Disclaimers: The story and the characters are mine. There are expressions of love between people of the same gender.
A SIMPLE LITTLE LOVE STORY
By J. A. Zollicoffer
“Can I get a breakfast bagel and a chai tea?”
The blonde barista turned around and was struck dumb. Oh, my god. It’s her. Renee couldn’t speak. She couldn’t breathe. She could barely think. The goddess was standing in front of her.
Every morning, for the last week, Renee had watched in lustful silence as the most perfect woman she had ever seen rushed past the large windows of the coffee shop. The hardhat that was usually gripped in her right hand had clued her in that the woman was most likely working at the construction site around the corner. That fact alone had her practically swooning where she stood.
She was one of those women that had the ladies in uniform fantasy, and to her a tool belt and work boots constituted a uniform. So infatuated with the imagine, she had even included it as a necessity on her perfect woman wish list. There was just something about the combination of femininity wrapped in a powerful package that did something wicked to her libido.
Now the fantasy was standing in front of her. A dark beauty, that with just a few words had released a bolt of sensuality so hot it had quickly seared a path of want straight through to her belly, where it settled, no doubt, for eternity. It was a voice she could listen to all day long.
Maybe I should invite her out, or ask her for her number, or…
Her thoughts came to an abrupt stop. She knew that she would never take that step. It was a road that she had traveled down before. A road that had always led to a miserable end. There was only so many times a person could have their heart stumped on and handed back to them in pieces before they got smart enough to throw in the towel and give up. Nope, never again. Not me. My life is just fine the way it is. The only person I need is me, myself and I.
“Excuse me. Did you hear me?” the dark woman announced.
Oh, boy, there it is. The voice. And just like that, she found herself yearning again, forgetting her broken dreams and shadowed memories of the past. She shook the cotton out of her ears, and the morose thoughts from her head and put her mind back on her job.
“I’m sorry. That was a breakfast bagel and a chai tea, right?”
A perfect smile was her answer. “Yes, that’s right.”
Oh, god. She has perfect teeth too.
“I’ll be right back with your order,” was said in a voice a little too breathy for serving coffee at five-thirty in the morning.
A blue eye winked at her before she turned away. “Take your time,” was offered as a tool belt was hoisted up on a broad shoulder.
Oh, god, Renee thought.
Teresa sat on a jerry-rigged construction bench that had been thrown together with plywood and a couple of five-gallon buckets. She had only taken one bite of her breakfast bagel when her mind was filled with images of sunshine and green grass. She made no attempt to try and fool herself as to the reason why, she didn’t want to. Instead, she readily admitted that she couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful blonde behind the counter at the coffee shop.
An absent-minded smile found its way to her face as she took a mental inventory of the barista’s many assets. She was absolutely perfect. Long blonde hair, stunning green eyes and a body that had hills and valleys in all the right places.
She took a sip of her tea and her smile became deeper. I think for a minute there she zoned-out on me. I wonder if I had anything to do with that? She let that thought roll around in her head for a minute. I wonder if she works everyday. I wonder if she always works the day shift. I wonder…
“Hey, T, whatcha got there? Some kinda sandwich?”
Annoyed that her daydream had been interrupted, Teresa was about to unload on the intruder. But when she looked at him, his puppy-dog face softened her response.
“Can’t get anything past you can I, Ed?”
Ed ignored the sarcasm. His focus remaining on the prize. The smell of it had filled the room the moment she had unwrapped it, and he wanted a taste. “You gonna eat that whole thing?”
Teresa thought about making him beg, making him suffer through watching her take a few more bites. But she had to rethink that approach. Her stomach was in knots, and if she tried to eat the heavy sandwich the only person she would end up torturing was herself.
“Here, finish it,” she said, handing over the barely touched meal.
Ed accepted the overstuffed bread without hesitation. “Thanks, T,” he barely got out before greedily chomping down on the gift.
Teresa shook her head with affection. “You have no shame do you?”
“Nope,” was said around a huge bite of the aromatic treat.
Teresa stood up, intending on starting her day early. “I’ll see you up on the fifth floor, Ed. A few AC vents need to be mounted.
The wave of a huge hand, and a grunt was his only response.
It was two o’clock, quitting time. Teresa gathered up her tools and headed for the door, happy to be finished with her day. An odd smile pulled at her lips when she thought about the limited parking spaces that the District of Columbia had to offer. For the pass week she had been royally pissed off about the long blocks she had to walk just to reach the jobsite. Most days she was running late, having to make a mad dash to the building they were working in before the foreman showed up.
But today she was delighted to make the trip back to her car. Today she’d gotten a head start on her morning. Today the walk had been unhurried, almost leisurely in the January air. Today she’d had enough time to stop in the coffee shop for breakfast. Today she had laid eyes on a vision framed in shades of green and gold. And today she couldn’t wait to take that walk again.
Now she smiled fully. Maybe I’ll stop in the coffee shop and get something to eat for later. Last time I checked, the fridge was pretty low on supplies, and I’m not really in the mood to go food shopping. That’s more of a weekend thing anyway. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll stop by the coffee shop and pick something up for dinner.
Renee was restocking the pastry case. Between the hours of two and four was the shop’s down time, so it gave the crew the chance to do most of their cleaning and restocking for the next shift. Renee was almost finished and looking forward to punching out and heading home, when she heard someone come in. The box of hazelnut cakes she was pulling from was placed on a nearby stool, and she went to wait on what would be her last customer of the day.
When she reached the counter, she was pleasantly surprised to see that the blue-eyed construction worker had returned. Twice in one day. I guess somebody up there likes me.
“Good afternoon,” she said with a smile. Relieved that she was less dorky at this second meeting. “What can I get for you?”
“Ah, yes. Let me see,” bright eyes scanned the menu, giving Renee time to study the woman.
Tall. I like tall. Dark hair, pulled back in a ponytail that hit the top of broad shoulders. Nice. High cheekbones and long lush lashes. Very lovely. Full red lips. Fabulous.
“Okay. I’ll get a turkey club with sprouts instead of lettuce, and a large chai tea.”
When Renee turned to go and prepare the order, Teresa stopped her.
“Wait. Make that two sandwiches.”
“You got it.”
Teresa went to one of the empty tables and took a seat. From this angle she could watch the short sure movements of the barista. She moved with an economy of motion that worked well in the small space she had to negotiate in.
She took in the fair hair that was held back with a headband, and the slightly darker eyebrows that were a nice contrast to the sun-bleached hair that flowed down her back. Eyes that she knew were as green as new grass were focused on their task. I wonder if she likes her job. I bet she does. I could ask her if she does. That would be a conversation starter. She was so involved with her internal dialog that before she knew it she was being called to pick up her order.
“Your order’s ready.”
The construction worker jumped as if a current had gone through her and approached the counter.
“That’ll be fifteen seventy-five.”
After Teresa paid for her purchase she found herself unable to leave.
“Um…the bagel was really good this morning.” Oh my god, I’m an idiot. Did I just say that?
Renee was thrown off balance by the random comment.
“Ah…I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
“Yeah, well…I um, I’m working around the corner at the Randolph Building.” Why am I telling her this? Shut up, Teresa. If you stop talking right now you can still save a piece of your dignity.
“That’s great.” Come on, Renee. Jumpstart your brain. She’s trying to start a conversation with you…PARTICIPATE!
When nothing more was said Teresa decided it was time to go. “Um…okay then. I guess I’ll be going.”
She picked up her bag of sandwiches and her tea, and was about to leave when a soft voice stopped her.
“My name is Renee,” was said in a low tone.
When she turned back around, Teresa had a huge smile on her face. “My name is Teresa. Teresa Wilson, but you can call me T.”
Renee returned the smile. “My name is Renee Baxter, and you can call me Renee,” was the cute response.
Teresa laughed. And the sound made the blonde feel faint. But once again they found themselves at a loss for words.
“Well, I’d better get home. Have a good evening, Renee.”
By the time the blonde’s brain had reengaged the tall body was exiting the shop.
“You too, Teresa,” she offered to the empty space.
When Renee got home she peeled off her coat and headed for the kitchen as a one-sided conversation began.
“You can call me T,” Renee said in a deep voice, trying to do an imitation of the tall woman. “She is so dreamy up close. More than I ever imagined.”
“Did I just say dreamy?” For a brief second she realized that she sounded like some schoolgirl in one of those old nineteen fifties movies that she spent her weekends watching. “All that’s missing is the poodle skirt, saddle shoes and ponytail.” But in the next second she shrugged it off. “Who cares? That’s how I feel.”
She walked over to the cabinets and rose up on her tiptoes until her fingers grabbed a tin can. She pulled it down from the shelf and read the label. “Tuna supreme.” Pulling the electric can opener closer, she continued to talk.
“You should have seen her, Fido,” she said to the cat that came running at the sound of the cabinet door opening. “Tall, dark and gorgeous. And that voice, you should hear that voice.”
The cat prowled around her legs, impatiently waiting for her dinner.
“Oh, stop acting like you’re not interested. I know you are. I‘ve only been talking about her for a week. Now I have more than my fantasies to share with you.”
She opened the can and used a spoon to scoop the soft food into the bowl that had ‘Fido’ written on the side. The cat didn’t waste any time diving into her meal.
“She came back later and got some takeout, for dinner,” she added.”
Fido was decidedly uninterested.
“Of course I was a total disaster when she tried to have a conversation with me.”
Now that Fido’s needs had been taken care of Renee took care of her own. She grabbed a fork and a container of cold vegetable lo mein out of the refrigerator, and made her way to the living room. She settled down on her overstuffed sofa, where she knew she would be ensconced for the rest of the afternoon, and kicked off her shoes. She unbuttoned her pants and turned on the DVR to see what the machine had recorded for her while she was at work.
“Yippee, there are four 30 Rock reruns to watch,” she informed Fido.
A distracted “meow” sounded from the kitchen.
“Fido, hurry up, the show is about to start. I’m not gonna wait for you.”
The cat raised her muzzle out of the bowl and gave her best kitty eye roll before going back to her meal.
Teresa walked through the door, and quickly relived herself of her coat, hardhat and cumbersome tools. Then she made her way to a side table to take care of her first order of business. Picking up a yellow container of fish food, she sprinkled a few flakes into the tank, the briny smell hitting her nose immediately.
“I met the most adorable little blonde today, guys.” The black guppies rushed to the top of the tank, making air bubbles with the rapid opening and closing of their mouths.
“She seems a little shy, but I think it’s sweet.”
The dark silky fish didn’t seem to hear her.
“To be honest with you, I wasn’t much better. I couldn’t think of a thing to say.”
The fish didn’t even look her way.
“That’s fine. I know you guys are hungry. Eat up, Morticia and Gomez, it’s your last meal of the day.”
She watched for a few minutes as the fish sucked in the large pieces of multicolored flakes, one by one.
Teresa sat her dinner on the coffee table, kicked off her boots and unbuckled her jeans before plopping down on the couch. “Man it’s good to be home.”
Deciding she would save her shower for later, she picked up the remote and clicked to the list of recorded shows. “Oh, good,” she said. “30 Rock recorded.”
The next morning Renee was busy at work preparing a latté for a customer when she looked up just in time to see Teresa’s tall body walking through the door. Oh, boy, she’s coming in again, she thought as she mentally rubber her hands together with glee. As the tall woman stood in her line, waiting her turn, Renee pulled in a few deep breaths in an effort to remain calm. You will not be a dork today. You will not be a dork today, was her mantra.
When she looked up again, Teresa was two people behind. The closer the woman got, the faster Renee’s heart started to pound. Then, out of nowhere her coworker decided that it would be a good time to open another register. “Next,” the young woman called out.
Renee hurried with her customer’s order so that Teresa would be her customer. She had just handed over the hot drink when the woman decided that she wanted a chocolate biscotti to go with it.
Damnit, the little barista huffed.
“Next,” the coworker called out again, looking at Teresa expectantly.
The tall woman surprised both cashiers when she looked over her shoulder and told the man behind her to go ahead.
“I’ll wait,” she told him before giving Renee a dazzling smile.
When it was her turn, Teresa stepped up to the counter and just smiled at the happy looking blonde, and before she could place her order it was placed for her.
“Chai tea and a breakfast bagel?”
Teresa’s smile got bigger. “Yes, you remembered?” Okay, T, get it together. You’re standing here grinning like an idiot. Come on, girl…butch up.
Renee was dealing with her own set of problems. So afraid she would say something silly, she just nodded her head in response to Teresa, and left to fill the order without saying another word.
My, my. Now that’s a pretty picture, Teresa thought as she got a nice long look at the khaki covered backside that present itself to her. The gods sure were generous when they made you, Miss Renee.
When the order was handed over, Teresa felt soft fingers brush against her own. “I hope you enjoy your breakfast, T.” Okay. That wasn’t too bad. You were able to string a few words together that made sense.
“I’m sure I will, Renee. Um…maybe I’ll stop by after work, you know, to get me something for dinner.”
“Sounds good. Ah…will you be having the same thing you ordered yesterday?” she hurried with the rest. “I was only asking because I could have it waiting for you.”
Teresa gave another dazzling smile. “That would be terrific.”
“Then consider it done.”
Teresa headed out and waved over the heads of the patrons. “I’ll see you later.”
Renee was giddy. The smile that bloomed on her face stayed in place for the next hour. The end of her shift couldn’t come fast enough.
“Got another one of those sandwiches, T?”
“Back off, Ed. You won’t be getting your man-paws on this one.”
Hearing the finality in her voice, the man walked away, shoulders slumped in dejection.
With each bite, in her mind’s eye, Teresa could see Renee preparing the food. She knew it was pure fantasy, but she could have sworn she caught the scent of wildflowers on the paper the sandwich was wrapped in. She continued to chew. Just wishful thinking, she reasoned.
The longer she chewed, the more she thought. “Maybe I should ask her for her phone number. I mean what’s the worst she could say? No? I’ve heard no before. It won’t kill me. And just as fast as acceptance came, fear replaced it. Uh-oh. What was that? But she knew what it was. If Renee said no it would hurt.
That was new. No woman she had ever dated had the power to hurt her, she’d never let them get that close. So, how was it that just the thought of Renee saying no made her stomach ache?
She steadily chewed her food, giving the question more thought. Maybe I should leave well enough alone, and keep this thing strictly business.
As soon as she walked into the coffee shop and saw Renee’s face light up, Teresa knew that her resolve to keep this thing strictly business was not going to be. I want to know her, and what’s even scarier is that I want her to know me.
Seeing the bag waiting for her on the counter made her smile. “I’m not late am I?”
“Not at all,” Renee answered. “I’m just finishing up, then I’m heading home.”
Here’s your chance. Ask her if she needs a ride.
“Um…I’m on my way home too. Could I give you a ride?”
Renee’s spirits dropped. Of all the times to be a car owner.
“No thanks, I have a car.”
“Oh…well, alright then. Thanks for having my food ready.”
Teresa gave her a twenty and told her to keep the change. Her brain told her feet to move, but they refused to listen, and Teresa knew why. You might as well get this over with. Ask her. She looked into shinning green eyes and took a leap.
“I…um…I was wondering if I could get your number?”
Okay, now I’m hearing things, Renee told herself. There is no way she just said what I think she said. But the expectant look on the tall woman’s face told her she had in fact asked for her number. Stay calm, Renee. Be cool. Don’t act like a dork. Take a deep breath, then answer the woman before she thinks you’re head is full of straw.
“Sure, sure,” she slapped at her pockets, looking for something to write with, to no avail. She felt silly when Teresa handed over her phone.
“Here you go. Just program in your number.”
Renee quickly added her information and handed the phone back. “Hold on a second,” she held up a finger before disappearing in the back.
When she returned she had her own phone. Once she pulled up an empty screen, she handed it over. “Your turn.”
Teresa didn’t hesitate. She typed in her name and number, and gave the red phone back to its owner. “If it’s okay I’ll call you tonight. About seven?”
“Seven is good, T. I’ll be waiting.”
Teresa rushed into her apartment and carried out her usual routine of dumping her gear and feeding her fish, but this time it was done with a lot more energy.
“I’ll be waiting, she said. You hear that, guys? She’ll be waiting,” she informed the fish.
She dropped the flakes into the tank, stored her takeout bag in the refrigerator, and headed for her bedroom, intent on taking a shower and settling in for a nap. She wanted to be fresh and alert when she called the green-eyed beauty.
It was six-thirty and the tall woman was pacing. Back and forth, back and forth she went, staring at her phone with each pass. I have to wait. If I call now I’ll look desperate. I’m not desperate…am I? She stopped walking and thought about it for a second, then she shook her head in the negative. Nope, I’m not desperate.
She checked the clock. Damn, six thirty-two. If not for the fact the clock was electric she would have thought it had stopped.
“What do you think, Gomez? Should I call early?”
She walked over to the tank, and watched the guppies swim around. The larger of the two following behind the smaller one, synchronized to her every twist and turn.
“Is that how you got Morticia? Acting desperate?”
When the fish disappeared into a large mock castle, appearing to be seeking a little privacy, Teresa stepped away. “Well excuse me,” she mumbled.
Glancing at the clock, she noticed that it was six forty-five. “Screw it. I’m calling.”
Renee was sitting on her sofa, her phone beside her. When her cat jumped up on the cushion, and landed a little too close to the device she snatched it out of the feline’s reach.
“Don’t touch, Fido. I’m waiting for a very important call. I don’t want you pawing at the buttons.”
“Don’t use that tone with me, young lady. How many times have you hit speed dial and called mom?”
“You can’t deny it, Fido.”
She reached over and scratched her pet behind the ears. “If this goes well maybe there will be a number other than mom and dad’s programmed into my speed dial.”
Renee absent-mindedly rubbed her cat while her mind wandered. “Sometimes it’s hard being alone.”
The cat looked at her. “Meow.”
“I know I’ve got you, buddy, but sometimes I need a bit more feedback, Fido.”
The cat grabbed the hand that was rubbing her and began licking it.
“Yeah, I love you too.”
Fido let go and jumped down from the sofa at the exact moment the phone rang. Renee’s heart started to beat faster, so fast that she had to rest her hand on her chest to coax it into slowing down.
“Okay, here we go. She closed her eyes and swept her hands down the front of her body in a cleansing motion. “This is now a dork-free zone.” She cleared her throat, then answered the phone.
“Um…is that Renee?”
“Yes. Is this Teresa?”
“Yeah. Um…hi.” Blue eyes rolled. Real smooth, Teresa.
“Hi. How are you?”
“I’m okay.” Come on, Teresa you’ve got to do better.
“That’s good,” Renee said in a soft voice.
Hearing the ‘I’m going to be on the phone for a while’ quality in her human’s voice, Fido left the room and made a beeline for Renee’s closet, where she proceeded to pull down every sweater and t-shirt within her reach. Once the items lined the floor, she made herself a nice comfy bed where she curled up, surrounding herself in the blonde woman’s scent. It wasn’t often that the cat acted out this way, but there was something about the tone in her human’s voice that made her feel like a change was coming. A change that Fido wasn’t sure she would like.
Teresa put herself in a mental headlock, and squeezed. Say something you idiot. Start a conversation!
“So, did you grow up around here?” Really? Did you grow up here? That’s how you start things off?
Renee, on her end, was just relieved to have something to talk about other than an endless dialog of, I’m fine. Are you fine? How’s the weather?
“Yeah, my family has lived here for generations. My mom says that great-grandpa Mason used to work in Baltimore when it was nothing more than a fishing town.
“Is that so?”
“Yep,” he used to unload the boats. Grandma said when she was a kid crabs and shrimp were on the table more often then chicken.”
“Wow, that must have been nice.”
Renee laughed. “Nah. She can’t stand the stuff now. She says if people had any idea that crabs and shrimp got fat off of all the dead bodies that sank to the bottom of the ocean they would never eat it.”
Teresa couldn’t help but laugh. “Sounds like an interesting woman.”
“Oh, she is. My grandma is a cigar smoking, card playing, cussin’ ball of fire. Maybe I’ll show you a few pictures sometime.”
“I would like that,” was said in a low voice.
When nothing else was said Renee got things going again. “How about you, you from around here?”
“No, we are originally from Arizona. We live here because when my dad retired from the air force he was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, and decided to stay.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Ah, let me see, I was seventeen, so, ten years ago.”
“Oh, my you’re pushing thirty,” Renee teased.
“What? I’m too old for you?” Teresa threw back.
“Not at all. You’ve only got three years on me. My parents won’t call the cops.”
“That’s a relief. My dad would bop me one if the police ever came looking for me. He owns a peace officer’s uniform shop in Greenbelt. He sees those guys all the time.”
“He’s still working? I thought you said he retired ten years ago.”
“He did. From the air force. My dad joined up when he was eighteen. Met my mom when he was twenty-one. They had me when he was twenty-three, and after twenty-two years of service he retired when he was forty. He said he was too young to spend the rest of his days on the golf course, so he began his next chapter in life.”
“That is so cool. My dad has been working for the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company since he was twenty-five.
“That building up on the hill? Over by the hospital?”
“That would be the one.”
“Wow, I see it every time I’m on the Baltimore/Washington parkway.”
“You and everybody else. It’s kinda hard to miss that huge Pepsi sign.”
“Um…do you have any siblings?”
“No, it’s just me. How about you?”
“That would be a negative. After me, my mom couldn’t have anymore kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, T. My parents just felt like it would be irresponsible to have more kids than they could adequately nurture, so it’s just me.”
Hearing the sadness in Renee’s voice, Teresa wanted to know what was wrong. “Do you wish you had brothers and sisters?”
“Well…yeah. It would be nice to have someone that you could confide in. Someone that you trusted to keep your secrets. Someone that wouldn’t betray you.”
Teresa got the feeling there was more to that answer than a desire for siblings.
“Has someone betrayed your trust, Renee?”
The blonde snorted. “Just about everyone I ever met.”
An irrational anger began to stir in Teresa’s belly. Who? Who had hurt this sweet woman?
“I’m sorry to hear that, Renee. I’m sorry that people have abused your trust.”
Nothing more was said as Teresa wrestled with her mind for control over her tongue. Because if she didn’t put up a fight she was going to commit herself to something that she wasn’t sure she could see all the way through. But in the end it was a losing effort. Her mind and her heart joined forces with her soul and made the decision for her. So, she had no choice but to surrender. I can’t believe what I’m about to say, but I have to let her know.
“I…I would never do that. I would never hurt you like that,” was the whispered promise. “You can trust me.”
Renee felt tears well up in her eyes. The simple declaration had pricked a hole in the thin veil that protected her world. A place where only Fido was allowed to enter. But she could hear the conviction in the strong voice, and she believed what she was hearing. God help her, she believed.
“I…I believe you, T. But I’m still a little scared.” This last part was said over a lump in her throat.
“That’s okay. I understand. I only ask that you give me time. It’s like they say. I can show you better than I can tell you. Just give me the chance.”
“Okay,” was the quiet response.
Teresa knew that with that one word Renee was putting herself out there. But it would be okay. Teresa would make sure of it. A precious gift was being given to her, and its safe keeping was now her main priority.
They talked long into the night, both women reluctant to hang up, but eventually the inevitable had to be accepted. They both had early starts the next morning, and needed their rest. Goodnights were said, and promises to talk more the following day was made, and just like that, in the span of a few hours of shared conversation, a path had been laid. One that would lead them to the safe haven that both of their hearts had been seeking for most of their lives.
The next morning Renee was up before sunrise, and was feeding Fido her breakfast before she got dressed for work.
“I should just leave you a bowl of water to drink until I get home,” she scolded her pet. “How could you, Fido? One of those sweaters you pulled down was a favorite.”
“Meow,” the cat answered as she brushed through Renee’s legs.
“Oh, so now you’re sorry. I’m sure this little act of regret has nothing to do with the can in my hand.”
Renee scooped half the canned food into Fido’s dish before rinsing her hands off in the sink. She then pulled out a couple of slices of raisin bread for her own breakfast, and dropped them into the toaster.
“I wonder what Teresa likes to eat?” she asked herself. “We talked about a lot of things last night, but nothing as simple as favorite foods. Family history, past relationships, our jobs, but nothing as basic as our likes and dislikes.”
She looked down at her grazing kitty and smiled. “She doesn’t even know about you.”
When the slices popped up she buttered them and slid them onto a plate. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down with her meal. After taking a few slow bites an idea came to her.
“I should invite her over for dinner tonight.” she looked down at her cat. “What do you think, Fido?”
The cat continued to eat.
“Yeah, that‘s what I thought too. It’s Friday. We’re both off tomorrow,” she took a few more sips of coffee, letting the idea rattle around in her head for a few more minutes. Then, before she lost her nerve, she grabbed her phone.
She pulled up the address book and keyed in the number. Before pushing send, she took a deep breath. Here goes, she thought. It felt like forever before the phone was answered, but when it was, she became mesmerized. The deep voice on the other end was hypnotic. Funny how one simple word can hold you captive.
“Good morning, I hope I’m not calling too early.” she mentally crossed her fingers.
It had only been one night, but Teresa would know that voice anywhere. “No, not at all, Renee. What’s up?”
Renee could hear the smile in Teresa’s voice, and she smiled too.
“I know its kinda last minute, but I was wondering if I could interest you in a home cooked meal tonight?”
Butterflies took flight in Teresa’s stomach. Wow, I wasn’t expecting that, but I’m really glad she’s asking. “At your place?” I really am an idiot.
“Well, yeah, T. that’s where the home part comes in.”
“Aren’t you funny this morning? Couldn’t just ignore that, huh?”
“Not a chance.”
The easy banter was putting both women at ease, and their conversation became as comfortable as it had been the night before.
“What time should I be there?”
“Is eight too late?”
“Not at all. What’s your address?”
Renee recited the address, and gave directions on how to get there. A date, she thought. It’s been a long time, but I’m actually going to have a date.
“Okay, I’ll see you at eight sharp. Can I bring anything?”
“Nothing but your lovely self.”
This time she didn’t blush or feel nervous. She wasn’t going to shy away from what she was feeling. It was time that she let someone in other than Fido. It was time to step out into the world again.
“Then it is me that you shall have,” was the dark woman’s declaration. “I’ll see you soon.”
Teresa disconnected the call, and went back to what she had been doing before the phone rang. She picked up the plastic stick she had been using and lowered it back into the tank and tapped the side.
“Guess what, guys? I have a date tonight. That’s right. Renee just called and invited me over for dinner.”
The fish continued to swim around. Their only interest seemed to be trying to avoid the clear stick that Teresa was using in an effort to get them to swim through a hoop that was stuck to the bottom of the tank.
“I really like her…a lot.”
Teresa tapped the side of the glass again and trailed the guppies with her training tool.
“I like her more than I’ve ever liked anyone. That’s the scary part. We just met, and I already feel a need for her.”
She continued to tap the tank and move the stick, trying to corral the fish.
“After just one night of talking on the phone. Granted it was a great call.”
The fish renewed their efforts at avoidance.
“Come on Morticia, I know you can do it. Swim through the hoop. If you do maybe Gomez will follow, he follows you everywhere else you go.
When the fish continued to go their own way Teresa gave up…for now. She was certain that she could train her fish to swim through the hoop on command. It would just take time and patience.
“I’m going to get ready for work, guys. I suggest you study that hoop because eventually you’re gonna swim through it.”
As if to show defiance, the guppies skirted around the hoop on their way to the castle.
At eight o’clock on the dot a knock sounded at Renee’s door.
“Okay. She’s here.” Renee lifted her hair a little, then resettled it around her shoulders. “How do I look, Fido?”
The cat sneezed and left the room with a bit of an attitude.
“She’ll get over it,” Renee mumbled.
Heading for the door, she straightened her back and exhaled her tension. When she pulled the door open she was greeted with the sweet scent of flowers, seconds before she saw the large colorful bouquet. Well, this is starting out pretty good, she thought.
Leaning against the doorjamb, Renee felt a little cocky. “Do you always come bearing gifts on first dates?”
Not to be outdone, a roughish smile pulled at Teresa’s lips. “Only when the lady is special.”
Good answer, Renee thought. “That’s a sweet thing to say, T and the flowers are very thoughtful. Come on in before Fido realizes the door is open and goes running out into the hallway.”
Upon hearing the name Fido, Teresa thought it would be best if she took a little caution when entering the apartment. Most pet owners believed their animals to be the most well behaved, but there were times when they were wrong. Taking a little care to prevent being tackled by an overly excited dog was the only smart thing to do.
When Renee noticed the woman’s hesitant steps as she entered the apartment she became curious. “Hey, you okay?”
“Yeah. I just want to be ready in case your dog jumps me.”
“My dog? I don’t have a dog.”
Teresa stopped in her tracks and wondered if Renee was playing games. “But you said Fido might run out. I just assumed…”
Renee tried not to laugh, but couldn’t hold back the giggles. “Fido, come her, sweetie.”
It wasn’t long before an orange and white cat came slinking out of the kitchen, obviously annoyed at being summoned.
When Teresa saw the little fur ball she got the joke and joined in the laughter.
“You named your cat Fido?”
“Well, of course. She is one ferocious feline. Aren’t you, Fido?”
Fido wasn’t sure what her human was up to, but she was not going to be entertainment, so she headed back into the kitchen without a backwards glance. But not before presenting the newcomer with the raising of her retreating tail.
“Well, I can definitely see that she’s got plenty of attitude.”
“Don’t pay her any attention she’s just not used to company. Have a seat while I put these in water,” Renee said before disappearing into the kitchen.
Teresa sat on the sofa and sunk into it’s softness. Man, I could spend hours right here in this spot.
When Renee entered the kitchen Fido knew this was her opportunity to check out the stranger. So she went sauntering into the living room and jumped up on the cushion beside the visiting human. She laid down and found a comfortable position on her back before she began grooming herself.
Teresa watched for a minute, intrigued by how meticulous the cat was being. Then she reached over to pet her. When there was no resistance she ran her fingers through the fur on Fido’s neck and began to gently massage the area.
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