Main Entry: ser·en·dip·i·ty

The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

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Another night, another dream

but always you…

I tapped my index finger against the table along with the music as I tried to figure out what to put in the paper I was working on for school. La Bouche was blaring from my headphones with their 80’es hit, a vain effort on my part to clear my head and actually get some work done.

In the night, in my dreams

I’m in love with you…

I bobbed my head from side to side, mouthing the lyrics and staring blankly at the ceiling. Still no ideas. What the hell do you put in a paper on ‘the use of Information Technology in the modern corporate world’ anyway? Ahh, well. Just another Wednesday afternoon.

The song finished and switched to Hanson. I know that some people find them annoying, but personally, ‘Mmmbop’ has always given me an adrenalin rush, a very useful thing when you’re working late. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly late, but you get my drift.

It’s a secret no one knows

Mmmbop, ba duba dop ba du bob…

I glared at the still blank document on the computer screen and growled in frustration. “Shit.” I reached out and grabbed the pack of cigarettes beside the monitor, lighting one and rolling my eyes at the ominous warnings on the side of the pack. Smoking may lead to a slow and painful death. So? Breathing may do the same, y’know. That’s the whole point of life: dying. Fuck the Surgeon General, I don’t care if it was the Surgeon-fucking-president of the USA. If I want a smoke, then I’ll have one.

I took a drag from the cigarette and leaned back, blowing the smoke out of my lungs and watching the bluish-gray mist twirl above my head.

You win again

So little time we do nothing but compete…

On to the Bee Gees. People tell me that I have a very eclectic taste in music, and I’d have to agree with them. I’ll listen to pretty much anything with a good beat and decent lyrics. Then again, I listen to Vivaldi as well, and he sure as hell didn’t put any lyrics in his music.

I sighed and stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray. I wasn’t getting much done today, but I couldn’t find a good enough excuse to get off my ass and leave the damned paper be.

Jesus he knows me

and he knows I’m right

I’ve been talking to Jesus

all my life…

Genesis went on with their sarcastic song about TV-evangelists. That song always brought a grin to my face, and today was no exception.

Just as the song finished, and The Corrs starting singing about running away, there was a knock on my door. I can’t say that I was angry to be disturbed. Hell, I welcomed it. I ripped off my headphones, jumped out of my chair and practically skipped all the way to the front door of my apartment. And I never skip.

I pulled the door back to reveal the goofily grinning face of my best friend Kelsey. She immediately brushed by me and entered my home, giving me a quick peck on the cheek as she went.

“Hello, Fierce, nice to see you.” I told the empty hallway. “Won’t you come in?”

“Shut the fuck up and get in here, you goof.” I could just see my friend through the kitchen doorway. She’d plopped down on the floor in front of my stereo, and was searching my CD’s for something acceptable.

“Yes, Fierce.” I bowed deeply and gave her a mock-serious look.

“Stop calling me that, wouldya?” Kelsey sighed in exasperation, but couldn’t keep the smile from crossing her lips briefly.

“Ah, but it suits you so, Milady.” It was true, too. I’d stumbled on to a web page on the meaning of various names a few months back, and had immediately searched out Kelsey’s. The meaning, ‘fierce’, suited her so well that I’d spent several minutes marveling at how accurate her parents had been in naming their daughter, followed by a good bout of laughter as I imagined the look on Kelsey’s face when I told her.

“Blah, blah, blah.” Kelsey waved her hand at me while keeping her eyes trained on the CD cover she was holding. “You just keep quiet, my little cub, and hit the switch for the stereo.”

Grumbling, I went over to the wall and flipped the switch. When I’d started calling Kelsey ‘Fierce’, she had, true to her nature, decided to do the same thing to me. So, she’d gotten online, found the same page I had used and found the meaning of my name. Ariel apparently meant ‘lion’, but Kelsey decreed that I wasn’t acting mature enough to be called that, so she referred to me as ‘Cub’ instead. I hated it, but couldn’t really say anything about it since I persisted in calling her by a name that she hated as well.

Kelsey started up the CD, Celtic Circle, if my memory serves me right, and closed her eyes as it began playing. When she started swaying to the music and humming softly, I couldn’t help but let a snicker escape me. Lucky for me, she was so caught up in the soothing tones that she didn’t even notice.

After a little while, I just stood quietly by the wall, taking in the view of her. Kelsey and I had known each other since preschool, and had been best friends for as long. When you see someone all the time, you don’t really notice the changes in them as they grow up. That goes for me and Kelsey too, but every once in a while I like to just step back and compare the 22-year old Kelsey of today to the 5-year old girl I remember from preschool.

Kelsey’s hair has changed, for one. When we were kids, it was strong copper color, almost orange. Now it was almost a blonde as my own. Oh, the copper was still there, but could only be seen when the light hit her in a certain way. She’d grown too, in a number of ways. Obviously, she’d grown in the usual ways that women grow, around the hips and the chest, but I’m not gonna go into that. Thinking about my best friends breasts is just disturbing.

Anyway, Kelsey’s grown vertically as well. I think she’s around 5’8” now, about two inches shorter than me. She’s been 5’2” for a good part of our friendship, then suddenly grew six inches all in one summer. I’ve always been tall for my age, but I didn’t get a sudden growth-spurt like she did, so it was kind of hard getting used to looking up at her face instead of down for a while. I caught up to her though.

When I try to see Kelsey as I knew her from preschool to high school, the image I see is always that of a slightly chubby girl. That was mostly puppy fat though, and it mysteriously vanished over the last few years, leaving behind one of the most beautiful young women I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of women in my time, believe me.

“Ariel!” Judging from the tone of Kelsey’s voice, I’d say that it wasn’t the first time she’d tried to get my attention.

“Huh?” Not my most eloquent answer, I’ll admit to that, but she caught me off guard. Not many people can do that, but Kelsey sure has it down pat.

“I asked you if you’d heard about the party tonight?”

I sighed and let myself slide to the floor, leaning back against the wall. “Fierce, you know I hate parties.”

“Come on, Cub.” Kelsey gave me one of her infamous looks, the kind where her eyes are exasperated and pleading at the same time. She knows it’s hard for me to resist that. “It’s Peter and Steven’s housewarming party. They really want you to come see their new place.”

I grinned briefly, knowing that this party had been postponed time and time again, either Peter or Steven deciding that their new apartment wasn’t ‘ready for public view’ yet. “Don’t tell me they finally agreed on the look of the place?”

“Not exactly,” Kelsey gave a brief, mischievous smirk. “Sandra, Jamie and I have been pestering them about it for months, and I guess they finally gave in.”

“You guys are so bad.” I chuckled and shook my head. Sandra and Jamie were friends of ours from school, and they not only matched Kelsey in determination, but probably had more then she did, which was saying a lot.

“It’s good to be bad,” Kelsey replied unrepentantly, flashing me a broad smile. “So, you’re coming, right?”

I gave in and gave up. “Alright,” I sighed, holding up my hand to silence my now cheering best friend. “I can’t stay for long though, I have to go to work tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll make sure to escort you out of the door by midnight, Cinderella,” Kelsey teased. I flipped her the bird.


As I stood in front of my mirror, I started to remember why I hated parties so much. It’s an unspoken rule that you have to dress up, people drink too much at them and do really stupid things, and hormones are more often than not flying freely. The hormone part I can live with, but I loathe dressing up and I despise drunken people. I always have a lot more fun if I’m just a little buzzed, so watching people barfing in the bushes or wherever doesn’t do a thing for me.

Finding something to wear was also going to be a small issue, since Kelsey had told me in a strict no-nonsense voice that she wanted to see me in something tight and formfitting for once. Yeah, I wear loose, baggy clothes a lot, so what? I’m a college student, and as such I’m allowed to look like a slob if I want to.

“But if you showed off that body some more, you’d probably find a girlfriend, Ariel.” I pulled a face as I mimicked Kelsey’s constant nagging. I kept telling her that I wasn’t interested in finding a significant other at this time. In my opinion girlfriends take up too much of your time, and I haven’t got much to spare between work, school and friends as it is. Maybe I’ll find someone when I graduate, but right now, I’m not exactly open to the idea.

Sighing, I started rummaging through my closet, finding a green tube top and a pair of stonewashed jeans in the far back. I hadn’t worn either of these for some time, so I figured it’d be best to hang them on the clothesline on the balcony for a little while, just to get the smell of closet out of them.

Kelsey basically told me to go all out tonight. I suspected she had a reason for doing so, but I’d decided no to ask, since I was fairly certain that I didn’t want to know what it was anyway. I knew she’d be haggling me all night if I showed up and it wasn’t clearly visible that I’d put some effort into looking nice, so I went along with it.

I deference to my oh-so-dear friend’s orders, I went all out. I got some perfumed body wash and shampoo out from where it’d been hiding since my mother gave it to me almost two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I shower everyday and don’t walk around smelling like a poorly vented pigsty or anything, I just like to use bath products without a factory made scent in them. Tonight, however, if the writing on the bottle was correct, I’d be smelling like the wonderful sensation of fresh sandalwood, with a hint of newly shaven vanilla. Ugh.

After my shower, I got the clothes back from the balcony, sniffing them quickly to make sure that they smelled more like fresh air than the back of my closet. Satisfied that their scent didn’t give off the image of rotting mildew, I put them on, grimacing as I tried to get comfortable in the tight-fitting outfit.

I glanced down at myself and, raising one eyebrow, ran two fingers over the newly exposed skin on my belly. “Well, this is a change from cargo pants and sweatshirts,” I muttered, feeling extremely grateful that I kept myself in as good shape as I did. Nothing was hanging out, and there were no extra little blobs of fat showing under my clothes. Thank God, since these were the only clothes I had that fitted Kelsey’s command.

Still not believing that I allowed my best friend to order me around like a little dog, even though I knew she did it to help me, I went back into the steamy bathroom and quickly blow-dried my hair. Putting it up in anything other than a ponytail would be too much trouble, so I decided to simply let it hang down my back.

Next was makeup. Call me a tomboy if you want, but I never wear any of the stuff, not even to the odd family function such as weddings and birthday parties. That’s not to say that I don’t have plenty of it lying around, not at all. All of my female relatives insist on buying me stuff like that, and it’s always class A stuff. Somehow they just don’t understand that I’d be much happier if they got me a good DVD burner or a pair of comfy Doc Martens. Shit, if they piled together all the money they’ve spent on perfume and makeup for me over the years, they could’ve gotten me a motorcycle. I know, I found the prizes online and added them up.

Ah well, no sense in clinging to the past. I dug out my well-hidden supplies and quickly found the shades that would match my outfit the best. Most people think that the reason that I don’t wear makeup is that I can’t figure out which shades goes with which clothes, but that’s not it. I just think it’s pointless spending all that time putting something on every morning, only to wash the whole deal off again at night.

Muttering about the evil of beauty products, I applied the eyeshadow and mascara, then brushed my teeth before putting on the lipgloss. I may not wear makeup that much, but I’m not an idiot, thank you very much.

That accomplished, I was ready to leave for the party. Kelsey hadn’t come to pick me up yet, so I plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. Ed, Edd & Eddy was playing on Cartoon Network, and I happily settled back to enjoy a couple of minutes of exaggerated carefulness, poorly thought out schemes and bonehead remarks that always made me laugh.


“Hey, Cubs.” Kelsey entered the door on her own and came into the living room. “You ready to go yet?”

“Yeah, just gotta get my jacket.” I stood and picked my denim jacket up from a nearby chair, pulling it on while avoiding Kelsey eyes.

“Damn…” Kelsey gave a low whistle and walked around me in a tiny circle. “You sure clean up nice.”

By now, my face was so red I was sure I’d busted a vessel somewhere. “Thanks,” I muttered, reaching up to tug a lock of hair behind my ears. It was a nervous habit of mine, and I didn’t even realize that I was doing it until I touched my ear, and by then it was too late anyway.

Kelsey laughed at my embarrassment, which only made me blush harder. “Aww, poor thing,” She grinned and gave me a hug. “I’d do ya in a second, if I was gay.”

“Yeah, right.” I snorted, now regaining some of my usual equilibrium and patting her on the back. “I know you, Fierce. All talk and no action.”

Kelsey stuck out her tongue at me and grabbed my hand, dragging me towards the door. “Come on, you grouch. I heard there are gonna be some hot chicks at this little bash,” She sing-songed.

I rolled my eyes and groaned in the most pitiful way I could. “Fierce,” I whined, “I don’t wanna be set up, you know that.”

“I am not setting you up,” Kelsey stated innocently. “I’m merely bringing you to a party that will have lots of single girls present. Should you decide to actually get involved with one of them for longer than your usual one-night stand, it will be no fault of mine.”

“Maybe not, but you’re still gonna take all the credit, you ass.”

“Damn right I am.”


The party turned out to be larger than I’d expected, but that went for the apartment as well, so it added up fine in the end. I was pretty surprised that Steven and Peter had managed to get such a nice place since they were both total sticks when it came to money, but Peter later informed me that the landlord was his uncle, and that Steven’s parents loaned them money when they were a little short.

The only room in the apartment that was fully furnished yet was the living room, which was where most of the people hung out. I think there were 15 people crammed into the two couches in one corner, and at least two per available chair, but they all seemed to be having a good time. The door to the bedroom was locked more often than not, and I had to push thoughts of what might be going on in there out of my head repeatedly, especially after I saw three people enter it at the same time.

When Kelsey and I entered the door, Peter spotted us immediately. He was probably the most flaming gay guy I’ve ever known, all falsetto voice, hands that flicked every which way, a slight intentional lisp on every s-sound that came out of his mouth and so on.

“Ohmigod! It’s AK-43!” He squealed, and immediately bounced over to us. I’m 21 and Kelsey is 22, get it? In two years time he’ll hit the military assault rifle we’ve all heard about. Lord knows he’s gonna get a fit of giggles every time he gets to say that.

As he wrapped us both in a group hug and jumped excitedly up and down, I caught Kelsey’s gaze over his shoulder and raised my eyebrows, grinning a little when I noticed that she was turning pink from suppressed laughter.

“Ariel, girlfriend.” Peter daintily took my hand and twirled me, whistling in much the same way Kelsey had done earlier. “This little pussycat’s gotten a brand new coat, hasn’t it? Meowrr.” He stuck his hands out and made some small scratching movements. I stuck my tongue in my cheek and rolled my eyes at him.

“Careful, Pete.” Kelsey snickered. “If you flame anymore than that you’re gonna catch on fire.”

“Now you watch yourself, Miss Thang.” Peter wagged his finger at Kelsey in a very preschool-teacher sort of way. “I invited you to this wonderful ball, and I can uninvite you just as quickly.” He punctuated his sentence with a snap of his fingers.

“Um, I’m gonna go get something to drink while you guys work this out, ok?” I didn’t wait for an answer, but simply proceeded to the drinks table. Kelsey and Peter always got into pretend arguments like the one they were currently having, and they continuously kept them going until they both broke up laughing. It was a lot of fun to watch when it was new, but by now they’d gotten so used to it that it could take hours for them to finish.

“Holy shit.” I blinked as I reached the table and got a good look at it. All sorts of beer and booze were there, along with several plastic cups and a huge punchbowl with a bluish-purple mixture in it. “Absolute, Bailey’s, Passoa, Southern Comfort, Malibu…” I laughed quietly, knowing fully well that the many bottles of hard booze was Stevens work. He was a bartender at a nightclub downtown, and was usually allowed to take any near-empty bottles home with him if he worked the last shift. Over time, those small amounts had turned into several full bottles, mostly because neither of the guys drank any of it unless they were hosting a party.

I stepped over to the punch bowl, and poured a little of the contents into one of the cups, sniffing it carefully before taking a small sip. “Mmm…” The stuff tasted sweet, and went down my throat easily. Knowing Steven, it was probably more potent than all the other bottles combined. “Wonder what’s in here?” I mused aloud.

“Probably a large amount of Grenadine,” A voice said from behind me, nearly succeeding in making me jump. Instead, I turned around slowly and leaned back against the table, taking another sip of my drink as I studied the new arrival.

“Hi,” I told her, a bit warily. I didn’t recall seeing her around before. She was pretty short, around 5’5”, and had a mass of wild, mahogany curls hanging freely down her back. She was slim, almost to the point of being skinny, but on such a small frame, it looked nice.

“Hi yourself,” She gave me a bright grin. “Sorry if I spooked you.”

“You didn’t,” I lied, not wanting to look like an idiot. “I’m completely used to other people replying when I’m talking to myself.”

That statement got a laugh out of her, and I instantly decided that I liked that sound. It wasn’t a full-blown belly laugh, and it wasn’t a quiet one either. I don’t know how to describe it. The only fitting term I can come up with is… unique.

“I’m not joking,” I said, and I really wasn’t. Kelsey’s made a habit of talking back to me when I’m having one of my little private conversations, and it scares the crap out of me every single time.

“I didn’t think you were,” The new arrival smiled.

“So…” I fished for a conversation starter. Social situations were never my forte, as you can probably tell. “Are you new around here? I don’t think I’ve met you before.”

“Actually, I am.” She smiled and extended her hand. “I’m Charlie Evans.”

I shook the proffered hand, liking the firmness of her grip. “Ariel Peters,” I told her. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.” I could tell that she was about to say something else, but at that moment, the stereo was turned on and cranked up to full volume, Village People’s ‘Macho Man’ blaring out of the massive set of speakers Steven owned.

We both glanced over, startled by the noise. Peter, true to form, was in the middle of the floor where a little space had been cleared, dancing along to the music like he hadn’t a care in the world.

I noticed Steven standing by the edge of the crowd, slowly shaking his dark head as he watched his lover with a small smile on his lips.

“Wow, that guy’s built like a brick!” Charlie had apparently followed my gaze and caught a glimpse of the tall, black man.

“That he is.” I nodded. “He’s an amateur bodybuilder, so it kinda comes with the territory.”

“Apparently…” She mumbled, obviously still in a mild state of shock. I can’t say that I was surprised. Her reaction was very similar to my own when I met Steven the first time. Let’s face it, a 6 foot 7 inches black man with long hair, not to mention muscles that could outdo Schwarzenegger and Van Damme combined, is not something you see everyday.

To say that her mouth was hanging open would be an understatement, and I couldn’t help but tease her a little. “Careful there. You might catch flies.”

She looked at me, and let a devilish grin surface. “Does your tongue count?”

“Uh…” Great, very witty. I finally managed to find a person who can reduce my brain activity to that of an amoeba. Snarfle.

Charlie laughed at my tongue-tied look, and gently stroked my back. “Take it easy, girl.” She smiled and patted my cheek, snickering at my growing blush. “I didn’t mean anything by it. Word around school is that you’re not in the market for a steady girl, and I don’t do one-nighters.”

I’m not ashamed to say that I was a little disappointed to hear that. True, she may not have been the most beautiful woman I’d ever laid eyes on, but she had a certain energy around her that I couldn’t help but be attracted to.

“Come on,” She grabbed my hand and tugged, raising her voice as Peter turned up the music. “I’d like to talk to you, but if we stay here I’m not gonna be able to speak for a week.”

“Alright,” I shrugged and managed a small smile. “Lead on, Madame.”


We ended up on the balcony. In distance, it was only a few feet from where we’d been standing, but when you add the throng of people that had invaded the apartment, it’ll give you a pretty clear picture of how long it took us to actually get there. Kelsey had, in the midst of a conversation with a pretty hot looking guy, caught my eye and waggled her eyebrows at the sight of my hand in Charlie’s grasp. Not amusing to me in the least.

It was nice to feel the cooling night breeze winding its way into my lungs, certainly an improvement over the heavy, smoke-congested air inside. Surprisingly, Charlie and I were the only two people out there, the other party-goers apparently not needing the oxygen provided by the cleansing wind.

I placed my arms on the iron railing and took a deep breath, smiling as I let it go. “Much better.”

Charlie, I noticed from the corner of my eye, was watching me with a slightly amused grin. “Not much for parties, are you?”

“Not really.” I agreed, then fell silent again. I let my eyes roam cross the neighboring buildings, finding light in some windows. Most were dark though, probably due to the late hour. Ok, so 10 pm isn’t late by most standards, but then again, it was a Wednesday night and most people had work the next morning, including myself.

Charlie gave a small sigh and leaned back against the railing next to me, letting our sides touch all the way down our bodies. I would have written it off as an unintentional act, had it not been for the fact that the balcony, while not large by any means, still had enough room for four people to stand there without any form of physical contact.

“I heard this about you, you know.” She said calmly, almost as if she was talking to herself. For a second I thought that she was, but since she was looking directly at me that option was flushed out of my mind as quickly as it had popped up. I didn’t reply verbally, deciding that raising my eyebrow inquisitively ought to do the trick.

“That you’re the epitome of the ‘strong, silent type’.” She smiled, the aquamarine eyes twinkling gently. “Apparently, you don’t say much except for in class, and even then you stick to the bare facts, only giving your personal opinion when you have to.”

I shrugged, not much I could say to that anyway, seeing as how it was all true. My silence wasn’t a conscious thing, I talked plenty with Kelsey and never felt strange about doing it. I just didn’t see the need to run off the mouth all the time, at least not in front of strangers. My thoughts, however, were another matter all together, and right now they were a jumbled mix of unanswered questions, mostly revolving around my new acquaintance and what she wanted from me.

“You know they call you the UCF Mystery?” Charlie casually asked me.

“They call me plenty of things,” I told her, mostly because I actually had something I wanted to say on this subject. “Most of which I’m sure you wouldn’t want to know about.” I gave a her a small grin here, just to show that the ignorance of people I didn’t know, and didn’t give a shit about one way or the other, didn’t really bother me. “But to answer your question, no. I don’t believe I’ve heard that one before.”

“Oh, so you can still talk.” She poked me in the side with a smirk, which only widened when I yelped. “Ticklish, are we? The campus rumor mill didn’t mention that.”

“Only because the few people who do know have been sworn to secrecy.” I glowered at her and rubbed a hand over the spot she’d hit with her finger.

“Point taken.” She nodded and turned around, now facing the street like I was. “I won’t tell a soul.”

“Thanks.” I returned my gaze to our surroundings, falling silent again. Charlie was definitely a talker, something I’d realized very quickly. If not, I’d have found out anyway, since it didn’t take her more than a few minutes of staying quiet before she started fidgeting. She probably wanted to ask me about some of the more interesting stuff that the rumor mill had produced.

I rolled my eyes out of her line of view. Everyone who ever talked to me for more than five minutes had the same questions. Usually, I wouldn’t even dignify them with a single syllable, but I liked this girl, so help me God. I liked her, and I wanted to spend more time with her. Something I knew wasn’t going to be possible until we’d gotten this little issue out of the way.

“Ok,” I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair, turning to face her. “Let’s get it over with. I know you’ve probably heard a thousand things about me at school, regardless of how long you’ve been here. Around 99 percent of them are complete lies, so to save time, I’ll merely tell you the ones that are true.”

She blinked in surprise, and I had to suppress a smile at that, knowing that due to my reputation she probably hadn’t expected me to be able to talk this much at once. “First off, yes, I live in my own apartment, alone. It is not the home to nightly lesbian orgies, nor is it paid for by a rich, female lover. Second, I do support myself and pay for my own tuition, but not by soliciting sex or by dancing. Are we clear so far?”

“Crystal.” She was watching me intently, apparently hanging on my every word. I never thought myself to be the most fascinating thing since sex, but if this girl did, then who was I to deter her?

“Good. Another fact about me is that yes, I do stop by the children’s hospital twice every week, but not to scare the kids or to convert the little girls to lesbianism. I don’t have one of the female doctors as my personal sex-slave either. Fact number four, and the last true one since the last time I checked is that yes, I am, indeed, a girl, and not a cross-dresser.”

“You mean that your middle name isn’t Catalina?”

“Actually, it is. Must’ve added that one since I got my last update.”

“I like it,” Charlie decided, smiling warmly. “Has a nice ring to it.”

“Oh yeah,” I nodded and pulled a face. “ Being named after one of Cicero’s biggest enemies and a traitor to the entire Roman empire is a huge compliment to anyone.”

She laughed softly, whether it was because of my pout or the original bearer of my name I didn’t know. “What about you?” I asked her, turnabout being fair play and all. “Is ‘Charlie’ short for something?”

“Not much, just Charlene,” She smiled and stood a little closer to me, if that was even possible.

“Charlene,” I mused aloud, mentally searching through the folders of names I had categorized in my brain thanks to my numerous visits to the names website. “Female form of Charles, from the Germanic name Karl, which was derived from a Germanic word meaning ‘man’.” I looked at her and smiled. “Were your parents expecting a son?”

She laughed. “Who knows.” She looked straight into my eyes, the blue and green flacks still twinkling as she laid her hand over mine, the pad of her thumb making idle trails over my skin.

“Um…” I vainly tried to come up with something to say. Usually, I’m the one doing the hitting, not the one being hit on, so this was a brand new box of matches for me. I’m actually pretty unflappable, but this girl was doing something that used up my flapless reserves, or whatever you call them, pretty damn quick, and it made me nervous. I still wasn’t sure if I liked that or not, so I opted for a little distance.

“Well…” I gently pulled my hand free and backed up a few steps, stopping when I felt my shoulders touching the wall. “If they were, hoping for a son that is, at least they got half. Not that you’re like cross-gendered or anything, but a boy tends to like girls and even though you’re physically a girl you like girls too, finding them attractive and all that and seeing them as sexual partners just like a boy does so maybe part of you is a boy and your parents kind of got their wish, maybe not in the way they anticipated but still in some way and please God just kill me right now!” I do not, under any circumstances, babble, and yet here I was, doing my best Willow Rosenberg impersonation because of some girl I hardly knew. What the hell was happening to me?

Charlie chuckled and gave me a slow once-over. Twice over would probably be more accurate since she started looking at my hair, then slowly moved all the way down to my feet and back up again. I was starting to feel like a buffet meal for a starving beast, and it didn’t help when she walked over to me, moving very slowly, almost like a panther stalking its prey.

Oh yeah, backing up against the wall was definitely not a good idea. I knew what she wanted, hell, most gay girls want that from me, but this was the first time I’d ever been nervous. I don’t mean ‘uh-oh’ nervous, but more along the lines of ‘my-palms-are-sweaty-my-knees-are-weak-and-I-think-I-might-just-pass-out-right-here’ kind of nervous. You know the kind, you got it right before the math exam your senior year in High School. The one you didn’t study for. At all.

I forcibly calmed myself down, and looked her dead in the eyes as she stopped right in front of me. Our bodies weren’t touching, but there was only a hair’s breath between us at any given location, and the currents of sexual tension running between us was almost palpable.

“I thought you didn’t do one-nighters?” My voice came out calm and steady, which surprised me since my heart was beating a mile a minute.

“I don’t,” Charlie murmured, her eyes growing hooded as she gazed at me, emitting a sensuous chuckle as I licked my lips nervously.

I just stood there passively, trying to keep my breathing steady. The entire situation, her closeness, the warmth I could feel flowing from her body, the scent of her skin and the knowledge that I was absolutely powerless to resist this girl was absolutely intoxicating. I couldn’t do a single thing but breathe and wait.

Charlie took a deep breath, her exhale ruffling my hair slightly, and smiled. “Vanilla,” she breathed. “How very unfitting. I doubt there’s anything vanilla about you.”

I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a compliment or an insult, but that turned out to be a moot point. I didn’t get to comment on it anyway, Charlie’s lips were on mine before I even opened my mouth to speak.

The contact was electric. Her hands were cupping my face, then moving back to twine in my hair as she leaned her entire body against mine, her tongue snaking its way into my mouth. My arms lifted and encircled her waist, almost of their own accord, as I found myself spiraling rapidly downward in a maelstrom of sensation.

I don’t know how long we stood there, but eventually I had to break away for air. Charlie didn’t just stand by idly and wait though. As long as her lips were free, it seemed she decided to do something productive with them. Surprisingly, she found my weakest point below my ear with unerring accuracy, and I felt her smile against my neck as my breath hitched.

“Very useful, that rumor mill,” she muttered, continuing to tease my skin with the tip of her tongue. I almost, almost got angry at that. Kelsey was the only person I’d told about that spot, and since none of my previous lovers had managed to find it, she was most likely the one who had spilled the beans. Right now my brain was far too busy sending all my blood southward to really care though.

It did, however, acknowledge one astounding fact that night. I don’t recall exactly when I realized it, but it must have been somewhere between Charlie and I leaving the party and me waking up next to her the next morning, mahogany curls spread out over my pillow, that a major clue bit me in the ass.

It didn’t make any sense to me. I’m majoring in Computer Science and Business Communication, and thus have a very logical mind and strongly believe that there is a rational explanation for just about everything in the world.

Then again, here I was, laying in my bed with a girl I’d known all of twelve hours, hearing a little voice inside my mind repeatedly tell me something that I knew was not logically possible. It couldn’t be possible, since I didn’t know Charlie at all, other than in the biblical sense, and yet I knew it to be true.

Suddenly, the eyes across from mine opened, and the lips I’d tasted time and again over the night parted in a smile. “Morning.”

“Hey,” I returned the smile and reached over to stroke her cheek gently. “I called in sick for work.”

I was falling in love.


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