DISCLAIMER: All My Children is the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
June 11th Morning
Sleep can be as enjoyable as a good steak when you are in need of it. When you are drifting in that deep, feel it in your bones, sleep, the last thing you want is a rude awakening. Like, say, curtains being flung open, and a crazy woman dancing through the room while singing a made up, off key, song.
"Beach day gonna get some sun because it's beaaaaaaeeeeaaaach day!"
Bianca grabbed a pillow and flung it blindly across the room, hoping that by pure luck she would hit the source of the sound and light. Sadly, the pillow made no sound except that of skidding across the carpet floor, once it had hit the ground.
"Awwwww! How can you be such a grumpy Gus on beaaaaeeeeeaaaaach day?"
Bianca violently pulled the covers over her head, hoping the sound making creature would go away. Alas, it just landed in the bed, on its knees, next to her. Bouncing up and down, it used its hands to shake her back and forth.
"Get up! Get up! Getupgetupgetupgetup!" The still un-seen body belly flopped when she changed positions, so now, she was laying on her stomach, facing Bianca. A finger hooked the sheet, and slowly pulled it down to where Bianca could now see her attacker, who was grinning like a maniac. "Wake up!"
"Maggie I love you don't make me hurt you."
"It's a gorgeous day out. I have all my homework done. I checked your schedule and you're free today and Miranda well " Maggie lifted her eyes, shaking her head back-and-forth in a show of faux humility. "She had a couple of things on her schedule, but I shifted those around."
"That's Erica Kane's granddaughter a full social schedule already." Bianca said, lifting her arms out from under the covers and stretching.
"So come on, get up, and we'll have a beach day." Maggie said with an enormous grin.
Bianca rolled fully onto her side, and placed her hands under her head to support herself on the pillow. "We will huh? And how exactly do you propose that since Patrick has the day off, and we have no car plus we live nowhere near a beach."
"We'll make our own!"
"And just where do you propose we put this 'beach'?" Bianca said, waking up more and laughing with her friend.
"Hello? Giant terrace! We can just lay out there."
"And why, pray tell, do we even need to lay out?"
"Have you looked at us lately? The French air traffic control called and said our pasty whiteness was becoming a distraction to passing pilots!"
Bianca stared at Maggie, her jaw sagging a bit. "Your mind is a truly scary place, do you know that?"
Maggie grinned proudly. "Yep! Now come on, time's a wastin'!" Maggie rolled off the bed, swinging her legs around so that she stood up in one fluid motion. "I already got out a bikini for you, I'll grab Miranda and get her all gussied up, you can grab towels, and I'll meet you out there." And with that, she disappeared into the master bathroom to pass into Miranda's room.
Bianca sat up in bed and stared after her. "And Patrick calls his daughters the whirling dervishes .yeesh." She threw off her covers and saw a pale blue bikini lying on the chair next to her bed. She grinned and thought, "What would I do without her."
Miranda sat on her mother's lap in a little yellow sun dress with a matching floppy hat on to protect her eyes. Bianca was in her bikini, with a short robe on over that, and was applying sun block to all of Miranda's exposed skin. Maggie had plopped the little girl in her lap, while she ran back in to change in to her swimsuit.
A few minutes later she reappeared, hair in a ponytail, a bright pink bikini and a light pink, short sleeved, button down shirt on over that. Bianca had just set Miranda down and was laying out the towels as she approached.
"You do realize it's only in the 60's today don't you?" Bianca asked as Maggie opened the door.
"Um no that I didn't realize." She pondered for a moment, and then made a dismissive gesture with her hands. "We'll be fine for a little while."
Bianca rolled her eyes. "Don't come crying to me later when we all have hypothermia."
Maggie laughed. "I can just see those headlines now 'Women Found Frozen To Death While Sunbathing!'."
"Sounds about right!"
Maggie took off her shirt and straightened the towel meant for her before she sat on it. As she did, she turned her back to Bianca, and that was when she spotted the rare sight of Maggie's tattoo of a ballet dancer in mid-leap. It wasn't obvious very often due to its placement just above her right hip. It had always intrigued Bianca, especially since Frankie had a matching one, but she had never asked about it.
Maggie finally sat down and brought her knees up to a peak so she could rub suntan lotion on her lower legs. "You get munchkin all covered up?"
Bianca was now sitting on her own towel, legs open some so that Miranda could sit between them. "Sure did, she's good to go."
Miranda giggled and wrestled herself free of her mother's grip. She crawled over to Maggie, who welcomed her with open arms and a giant smile and scooped her into her lap to hold her.
Bianca smiled serenely at the two of them. "I'm so glad you two get along."
"Well, I've been meaning to tell you, we really don't. This is all a show for you when you're home. While you're at work during the day .yeah there's been some hair pulling and cat scratching." Maggie joked.
"Miranda! I'm ashamed of you beating up your nanny like that!"
Miranda giggled while patting Maggie on the cheek and looking at her mother.
"See! Nanny abuse! Nanny abuse!" Maggie screamed falling over onto her side.
As the morning wore on, it finally warmed up to a decent temperature the girls could live with. They laid out, chatting more than paying attention to anything going on.
What was on Bianca's mind was Maggie's tattoo. She kept finding excuses to be at an angle where she could look at it. Right now she was sitting in a chair next to Maggie, holding Miranda. Three and a half years she had known Maggie, and she could pretty much count the number of times she had seen it. And in all those times, there had never really been an appropriate time to ask about it. Finally, around noon, she worked up the courage. "Maggie?"
She was laying face down, her head resting on her hands. "mmhmm" came the drowsy reply.
"Can I ask you something personal?"
Maggie scrunched up her face. "Since when do you have to ask permission?"
"I'm just not sure about this one."
"Just ask I really doubt there is anything you could ever ask that would bother me."
"Well I was curious about your tattoo."
Maggie smiled and chuckled. "That's all?"
"Yeah I was wondering if there was some meaning behind it. I know Frankie had the exact same one, but when I asked her about it, she grumbled something about it not being any of my business."
Maggie finally lifted her head and shook it. "That was Frankie for you." She turned her head to look up at Bianca and squinted her left eye against the sun. "Seriously, in all the time we've known each other, we never talked about it?"
"No. I've always been kind of afraid to ask about it because it seemed to irritate Frankie."
"I could have sworn we did. Strange. Oh well." Maggie lifted herself to onto all four's, and swung around so she was sitting upright. She then drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them and leaned her head so she was looking at Bianca. "You know, I honestly forget it's there some days. I can't see it, and when I got it feels like a lifetime ago."
"So does it mean something?"
"Yes it does to me at least."
Bianca could see a wistful look pass over Maggie's face. "If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to, I shouldn't have ."
"No, it's fine, I was just trying to remember all the details really. Frankie had run away again, and had been gone a couple of weeks. It was the day before our 16th birthday, dad was who-knows-where, mom was drunk as usual and I had decided to go out surfing. I got home late, not that it mattered to anyone, and went straight to bed because I was so tired. Then, around midnight I heard a knocking on the window, I got up and went to see what it was, and there was Frankie."
April 26th, 1998
"Frankie! What are you doing here?"
"Why?" Maggie turned and looked back over her shoulder at the clock. "It's midnight for crying out loud, I'm not going out now. And you could always come in you know."
"Fat chance of that happening, now get dressed."
"Why should I?"
Frankie stared at her older twin. "Because .it's our birthday."
Maggie saw a look she had never really seen in her sister's eyes before. It almost looked like concern .and caring. It was several seconds before she said anything. "Give me a minute." She quickly threw on some clothes and crawled out the window, cursing herself all the time for going along with whatever crazy idea her sister was having. "Alright you got me to come out. Now what?"
Frankie gestured with her head out to the street where a car was sitting. "Come on."
"Should I even ask where you got that?"
"Probably not." Frankie said, with a straight face.
Minutes later, Frankie pulled the compact car up in front of a tattoo parlor.
"What in the world are we doing here?"
"We're getting tattoos."
"Excuse me?" Maggie asked with a shocked tone. "I don't think so! You can just take me back home thank you very much."
"Just hear me out Mags!"
Maggie folded her arms, locked her jaw and stared straight ahead. "What?"
Frankie turned in the seat to face her twin. "Do you remember when we were 5, and we begged our folks to let us take ballet classes? And only after weeks and weeks of begging, they finally gave in?"
Maggie said nothing.
"And we only got to do it for a little while because eventually mom forgot to pay for the classes because she was always drunk?"
"Yeah I remember."
"Well, do you remember any other time you and I ever agreed on anything? Any other time we actually got along? How about any other time the two of us ever really felt like honest-to-gosh sisters, let alone twins?"
Maggie raised her right hand and tried to conceal a tear rolling out of her right eye. "No .I can't say that I can think of any other time like that."
Frankie pulled a piece paper out of her denim jacket and unfolded it. "Here look at this."
Maggie turned her head and looked at Frankie. Finally she looked down at the paper that she was being presented to her. She took it and looked at what it contained.
"I drew that the other night when I was bored. When I was done I don't know it's hard to explain, but it spoke to me. I was thinking about making it into a tattoo .and I thought .I thought maybe you would want it also."
Maggie stared at it. It was solid black drawing of a ballet dancer in mid leap with her arms extended. Maggie honestly thought she had never seen anything that looked so free and alive.
"So what do you think? Do you want it also?"
"Well small problem brainiac .we just turned 16, not 18."
"I've got that covered." she said as she pulled out a fake ID. "We can just say you forgot yours, but since we obviously share the same birthday, it shouldn't be a problem."
Maggie rolled her eyes, not from surprise though. "Ok not wanting to know about where you got that. And am I safe in guessing there's a wad of cash I don't want to know about either?"
Frankie just grinned.
Thirty minutes later, the Stone sisters were lying on their stomachs on tattoo chairs in the shop, their heads turned so they could look at each other. Frankie's left arm was extended so she could hold hands with her sisters extended right hand. They both would occasionally wince, but mostly they just giggled and smiled. Sharing what was possibly the only "sister" moment they had since those ballet classes all those years before.
June 11th, 2005
Bianca reached up to wipe away her tears. "I had no idea."
"Frankie came back to live at home one more time and then that was it." Maggie looked up and saw Bianca wiping away the tears. She reached out with her left hand and placed it on Bianca's knee. When Bianca finally looked at her, she smiled back. "Don't be sad, this is a good memory. One of the few times that Frankie and I were connected by more than our genes. And besides seeing her face every time I look in the mirror, I always have another reminder of her with me."
Bianca smiled back and placed her right hand on top of Maggie's. "I know it's a good memory, that's why I'm crying. It's nice to have good memories of Frankie .and thank you for sharing that one with me."
Maggie stared at their hands resting on Bianca's knee. It was an odd realization of where she had put it, but she was suddenly hyper-aware of the fact. Bianca seemed to sense it also as they looked at each other, and something crossed both their faces that resembled recognition.
Bianca started to stand up. "But now I need a tissue. Can you hold Miranda for a minute while I go get one?"
"Of course!" Maggie said, eagerly taking the small child into her arms.
Bianca smiled at the sight of her daughter in her best friend's arms. Without thinking, she leaned over and kissed the top of Maggie's head.
Maggie looked up at Bianca. "What was that for?"
"For being you." She said with a smile and walked away with a bounce in her step.
"It's a full time job you know!" she yelled after Bianca. As Bianca walked away laughing, Maggie continued watching her walk through the apartment, courtesy of the giant glass wall. Once she was out of sight in the bathroom, Maggie looked down at Miranda. "Speaking of genes, if you get your mommy's figure, you'll be one lucky little girl."
Miranda was far more interested in her nap she had begun, than the conversation Maggie was trying to start.
June 11th Night
The rest of the day had been uneventful. After they finished their 'beach day', the girls had just hung around the apartment, not doing much of anything. After dinner and a movie, both of them retired to their rooms to get some much needed sleep.
Sleep was not coming easy for Maggie though, as she kept thinking about her hand on Bianca's knee. It had started innocently enough, but the more she thought about it, the more it nagged at her. The more it made her think back to that night nearly a year ago, and the game of "Truth or Dare", followed by her confession of feelings for her friend in the morning.
So much had happened since then to distract her from her feelings for Bianca, but ever since the plane ride over to France, and yet another kiss, she was thinking about her again. She was finding herself paying more attention to how Bianca dressed how she walked her legs even how she smelled in the mornings. Maggie had had other friends in her life, but she never thought about any of them the way she would think about Bianca, not even Jamie.
She rolled over on to her side and stared at her red lava lamp Reggie had sent over with her other items. She watched the lava flow to and fro, changing shapes merging breaking apart colliding again. Who knew a lava lamp could be a metaphor for her entire friendship with Bianca? "Oh we're getting close .look we touched now I must float away." she thought. She laughed at her own silliness and shook her head.
Sleep was finally overcoming her. She could feel it approaching in waves, and she wasn't going to fight it anymore. She was .ready .to
Maggie's eyes snapped open. She'd been asleep for what felt like 2 seconds, and now she was wide awake. Instead of lying down though, she was sitting on the edge of her bed for some reason. She was wearing a skin tight black, long sleeved dress that covered her entire neck, and formed like a pool at her feet so she couldn't even see them.
She looked around her room, and spotted the lamp on her desk was on. In the pool of the light there was a book lying open. She couldn't explain it, but she felt drawn to it. She rose from her sitting spot, and glided more than walked, over to the desk.
Examining the book, she saw it was a collection of Shakespeare's sonnets with some letter's underlined. 'Wait a minute ' she thought, 'that's Frankie's and my code.' She looked closer at the book and quickly deciphered the hidden message. It was one word, "Terrace".
In the blink of an eye she was standing in the vast living room, looking at the back of a woman standing on the terrace, who was dressed in an identical dress to hers, except it was white.
She opened the doors and stepped out into the bright sunlight. The world had some fuzz around the edges, giving it an unreal feeling, and the sun was far brighter than usual, but she did not feel the need to squint.
The woman in white was facing away from Maggie and staring up at the Eiffel Tower. "Who would have ever thought it? You in Paris living this close to the Tower. What was it Mrs. Branbridge used to say about us?"
"Those Stone girls will never get anywhere in life!" they said in unison.
"Not that I'm unhappy to see you, because I am happy, but what are you doing here Frankie?"
Frankie turned her head and looked at Maggie. "It seems you need my help."
"Help with what?"
"What do you think stupid? The same thing everyone has been trying to help you with lately! Your silly fears about a certain little rich girl we both know."
Maggie placed her hands on the railing, and stared down to the street below. "I didn't ask you here."
Frankie turned around and leaned against the railing, folding her arms across her chest. She turned her head to look at Maggie and leaned closer. "You had something to do with it .do you think I would have put myself in a dress and lipstick?"
Maggie chuckled. "Good point."
"So here you are. You live in Paris with Bianca-la, everyone tells you to be with her, even you think you should be with her sometimes, but yet .you're not. What's up with that? Scared what Mama Kane might have to say about another one of us Stone girls going after her daughter."
"Erica and I get along fine. We're not bosom buddies or anything, but I don't think she has a problem with me."
Frankie snorted in disgust and looked away. "Glad one of us could get along with her. So come on, what's stopping you?"
"Fear of what?" Maggie blinked and they suddenly were standing in Bianca's bedroom, each of them on an opposite of the bed, staring down at a sleeping Bianca. "Fear of her?" Frankie continued.
Maggie looked down at her friend and smiled warmly. "No .not her .I could never be afraid of her."
"Is it the fact that loving her would mean you are in love with another woman?"
"That's part of it for sure."
"Then what is the other part?" Frankie asked.
"What it means .if I love her. What would happen eventually."
Frankie took a seat on Bianca's bed and twisted to look at Maggie. "What do you mean by that?"
Maggie sat down on her side of the bed, so now they were both talking with Bianca lying there between them. "What happens to every relationship Frankie? They come to an end. And in this case, not only would I lose an incredible woman, I would lose my best friend in the world."
"You have no clue how badly I want to smack you right now." Frankie said, shaking her head.
Maggie laughed. "I know it's silly of me, but ."
"But nothing Mags!" Frankie stood up again and started gesturing towards the sleeping form of Bianca. "You have one of the most incredible women hell one of the most incredible people on the face of the planet in love with you, and you want to worry about what other people might think and what might happen some day down the road? I thought you were smarter than that!"
Maggie hung her head some. "I know I know it's silly of me, but Frankie .I just wouldn't be able to handle not having her in my life at all, whether it be as a girlfriend or as my best friend."
"You're not our parents Maggie. You have no clue what could happen here. This could be it, she could be 'the one', and yet you want to sit back and do nothing because of what 'might' happen down the road. There is such a thing as being too cautious you know."
"I know Frankie I know."
Frankie's expression finally softened. "I just I just want happiness for both of you Maggie. And I think you are both denying yourself that by not being together."
Maggie noticed that Frankie was no longer looking at her, but instead was looking down at Bianca with the warmest smile imaginable. Frankie then leaned forward, placing the softest of kisses on Bianca's forehead. She cupped Bianca's cheek and smiled even broader. "She is the most amazing woman I ever met Maggie. She has so much love to give, and it could all be yours with just a few words."
Maggie blinked again, and they were out on the terrace once more. Frankie was again looking up at the tower. "You are going to have to say something to her, and soon Maggie. You can't expect her to wait forever."
"I know Frankie believe me .I know. She has shown more patience than anyone deserves already .more than I deserve, that's for sure."
Frankie spun around with an angry look on her face. "Stop that! Stop that right now! I am so sick of it! 'you know, you know' You don't know anything! You and I both deserved better than we got as kids, and I sure as hell deserved better than what I got a few years ago at the hands of Auntie Vanessa's crew. She.." Frankie said, gesturing towards the upstairs, "is ready to love you right here, right now, and you keep pussy footing around. Just stop it Maggie just stop it ."
Maggie saw a tear rolling out of one of Frankie's eyes. She reached over to wipe it away and Frankie pulled away.
"I had my chance Maggie " she said in a voice barely above a whisper, "and I blew it. Don't follow in my footsteps. Don't lose your shot with her."
Maggie could feel something pulling her back into the apartment, back towards her bed. "I won't Frankie .I won't waste it. I promise to take care of her ..and I give you my word I will try to get over my fears." The pull was getting stronger and she was now being pulled towards the doors, against her own will. "I love you Frankie .and thank you."
Frankie look shocked at Maggie saying 'I love you', but only said one thing in return. "Maggie if you ever hurt her in anyway I will be back I will be back every single night .and I won't be so nice."
Maggie smiled. "I wouldn't expect any less from you, I "
Maggie smacked the alarm button. "Stupid clock."
June 12th Morning
Maggie shuffled around the kitchen making coffee as she thought over her dream. Even if that was all it was, it was nice to 'talk' with Frankie. Sure, over the years she had one sided conversations with her deceased twin, but never anything that resembled what she had just been though in her sleep.
So many of Frankie's words resonated in her ears still, but most specifically it was, 'She is the most amazing woman I ever met Maggie. She has so much love to give, and it could all be yours with just a few words.'
Maggie opened the refrigerator and got out some eggs to scramble up for breakfast. She had already fed Miranda, who now cheerfully sat on the floor by the dining room entrance playing with a stuffed bear. The only person missing from the happy trio was the source of all of last night's angst.
As she started cracking the eggs into a bowl, her mind drifted far away again, remembering all the good times with Bianca, as well as some of the bad. For some unexplained reason though, that puzzled even her, a conversation she had with Jonathan ,after the first time they slept together, popped into her head. Though she now realized it was one of his many manipulations, he had asked her what it felt like to be in love with someone, and she replied 'Yes.'.
'That's what it feels like to love someone. Loving someone makes you feel like you could say 'yes' to the world. And not just because you can, but, you really don't have a choice."
Maggie chuckled to herself as she whisked the eggs. "Oh yeah, that was the wrong person to be saying that to." she mumbled.
"Saying what?" came Bianca's voice from behind her.
Maggie turned and stared at Bianca, who had entered while she was lost in thought. She had picked up Miranda and was holding her cheek to cheek with her. Together like that, it was almost as if they glowed. Upon Bianca's forehead, she saw what might have either been a trick of light, or it was quite possibly just the smallest of traces of two lipstick covered lips placing a kiss on the forehead.
Maggie stood there. Whisk in her right hand, a bowl of raw eggs in the left. Hair still a mess from sleep, her pajamas crumpled and creased, staring at her best friend. In this most awkward of moments, unromantic in the least, it was at this time and this place that Maggie realized it was Bianca she should have always been saying 'yes' to.
June 12th Morning
Maggie continued to stand motionless with her whisk in one hand and bowl of eggs in the other, staring blankly into space.
Bianca sat Miranda back down on the floor and walked over to her best friend. "Maggie are you ok?"
Maggie shook her head and squinted her eyes like she was shaking away something. "Yeah yeah " she opened her eyes again and stared right at Bianca. "Yes." She spun around on the last word, and went back to whisking her eggs.
Bianca walked up closer to her, and put her right hand on Maggie's left shoulder. She could feel the muscles under the spot she touched spasm. "Are you sure you're ok? You were talking to yourself when I walked in, and just now you went almost catatonic. Here, let me take that and you sit down." She took the eggs from her friend that had now been whisked to within an inch of forming stiff peaks.
The shorter girl gave them up and walked over to one of the stools at the butcher block. "Yeah, I'm fine. I promise. I just had I had a bad night's sleep is all."
Pouring the eggs into the pan, Bianca scrunched up her face as if she had just smelled something unpleasant. "Nightmares again?"
"No it was .it was something else don't worry about it, I'll be fine." She smacked her palms against her thighs and ran her hands up and down her legs. "So, what's on the agenda for today?"
"Nothing as fun as beach day for me I'm afraid. I have a pile of reports to wade through that you wouldn't believe. I should have been reading them yesterday, but somebody " Bianca looked over her shoulder and smiled at Maggie, "dragged me outside all day."
"Yep, I'm evil." she said, half-heartedly.
Maggie was oddly silent throughout breakfast, barely picking at her food. While Bianca was concerned, she knew she could only ask her if she was alright so many times without going overboard.
As they stood at the sink, rinsing off the dishes from breakfast, Maggie turned to her right to look at Bianca. "Since you have all those reports to read today, do you want me to take Miranda in my room to give you some quiet?"
"Oh you don't have to do that. I can watch her if you have things to do."
"Naw I have all my assignments done, I just thought I would do some reading, and to be honest, I wouldn't mind the company, she doesn't tend to talk back much when she disagrees." Maggie said with a chuckle.
"Well, if you are sure she won't be a bother "
Maggie rolled her eyes. "Please it's my job during the week anyway, you know I don't mind."
"Well, I probably should concentrate on these reports, so yes, thank you, that would be great!" Bianca said in her most chipper voice, but mainly she was accepting the offer because she thought it might perk Maggie up some to spend some time alone with Miranda.
After Maggie had disappeared into her room with the little girl, Bianca moved the box full of reports to the coffee table in the living room. She plopped herself down on the couch facing the seldom-used spiral staircase, as she figured if the tower was in front of her it would distract her too much. She found she still couldn't help but to stare at it sometimes.
Pulling the first folder from the box, she dropped her head in a show of defeat. "Oh joy the first quarter synopsis for Estonia is finally done I can barely contain my excitement." she muttered. She set it off to the side, sure there must be something more exciting in the box. There wasn't, but she went with a different folder anyway.
She snuggled back in the couch, trying to pretend she was about to read a juicy romance novel, but upon opening the page and being immediately greeted by a multi-colored graph, the fantasy died. She reminded herself that this was all for Miranda's future and that gave her the resolve to brave her way through.
Maggie sat at her desk, staring at her computer screen. She had no homework at the moment, but she still would explore medical websites to learn whatever she could. She looked at it as getting a jump start in what she would need to know eventually anyway. Today though, she had started the computer, opened her browser, and just sat there staring at it ever since.
She was still shaken up from her dream of Frankie the night before. It had seemed so real, but how could it be? There was no such thing as ghosts .or at least she thought there couldn't be. She tried pushing it out of her head, it wasn't like she didn't have plenty of other things to think about. All of her talks with Patrick the comments Guilia had made at dinner her surprising conversation with Lena .and of course, Frankie. And that doesn't even include all the people back in Pine Valley who had ever said something about her and Bianca becoming a couple. Reggie and Jamie had always been two of the biggest supporters. A smile crept across her face as she thought back to something Reggie had said to her once.
"Maggie! How can you go wrong with a couple whose initials would spell BAM? It's like the universe is trying to tell you something Mags! You just have to listen to it."
She chuckled. "Leave it to Reggie to boil everything down to initials." she mumbled.
Maggie leaned back in her chair and stretched. Once done, she brought her hands down and cupped them behind her head to make a headrest of them. She turned her head to look over at Miranda, who was quietly sitting in her crib, bouncing a stuffed bear up and down. "What do you think about all this Munchkin?"
Miranda looked up at Maggie, squinted her eyes, and giggled while rocking back and forth.
"Oh really? You think so? You think all these people are right and I should just go for broke with your mommy?"
Miranda continued to giggle while Maggie rose from her seat, and walked over to her. She picked up the little girl, and walked back to her bed to sit on the edge, with the little girl in her lap. The tiny girl giggled, and turned so she was facing Maggie and hugged her. Maggie closed her eyes and smiled while she hugged the little girl as tight as she could.
"I don't know what I would do without you some days Munchkin, I really don't. When everything seems so confusing, and I feel like I am about to drown again in my own thoughts, all I have to do is look at you and the world seems just a little bit better because you're in it." Maggie pulled Miranda away so she could look her in the eyes. She studied them for a moment, looking as deep as she could, and whispered, "Not a sign of him in there you are 100% Bianca's daughter, through and through, and that makes you a pretty special little girl."
Miranda smiled, and then made a big yawn. "Well, I think that's my hint I'm boring you! Why don't we see if we can't lay you down to get some sleep huh?" Maggie stood up, but then paused, and again looked at Miranda, but this time with a devious grin. "Or .we could use this as an excuse to go through the living room and take you upstairs to nap. And if that would just happen to mean passing by your mommy oh well!"
Miranda giggled her approval.
Four reports later, and three thousand to go, Bianca stood up, and stretched and walked around the living room to un-cramp her legs. She found herself standing at the doors to the terrace, and she looked at the chair she had occupied just the day before while Maggie had told her the story of how she and Frankie had come to acquire their tattoos. It had touched her deeply and shown her a side of Frankie she thought existed, but had never been sure.
She folded her arms around herself in a hugging motion as she thought of the end of the event though. The moment when Maggie had placed her hand on her knee. She knew it was a touch of friendship, and her placing her own hand on top of Maggie's had just been an automatic reaction, but she would be lying if she didn't admit to it giving her a small thrill.
Sure, she had the daily hugs she shared with Maggie, and she looked forward to each and everyone, but ever since the plane ride, there had been no real movement towards them becoming a couple. She had to admit, it was beginning to get a bit discouraging, but understandable with all the distractions they had. So she had to take joy in every little moment she shared with Maggie, even if it was just a hand on her knee.
She was hopeful that Maggie hadn't caught her longing look at her. She was sure the hand had meant nothing to Maggie, but it had to her, and she didn't want her stare to make her uncomfortable. She did think later, that maybe the kiss on the head had been too much, but there was nothing she could do about that now.
There was one thing she knew for sure, she was still willing to wait for her, no matter how long it took. When Maggie had placed that business card of Lena's in front of her that night, there had been a millisecond she had thought of running to a phone and calling her. When she looked up at Maggie though .that had all gone away. For better or worse, she now knew that her heart truly does belong to Maggie.
As much as it pained her sometimes that her feelings may never be returned to her, she was happy enough for now just being near her all the time. And bringing Lena back in, even as a friend, would probably muddy those waters. And a friend was all she could be at this point, since Maggie had informed her that Lena was seeing someone else now. That did bring a smile to Bianca's face as she wanted nothing but happiness for her.
She turned around with a sigh, and walked back to the couch, pulling out another report from the box. She folded her legs up on the couch Indian style, and laid the report on her lap. As she read a ways into it, she finally noticed some movement out of the corner her eye. She was subconsciously rubbing the spot on her knee where Maggie had touched her the day before. "Girl .you've got it bad." she mumbled.
"Got what bad?" came a voice from her left. There stood Maggie with Miranda in her arms.
Bianca could feel the heat rising in her cheeks from the embarrassment. "Oh um got it bad with how many reports I have left to read!" She knew she had forced that out a little unconvincingly, but it was all she could think of.
"How many have you read so far?" Maggie asked, walking closer.
"A whopping four." she replied with disgust.
"Well, I would offer to help, but I would probably be asking you after every second word to explain to me what I had just read." Maggie replied with a grin.
"Your offer is much appreciated, but alas, this is my burden to bear." Bianca saw Miranda close her eyes and offer a mighty big yawn for such a small girl. "She wouldn't nap in your room?"
"No she wouldn't, which is odd since she usually goes right down. So I thought I would take her upstairs and see if that helped." Maggie turned towards the staircase behind Bianca. "And as for you, back to work! We have distracted you enough!"
"I'll pay you to distract me some more!"
Maggie laughed all the way up the stairs.
Miranda was lying in her crib, her eyes finally getting heavy and closing as Maggie sang softly to her. The little girl's eyes finally failed to open on one of their prolonged blinks, and Maggie couldn't help but to stand there for a moment and stare at her. She wasn't sure she could ever get tired of looking at this little girl .or her mommy.
Maggie hung her head while resting her arms on the side of the crib. She stared at her feet they were suddenly fascinating to her. "You can't do anything without her popping into your head anymore you goof." She thought. "If you keep this up, she'll start showing up everywhere. 'Why, so that's what the heart looks like professor? Oh, I bet that's just how Bianca's looks!'" She snorted a laugh at that one.
She stood back up and walked out onto the landing outside of the nursery, closing the door behind her. She leaned forward on the railing, folded her arms, and rested her head on top of them. She kicked her right foot back so it was on its toes and bounced them up and down against the wood floor. She stared at the Eiffel Tower for a few minutes, something she was not sure she would ever tire of, while she got lost in her thoughts again.
"So, if you think about her constantly everyone, including possibly your dead sister, says you should go for it why aren't you? Nothing has ever taken this long for you to figure out. You are usually the one making the random decisions like telling Bianca you should go for a midnight swim or convincing her to jump in the lake with her clothes on or " she shut her eyes, and laid her forehead on her arms. "Ok, you can't even give examples of your bravery without thinking of her .you're a sad, sad woman."
She opened here eyes again and slid her head forward enough that she could look down in the living room. There she was. Still sitting on the couch, her back to Maggie, reading her reports. "She's right there .you could say something to her right now. What in the world do you say to someone you live with, and suddenly you want to go out on a date them?"
Maggie started biting her lower lip, and bouncing her foot more rapidly. "Do you even go on a date? I mean, we're living together and is it our first date, or was prom our first date and I just didn't know it at the time?" Her foot was a blur now, and she was in danger of chewing through her lower lip. "Maybe I should take more time to think this through what exactly it is we would be doing ".
Her lower back began to itch and she moved her right arm around to scratch it with her finger tips. "Yeah, that's it. I'll just take a little bit more time and man this itch just won't die!" It was then that it dawned on her .she was scratching her tattoo. She cast her eyes skyward. "Alright already! I get the point!" and the itching ceased.
"Will the German and Austrian budgeting divisions merge? They really seem to love each other." Bianca thought as she turned the page. "NO! De-nied! Poor German budgeting division." Bianca had found the only way to keep her sanity in reading these reports was to make a game out of them and it was failing miserably.
"What'cha ya doing Ms. Mogul?" came Maggie's voice.
"Same thing I have been doing for oh .the entire blasted day." she said despondently.
Maggie walked to where she could stand in front of her. "Sounds exciting." She just stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do.
Bianca finally looked up at her. "You ok?"
"I .um I was .I ." she looked behind her, shoved the box of reports to the side, and sat on the coffee table. "I was wondering if I could well .if I could ask you something."
Bianca could tell Maggie was as nervous as could be, and she tried to lighten the mood some. "What? And pull me away from these enthralling reports?" She threw the report in her hand over the back of the couch for dramatic effect. "So, what did you need to ask me?"
Maggie's palms suddenly felt very sweaty and she started to run them up and down her denim shorts, but due to their length, there wasn't much drying space. "Well I've been doing some thinking "
"Always dangerous." Bianca added, again trying to break some of the tension.
Maggie smiled. "Too true. Anyway, I was I was thinking about us .you and I and what a lot of people have been saying to me and that maybe " her throat was suddenly dry, and she was finding it hard to swallow. "maybe you would .ah hell Bianca would you like to go on a date with me next Saturday night?"
Bianca tried to hide her shock, but knew she was failing miserably when she saw Maggie's face turn from joy at getting her question out, to horror. She realized her jaw had dropped. She tried to close it, but it was too late.
"I knew it!" Maggie stood up and stormed off. "I knew this was a mistake! But no! People had to keep pushing me and pushing me." She stormed over to the glass wall and stared out over the city. "I'm sorry Bianca .I shouldn't have asked, I "
"You should have waited for an answer." She walked up next to Maggie and stared straight ahead also. "Was that what you were going to say? I'm sure it was." Maggie was silent while Bianca continued. "I'm sorry if my expression shocked you I was just caught off guard." They stood staring out at the city in silence for a moment before Bianca continued. "If I were to say 'yes', do you feel you are truly prepared for the consequences that answer brings with it?"
Maggie sniffled a bit, fighting back the tears. "What consequences? That I had finally asked the most wonderful person on the planet out on a date?"
Bianca blushed. "Well more to the point, that you would be asking a 'girl' out on a date Maggie not a 'person'."
"I know full well you're a girl Bianca. It's kind of hard to miss."
Bianca's blush deepened even more. "I just want to make sure you are ready for what comes with this."
Maggie turned and looked at Bianca finally. "What do you think the first thing is I think of every morning when I wake up."
"I I wouldn't know."
"It's you Bianca. And what's the last thing I think of before I go to sleep?"
"It's you again Bianca. I think of you every minute of everyday. If you were a guy, and I thought of you like this, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. I would have been going out with you ages ago."
Bianca turned to look at Maggie also now. "And that's the heart of the problem Maggie. I'm not a guy, I'm a girl. And after all this time, all the false starts we've had Maggie, I want to make sure. I want to make absolutely sure that you are ready for this."
"I couldn't be more ready if I was sent away to a 'Girl/Girl dating camp' Bianca. I want to go out with you, Bianca Montgomery the most incredible woman on the face of the planet."
They stood and stared at each other for a moment, their eyes searching each other for a sign, any sign that the other was wavering in their convictions. There wasn't even a glimmer of such a thought.
"Ask me again."
"Bianca would you like to go on a date with me next Saturday night?"
"Why Maggie .I believe I would be honored to be your date."
June 13th Morning
Patrick pulled the limo up in front of Bianca's apartment building, as he did every weekday morning, at exactly 8:15 AM. He would spend the next 15 minutes perusing the newspaper, and promptly at 8:30 AM he would ring the buzzer for his employer's apartment, to let her know he was there. This morning was different though.
Just as he reached for the buzzer, the outer door to the building flung open, and Bianca came almost hopping out. "Good morning Patrick!" she chirped. She looked around, took in a deep breath and asked, "Isn't it a simply gorgeous day?"
He looked up at the sky and it was obvious there were rain clouds off in the distance. "Um yes Ma'am. Gorgeous."
Bianca walked to the limo with a bounce in her step, and a smile broad enough on her face that it threatened to overtake her ears. Patrick kept a close eye on her in the rear-view mirror as they drove to the Cambias office building.
About halfway to their destination, Bianca moved forward in the limo, which she did anytime she needed to talk to Patrick. "Patrick after you drop me off, Maggie needs you back at the apartment for something."
"Yes Ma'am. Is there a problem?"
"I don't know." Bianca said, her face turning into something resembling puzzlement. "She just said she needed you today." The smile returned to her face. "And I suspect she has something she wants to tell you, but I'm not going to ruin that for her."
A look of apprehension passed over Patrick's face. He was quickly learning that anytime these two girls started hiding something, it was usually something devious.
June 13th Late Morning
The girls had given Patrick the entrance code to the building ages ago, and though he had a key to their apartment, he always preferred to knock first. This time, when he knocked, the door flew open in seconds, a pair of tiny hands shot out, grabbing him by the shirt collar and was accompanied by, "Get in here Frenchie!"
Patrick flew by the small frame of Maggie, and with his good shoes on, skidded a couple of feet into the hallway. Maggie slammed the front door, turned around panting and leaned against the door. She had a wild look in her eye like she was about to attack someone.
"Maggie what is wrong?" Patrick inquired. "Has someone broken in?"
"Is Miranda sick or hurt?
Maggie paused. "Still worse."
"Is someone dead?"
"Does wishing you were count?"
"Maggie please what is going on?"
"I .asked Bianca out on a date for this Saturday and I do not have the first clue what to do."
Patrick tried to contain himself from showing his elation, and relief, at this news. "I am assuming you have been on dates before? Not with Bianca I mean, more in the general sense."
Maggie shot him a look that could have boiled blood. "Yes!"
"Then why don't you think you know what to do?"
"Well let's see, we're in a city I still don't know that well, I haven't been on a real date in ages, let alone a date with someone I already live with ..and oh yeah I've never been on a date with a woman!"
"I'm still not seeing the problem here."
Maggie walked over to Patrick, looked up at him, and promptly punched him in the arm. "You are part of the reason I finally asked her, so you are going to help me figure out first, where in the world we are going, and second, how am I supposed to know what to do on a date with a girl!"
"Mon Dieu. First off, I will help you, so long as I do not get punched the rest of the week."
Maggie grumbled. "Done."
"Secondly, let's make you some tea and calm you down." He took Maggie by the shoulders, and gently guided her towards the kitchen. "Where is Miranda?" he asked.
Maggie pulled the baby monitor from her pocket. "She's upstairs, asleep. She seemed tired, so I laid her down for awhile."
"Ok, good." He guided Maggie to one of the stools and gently pressed down on her shoulders to indicate she should sit. He grabbed the tea kettle and started filling it. "So how did this all come about."
Maggie chuckled. "Well, let's see .you telling me I should do it, Lena telling me I should, half of Pine Valley telling me I should and .others, telling me I should."
The kettle full, Patrick put it on the stove, and ignited the burner beneath it. "What was it that made you finally do it after all this time?"
Maggie rested her right elbow on the butchers block, and put her left hand down between her thighs. She stared at the hand resting on the butcher block as she pondered Patrick's question. "It .it just felt like it was time .and my mind finally said 'yes'."
Patrick got the mugs from the cabinet, and looked back at her. "What do you mean your 'mind finally said yes'?"
"Long story. Just suffice it to say that means I finally realize I love her .I truly love her."
Patrick turned his back to Maggie again so she wouldn't see his enormous grin. "So, now that you have asked her out, you have no clue what to do, is that it?"
"Yeah..I mean this is going to sound so weird."
"Well who's the man? I mean, do I open the door for her, or does she open the door for me?"
Patrick got out the tea bags, and placed them in the mugs. "I would imagine it is whatever you feel most comfortable with. And since you asked her out, I would assume it would be you."
"But down the road, does it always stay that way?"
"Maggie I am glad you are thinking long term, but how about we get you through just this date first?"
As the teapot began to whistle, Patrick turned off the burner and used an oven mitt to pour the boiling water into the mugs. "Ok, let's try to think about this calmly you have gone to social events with her before correct? I believe you mentioned something about a dance what was it you called it a 'prom' I think?"
Maggie chuckled. "Yes, it was a prom, but that was ages ago, and we went just as friends to rub it in the faces of some snotty girls who were hassling Bianca .at least that's what it started off as .it grew into something else that night though " she said, her voice trailing off.
Patrick looked over his shoulder, and could tell Maggie was lost in at least one happy memory. He hesitated before he spoke again. "Well, weren't there other social events?"
Maggie came out of her moment of remembrance and answered. "Sure, and most of them ended badly. Not through our own faults, but that's just the way things go in Pine Valley. We always seemed to be safest when it was just us."
"Well ." Patrick looked around the kitchen for effect, "I believe the only other person about from Pine Valley is a little young to cause much trouble."
Maggie rolled her eyes. "And see, that's a good point! What are we going to do with Miranda? Not a very romantic date if we have her with us. Don't get me wrong, I love her to bits, but a toddler does not a romantic date make."
Patrick laughed. "I believe I know a woman who would be more than happy to have some alone time with the little lady. Of course, it will make my life difficult for awhile, but I think I will live."
"You think Giulia could do that for us?"
"Of course! She adored Miranda that night we all had dinner, and she has asked me numerous times when I could bring her around again."
"Ok so we have the Miranda situation settled .but there's still the actual date."
The tea was finally brewed, and Patrick brought it over to the butcher block, placing one of the mugs in front of Maggie. "Maggie you are now living in what is considered the most romantic city in the world. Just walking down the street with someone you care for can be romantic."
"I know that, but there are so many options." She reached across the butcher's block and grabbed a legal pad Patrick had not noticed sitting there. She flipped back through what appeared to be several pages of notes. "I started working on ideas Saturday night, and it just kept growing so I started writing them down." She handed the pad to Patrick who quickly scanned over the scribbled thoughts.
"Well, everything seems to start with a romantic dinner. I will make a call to a café I know just around the corner and have them set up something special. But, believe me Maggie, she will be happy just to be with you." Patrick reached over and squeezed her hand. She smiled and looked up at him. "The hard part is over Maggie, now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and as for the details, don't over think them. That will just drive you more insane than you already are."
Maggie cracked a smile. "Patrick, have I told you how just unbelievably fantastic you are lately?"
Patrick laughed. "No, but I would prefer you call Giulia and tell her!" he said with a wink. "Seriously though " he said, his face straightening out, "just think of it this way. You are a woman, you know how you like to be treated on a date, just do the same for her."
Maggie could feel tears welling up in her eyes, but she brushed them back. She spread her arms wide, inviting Patrick in for a hug, which he gladly stepped into. "Thank you Patrick. I can always count on you to calm me down."
"Oh, what a sad world this has come to when I am the calm one." he retorted.
June 14th Afternoon
Bianca sat at her desk, trying her best to keep a serious expression while listening to the head of personnel. It was a bit difficult though as she had just received a video message from Reggie doing his 'Bianca & Maggie Are Finally Going On A Date!' happy dance. It looked something like an octopus having a grand mal seizure, but it was the thought that counted.
His dry monthly report over, the somber personnel manager left Bianca's office. She unfastened her suit jacket, and slumped back in her chair with a sigh. She stared off in to space for a moment as she thought back to a few days before, and a smile crept across her face yet again as she thought of Maggie asking her out.
Sadly, the reality of the situation was beginning to sink in. This is something she had been waiting years for, but there were certainly some complications to it due to Maggie not only living with her, but being Miranda's nanny. What if, though she doubted it would happen, this didn't work out? What if they went on this date and it just turned into a complete disaster? She was trying not to think of that too often, but she was nothing if not a realist.
She was also puzzled by how they were going to know they actually were on a date. Sure, they would be dressed up, but how would this be any different than say their going to any number of social events back in Pine Valley, or even when they went out to dinner together now? Patrick had already told her that Giulia would watch Miranda for them, but that was really the only difference. She knew that she had to find a way to show them both though, what was a romantic, date time and what was normal, everyday life.
Maggie's insistence on not telling her what they were doing on the date was also slowly driving her mad. Without knowing what they were doing, how could she even possibly begin to pick out clothes?
And the pressure of being the first girl Maggie had ever dated? Oh lord, the pressure of that alone was enough to want to send her screaming through the streets of Paris! It was amazing how much pressure she was feeling from something she had wanted so badly for so many years, and yet ..
*bzzt* "Ms. Montgomery? Your next appointment is here." came the voice from the intercom on her desk.
She sighed, sat up, buttoned her jacket again, took one more look at the non-stop looping video of Reggie dancing and reached over to push the button to speak back to her assistant. "Thank you Aurélia. You may show them in."
June 15th Late Night
Maggie wandered around the library in the huge apartment. They hardly ever used this room, and she was beginning to see why. "I'm sorry Mr. Shakespeare, but unless you wrote a book I don't know about called '101 Things To Do On A Girl/Girl Date In Paris', you'll be no help tonight." she mumbled. "Classics classics classics do we not have one blasted tourist guide to Paris in this confounded place?" she asked of no one in particular.
She stormed out of the library, legal pad in hand. "I need air." She blew through the living room and exited to the terrace. She plopped down in one of the chairs, closed her eyes, and breathed deeply of the night air. "Maybe if I suck in the city, I'll think of something." She took a deeper breath. "Nope nothing."
Patrick had made her dump the notes from the other day, and told her repeatedly to just let things come to her naturally, but she was still obsessing about it, and had just started a new list the moment he left the apartment that day to go pick Bianca up from work. Things were getting crucial now though because she had to finalize things if, for no other reason, than Bianca could know what clothes to wear.
She had been asking Maggie daily about it. 'I don't want to add to your obvious stress or anything, but can you give me a clue as to what sort of clothes I should be choosing for Saturday?' She wanted to give Bianca an answer as soon as possible, but she just didn't know what to do. For the past few nights, after Bianca would go to bed, Maggie would spend her time trying to puzzle out what exactly they could do for this momentous occasion.
Everything she thought of felt like a tired old cliché of a date. She wanted to do something that would really sweep Bianca off her feet, but were there really any new ideas left in the world? After thousands of years of dating, hadn't every possible date been explored? What could she possibly come up with that would make this fantastic girl sit up and take notice? Patrick kept trying to reassure her that the date alone would be enough, but she didn't believe him.
She tapped her pen repeatedly against the legal pad while day dreaming about every movie she had ever watched that took place in Paris. Finally, in a fit of frustration, she got up and took a walk around the terrace, starting off in the direction of the kitchen.
Arriving at the corner, she turned left and walked along what would be the wall of her own, smaller apartment. "Think blast it! Patrick has arranged for the dinner, so we're aces there. It's just a few blocks away, actually .in that direction " she nodded with her head as she reached another corner and turned left, now walking along what would be the back wall of the elevator. "So, I guess we could just walk over there maybe we wouldn't even need Patrick to drive us he could stay here with Giulia and watch Miranda."
She paused as she passed under one of the windows of Bianca's room, and looked up at it. "So, if we walk there " she pondered aloud, "why couldn't we just as easily walk back along the river bank? Sure, it's been done in a thousand movies, but it's not that far out of our way, but still how do I end the date?" She sighed and kept on walking, looking down at her feet as she was turning left at what would be the corner of the den.
"Do guys have it this rough? I mean really do they sit around this much pondering what to do on a date? I doubt it, but also, how many of them have known the girl in question for going on four years, lived with them and taken care of their child?" She chuckled at her own rhetorical question.
Reaching the next corner, she stopped and looked out over the city. "I guess dinner and a walk will have to suffice since I can't seem to think of .anything .else ." Her words slowed as thoughts formed, and her eyes locked on the Eiffel Tower. "Maggie Stone if it had been a cliché snake, it would have bitten you! We've lived here four months we stare at it everyday and yet, we've never been to it?"
She chuckled that grew into a louder laugh and that grew into something akin to maniacal laughter. "Oh my, you are dense sometimes .dense as a stone! HA! I made another funny!" She was suddenly glad no one was around to witness her sudden mental snap. Somehow, she doubted that losing one's hold on reality this close to their date was not a way to make a good impression.
Quietly she made her way back into the apartment, through the living room, and on to her own apartment. She tossed the legal pad in the trash can, along with the pen, crawled into bed and smiled. "Dense as a Stone! I kill me!" Drifting off to sleep, she could be heard to be mumbling "stupid tower."
June 16th Morning
Bianca sat in the kitchen sipping her coffee, noticing that Maggie seemed to once again be chipper, despite having some serious bags under her eyes. "What are you so happy about this morning?" she inquired.
"Well I finally have an answer for you!"
"About what you have been asking me everyday since I asked you out silly."
Bianca set down her coffee cup and clasped her hands to her chest dramatically. "You mean I might finally have a clue no no it's too much to hope for to much to dream that I Bianca Montgomery, would finally know what to wear?"
"You know I may have to reconsider this whole idea now. I didn't realize I was asking out a deranged woman." Maggie responded dryly.
Bianca smiled. "Fine. What are your clothing recommendations for this big, secretive, date?"
"Something comfortable that looks nice, but you won't mind walking some in."
A puzzled look crossed Bianca's face. "Ok odd, but I think I can manage. Do I get to learn any more about the date yet?"
"All in due time."
"A woman of mystery I'm intrigued." Bianca said slyly, her eyebrows arching.
June 16th Afternoon
"No Ma'am, I'm sorry."
"I order you to tell me!"
Patrick smiled. "Sorry Ma'am, not going to work."
Bianca slammed her hand down on the stack of fashion magazines sitting on her desk. She took a deep breath. "Patrick do you see my desk?"
"Does it look like it's covered in work?"
"No Ma'am, it appears to be magazines."
"Yes Patrick fashion magazines, because Maggie's clarification of what to wear was just a tiny bit vague! 'Dressy, yet comfortable to walk in'? You have to tell me what she has planned! I'm going nuts trying to figure out what she means!"
"Going Ma'am?" Patrick asked with a crooked smile.
Bianca's eyelids turned to slits and she shook her head. "You are so not helping."
"Ma'am Bianca she told me as a friend. I can not betray her trust just because you are my employer. Let me just say that her description is accurate."
Bianca hung her head in defeat and sighed. "Fine " She picked her purse up and pressed the intercom button. "Aurélia please cancel any appointments I have for the rest of today .and tomorrow. Reschedule them all to next week."
"Yes Ma'am." came the reply.
"Come on Patrick, let's go."
"Where to Ma'am?"
"Shopping. We have two days to find me something 'dressy, but comfortable'."
June 16th Evening
"'Dressy, but comfortable dressy, but comfortable'" Maggie repeated over and over in a whiny voice. "What was that? Could I have been any more snotty? Lord ." she threw another pile of clothes from her wardrobe onto her bed. "I thought all my stress was over having figured out what we were doing on the date. I hadn't even given the first thought to what I was wearing!"
After throwing the last contents of her wardrobe on the bed, she stood back and stared at the piles. "Where do I even start?" She picked up a mixed-design top cut like a Japanese Yukata. "Really what was I thinking when I even bought this? I actually wore this in public? Ick!" She tossed it on the floor and continued on.
"How to start? Pants?" she held up some jeans. "Skirt?" she held up a khaki colored denim skirt. "Or maybe an honest to goodness dress?" she looked down at a pile of dresses set off to the side. Her hands fell to her sides, the skirt on the left, the jeans on the right. "Again I say do guys have this much trouble?"
Elsewhere in the city, Bianca strolled between shops, while Patrick stood leaning against the limo, smiling while he watched his employer mumbling to herself as she tried to choose an outfit.
She had stopped pulling him into stores with her as his answer was the same to every outfit she showed him. "I am sure she will like that Ma'am." Patrick had perfected this answer after going on many shopping trips with his wife and two daughters, and he was glad to see it still seemed to work.
He looked down at his watch and noticed that Bianca was taking a bit longer in a shop of vintage clothing than she had anywhere else. Concerned, he walked over and peered in the window of the shop. She was nowhere to be seen. He hoped she was only in the dressing room, but thought perhaps he should go in, just to be sure.
As he walked around the shop, Bianca was nowhere to be seen, but the door to the dressing room was closed. He gazed around at the racks of clothes that were now considered 'vintage' and it pained him that he could remember when they were considered the latest fashions. He chuckled and shook his head at this interesting way of acknowledging his own mortality.
"What's so amusing Patrick?" came Bianca's voice from the direction of the dressing room.
He turned to explain, but found himself at a sudden loss of words when he saw what she was trying on. "Ms. Montgomery .Bianca .look no further, you've found it."
She looked down at herself. "You really think so? Must be if I got an actual opinion out of you!"
"You're ready I really mean it."
"Ok clothes wise I am, but we have one more thing to get tomorrow, then I will be fully ready."
June 17th Evening
Every flat surface in Maggie's apartment was covered in clothes. Some were arranged as if they were an outfit, some were heaped and some seemed to make no sense at all. She stood in the center of the room, rotating in one spot, looking at each pile in turn. "It's official .I hate every piece of clothing I own." She heaved a sigh and left for the kitchen to start dinner for the evening.
Bianca arrived home from work to find a frazzled Maggie sitting in the kitchen. "Everything ok?"
Maggie sighed. "It will be .soon .I hope."
"Well, good. Um I hate to add to your problems, but do you know what time we are going out tomorrow night?"
"Finally, an easy one." She turned and looked at Bianca and smiled as broadly as possible. "I will be picking you up at eight
"'Picking me up'?"
"Just go with it."
Bianca laughed. "Alright then. Eight it is." Bianca walked over to Maggie and put her left hand on her friend's right shoulder. "Are you still sure about this? If you are having any doubts, you can still back out if you want."
Maggie leaned her head over, squeezing Bianca's hand between her cheek and shoulder. "I'm fine I promise. Just first date jitters, I swear. Totally normal."
Bianca rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, that's us, 'totally normal'."
Maggie lifted her head and turned to look at Bianca. "You know what I mean. This is just like any other first date. I just want to make a good impression is all."
Bianca smiled sweetly and cupped Maggie's cheek. "You already did the day I first saw you at SOS."
Maggie blushed. "Oh you mean the day you collapsed to the floor? Yeah, that was a great start wasn't it?" she said while chuckling.
"You know what I mean. Just going out with you is perfect Maggie. What we do on the date is just a bonus."
"You have been hanging out with Patrick again haven't you?"
Bianca laughed. "How ever did you guess?"
"Kinda obvious. Anyway how about we just agree, no more date talk until the date?"
"Sounds good. Now, where's my dinner?" Bianca asked with an evil grin.
"Uh oh, the boss is back!"
June 17th Late Night
With less than twenty-four hours to go to the date, Maggie's bed only had one outfit remaining on it. "It will just have to do. Dinner is going to drain me as it is, and I have no time left to go buy a new outfit. A few accessories and I should be good to go." She picked up the outfit and laid it over the back of her desk chair. Running her hand over it, she mumbled, "You have to do."
She looked over at her clock and saw how late it was. "Course, if I don't get some sleep, the outfit and plans won't matter as I will collapse before we even get out of the building."
Collapsing on to her bed she looked back over at the chair. "Yeah you will do won't you?" And with that, she closed her eyes, and fell asleep peacefully for the first time since she had asked her best friend out on a date.
June 18th Morning
Bianca woke up in a slow, natural manner. She had nothing pressing to do this morning, so she had not even bothered to set her alarm. Her eyes blinked open and she looked towards the window, and the sunlight pouring in.
She stretched her arms and smiled broadly as she woke up more. "It's finally here." She mumbled. "Almost four years, and it's finally here." She swung her legs out of the bed and got out. She walked over to the window and threw the curtains open and looked out over the city. "Let's just hope it goes well."
Maggie smacked the alarm clock to turn it off. It really hadn't woken her up though. She had slept for a few hours, but then something in her brain clicked on and she was never able to shut it down again. While she had figured out all the fine details of their first date, at last, she was just now having plain old nervous jitters.
This was a huge step for anyone. They were friends of nearly four years they had a working relationship .they lived together and they were both women. This was Maggie's first date with a woman. The first time she was actively acknowledging the fact that she was in love with a female, and while that certainly played a factor in her nerves, she did find some solace in the fact it wasn't the only, nor the biggest one.
June 18th Early evening
Bianca and Maggie had spent the day just doing normal, lazy summer afternoon chores. A bit of cleaning, some lounging and a bite of a light lunch, but not a word of a certain event that hung over both their heads like the proverbial sword.
There had been lots of pregnant pauses throughout the day;nervous giggles, awkward moments passing each other in the halls and numerous lingering looks. Both girls held to their promise of the night before though, and nothing was mentioned of the date that loomed ahead for both.
Maggie had disappeared for about an hour at one point during the day, returning without showing Bianca anything she had gotten while she was out. When questioned, she had said it was just a last minute accessory and not a big deal. The rest of the day was indistinguishable from any other weekend day they spent together.
As 5 PM rolled around, they both had a sandwich in the kitchen. As they placed their plates in the sink afterwards, they looked at each other and both began blushing.
"Well I um .have some things I need to do." Maggie said nervously, looking down into the sink."
"Yeah me too."
"So I guess I'll go do them .see you at 8?"
"I wouldn't miss it for anything." Bianca said with a smile. "May I ask one thing?"
"Of course." Maggie said nervously, unsure what the question would be.
"Do you know what time Patrick and Guilia will be here? I just want to make sure Miranda's ready."
"Oh " relief passing over Maggie's face. "they said 7:30."
"Ok .see you at 8 then." Bianca said, smiling broadly.
"8 it is then." Maggie said, a lump forming in her throat.
June 18th 7:30 PM
"Why is he so blasted prompt?" Bianca grumbled as she ran for the front door in her robe.
She opened the door and it was immediately flung wider. Guilia was in the lead, Patrick following behind, loaded down with grocery bags and looking very un-Patrick like and distressed. Guilia quickly kissed both of Bianca's cheeks and asked, in French, where Miranda was.
"She's in the den, in her crib." Bianca replied, also in French. Guilia quickly looked around, figured out where the den was, and headed straight for it. Bianca turned to Patrick. "What's with all the bags?"
"My darling wife was very upset when I told her you rarely eat at home and that you don't keep much food in the apartment." he said, setting the bags down on the hallway table.
Bianca rolled her eyes. "She didn't need to bring anything. I am capable of stocking my own kitchen I just don't!" she punctuated with a giggle. "Thank you both so much for doing this by the way."
Patrick smiled at her. "Not a problem, it is all in the name of a very good cause." he said with a wink that caused Bianca to blush. He looked her up and down, "Now, don't you think you might want to go finish getting ready?"
Bianca looked down at her robe. "Who say's I'm not? This is all the rage in the fashion magazines!" she said with a chuckle. She turned to walk back towards the living room so she could go upstairs.
Guilia returned to the front hall with Miranda in her arms. "Don't just stand there like a lump!" she said in Italian. "There are four more bags of groceries down in the car!"
Patrick hung his head. "Yes dear."
Maggie stood in her room, fastening a belt she had bought earlier that day around her waist. She turned and looked at herself in the mirror. She heaved a sigh and mumbled, "No time to change my mind, it'll just have to do." She looked over at the clock. She still had ten minutes to kill. She walked over to the door that led from her room to the kitchen and pressed her ear to it to see if she could hear anything. She heard Patrick and Guilia conversing in Italian, but no sign of Bianca.
She cracked the door open enough to see in to the room and Patrick immediately turned to look. "Well hello there." he said with a grin.
"Hi .where is she?"
"Upstairs, still getting ready."
Guilia leaned around so she could see and said something in Italian to Patrick, which he translated for Maggie. "She say's hello and wants to know if we can see what you have on, if you're ready."
"Tell her hello back and you can all see when Bianca sees me." Maggie sniffed the air. "What do I smell?"
"Your dinner for the rest of the week."
"Okay odd .but I will take your word for it. See you in a little while." and she closed the door. She walked back over to the mirror, ran her hand down her clothes to smooth them out, took a deep breath and smacked her hands against her sides. She looked up to the sky, smiled and said, "Alright Frankie .here we go." Grabbing her purse, she exited the front of her apartment out into the hallway.
June 18th 8:00 PM
"Deep breaths .deep breaths." Bianca said repeatedly, while taking one last look in the mirror. Her outfit looked something like it came straight out of a 1950's musical. The skirt was a black poodle skirt, minus the poodle, with a shiny black leather belt at the waist. The top had black-and-white horizontal stripes and was very tight. The sleeves were three quarters and the tops barely came up on to her shoulders, making it almost shoulder-less. Her hair was done up in light bouncy curls and her shoes were 1 inch, backless kitten heel sandals.
"Ok so yeah ", she grabbed her handbag, flipped off the lights and headed downstairs to well, she wasn't really sure what to expect since Maggie had insisted on 'picking her up'.
Just as she got to the entry hall, there was a knock on the front door. She looked at her watch and saw it was 8:00 exactly. She smiled. "Well, she's a prompt date at least." As she passed the entry to the dining room, she tried to ignore the very obvious spectacle of Patrick and Guilia, who had Miranda in her arms, racing to the hallway so they could watch. She did catch Patrick smiling at her and Guilia saying 'gorgeous' in French. She blushed.
Bianca reached for the door, placed her hand on the handle, took a deep breath, and opened it. Maggie stood in front of her in a fawn colored peasant skirt with a spaghetti-strap white top. Her lime green belt matched the handbag and her flip flop sandals had yellow daisy appliqués over the toes. Her hair was pulled up in the back and affixed with chopsticks.
Bianca paused, making Maggie shuffle nervously. "Hi I'm um .here to pick you up for our date."
Bianca chuckled. "You could have just come through the kitchen you know."
"This seemed to make it more official. You look wow you look fantastic." She looked down at her own outfit and fussed with the skirt.
Bianca smiled a small, warm smile realizing she was uneasy about her clothes choice. "And so do you. Is that belt new?"
Maggie smiled. "Yeah, it is, that's what I went to buy today .and the handbag." she said, holding it up.
"Nice!" Bianca said enthusiastically. Which was followed by an awkward silence as both girls stared at each other, unsure what to do.
"Well, you two girls have fun! Guilia and I will handle Miranda for you." Patrick said, stepping into the hallway.
Both girls let out a small sigh of relief at Patrick's sudden, and obvious, intervention. "You have my cell number right?" Bianca asked Patrick.
"Yes, yes, don't worry! Guilia and I did raise two of our own you know." he said with a smile. "Now you two go have a lovely evening, and don't you dare rush back."
"Yes sir." she said with a little mock salute.
Maggie stepped in to the entryway and gave Patrick a one armed hug, and peck on the cheek while standing on the tips of her toes. She whispered in his ear, "Thank you Patrick thank you for everything."
He smiled and broke the hug. "Now, you two get out of here! You have a dinner reservation for 8:30!"
They said their goodbyes, kissed a giggling Miranda on the head, and made their way to the elevator. As Patrick closed the door, and turned towards his wife and made a sniffling sound. Guilia looked at him and smirked. "Softy." she said in Italian, and made her way towards the kitchen.
"What? I had something in my eye!" he replied, as he followed her.
June 18th 8:30 PM
The girls had walked to the restaurant Patrick had made their reservation at. On their way over they had discussed how cute a couple Patrick and Guilia make and how she has Patrick wrapped around her little finger, but in a cute, endearing way.
They walked into the restaurant, and Bianca spoke to the maitre'd in French, telling him that their reservation had been made by Patrick. He clapped his hands together and acted very jovial at the mention of his name. He led the girls off to the side and up two flights of stairs. The first flight made sense as there were more diners up there, but the second flight took them through a storage room.
Maggie tugged on Bianca's skirt, as she was in front of her, and higher up on the stairs. When Bianca looked at her, Maggie gave her a look like, 'What in the world ?' and Bianca responded with a shrug of uncertainty.
After passing through the storage room, they went up a much smaller staircase and through a door that led to the roof. Now Maggie could appreciate why Patrick making the reservation was a good idea. He said he knew the people who ran this restaurant, and it paid off.
In the middle of the open area of the roof there sat a table with a white linen tablecloth and all the necessary accessories for a fine meal. A single red rose lay upon each of the two diner's plates, and a candle stood next to each plate to illuminate where the diner's face would likely be. In the center of the table, but off to the side a bit so as not to obstruct anyone's view, was a larger bouquet of roses in a glass vase. A bucket stood next to the table with a large bottle of champagne chilling in it. Around the edges of the roof there were little tables placed at intervals, and on each one stood lit candles of varying heights.
Bianca and Maggie looked at each other, their jaws sagging a bit at the elaborate set-up. The maitre'd pulled out the first chair, and gestured for Bianca to take it, she sat herself, and then he followed suit for Maggie. Once seated he handed them menus, popped the champagne, poured each of them a glass and excused himself, saying their waiter would be up in a moment to take their orders.
Once gone, Maggie looked at Bianca and asked, "Is it just me, or do you get the feeling we don't even know a tenth of what there is to know about Patrick?"
"I know what you mean. I had him checked out as much as I could before I chose him, but a background check doesn't tell you much about who he knows in his personal life." Bianca glanced down at the menu, and seeing as it was all in French, she asked Maggie if she would like her to order for her.
Maggie blushed. "If you wouldn't mind."
"Of course not, don't be silly!"
The waiter appeared promptly and Bianca gave him their order. Maggie hated to admit it, but she loved listening to Bianca speak French. Sure, it made her feel a little like Gomez Addams attacking Morticia every time she did it, but she had to say she felt she understood the motivation a lot better after listening to her speak it for four months.
After the waiter disappeared Maggie started chuckling, which made Bianca curious. "What's so funny?"
"The waiter's going to need a good tip after bringing our food all the way up here!"
Bianca sat there for a moment, but eventually started chuckling also. "Yeah, it may be romantic up here, but not exactly practical for the poor staff."
After the chuckling subsided, both girls sat in an awkward silence. They looked around at their surroundings, but neither looked at the other. Finally, Maggie reached for her champagne, which caused Bianca to speak up. "We should make a toast!"
Maggie stopped halfway to her mouth and pondered for a moment. "Ok to what?"
"Well, I would suppose to this evening." she said, as she raised her glass.
Maggie leaned forward to clink her glass with Bianca's. "And to Patrick, for stepping up and making all this possible."
"Yes, to Patrick .and to us." she said as her voice drifted off.
"To us." Maggie said meekly, and took a large gulp of her drink.
Bianca could tell Maggie wasn't comfortable, and she was unsure what to do. She rose from her chair and wandered over to the edge of the roof to see what all could be seen. Across the street was the bank of the river. On the other side of the waterway she could make out the Grand Palais, and next to that, the Petit Palis. Barges passed each other under the Pont Alexander III bridge.
It was a gorgeous night, and a fantastic view, made only better by Maggie walking up beside her. As Maggie took in their surroundings, Bianca took in the sight of her best friend-turned-date.
"Quite the view isn't it?" Maggie asked.
"Yes, it is." Bianca replied as her eyes traced up Maggie's exposed neck.
Maggie could see out of the corner of her eye that Bianca was looking more at her than at the surroundings. She bit her lower lip before asking, "What? Do I have something on my neck?" She raised her right hand and rubbed at the invisible spot.
Bianca blushed, realizing she had been caught. "No, nothing there."
The girls' awkward moment was broken by the waiter returning with their salads. They smiled at each other, and returned to the table and took their seats again. Both of them tried to stifle giggles as they could tell the waiter was a little bit out of breath from coming up all those stairs.
After he departed the girls sat in silence, staring down at their plates, neither speaking as they ate. The only sounds that could be heard were utensils on plates, and those wafting up from the street below. After about five minutes of this, it was Bianca who dropped her fork to her plate and sat back in frustration. "This is ridiculous!" she said.
Maggie looked shocked. "Wh what's wrong?"
"Us this!" she said gesturing back and forth between the two of them.
Maggie's expression saddened. "You you don't want to be here?"
"No! I do want to be here, but what is with this silence between us? This awkwardness? We're best friends first-and-foremost, so why are we sitting here so quietly?"
"Oh! Well I don't know I can't seem to think of anything to say. Everything I think of, you already know. None of my 'first date banter'", she said with air quotes, "is really going to work with you because we know everything there is to know about each other by now."
"Well, yes and no .I mean, I only recently learned the story of the tattoo for instance, so certainly there are other things I don't know."
Maggie sat back and thought. "I really can't think of anything .what about you? Isn't there oh! I know! Remember that night we went swimming the night before you went to work at Enchantment?"
"Yeah." Bianca said with some apprehension.
"You told me that one of the ways you knew you were gay was that you wanted to marry the Spice Girls."
Bianca started laughing. "Yes, this is true."
"Well " Maggie leaned forward again, and picked at her food while getting her crooked smirk across her face, "certainly you had one you preferred over the others."
Bianca blushed. "Our first date, and you want to know which Spice Girl I preferred?"
Maggie lifted the fork to her mouth, her smirk broadening. "Come on, let it out .who was it? Sporty? Scary? Baby?" she took the bite of the salad."
Bianca leaned forward, picked up her own fork, but refused to make eye contact with Maggie now. After a few seconds she finally mumbled something and quickly took a bite.
"What? You mumbled."
"Ginger! I liked Ginger ok? Jeez!" Bianca shouted while laughing.
Maggie choked on her salad and had to take a drink of water. "Ok! Chill out!" She picked up another forkful of salad. "Although, I have to say, I thought it was going to be Sporty."
A napkin flew across the table and hit her in the face.
June 18th 10:00 PM
The conversation remained light and playful throughout the remainder of the meal. The awkwardness of the situation finally dissolved, and the girls could enjoy themselves again. While it didn't always feel like a date, it was certainly the most 'girly' they had been in a long time.
Full from a fabulous meal, the girls pushed back from the table and held their stomachs. "I know this isn't the most romantic thing ever to say, but I think I might very well explode." said Maggie.
Bianca's head was resting on the back of the chair while she stared skyward. "That's ok, I probably will too. We have to remember to come here more often."
"Do you have a death wish I am unaware of? Food this good, on a regular basis, and we will balloon to the size of houses!"
"Well, I can think of worse ways to die then exploding from overeating."
"Really? Name one."
"Being run over by a Zamboni."
Maggie lifted her head and stared at Bianca. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. Opened it again, paused, and spoke. "Your mind is a truly frightening place sometimes, did you know that?"
"I do what I can."
The waiter returned with their bill and asked who he should give it to in French. Bianca spoke up and took it from him as she sat upright in her chair. She reached for her purse to get out a credit card.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"Paying for dinner .why?"
Maggie stared at her blankly. "Who asked who out?"
It finally dawned on Bianca what was being said, and she paused. "I I'm sorry, I just wasn't thinking." She set down her purse and handed the bill over to Maggie.
Maggie took it with smile, opened it and ..gulped. She picked up her purse, flipped through a couple credit cards, decided on one, and handed it to the waiter, who smiled as he left. She then folded her arms and leaned forward, resting on the table and looking apprehensive.
Bianca leaned forward and slipped a hand across the table to rest on Maggie's arm. "Is everything ok?"
"Well .I think that card has enough room. I'm not sure."
Bianca smiled a warm, comforting smile. "If not, I can take care of it."
Maggie shot her a glance. "That's not the point Bianca. I asked you out, I pay."
"I understand, but this place is pretty hefty "
"It'll be fine, just close is all."
"Well, if it's close, why don't you let me handle the tip ok?"
Maggie pondered that for a moment, and finally agreed. The waiter returned with a slip for her to sign, which meant all was well. She signed it, and Bianca got some cash out of her purse and palmed it to the waiter. Maggie wasn't sure how much it was, but knowing Bianca, it was generous.
The waiter led them back down to the ground floor, they thanked the staff and exited out on to the street. Bianca looked at Maggie and asked, "So .where to now?"
Maggie gestured with her head across the street, and told Bianca to follow her. They went to the corner and crossed the street so they were standing on top of the banks of the Seine River. They turned to the right so they were walking towards the Pont Alexandre III bridge. Once there, there was a staircase that led down to the paved walkway along the river. They went down and began to backtrack the way they came.
"How did you know the stairs were here?" Bianca asked the suddenly quiet Maggie.
"There's a set next to each bridge, so I used my enormous IQ to figure out there was one here also." she said with a chuckle.
Bianca knew this, of course, but she was trying to get Maggie's mood to lighten some. She had noticed she had started to go quiet again since the bill, and she wasn't going to let that happen. "So when are you finally going to tell me where this secret destination is?"
Maggie giggled. "You'll see come on." She moved her handbag from her right hand , to her left and stuck out her, now empty, right hand in mid-air.
Bianca stared at the hand, startled by the gesture, but she took it. They both smiled at each other and continued down the river bank, walking hand-in-hand.
Halfway between Pont de Invalides and Pont de L'alma, they could hear music coming from somewhere. As they got closer to de L'alma, the music got louder and they could hear it coming from the pilot cabin on one of the passing boats. The music stopped, and the DJ spoke in French as the girls continued to walk hand-in-hand down the river bank.
Maggie stopped walking for a moment, and freed her hand from Bianca's. "Give me just a second, these chopsticks are driving me nuts!" She reached up with her right hand and took them out, letting her hair fall loose. She shook her head once, and then ran her fingers through the mass of hair to untangle it. She opened her purse and dropped the hair accessories in. "Much better."
While all this had gone on, Bianca had watched with great interest. Once it was over, she silently decided that it ranked as one of the three sexiest things she had ever witnessed though she had no clue what the other two were right then.
The DJ on the radio finally stopped talking as the boat drew closer to the girls, and the first chords of Eric Clapton's song 'Wonderful Tonight' could be heard drifting across the water. Bianca smiled and closed her eyes swaying slightly. "Man, I love this song."
Maggie grunted agreement as she fiddled with her hair some more. Once done, she closed her handbag and turned to tell Bianca they should keep moving, but seeing Bianca standing there smiling, eye's closed, swaying to the beat, she couldn't bring herself to snap her out of whatever happy place it was she had gone to. As the first words started to reach them ' It's late in the evening; she's wondering what clothes to wear .' she couldn't help, but to break the silence.
Maggie set down her purse on the ground and moved closer to Bianca. "Ms. Montgomery?"
Bianca's eyes snapped open. "What? Oh I'm sorry we probably should " she saw an even bigger grin creeping across Maggie's face. "What? What is it?"
"I was wondering if you would care to dance?"
Bianca blushed a deep crimson. She set down her handbag also and turned back to Maggie. "Why Ms. Stone, I would be delighted .but as with the last time we danced, I must insist on leading."
"But of course!"
As they got closer to begin dancing, Bianca's right hand went up to take the lead, but something didn't feel right to either of them. Maggie's arms gravitated to Bianca's neck, and Bianca's to Maggie's waist. They looked into each other's eyes, searching for discomfort or awkwardness. Neither found any.
Maggie turned her head to her right and rested it on Bianca's arm. Bianca turned her head to the left and rested it on top of Maggie's. They swayed, more than they did any real form of dance.
At that time, with their eyes closed, their hearing tuned only to the sounds of that passing radio, leaving them in their own little world. There was no Cambias Industries, no Jonathon Lavery, no Lena and no medical school. There were two people who had gone through four years of false starts and mis-steps that finally led to this perfect jewel of a moment. It was like something out of a 1950's musical, but instead of some imaginary orchestra playing inside their heads, it was a cheap radio hanging from the ceiling of a boat, suspended by some scrap pieces of twine.
They didn't get to hear the full song as the boat drifted further down the river, but they could just make out that last line of the song 'Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight'. As the last word drifted away, they stopped their swaying, lifted their heads and stared deeply at each other.
"We uh should probably get going " Maggie said hesitantly.
"Yeah let me just get my purse "
"Me too "
They very slowly, reluctantly, pulled away from each other and picked up their respective purses and turned to once again face each other. "Ready?" Maggie asked.
"Yeah." came a dry, cracking reply from Bianca. As Maggie turned to face the direction of their destination, Bianca held out her hand again to take Maggie's. Maggie smiled and gladly accepted it. "Thank you Maggie."
"Just thank you."
Maggie gave her a perplexed look and finally said, "You're welcome?"
"Come on I thought we had some place we had to be." Bianca said as she started walking again.
"This night just gets weirder and weirder." Maggie mumbled as she followed along.
Maggie had taken back over the lead as they walked along the banks of the Seine. As they reached Pont D'Iena, they finally climbed the stairs to go back up to street level. Standing in front of them, in all it's lit up, iron glory, was the Eiffel Tower.
Maggie dragged Bianca across Quai Branly street and to the tower itself. Once there, she left Bianca for a moment while she disappeared some where. When she returned, she had tickets for them to ride the elevator to the top floor. "Here." she said as she handed one ticket to Bianca. She stood there for a moment, seeming to ponder the ticket. Maggie finally asked her, "What? What's wrong?"
"It just dawned on me, how in the world have we lived within blocks of the Eiffel Tower for four months, and not been here yet?"
Maggie grinned and nearly shouted, "I know!" She looked around to make sure no one thought she was completely crazy and lowered her voice again. "That's why when I was coming up with ideas for what we could do tonight, it struck me as hilarious that it was so obvious that I was overlooking it." She glanced down at her watch. "We have to hurry though, this is the last elevator to the top for tonight."
They dashed over, gave their tickets, and loaded into the elevator for the ascent, first to the second floor, and then on to the top of one of the world's most famous, and romantic, landmarks.
Bianca and Maggie walked around the top floor, looking at all the different views of Paris. Though it was only nine hundred feet up, it felt like they could see forever. They stepped outside of the booth to the external balcony to enjoy the night air.
"Do you think living in Paris will ever feel 'normal'?" Maggie asked.
"I sure hope it doesn't." responded Bianca. "In a city like this, with so much to explore and do, I would be highly disappointed if we ever got bored."
"Can't argue with that." Maggie looked around and spotted one of the telescopes you could pay to look through to take in the city. She nudged Bianca and pointed to it. "Shall we?"
"We would be silly not to."
They walked over, fished out some coins from their purses, and dropped them in. The viewer clicked open and Bianca took the first turn looking at the city. "You know what it kinda loses the magic looking through this." she said as she stepped back. I think I prefer just looking out myself, and not so close up."
"Oh well still has time though, so I should take a look anyway." Maggie stepped up and started looking around while Bianca stood behind her enjoying the night air. "Oh! I wonder if you can see our apartment from up here." Maggie said.
"Don't know why you couldn't. Look down to the left."
Maggie swung the telescope in that direction and started looking. "Let's see .there's the street .the café oh there's our building!" She panned up a bit. "Oh yeah! You can see everything! Wow those big windows really don't provide a whole lot of privacy do they? We should think .."
Bianca turned to look at Maggie. "Think what?"
Maggie took a step back from the telescope. Her jaw slackened, her eyes wide, she almost appeared to be in shock. "Do you have a nail file with you?"
Bianca lifted her purse and opened it to look around. "I think so, why do you need it?"
"I need to scrape my eyes out."
Bianca stopped looking through the purse and went back to looking at her friend. "Excuse me?"
"I .just saw something I really didn't want to see."
"Oh no I am going to try to forget this thank you very much."
Bianca couldn't resist the urge. She walked over and looked through the telescope herself. She found the apartment again, looked in the living room and there, on the couch, she could tell there were two people sitting there ..making out like teenagers. "That oh wow Patrick and Guilia .well it's sweet they still feel that way towards each other!"
"No it's not! It's disturbing is what it is! That's Patrick for crying out loud making out with Guilia .it's like figuring out your parents are still into each other!"
Bianca laughed as she pulled her head away from the telescope. "Or in my case, it's like finding out your mom and uncle are having an affair. All I ask is you don't burn down the apartment like I did my mother's house."
"Can I just burn that couch? Because I can tell you right now, I am never sitting on it again!"
Bianca rolled her eyes. "Oh please I am sure Miranda is in bed, they were bored I think it's kind of sweet that they still have enough feelings for each other to want to make out."
"No .no I'm sure of it .this ranks more in the realm of 'disturbing' than 'sweet'."
Bianca nudged her with her elbow while grinning a big, toothy grin. "Oh come on, don't tell me I'm the only romantic here!"
"This has nothing to do with romance! It's like seeing your parents make out! It's not sweet, it's not romantic, it's just plain icky!"
"Well I think it's sweet but, neither of us can say anything or else they will think we were checking up on them."
"Oh believe me, I have no desire to ever discuss this again!"
Bianca laughed. "Come on let's enjoy our last few minutes up here before we have to go back down." As they started walking around the balcony again, she could see Maggie scrunching up her face again at the thought of Patrick making out with his wife. Bianca turned her head and smiled to herself. "Oh how I love her." she thought.
Back down on the ground, the girls walked slower than normal through Champ De Mars park. Neither of them seemed overly eager for the night to be over, but with the hour being past midnight, they felt they should get home so Patrick and Guilia could head home themselves. Bianca grinned every time she said Patrick's name now because it would make Maggie shudder. As they approached, and crossed the Avenus Elisee Reclus, both girls started to get quiet again, knowing their date was quickly coming to an end.
Maggie clasped her hands behind her back and began to twist a little as she walked so her purse swung side-to-side behind her. "So .." she said before pausing for a long while.
"Yes?" Bianca replied, clasping her hands in front of her in a more subdued fashion.
"I hope I I wasn't .I .I hope the date lived up to what you expected."
Bianca stopped as they prepared to cross their street, Avenue de la Bourdonnais. "Maggie! I wasn't 'expecting' anything. We could have gone to a class on Peruvian Underwater Basket Weaving and I would have been happy!"
Maggie grinned. "I I just know what you are used to, and I wasn't sure I could give that to you."
"What I'm used to? Hello .I haven't had a date in how long? I'm used to nothing!"
Maggie had to laugh at that. "Ok good point .I I just wanted this night this night of all nights, to be perfect."
Bianca turned to face Maggie and grabbed her by the shoulders. She stared at her silently for a moment, and then pulled her closer and hugged her. "It has been Maggie it was perfect the moment you showed up at the door and knocked. And in the future, just don't worry about where we are going or living up to what I 'expect', we will always figure something out. I promise ." Bianca's face contorted into horror as she realized what she had just said. "Well that is if there's another date I mean." she said as she finally pushed Maggie away from her and began to blush.
Maggie smiled and thought 'Yes! Finally it's not just me who feels awkward!'. Her smile broadened slightly and said, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it for now let's keep walking, we have to get back and let the .'teenagers' head home."
The girls entered the apartment and found Patrick and Guilia putting food away in the refrigerator. Patrick looked up first. "Well hello there! We were thinking it was about time for you two to get back."
"Yeah .so you would know when to get off the couch." Maggie mumbled.
Bianca elbowed her. "Was Miranda any problem?"
Patrick eyed the elbowing, but said nothing about it. "No, she was an absolute delight. She went to bed with no problem and was quiet as could be."
Bianca smiled. "Oh good! Thank you both so much for doing this!"
Patrick relayed the thank you to Guilia in Italian. She smiled and told Bianca to think nothing of it in French. "Well, we should get out of here, I am sure you are tired from a full night."
Maggie opened her mouth to say something, but Bianca shot her a look, cutting her off. She finally said, "Yes and oh, thank you so much for your help with the restaurant! They did a lovely job."
Patrick smiled. "Not a problem! I am glad I could be of help."
Patrick and Guilia gathered up their things and the girls followed them to the door to see them out. The whole way, Guilia was talking to Bianca in French about how to warm up all the meals she had left for them. They all hugged and said their "thank you's" and "good-byes", even Maggie, who did hers with some hesitation, but she did finally hug both of them.
The door closed and the girls stood alone, and quiet, in the entrance hallway, the realization that this was the end of their date creeping into the corners of their minds. They turned to face each other, blushed, shuffled their feet and looked at the floor a lot. Neither of them sure of what to say or do.
"I .I had a really good time." said Bianca.
Maggie smiled a small, barely noticeable grin. "Me too. Thank you for .for agreeing to this."
Bianca blushed. "Of course."
"I .well .wow this is tough ."
"What? Just say it Maggie."
"I .was wondering if .you would like to go out again sometime? You don't have to of course, I mean, if you didn't enjoy yourself or if it wasn't what you were hoping for "
Bianca cut her off by grabbing her hands into hers. "Maggie, I would love to go out with you again. You just tell me when you are ready and I'll happily be there."
"Ok." Maggie said with a touch of relief in her voice. "So .I guess this is goodnight then."
Both their bodies stiffened at the thought of what that meant. They looked into each other's eyes, yet again, trying to see some sign of what the other wanted to do. Finally, Bianca stepped closer, leaned forward, and placed a very light kiss on Maggie's forehead. She stepped back and looked for a sign of how that sat with Maggie. From what she could tell, she looked relieved. "Thank you for a lovely evening Maggie."
She turned to leave for the living room and Maggie said "And thank you for ending the date there because I had no clue whatsoever of what to do!"
Both girls laughed at Maggie's honest bluntness as they walked off in their separate directions.
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