DISCLAIMER: Not mine, never will be. All belongs to various mega
rich international corporations, I'm just borrowing for my own
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Sara fidgeted nervously in her seat and checked her makeup on the back of a spoon. Which was a mistake, since the convex surface made her look like something out of a carnival house of horrors. She threw it down in disgust and checked her watch for the hundredth time that minute. Why did she let herself get talked into these things?
She was wearing a short black skirt and knee high leather boots. Hooker boots, her brother called them. Her brother was an asshole. A simple white shirt and a red carnation in her hair completed the outfit. Yeah, a carnation. So her - and she cringed just at the thought - so her blind date would recognise her.
It was Nick's idea, of course. He'd been trying to get her to date one of his buddies since the Hank debacle, and she'd finally agreed. Anything was better than sitting home alone waiting for that special someone to ring. That special someone who had absolutely no interest in her whatsoever.
Sara sighed. Actually, this evening was looking to be an even bigger bust than sitting at home with the TV. This buddy of Nick's was a half hour late. She'd been stood up before, but this was worse. It was like a pre-emptive strike. The guy hadn't even bothered to find out they had nothing in common. Surely the decent thing to do would be to dump someone after two or three dates - not ditch them before the first one had even begun.
"Mind if I join you?"
Sara looked up in surprise. "Catherine?"
Catherine was also dressed to kill, in the most gorgeous dress Sara thought had ever graced humankind. It was deep blue, almost black, and showing off just the right amount of cleavage. Which was, of course, a lot. A red carnation completed the ensemble.
"Blind date?" Sara asked as the other woman took the seat opposite her. A nod was her reply.
"One of Warrick's buddies," Catherine explained, with a roll of her eyes. "You?"
"One of Nick's," Sara replied, then frowned. "I thought you had a guy, though. Chris?"
Catherine shook her head. "I mentioned Lindsey and he did his roadrunner impression," she explained.
Sara snorted. "Is it sexist to say 'typical man'?"
Catherine nodded seriously. "Yup. I guess we're just a couple of female chauvinist pigs, huh?"
Sara laughed, but her response was interrupted when the waiter arrived and asked if they were ready to order. She looked over at Catherine.
"You want to? I don't think my guy's going to show up, so..." she trailed off.
Catherine looked at her watch. "I'm going to kick Warrick's ass," she muttered, then looked back up at Sara with a smile. "This buddy of his can go to hell if he shows up now."
"So you'll order something?"
Catherine smiled and nodded. They ordered their food, then Sara became engrossed in the wine list. "Just order one, Sara," Catherine said. "They all taste the same, anyway."
Sara looked up in mock horror. "Philistine," she said. "What kind of wine do you drink?"
"Whatever's on special," Catherine replied with a smirk.
Sara held her hand over her heart. "Lord have mercy on this woman's soul." She smiled then, and selected a rather expensive bottle of Australian Shiraz.
"Sara, that thing cost $70!" Catherine exclaimed when the waiter had left.
"Oh, what else am I going to spend my hard earned money on?" she said with a wave of her hand. "Once I've paid my mortgage and my cable TV and my internet connection for the month the rest of my paycheck is free and clear."
Catherine sat back in her chair and smiled. "I'd forgotten what it was like to only have one mouth to feed," she explained.
A flash of something like regret passed over Sara's face. "Yeah," she said, her voice a little flat.
"Sara?" Catherine leaned forward again. "You okay?"
The waiter chose that moment to return with the wine. He uncorked it and poured a little into Sara's glass for her to taste. She swirled it delicately before taking a tiny sip and rolling it around her tongue. She nodded curtly to the waiter and he poured a full glass for both her and Catherine.
"Wow, you did that like a pro," Catherine said when he'd gone again.
"I'm a connoisseurr," the brunette explained.
A moment or two of silence stretched between them and then Catherine broached the subject she'd been about to bring up when they were interrupted. "You ever think about children, Sara?"
Sara put down her glass slowly and considered telling Catherine to mind her own damn business. But she'd never been able to do that with this woman. Anyone else she would blow off without a second thought, but the words 'Catherine' and 'honesty' were indelibly linked in her mind. "Sometimes," she admitted quietly.
Catherine seemed surprised. "Really?"
Sara smiled softly. "I don't seem the maternal type?"
Catherine flushed. "No, it's not that. I just thought you didn't like kids."
"I like Lindsey, don't I?" Sara replied.
"Yeah, that's true. And she adores you."
Sara looked down at the table and blushed. "Really?"
"Really," Catherine confirmed. "All I ever get is 'Mommy, when can we go see Sara', or 'Mommy, when's Sara coming over?'"
Sara looked away. "I wouldn't mind seeing her more often," she said. She looked back when she felt Catherine's hand covering her own on the table.
"You can come over anytime," the other woman said seriously. "You're always welcome in my house."
The words were out before Sara knew what she was saying. "Am I?"
Catherine squeezed her hand a little tighter. "Yes," she said. They locked eyes for a moment or two and then they were once again interrupted, this time by their food. They disentangled their hands, smiling at each other sheepishly. They ate slowly, moving the conversation to lighter topics. The first bottle of wine disappeared as if by magic, and the second was well on the way to following it when dessert arrived. Catherine grabbed her spoon with a slightly unsteady hand. "This wine has gone straight my head," she muttered, and promptly dropped the spoon. Sara giggled.
"You need some help there?" she said with a cheeky smile, swinging her chair round so they were sitting side by side. With a confidence bolstered by alcohol she slung her arm round Catherine's shoulders, feeling her heart rate increase a little when the other woman leaned into her. Sara grabbed Catherine's spoon with her free hand and scooped up a little of Catherine's dessert. "Open wide," she said, smiling when Catherine did so without hesitation.
Catherine leaned against Sara a little more heavily as she allowed herself to be fed. "Was the wine a good investment?" Sara asked.
"If by that you mean 'Are you tipsy?' then the answer is yes," Catherine replied, then found her mouth occupied by another spoonful of dessert. Sara's low laugh so close to her ear caused a shiver to pass through her, starting at the back of her neck and travelling right the way down to her toes. "I'm glad I got stood up," she said.
"Me too," Sara replied. Catherine turned her head to look at the brunette, but they were closer than she'd thought they were and the movement almost caused their noses to bump together. As it was they were close enough to be breathing each other's air and the atmosphere was suddenly heavy.
"I'd rather have been with you anyway," Catherine managed to whisper.
"Me too," Sara said again. The spoon dropped from her hand and moved to the side of Catherine's face. Their eyes flickered closed and then they were kissing. Sara could taste the faint flavour of dessert and wine on Catherine's tongue, along with something even sweeter and more intoxicating than that, something she immediately labelled just 'Catherine'.
A quiet cough broke into their moment and Sara looked up at the waiter with slightly cloudy eyes. "Perhaps you ladies would like the check," he said stiffly. Sara wanted to feel outraged at his pompousness but nothing was going to bring her down from the high she was currently surfing. She fished her credit card out of her purse and slapped it into his hand.
"Whatever it comes to, just put it on that," she said. "And call us a cab." And then, just to annoy him, she turned back to Catherine, threaded her fingers through baby soft strawberry blonde hair and kissed her again. They were still devouring each other's lips when he returned with Sara's card and a bill for her to sign. She managed to do a passable imitation of her signature while staring into Catherine's eyes, amazed to see all the love and desire she'd been keeping bottled up for three years reflected back at her. Had this been there all along?
Once outside they found themselves wrapped around each other as they waited for their cab. "How long?" Catherine whispered. Sara knew exactly what she was asking.
"I don't remember," she answered. "I can't pinpoint the exact day or time I started to feel this way. So I don't know when I started to love you - but I can't remember a time when I didn't."
Catherine's eyes filled with moisture which she hurriedly blinked away. "You're coming home with me tonight," she said. Her hand trailed down the side of Sara's cheek and then up into her hair. She plucked the red carnation from Sara's curly brown locks thoughtfully, then reached for her cellphone.
"Warrick?" she said after it had rung a couple of times. "It's Catherine. I just wanted to thank you for my blind date. I think it's exactly what I needed." Comprehension dawned on Sara's face and she chuckled lightly. Catherine smiled into the phone and snuggled a little closer to the brunette. "Is Nick with you?" she said. "Then tell him Sara said thanks too." Warrick's answering laugh was audible even to Sara. Catherine clicked the phone off with a smirk.
"I had no idea I was so obvious," Sara murmured.
"Neither did I," Catherine replied. They shared one more achingly tender kiss before the cab drew up beside them. Then, with linked hands and smiling faces, they climbed into the back seat together and headed for home.
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