Many thanks are laid at the feet of that intepid beta beauty, Ume.
An Inevitable Arrangementby Crème Brûlée
"Luce? What the hell?" Dix walked over to the window and opened it.
"Hey Dix! How's it goin'?" Luce waved.
Dix lifted the screen, poked her head out of the window, looked down three flights, then back up and over at Luce. "It's going fine. What are you doing?"
"Just stopped by to give you these." Luce raised a bouquet of roses.
Dix looked across the space that separated them. Luce was hovering three stories in the air outside her window, standing in the raised bucket of a telephone company repair vehicle. Dix thought she'd been pretty clear with Luce that she hadn't wanted another date... or at least she thought she had been... Sometimes she wasn't as articulate as she wanted to be, and, well, she liked Luce, and really didn't want to hurt her feelings. So after their last date, trying to let her down easy, she'd said, "Guess I'll see you around."
Okay, come to think of it, maybe she hadn't been all that clear... She looked at Luce's crooked grin, her head to one side, the breeze tossing a few strands of hair that had escaped from her ponytail. "Um, they're real nice Luce, for flowers and all. But, um, well... you see, I'm not looking for another date."
"Yeah, I kinda figured that the other night," Luce said. "But I also figured you didn't seem totally sure about it, and if I didn't make the effort to figure that out, I wouldn't know for sure. I hate not being sure about stuff, especially important stuff that could really make a difference. I think you're fun to hang out with, you've got a mean eye and a quirky sense of style - I really like that. Come out with me again and give it another shot, what have you got to lose?"
Dix was resolute, she wasn't going down this road - not again. "Look, we're just too different. I'm not the marrying kind of dyke - I barely want to date."
"Who says I want to get married?" Luce looked surprised.
"Everything about you says you want to get married! You're dependable, you've got a day job - you've got a kid!"
"I play guitar in a lesbian funk band - having a day job is a no-brainer. And I told you, Felicity's not my kid, she's my ex's kid. And until my ex gets her shit together, Felicity is staying at my place. She's a great kid too, you'd be damned lucky to know her."
"I'm not dissing Felicity, the point is, I'm not looking for a family - I don't even have a pet. You're a great lady Luce - no doubt - so I don't want to lead you down the garden path. I'm just not looking for a relationship."
"Come on Dix, I'm not asking you to marry me - just to go on another date. I thought we had a pretty good time the other night."
"We did, I like you too - but any lesbian who comes looking for a third date - on a hydraulic lift, no less - is fooling herself if she thinks she's not looking for marriage."
"You know what your problem is?" Luce asked.
"That I'm talking to a woman hovering three stories above the pavement with a handful of roses that should be for someone else?"
"You're afraid of chemistry."
"And you'd be an expert in chemistry." Dix was dubious. Luce was a charmer, certainly, but didn't exude the aura of a master in the art of interpersonal chemistry. Actually, for Dix, Luce's apparent obliviousness in that arena was more appealing.
"I'm no amateur." Luce assured her, striking what she hoped was a casual, yet confident pose.
"I thought things were pretty steamy the other night when I dropped you off, but chemistry expert that you are, you didn't seem all that interested in following through," Dix challenged.
They were interrupted by a loud squawk, followed by a stream of crackling static - then a booming voice. "Luce, we gotta get over to Broadway pronto - Jerry's throwin' a hissy fit on the radio. I don't wanna lose my job over your sorry excuse for a love life. "
Luce tugged the radio off of her belt and was talking into it before she got it to her mouth. "Put a cork in it Larry - I sat in a parking lot for an hour last week while you placed bets at the track. If you lose your job, it won't be on my account. And you're no one to be judging my love life - when's the last time you brought anyone flowers?"
There was silence on the line, Luce returned the receiver to her belt with a satisfying click. Larry wasn't a bad guy, he just whined a lot when he felt ignored.
Luce turned back to Dix and said, "First time I laid eyes on you with your press pass, taking photographs at the concert, I thought, 'Luce, you're going to have to play it cool with this one - she's skittish.' That's why I didn't try anything with you on our last couple of dates - I can see that I may have overdone it though, been a bit too reserved. Now that I know you're looking for something short, shallow and unsweetened, maybe we should talk - turn up the heat a notch."
"Luce, are you a stalker?"
"What's that got to do with anything? And if I was, would I tell you? Women I've met who do that sort of thing don't exactly publicize."
"You've been stalked?" Dix was curious.
"Twice. And let me tell you, one of those times was the creepiest goddamn thing I've ever been through - next to one of my neighbors, Ted Price, losing his marbles and painting the entire inside of his house bright green before he finally checked himself into a psychiatric hospital. Took him three weeks - painted the walls, the ceilings, the carpeting, the appliances - even his trash. He was convinced he was being reborn - a 'greening' he kept calling it. Funny way to get reborn if you ask me, passing out every five minutes from paint vapors - I found him gasping for breath, nearly asphyxiated on his back porch one night."
"Poor bastard, what happened to him?" Dix asked.
"He's alright - met a nice lady at the hospital, takes his meds, goes to work - does okay. I haven't seen any green trash in at least a year."
"Good for Ted. Why was one stalking creepy and the other not?"
"Dunno," Luce shrugged. "Maybe Haley's heart wasn't really in it... or maybe she wasn't as twisted as Shy - beats me."
"You got stalked by someone named Shy - how ironic."
"How fucked up, is more like it." Luce shuddered trying to shake off the disturbing memory.
"I've never been stalked and don't want to get stalked - having a woman show up at my third story window, that could be romantic - maybe - if I were looking for romance. But it could also be a sign of really poor boundaries."
"I see your point. I guess I should call first - kind of skew the surprise angle though," Luce said.
"Maybe get to know someone better before you spring this kind of surprise on them," Dix suggested.
"Thanks for the tip, I'll take it under consideration."
"Just now," Dix said. "I'm going to overlook you calling me skittish and concentrate on the fact that you think you can play me like a violin. Any woman who sizes someone up at a glance and tailors her approach is definitely not for me. On those grounds alone, we shouldn't go on another date."
"Sounds like all you're after is a quick fuck with no strings attached. Why should you care what's going on in another woman's head when she's checking you out?" Luce was beginning to regret her bright idea of following up on Dix.
"I like a satisfying fling with a compatible party, that's why."
The door to the truck opened below and Larry shouted, "Look, if you're not done talking smut up there in two minutes, I'm walking over to Broadway and I'll leave it to you to explain the rest to Jerry! "
"How the hell do you know what I'm talking about?" Luce shouted down.
"You've got a two way radio on your belt, Einstein, you figure it out! Anyway, Rapunzel there's immune to your charms, which is a damn shame, because you've been a pain in the ass to work with this week and I'm guessing she's why." Larry turned and looked at Dix. "Lady, are you sure you're a dyke? There's not a guy in our entire division that wouldn't take Luce up on that offer in a heartbeat - present company excepted, of course, but that's only because I'm her brother-in-law and her sister's way better looking, even wears a skirt occasionally - but if you're into chicks, come on - she's a catch!"
"Does he always come along when you're courting?" Dix asked.
Larry turned back and looked at Luce. "I think you should date Marylyn again - sure, she was kinda annoying and clingy, but at least she was into baseball and came to the games with us. This one doesn't look like she'd know a bat from a lacrosse stick. And I can't believe I'm out here having this conversation!"
"I can't either, you're embarrassing the hell out of me - get back in the truck Larry!" Luce shouted.
"Fine, just get your ass down here so we can get over to Broadway! We gotta move it!"
"I'll be down in a minute!" Luce looked at Dix. "I have to go - here, take these..." Luce leaned over and carefully tossed the bouquet over to Dix, who caught it. "I think we have a little spark. You're hot, but from your attitude I'm guessing you're aware of it, and it's made you choosey - I can appreciate that, I'm choosey myself. I like talking to you, and you don't seem to be in great pain or anything when we spend time together. So why not come out to dinner with me again? I promise to leave you alone if you're not interested in seeing more of my skin - but think it over, and call me if you want to. If I haven't heard from you by the weekend, I'll assume you're not - and that'll be that."
Dix shook her head and smiled. "Sounds reasonable - I'll think it over."
"You do that. And put those in some water soon, we had to make three stops on our way over here - they're probably thirsty."
"Luce?" Dix tried to regain her balance as the weight of her equipment threatened to tip her over.
"Whoa!" Luce reached out a hand and grabbed Dix's arm to steady her.
"Oh man, I'm sorry. You hurt?" Dix asked.
Luce rolled her shoulder where she'd taken the brunt of Dix's weight as they'd collided coming around the corner. "Nah, fine. Just a bit startled. Where's the fire?"
"Under my ass if I don't get set up to catch the perfect photo of the brides as they walk through the club door," Dix said.
"You're working this gig?" Luce asked, watching Dix rearrange her equipment - she carried an impressive array of bags and photographic gadgetry.
"Yes, and if I manage to get upstairs and find the front hall in time, I may even get paid for it. Had a goddamn flat on the way over here and this place is a friggin' maze. It didn't seem nearly as large when I was out here last week."
"I just came from up there, I'll show you." Luce offered.
"You're a lifesaver." And Dix meant it, the brides Hayes-Johnson were the furies in disguise - or so Dix had come to believe since taking on the job of photographing their wedding. They wanted it to be the first, and most noted, society lesbian wedding on record at the Hellsfine Country Club. They'd dogged Dix every other five minutes about the angles and shots that were of most import. What had seemed like a decent project at the outset, had turned into something of a nightmare.
"Luce?" Dix patted Luce's arm to get her attention.
"Oh hey, Dix - how's it going? Did you get the perfect shot?"
"I got something, I won't know if it's perfect until Mother Johnson says so." Dix grimaced. "I've had to dodge the woman half the evening. She keeps asking me if she can see some of the images - like I should give her a slideshow on the spot, so she can have me retake the ones she doesn't like. I've heard of micromanagement, but that woman takes the prize."
"Bummer," Luce sympathized. "We've mainly dealt with Sharon, my ex - she's Whitney's best friend. I told her we'd only play if I didn't have to deal with Whitney or her mother - they're not usually so bad, she says, but they've been pretty jazzed around the whole wedding thing."
"Jazzed, that's a kind word for it. I've shot weddings before, I've seen jazzed, hyped, ecstatic - what these people are is manic. But forget that, when did you start playing banjo?"
Luce laughed. "When I was about six."
"That's what it sounds like. Last time I talked to you you were in a funk band - how'd you get from that to bluegrass?" Dix asked.
"Other way around - I'm back to bluegrass - never left it, actually."
"You guys are really great - tight as hell. How long have you played together?"
"Since we were about six - those are my brothers, Pete and Gregg," Luce pointed to the two men standing next to the stage, on break with her. "And those are my cousins Henry, and Trudy. And you know our A team stage hand Felicity - she's back with her Mom, but is totally devoted to the band."
"Holy cow, you're like the Von Trapps! Only listenable."
"Thanks." Luce smiled. "If you're enjoying it, you can come with us later. We'll probably end up at Pete's and play for the rest of the night. Whenever Trudy and Gregg are in town, we try to get in as much time as we can."
"I can come, really?" Dix asked.
Luce shrugged. "Why not?"
"Because I never called you."
"So? If I remember correctly, I said call if you were interested. You weren't - I can appreciate that - not everyone is blessed with good taste." Luce smirked.
Dix smiled, abashed. "Uh-huh."
"Yeah?" Dix held the receiver to her ear and adjusted her pillow so she could hear Luce more clearly.
"So, um... that kiss last night... uh, what was that?" Luce asked quietly.
"Me surrendering, I guess." Dix admitted, rubbing her eyes as she tried to wake up some more.
"You 'guess'? That sounds really definite. Care to give a clue about what you might be surrendering to?"
"Your overwhelming charisma, what else Luce?"
"Charisma? I've got charisma? Wow, who knew..."
"Don't worry, it's not terminal or anything." Dix grumbled.
"Well that's a relief." Luce wasn't sure how to handle such an ambivalent surrender. Dix didn't sound thrilled as much as resolved to a less than favorable fate. "Say I was available - and you shouldn't assume I am, not just because you're interested - but if I was, does this mean you're interested? And available?"
"So much for subtlety - yes, Luce, I'm interested - and available."
"Well, it was late, you'd had a few - for all I knew you meant to say goodnight and fell against my cheek in a fit of ennui. You're kinda understated, a bit hard to read - you know?"
"Not everyone can show up at someone else's window in a friggin' crane," Dix complained. "Next time I'll be sure to be more clear - maybe use a megaphone."
"Next time... so, like, when is that going to be?" Luce was almost worried by the prospect - from her tone, she wasn't sure if Dix wanted to see her, or deck her.
"I don't know, you free? We could grab breakfast."
"You're just waking up too, huh?" Luce asked.
"Yeah." Dix yawned and stretched, underscoring the point. "You guys played until what? Four thirty?"
"So what about breakfast?" Dix asked.
"Well, I guess I could fit you in... between groupies. How do you feel about redheads?"
"Shouldn't be a problem then." Luce smiled.
"You have no idea how not funny that is," Dix said.
"Uh-huh?" Dix replied without looking up from her menu. She couldn't decide between the hash browns and the sausage. They'd met at the All Day, All Night Diner, where they served breakfast at any and all hours.
"You like grits?"
"With eggs and without lumps, yeah."
"I like them too," Luce said. "But I kind of feel like oatmeal."
"Then get oatmeal."
"But I like grits."
"Then get both," Dix suggested.
"I don't want both."
"Fine, then you get grits," Dix said. "And I'll get oatmeal and you can have some."
"Do you want oatmeal?" Luce asked.
"No, I'm having the waffle."
"Then why would you order oatmeal?"
"Because you want it, but have some problem with ordering both," Dix said. "I thought I'd save you some angst and just get it."
"That's nice of you."
"I'm like that, are you having hash browns or sausage?" Dix asked.
"Can I have a bite?"
"Sure," Luce shrugged.
"Good, then I'll get sausage."
Luce looked at Dix perplexed. "Okay. Um, do you always order like this?"
"Like it's a barter arrangement," Luce said.
"Depends on my mood. Right now, I'm starved, and am willing to wheel and deal to get what I want."
"Fair enough," Luce conceded.
After they'd eaten and were nursing yet another caffeinated drink, Luce broached the topic that had been preying on her mind, "So, can I ask what has changed between the last time I saw you and yesterday? Why not interested then, but now?"
Dix sighed and looked at Luce's hands. She nodded toward them. "Those got to me. I knew they would - if I saw you again. And hearing you play? I'm not that strong."
Luce looked at her hands, then back to Dix for an explanation.
"I have a history with musicians, Luce. Not a good one. I've been there and done that, and was oh so ready to never do it again. I'd made a pact with myself and things were going pretty good - I hadn't had my heart shredded and fed back to me in... I don't know, a few years at least."
Luce looked confused. "You didn't want to see me again because I'm a musician?"
"Look, I swore I wouldn't go down this road again, not after Germaine."
"Germaine?" Luce asked. "You dated a musician named Germaine? From here? We wouldn't be talking about Germaine Aisle, would we? As in the band Gender Equity?"
Dix groaned. "We would."
"No way! You dated Germaine Aisle? Can I touch you?" Luce reached out a finger to poke at Dix.
Dix swatted her hand away. "Cut that out. She puts her pants on one leg at a time, just like everybody else. And she's not perfection tied up in a bow, despite the radiant publicity."
"She doesn't have to be perfect, she's a damn good musician and her lyrics are excellent. And aside from all the tattoos and ridiculous hair, she's totally hot. You can get away with murder when you're that talented and have a cute ass. No wonder you're underwhelmed by me, what a step down I'd be from those cheeks."
"That's not it at all, Luce, really. Well, it is and it isn't. You have a perfectly nice ass, and you're no slouch with that pick in your hand. But that's the problem! I didn't want to be with any more musicians. Ever!"
"So you've noticed my ass? Cool." Luce grinned.
Dix rolled her eyes.
Luce asked. "You have a good time last night?"
"What's so bad about having a too good time?!" Luce couldn't follow.
"I've dated too many musicians - get it? And it always ends badly. So I wasn't looking to be with any musician, even a sweet one with a crooked grin, I was actively seeking out the professional class, like architects and lawyers."
"Yow! Why on earth would you do that to yourself?" Luce shivered.
"More of them are sane! I don't want to have to worry about my girlfriend taking too long in the bathroom because she's shooting up in there, or going down on some groupie, or some combination of the above."
"Germaine's a junkie?" Luce was surprised.
"No, Dede was."
"Dede Lundt, she played bass for F.I.S.T."
"Oh yeah, I remember them... vaguely. Junkie, huh? That's sad. I've known a couple of people who went down that road. One of them didn't come back."
"Dede said it made her a better musician. I fell for that for a while, until she started missing gigs and screwing up all over the place. It got ugly. She got ugly. When she finally agreed to go to rehab - after stealing her mother's car and trying to sell it - she hadn't played her guitar in six months. The only creative output she had was lying to cover her tracks - literally and figuratively."
"I'm sorry. Watching someone you care for self-destruct... that's torture." Luce sympathized.
"Yeah, it was. Scared me senseless, tore my heart out - then I got pissed. I'd never been that angry in my whole life. We'd already broken up, but if Dede hadn't agreed to rehab, I wasn't sure I could stop myself from dragging her in there by the hair, ya know? She'd freaked out and used so many people by then. And her poor mother, Jesus, she blamed herself for all of it. And Dede, she blamed her too! That was the final straw for me. I mean, yeah, her mother wasn't perfect, but her mother wasn't sticking that needle in her arm either. It took me a while to figure out that whatever Dede was, she also wasn't a very nice person... Um, am I sharing too much here? I can't think that talking about my drug addicted ex is all that appropriate at this stage in our acquaintance."
"Screw appropriate, I'm a musician, remember? Got barely any social graces at all."
"Don't remind me." Dix groaned.
"I'm not a junkie," Luce offered. "Hell, I barely even drink anymore. And I was thrilled when they outlawed smoking in bars here - does a number on my asthma. Any kind of smoke, weed or whatever, makes me miserable. That's why I carry this stupid thing." Luce pulled an inhaler from her pocket. "It's never been really bad, not like my uncle's asthma, he gets the severe attacks, the works. I just get uncomfortable, mostly."
"So, what's your vice Luce? You a sex addict? A gambler? A game player? What's your obsession?" Dix wanted to know.
"That's easy - music. I could play all day and night, if you let me. Hell, you saw it last night. That's my juice. Hanging out with folks who are totally into it - who know their shit, but aren't out to prove anything - they're just in it, completely. There's no drug that's as good as that."
"So if you could play all day and night, why don't you? Why the day job? You're really good," Dix said.
Blushing a little, Luce grinned. "A mean practical streak runs right through my family... Seriously, I tried to make a living at it for a while, in my teens and early twenties - was in a few different bands. It just didn't work out. And maybe, because everyone in my family plays an instrument and has a job, not making a living at it didn't seem like the end of the world. My parents had friends who were professional musicians and the ones who toured? You couldn't help but see how hard it was. It's no life for the faint of heart, it takes a toll. My father said that people who stuck with it, successful or not, did so because they had no choice - the music was everything to them, it was who they were, it was their whole way of life." Luce shrugged. "That wasn't me, and I knew it - or at least I figured it out. Get stranded in a snowstorm with four insecure males and a sexually confused female vocalist in a busted van once, and you get acquainted with your limitations pretty fast. So I found a job I could stand, that would support my bad music habit, and here I am."
"That's cool," Dix said.
"That I'm a flop as a musician?"
"You're not a flop - you're still playing. It's cool that you keep it so close, so real. I've met my share of people who're 'making it' and they are so far from anything like close to their music. They seem to lose sight of it in the flash and noise."
"Bummer. But they get to date really hot women, so there's an upside to success, right?"
Dix smiled. "I guess."
"So what's she like? Germaine?" Luce asked.
Dix shrugged. "Really smart. Really sexy. And really, really impossible to be with for ten minutes without an interruption. Which was fine when she first broke through and it all started - that was a totally wild ride. But it's non-stop, it got to be too much - and once she started disappearing after engagements and shows and turning back up with teeth marks on various parts of her body..." Dix shrugged.
"Lame, I thought she'd be cooler than that."
"She's okay, you know? Just human - with a lot of opportunities to screw up. That many women throw themselves at you, eventually one or two are going to stick. I asked her if she wanted to end it a couple of times, and she said no - she loved me and needed me to keep her steady. Everything was so nuts! Eventually, I figured out she needed me more than she wanted me, and I needed to be wanted, and well... it didn't last much longer once I figured that out. I felt like I was coming down off a rollercoaster when I came back to town. I was dizzy and nauseous for weeks. I guess deep down I thought she'd beg me to come back. For the record, she didn't. I got a beautiful letter from her, kind of a thank you note really, for leaving."
"Ouch!" Luce winced.
"Yeah. Do you know how long it took me to scrape my ego off the floor after that?"
"Don't know, but Gender Equity's been big for about four years, so I'm hoping it's not been that long."
"No, about two though," Dix admitted. "Then I met Mich, she's a total nut, you remind me of her kind of - about the eyes. Mich can't sit still for three minutes, much less be in a relationship for more than a week. It was one hell of a week. And then off she went, with her troupe. And somehow, everything seemed okay again."
"Troupe? She a dancer?" Luce asked.
"Ooh, I can see how that might be fun."
"You have a dirty mind," Dix said.
"You set me up."
"You're bent. Anyway, After Mich, there was Trudy. I loved Trudy, I wasn't in love with her, but I loved her, and she loved me. Then she fell in love with British Columbia - and moved there. It wasn't a fun break up - she's totally great, and I still miss her, but it was okay in the end. And that convinced me, utterly convinced me that dating musicians was the last thing I ever needed to do on this earth again. You see, because I managed to be in relationships with sane people who were totally interesting and not self-destructive, or addicted to getting attention from everyone in a room, or whatever it is that prevents the musicians I've known from being capable partners in a relationship! And then I started to wonder about relationships, intimate ones, like, what are they really? What are they for? We're lesbians, right? Unless you're bi, Luce, but you don't have that bi-type vibe, so I'm guessing you're a lesbian..."
Dix continued, "So we're lesbians, and unless we want kids - what's the point of tying ourselves together at the hip and sharing underpants until death do us part? Ya know? I just don't see the damn point. So I wasn't going to do relationships anymore - not the sharing underpants kind. And then you had to show up at the Fractious Weed concert. Not only were you a friggin' musician with all of your lanky limbs and crooked grins, but..."
Luce raised a hand to interrupt. "Look, if you're going to bring up sharing underpants again, I wish you wouldn't. I've never, not once, shared my underpants with another woman. Mine wouldn't fit you anyway."
"You're missing the point! You're the relationship kind of dyke - I've got radar for it."
"So sue me, I want to date you - or at least I did, before I knew what a freak you are. Look, you've had some tough break ups with musicians, I'm really sorry about that. But why punish me for them? I'm a musician, and I'll admit there's a certain amount of baggage that comes along with that - for some - so why not hedge your bet? Just take it slow with me and see if you encounter any warning signs. And just for the record, that groupie joke this morning? Was totally just a joke, I swear. I did sleep with a woman after a concert once, when I was with Slippery Fins, but it was wicked disturbing waking up next to a woman and not knowing her name. I'm not built for that. She found it funny - told me I needed to lighten up. She lit a joint, I started wheezing, and that was pretty much that. Aside from the odd wedding, I don't play publicly all that much anyway."
"You totally should though, you're that good." Dix assured her.
"Yeah, but then you'd want to date me even less."
"Maybe we could be friends." Dix suggested.
"The way you look at my ass? No way."
"I just noticed it was nice, I didn't drool over it."
"The way I look at yours might be a problem then," Luce admitted.
"You've checked out my ass? Really?"
"Uh, huh." Luce nodded.
"And?" Dix prompted.
"I drooled. Only, I wiped it off quick so you wouldn't notice."
"Very politic of you. Speaking of politics, you're not a Republican or anything are you?" Dix asked.
"Bite your tongue!" Luce exclaimed. "I'm a musician."
"What's that got to do with the price of plastic in China?"
"I don't know, but I sure as hell am no Republican." Luce said. "Only rich people and people who fancy they ought to be rich are Republicans. That said, I'm not a Democrat either."
"Don't tell me you're a Libertarian, I won't date you."
"You won't date me regardless, so I don't see that it matters what I tell you," Luce said.
"I told you, I've surrendered to your charms. Damn you, Luce! I did drool when I checked out your ass - and the rest of the package isn't half bad either. You're good looking and what's worse is, you know it. Smug son of a bitch," Dix complained.
Luce beamed, she did know it, and was enjoying the fact that she had Dix at something of a disadvantage - even if it was a confusing sort of disadvantage. "Some women find my ass rather fetching, it's true. And you say you've surrendered, but I've got to tell you Dix, I'm not sure I believe it. You've obviously suffered pretty significant trauma at the hands of musicians and well, I'm not all that sure we ought to stir that up again for you."
"You had to do it, didn't you? You had to bring up musicians' hands. That was low, Luce, real low." Dix stood up, leaned across the table and planted a kiss right on Luce's mouth. It was the sort of kiss you have trouble not noticing - whether involved or not. People at the tables nearby certainly took note. By the time she'd finished, Dix was practically sitting in Luce's lap. Luce was doing everything she could to pull her there. Dix might be a complete loon, but she knew how to kiss.
"When you said 'maybe we should take this slow'. I guess I should have told you - I really suck at slow." Dix admitted.
Luce propped herself up on her elbow and looked at Dix. "I suppose that would have been good information to share. But then, tonight probably wouldn't have had the same guilty charm to it, you know?"
"That's true." Dix adjusted her pillow and turned to face Luce. "Forbidden fruit tastes better."
"Way better," Luce sighed.
"So what? Now it'll suck, unless we break up? Then it'll be good again?" Dix asked.
"Break up? We've had sex once - you can't 'break up' after having sex once. You have to be an item, in a relationship to break up... don't you?"
"Okay, let's make it official, we'll do it again, then break up." Dix smiled.
"I can't tell if you're serious," Luce complained.
"About doing it again? You better believe it." Dix leaned over and kissed Luce, leaving no doubt as to her conviction in the matter.
"Yeah?" Dix turned on her side to face Luce.
"Can you die from too much sex? I mean, can the dehydration kill you?"
"Probably. Want to find out?" Dix asked.
"I think I might if I don't get up and have some water."
"Get up then, I'm not stopping you."
"I don't know if I can walk," Luce said. "After that last time, I think I'm maybe paralyzed from the waist down."
"Poor thing, I told you you'd be sore if you kept that up."
"No you didn't, you said, and I quote, 'Don't stop! Oh my god, I swear I'll kill you if you ever stop!'"
"You're right, I did." Dix grinned. "I'll get you some water. But it may take me a while, I'm not fully functional either."
Dix returned to the bed with water for them both. "How many times did we break up last night?"
"I lost count after we got back together and were in an open relationship, then were monogamous and broke up over the wallpaper in the bathroom."
"Oh yeah, that was a really tough split, but then we had that awesome make up sex!" Dix slid back under the covers.
"Yeah, but then you sprained your toe on the headboard. How is it?"
"I told you, it's fine," Dix said. "A little bruise and you're Florence Nightingale on steroids."
"I thought you said you liked playing doctor?"
"I did," Dix grinned. "You're sexy in white."
"And you're pretty sexy in that bandage. With nothing else on," Luce raised her eyebrows a few times.
"Why Luce, you noticed."
"Why yes, I did." Luce moved in on Dix's coy smile.
"So why don't you share your underwear with other women?" Dix asked when Luce was inches from her nose.
"Where did that come from? Weren't we about to have sex again?"
"I don't want to be too predictable," Dix said. "Just because I'm lying next to you, wearing only a band-aid, doesn't mean I'm prey."
"Why not?" Luce grinned lasciviously.
"You can barely lift your head! Drink your water, woman! And answer my question."
Luce fell back onto her pillow with a thud. She was a bit worn out. "Which one?"
"The underwear one. Why don't you let other women wear it?" Dix reminded.
"Because my underwear is just that, mine. I don't want to see someone else's ass in it. I don't share towels either - and stay out of the bathroom when I'm in there. Christ, Sharon was always trying to use the bathroom when I was. 'What's the difference? We're both girls.' She always said it like I hadn't noticed. I like my underwear, I like my privacy - why is that so hard to get?"
Dix shrugged. "Dunno. You ever shower with other women?"
"Sure," Luce said.
"Oh, well, that's good then. You can keep your privacy and underwear, but showering with another woman, that's not something I'd want to go without."
"Are we talking every time?"
"No, just every now and again." Dix assured.
"Oh," Luce said. "That's okay then."
"So how 'bout we go take one? Then have something to eat, so we can recharge our batteries for later."
"That depends," Luce said.
"Are we an item, or are we broken up?"
"Gee..." Dix considered it. "I'm not sure... I think just after that last orgasm, as I passed out, I may have broken up with you over the color of your pillowcases."
"What's wrong with the color of my pillowcases?" Luce wanted to know.
Dix propped herself up on her elbow to consider them. "Now that it's light in here, nothing. So I guess we're an item."
"Alright, I'll shower with you then."
"If we weren't you wouldn't have?"
"Seems wrong somehow..."
"You're a nut!" Dix exclaimed.
"That's pretty rich, coming from you," Luce countered.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're one loop-de-loop, Dix."
"Fine! I'm of a mind to break up with you again."
"Is that a threat?" Luce asked.
"Are you scared?"
"Kinda," Luce admitted. "I think I might throw my back out if we make up again. Could we just have a disagreement and not break up? Kind of work through it, together?"
"Ooh, you mean, process?" Dix grinned evilly.
"No! I do not. That was one of Sharon's favorite words. I hate that word. I hate the experience even worse. If I could have extracted that word from her vocabulary with pliers, I would have."
"Good, I've always hated it too. We can just work it out."
"That's a relief," Luce sighed.
"And for the record," Dix said. "The reason I succumbed to your charms..."
"Was?" Luce prompted.
"I figured, watching you play, hanging out with you and your family, 'There's a woman worth risking a little heartache over.'"
"A little? So what you're saying is I'm not going to take much of an emotional toll on you - if we split. I'm a safety. Don't know if I like the sound of that."
"Well if you go hearing things I'm not saying, it's your own fault for not liking it. What I meant was, you're worth the risk of, you know, getting back into the whole relationship thing." Dix explained.
"Oh." Luce didn't sound thrilled.
"What's the problem? You not interested in a relationship? I scare you off with all of that exercise last night?"
"No, I... the reason Sharon left was because she thought I was too predictable, too... What'd she say? 'Not emotionally challenging, too easy to be with.'"
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Dix asked. "She stable?"
"Depends on when you catch her - but mostly, yeah. She meant that she thought we were staying together for the wrong reasons, in the end. She said it was more because staying together was easier than being apart." Luce tried to explain it.
"Okay..." Dix didn't get it. "Did you feel the way she was telling you you felt?"
"No, I still loved her. But I figured she wasn't in love with me anymore."
"God that sucks," Dix said. "I know that feeling and it just sucks, sucks, sucks!"
"Yeah," Luce agreed. "Pretty much."
"I think you're hot. And I have to admit, I do feel comfortable with you. I have from day one - that's what set off all of my warning bells. 'Get away from her!' They kept telling me. 'She's got trouble written all over her.' But not because you're dangerous..."
Luce looked disappointed.
"Sorry," Dix continued. "It's more that, I don't know, you're real easy to be around - in a nice way. It was too nice - that's what scared me off. So in a way - you see, I guess you are dangerous."
"I am?" Luce brightened.
"For me, yeah, obviously. Have you gotten a good look at my toe lately?"
"No, you've been hiding it under those covers." Luce inched closer.
"It's hardly hiding if I'm just lying here," Dix said.
Luce reached over and slid the covers off of Dix. "Damn! I am dangerous - that's what? A medium sized band-aid?"
"Yup. So, are we showering now, or what?"
"Or what," Luce grinned as she leaned over and licked an engaging arrangement of freckles just above Dix's breast.
Luce grinned even more.
Dix said, "We do this again, someone is sure to get hurt, really hurt."
"I'm the dangerous type, so that's okay with me. And I've come to the conclusion that you can't avoid pain in life, you can't plan it out of your schedule. But you sure as hell can have a good time in between. All you need is a little imagination." Luce dipped her head and circled Dix's nipple with her tongue to underscore her point.
Dix grasped a handful of Luce's hair to raise her head so that she could address her directly. "' A 'good' time?! What's that supposed to mean, 'good'? Last night not enough for you? Do I have to use a little more imagination?"
Luce's eyes opened wide with surprise. "Is that even possible?"
Dix grinned. "In my present condition, probably not."
Luce looked relieved. "Dangerous as I am, I can see I'm going to have to watch my step around you."
"Damn straight," Dix agreed. "Luce?"
"You stop what you were doing to chat again, I'm going to have to take you to task. And Luce?"
"You're a whole lot of fun."
"You too." Luce smiled. "Uh, Dix?"
"My neck's kind of getting sore in this position - are we going to do this again or not?"
Dix winked, pumped her eyebrows and let Luce's hair go. "By all means."
And they did.
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