-sided smile.
Josh had pulled his headphones completely off by now, “Want me to erase that?” he nodded at the camera in his hand.
“Can you make it all disappear?” she asked him hopefully in mock childlike excitement.
He laughed, almost kindly Meg thought, which surprised her, “No, but I can get rid of some of the evidence.”
Meg nodded, “That would be good. Thanks Josh.”
Both parties were a little disturbed by their sudden revision of manners, and they observed one another for a moment in an attempt to understand the meaning of it. Meg shook her head and snorted as Josh started to grin, realising they were both equally confused.
“See you later, Meg.”
He headed off towards the live truck in order to deposit the camera safely, scrunching up his face at the two women who were still midway boarding their bus.
Meg in turn got up from her case and pulled the trolley handle out. Following suit she headed after him towards the bands bus, passing the two women, one of whom she noticed was more intent on watching Joshua's behind with badly veiled desire.
“Good morning,” she smiled gratefully at Kirstin as she approached.
“Hey,” Kirstin wasn't sure if she were supposed to be a little embarrassed about the night before, but since her objective hadn't changed she felt bolder about it. “Can I talk to you?”
Suze's attention snapped right back, “ Now ?” she whispered under breath, Kirstin nudged her to shut up.
Meg was surprised, her stomach flipped, she thought she knew all too well what kind of conversation they would be having and she sighed, stopping by their bus. “Sure. But can it wait?” She nodded to the other bus containing her new enemy, “I need to deal with this problem first.” She heard how that sounded, and heard Suze react not so subtly with a sharp intake of breath. “Not that you're… I just, I need to deal with Jess. Or I'm in for a hell of ride. Is that okay?”
Kirstin sighed, “Of course.” She hated being thought of as a problem, and it gave her even more resolve to change the situation.
Megan dragged her bag off down the alley.
“Ouch,” Suze exclaimed causing Kirstin to look at her. “I think you've more you need to tell me.”
“Yes, but I should be telling her,” she noted wryly.
Bursting a bubble
“What the hell's wrong with her?” Illy was scowling at Jess who was at the other end of the tour truck scowling back in warning. The more one scowled the more the other did. Illy's face was beginning to ache.
“She's mad at me,” Meg answered.
“What did you do?” Illy broke from the facial exercising to pay Meg more attention. She leaned forward a little.
“Hey! Don't look at my letters.”
Illy pulled a face in ridicule. “Do you have a ‘U'?”
“Then I don't care.”
“I didn't do anything,” Meg continued. “She's mad cos I went out with you and Aud.”
“Because you didn't go out with her? Who's go is it?”
“Yours. No, because she wasn't invited.”
Illy darted a look down the bus, “But… we don't even like each other, I'm your friend.”
Meg looked at her. “That's not true.”
“Yes it is.” Illy answered, laying down a word off the ‘Q'. “She pulls this shit all the time, I'm sick of being nice to her.”
“You're not nice to her, but I know you like her really,” Meg teased, glancing at Illy's scrabble contribution. “Queef? You put Queef?”
“Triple word too.” Illy said plainly at a frowning competitor. Illy looked briefly back down the bus at Jessica and was about to speak again, but paused before continuing carefully. “I do like her, but she's weird around me and as jealous as a five year old. As well as,” her wording was specific, “being a real arse with me sometimes.”
“She likes you,” Meg said, as she wrote the score down. “Trust me. She just doesn't know how to handle you.”
“Yeh, you know, singer ego thing. You're too cool for her.”
“ I'm too cool for her? She really is five.”
“No, I mean, Jess doesn't actually think she's cool, and you, well… you don't care and that makes you cool,” Meg thought that explained everything. Illy didn't look like she understood. “You two are actually really similar, except you're like the grown-up settled-down version.” That got a raised brow. Illy snorted, stood up and marched to the front of the bus, much to Megan's wide-eyed worry. “Shit.”
Illy pulled up on front of her not-so-nemesis, “Jessica, stop behaving like a child and come and talk to your friend, because she is filling my head with all kindsa crap about how you and I might actually get along, you know, in public, and frankly, that scares the shit of me, because it's the only thing I know I can count on not happening all tour.” She finally took a breath.
Jess stared at her. “What are you talking about?”
“She says you like me,” Illy seemed to be mocking.
“She said what ?” Jess leaned around Illy to glare up the bus at Meg.
“You DO,” Meg shouted at her down the bus.
“I don't like you.”
“Don't tell me… it's not like, it's love , right?”
Jess held her gaze, “Oh yeh, I love you almost as much as I love myself.”
“Remind me again why you're on this tour?” Jess snapped icily.
Illy tilted her head, reluctant to answer that question. “Jess drop the attitude, just for a minute, okay?” Jess clamped her mouth shut, waiting. Illy perched on the sofa seat opposite her. She lowered her voice, “Why are you so mad at her? You're being an arse.”
Jess's shoulders slumped, Megan was trying hard to overhear, but she was too far away, and too nervous to edge any closer.
“I'm mad at her for…” She grunted. “I'm not really mad at her, I'm mad at you .” It was Illy's turn to clamp her jaw. “For not inviting me,” she clarified.
Illy almost laughed, “Like you would have come!” But Jess looked very serious. “You really wanted to come out and meet my girlfriend?”
“What do you think I would do? Tell her? It's been three years Illy. I'd like to meet her, yes.”
“Fine. I mean I'm not sure she'd want to meet you, but fine, I can ask her.”
“She already knows, Jess.”
“And she let you come on the tour?” Jess seemed doubtful.
“She doesn't let me do anything. Where's Ben by the way?” Illy turned the tables.
“Tragically sleeping,” Jess attempted a pun, “Your bass and drums still have that pleasure to come, right?”
Illy shook her head, “They smoke too much, they'll be playing poker for dope before they jump that train.”
“Maybe,” Jess conceded.
“Since it's me you're mad at, can you smooth things over with Meg? She has other things to worry about.”
Jess frowned, remembering Megan's ominous phone call from her mother's hospital. “She's gonna want an explanation.”
“Then tell her.”
“Are you kidding?! The Moralistic Martyr will probably never speak to me again.”
“Cos you don't behave badly or screw around on anyone , so this would come as a huge shock.” Sarcasm actually did become her.
“This is different,” Jess uttered.
“Well it shouldn't be.”
Jess stared at Illy, “Why shouldn't it?”
“Because I'm not going to leave her, and you don't even want me to.” Illy seemed to be challenging her to deny it.
“She won't understand.”
“Sometimes I'm a little confused by it. Like right now ,” Illy widened her eyes.
Jess rolled her eyes in defeat, “Okay, but be prepared to take the fall-out,” she sang. “And we're not telling Ben.”
Jess stood and they eye balled each other as Illy allowed her to pass down the gangway. She followed Jess as she sloped up the bus to meet a hesitant Meg.
Jess flung herself into a sofa. “Ah'm sorry, Meg. My… anger was misdirected.” She seemed stifled, having no idea how to begin this conversation, and really not wanting to. Illy looked at her and she shrugged.
“She was mad at me, not you,” the other singer filled in.
“What?” Meg was quite understandably confused.
“See, Jess was mad that I invited you, and not her, to meet Aud. And the reason I didn't invite her to meet Aud is because I'm not in the habit of introducing other women I've slept with to my girlfriend.” It was that simple. Jess was a little shocked the truth was out so quickly.
“What?” Meg said through a forced half-smile, now only hoping she was confused.
“O-kay, so ah'm-a gonna be… elsewhere. Cos ah'm chicken.”
“No, no, no, you don't,” Illy caught a hold of the escapee and sat her back down in front of Megan.
“You're sleeping with her?” Meg was incredulous, directing her question at the only one who seemed capable of talking straight.
“Not right now no, but I have. We have.”
“What does that mean?”
Illy took a breath, “It means that Jess and I have, on a number of occasions…”
“No,” Meg butted in, not wanting to hear it spoken aloud, “ I mean… Aud, this was before Aud, right?” she asked hopefully.
“Yes. And no,” Illy answered honestly.
Jess leaned on her fist, having the decency to look a little ashamed, something Meg wasn't used to.
“How can I not have known about this? That's ridiculous.” She looked at Jess whose gaze hit the floor, “You're sleeping with her?!” she repeated.
“Not anymore ,” Jess answered with the attempted sarcasm of a sulking five year old.
Illy picked up the conversation, “You didn't know because Jess and I act like we hate each other most of the time, because most of the time, we do.”
“Are you winding me up?”
“Cos this is the kind of sick twisted thing she would encourage you to do,” Meg said, referring to Jess.
“Actually, she didn't want to tell you,” Illy answered.
“No kidding,” anger and hurt were now edging into the drummer's voice.
“But I don't see the point of hiding it.”
Meg looked up at her, startled, “You can not tell Ben.”
“That's what I said,” Jess piped up.
Illy frowned, “Fine, but I don't get why not, he's a big boy.” She looked at Jess, “You screw around on him all the time, that's what you guys do . Why is this so shocking?”
“Because it's you,” Meg and Jess announced simultaneously.
Illy looked from one to the other while they simply looked at each other.
Meg shook her head at Jess who frowned. “This was reckless,” she told her.
“Er, excuse me, we can do what we want,” Illy told her in no uncertain terms.
Meg turned on her, “And you have a girlfriend, a lovely, beautiful intelligent girlfriend .”
“Who knows everything, Megan.”
Meg took a moment to register that fact. It seemed just as she had found a couple to admire, she was disappointed. “This is fucked up.”
“I need a drink,” Jess announced, getting up and heading to the fridge, “anyone want anything?”
“Where's Ben?” Meg asked, wondering if he might have overheard anything.
“Top deck with Tragedy, you want something?”
llly sat down opposite Meg, a gentle frown appearing on her brow, a little perturbed by the apparent seriousness of the situation. “You got whisky?”
“You hate whisky.”
“Sometimes alcohol shouldn't be a reward.”
“What time is it?” Meg asked.
Illy looked at her watch, “One thirty.”
“Grab the Amaretto while you're there,” she told Jess.
Jess plonked two glasses filled with ice down on the table and then dropped the relevant bottle in front of each of them before settling herself on the adjacent sofa bench with what looked like some vodka filled beverage.
Illy and Meg silently poured themselves a drink, and they all took a swig. Then they stared at each other.
“So you two are having an affair?” Meg wanted to clarify.
“No, I told you. And Aud knows. It's not an issue, it's something that happened, it's not serious.”
Meg looked at her before turning her gaze to Jess, who remained silent, but raised a brow and shrugged.
“Is that all you can do?” Meg asked her, “ Shrug ?”
“What do you want me to say?”
“Is that why she's here?”
“No, it's not why I'm here,” Illy interjected, not enjoying being spoken about as if she weren't there.
But Meg wanted to hear it from someone else. “Jess?”
“No,” she answered unconvincingly.
Meg took another gulp of Amaretto.
“So Aud lets you sleep around?” Meg asked Illy with derision.
“You make it sound depraved, and no, I don't sleep around .”
“But you sleep with her?” Which means you may as well be sleeping around.
“I have, past tense.”
“ Why? ” Meg whined.
“That's nice , thanks,” Jess interrupted.
“I expect this from you, Jessica, but not from Illy.” She looked at them both in turn before declaring, “But you hate each other!”
“It's not like we hang out Meg,” Jess offered by way of explanation.
“We make each other angry, but I don't really hate her, she knows that,” Illy commented.
“Actually I didn't know that,” Jess responded quietly.
Illy looked at her for a moment, coughing a breathy short incredulous laugh. The bus swayed slightly as it moved across lanes on the motorway.
“Yo…” Meg started, but the words failed her. She had always known how Jess felt about Isla Valente. They had all known one another for years, had gigged and toured, and partied. And she had always known Jess's apparent hatred was fuelled by admiration. But she had never figured it being requited, and certainly not to this extent.
“Oh-my-god.” Meg breath slowly. Finally beginning to come to terms with the information. “So you're no longer…?”
“No.” Illy was adamant, Jess stared at her glass and took a deep breath.
“When did this start?” Meg asked quietly.
Jess allowed Illy to continue to answer, “ California . Remember when she made me really mad on stage, shouting stuff out?”
Meg remembered it very well, it was the first time Jess had received an official warning from Al, and the resulting argument off stage had been heard in every dressing room, as well as being all over the tabloids the next day.
Why does everything I don't know about seem to happen in California ? Meg thought. Come to think about it, her mind continued, Illy had always given as good as she got after that argument. Perhaps this was why. “I'm a little weirded out by this,” she stated clamping her mouth down on the thoughts running through her head.
Illy sighed. “I'm sorry, Meg. I don't know why we haven't told you about this before.”
I do, Meg thought. She stared at Jess who looked away again.
The bus ride for Kirstin and Suze seemed to be taking forever, and neither of them had much to say. Suze was being particularly awkward around Joshua, who didn't understand why, and Kirstin was trying to settle her mind by catching up on some paper work.
The bus they had for the European stint was much more like the tour bus that housed the band, and they were sharing it with some of the stage crew. It had bunks, and a shower and kitchen area. Kirstin sat toward the back end of the bus, nearer the dining area and the stairway to the bunks on the top deck.
Unusually, today she was incapable of immersing herself in her work. It was frequently a great way for her to avoid thinking about anything she wished to tackle at another time, but on occasion something occupied her mind to the degree that she could not ignore.
That something was Megan. When Kirstin allowed herself to linger on her intention, she was filled equally with the very fear and exhilaration she had felt the night before when she had heard Megan at her door; the anticipation of something she knew she wanted, but realised she might not be ready for.
Kirstin was rarely reckless, but often pigheaded, and very good at pursuing goals. Her goals seldom involved individuals however, they were usually professional, not personal, and so abnormally she had been hesitant. But she was so sick of all the reservations she had, she shook them from her head, and instead began to daydream about how and when she might make a move.
Kirstin's head snapped to the curtained partition in the gangway. “Huh?”
“That look on your face, I'd like to know what induced it…” Adie had a sly grin.
Kirstin smiled easily, “I'll bet you would.”
“And I'm not going to find out. Okay, I get it. Has Laura been down?”
Laura had, it seemed, been a little worse for wear after the party, not unlike Kirstin. “No.”
“And how are you feeling?” Adie smiled again teasingly, merely gaining a raised brow from Kirstin. “I gather from various sources that Grace is your ex?” She sat down now, clearly intent on gathering a little information. “I had no idea, that she, you know… I'm beginning to lose my touch.”
“Ah, yeh, well, it's not common knowledge.” Kirstin wasn't at all pleased to have her very happy musings interrupted by mentions of Grace and references to her own drunken disposition the night before.
She felt a vibration by her leg, and in confusion she looked down before realising what it was and grabbing for her phone with gratitude. “I'm sorry, I really have to take this, it's my mother.”
“Oh, sure. That's okay. I can't imagine why you'd want to avoid this conversation.” Adie winked, and pushed up off the table. “Catch you later,” she headed off up the stairway to check on her ailing girlfriend.
Kirstin fixed a smile, nodding as she left, and then answered, “Hello.”
“Kay, I was worried.”
And suddenly Kirstin was back to being twelve. “I'm sorry, yesterday was kind of chaotic.”
“That's okay honey, how are you? Did you catch up with Grace? How was the party?”
And relief rapidly turned to despair. “Mum, how often do to you talk to Grace? She says you call her?”
“Oh, I don't know, couple of times a week,” her mother was vague.
“A week?!” Kirstin almost screamed.
“Now darling, I'm very fond of Gracey, she's like my second daughter, and she's by far the nicest and most eligible woman you…”
Kirstin interrupted her, “Mum…” she warned, “don't start this. Grace and I broke up.”
Maggie blew out derisive breath, “So what's new?”
“Kirstin please. I'm your mother, you can't hide things from me.”
Wanna bet? “I'm not hiding anything,” she was curt, and reverted the questioning back toward her mother, “What do you talk to her about?”
There was a pause. “Well, she's very good with computers…”
Maggie realised that though she knew it was the truth, her daughter remained unconvinced that she merely called Grace for IT advice. “So, did you enjoy the party? And when are you coming to see me?”
There followed and long, and audible sigh. “The party was fun, and it was nice to see Grace, and we're on our way up north right now, but next week we're heading back to London , so I shall spend my leave with you, okay?”
“How many days? And when?”
There followed the traditional discussion of precise dates and times that Kirstin's mother required whenever her daughter decided to visit. Kirstin smiled despite herself. Then she threw a spanner. “Would it be okay to bring someone with me?”
“Friends? Of course! Maybe you could bring Suzy Q!”
Kirstin smiled at the fond name her mother had bestowed upon Suze, and how it had continued to catch on. Then she frowned quickly as she thought about how to inform her mother of the existence of Meg in her life. “Yeh, I'm sure Suze would love to say hi, and maybe someone else you know.”
“Oh?” Maggie mistakenly assumed Kirstin might mean Grace.
“Yeh, someone you haven't seen in a long, long time.”
“Well, any friend of yours is always welcome Tinney.”
The daughter winced. “Rule number one; you do not call me that in front of anyone.”
The mother laughed.
“What in the hell were you thinking?” Meg was muttering under her breath as they walked from the bus to the service station somewhere off the M1 she was informed. It meant nothing to her.
“I wasn't thinking. Clearly ,” Jess hissed back.
“It's not gonna end well.”
Jess rounded on her, “It started pretty well, Meg. It started, and it wasn't sordid, and it wasn't frivolous, and…” she took a few breaths.
“I'm me . That's what happened.” She was clearly upset. “Okay? I'm Jessica Graver, supreme fuck up, and woman of many. She didn't take me seriously. So I settle for what I can get.”
Megan cocked her head, frowning, a sadness gently washing over her. “You are who you want to be Jess.”
“I am exactly what everyone wants me to be Megan. So you can judge me all you like.” She turned and stalked off.
“Sure!” Meg shouted after her, “You're not responsible for anything.”
“That's not what I said,” she responded, not turning.
“Yeh, walk away.”
“What's going on?” Ben jogged down the tarmac to join her.
“Nothing, B-Boy. She's… we're not talking. Again.” Jess heard her and gave her the birdie, whilst still marching forward.
“Oh. She's been weirder than usual,” he commented gruffly. Jess was merely feet ahead of them however, and he received the same delight with Jess's other hand. Meg grimaced.
“Wanna go Maccy's?” Tragedy had also joined the now lengthening train of hungry travellers, and she was a woman of few words today.
“Uh huh,” Ben grunted back. “Meg?”
“Oh, no. Go ahead, I just wanted to stretch my legs,” she paused as they neared the entrance, loitering.
Illy was walking with her boys, who had clearly just risen and were rubbing at their eyes and stretching their limbs. Meg looked over briefly. Shit. It was a mess and she knew it. One big, horrible, mystifying mess.
Then she caught sight of another confusing muddle of emotion and attraction. The blonde complication smiled at her openly and Meg felt heat rising to her face as she instinctively returned the pleasing signal.
Illy passed by first with a quick but slightly guilty smile, and the boys both cried “Morning!'”
Suze, who was walking with Kirstin, ducked out as they neared, “I'm just gonna go catch up with Joshua.” She looked to Meg, “He went in, right?” she pointed.
“Oh, yeh, I think he was the one running ahead.”
She left Kirstin who was definitely lingering. “Everything okay?” She asked Meg.
Meg took a big breath and blew out her cheeks. Her eyes widened, “Define ‘okay'?”
Kirstin frowned, “You want to talk about it?”
“Still not talking then?”
“I did just say I didn't want to talk about it, right?” Meg teased, her brow knitting. Kirstin's eyes widened as she started to apologise, “I'm kidding, Kirstin,” she smiled easily, squeezing Kirstin's arm. “It's just… incredibly complicated, and very off the record.”
Kirstin relaxed, “I can do off the record. I think we're already, mostly, off the record Meg.”
“Yeh, I guess we are. Still, the fewer people that know, probably the better.”
It stung to be on the wrong side of the proverbial fence, especially when it was one Kirstin had erected so many times before. She tried to hide it, “Sure, sure, I understand. You coming in?”
“Oh, I… er, no. Actually, I… I just wanted to get off that bus.” Kirstin smiled. “But, since we're here, you did say there was something you wanted to talk to me about?”
Kirstin hadn't counted on Meg calling the shots, “Oh, yes,” she answered, looking around quickly, and taking the opportunity to gather herself, “but… not here. I mean, it's just…” she shook her head.
“We could get some coffee?”
But still, this wasn't what Kirstin wanted, she didn't want to sit Meg down in a service station on the M1 and ask her out on date. There had to be a better time, a better place, something less mundane.
Kirstin looked upwards suddenly, seemingly studying the sky for divine inspiration. Meg watched her for a moment, before following her gaze. “What… are we… you looking for?”
“Rain check?” Kirstin brought her gaze back to Meg, whose eyes met hers. She smiled.
Megan snorted a small laugh and pursed her lips before responding gently, “Sure.” She also took a deep breath. “Though there seems to be a lot of showers here, how many checks…?”
Kirstin picked up the cue, “I only need the one, I promise.” More pressure, just what I need.
It was a very long drive up to Glasgow , and Kirstin spent the time musing over how to proceed. She didn't know the city that well, and so had been trying to find somewhere on the internet she might want to take Megan, if she agreed to escort her of course.
There was one person she knew would know exactly the place to take her, but it was a phone call she wasn't looking forward to.
“Leo? It's Kirstin.” Most of the bus's occupants were on the lower deck, and she had taken a moment to retreat upstairs to her small bunk.
“Kay?” There seemed to be genuine pleasure in his voice, which both surprised and pleased her. “Mum said you were in the country. Where are you?”
“Yeh, I'm on a bus somewhere on the M1.”
“Heading which way?”
“Yeh. In fact we're headed to Glasgow .”
“Are you indeed? You're doing a tour, she said?”
“It's a long story, but yes. Are you well?”
“Oh my god! You are?”
She could practically hear her brother smiling down the phone, “I am.”
It had been a long time since they had last spoken, and knowing what a cad he was she was almost afraid to ask. “To…”
“To Sarah, Kay,” he responded with some incredulity. “You remember?”
“Of course I do, I just…”
“Didn't think I'd stick at it?”
“Something like that. Congratulations Leo, that's really wonderful news. You have a date set?”
“Early days, I can't believe mum didn't tell you.”
“I can. She's gauging how long we go without talking.”
“Makes sense. Have you seen her?”
“Not you too!” She turned the tables, “Have you?” only to be beaten.
“I see her every month Kay, especially now I'm getting married. I can't believe you're driving north and I'm heading to Surrey .”
“You are?” Kirstin found herself actually, surprisingly, disappointed.
“Yeh, when you coming back down this way?”
“Next week, we're flying out to Ireland after this.”
“Nice for you. You doing okay?” her brother rarely asked how she was.
“Yeah, same old. Actually I wanted to pick your brains.”
“Not much of them left after this week, but give it a go.”
It didn't take Leo long to come up with some ideas, and they parted on very amiable terms, even agreeing to try and converge on their mother's house at some point while she was in the country.
Having scribbled down his suggestions Kirstin sat and thought about her brother, and their tense relationship. It was at once understandable and illogical. Leo reminded her of Danny, he looked, talked and moved exactly like him. He could not help it, of course, being his brother, but it had been almost impossible being consoled by the one person who looked so much like him. And he had known it. On too many occasions she had called him by the wrong name, which she knew must have hurt tremendously.
What was even more disturbing, however, was that Sarah looked like Judy, Danny's wife. Kind hearted, ever smiling, vibrant and amusing, Judy. The perfect wife, and almost mother. It broke her heart even now. The more she thought about it, the less she wanted to. She was grateful when her phone rang again, and the caller I.D was work related.
“Hey Don, how are you?”
Having landed in the formidable Scottish city that was Glasgow, both crews and the band were dropped off with their personal belongings at their hotel. All equipment was taken in the vehicles to secure parking, and the many tired passengers began piling out of the buses, into the lobby to check in, whilst deciding what to do with their free evening.
Kirstin noted that there seemed to be a general lack of communication going between most of the band members, save Ilsa's boys, who were, as ever, scheming and joking and rolling tobacco they shouldn't.
Ben was smiling in the queue for the desk, but seemed uncomfortable. He kept winking at Tragedy, who pulled faces back at him. Jess was in amidst the female portion of the stage crew, uncharacteristically quiet. Laura and Sally were clearly talking about her, and Adie was shaking her head at them in admonishment.
Kate it seemed had found a friend in Adie, which pleased the filmmaker. She thought quite highly of both of them. Kate would one day make a great Director of Photography she had decided, and Adie had a great eye for light. Even through the skewed perspective of a staged gig, Kirstin knew talent when she saw it, and good lampies were hard to come by, especially such speedy ones. Adie set records up the rigging ladders she had no doubt.
Pete, and his little male stage gaggle had bunked off straight to the bar, deciding to queue later. Suze had nipped to the toilet, Josh was… she didn't know where Josh was. Yet she seemed to have both her assistant's case and his by her feet she suddenly noted.
Kirstin bit her lip, wondering if, just maybe… No, no they… wouldn't… no.
Lost in that thought she barely noticed Meg pull up alongside her, almost turning into her as her eyes scouted the foyer for the missing culprits.
“Oh,” she reeled, “Hey.”
“Hey.” Meg shuffled on her feet, and shifted her gaze away. It made Kirstin feel as though she should do the same. Just for something to do.
When there is everything to say, little gets said , Kirstin was thinking. It was communication crippled by meaning and intent, the art of small-talk, even to the most articulate of individuals, being lost in the face emotional truth.
Asking how Meg's trip had been seemed trivial, when she knew that Meg was struggling with at least three current problems or issues, one of which she believed was her.
So there they stood, in a room full of bustle and noise, not speaking, but both very aware of their current proximity.
If there hadn't been five sets of eager ears ahead of them, Kirstin may have buckled right there. Her gaze flicked nervously in Meg's direction a few times, each accompanied with a gentle smile.
Meg, though seemingly deep in thought, mirrored her attention before rubbing at her eyes. “God, I just want to go to bed!” she exclaimed with a long following sigh.
Kirstin nearly laughed, “Long day?”
“ Long day.”
Now Meg met her gaze, with intensity, despite their backdrop, and the flush Kirstin felt, became a searing ache as she allowed herself to enjoy the attention. Then Meg averted her eyes sharply as she heard the sound of intruders.
Kirstin had to take a breath to recoup, her mouth already open preparing to ask a question she hadn't yet formed.
She was cut off, “How are we still at the back of the queue? You haven't moved at all?”
Kirstin turned around, “No, we haven't moved at all,” she smiled grimly at Suze, quickly noting Josh's presence also. But instead of breaking the tension, the other non-communicating pair merely added to it, all four standing in the inevitable silence of frustrated waiting.
A small lifetime seemed to pass as they travelled to the front desk and finally checked in, only to find themselves in queue for a lift, and eventually squeezed into one. It was a large hotel, with small spaces.
“Kirstin?” Suze mumbled as the floor numbers flicked by, gaining her boss's immediate attention. “That thing we were discussing this morning?”
Kirstin arched a brow, noting they were travelling with both the subjects that had been under discussion. “Yeah?” She drew the word out in an attempt to convey the caution she thought Suze should be taking.
“Well, I haven't done it yet, and I'm really tired, I don't think I'm going to be…”
Kirstin cut her off, “When I said you couldn't sleep until you'd done it, I didn't expect you to take that literally. Is that what you mean?”
“Right, right. Good. Okay.” She did look very tired indeed. Unlike some of the more seasoned travellers, Suze found it hard to sleep in motion, and it had been a long drive. “I don't even think I can manage dinner…”
“You have to eat,” Josh piped up, as the door opened and released a few passengers before continuing on its way. It was barely seven o'clock.
Suze was too tired to even make a smart remark. “I know what you mean Suze, I just want to curl up too. My shoulder's killing me,” Kirstin commented.
Meg couldn't not say something, “I thought you said that was better?” her voice was low, and slightly concerned.
Kirstin was flustered, “It is, it just… I probably slept on it funny.”
Suze giggled, Josh watched Meg, Meg frowned. “Right.” She didn't believe her for a second, and neither did her employees.
And suddenly the mystical spell of silence was broken, genuine concern slicing through the tension.
“Okay, Josh, you're right,” Suze piped up, “I should eat. Why don't we all order room service and stay in?”
Kirstin practically span round, her eyes widening slightly at the sudden turn in events, “I thought you were tired?” she accused.
“I am, but I should eat.” Was Suze challenging Kirstin?
The lift stopped and let a few more people out, Kirstin turned back to check what floor they were on.
“Um..” Meg began, suddenly aware of the dynamic between Josh and Suze. “Are…”
“You know, that sounds really good,” Kirstin cut in. “Meg, do you have plans?”
Now it was Josh's turn to raise a brow, while Meg's furrowed back into a frown. “Uh…” she looked at the other two quickly.
“We don't bite Megan,” Suze hurriedly informed her.
Meg looked back to Kirstin who was by now already feeling a sense of panic and shame, and had to check herself with great speed. “I mean,” she started again, “would you like to get some food with me, us. In…” even as she said it she felt foolish, “my room, a room? Because that's where room service is delivered to…” the sentence hung in the air, she frowned desperately. Confused by Suze's change of tack towards double date.
Meg rewarded her nervous stumbling with a sudden radiant grin, and a wicked flash of teeth.
“I have no plans,” she answered finally, even though her idea of relaxing didn't involve Josh, or Suze for that matter.
“Great. Okay.” Kirstin nodded quickly one too many times as she turned to watch the floor indicator, and tried to ascertain whose room it was best to use, and if there was any point strategising at all.
At the back of the lift Josh looked at Suze sideways, in confusion.
“Are we all on the same floor?” Suze asked, ignoring him.
“Yes, yes we are. A part of the miracle of planning ahead,” Kirstin responded blandly, as they slowed once more and the remaining stranger left them.
“Do we all have suites?”
“You got a suite?” Josh asked in surprise.
“No Suze, you got the suite this time,” Kirstin stated.
“So did I,” Meg added.
“You did?” Kirstin asked in surprise.
The next stop was their floor. They all tumbled out of the lift with baggage, and could already hear some familiar voices between doors opening and closing.
Kirstin looked first at her key card, then up at the wall to work out which way to head.
“We're down this way,” Suze announced, thumbing in the opposite direction to Kirstin's room. “You wanna come to my suite in a bit?”
“Uh, sure. Sure whatever,” Kirstin hadn't decided what the best tack would be, and now she had little choice in the matter. But it made sense. She looked at Meg.
“I'm heading the same way as you,” Meg confirmed.
“See you in a few guys,” Josh muttered following Suze.
As they wheeled their bags across the luxuriously carpeted hallway, Meg started to think about what she'd just agreed to. It was going to be very awkward and she wasn't entirely certain that she'd been invited for any other reason than mere good manners. Josh and she were hardly friends, Suze had spent an evening warning her off Kirstin, and Kirstin had spent most of her time yo-yoing around and always ending up back where she started.
In fact the more she thought about it, the more arduous the prospect seemed.
“Actually, I think maybe I shouldn't join you tonight.”
Kirstin had just pulled up in front of her door. “Oh.” She tried hard not to look disappointed, and failed miserably. “Okay. Can I ask why?”
Megan hadn't expected to be asked to explain, “Um… I…” she shook her head, “I know they say they don't bite, but… well, they do,” she answered candidly.
Kirstin let out a huge sigh, and pulled a face. “They mean well.”
“Yes. Look, I'll understand entirely if you still say no, but I would really like for you to join us.”
It was then that Megan knew just how must trouble she was in.
Ugh. God… don't look at me like that. Arrggh. “Okay,” she said sharply, before she could change her mind. “Okay.”
Kirstin grinned. That was easy. “Knock-on when you're ready?”
And with that Kirstin disappeared into her room, leaving Meg to stroll to hers in contemplation. She was about to do something she really didn't want to do, and all because Kirstin had asked her, nicely. Pathetic. She would have to keep that in check, but just not tonight.
It wasn't long before they were all seated around Suze's dining table, in a rather nice looking suite, choosing from a reasonably extensive menu, and recounting a few stories from the tour.
Kirstin had recently spoken to Gerard, who was healing nicely, and would be starting on some smaller projects in a few months. His payout after the fall had arrived and he was so happy he had to call her.
Suze told them about her flatmate in NYC who seemed to call almost everyday with some alleged trauma. The most recent being the freezer defrosting of its own accord. Suze wasn't sure what she was supposed to do, other than provide her with the basic common sense she seemed to lack.
“And I'm having to ask her, ‘Janeanne, did the fuse blow? Did we have a power cut?' She knows nothing, she sleeps through everything, and knows nothing. In the end I tell her to call her brother and I hang up,” she scoffed.
“You're always hanging up on her,” Kirstin laughed, picking at some Twiglets they had found in the fridge.
“She's annoying, and I don't have time to explain the many ways she can learn to do things on her own!”
Kirstin had been feeling an ever-growing need to speak with Meg, but they had only managed to find privacy whenever Josh went to retrieve drinks, and Suze was otherwise occupied.
Suze's phone rang, she rolled her eyes, they could guess who it was. She excused herself and began to pace.
“I want to apologise,” Kirstin had quickly turned to Meg, who hadn't expected it.
“For last night?” Meg guessed, smiling gently, knowingly.
Then room service arrived, Josh set down some drinks and let them in, whilst Suze tried to hang up.
Meg lowered her voice, “Don't apologise for wanting to kiss me.”
“I'm not,” Kirstin retorted, “I'm apologising for being drunk and making a fool out of myself.”
“Out of yourself?” Meg almost forgot they were trying to have a private conversation. She coughed.
“Yes.” Kirstin frowned, trying to read into the deeper meaning that clearly lurked within that rhetorical question.
Meg stood to help with the food, “That it, or are you also retracting?” she uttered under her breath.
“What?” the filmmaker was genuinely baffled.
Suze returned, “Do we pay for this now?”
“We add it to the bill, like everyone else,” Kirstin answered. Suze stared at her. “What?” Kirstin asked, confused.
“We can charge room service to the room?” Suze asked blankly.
“ Yeees , we get expenses, I told you to keep receipts too.”
“I did that, including the room bill.”
“Ah ha, okay, well,” Kirstin widened her eyes, “that'll be why you don't have five hundred then…”
“Oh my god. That's not even funny.” She stalked off. “Josh, did you know about this?”
“I think we need more drinks,” Meg told Kirstin, who nodded and followed her to the small bar area.
Meg took the opportunity to quickly clarify with Kirstin as they made up their respective beverages. “We had one fantastic night together,” she looked right at Kirstin making her blush, “and the next day, you told me it wouldn't happen again, couldn't.” Kirstin wanted to hear her out, she simply pulled a gentle frown. “We come to London , I behave myself, you tell me again that it's not going to happen. The next day you whisk me off and show me the city, and next thing I know you're saying you want it to happen, but not yet. Are you seeing a pattern here?” Kirstin bit her lip, about to respond, but Meg continued. “You spend the evening with your ex, but it's my door you knock on later, and you end up telling me…” Megan dropped her voice to barely a whisper thinking she heard Josh approaching. “… well, you were testing…” but Josh headed off to wash his hands, allowing Meg more time. “What I'm trying to say is, I kissed you, once… And since then I haven't made any moves. You chastise me, and then you chase me. Push and chase.” She looked at Kirstin who's mouth had stopped mid come back. “So I'm thinking, based on this, you came on to me last night, so now you're about to retract.”
“Guys, food's up!” Suze shouted.
Kirstin was flummoxed. She looked over to Suze.
“We're just coming,” Meg shouted back.
Kirstin gripped her glass and returned her gaze to Meg, “You're right. I mean, not… about… I'm not retracting.” She sighed deeply. “Can I start this again? Please?”
“Start what again? The cycle?” Meg almost laughed.
“Guys,” Suze pressed.
“We're coming, Suze!” Kirstin was a little annoyed. She decided to bite the bullet, very quickly. “Come to dinner with me, tomorrow?” she asked the drummer. Meg didn't immediately respond. Kirstin continued, both clarifying her intention, and pressing her point, “I'm asking if you'll come on a date, with me. A real, actual, we get dressed up, and go out and you walk me home and you kiss me on the doorstep kind of a date.”
Meg started at her for a moment, before finally speaking. “Could you not have asked me that in the hallway earlier?” she was incredulous. “Then I wouldn't have to go through this charade,” she waved out into the suite.
“Is that a yes?” Kirstin was hopeful.
Now Meg did laugh, in fact she almost snorted. “It's a yes,” she nodded, just stopping short of rolling her eyes. “But you knew it would be.” She pushed off the bar, now shaking her head at the turn in events. “C'mon, lets eat.”
Kirstin didn't get chance to tell her she hadn't known that at all, but she did have the decency to smile sheepishly, for as happy as she was about the answer, she knew she could have dealt with a lot of things in a better manner.
But at least they weren't in a service station on the M1.
That night they ate dinner, talked and joked and laughed, and Kirstin even felt that perhaps everyone had warmed a little. There were a few caustic remarks thrown between Josh and Meg, but they seemed to be on their best behaviour, which in itself was a good sign.
Finally they had taken their leave. Meg was first to depart, safe in the knowledge that things might be looking up, at least where Kirstin was concerned. Josh followed not long after, bidding his two favourite women goodnight, and stealing a chaste kiss, on the lips Kirstin noted, from Suze. Leaving Kirstin to mock Suze about kissing.
“I'm not sure what else you're looking for Susannah, that looked like a kiss to me!”
“Shut up. You know exactly what I mean.”
“Yeh.” Kirstin knew exactly what Suze meant. “I asked Meg out on a date.”
“Yeh, with no help from you I might add! I'm playing catch up here. You're trying to hinder me.”
Suze coughed, “I am not! And as for catch up…er, no… you already… you know…”
Kirstin laughed out loud, and Suze joined in. “That, funnily enough, is not making it any easier!” she wanted to change the subject suddenly. “And how come you've been paying your hotel bills?” Kirstin admonished.
“I don't want to talk about it.”
It wasn't long before Kirstin headed to her own room, rather happily, for the first time in a long time. In fact, she may have skipped there.
Date day, date night
“Where are you?”
“I'm… out,” Meg was deliberately cagey.
“I know that ,” Kirstin frowned, “I mean, it sounds noisy.”
Megan moved the phone to her other ear as she rifled through some clothes on the rack. “This entire city is noisy, everyone's really…” she dropped to a whisper, “ loud .”
“Oh my god, as an American you are not allowed to say that.”
“Hey! That's… Okay it's a little true. But I'm adopted Canadian, and they're really softly spoken.”
“Look, I'm calling because I'm going to a meeting across town this afternoon, and it's probably best if I meet you at the restaurant tonight, is that okay?”
“Noooo-wah.” Meg snapped out of her playfulness, spitting her dummy out. “Really? I hate going to places on my own.”
Kirstin winced, she knew exactly how Meg felt, “I know, I'm sorry, but I have to meet these people, they flew here specially, and they know we have to wrap up in time, so I promise I won't be late.”
“Fine.” Meg whined good-naturedly, “It's okay. I'm sure I'll find someone to chat to while I wait.”
“You won't be waiting,” Kirstin took Megan's playful childishness for what it was.
“One of us will be waiting, for some indeterminate length of time”, she told her, “and since you're busy, while I have nothing better to do, I'm going to be early, because I always am, and you'll be just about on time. Maybe five minutes late.”
Kirtsin smiled. “Yes,” she admitted, “that sounds about right.”
“Is it easy to find?”
“I have no idea.”
“Text me the address, I'll find out and let you know!”
The meeting had been arranged the day before with Don, and Kirstin wasn't exactly sure what to expect. She knew she was meeting some prospective backer for a future endeavour, but Don had been very vague about the details, and the confirmation had only come through today.
She was grateful that the potential client, who still remained a mystery, something Kirstin hated, hadn't wanted to eat. Most business meetings were usually conducted over food, but Kirstin would not have given up that evening's date, not even for Spielberg. So afternoon tea it was. Afternoon tea, at The Palace, and she was to ask for the Williams party. Intriguing, but irritating.
A well-dressed concierge led her to an altogether separate room from the usual paying guests. Large oak doors were opened, and her presence was announced.
“Miss Hart has arrived.”
The room hushed. Kirstin saw a woman rise from a group of comfy looking, antique sofas where a few other guests were lounging. She was striding towards her.
“You must be Kirstin?”
Kirstin accepted the handshake quickly as her head began to put the glamorous face into some sort of context.
“Melanie. Melanie Stuart. Thank you so much for taking time out your busy schedule to meet with me.”
For the second time in almost as many months, Kirstin was actually almost star-struck. “Oh, that's fine, it's no trouble.”
“Of course it is, it's your day off,” she answered, “and you've better things to do. Please, join us.”
Kirstin followed her to the group of tables, now noticing that the majority of the occupants were faces she at the very least recognised.
“Everyone, say hi to Kirstin, and be nice,” she gestured for Kirstin to take a seat next to where she had been sat.
There were general mumblings of ‘hello', and a couple of smart remarks that Melanie brushed off playfully before taking her seat next to Kirstin.
“Oh, thank you yes.”
Melanie poured her a fresh cup.
“I'm Rachel, nice to meet you Kirstin,” the woman to Melanie's left said. Rachel Macintosh , Kirstin realised, hearing the soft Scots accent and immediately recognising her with tumbles of curly black hair everywhere. She was quite a contrast to Melanie who was almost clipped in her English accent, and rather sharp all round.
“I'm sorry, I'm a little… this is not the kind of business meeting I was expecting.”
“Oh, god!” Melanie exclaimed, “I'm sorry, we're delayed on the shoot due to inappropriate weather, they gave us the day, while they shoot some other scenes… this is the cast for ‘The Kindness Of Strangers'. That's why I could only confirm today, and why I'm dressed like this, and why I had to ask you to come here with this rabble. I'm technically supposed to be available.”
“We all are,” Rachel piped up.
It was now that Kirstin noticed a lot of them were wearing ‘wardrobe' gowns over their costumes.
“Ohhhh, right. Williams, Brody Williams,” Kirstin said making the connection that everything was in the director's name. “That makes sense. Wow. How's it going?”
“Very well,” Melanie said with a distinct glint in her eye and a very brief glance to Rachel, who smiled quickly.
“They keep saying she's going to get a nomination for this one,” Rachel told her.
“Rae, I told you, don't…” she warned.
“Well, you were robbed last year.” Kirstin announced, “Peggy Ashbourne or whatever her name is, really should be ashamed for winning in that role. My cat could have done better. And I don't have a cat.”
Rachel laughed out loud, “Ha! Hear, hear. I couldn't agree more! I like you . You can stay,” she smiled and winked.
Melanie was also smiling broadly. Kirstin sipped her tea. “So, why am I here?”
“Straight to the point, good. Well, Miss Hart , I've read your script.”
Kirstin frowned, “My script?”
“Yes, the one you left with a friend of a friend of a friend of mine.”
At any given time Kirstin was working on around ten different projects all in different stages, but she had a feeling she knew which script Melanie was talking about. And what ‘friend' might still have a copy to leave lying around.
“Heartbroken Hero? Electric City ?” Melanie tried to jog her memory.
Yes, she was right. I'm gonna kill you Grace. Kill you or kiss you. It was the way of the world it seemed.
Megan's prediction was so close to the mark it was uncanny. She was indeed early, that had been easy to foresee, she was in full control of that, and Kirstin was in fact five minutes late. This had meant that she'd been waiting at the bar for her date for nearly twenty minutes. The first five of which she had nervously picked at her clothing and taken a moment to acquaint herself with the surroundings, a very interesting underground restaurant-come-cocktail bar.
The next fifteen minutes, however, had been taken up by the barman trying to flirt with her, which had been a little confusing at first, since he seemed rather too kempt to be straight. Both charming, and sweet, Meg thought perhaps omni-sexual might be a term better applied. He was also clearly foreign, possibly Italian, and that always threw her off the scent of sexuality. Still, it was flattering, and certainly more interesting than studying the menu.
Meg had been perched on a cocktail stool laughing openly at the barman's attentions when Kirstin finally arrived.
Taking pause as she descended into the bar Kirstin admired Meg's idea of dressing up for a date. Dear God, she thought. The barman caught sight of her causing Meg to look around, following his gaze. This prompted Kirstin to continue on her way, closing her nearly hanging jaw, and smiling happily.
“I'm sorry I'm late.”
Meg cocked an eyebrow, glancing at her watch, “We did say you'd be five minutes late, which makes you right on time,” she smiled back at her, standing, not really knowing how to greet her date. “You look incredible,” she uttered.
“No, you look incredible.” Kirsin couldn't quite believe that Meg was capable of looking any more stunning than she already thought she was. “You're in a dress ,” she exclaimed. And what a dress it was. A red carpet kind of a dress , sang Kirstin's inner monologue, no wonder the barman had been chatting her up .
Meg bit her lip before responding, “ You're in a dress.” It was exactly the reaction she had been hoping for having spent a good few hours deliberating over just how much of an effort each dress she had tried on might show she had made.
“Yes, but you've seen me in a dress before now,” Kirstin commented, her eyes raking over every inch on the woman before her, with obvious pleasure.
“You're not the only one with legs, Kirstin,” Meg responded, feeling a light flush at the filmmaker's barely veiled attention.
“No. Thankfully not.” Dear God. I may have required a little warning.
“Drink?” Meg offered.
“Oh, yes, yes please.”
Meg turned to the bar while Kirstin took the seat next to her, having to drag her gaze away to meet the bartender's. He had been taking a keen interest in their little exchange, and there was a knowing glint in his eye when she looked at him. Both women noticed it.
“What would you like?” he asked Kirstin.
Kirstin bit her lip, refraining from telling him exactly what it was that she wanted, and settling for whatever it was that Meg was drinking. He was soon busy with another group of customers.
“So, good meeting?” Meg asked, politely, thoroughly not expecting the excitement that gleamed in her dates eyes.
“Yes. Oh my good god, yes . The first thoroughly good meeting in a long time.”
Megan smiled at the glow Kirstin sported when she was genuinely full of glee. “Anything you can share?”
“I don't see why not.” Kirstin took a preparatory breath. “Today I met Rachel Macintosh, and Melanie Stuart.”
Meg's eyes widened beyond belief, “Seriously?” it most certainly was not what she had been expecting.
“ Seriously. Not only that, but I wasn't even courting them. In a casting sense, I mean.” Kirstin clarified. Meg nodded. “Melanie wants to part-fund my film, a script that I've been trying to get into production for some time. Josh and Suze are not going to believe me when I tell them.”
“What's it about? The film? Can you say?”
“Sure, so long as I'm reasonably vague,” she laughed. “It's a sci-fi story.”She adopted her best pitch voice, “It's about a life long search and recover mission, lead by an unusual heroine amidst the many strands of time.” Meg pulled a face. “It's complicated,” Kirstin waved, “but at the kernel of the story is a entanglement of three women, whose destinies continually collide. It's kind of heart-breaking, actually.”
“Sounds like people die?”
“Mmmm, well that would be telling now, wouldn't it?”
“Did you write it?”
“ Noooo , no, no, no. I… I interpret scripts, I don't write them. No, this was written a long time ago by someone with far more talent than I'll ever have.”
“The women… are they…”
“Gay?” Kirstin almost snickered, “Yes, well, at least there's girl on girl involvement if that's what you're asking.”
“And does Melanie want a role in it, for her money?” Kirstin knew exactly what Meg was getting at.
“Actually, they both want parts in it. I was under the distinct impression that Melanie might actually be seeing Rachel.”
“ Noooooo, ” Meg intoned. Kirstin just nodded. “Did she say that?”
“She didn't have to. She was talking about the project like it would be good for them both. Needless to say their agents aren't thrilled. For a straight actor, playing gay is a one-off and opens the door to a whole new fan-base who barely even care that they're not really gay, they're just so delighted they're not homophobic. For a gay actor… well, playing gay can be a one-way ticket to being typecast, which is career suicide.”
“What if they stay closeted?”
Kirstin smiled at Meg's cunning, “Well, then people talk, which is good, but they need to play the media, and be as non-committal as possible. Say things like ‘Yes I've slept with another woman, and I cannot be sure I will not do it again.'”
Meg laughed. “You've done this before.”
Kirstin sighed, “Actually no, I've planned for it, but I've never been part of a controlled coming-out,” she took a sip of her concoction.
“You make it sound like a procedure!”
The headwaiter was hovering, “Are you ready to be seated ladies?” he asked softly.
Both women nodded and were led into the main dining room, which was very much like the bar, an underground cavern of a place, with low-lit secluded tables. Leo had excelled himself.
They sat and ordered some wine while perusing their menus, and shortly later their orders were taken leaving Kirstin to pick up the conversation again. “So, what have you been doing while I was meeting Hollywood royalty?”
“I spent all day shopping for this,” Meg gestured at her dress, which Kirstin admired once more.
“Really, you bought that today? For…” me?
“For tonight, yes, I bought it today. Unlike some I don't just have slinky little black numbers lurking at the bottom of my suitcase. And having seen this place, and you , I'm glad I did.” I'm glad you did too, thought Kirstin. Meg continued, “I was a little worried I was going to be overdressed.”
“I think I may have said this before,” I've certainly thought it , “but you could wear a sack and still look better than every single person in this room. In this city . You're always overdressed, Meg.”
Even in the low lamp light Kirstin could see the deep blush that she had evoked.
“ Wow ,” Megan finally breathed, “didn't you just kick into over-drive?”
“No,” Meg cut in, “don't be. I just… I'm not sure… I wasn't prepared for that. For…”
“I'm sorry, that sounded like… a really strong come on, I didn't mean… It was meant to be a compliment, not a reference to you needing to lose more clothes,” Kirstin winced. “Though…” she arched a brow in contemplation, causing Meg to blush again, which she did beautifully.
“It was a compliment,” Meg confirmed, trying to shake herself back into the room, “I'm deeply flattered. Especially considering the company you've been keeping today. Rachel Macintosh is…”
Kirstin grunted flippantly, “Uh, she's okay.” Meg smiled.
A moment of silence passed between them as they both contemplated the turn of events.
“So, you bought a dress…” Kirstin spoke with precision, trying to get them off topic.
Meg laughed, “Yes, I bought a dress, for my hot date. I have no idea where she is, so I'm really glad you stopped by…” Meg joked, receiving a swift tap of the foot under the table as she snickered. “Ouch!”
“That did not hurt, you faker. You do anything else?”
Meg continued to smile, “Not much. I avoided Jess-ica,” she sang, rolling her eyes.
“She's been very odd the last day or so,” Kirstin observed, “more so than usual. She's, well… quiet.”
Meg blew out a long breath. “Yessss. Most unlike her.”
“You know why?”
“Yes.” Kirstin was just wondering whether she should even be asking when Meg volunteered the story. “You know I told you I went out the other night with Illy?” Kirstin nodded. “And I met her girlfriend Aud, right?”
“Well,” she took a breath, momentarily getting a little off-topic. “They are the cutest couple, and Aud is… I dunno, special .” Kirstin now raised the opposing brow briefly. “I mean, she's intelligent, and witty, and hot , and she really loves Illy, I mean, you can see it, you know?” Kirstin wasn't at all sure where this was going, but her heckles were raised and she wasn't sure why. “And I really liked Aud,” Meg continued.
Now she was sure why. “I can tell.”
Megan barely noted the filmmaker's tinge of jealousy. “Illy is having an affair with Jess,” she blurted.
“That is, they've had an affair, and I only just found out about it.”
It took a few moments for Kirstin to reconcile that image in her head, it seemed so ridiculous. “Jess and…”
“Yes.” Meg nodded rhythmically. The she shook it rhythmically, “I don't… it's…” she blew out a frustrated breath. “It's really bad is what it is. And really stupid of Jess.”
“When you say had …”
“They say it happened , and now it's not happening .”
“But it's still bad?”
“I don't believe them.”
“You think they're…?”
“Yes, and even if they're not, they may as well be.” Kirstin's brow hiked. “Jess has always had a thing for Illy. She's never told me, or Ben, but we both know it. It's like this unrequited yearning for something that she knows she can't have. Except now I find out, she can have it. Has had it. I think that makes it worse, because Illy is with Aud now.”
“And happy,” Meg affirmed, to the best of her knowledge.
They accepted their starters and were both quiet for a moment as they ate.
“This is good,” Meg announced.
“Mine too,” Kirstin chimed. Meg eyed up her dish. “You want to try some?”
Kirstin carefully cut a portion of her fish and smeared some of the sauce on it before placing it neatly on Meg's plate.
“Oh, that is good,” Meg agreed.
“Did you get some of the chestnut stuff?”
“ Yes . I have to learn how to make that.”
“I'll get the recipe.”
“Yeh. This is my brother's restaurant.”
“Well, one of them. He has a few.”
Meg glanced around at the full dining room, recollected the growing gathering of people waiting for tables in the lounge area, and at the bar. And remembered being specifically asked what name she was booked under.
“That's how we got a table,” Meg stated.
Kirstin giggled softly, “I could've gotten us a table anywhere , Meg.”
She laughed, “You get me that recipe, and here, try this,” she transferred a spoonful of her duck and lentils to Kirstin's plate, taking pleasure in watching her devour it with delight.
Kirstin licked her lips casually, meeting Meg's gaze. “Very tasty.” Kirstin wanted to change topic quickly, she didn't want to talk about her brother tonight. “So. You think Illy's interested in Jess? I mean, enough to…”
“Oh, god. I don't know,” Meg shrugged returning to her own food. “I had no idea she ever had been. They hid it all pretty well. I just don't see any good coming of the situation. Speaking of which…” Kirstin raised her brow in question. “We're on a date, you asked me out on a date.”
Kirstin smiled, but was trying to work out how the two things were similar, “Yes, I did, we are.” Meg didn't seem quite as enthusiastic about the notion as she hoped she might be.
“I didn't tell anyone what I was doing tonight…” Meg wasn't sure how she should word her query, “I didn't know…”
“ Oh . Right… I thought…” Kirstin shook her head, “Never mind. You know, I don't know. I haven't really thought that much about it. I mean… I told Suze that I asked you out.”
“And Josh already knows, you know, about…”
“But… I mean I'm not going to tell you not to mention it, if you want to. Just, maybe we can, keep it…”
“It would be better if Al didn't find out, for starters.”
Meg nodded in understanding. “Kirstin, why don't we just see what happens? I'm still reeling from the fact you asked me out.” Now Meg smiled her brilliant, radiant smile.
The filmmaker mirrored her, and widened her eyes mockingly, “Me too, actually.”
“What made you change your mind?” Meg asked, her smile eventually fading.
Kirstin paused, her fork halfway to her mouth. She placed it back on her plate gently. “Um…” she cleared her throat. “Essentially I have been doing too much thinking,” she began to explain. “You know that night you kissed me?” Meg indicated she remembered it all too well, “My instinct was to push you away. That's what I did, initially. I mean, it didn't take me long to rectify my mistake, but… It was a shock. You were a shock.” She shook her head. “Look, without getting into it too deeply, because I don't really want to get into it at all - I am used to being in a relationship. And it felt wrong. I mean, Grace and I broke up a bunch of times, and I dated people in between, but I was always in control, you know? I called the shots, I was the aggressor, I knew what was supposed to be happening, so when you kissed me … I was surprised.”
That made sense to Meg, “I get that.”
“It took a moment for me to register that it was something I wanted. Which, as you pointed out, is what I've been doing. I pushed you away, only to pull you back again.”
“Push and chase,” Meg nodded in agreement.
Kirstin drew a long breath. “So, I'm… I think I need to stop thinking.”
Meg laughed, “Okay, well, I don't do very much of that usually, so… I guess you made me stop and look. Which is good, it… made me aware of a few things.” Her date's brow furrowed. “Not in a bad way,” she told her, knowing full well that caution was a trick she should learn. And that led her to press Kirstin a little further, “But what about the other things you told me about?”
“You asked me to wait, and now you're charging forward? Did anything else change? I mean, you said we couldn't because of your job? And it's your career Kirstin, it's important.”
Maybe this is important , Kirstin thought. She sighed. “No, nothing else changed, I should still be careful, I just… you're not the only rebel Meg,” she cocked her head. “And I know I said we should wait, but I always play by the rules, and I'm always waiting, and it's never gotten me anywhere. I like you, I have liked you for… since… I can't wait, okay? I don't want to. Not anymore.” She pinned Meg with a look of absolute need.
It was Meg's turn to bite her lip as she struggled not to laugh with joy, “Okay.” But Meg sensed there was more, and she had the right idea, but the for the wrong reasons. “Does Grace know about me?”
“The way she looked at me…” Meg had seen the controlled hurt in Grace's eyes, and she had recognised it as jealousy because she had felt it herself.
“Yes,” Kirstin breathed.
Meg nodded slowly. She was incredibly reticent to allow herself to get involved in something that seemed to be so very complicated for so many reasons, and yet she was powerless to stop herself.
The waiter came by to collect their plates, giving them a brief respite, allowing Meg to come to terms with her lack of self-control. In doing so she realised there was something she hadn't yet said. “I like you too. For the record,” she smiled.
She was rewarded with a blush, “Good.”
“But you knew that already.”
Kirstin shook her head. “Now why would I know that?” She was glad this had been brought up again.
“Um… did you see the dress I bought?” Kirstin nodded happily. “And do you not notice me hanging back everywhere, waiting for you to finish, accidentally bumping into you in hallways, making a fool of myself?”
“It's true! I mean, I even managed to convince myself that wasn't what I was doing, so I can't blame you for not noticing… and I guess that's kind of a good thing since I wasn't supposed to be chasing you… but…” her mind wondered “Plus I already made the first move, and I more than stayed the night.”
Kirstin's blush had deepened somewhat. “Is that unusual?”
It was Meg's turn to redden. “Um… yeah,” Meg glanced around the room to avoid eye contact.
Kirstin smiled to herself, “Anyway, sleeping with someone doesn't mean you like them.”
That got the drummer's attention back, “What?!”
“C'mon, have you honestly liked every woman you've slept with?”
“Yes!” Meg was adamant. Then she actually pondered the notion. “Okay… well… okay, no. Maybe not.” She took a breath, “Actually I've even gone out with women I didn't like, so I guess you're right.”
Kirstin nodded, “Sex isn't always about, you know, liking someone.”
“No, fair enough, that's a good point.”
“It should be though.”
“About liking someone?”
“I agree.” Meg was staring at her, almost in a daze. “Can we stop talking about sex, please?” Kirstin just grinned. “Thanks.”
They chatted about a number of non-sexual topics, including Kirstin's film, how lovely Al can be, what Meg had seen of the city, but of course, everything came back to what they were trying to avoid. It started with conversation about Ben's current crush on Tragedy over the main course. Which rapidly moved onto talk of Josh and Suze, and they seemed back to where they were again.
“They'd make a nice couple,” Meg commented.
“Yeh, if they can get their act together,” Kirstin was aware of the irony.
“Are you ladies done?” the waiter asked politely. Both women nodded, so he began to remove their plates, asking them if they wanted dessert. Kirstin, like Meg wanted to prolong the evening, but didn't really have room for more food. The waiter could see the turmoil. “Or perhaps you'd like to retire to the bar for a night cap?”
Perfect. Both women agreed.
The bar was by now bustling with a combination of guests waiting for late tables and those who had also been guided by a clever waiter.
Though it was loud and busy, it was also dark, being lit by candles, and they felt secluded enough to be able to enjoy watching one another whenever the chance arose.
They were at the quieter end of the bar, tucked a little way around a corner. Kirstin had been teasing Meg about her barman, who was still throwing her the odd admiring glance between serving customers.
Meg was leaning in the corner nook, against both the wall and the bar, her long legs crossed at the ankle, sipping elegantly from her glass, and smiling at Kirstin indulgently.
Kirstin caught her breath.
“You remember telling me that the next time I wasn't drunk, and I wanted to kiss you, I shouldn't hesitate?”
A single, perfect eyebrow arched sharply. “Quite vividly, yes.”
“How drunk is drunk?” The brow returned to its regular slumber as Meg paid attention, her heart picking up a new pace. “Only, it's hard for me… not to…”
“Drink?” Meg offered, with a lopsided smile.
“Yes. I mean, no, not…” she knew Meg didn't think she had a drinking problem, she was too much of a lightweight for a start. “I'm nervous…”
Meg almost laughed with relief, “Me too.”
“… and when I'm nervous… you are?”
Kirstin allowed that information to wash over her, smiling happily before continuing. “When I'm nervous, I drink, if I'm… out in a bar,” she explained. “Which, is kind of self-defeating in this instance.”
“Rules are rules,” Meg cocked her head, bringing her glass to her lips.
Kirstin frowned, “ Really ?” she had been expecting some leeway.
Meg started at her for a moment, feigning shock. “ Noooo. Least not all of them.”
“You make me nervous.”
“I'm thinking that's a good thing, cos I don't think I've ever seen you…” She took a breath, changing tack. “You think that if you came over here right now and kissed me I could do a damn thing about it?” she tried to joke before swallowing hard at the mere notion.
That was all the encouragement Kirstin needed. Placing her glass down she moved forward, quickly closing the distance between them, removing the glass from Meg's hand and sitting it next to her own on the bar.
She paused, enjoying Meg's gaze and the desire she found there, just long enough to fully register what she was about to do and feel the sudden surge of energy that made her skin bristle with excitement.
And then she kissed her. Quickly, deftly, ardently. And was rewarded equally in kind. She felt Meg's hands on her, pulling her closer, and it was all she could do to keep her head.
Meg broke contact first, between kisses, “Kirstin? Oh god…” she mumbled feeling a hand make its way over the curve of her hip, “as much…” kiss , “as I really…. don't…” kiss , “want you to stop,” kiss, “you do remember where we are right?” Kirstin paused her exertions. “Shall we take this somewhere else?”
Kirstin drew breath, looking at Meg squarely. “I can't.”
“Are you kidding me?” Meg was clearly very unimpressed, she reeled backwards.
“Yes.” She was straight-faced, which Meg found confusing.
“Yes,” the filmmaker grinned devilishly.
She smiled despite herself. “That was not funny.”
“Yeh, it was,” Kirstin blinked. “A little.”
“I should make you go home alone for that.”
“ No … no, that would… that would be silly.”
“Yeah, not to mention self-sacrificingly stupid.”
“That is not a word.”
“No. But stupid is a word, and it's something that you're not.”
“No. Though I'm certain there's a few who'd disagree.”
Kirstin smiled sheepishly. “Wanna do that again?”
“The kissing? Yes. The joking around, not so much.”
“I'm sorry.” She took a second to enjoy the feeling of their proximity without boundaries. “I enjoyed that, a lot .”
Megan was already nodding her approval, “ I have been thinking about that, ever since…”
The drummer openly laughed. “No, since you threw me out of your house.”
“I did not throw you out.”
“Yes, I'm afraid you did.”
“I'm sorry. Okay? I'm sorry I did that, and I'm sorry I tried to push you away, it's just… I haven't wanted someone…” this much, “…else… in a very long time.”
“You mean someone other than Grace?”
“Yes.” Meg wasn't sure how much she really wanted to know, but she was certain this conversation could wait. Kirstin sensed her discomfort. “We don't have to talk about this now. I just want you to know, how much I… how hard it's been not… can you take me home please?”
Meg grinned. “I can take you to the hotel?”
“That would be great.”
Continued in Part 13
Return to the Academy
Thanks to Jen for beta duties. Ax