Disclaimer: This is an original work of fiction, and may not be reproduced without permission of the author. © February 2008
Content: This story is about two women who love each other very much, and eventually express that in a sexual way. There is also an occasional bad word or two.
Feedback: Any and all comments, questions, etc. are welcome, and can be sent to email@example.com
The living room was dark and quiet, with only the muted glow of the television casting any light at all. The DVD logo bounced around the screen lazily, and Sarah rolled her eyes at herself when she realized she was stuck.
She was sitting on the couch, the TV in front of her, against the wall the room shared with the garage. A thin sliver of moonlight fell across the room, sneaking past the curtains covering the sliding glass door on her right, which led out to a small side-yard patio. Behind her was a long counter and an open space that divided the kitchen from the living room. On the left was a staircase, and the fact that she’d have to try to carry Julie up to the second floor if she wanted to go to bed was the reason she couldn’t move.
Julie tended to be a heavy sleeper.
Sarah regarded the sleeping figure with a fond smile, her thoughts drifting like the starfield screensaver on her laptop. Not that her laptop was on her lap. No, Julie had claimed one of legs as a pillow, and so her laptop was precariously perched on the arm of the couch, and she had to twist awkwardly at the waist to get any work done without disturbing her sleeping girlfriend.
How Julie could watch a movie sideways, Sarah had no idea. But Julie had always done that, even before they’d gotten together.
Sarah chuckled soundlessly to herself. Like “before” was such a long time ago. They’d only been more-than-roommates for six months, though Julie insisted they’d really been romantically involved for quite a bit longer than that. She had been informed, by an earnest Julie, that they’d gone on quite a few dates over the years, and Sarah just hadn’t figured it out.
Julie was so full of shit sometimes, but Sarah had grown to love that about her.
“No, really … my Dad was in the Navy. That’s what they do,” Julie was saying as Sarah walked in the front door.
Sarah dropped her purse on the little table next to the door and kicked off her heels, maneuvering them into a neat pile while mourning the days when she’d also immediately stripped off the panty hose she wore with her skirt-suit. Sometimes it sucked having a grown-up job.
And sometimes it sucked having a roommate, she considered, half-listening to the variations of “no way!” and “yes-way!” coming from the living room while she padded down the narrow hallway between the stairway and the wall of the garage towards the argument.
Of course, the roommate thing had been all her idea and was all her fault, but she hadn’t really counted on Mike sticking his nose into her business. After her girlfriend Terri had broken up with her – something about her being a boring workaholic who wouldn’t know a good time if it jumped up and bit her in the ass – she’d had to redo her entire personal budget, and had found that the house she had bought with the expectation that half of the mortgage and utilities would be paid by Terri was still affordable, but money was a bit tighter than she was comfortable with. But Terri had walked away from her and the house, saying she wanted nothing to do with either one.
The trouble with Terri had always been that Terri hated the fact that Sarah had planned out her life, at least financially, when she was sixteen, and she’d been doing a great job of sticking to the plan since then. They’d kept their finances separate, and she’d tried hard to let Terri do whatever Terri wanted with her own money, but Terri was constantly urging her to spend a little here, and a little more there.
Maybe she really was a cheap bastard, like Terri had said, but really, the problem was that Sarah just hadn’t loved Terri enough to alter her course, or to compromise when it came to spending her hard-earned money on frivolous things.
And then she’d made the mistake of mentioning that money was going to be a little tight and that she probably needed a roommate to her younger brother Mike, who had lit up and mentioned that one of his fraternity brothers, Danny, had just graduated and needed a place to live.
Sarah eased past the couple sitting on the couch, the exchange of greetings and waves temporarily disrupting the heated discussion about … something, and went to the kitchen, placing the mail on the counter and beginning to sort it.
Catalog, catalog, bill … coupons.
Sarah set the booklet of coupons aside to look over them later and continued sorting.
It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with Danny. He did his partying elsewhere, and if he stumbled home late at night, he did so in a quiet and courteous manner that left her none the wiser. He was good-looking in a corn-fed All-American kind of way - and he knew it, too – but his flirting had stopped when she’d told him she was gay, and had been replaced by a kind of Guy Banter Light: it was a sort of “you’re one of us, but I know you’re a girl, so I’m toning it down” kind of interaction that was familiar to her after her time in the Army.
She did sometimes wonder if all lesbians got that with guys, or if it was just her.
No, Danny wasn’t really a problem. He was okay, if a little gullible sometimes, and they got along well enough.
It was the never-ending parade of temporary girlfriends that had been in and out of her house for the past eight months that was starting to wear thin. She’d gotten to the point where she’d stopped making note of their names, because she never saw any of them more than five times.
He’d even broken up with a few of them while they were at the house, and Sarah had walked into a tense, tearful discussion once or twice. Though, those weren’t as bad as the screaming hissy fit she had interrupted after a long, hard day at work.
“Seriously?” Danny asked incredulously. “No … no way,” he said after a moment, shaking his head.
Sarah blinked, and continued sorting her mail, sparing a glance for the couple arguing on the couch.
What was the newest girlfriend’s name? Jenny? Janie?
Sarah peeked at them out of the corner of her eye. The back of the couch was several feet away from the kitchen counter, and all she could see were the arguing twosome’s head and shoulders. Though, in the case of the girlfriend with the ‘J’ name, she could only see her head and shoulders because she was kneeling on the cushions, facing Danny with her elbow propped up on the back of the couch and her head resting against her hand.
She was kind of cute, if you went for small blondes with enough perky energy to fuel a basket full of kittens and puppies. Sarah, herself, was about 5’8” with short dark hair and big dark eyes, and the ‘J’ name girlfriend only came up to around Sarah’s chin, the same as the rest of the girlfriends.
Danny definitely had a type. That’s probably why it was so hard to keep track of their names.
This one was named Julie, Sarah remembered.
“I’m really not kidding,” Julie said, and Sarah glanced up to see Julie’s eyebrows raising and her eyes widening with a look of such perfect sincerity that Sarah was completely sure she had to be lying through her teeth.
No one went to the trouble of looking that innocent when they weren’t up to something.
“Sarah,” Danny said, calling Sarah’s attention to the discussion at hand. “Does the Post Office really take all the letters that kids send to Santa and give them to the Navy so they can go dump them on the northern ice caps – the north pole?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah … totally,” Sarah said. “Everyone knows that,” she said dismissively, scooping up the bills that were hers and looking up briefly into a pair of twinkling, laughing eyes before she made her way to her home office tucked behind the stairs.
“I totally didn’t know that,” Danny said, with the look of a man who had just been informed that the world was, indeed, round. “What about the polar bears?” Danny she heard Danny ask.
“Well, the polar bears like them because–“ Julie was saying as Sarah closed her office door and shook her head, chuckling a little.
At least this one had a sense of humor, Sarah considered, sitting down at her desk and powering up her computer. Maybe she’d last a little longer.
That was really the first time that Sarah and Julie had interacted, beyond a “Hello, my name is –“ level, and it still made Sarah laugh. At the time, Sarah had focused on just how gullible Danny was, but since then, it had become one of her favorite memories of Julie.
Later, when they’d become friends, Julie had mentioned that it was one of her favorite memories of Sarah, too. Julie had said that finding out that the quiet, serious, lovely lesbian woman could run with a joke had been a delightful discovery for her. Sarah blushed and smiled a little, just remembering that.
That was the thing with Julie, though. She had always found happiness in the little things, like a shared joke, or finding out new things about people she knew, and sharing something of herself in return.
Heck, Sarah had seen Julie get excited about pressing the call button for an elevator, only to have the door immediately open because the elevator was already there.
While an older and more mature Sarah, looking back, felt a little bad about pulling the poor Danny’s leg, she knew that that had been the moment when she’d realized that Julie was someone she could be friends with.
Until that point, she had just been Danny’s little girlfriend.
“Oh, hi!” Julie said, looking up from the textbook sitting open on Sarah’s coffee table as Sarah took the mail to the kitchen, sorting it as it went.
“Hi,” Sarah said, looking up and giving Julie a questioning look when she noticed the distinct lack of Danny.
“Danny’s running some errands, and then we’re going to a party, so you’ll have the place all to yourself tonight,” Julie explained.
“Ah,” Sarah said, nodding a little then continued her sorting.
“Do you do that every day?” Julie asked, facing the back of the couch and resting her chin on it.
“Mail doesn’t bring itself in,” Sarah said absently.
“But you never skip a day?” Julie pressed.
“No,” Sarah said, looking up. “Why?”
“And you always drop your purse on the table and kick off your heels as soon as you get in the door?” Julie asked, ignoring Sarah’s question.
“You’re not a psych major, are you?” Sarah asked, looking at Julie with narrowed, suspicious eyes.
“Nope,” Julie said cheerfully, grinning at Sarah and turning around fully, so she was leaning over the back of the couch. “I just like getting to know people better, and the only thing I know about you is that you’re Danny’s good-looking gay roommate.”
Sarah blinked. She wasn’t even remotely in the closet, but she wasn’t used to anyone referring to her sexuality with such casual unconcern.
“Umm … thanks?” Sarah said uncertainly, belatedly realizing that there had been a compliment on her appearance in there.
“So what do you do for a living?” Julie asked.
“I’m an accountant,” Sarah said. “Do you always ask so many questions?”
“Yes,” Julie said, grinning again. “Besides, I needed the distraction. If I study any more, my brain is going to melt and dribble out of my ears. Do you like being an accountant? Does anyone like being an accountant?”
“Actually, yes, I do,” Sarah said, smiling a little. “Pre-law?”
Julie beamed. “Yes! How’d you know?”
“I think it was the feeling of being under cross-examination,” Sarah said dryly, turning her back to the counter to face Julie directly, her hands linked behind her back.
“Which branch of the military were you in?” Julie asked, eyeing Sarah with a speculative look.
“How’d you know?” Sarah asked, echoing Julie’s earlier question.
“You’re standing at parade rest,” Julie pointed out, laughing out loud when Sarah leaned back against the counter and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Habit,” Sarah said with a shrug and a wry look. “And I was in the Army. Your father was in the Navy?” she asked, seeming to remember Julie mentioning that sometime. That’s right; it was when Julie told Danny about Santa’s mail being delivered to the North Pole. “Did you grow up on bases?”
“Yes, I did,” Julie said. “You? Your parents in the Army?”
“No, actually,” Sarah said, shaking her head and chuckling a little. “They’re about as far from the Army as it’s possible to be. I should’ve guessed you were a military brat, though,” Sarah said.
“Why’s that?” Julie asked curiously, propping her elbow up on the back of the couch and propping her chin up on her hand.
“Because you’re awfully friendly,” Sarah said in a gently teasing tone. Julie had the grace to look abashed at the remark. “Seriously, though, that’s something I always noticed on-base. All the kids were awesome about including the new kids.”
“Oh, yeah,” Julie said, nodding. “We all knew what it was like to be the new kid. Maybe that is why I’m really friendly,” she said, her voice taking on a thoughtful, considering tone. “Isn’t that funny?”
“Huh?” Sarah asked, her eyebrows drawing together.
“Well, it’s like the whole ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate,” Julie said, shrugging. “You have just hit on a strong argument in favor of my friendliness being a product of my upbringing. So where do you stand on the issue?”
“It’s an issue?” Sarah asked with a little smile. “And here I thought it was a bullshit philosophical discussion that couldn’t be definitely decided either way because we don’t know enough yet.”
“Now that’s an interesting take on it,” Julie said, her tone making it clear that she hadn’t thought of it that way before. “Because is it even a relevant question? Unless we’re planning on figuring out how to make people think and act a certain way, does it really matter how people turn out the way that they do?”
“Well, if you’re talking about violent criminals or something …” Sarah said slowly.
“Yeah, but who gets to decide what thoughts and acts are unacceptable?” Julie asked.
“Okay,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “The possible applications of figuring out ‘nature versus nurture’ is a totally pointless discussion, because we’re nowhere near figuring it out. And it will give me a headache.”
“So you don’t even have an opinion on the ‘nature versus nurture’ thing?” Julie asked, sounding skeptical.
“What’s yours?” Sarah asked.
“You don’t have one?” Julie pressed.
“No, I don’t,” Sara said. “But if yours is any good, I promise to repeat it verbatim the next time someone asks.”
“You had really high ASVAB scores, didn’t you?” Julie asked.
“Ummm … I did, actually,” Sarah said with a sheepish shrug. “That was kind of a non-sequitur.”
“So why didn’t you go straight to college?” Julie asked. “And it’s not a non-sequitur when you used the word ‘verbatim’ in a sentence with a straight face.”
“Hey, Jules?” Danny called from the front door. “You ready to go?”
“We will continue this later,” Julie said, wagging a finger at Sarah, as if Danny’s sudden appearance was something Sarah had magically arranged in order to get out of answering any more questions. “Don’t think I’ll forget,” Julie said, gathering up her things and joining Danny in the hallway.
Sarah waited until she heard the front door, and then chuckled. Of all of Danny’s girlfriends, Julie was now officially her favorite.
Less than four months later, Danny had announced he was moving out, and he had all of his things packed up and mostly out within three days. He hadn’t mentioned why he was moving, or where he was moving, just that he was moving. Julie hadn’t been around for awhile, and Sarah had assumed they’d broken up.
Sarah looked down at Julie and now admitted to herself that she’d been interested in getting to know Julie better, even if she hadn’t been thinking of it in romantic terms at the time. She had been far too raw and unsure of herself after her bad breakup with Terri to even consider dating anyone. Besides, at the time she’d thought Julie was completely straight.
Sarah winced as she remembered exactly how she’d found out that wasn’t the case.
Julie and Danny had not broken up. Danny was, apparently, saving the big breakup scene for Valentine’s Day, at Sarah’s house, where he had one last box to grab.
“You’re breaking up with me on Valentine’s Day?” Sarah heard through the doorway of her bedroom. She winced.
That was the trouble with having a roommate, Sarah decided with a noiseless sigh. All of Danny’s drama was seeping into her life. At least Julie wasn’t screechy like the last girlfriend. Then again, it was Valentine’s Day, and Terri had told her she had the emotional maturity of a pile of rocks during their bad breakup, but even Sarah knew that breaking up with someone on Valentine’s Day was just … bad. So, if anyone deserved to get screechy, it was probably Julie.
Carefully and quietly, Sarah crept to her door and eased it shut, blocking out the worst of the recriminations being tossed around.
She went back to her bed and tried to continue her reading, but a series of loud thumps had her bolting upright and darting for the door before she paused to consider whether or not she really wanted to go out there.
Chances were very good that no one was hurt, or bleeding, or dead. Danny was a dog, but he didn’t have a violent bone in his body, and Julie was tiny.
Several more thumps and a few unintelligible phrases spoken at top volume met her ears, and Sarah opened the door.
Julie was tiny, but Julie was pissed.
She could hear them both still yelling, and now that her door was open, she could hear them both more clearly than she wanted to.
“It was an accident!” Danny said.
“An accident?” Julie asked, her voice deceptively low now, but carrying clearly up the stairs. “An accident?” she repeated, her voice getting a little louder. “So you were … what? Getting her a drink, and when you spilled it, your dick was in her?”
Sarah’s eyes widened and she started to ease the door shut again.
“Julie, I –“ Danny started to say, only to stop short.
“I can’t believe you knocked up my ex-girlfriend, then told me about it on Valentine’s Day, you bastard!” Julie yelled.
Sarah froze, and then blinked. Did Julie just say … ?
“I was just trying to-“ Danny said, only to be cut off again.
“I know what you were trying to do,” Julie said, her voice low and quiet, and shaking with anger. “And I already told you, that just because I’m bisexual does not mean I am interested in trying out a threesome.”
“Well, we had to try something,” Danny retorted. “We weren’t getting anywhere in the sack, so-“
The sound of the slap resounded through the house, leaving silence in its wake and Sarah’s eyebrows shot upward.
“I guess that says it all,” Danny said into the quiet. “I’ll be going.”
“No, I’ll go,” Julie said, her voice still shaking with fury. “It’s your house.”
“No it’s not,” Danny said softly. “I’m moving in with Melanie. This is my last box.”
Sarah heard Danny pick up his stuff and go, the front door making a loud enough noise to shake Sarah out of the horrified, unmoving haze she’d found herself in. She was just about to shut the door when she heard Julie start to sob.
That had probably been one of the most awkward moments of her life, but from where she was sitting right now, getting a crick in her neck, pinned to her couch by a peacefully slumbering Julie, Sarah could honestly say she’d live through it all again to end up where she was. And when she considered the idea that Dan, as Danny was now called, was still happily married to Melanie, and they had three kids, things had really turned out for the best all around.
Fatherhood, apparently, had matured Dan a lot.
Sarah and Julie had ended up sitting on the couch all night, and after Julie had stopped crying, they’d talked. She couldn’t really remember everything they’d talked about, except that the conversation had veered wildly from the silly to the profound.
Or, at least she had thought they were being profound at the time. It was a little hard to tell at 3 in the morning.
Hung over and crashed out on the couch, Julie had thanked Sarah, and apologized for crying all over her, and then thanked Sarah some more, and then she was gone, leaving Sarah to a blessedly quiet house that felt achingly empty.
She’d never understood why, but when she’d answered her door a few weeks later and found Julie on her doorstep, she hadn’t been surprised, like Julie was supposed to be there.
“Two-hundred, plus utilities?” Julie asked on a squeak, brandishing the newspaper and entering the house the moment Sarah opened the door. “Are you insane?”
“That’s what Danny paid, yeah,” Sarah said defensively as Julie marched passed her and into the living room.
“But I pay three-hundred at Rathole Manor!” Julie yelped, spinning around and accidentally smacking Sarah with the newspaper. “And it’s actually a rat hole!”
“Give me that,” Sarah said, snatching the newspaper from Julie’s hand. “What’s the problem? And why are you here? Did you forget something?”
“Danny really paid two-hundred and utilities,” Julie said flatly.
“Yeah,” Sarah said.
“And that wasn’t just a special deal because he’s your brother’s friend? That ad isn’t a typo?” Julie asked cautiously.
“No. Why?” Sara asked.
“I’ll take it!” Julie said, giving a good impression of jumping up and down without actually moving. “Can I? Can I please? I don’t want to live at Rathole Manor anymore. My roommates have wild parties every night,” Julie said, pacing as she rattled off her pitch. “And I like a good time as much as the next girl, but every night? I’m going to be starting law school in the fall. Law school! I need someplace quiet. And nicer. Without rats!”
“Are you okay?” Sarah asked uncertainly.
“Sorry,” Julie said, flopping down onto the couch. “I’m usually not a raging lunatic,” she said, taking a deep breath and smiling in a wry, self-deprecating kind of way. “Hi, I’m Julie, and I’d really like to rent this room I saw advertised in the newspaper. I don’t smoke, I pay my bills on time, and I’ll be going to law school in the fall, so I’ll spend a lot of time reading quietly.”
“You want to move into your ex-boyfriend’s old room?” Sarah asked. “Isn’t that a little …”
“Weird,” Julie said, letting out a short breath. “Yeah, I know. That’s why I almost didn’t come here, but … two-hundred plus utilities? Rat free? It’s not like he’s still living in it, or that you’re such great friends that he’ll be coming by to visit.” Julie paused. “You aren’t such great friends that he’ll be coming by to visit, are you?”
“No, actually,” Sarah said with a little smile. Somehow, she doubted that Julie would spend her time reading quietly, and that if she let Julie rent her spare room, she’d find out just how loud life could be.
But maybe, just maybe, she’d learn how to live a little.
Sarah started to fall asleep, her head lolling to the side, and her hand resting on Julie’s shoulder. She felt good, and peaceful, and happy, and she smiled as she started to dream.
Julie shifted and blinked some time later, the blue glow of the television revealing that she was still downstairs. Not that there was anything wrong with that, she considered happily, smiling against the jean-clad leg that was serving as a pillow. She blinked a few times, and then yawned, the sound of Sarah’s slow, even breathing meeting her ears after she had finished her movement.
Slowly, Julie turned over, so she could look up at Sarah, and she grinned.
The big dork was going to have a huge crick in her neck in the morning, unless Julie woke her up.
Julie bit her lip, her face taking on a mischievous cast as she considered her options.
Sarah was slumped over to her left, and in that position, Julie guessed she’d have a massive drool spot all over the shoulder of her sweatshirt by morning. That had prime teasing potential. And then there was the fact that, if Sarah had an ache anywhere, it was Julie’s job to rub it.
Julie grinned wickedly. She did so love giving Sarah a good rubbing.
Sarah worked too much, and even when she wasn’t working, she felt this weird need to be doing something productive, and Julie had found that out early on and had made it her mission to get Sarah to learn to appreciate the value of giving that busy brain a rest. Not that she was always successful: Sarah genuinely enjoyed her work and actually had fun being an accountant and playing with her spreadsheets.
Sometimes, Julie thought that, if only Microsoft Excel were a woman, Sarah would have married it years ago.
A thought popped into Julie’s head, and she covered her mouth with her hand and tried to hold back a laugh, a tiny squeak escaping and her body shaking a little. Then again, if Microsoft Excel were a woman, it would be Sarah, and Julie had every intention of marrying her, so they had that in common, really.
“Mmm … spreadsheets,” Julie whispered, turning back on her side and remembering the day Sarah had started her on the road to fiscal responsibility.
“Problems?” Sarah asked, watching Julie punching away at a calculator with a frustrated look on her face.
“No,” Julie said, making a scrunched up face of displeasure. “Yes. How can I still be broke all the time when my rent and utilities are cheaper?” Julie asked plaintively.
“Um, is that a serious question, or did you just want to vent?” Sarah asked uncertainly.
“Would you have a suggestion if it were a serious question?” Julie asked.
“Yes,” Sarah said.
Julie waited a moment for Sarah to elaborate, but Sarah said nothing further.
“I’m staying out of it if you’re just venting,” Sarah said, raising her hands in a placating gesture.
“Well, what?” Julie asked. “What would you suggest?”
“Do you have a budget?” Sarah asked tentatively, looking at the scattered pieces of paper around Julie and the pencil tucked behind her ear with a jaundiced eye.
“Umm … sort of,” Julie said sheepishly, gesturing to the haphazard pile of papers. She almost laughed out loud at Sarah’s wide-eyed look of incredulity, and bit her tongue to stop herself from blurting out that not everyone could be an accounting wizard like her. They just didn’t know each other well enough for that kind of teasing yet, though Julie was very interested in getting to know Sarah better. Sarah wasn’t really like anyone she knew from college. Sure, she knew quite a few rampant overachievers, but she had never met anyone so driven and so focused as Sarah.
“That,” Sarah pronounced, her voice dripping with disdain, “is not a budget.” Sarah took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “That,” she went on, her voice getting louder, “is the road to financial ruin.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little dramatic?” Julie asked, grinning widely. She hadn’t known that Sarah had a dramatic streak at all, and had, in fact, secretly wondered if there was anything in the world that could ruffle Sarah’s feathers.
Apparently, there was, and it was poor money management.
“Okay,” Sarah said. “The great thing about budgets is that they let you make big-picture decisions about what to spend your money on. Without a budget, you can’t analyze your opportunity costs.”
“I thought an opportunity cost was the amount of money you didn’t make in an investment if you could have invested in something that did better,” Julie said, dredging her memory for where she had heard that term before.
“Well, yeah,” Sarah said. “But it also applies to spending, because every time you buy something, you can’t buy something else with that money, and you can’t save or invest that money.” Sarah grew more animated as she was talking, her voice strong as she gestured with her hands for emphasize her points. “But, really, it’s about choices. You can apply the concept of opportunity cost to just about any choice.”
“How so?” Julie asked, watching in fascination as her quiet, laid-back roommate actually bounced a little in her seat before continuing.
“Let’s say you got accepted into two law schools,” Sarah said after a moment. “Whichever law school you don’t pick is the opportunity cost you incur for your choice. Or if you can’t decide whether you want to be a doctor or a lawyer. Once you’ve made your decision, the one that didn’t get picked is your opportunity cost. For a budget, once you’ve laid out what all of your basic living costs are, like food and housing, you can distribute the rest to entertainment or savings.”
“So if I settled down with just one person, my opportunity cost is really hot sex with everyone else on Earth?” Julie asked with a wicked grin. “In the appropriate age group, of course,” she added quickly.
“Right,” Sarah said with a little laugh. “Assuming you otherwise would have had the opportunity to have really hot sex with everyone else on the planet, then yes, that would be your opportunity cost for settling down.”
“Hmm …” Julie said, tapping her chin with one finger. “I’m not sure anyone is worth that price.”
“That’s my point!” Sarah said excitedly. “Not about sex with everyone on Earth,” added. “I mean, about opportunity cost. When you sit down, and have a budget, and decide where you’re putting your dollars, you can really see what it’s costing you, in terms of all the places your money isn’t going because you’ve made that choice. It’s a totally different way of looking at your finances than knowing that you’ve got ten dollars in your pocket and can therefore buy the frappa-mocha-locha-whatever.”
“But I love my frappa-mocha-locha-whatever,” Julie mock-whined.
“Which is fine,” Sarah said. “You can have your frappa-mocha-locha-whatever, but if you spent twenty bucks a week on those things, then that’s eighty dollars a month you can’t do anything with. And if eighty dollars a month and nine-hundred and sixty dollars a year is what the frappa-mocha-locha-whatever is worth to you, then go ahead. But a budget lets you make an informed decision about that.”
“Okay, I’ll try it,” Julie said, throwing up her hands in defeat.
“Great!” Sarah said, getting up and heading to her office.
Julie scrambled to her feet, quickly gathering her papers. She’d never seen the inside of Sarah’s home office, and while the idea that an actual accountant was about to help her with her finances was compelling, she really got up and dashed after Sarah because she was finally going to see where Sarah spent so much of her time.
It was an astonishingly simple room. There was a plain oak desk with a computer on top, a filing cabinet, a bookshelf, and a lounge chair with a reading lamp next to it. Julie was almost disappointed to find that it didn’t have something deep and dark and secret lying around. Sarah had, apparently, decided the opportunity cost of decorating dollars was too high.
Without a word, Sarah turned on her computer and waited for it to boot up, leaning back in her chair and lacing her fingers together over her stomach, idly twiddling her thumbs.
Once the computer had completed booting up, Sarah double-clicked an Excel spreadsheet, and numbers filled the screen, each column clearly labeled as income or expenses, and the rows labeled with months and years.
Sarah quickly highlighted columns of numbers and deleted the values, other columns becoming zero through the magic of the spreadsheet. Then, Sarah removed all the rows that were before the current date, and Julie noticed there were quite a few of them.
“Umm … did I just see ten years worth of numbers disappear?” Julie asked incredulously.
“Well, yeah,” Sarah said. “I’m going to use my budget as a template so we can put in your numbers.”
“How old are you?” Julie asked curiously.
“I’m twenty-seven,” Sarah said absently, saving the file with a new name so she wouldn’t overwrite her own budget.
“You’ve had a budget since you were a teenager? An actual written-out budget and not just a general idea of your money?” Julie asked, her voice rising to a squeak. “Man, I feel like a slacker.”
“See! And that’s what pisses me off!” Sarah blurted out.
Julie’s eyebrows shot up her forehead and she blinked.
“Not you,” Sarah said quickly, turning her computer chair around. “It’s just … I was really lucky. We had a teacher at my high school that went over budgeting and saving and investing with all the students who had after-school jobs. It was four Saturdays, and it totally focused on practical, personal finance, and putting together a real budget based off of our actual paychecks was our project.”
“And that pisses you off? That sounds great,” Julie said.
“It was,” Sarah said earnestly. “Best class I ever took. But that’s my point. By the time I took the economics class I needed to graduate, I was a Senior, and I’d already been working for a couple of years, and that class just touched on personal finance without getting into it in-depth. So, if Mr. Simmons hadn’t given up his own time for that budgeting class, I probably would have already had a lot of bad spending habits and no savings to speak of.”
“So that’s how you bought a house so young,” Julie said, speaking more to herself than to Sarah. She’d wondered about that, knowing that between her low part-time income and her student loans she had no chance of owning a home until her thirties, if then.
“The one thing Mr. Simmons said that stuck with me more than anything else was that there were two ways to put money away into a savings account: earn more, or spend less. And, the one part of that I had control over was my spending, so …” Sarah said, trailing off.
“Yeah, but – you can only cut spending so much,” Julie pointed out.
“That’s true,” Sarah said. “The basic cost of living gets pretty expensive. That’s actually why I joined the Army.”
“Go on,” Julie prompted, making the corresponding circular hand gesture.
“The GI Bill paid for college,” Sarah said. “But more importantly to me, I was able to live on-base, which meant that even though I wasn’t making very much, I could save almost all of it.”
“What the hell did you do for fun?” Julie asked, her eyebrows drawn together.
“I had a library card,” Sarah said dryly.
“Are you shitting me?” Julie asked.
“No,” Sarah said with a shrug. “Let’s see your papers, and we’ll put this all together. Spreadsheets are really neat,” Sarah said, smiling at her computer screen fondly.
“Okay,” Julie said, suddenly excited about seeing what the magical spreadsheet would tell her. And maybe she’d learn a little more about Sarah and what made her tick in the process.
Julie smiled, remembering the joy of learning how to use a spreadsheet. Not that the spreadsheet itself had been the source of her joy, though the fact that it did all the math for her pretty much rocked, but because Sarah clearly loved numbers, and her enthusiasm had seemed to pour out of her.
It had even been kind of fun, going through her daily routine and recalling what she spent on what, and figuring out what she could cut. Really, the frappa-mocha-locha-whatever was one of the biggest culprits, and Julie had decided to make her own damn coffee as much as possible.
The whole experience had been something of an eye-opener, but more of an eye-opener had been Sarah’s revelation that the library card she’d mentioned using as her sole source of entertainment when she was in the Army was used to check out non-fiction.
Julie had been as horrified by that as Sarah had been by her improvisational money management style. And when they’d taken a break and chatted, and Sarah had found out about all the movies Sarah hadn’t seen – including some childhood classics that had Julie’s jaw dropping – and all the books she hadn’t read, and all the music she hadn’t listened to, Julie took it upon herself to repay Sarah’s budgeting lessons with a crash-course in pop culture.
Opportunity cost was an interesting concept. Fun couldn’t really be quantified. Experiencing things, and living, and relaxation weren’t things that had a set value. But even so, these things were the opportunity cost of Sarah’s carefully laid plans, and they were a cost Sarah was more than willing to pay, because she didn’t see the value in them.
So Julie decided to show her. It wasn’t that she wanted to mess up Sarah’s budget, or her life plan, or her savings schedule. But how could Sarah make a real choice in terms of opportunity cost when she didn’t know what she was missing?
And if Julie took a certain devilish pleasure in making Sarah watch pure dreck, well, that was just a bonus.
"This is the stupidest movie I have ever seen and it's only been on for five minutes," Sarah said. "Why are we watching this?"
"Because this stupid movie is indelibly etched in my brain. My little sister was crazy about them when they were big, and I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it. Nothing will make it go away. We can suffer together," Julie said, her eyes riveted to the screen as she retrieved some popcorn from the bowl sitting on Sarah's lap.
"I've never even heard of these people," Sarah said, shaking her head. "Is this a made-up group? Or is this a real group?"
Julie dropped her popcorn back into the bowl and scrambled for the remote, hitting pause before turning and looking at Sarah with a dropped jaw.
"Are you a space alien? You must be a space alien," Julie decided. "There's really no other explanation."
"Seriously," Sarah said with a little shrug. "Made up or real?"
"How could anyone have possibly made that up?" Julie asked, pointing at the frozen image on the television.
"Umm ... either way, someone made them up," Sarah said slowly. "They're either a real singing group that someone had to conceptualize, or they're a fake singing group for this movie."
"Oh," Julie said, cocking her head to one side as though she were considering the idea. "Yeah, that's true. But still!" she said, straightening up and looking at Sarah directly. "How could you have not heard of the Spice Girls?"
"Because their music is kind of ... inane?" Sarah hazarded a guess. It's not like she'd dodged the Spice Girls on purpose.
"It's not like it's supposed to be deep and meaningful," Julie said. "It's just supposed to be fun, and if you were taking it in that spirit, you wouldn't even notice it was inane."
"But that wouldn't stop it from being inane," Sarah pointed out.
"It doesn't have to," Julie said, and then turned her whole body towards Sarah, sitting sideways on the couch and curling one leg in front of her. "It's like an action movie. Do you like action movies?"
"Well, yeah," Sara said.
"But, really, they're formulaic and tend to have a paper-thin plot with a bunch of clever quips, explosions, gun fights, and car chases stacked on top, right? So, what do you like about them?" Julie asked.
"The, uh ... explosions, gun fights and car chases," Sarah admitted sheepishly.
"Exactly!" Julie said, slapping Sarah lightly on the leg to emphasize her point. "You appreciate action movies for what they are, without trying to make them into something they're not. You have to do the same thing with the Spice Girls."
"So I'm supposed to enjoy the Spice Girls ... because they're inane?" Sarah asked.
"Yes," Julie said with an emphatic nod. "Now you understand. And now we continue your lessons," she said, starting the movie again and reaching for the popcorn, wiggling on the couch with glee as Spice World continued.
Julie giggled just thinking about making Sarah watch Spice World. That one hadn’t been fair, she inwardly admitted. Nobody saw Spice World. But Julie had caught Sarah humming Spice Girls songs a few days later, so she had considered the exercise a resounding success.
She hadn’t even realized she’d been doing it, either, until Julie started humming along. Sarah had pretended to be grumpy about it, and then she’d laughed.
But not as hard as she’d laughed when Julie started law school.
Sarah was lying on the couch, reading a book, when she heard Julie walk in. Briefly, she glanced up, and Julie barely managed to keep a straight face when Sarah did a double-take and then started laughing.
“What?” Julie asked innocently, her eyes wide.
Sarah was laughing too hard to talk, and she overbalanced, almost falling off the couch. “Whoa!” Sarah said, righting herself, and then laughing some more.
Julie folded her hands demurely in front of her and waited.
After a while, Sarah’s laughter died down into the occasional chuckle, and she was able to speak.
“Did the peddler man promise it would turn your hair a beautiful raven black?” Sarah asked with a snicker.
Julie joined in, lifting Sarah’s feet out of her way and sitting down on the couch.
“Very good,” Julie praised with a smile. The Disney ‘Anne of Green Gables’ miniseries had been one of the many, many things Julie had gotten Sarah to watch with her.
“So, umm – hi, Julie,” Sarah said. “Is there a reason why your hair is green when you’re starting law school in the morning?”
“Yes,” Julie said with a cheery smile.
“Care to share?” Sarah prompted.
“I wanted to make sure I got noticed,” Julie said.
Sarah blinked in bemusement. “With green hair?”
“Well, yeah,” Julie said, shrugging. “I’ve kind of been worried about that all summer.”
“Normal-colored hair was worrying you?” Sarah asked.
“No, no,” Julie said, shaking her head. “It’s like this,” she explained. “I’m going to be going to law school, where there are just tons of other smart, good students. I’ve been worried I’d get lost in the crowd. People won’t be able to miss me with this,” she said, patting her green hair fondly.
“No,” Sarah said, her eyes twinkling with mirth. “No, they won’t. But, umm … it’s not exactly a positive impression.”
“Well, no,” Julie admitted. “That is the drawback. Everyone who doesn’t already know me will think I’m weird-“ she was saying, only to be cut off.
“I know you, and I think you’re weird,” Sarah said.
“Yes, but you don’t think I’m a green-haired punk-freak,” Julie said reasonably. “Because you know me.”
“That’s true,” Sarah said. “I think you’re crazy, and your green hair isn’t a statement so much as a way of giving fair warning to people who don’t know you yet.”
“I’m being serious,” Julie said, pressing her lips together, and picking up a throw pillow and whacking Sarah with it.
“Hey!” Sarah said, blocking the pillow hit with your own. “That’s your free one. You hit me with that again, and it’s on,” she warned, patting the pillow she was resting her head on.
Julie looked at her pillow, and then at Sarah for a moment, as if considering whether or not she wanted to go there.
Sarah’s eyes narrowed.
“So,” Julie said, tucking the pillow behind her and bouncing back against it a few times. “So I’ll be the weird girl with green hair for awhile, but everyone will notice me and remember me. And then the only thing I have to do is be so completely awesome that nobody cares that I have green hair, and then I can dye it back,” Julie said reasonably.
“That … there is no way that’s going to work, you realize that, right?” Sarah asked. “Lawyers don’t have green hair.”
“Yes, but I’m a law student, not a lawyer,” Julie pointed out. “This is really the last chance I’ll have to do something like this.”
“Is that really why you did it?” Sarah asked with a smile. “Because once you’ve graduated and joined the grown-ups, you can never have green hair again?”
“Umm,” Julie said, biting her lip and looking up. “I plead the fifth?”
“You are too much,” Sarah said with a laugh, shaking her head.
Julie turned over, wiggling around until she found just the right comfortable position, her head still resting on Sarah’s leg, and tried to go back to sleep. It wasn’t really working, though. She’d starting thinking about Sarah, and thinking about Sarah was one of her favorite things, so her mind kept doing it and wouldn’t slow down enough for her to get to sleep.
Sarah was really a lot of fun, if someone bothered to dig her out of her shell first, which was why Julie was constantly inviting Sarah to go out with her and her friends. Sarah, of course, always demurred, saying she had work to do, or something.
Then one day, Julie and her friends were planning on going to a little, quiet pub, which seemed a little more like something that Sarah would enjoy than the usual clubbing/dancing that Julie invited Sarah to, and Sarah had actually said yes.
It was a few months later that Sarah admitted that she had projected the long term costs of going out with Julie and her friends, in terms of actual cost and loss of potential interest earning, before deciding she could afford to accept once in awhile.
But that was just Sarah, and the way she thought of things, though the first time Sarah accepted an invitation and went out with her and her friends was the catalyst for Sarah finally confiding in Julie exactly why she thought of things that way.
“Wow,” Jason said in an undertone to Julie when Sarah excused herself to use the restroom. “Your roommate is hot.”
“You’re not her type,” Julie whispered back with a giggle.
“Why the hell not?” Jason said, mildly offended to have been shot down before he even tried.
“She’s gay,” Julie said.
“Oh,” Jason said, looking thoughtful. “You hit that?” he asked with a mock leer. “Please tell me you did.”
“Jason!” Julie admonished, accompanying his name with a light slap on the arm. “You are such a dog.”
“Woof, woof,” Jason said softly, before turning and rejoining the loud conversation that had been going on back and forth between their table and the one next to them.
The pub was dimply lit, but loud, and filled up, mostly with graduate students, because of its location so close to the campus. The atmosphere of the place tended to change throughout the evening, starting off with the low buzz of earnest collegiate conversations early on, and giving way to the more raucous – and raunchy – later.
Currently, things were starting to get a little raucous, as someone with a seemingly endless supply of dollar bills had apparently selected every 80’s hair band song in the jukebox.
“My God,” Lena said, snagging the currently empty seat next to Julie. “Is that woman you’re with a date or that roommate you’re always talking about?”
“She’s my roommate,” Julie said.
“Is she gay? Is she married?” Lena asked quickly, and Julie remembered that she’d seen Lena at a local women’s bar a few times. “Would she like to be gay and married?”
“Whoa,” Julie said, holding up a hand. “You haven’t gone on a first date, let alone a second. Let’s leave the U-Haul until the proper time,” she laughed.
“Seriously, though,” Lena said, grinning at Julie. “Is she seeing anyone? Do you mind if I ask her out?”
“Oh, please do!” Julie said quickly. “That didn’t sound quite right,” Julie added. “She really doesn’t date much, and I think she should. She’s really great.”
“And smoking hot,” Lena said. “And here she comes. You ever sleep with her?” she asked.
Julie’s eyes widened. “What’s with everyone asking me that? No,” she said as Sarah returned. “Hi, Sarah!”
“Hi, Julie,” Sarah said with a smile. “How many of those have you had?” Sarah asked, noting the glazed look in Julie’s eyes.
“Too many! I’m so glad you’re driving!” Julie said, beaming. “Oh, this is Lena,” Julie said. “She’s in my year at law school. Lena, this is Sarah. She’s my roommate, and she’s an accountant.”
“It’s really nice to meet you. Julie talks about you all the time. Did I take your seat?” she said, standing up to shake Sarah’s hand.
“Nice to meet you, too,” Sarah said. “And no, it’s fine about the seat.”
“Take mine,” Julie said, standing up quickly and overbalancing a little. “My turn to run to the little lawyer’s room.”
Sarah righted her. “You going to make it okay?” she asked with a little chuckle.
“Oh, sure,” Julie said, waving a hand dismissively. “I’m good. Be right back. You sit down.”
“An accountant, huh?” Julie heard Lena say as she looked over the room, planning her path to the bathroom. “You can audit my books anytime.”
Julie paused for a moment, wondering briefly if she had just tossed Sarah into the deep-end of the dating pool: Lena was a central figure in the campus GLBT organization, and while her bark was worse than her bite, so to speak, she seemed to could come off as a little aggressive to people who weren’t used to her. But, really, Julie believed very strongly that, sex being a basic human need, Sarah really needed to get laid. The woman lived like a nun, without the mitigating religious devotion.
“Are you sure?” she heard Sarah shoot back. “I’m very thorough. I’ll find all your secrets.”
Julie took off, snickering to herself. Sarah would be fine.
Julie rolled her eyes at her younger self. At the time, Sarah was just her nerdy roommate and fun friend, and the fact that she really was pretty darn attractive had somehow escaped her notice.
Perhaps it was because she was dating Danny at the time, and Julie wasn’t the type who had a wandering eye, and right after that she was dealing with the break-up, which had been fairly traumatic at the time, though she could laugh at it now.
Sarah was just Sarah, her informal financial advisor and pop-culture student, who didn’t date, and was saving up more of her money for a rainy day.
“So, I hear you and Lena aren’t dating anymore,” Julie said casually, dumping her book bag on the coffee table.
“That got around fast,” Sarah said.
“Why not?” Julie asked. Lena was smart, attractive, had good prospects for the future.
“Opportunity cost,” Sarah said.
“Please do not tell me you stopped dating Lena because of something like, I don’t know … does she not have a retirement savings plan?” Julie asked plaintively. “You guys were really cute together!”
“Look,” Sarah said, closing the book she was reading and sitting up. “She’s not the one for me and I’m not the one for her. It’s nothing specific, we just … we don’t really ‘click’, y’know?”
“That’s not what Lena said,” Julie said slowly.
“I mean outside of the bedroom,” Sarah said, her lips pursed together.
“Well, she’s someone you’re dating! Does every relationship that you’re in have to have long-term potential?” Julie asked. “You don’t see me dumping people the second I figure out I can’t see myself growing old with them. Sometimes you date someone just for fun. Did Lena ask for more than that?”
“No,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “And yeah, sometimes a relationship isn’t serious, and it’s just fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but … we were just at the point where I felt I needed to get serious or get out. And Lena wasn’t the one.”
“I still don’t get it. It’s not that she annoyed you? Or pissed you off? Did she snore?” Julie asked, trying to grasp exactly why this breakup had occurred, and silently wondering why it bothered her so much.
“Can’t I just say that it ran its course and leave it at that?” Sarah asked. “Besides, are you trying to get rid of me? I spent a lot of time out of the house while I was dating Lena. Didn’t you miss me?”
“I’m sorry,” Julie said, shaking her head a little and sitting down next to Sarah. “I’m being terribly nosy, aren’t I? It’s really none of my business.”
“Did you have to do that? Now I want to tell you,” Sarah practically whined. “Okay,” she said, taking a deep breath. “The opportunity cost of continuing to date Lena, who wasn’t the one, was that I wouldn’t be free to see ‘the one’ if I met her. But more importantly, I kind of felt bad because I knew I wasn’t the one for Lena, and being with me meant that if she met the right woman she’d have to dump me or cheat on me to date her. That just seemed like a bad situation.” Sarah paused for a moment. “And yes, she snores.”
“Yeah, I kind of missed you,” Julie said, bumping Sarah with her shoulder. “And these little talks where we break the world down into economic principles. Is there a reason why you do that?”
“What do you mean?” Sarah asked.
“You kind of … I don’t know,” Julie said, shrugging a little. “You just … it seems like, sometimes, your obsessive budgeting and breaking everything down to opportunity costs, and … it’s like there’s a deeper reason. Like, sure, you’re a math geek, but sometimes it’s like there’s more to it than that.”
“Do you remember that ‘nature versus nurture’ conversation we had?” Sarah asked.
“Oh, God!” Julie said, her eyes widening. “I forgot about that! I said I’d remember and make you finish it. What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Well, here’s what I think,” Sarah said, turning to sit sideways on the couch, facing Julie. “I think it’s the wrong question. I think the real question is, what’s the difference between ‘what’ we are and ‘who’ we are?”
“Intriguing,” Julie noted with a nod. “Please, go on,” she prompted.
“’What’ I am is nature. I’m a woman. I’m a brunette. I’m gay. ‘Who’ I am, as in, someone who is kind of freakishly concerned about saving money; that’s nurture. That’s a product of my upbringing,” Sarah said.
“So … your parents were penny pinchers?” Julie asked.
“No,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “They’re the two most impractical pair you’ll ever meet. I love them to death, but to this day they spend money like they’ve got a money tree growing in the back yard.”
“I can’t quite picture you growing up like that,” Julie said slowly. “And the nurture argument would kind of imply you’d be like them.”
“I disagree,” Sarah said. “The way that I am is a choice that I made, because of my parents. I remember one time, we got a brand new television set. It was one of those where it had a little window in the corner where you could watch two channels at the same time. I think I was twelve, or something, and … they missed paying the rent that month and we were almost evicted. And I remember thinking that, man, buying that television was really dumb. For all I know they charged it, and they wouldn’t have had the rent money that month anyway, but … I think rejecting your upbringing makes you just as much a product of your upbringing as embracing it. Your upbringing is still what defines you, and makes you ‘who’ you are.”
“Wow,” Julie said. “I don’t think I would have guessed that in a million years. I think I figured your parents were kind of … well, like you, only older,” she said with a shrug. “Or, y’know, Republicans or something.”
“Are you telling me your Navy father isn’t a Republican?” Sarah teased.
“Actually, he is, but Mom votes Democrat so they cancel each other out,” Julie said dismissively. “So … where does your opportunity cost thing come in?”
“It’s … I think that it’s just how I think of my parent’s choices. They’re both dreamers, and they’ve changed jobs a million times apiece, and they’ve always scraped by while they chased that one big break.”
“So what do they do?” Julie asked, confused.
“A little of everything,” Sarah said. “They think something’s going to be big, and they go for it. One thing I’ll say for them is, they’re both really hard workers. They set up a dot com in the garage while I was in high school.”
“Really? What for?” Julie said.
“I have no idea,” Sarah said, shaking her head a little. “Apparently that worked out for awhile, though. It was … we’d have money, and then we wouldn’t, and then we’d have it, and we wouldn’t. It was just very … uncertain. By the time they were doing their dot com thing, or whatever, I’d figured out that if I had a job and money of my own, I wouldn’t have to rely on them for anything.”
“And you started saving,” Julie said. “And then you joined the Army so you could save more and go to college.”
“Yes, exactly. So … it’s like, knowing exactly how much money I have, and what I’m spending it on, and really being … safe and steady with my finances is …” Sarah said, then trailed off, thinking about how to explain.
“It’s security,” Julie said. “Your parents traded security for dreams. Did you trade dreams for security?” Julie asked softly.
“I think maybe I did,” Sarah said slowly, looking down and picking at the fabric of her pants. “I mean … I actually like accounting. And this isn’t the best or biggest house in the world – I’ve been planning on doing some fixing up once I’ve saved up the cash, because interest is evil,” she said, shooting Julie an amused look. “But, yeah, sometimes I wonder what I would’ve wanted to do if I hadn’t been so focused on saving for a rainy day. Ah, well,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “I only think that sometimes. Generally, I’m pretty happy with everything, and it’s not like I’m going to be changing anytime soon.”
“Well, I think you’re doing great,” Julie said. “I think you’re twenty-eight and a homeowner, and that’s pretty freaking unheard of. And I think you’ve shown that when you set your priorities, and you outline a goal, you get it done, and that’s a pretty good thing to know about yourself.”
“Thanks, Julie,” Sarah said. “You’re pretty smart, you know that?”
“They don’t let dumb people into law school,” Julie pointed out. “Well, unless their parents are rich alumni.”
“That’s true,” Sarah said, chuckling a little.
“Hey, listen,” Julie said, standing up and stretching. “You’re recently broken up, so I’m thinking we should eat ice cream and watch a movie.”
“I was the dumper, not the dumpee.”
“Minor detail,” Julie said, waving a hand. “I’ve been wanting to watch ‘Mary Poppins’, and I believe that is on the list,” she said, referring to the list of all the movies that Sarah hadn’t seen.
“Well, how can I say no to that?” Sarah wondered aloud. “So … is ‘Mary Poppins’ the one with the chick with the bag?”
“Okay, first off, don’t call her a ‘chick’,” Julie said, making quote fingers in the air.
“You call the both of us ‘chicks’ all the time,” Sarah said, also making the quote fingers in the air, though hers somehow managed to be more sarcastic before heading to the kitchen and getting the ice cream out as Julie started rummaging around for her copy of ‘Mary Poppins’.
“We’re not British,” Julie said, as if that explained everything. “That ‘chick’, as you oh-so-wrongly called her, is Julie Andrews, and I was named after her. And just for that, we’re watching ‘The Sound of Music’ next. Second – that bag is the coolest thing ever, and I really, really want one.”
“You want an ugly old handbag?” Sarah asked, dishing up the ice cream. “Duly noted. Your birthday is coming up,” she said, licking her thumb and putting the ice cream away.
“It’s not just an ugly handbag,” Julie said. “She could pull whatever she wanted out of there, including the measuring tape that proved she was practically perfect in every way,” she said, finishing the setup.
“A what that did what?” Sarah asked, handing over Julie’s bowl as Julie sat down.
“I want a measuring tape that says I’m practically perfect in every way,” Julie mumbled around her first mouthful of ice cream. “Cold! Cold!” Julie said, waving her hand in front of her open mouth, like that would help.
Sarah just laughed and started the movie.
Julie smiled a little, starting to fall back asleep, when something nagging at her in the back of her mind jerked her awake.
Her eyes flew open.
“Wha’” she mumbled, sitting up gingerly. The couch wasn’t necessarily the best, comfiest place to sleep, and …
“Shit,” she said. “Hey, Sarah,” she whispered, clambering up and around so she was kneeling on the couch and facing Sarah. “Come on, honey, that’s really going to hurt in the morning,” she said.
While she’d considered leaving Sarah like that so she could laugh at her drool and rub the crick out of her neck for her, that was just a little bit meaner that it was funny, and Julie was kicking herself for almost letting Sarah stay like that all night.
“Huh? Ow,” Sarah said, wincing a little. “Oh, hi,” she murmured sleepily.
“Come on, baby. We should go to bed. We can’t stay on the couch all night,” Julie said, rubbing Sarah’s neck a little and feeling guilty.
“Mmm, okay,” Sarah agreed amiably, wrapping her arms around Julie and pulling her into a very satisfying hug.
“I’m sorry about your neck,” Julie said, snuggling into Sarah.
“Not your fault,” Sarah murmured.
“Umm, yes, it is,” Julie confessed, pressing her face into Sarah’s neck.
“Were you going to let me drool all over myself and get a crick in my neck so you could have your way with me?” Sarah asked, laughing a little, hugging Julie close. “Again?”
“That first time was an accident!” Julie’s muffled protest came form Sarah’s shoulder-region.
“The part where I got a crick in my neck, or the part where you buried your –“ Sara said, only to find Julie’s hand clamped over her mouth.
“Shush,” Julie said, looking into Sarah’s twinkling eyes and forgetting what she was going to say. Julie moved her hand, and then leaned in, brushing her lips against Sarah’s softly, sighing a little.
Sarah smiled against Julie’s lips, opening her mouth a little and accepting Julie’s sigh. Just the tips of their tongues brushed together, as they traded teasing open-mouthed kisses. Even after the months they’d been together, Sarah couldn’t help the bit of wonder inside of her, that this was real, and it was happening, and that actually kissing Julie was better than she’d imagined.
“Mm,” Julie hummed, taking Sarah’s lower lip into her mouth and sucking on it gently.
Much, much better.
Sarah made a noise that was half-whimper and half-gasp, her hands finding Julie’s hips and tugging, silently urging Julie into a position where she was sitting on Sarah’s lap, straddling her legs.
“Julie complied, sitting up on her knees a little, so the taller Sarah had to tilt her head back to look at her. Julie brushed Sarah’s check with the tips of her fingers, leaning in and claiming Sarah’s lower lip again, taking possession of it with soft nips and firms strokes of her tongue.
Sarah groaned. She loved what Julie was doing. She really, really loved what Julie was doing, and Julie damn well knew it.
A wicked chuckle met her ears and Sarah felt light but confident fingers tracing her collarbone lazily.
“Tomorrow’s Thursday,” Sarah said, her hands gripping Julie’s hips as Julie started a slow move along her jaw line towards her ear. She could hear Julie’s breathing, and the little hitches in it that meant Julie was just as turned on as she was. Julie traced the edge of her ear with her tongue, one hand braced on the back of the couch for balance, and the other sliding down from Sarah’s collarbone, over her breasts with their rapidly hardening nipples, and down to the waistband of her jeans and back up. “We’re both working in the morning,” Sara said, though her protest was in no way an indication that Sarah wanted to stop, which Julie could tell by the way Sarah tugged her down and pulled their bodies and their lips together.
And it was Julie’s turn to gasp as Sarah ached up into her.
“Off,” Sarah said, pushing Julie’s t-shirt upward, her hands sliding along soft skin. Julie helped, tugging her t-shirt off in one smooth motion as Sarah started pulling off her own sweatshirt.
“I am completely wet already,” Julie said, her voice breathy as she unbuckled Sarah’s belt. “How the hell do you do that?” she wondered out loud.
“You have a thing for nerds?” Sarah hazarded a guess, finally free from the sweatshirt she had thrown … somewhere, her eyes riveted to the spot where Julie was pulling her belt off of her, very slowly, loop by loop.
“Or maybe it’s because I know you’re already wet. You are wet, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yes,” Sarah breathed, her belt finally gone. She pulled Julie close and kissed her slowly, their breasts pressed together. Julie reached between their bodies, undoing the button of Sarah’s jeans and lowering the zipper. She tried to stand, but Sarah held on for a moment, getting another brush of their lips in before letting Julie go.
Finally able to stand, Julie started to kneel when Sarah stopped her again. “Unh-unh,” Sarah murmured, shaking her head and maneuvering her legs open so that Julie was standing between them. She scooted forward, wrapping her arms around Julie’s hips, her face pressed against Julie between her belly and her breasts.
“Oh,” Julie gasped softly, as Sarah started kissing her gently, nuzzling her breasts and sliding her lips across soft skin. Julie’s hands found Sarah’s shoulders as Sarah started licking her left nipple slowly. Julie made an incoherent noise when Sarah took her hard nipple into her mouth, while pushing her sweatpants and underwear down her legs.
“What?” Julie asked when Sarah mumbled something into her chest.
“I said ‘elastic rocks’,” Sarah explained with a grin, pulling back from Julie’s breasts and running a teasing finger along the wetness between Julie’s legs. “You are wet,” Sarah noted.
“And I’m not sure I can stand up anymore,” Julie said, her grip on Sarah’s shoulders tightening.
“C’mere,” Sarah murmured, pulling Julie to her, so she was straddling her legs again, one arm wrapped around her waist, and the other still between her legs stroking her and teasing her.
“Don’t tease … please don’t tease,” Julie said, her voice rough and desperate as she moved against Sarah’s hands, trying to get those fingers where she needed them.
“Shhh,” Sarah soothed, kissing Julie’s shoulder, her fingers sliding in Julie’s wetness, and gathering it up before going to her clit with firm strokes.
“Yes,” Julie practically hissed, her head falling forward against Sarah’s shoulder, and her arms wrapping around her neck.
“I love you,” Sarah whispered into Julie’s neck, continuing to touch her where she so badly needed to be touched.
“Love you,” Julie gasped out. “Don’t stop.”
Sarah had no intention of stopping. Julie was moving against her, and there was just the slight hint of saltiness on her lips from the light sheen of sweat on Julie’s skin, and Julie was making those fantastic little noises that meant she was getting very, very close.
Julie’s movements sped up, and became a little jerky and uneven, like the hot breaths Sarah could feel against her shoulder. Her fingers kept slipping, and Julie whimpered a little and bit down on her shoulder.
Sliding her hand forward, Sarah moved her hand forward, sliding two fingers deep into Julie’s center and lifting up, the heel of her hand pressing firmly against Julie’s clit.
“Oh, God,” Julie gasped, halting her movements and just pressing downward, taking Sarah as far into as she could, moaning out loud in a way that actually made Sarah’s clit twitch.
Sarah started moving her hand again, her other arm tightening around Julie’s waist, and Julie moved, too, grasping at Sarah’s shoulders with strong hands.
“That’s it,” Sarah encouraged, murmuring into Julie’s neck as Julie’s movement sped up again. “That’s right,” Sarah sighed, feeling Julie’s fingernails digging into her neck and shoulders as Julie lost herself in the sensations that Sarah was providing.
“I’m … I’m …” Julie said, her words interrupted by involuntary gulps of air she was helpless to stop. Sarah was perfect, and everything, and touching her, and inside her, and all around her, and just what she needed, and she was going to …
“Oh … God …” Julie ground out, her orgasm pulling the words from her lungs as Sarah was pulling the orgasm from deeper within her. She moaned and rode it out, the intensity of the pleasure rocking through her robbing her of breath and speech and even thought until it slowly ebbed and flowed away, leaving her limp and breathing heavily in Sarah’s arms.
Julie’s head came to rest against Sarah’s shoulder, and she felt Sarah kiss her temple, and her neck and her cheek as her breathing slowed and evened out.
“You okay?” Sarah whispered.
“Uh-huh,” Julie confirmed, a slow smile growing on her face.
Carefully, Sarah slid her fingers out of Julie, still kissing her with soft, soothing kisses, anywhere she could reach.
“We’ll wait a minute, then go upstairs and get some sleep, okay?” Sarah said softly.
“Oh, no,” Julie said, biting down on Sarah’s shoulder playfully. “We’ll wait a minute, and then it’s my turn.”
Sarah stretched and smiled, feeling ridiculously good for someone who had gotten – she checked the clock – about four hours of sleep.
Julie was next to her, smiling blissfully in her sleep, and Sarah couldn’t help the internal swagger her thoughts took knowing that she had put that smile there.
Really, she hadn’t ever thought she’d have the opportunity to. She’d thought that Julie wouldn’t ever be interested in her.
Not that Sarah had noticed that she was interested in Julie until a clue hit her upside the head in the form of Julie’s law-school classmate, Lena.
Lena had been nice, and attractive, and they’d had a very good time for awhile, but after several months, Sarah had noticed that she’d started to compare Lena to Julie. Lena didn’t get this joke that Julie would have gotten. Lena was a little too tall, not like Julie. Lena didn’t ask her questions if she wanted to know something, but expected Sarah to guess that she was supposed to talk, while Julie always asked what she wanted to know.
And once Sarah had identified that thoroughly appalling pattern, she’d broken up with Lena, because it was not even remotely fair to be dating someone when she’d gone and fallen in love with someone else.
Sarah had, in some respects, hoped that her thing for Julie would just go away as unobtrusively as it had shown up, and she had never seriously entertained the idea that they would actually get together.
Or, if she had, in her deepest, most secret places, dreamed of it once or twice, there was always some overly dramatic declaration on Sarah’s part, or on Julie’s part, or something melodramatic happened, like a car accident, or …
Sarah chuckled quietly, looking at Julie with a soft smile on her face.
When they’d finally gotten together, it had been completely anti-climactic.
“I asked you out, so I am paying,” Julie said emphatically, snatching the check off the table as Sarah reached for it. “If you want to pay, then you can ask me out.”
“But we always split the check,” Sarah said, her eyebrows drawn together as she drew her hand away slowly.
She tuned out while Julie took care of the check, thinking about how things had started off normally enough after work that evening. She’d gotten home, kicked off her heels, dropped her purse on the desk, and sorted the mail in the kitchen.
But Julie had been acting … weird. First she had asked Sarah if she would like to have dinner, and Sarah was kind of hungry, so she’d said yes. Then Julie had put on a cute little evening dress, which she looked fantastic in, and said that she wanted to go someplace nice. And then Sarah had to go change so it looked like they were actually going to the same place.
It was almost like they were on a …
“Wait a minute,” Sarah said slowly and quietly as they stood up to go. “Is this a date?” she whispered, bending down a little so Julie could hear her.
“It was until just now,” Julie said with a scowl.
“Oh, no,” Sarah said, shaking her head and dancing a few steps ahead of Julie on their way through the restaurant. She waited at the door. “Since we’re on a date, and you paid, you get the door, too,” she said in a sing-song voice.
“Fine,” Julie said, yanking the door open, then half-bowing in an exaggeratedly courtly manner.
“Thank you,” Sarah said with a smile, walking out into the cool night air, a little spring in her step she just couldn’t stop.
“If you’re done making fun of me,” Julie muttered angrily, starting to get upset at Sarah’s behavior and yanking her purse open to start a hunt for her keys.
“But I’m not making fun of you,” Sarah said seriously, taking one of Julie’s hands off of her poor purse and holding it in her own. “I’m not,” she said, waiting for Julie to look at her. “This is the best date I didn’t know I was on, ever,” she said, punctuating her declaration with a soft kiss. “And I’d really like to do it again, sometime.”
“Really?” Julie asked.
“Really,” Sarah said.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Julie asked, and Sarah chuckled.
Julie always asked when she wanted to know something.
“I, umm … can we talk about this at home?” Sarah said, glancing around the parking lot, which wasn’t exactly private.
“Oh, yeah … okay,” Julie said with a little chuckle, smiling when Sarah kept hold of her hand all the way to the car.
The drive home was silent, but their hands found each other, and it was the comfortable silence of people who had spent a lot of time together and didn’t feel the need to break it.
“Wait,” Julie said when Sarah started to open the front door.
“Hmm?” Sarah asked, a questioning look on her face.
“I had a really good time tonight,” Julie said, an uncertain smile on her face.
“Me, too,” Sarah said, unable to stop the slight blush she could feel welling up.
“Maybe we can do it again sometime?” Julie asked.
“I’d really like that,” Sarah said, and Julie stepped into her arms, and they were holding each other.
Sarah dipped her head downward, her cheek sliding along Julie’s as Julie’s head lifted up, their lips finding each other and brushing together.
“Perfect,” Julie said softly when they both drew away.
“Yeah,” Sarah agreed.
“Okay, we can go in now,” Julie said.
They looked at each other, and started laughing, twin grins gracing their features as Sarah opened the door and they went into the living room. Julie waited for Sarah to sit down on the couch, and then she sprawled out, her head resting against Sarah’s leg, treating Sarah to an impish grin before settling in.
“So I was going to ask why you didn’t say anything,” Julie said. “But I think I know.”
“What’s your theory?” Sarah asked, idly playing with Julie’s hair.
“I think you were scared it would ruin our friendship,” Julie said. “Like I was.”
“You too, huh?” Sarah asked softly. “What changed your mind?”
“Opportunity cost,” Julie said with a grin. “I started thinking about it in those terms, and I thought … which would I regret losing out on more: being your friend, or being your lover?”
“And you decided being my friend wasn’t as important?” Sarah asked softly, feeling a little hurt by that decision.
“No,” Julie said, shaking her head where it rested against Sarah’s knee. “I decided that it was the same decision you and your parents were making,” Julie said, looking up at Sarah. “It was security versus dreams. Our friendship is safe, and secure, and stable, and … it’s all those things. The idea of being something more to you … that’s been a dream of mine for awhile.”
“And?” Sarah asked.
Julie took Sarah’s hand and brought to her lips, kissing Sarah’s fingertips gently. “And I love you. And opportunity cost can kiss my ass, because I’m going to have it all,” Julie declared, lifting her chin stubbornly. “And I mean that in a rest-of-my-life kind of way.”
“I think I’m ready to dream a little,” Sarah said with a sweet smile. “As long as I get to dream with you.”
“Glad we got that settled,” Julie said, sitting up a little as Sarah bent down their lips drawing closer.
“And I love you, too,” Sarah murmured.
Julie smiled, her eyes drifting closed as their lips almost touched.
“And we should set up joint bank accounts,” Sarah said softly.
Julie’s eyes popped open.
“And work up a household budget,” Sarah went on, her gaze growing distant as her mind started going over all the paperwork that merging two lives involved. “I need to add you to my benefits, and the house,” she said, her lips pursing and her eyebrows drawing together.
“Sarah?” Julie said.
“Yes?” Sarah said, looking at Julie who was snickering uncontrollably.
“You can play with Excel or you can play with me,” Julie said sternly.
“Oh, right,” Sarah said, kissing Julie soundly.
“Good choice,” Julie said.
“Mmm … what are you chuckling about?” Julie asked, her eyes opening as she looked at Sarah who was looking back at her.
“I’m just wondering why you didn’t kill me the night of our first date,” Sarah said, shaking her head.
“The part where you didn’t figure out it was a date, or the part where I had to wrestle amortization schedules out of your hands to get you to kiss me?” Julie asked.
“You’re exaggerating,” Sarah said with a pout.
“Or the part where, then and now, you had no idea it was Valentine’s Day?” Julie asked.
“That was Valentine’s Day?” Sarah asked, her jaw dropping and her eyes widening with distress. “But I didn’t get you anything!”
“Yes, you did,” Julie said, her eyes dancing. “Knowing you as well as I do, the part about the joint bank accounts just may be the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me. But that was your free one. I expect something awesome next year.”
“Okay,” Sarah agreed. “I’ll get you a measuring tape that says ‘practically perfect in every way’ right at your height,” she said, holding her hand up to the top of Julie’s head to illustrate.