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Fair Warning: Very slow (especially for me). No sex in this chapter.
“Gretchen? Wendy?” Rian blinked her blue eyes and shook her chestnut tresses, trying to wrap her head around the scene before her. The kind brunette had walked in on her girlfriend of nearly four years being eaten out by their mutual friend. Rian should have been livid and screaming, but stood in a numbed calm instead.
“I’ll come back for my stuff tomorrow and leave my key.”
Their relationship had suffered over Rian’s senior year of college at Arizona State. The pretty coed’s preoccupation with school, Gretchen’s other “slips” and resentful guilt, and a bad case of LBD all combined into a terrible living situation. Between the crying and yelling, Rian didn’t even like the person Gretchen had become. She should have sallied forth months earlier.
Loyal to a fault, the senior told herself to hang in there until graduation to reevaluate. Six weeks early, Rian’s decision was made for her. Cheating with a friend in their bed pushed her too far.
Wendy, to her credit, had enough grace to stand silently with cum dripping down her chin. Gretchen shrieked dramatically, following Rian into the hall as she left and shouting, “How can you just throw us away? This is your fault too, you know? You’ll never find anyone else who’ll love you, and you’ll be lonely forever,” among other hurtful darts at Rian’s retreating back. Sadly, Rian believed most of them.
A wave of relief washed over the beautiful brunette anyway as Rian closed the door to their apartment complex.
She made two phone calls on her way to an extended stay motel. First, to Shauna, Wendy’s girlfriend and also a friend, to unfortunately ruin their seemingly happy relationship and leave Shauna a crying mess running to her mother’s. Rian realized then that their intimate circle of friends would never recover from the two foundational couples crumbling.
Second, Rian called to accept a previously unthinkable job offer in Oklahoma. Six depressing, rudderless and friendless weeks of college later, she took her last final, skipped the graduation ceremony, and lit out for Podunk, OK.
Rian did well in her new career and joined the company softball team as a kickass third baseman. The feminine tomboy made some guy friends at 3rd & Long – the local sports bar – and eventually convinced them that she really was gay and to stop hitting on her. (Though teasing for being a D-Backs fan remained constant.) The guys were great, but she missed having a circle of female friends.
Loneliness took root beside her Gretchen-induced numbness, but she prided herself on not playing World of Warcraft or adopting a cat with only a cute surname and title. (Sgt. Fuzzyboots and Ms. Fattymagoo both crossed her mind.)
Rian decided not to date either. After only a couple of high school kisses and a few dates in college with other women, she’d u-hauled with her ex as an 18 year-old virgin. At 22, Rian rationalized that she needed to “develop as an individual” on her own. The softhearted girl denied even to herself that she really just feared becoming hopelessly mired for another four soul-crushing years if she dared to go on another date.
There were plenty of opportunities; a gay bar just 30 miles away in the next large town, apparently every citizen of OK has at least one single lesbian cousin, and Rian has the kind of looks and figure that turn heads just walking down the street. Thankfully, Rian’s obliviousness, affectionate nature, and lack of gaydar protected her from the more subtle flirting of most southern women, so she only rarely had to reject anyone.
Alicia was certainly actively looking for someone to be in a relationship güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri with, but had been too picky to settle of late. None of the blind dates, fix ups, or random encounters led to anything serious (though with her charm and All-American good looks, the statuesque blonde of 25 attracted plenty and dated often.) As a silver lining, her weekends were free for football.
She innocently returned to the sports bar – and its 99% male or married clientele – for the first pregame. Alicia hadn’t been to 3rd & Long since the Superbowl and saw a few new faces when she walked back into the bar, Rian’s being far and away the most interesting.
“Mikey, Mikey, Mikey,” Alicia leaned in and mock-pleaded with the bartender, “Tell me the sexy brunette’s gay. Or at least bi?”
“Weeeeeell, I got good news and bad for ya,” Mike answered, “Rian claims t’ be one of your’n t’ all the guys, but we ain’t never seen her with a girl neither. She shot down every body hittin’ on her, ding dong and hoo hah alike. Says she just wants t’ watch the game.”
“I can work with that, Mike.” Alicia answered and took her Sam Adams with a grin. She walked over to the alluring brunette watching her baseball game, deciding to take a friendly approach rather than using a line and being rebuffed immediately.
“Pretty bold of you to wear a Diamond Backs tee-shirt in Podunk, OK.” Alicia joked and turned her grin on Rian.
“Yeah, well,” Rian looked up mid-derisive retort, the barb sticking in her throat when she saw the beautiful blonde knockout smiling at her, “they’re my team and loyalty’s important,” she finished lamely.
“So long as you don’t wear a Cardinals jersey. You’re deep in Cowboy country here.” Alicia’s smile widened further as she took the barstool next to the slightly-blushing brunette. Alicia recognized the attraction in those big blue eyes, but also recognized Rian’s fighting it.
“No. Well yeah, I guess they’re my team too. I don’t really follow football though.” Rian – not acknowledging the instant affinity she felt as anything more than friendly — just knew she wanted badly not to offend the lovely blonde woman with the laughing brown eyes.
“Really? I guess I’d avoid being a football fan too, assuming my home team was forever doomed to lose to the Cowboys by the NFC Championship ,” Conversely, Alicia very much wanted to goad Rian. It worked.
“Hey, the Cardinals have been to the playoffs twice as often as the Cowboys in the past five years, got just as far as they did the year they went, and saw a Superbowl. When was the last time the Cowboys made the Superbowl?” Rian defended faithfully, tossing her hair and finishing her drink.
“Not a fan, huh?” Alicia laughed with achievement. “I might be a bit of a fan,” Rian admitted, finally realizing she was being teased.
“I’m Alicia,” The poised blonde introduced herself, taking Rian’s hand and not shaking it.
“Rian,” The shy brunette couldn’t ignore the involuntary spark that raced up her arm when their hands met or that Alicia held her hand entirely too long for a new acquaintance, “But, I should be going soon.”
“Aw, don’t run off just because of a little harmless teasing,” Alicia taunted, not releasing Rian’s hand, “Let me buy you another drink by way of apology.”
“No, really, I should quit drinking and go,” Rian answered, retracting her hand and scouring her mind for a decent excuse to leave three hours before she intended, “I have work tomorrow.”
“It’s 6pm, honey. I think it’ll wear off in time,” The flirtatious blonde asserted, “Hey Mike, get my new friend Rian and me another round.”
They watched the end of the baseball game, Alicia consoling and baiting Rian by turn as güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri the Red Sox shut out the Diamondbacks. Rian stood to leave.
“C’mon. You’re not leaving already?” Alicia cajoled, “I watched your team lose with you, the least you can do is watch mine win with me.”
Rian stuck out her tongue, but sat back down. Alicia laughed at the cute brunette’s response and decided that provoking the all-to-literal Rian was the most fun she’d had in weeks.
Alicia gloated so thoroughly over the Cowboys’ only touchdown in the first quarter that a peevish Rian said that she bet the Dolphins would win. Liking the idea of a bet, Alicia upped the ante.
“You want to put your money where your mouth is?” Alicia egged Rian on.
“Sure,” Rian answered, “20 bucks on the Dolphins.”
“Naw, actual money’s no fun,” Alicia returned, playful and sly, “I’ll do you one better. Loser buys the winner dinner at Applebee’s tomorrow.”
“Done,” Rian answered, only belatedly realizing she’d agreed to a date.
A bit subdued at her folly, Rian watched the rest of the game without challenging Alicia’s team pride. Alicia, really winning the bet either way, was still happy at Dallas’ win.
“Tomorrow at 8 okay for you? Or you can just announce to the bar how awesome the Cowboys are. I’d accept that in lieu of dinner.” Alicia asked with twinkling eyes, giving Rian an egress. She’d tricked her into a date for the sake of getting to know the reserved woman better, but had no intention of strongarming her.
“8 sounds fine. I’m no welcher,” Rian agreed again, reasoning that she could simply let the gorgeous blonde down easy and politely at dinner.
“Good,” Alicia laid her hand on Rian’s for a moment and then left the bar.
Rian had a warm buzz all over from drinking the better part of a six-pack, but distinctly felt the lingering heat of Alicia’s hand on hers long after leaving the bar.
At Applebee’s the next night, Rian spent the first half hour of dinner waiting for a “move” from Alicia. Then she grew relaxed and distracted talking. Alicia told Rian about her exes and drew out Rian’s story. They laughed over small town life. Alicia invited Rian to see a movie with her later in the week. Desert was cleared after a wonderful meal, but still no overture had come.
Rian concluded that she’d misread the signs and just enjoyed having a new friend.
The non-couple went to numerous dinners, lunches, and ice creams over the next few weeks. And to movies, shopping, 3rd & Long, high school games, and each other’s houses. The move never was made, confounding Rian.
Alicia would be flirty with Rian without flirting. Compliments on her appearance and personality were given freely. Alicia would touch her hand, shoulder, or knee in conversation. There were affectionate hugs and chaste kisses upon greetings, farewells, and news.
Once, when Alicia leaned in to brush loose strands of chestnut hair from her face in gentle strokes, Rian closed her eyes and parted her lips slightly, waiting for the surefire kiss that disappointingly didn’t come.
Rian had exchanged her numbness and loneliness for their new friendship and the torch she carried for Alicia, although she tried to reason away her unwanted romantic feelings as imagined. Yet even Rian’s entrenched obliviousness couldn’t protect her from the heated chemistry in every touch, the sexual tension of their eye contact, and the indefinable nuances of reciprocated desire. But Alicia acted contented with their platonic camaraderie and never pressed for a more intimate relationship, so Rian’s fear of losing a friend by rejecting her became a fear of losing a friend by being rejected.
The frustrated güvenilir bahis şirketleri brunette tried dropping subtle hints, and then increasingly less subtle hints that began bordering on undignified. She started dressing with an eye to pleasing Alicia. (Not with low-cut tops or miniskirts, but jeans that Alicia complimented were put more heavily into rotation and hairstyles she favored were worn more frequently.) The usually carefree tomboy conscientiously chose makeup and perfumes for when they would meet. She kept the AC on unnecessarily at her house, so that they could cuddle under the only afghan while watching movies. All to no apparent reaction from Alicia.
Alicia, for her part, understood and sympathized with what her friend was working through, but purposefully did nothing to encourage or discourage the growing infatuation.
About eight games into the regular season, Rian decided that she must act. And, having made that decision, did nothing.
Not for lack of trying. The first time, she purposed to bring it up at the bar, but choked. She got extremely drunk the next time, – thinking to loosen her tongue — but ended up so sloshed that embarrassingly Alicia had to take her home and put her to bed like a child. Like Sam-I-Am, she tried various locations and props. After a month, she’d only managed to confess her love to Alicia’s cat, Miss Kitty-Fantastico.
Eventually, Rian resolved that she had to build the most romantic and intimate setting she could envision in order to force herself to risk the most valued relationship in her life.
Rian invited Alicia over for a home-cooked meal. Then burnt the duck in her distraction and served Chinese takeout. But she laid a tablecloth with a vase of red roses, lit copious candles with unfortunately conflicting scents, and played a soft mix of R&B songs. She wore a sexy little red dress for the occasion that may have been more trashy than seductive.
The intent behind the amateurish effort pleased Alicia, though she was forced to carry the conversation as Rian brooded and fumbled through a number of false starts. They’d both finished eating and a dejected Rian remained burdened.
“Do you want to go to the living room?” Alicia asked, stuck between compassion and amusement at Rian’s plight, like when Miss Kitty-Fantastico was bested and trapped by a particularly cunning sweater.
“Sure,” a regrouping Rian answered, “Do you wanna watch a movie?”
“Or we could just sit for a while,” Alicia said over her shoulder as she walked into Rian’s living room.
They sat on the sofa in silence, hand-in-hand. Rian stared at their intertwined fingers, feeling the same pleasant warmth at Alicia’s touch and knitting her brows intensely in decision. With a deep breath and exhaling snort, Rian turned to Alicia. She tentatively brought the fingertips of her free hand to Alicia’s mouth and gently traced around the edges, losing her place slightly as one corner drew up into a lopsided smile.
Meeting no resistance, Rian bent forward, replacing her fingertips with her lips in a speculative brush that graduated into an open-mouth kiss as Alicia’s full lips responded. The cautious brunette — doubting her luck — pulled away more quickly than Alicia liked, especially after the farsighted blonde had waited so very long for a first kiss.
“Is that okay?” Rian questioned, as though she’d declared her love.
“Okay? Honey, I thought you’d never get up the nerve to kiss me.” Alicia assured. She reclaimed Rian’s mouth and had gained entrance with her tongue when Rian broke off again. Her head stayed tilted and Alicia identified the same face Miss Kitty-Fantastico makes at the formerly dangerous sweater once she’s escaped it.
“Wait, you knew I was attracted to you?”
“Since the evening we met.”
“And you wanted me too?”
“Because,” Alicia answered, caressing the curve of Rian’s face as she had longed to do since she had met the once-bitten woman, “you needed to seduce me.”
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