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Some people never get to do, all we got to do
She's just gotten Leo settled down in front of a cartoon when the doorbell rings. Rhona checks that Leo's happily engrossed before she goes to answer it. She's not expecting anyone, but it could be Paddy or Marlon stopping by. When she opens the door, Rhona's surprised to see Vanessa stood there with Johnny on her hip, eyebrows slanted in a confused frown.
"Everything okay?" The mother in her automatically scans Johnny for any sign of injury or distress. He just grins at her and holds his arms out to be taken. Vanessa passes him over easily and sighs.
"I need to talk to you." She doesn't wait for a response, just brushes by Rhona and into the house. Rhona smiles at Johnny and hefts him into a more comfortable position before closing the door and following Vanessa. She finds her in the kitchen, standing in front of the open fridge, eyes unfocused. Rhona shakes her head and goes back to plonk Johnny down by Leo, making sure he's got some toys to play with. Heading back to Vanessa, she takes her by the shoulders and guides her into a chair.
"So, is this a wine conversation or a tea conversation?"
"Wine. Definitely wine."
"Wine it is, then." Rhona obediently goes and pours them a glass each and then sits down at the table with her friend, watching her take a rather too large gulp from her glass. "So. What do you need to talk to me about?"
Another sigh. Vanessa's hands toy with the stem of her glass. "Tracy's only gone and-" She closes her eyes. "She's set me up on a...well, a date, I suppose."
Rhona sips her own wine and nods. Clearly, from this level of panic, the date is with a woman. "Who with?" she asks, as she would on any other occasion Vanessa told her about a development in her lovelife. "Anyone I know?"
Vanessa shakes her head, taking another gulp of wine. "It's...it's her accountant." She inhales through her nose and meets Rhona's eyes. "Her accountant called Amanda."
Rhona's not sure what reaction Vanessa was expecting. From the dramatic delivery, it's almost like she thinks Rhona's going to fall off the seat clutching her pearls. And this despite their heart to heart the other day where Rhona made it very clear that she couldn't care less what gender of people Vanessa chooses to date, as long as they make her happy and she's true to herself. She offers an encouraging smile. "She's a fast mover, your sister. When are you meeting Amanda?"
Frowning, Vanessa leans closer to Rhona. "What difference does it make? It's a date . With a woman . I'd be on a date with a woman. Tomorrow."
"And?" Rhona covers Vanessa's hand, squeezing gently. "We just talked about this 'Ness. Why are you coming to me as if this is a big revelation?"
Vanessa sits back and throws her hands up. "Because talking's different from doing, isn't it? I'd just about come to terms with being attracted to women in theory. But this is going to be...you know, practical."
"You were always better at the practical than the theory when we were at uni." Rhona catches herself with a laugh at Vanessa's offended huff. "And that totally sounded like I was calling you a slapper. I wasn't. I meant with coursework."
"I think this is a slightly different situation." Vanessa rolls her eyes, finishing off the wine in her glass and going to get the bottle.
Rhona watches her pour herself another one and takes a chance while there's a little distance between them. "Anyway...I'd think what you and Charity did the other night sort of took you out of the realm of the theoretical, didn't it?"
As expected, Vanessa's cheeks are glowing red when she spins to face Rhona. Having known Vanessa so long, she's positive there's more to her friend's feelings about Charity than she's letting on. Any mention of the other woman prompts a lot of indignant protesting, but there's something in Vanessa's eyes that gives her away. Now, Rhona wouldn't trust Charity as far as she could throw an elephant holding a rhino, but if Vanessa has feelings for her that go beyond the physical, then Rhona will support her. It might kill her, but she'll support her. Although, getting her to admit to any feelings might be the bit that kills her.
"Can we not bring that up every five minutes, please?" Vanessa retakes her seat and sips her wine. "And that was hardly the same as going on an actual date. "
"So...what are we actually discussing here? What is it that's panicking you?" Rhona watches Vanessa's face as she considers the question. When she doesn't offer any answers, Rhona continues. "What's going to be different about this date than any other date you've been on?"
"Apart from the bit where it's with a woman?" Vanessa snaps back.
"Yeah. Apart from that." Rhona shrugs. "What will be different? I take it you'll meet her somewhere and you'll go for a drink or something to eat. You'll probably tell her a bit about yourself and she'll do the same. You might take a walk afterwards. And maybe you'll give her a kiss at the end of the night." Something like guilt passes through Vanessa's eyes and Rhona suppresses a smile. "What sounds scary about any of that?"
Vanessa sighs and lets her head drop back so that she's staring at the ceiling. "Nothing specifically. Just everything in general."
"Hey, look at me." Rhona jiggles Vanessa's wrist until she meets her eyes. "Go on the date. See what happens. If you don't like her, you don't like her. But that's no different than finding out you didn't like Daz in that way, is it?"
"S'pose not." Vanessa pulls her phone from her pocket. "D'you...wanna see a picture of her?" Again, she seems almost shy, like Rhona's going to be scandalised by looking at a photo of a woman .
"Yes!" Rhona scoots closer as Vanessa's thumb flies over her phone screen. "How do you have a picture if you haven't met her?"
"Tracy nabbed it off her Facebook." She sucks a breath in and holds it as she turns the phone so that Rhona can see the picture.
Rhona's eyebrows go up. "Wow." She's not sure what she was expecting, but the woman is tall and slender with long, dark brown hair and a friendly smile. She wouldn't look out of place in a fashion magazine. "She is gorgeous ."
Vanessa looks at the photograph and purses her lips. "Yeah. She is. Probably way out of my league, eh?"
"Shut up." Rhona slaps Vanessa's shoulder. " You are also gorgeous"
"You don't think she's...too young for me?"
Rhona almost chokes on her wine. "Are you kidding me? She must be at least ten years older than Kirin. Maybe fifteen."
"That was...different," Vanessa protests with a scowl.
"Oh right. So you're into younger men and older women, then?" She plays with a loose thread on her cuff. "How old is Charity anyway?"
"She's the same age as m-" Vanessa catches herself and narrows her eyes. "Right, if all you're going to do is take the mickey-" Vanessa stands up and Rhona grabs her arm as she walks past.
"I'm sorry, 'Ness. I'm not taking the mick. I just want you to-" She shakes her head. "Look, just go on the bloody date and see what happens. You were the one that said you just wanted to have fun finding out about yourself, right?"
"I'm not so sure I should be listening to myself on the topic of romance."
"Well, I happen to think you're a pretty great advice giver. Most of the time," Rhona says, standing up and taking both of Vanessa's hands. She waits until Vanessa is looking into her eyes. "Go on the date. If you have fun, great. If you don't have fun, you can come back here and we'll drink more wine and you can tell me about it. Actually, you can do that even if you do have fun." She smiles when Vanessa laughs. "Just go and try, yeah? For you ."
"What's the worst that can happen, eh?"
"Exactly." Rhona refrains from saying that whatever happens, it can hardly be worse than being locked in a cellar and snogging your dad's ex-bit-on-the-side while wearing a superhero cape.
Vanessa nods. "Right. Well, it's a coffee...thing. This date thing. So it'll be finished early. And then I'll call you, yeah?"
"Sounds like a plan." She pulls Vanessa into a tight hug. "And remember, I love you, we all love you. No matter who you go on dates with."
"Love you too. But please don't get any ideas about setting me up." Vanessa squeezes her and then lets her go. "I've got enough on my hands with with Tracy doing it."
"Deal." Rhona smiles at her. "Now get on home and don't spend all night worrying about this."
"Oh, I'll try my best." Vanessa picks up Johnny and gives Leo a kiss on the forehead. Vanessa walks her to the door, tickling Johnny and making him giggle and cuddle further into his mum. Rhona opens the door. "Right, well, I'll call you."
"I really hope you enjoy yourself, 'Ness. Or that it at least makes things clearer for you." Whether that's clearer about her sexuality, or clearer about who she likes, is another story.
"Yeah. Thanks Rhona."
"Anytime. You know that."
Vanessa smiles and with a final wave from her and Johnny, they head up the path. Rhona watches them go, interested to see what tomorrow will bring. Something tells her that whatever it is, it'll involve Charity Dingle somehow. And if that's what Vanessa wants, then everyone else will just have to put up and shut up.
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