Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between women
Feedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's Note : I'm always honored to be asked to play in this invitational with such amazing authors. I'm honored and I hope I live up to the quality and don't throw off the curve. ~g~
Copyright © 2011 Geonn Cannon
Stephanie hated buying drinks.
She had no problem paying for them, and she was always willing to foot the bill for another pitcher, but the actual buying of the drinks was a trial she always avoided if at all possible. She hated waiting, and she hated being crushed against the bar by all the people seeking something to wet their whistles, and most of all she hated being forced to talk to the beautiful, Greek bartender. Nothing good could come from interacting with someone like that. Her tongue refused to cooperate and her brain forgot everything she'd ever learned about conversational etiquette.
She was on the dance floor of her favorite club, Scratch, with a passably attractive brunette - maybe not exactly her type, but definitely worthy of a dance. Mel tapped her on the shoulder and mouthed an apology to the brunette. Mel leaned closer to be heard over the music. "It's your round and Ellie is starting to get dangerously dry."
Stephanie nodded and motioned to her dance partner that she would be right back. She took out her wallet but realized that it would be empty just before she opened it. "Shoot. I meant to hit the ATM after work."
Mel waved her off. "I'll pick it up."
"No, you bought the last one. I'll..." She was hesitant to hand over her credit card, even to someone she trusted as much as Mel. She chewed her bottom lip and looked toward the bar. "I'll go, I'll go get it. You go back to the booth."
Stephanie blushed. Was it that obvious she hated making the trek to the bar? "I'm sure. Go, go!" She waved Mel off and made her way through the crowd.
The line around the bar was sparse, nowhere near as bad as it would be during the peak hours. Stephanie found a spot and slipped between two women wearing leather pants. She craned her neck until she saw the bartender. Tonight, she was dressed in a black T-shirt with the logo of the club (the word SCRATCH with a pair of cat eyes peering over the cursive letters) on the right breast. Her black hair was down, her olive skin looking even darker in the dim light. Stephanie didn't know her name, so she just referred to her as the Greek.
Other women whistled, or knocked on the counter with their knuckles to get the Greek's attention. Others waited until she passed by to shout their orders. The Greek took it all in stride and acknowledged each rudely shouted order with a nod of her chin. Stephanie bit her bottom lip, letting the Greek pass her three or four times without saying a word. She filled other orders, poured pitchers, and chatted with people as time allowed.
Stephanie was always a bit too shy when it came to social situations. She was only a few inches over five feet with eyes and ears that she thought were too big for her face. She kept her dark hair short, but the bangs still got caught in her eyelashes and helped obscure her face. Given half a chance, most people would just ignore her presence until she quietly slipped away.
She was about to retreat and tell the girls that she'd failed when a hand closed around hers. "Sorry, I know you've been patient. What can I get for you?"
"U-uh, two Sam Adams, a Rolling Rock, and a Guinness, please."
The Greek nodded and took the bottles out from under the bar. She popped the tops for her and then swept up Stephanie's credit card. She swept it through the machine and got the receipt before handing it back with a smile. "Enjoy."
"Thank--" But the Greek was already moving on to the next customer. Stephanie picked up her beers and slipped through the crowd, making her way back to the table. Ellie and Diana were deep in conversation, and Mel was snuggling with a redhead who bore a passing resemblance to Anne Hathaway. Stephanie put down the beers and slid into the booth next to Diana.
Mel looked up from her necking. "Thanks, Steph. Aren't you going to go find that girl again?"
Stephanie nodded at the dance floor where her former partner had found someone else to cling to. "Looks like she's moved on after our tragic break-up."
"It's her loss," Ellie said. She picked up her beer and toasted Stephanie with it before she took a drink.
Diana started a conversation about her ongoing feud with a coworker, and Mel went back to getting acquainted with her new friend's neck. Stephanie picked up her Guinness and glanced toward the bar. The crowd had thinned slightly, and the Greek had rested her elbows on the edge of the bar to talk to a statuesque woman in a vest and a sleeveless dress shirt. Stephanie felt a twinge of jealousy and turned away before it could go any further.
Stephanie finally hailed a cab about half an hour after Mel and her new friend disappeared. She'd tried dancing, talked with a few women over drinks, but she eventually ended up leaving the bar by herself as usual. She slumped in the back of the cab and tried to stay awake as it carried her home. The streets were mostly deserted, only a few businesses still lit like beacons in the darkness. When they got to her building, she paid the cabbie and trudged upstairs with her shoes dangling from two fingers.
She heard Mel as soon as she opened the apartment door. She squeezed her eyes shut and thought it wasn't fair she could do the same with her ears. They'd had the fight before, but it seemed Mel would never be a quiet lover. Stephanie opened the kitchen drawer and took out her earplugs, slipping them in and sighing as Mel's grunts and groans were replaced with the steady rush of blood and the thumping of her heart.
Stephanie drank a glass of water before she went to her bedroom. She put off her shower until the morning, finding just enough energy to undress and crawl under her covers. It was Saturday in the morning, so she didn't have to hear her alarm, so she left the earplugs in place as she drifted off, covering her head with one of her pillows for extra protection.
Her plan to shower in the morning was stymied by the redhead's continued presence. When she woke at eight-fifteen and took out her earplugs, the shower was already running. The squeak of bare feet on the porcelain and the rustling of the curtain confirmed that it was a double occupancy. Stephanie rolled her eyes and stumbled out of her bedroom wearing an oversized T-shirt bearing the image of Rat from the comic strip Pearls Before Swine.
She was halfway through cooking breakfast when the bathroom door opened. She heard a giggle, and then Mel appeared at the head of the hallway. She was wrapped in a towel, her hair slicked back over her head. "Oh, hey," she said. "I was wondering if you were up."
"Uh, no. I think we're going out."
A pair of arms wrapped around Mel from behind, and the redhead from the night before began to kiss Mel's neck and shoulder. She spotted Stephanie and smiled shyly. "Oh. Morning. You must be the wife."
Stephanie smirked as Mel laughed and muttered something to her new friend. She began to move toward her bedroom, using her body to block the redhead's. "We'll be out of your hair in a few minutes. You'll have the apartment all to yourself today."
Yep, all to my lonesome lonely self. Thanks for reminding me. She forced a smile. "Thanks. You and your pal have a good time."
Mel's answer was to giggle and chase the redhead back into her bedroom. Stephanie finished cooking her breakfast and sat down at the kitchen counter to eat it. She was rinsing her plate when Mel and the new woman came out of the bedroom fully dressed. Stephanie was surprised to see they were holding hands. Spending a day together was one thing, but once Mel was intimate with someone, the little gestures fell by the wayside. Maybe the redhead was special.
"Have a good time, you guys."
"Bye," Mel said. "Have fun today."
The door closed on them before Stephanie could answer. She slumped in her chair and looked down at her oatmeal. "Yeah. Fun, fun, fun."
After breakfast, she spent an hour on the computer working on a project for a client. Her plan out of college was to parlay an art degree into a creative job in an advertising department. Unfortunately the client wanted what they wanted, and anything truly creative was frowned upon. She played with a few designs until she had satisfied her conscience that she'd done enough work so she could surf the internet for a while.
She replied to a few emails, one drunken picture sent from Diana's cell phone that showed her and Ellie with a pair of very drunk women. She sent a text asking if they had 'doubled their fun' and searched a few of her favorite websites for updates. She was about to sign off and lie down on the couch and watch TV, but at the last second she changed her mind. She clicked over to a website that posted original lesbian stories, telling herself that she was just looking for something to read. If it happened to have sex in it, then that would just be a bonus.
She got a text from Ellie and flipped open her phone to read it. "I think I had a 4way with Diana last night. Oops!"
Stephanie groaned and resisted the urge to toss her phone at the wall. Apparently she was the only one of their little group who'd gone home alone. She dropped the phone back to the desk and leaned closer to the computer monitor. "All right, internet. Give me porn."
She printed out a few stories and went into the living room. She put on her thick-rimmed reading glasses, holding the papers with one hand while she idly rubbed herself with the other. The story was good, and she liked the characters, but it was taking forever to get to the sex scene. She decided it was a good thing, though; if she cared about the characters then the sex would be that much hotter when she finally got to it. She had just turned the page when there was a knock on the door.
"Naturally." She put the papers down so she wouldn't lose her place, tugged on her pajama pants with one hand to make sure they wouldn't slide down, and went to the front door. "Who is it?"
"I'm from the bar; I called Mel and let her know I was coming."
Stephanie made a mental note to kill Mel if she'd arranged a back-up girl in case the redhead didn't work out. She looked through the peephole and nearly yelped in surprise when she saw the Greek. She backed away from the door, as if the peephole worked both ways, and stared at the wood. "What, uh, did you need?"
"It's kind of... complicated."
Stephanie frowned and, after a moment, undid the chain and opened the door. The Greek smiled politely, and then recognition dawned on her. "Hey, you're the polite lady. I love when you order drinks."
Stephanie just blinked and pushed her glasses up on her nose. Shit, her glasses. She snatched them off and quickly shoved them into the pocket of her pajama pants.
"Aw, I liked 'em," the Greek said. "Mel didn't say you were her roommate."
"Uh, yeah. For, uh... a-a while." She swallowed hard. "Mel's not here right now, but I could help you. What did you need?"
The Greek glanced down the hall and then sighed. "Uh, Mel and I were talking last night because she was dating an ex-girlfriend of mine. Turns out it didn't work out between them either, so we were kind of bitching back and forth about her. I mentioned that she'd left without returning... something. Uh, something special. And Mel told me that she'd ended up with it, and I was more than welcome to pick it up. She gave me your address, and--"
Stephanie nodded. "Sure. What does it look like?"
The Greek cleared her throat. "Kind of..." She pursed her lips. "You know what, I'll just come back later. When do you think Mel will be back?"
"She told me I had the apartment to myself all day," Stephanie said. "So you might have to wait until tomorrow. Or I could take a look around her room and see if I can find it."
"Well, it's kind of... private."
Stephanie smiled. "But you described it to a stranger in a bar."
The Greek laughed. "I guess that's true. It..." She looked over her shoulder to make sure the hall was still empty and then leaned closer to the door. "It's a dildo."
Stephanie was sure that her cheeks were bright red by now, and she missed half the description the Greek was giving. "...purple, with a vibrating egg on the end."
Stephanie tried to speak, but her first syllable came out as a squeak. She cleared her throat and tried again. "I'll see if I can find it. Uh, c-come on in." She stepped aside and let the Greek into the apartment. "I'll be right back."
She turned and headed for Mel's bedroom, muttering curses under her breath. She devised all the ways she was going to get back at Mel for this humiliation. Hey, would you mind giving this vibrating dildo to the woman you've had a crush on since the first time you saw her? Mel's bedroom door was unlocked, and she pushed it open with her foot to look inside. She could smell the candles Mel liked to burn during sex, and the sheets were a wild tangle on the mattress. She scanned the floor and actually saw a sex toy nestled in the laundry, but it was flesh-colored.
She looked at the nightstand and there, in all its glory, was a sex toy that the Greek had used on herself. And apparently, it was good enough that she was willing to describe it to two strangers just to get it back.
I could always say I didn't find it and tell her to come back tomorrow. Then I could see what all the fuss is about .
Her blush deepened as she picked up a towel off the floor and wrapped the toy in it. She carried it back to the living room and saw the Greek had drifted toward the framed ads hanging on the wall. "Voila." She held up her swaddled treasure. "Looks like she set it out in case you came by."
"Oh, thank you." The Greek took the towel and looked back at the framed artwork on the walls. "You guys use those instead of menus?"
Stephanie smiled. "No, I work for Raily Marketing. Graphic design. I make the, uh, ads for local restaurants and businesses... mostly restaurants."
"Oh! That's pretty cool."
Stephanie shuffled her feet slightly and shrugged. "Yeah, I like it. You-you can just give the towel back another day, or... uh... I mean, I won't make you carry it out of here like that."
"Right. Or you could give me a paper bag or--"
"I have one of those." She went into the kitchen and returned with a grocery bag. The Greek transferred the toy from the towel to the bag. "Thank you for this. You have no idea how much I've missed... ah... you know what, just thank you. I guess I'll see you around the club."
The Greek started toward the door and then turned to face her again. "Oh, we're having a singles thing on February 12. You should come by then. If you don't find someone who sweeps you off your feet, you can keep me company at the bar."
I'd have to learn to talk to you by then . "Uh, sure. Maybe. Yeah. Sounds good."
"Great." The Greek smiled and gestured at the door with her bag. "Thanks for, uh, finding this. I really hated the thought of that bitch keeping it."
Stephanie walked to the door with her, opening it so the Greek could leave. It suddenly occurred to her to ask what her real name was, but it seemed like an awkward conversation to have after she'd already gone to "here's your dildo." So she smiled and said, "Happy to help."
"You should wear your glasses more. They're kind of retro. Hip. Plus you look really cute in them."
Stephanie chuckled nervously. "I'll think about it."
"Have a good afternoon."
She waited until the Greek had started down the stairs before she closed the door. She rested her head against the wood and started compiling a list of ways to kill Mel for putting her through that trial.
They were home when Stephanie got back from treating herself to dinner and a movie, cuddling on the couch and watching a DVD. Mel twisted to look over the back of the couch. "Hey, Steph. Did someone come by--"
"Yeah. She asked for--"
"The feel-doe. Yeah, it was hers. Thank you for giving it to her. I completely spaced."
"You had other things on your mind." Stephanie took off her jacket and hung it by the door. "What are you guys watching?"
Mel shrugged. "Some Angelina Jolie thing."
"You hate her."
"Holly's choice." She moved her hand to the redhead's shoulder and rubbed gently.
Stephanie raised an eyebrow. There was definitely something more than just a one-night stand going on there. As happy as Stephanie was for her friend, she dreaded the upcoming sexual marathons that would accompany the start of the relationship. "Did you hear about Diana and Ellie?"
Mel laughed. "Yeah. Apparently they hooked up with roommates, and things got a little hot and heavy in the cab back to the apartment. One couple started things out, and the other joined in, and before long." She made a sound like mattress springs squeaking.
"Leave it to Diana and Ellie," Stephanie said. "You guys have fun. I'm going to bed."
"Really? It's early."
"Yeah, I'm beat. Night. Night, Holly."
Holly twisted and waved. "Goodnight."
She went into her bedroom and changed out of her street clothes and into her pajamas. Her plan to keep herself occupied had failed. Work didn't pass the time, and porn just didn't hit the spot. She'd hoped that getting out of the apartment and watching a dumb movie would snap her out of her funk, but she was still depressed and unattached. She crawled into bed and picked up her laptop to check her email before she went to sleep.
Diana had sent her a message about the foursome, and Stephanie sent a message back facetiously asking for details. She was about to sign off when she remembered what Mel had called the toy she'd given to the Greek. She did a quick search and clicked on the product description from a lesbian-oriented website. The picture fit what she had seen, so she scrolled down to read the reviews.
The more she read, the more she understood why the Greek had been so determined to get it back. She mentally calculated how much was in her bank account until the next payday and ordered one before she could talk herself out of it. It's gonna be a lot of fun using that by yourself, kiddo , she thought. Use it as inspiration. If you have this sitting at home, you'll be more willing to take a risk and ask someone to come back with you.
"Then Mel can use the ear plugs for a change. Ha."
She logged off and turned off the lamp, sliding down until her head was on the pillow. If nothing else, even if she never got to use it, she could always give the feel-doe to Mel as a birthday present. She pulled the blankets up over her head and tried not to think of the noises she'd have to block out that night.
Stephanie hated her friends.
Ellie and Diana had decided to "see how things went" after their impromptu orgy, so they were unofficially a couple now. Meanwhile, Mel and Holly were continuing their nocturnal introductions to each other while Stephanie tried to fall asleep before the festivities got underway. At the end of a very long, very third-wheel week, her feel-doe arrived in the mail and she stared at the box as if it was betraying her. Why couldn't it be batteries and girlfriend included?
So despite her misgivings, despite everything that said it was a sign of an utterly desperate soul, Stephanie dressed in her nicest red blouse and a black skirt and went to Scratch for their Valentine's Day singles event. She'd once thought that the worst thing about this sort of event was how the people there would hit on anything that moved, but that wasn't right. The worst thing was arriving, looking your best, and still going home alone. She considered advertising that she had a feel-doe right off the bat. Lead with the clincher.
Stephanie went to the bar, exchanging smiles with a few women who were a little too old for her - not that she would use age as a deterrent - and took up a station by the bar. She didn't know why she was making a point to announce her presence; the Greek probably didn't even remember telling her about the event. She was about to back away and spare herself the embarrassment when the Greek stepped out of the back of the bar.
She was dressed in her usual uniform, but she had a pair of fuzzy fairy wings attached to her shoulders. A brooch in the shape of a crossbow was pinned to her lapel, rubies and diamonds indicating that it was Cupid's bow. She scanned the bar and almost did a double-take when she saw Stephanie.
"I thought you were going to wear your glasses!"
Stephanie resisted the urge to pull the collar of her shirt over her head. "I, it... contacts."
The Greek shook her head. "I'm just teasing. You look great! What are you drinking?"
The Greek wiped her hands on a bar towel and retrieved a bottle. She popped the top and handed it across the bar. "Have fun tonight. Don't just go with the first girl you talk to. You're going to be in demand."
"I-I, I'm not..."
"Trust me. I've seen enough of these to know. Get started on that Sam, I'll keep my eye out for you when you need a refill." She winked and moved down the bar to help someone else.
Stephanie took her drink and turned to leave the bar, but she found herself pinned by an outstretched arm. A woman with a streak of white in her dark hair smiled down at her, leaning close to be heard over the music. "I'm Alice. Are you my white rabbit?"
"I don't think so," Stephanie said. "Excuse me."
She slipped out of Alice's grasp, if that was her real name, and moved deeper into the crowd. She didn't want to be here. She didn't want to be scanning the crowd and feeling the crowd scan her in return. It was awkward and uncomfortable and she wanted to go home. Of course, if she went home, she wouldn't be able to spend any time with the Greek. She reluctantly took a drink of her beer and forced herself to mingle.
A woman with way too much makeup asked her favorite sexual position before they'd even said hello. Another woman waved off Stephanie's notice of her wedding ring by saying, "It's okay, he knows I'm here and he's fine with it." One woman introduced herself by painfully pinching Stephanie's arm and telling her it was Cupid's arrow.
Stephanie finished her beer and went to the bar, but the Greek wasn't in sight. She left the bottle in a large plastic recycle bin and followed signs that promised to lead to a restroom. She pushed through a door and found herself in a small corridor that was brightly lit in either direction. She could see into a storeroom to the right, and the bright blue doors of the restrooms on the left. She had only taken one step when she heard someone moving near the emergency exit.
"You're really not supposed to be back here. Employees only."
The Greek stepped forward. She was still wearing her wings and brooch, but her smile was just barely painted on. She had the neck of a Guinness bottle pinched between her index and middle fingers.
"Oh. Sorry. I was just looking for a, a restroom."
The Greek said, "Other side of the club." Stephanie backed toward the door. "But don't go. I mean, it's all right if an employee brings you back here. So as long as you're with me, you're safe. You can go ahead if you want."
"Uh," Stephanie said. "Actually. I just wanted to splash my face and get out of the music for a while."
The Greek smiled. "I can understand that. Come on over and sit with me."
God no, what are you talking about you crazy woman? "Okay."
She crossed the space and saw that the Greek had an upside-down milk crate as a seat. She pulled another one around and placed it in front of her. She sat and, with no excuse to do otherwise, Stephanie did the same. The Greek noticed her hands were empty. "Want another Sam Adams?"
"You remembered my drink."
The Greek smiled. "It's my job."
"Right. But, uh, no. I'm fine."
"You know, it's weird. I don't even know your name. I've just been thinking of you as..." She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth, chuckled and shook her head. "You know what, never mind."
"No, tell me."
The Greek winced slightly. "Mrs. Nice Gal."
Stephanie grinned. "I like that. It's sweet. I've... kind of been doing the same to you. I don't know your name, so I... I call you the Greek."
The Greek straightened her back and laughed. "Wow, I like that. Makes me sound tall, dark and mysterious. 'The Greek.'" She took a sip of her beer and ran her thumb around the rim. "So, Mrs. Nice Gal. How are things out there? Is it still a meat market if it's all women?"
"I think it's more like a fish market." She blushed and cringed, but the Greek laughed again.
"Something to do with cats."
The Greek laughed. "Either way. How's it going?"
"Depressing. I think the real purpose of these things is to make us feel okay about being single for just a little while longer."
"I can buy that." The Greek finished her beer and set the bottle down. She rubbed her hands together. "I just couldn't take it. All the people swirling around, looking for The One. Or maybe just a one night stand. No one ever hits on the bartender, not even at these things. And it can really make you feel invisible."
Stephanie was shocked into silence. She pressed her lips together. "Maybe they see you, but they've built up this pedestal for you. And they think there's no way they could possibly reach that pedestal, so they just leave you up there. Out of reach. Because it's easier to think someone is out of your league than to make a move and... and have it confirmed."
The Greek was staring at her. "I think that's the most I've ever heard you say."
"And then she shuts up again." The Greek smiled. "I'm nobody special."
"C'mon. You're the Greek."
"Hm. To you maybe. To everyone else, I'm just Elaine Keyes."
It took Stephanie a moment to realize that she'd just learned the Greek's secret identity. She held her hand out. "Stephanie Logan."
The Greek smiled, took Stephanie's hand, and kissed the knuckles. "Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Logan."
"You too. I think Elaine Keyes is a lovely name."
"Thanks. But... you can still call me the Greek if you want. I really like the way it sounds. And you don't have to worry about the pedestal. I'm not some unattainable being, I'm just... a bartender. A bartender who gets to stand around all night, every night, and watch people hook up and break up until it's time to go home to an empty apartment."
"Empty. So you... I-I mean, the thing you came to pick up..."
"Might as well have just let your roommate keep it. It's been gathering dust."
"That's a crying shame."
The Greek laughed. "Isn't it?" She stared at Stephanie for a moment and Stephanie, to her surprise, didn't feel the urge to cringe or look away. She accepted the perusal until the Greek leaned back and looked down at her brooch. "Look, my break is almost over. I have to spend the rest of the evening serving a bunch of women trying to get drunk enough to decide their second choice was good enough after all. And I thought it would be okay if you were just here to talk to me, but then you did talk to me and I have to ask you a favor."
She's babbling. Women don't babble. I babble at women. "S-sure."
"Don't go home with anyone. I know I don't have any right to say that, and--"
"Hey." The Greek stopped talking and looked at her. Stephanie smiled nervously. "I think it's a crying shame that no one hits on the bartender. I'd like to make amends for that tonight."
The Greek smiled.
Stephanie stood up and held out her hand to help the Greek up. "I'll take that drink now."