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Some people never get to do, all we got to do
Carrying the tray back to their table, Rhona smiles as she listens to Tracy chastise David for not being able to furnish her with more details about Vanessa's date. She hangs up and rolls her eyes. "Blokes are useless at gossip, I swear."
Rhona shakes her head, chuckling as she pours a glass for each of them, and one for Vanessa. "She'll be here in a minute, so you'll get it from the horse's mouth."
Tracy sighs and takes one of the glasses. Charity passes them as she goes to clear glasses from some of the other tables. Tracy's eyes follow her progress. "Do you think " She leans closer to Rhona across the table. "I mean, if worst comes to worst and 'Ness does, you know, decide that she fancies her." She tilts her head in Charity's direction. She shudders. "D'you think she'd even be up for it?"
Twisting slightly in her seat, Rhona looks at the woman in question. She presses her lips together, weighing up her answer, before turning to face Tracy. "Look, I don't claim to understand the workings of Charity's mind-"
"I don't think you'd want to. It must be a terrifying place." Tracy takes a gulp of her wine as she contemplates this.
"But...I dunno. I think she might actually not just be messing Vanessa around."
"What makes you think that?" Tracy narrows her eyes at Charity's back across the room. "I'm not sure she's capable of anything else."
"Just...you weren't here when 'Ness came in with Daz on that, ummm, misguided attempt at a date. I didn't even know they'd slept together at that point, but I could tell something was up from the minute they walked through the door. Charity's face was...I dunno, there was just something there."
It's true, she could tell even from where she was sitting that Charity was off-kilter when Vanessa walked in that night. Her smile was too bright, too wide not to be false. And the fact that she felt the need to out Vanessa is also interesting. She's never had any interest in Vanessa's mental wellbeing before, but suddenly she's desperate for her to admit that she's been lying to herself. There's something deeper lurking there.
Rhona shrugs. "And even just now when she heard us talking about Vanessa being on a date...it bothers her. And it probably annoys her that it does, but it does."
Tracy sits back on the bench and sighs. "Yeah, I got a bit of that vibe as well." She looks into her wine glass as if it might contain all the answers. "Charity Dingle though. She knows how to pick 'em, does 'Ness."
"It's definitely...surprising," Rhona agrees. "But, I suppose, when you think about it...they have quite a bit in common."
Tracy's back straightens, shoulders back, palms flat on the table. "My sister is nothing like-"
"Keep your voice down!" Rhona looks over to see if Charity's heard, but she doesn't appear to be listening. 'Appear' being the operative word. You can never tell with Charity. She returns her attention to the irate Tracy. "Don't get your knickers in a twist. I didn't mean personality wise. I just meant that, you know, they're both small business owners. They're both single mums in their forties. They've both had...difficult histories with men."
Tracy's face indicates that she's trying to find a way to dispute what Rhona's saying. Eventually she rolls her eyes. "Well, yeah, okay...they've got those things in common."
"Attraction's a weird thing, Trace. It's not like we can control who we fancy."
"Or who our siblings fancy."
They both look over at the sound of the door opening and, sure enough, Vanessa steps in. She's still dressed for her date and, thankfully, she's gone far more casual than she had with Daz. She's wearing a pair of dark blue jeans with black heeled boots and a lilac v-neck jumper. She looks really good. Rhona shifts her gaze to Charity, who is also eyeing Vanessa's ensemble with appreciation.
"Hey there hot-stuff." Vanessa's head snaps around at the greeting, seemingly surprised by Charity's proximity. "How was the big date? I mean, going by the fact it's barely dinner time and you're in here, and it was with an accountant, I'm gonna assume it was terrible."
"Wh-...how did you kn-" Her eyes snap to where Tracy and Rhona are sitting. Rhona offers an apologetic smile and Vanessa shakes her head. "Never mind." She continues to their table and sits beside Rhona, turning blazing eyes on both of them. "Why the hell are you telling her all my business?"
"We didn't!" Tracy insists. "She just...we.." She looks at Rhona for help.
"I'm sorry, 'Ness. We shouldn't have said anything. She overheard us talking at the bar and-" She lifts an eyebrow. "-we'll, she seemed pretty interested."
"Did she?" Vanessa catches herself. "It doesn't matter if she was interested! You still don't need to tell her all the sordid details!"
"We just wanted to make sure that she knew you had, you know, other lady options." Tracy grabs Vanessa's hand and squeezes it. "Sorry."
Vanessa sighs and squeezes Tracy's hand in return. "It's fine. It's not like anything stays private for long round here anyway, is it?"
"Very true," Charity slides into the seat next to Tracy, looking at Vanessa expectantly. "So. How was it?"
Rhona watches Vanessa's face, detecting the beginnings of a blush on the apples of her cheeks, even as she scoffs at Charity's question. "Uh, I don't remember inviting you to join us."
"Oh, Vanessa, you just said yourself, I'll find out eventually." Charity leans forward, eyes all for Vanessa. "And since I played such a pivotal role in your sexual awakening, I think I deserve to be updated on its progress, don't you?"
"No we do not!" Tracy protests, immediately, nudging Charity towards the edge of the booth with her shoulder.
"Hey! I was talking to Vanessa." Charity plants her foot on the floor, effectively stopping Tracy's attempts to get rid of her, and looks to Vanessa for a response.
All the fight has gone from Vanessa and she looks to be in almost a trance, eyes locked on Charity's. After a long moment where Rhona starts to grow uncomfortable to be close to such an intense staring contest, Vanessa's shoulders droop and she sighs.
"Whatever. She'll just listen in anyway."
Tracy stops shoving Charity, but sends her a warning glare.
"So, 'Ness, how did it go with Amanda?" Rhona asks, her voice warm and encouraging.
"It...didn't." Vanessa picks up her wineglass and takes a sip. She places the glass down and sits back with a little sigh.
Rhona glances at Charity and Tracy, who are also clearly waiting for more.
"And?" Tracy demands. "We need more details than that!" She reaches over and jiggles Vanessa's wrist where it lays on the table. "I mean, it couldn't have been that terrible, could it? I thought your eyes were gonna fall out of your head when you saw her."
"Oh, don't get me wrong, she was hot." Vanessa nods at her sister, but Rhona's watching Charity for a reaction. It's fleeting, but it's there; her nose wrinkles and her eyebrows draw in for a second. Rhona hides a smile behind her glass. "But she was just...oh my God, so boring."
"Awww, but maybe she was just nervous!" Tracy is really trying to make this happen. "Like, maybe she saw how hot you were and she went all funny and didn't know what to say."
"Oh, believe me, it wasn't that she didn't say anything. She said plenty. She talked for twenty minutes about fixed asset...overhead...somethingorother." Vanessa closes her eyes and shakes her head. "It was awful."
Rhona puts a hand on her back and rubs, trying not to laugh at how gleeful Charity is at this turn of events. "Oh well. At least we know that you definitely find women attractive, eh?"
"Uh, we already knew that." Charity gestures to herself.
Vanessa rolls her eyes and turns to Rhona. "Well, yeah, I mean objectively I thought she was hot...but I didn't...you know, fancy her." Her face falls. "So I don't know if that does help!"
"Hey, it's fine," Rhona reassures her. "You're not required to want to go to bed with the first lesbian that's thrown at you!"
Tracy huffs and folds her arms. Charity runs a finger over Vanessa's wrist, and once again their eyes meet in that disturbing, 'there's no-one else in the room' way.
"Well, as thrilling as your adventures in gaydom are, I've got a pub to run." She stands up and grins down at Vanessa, lifting an eyebrow. "You're already familiar with my fixed assets, yeah? So gimme a yell if you wanna...discuss them further a bit later on, eh? And I guarantee you won't be bored." She winks and Rhona feels Vanessa inhale sharply. Charity laughs and heads back to the bar, where some punters are complaining about the lack of service. Vanessa's eyes are glued to her as she leaves and Tracy kicks her under the table.
"Ow!" Vanessa bends to rub her ankle, scowling at Tracy. "What was that for?"
"For gawping at her arse!" Tracy pours herself more wine, shaking her head. "I go and get you a nice, pretty lady with a good job and a lovely flat in Hotten. But no, you'd rather shag Charity bloody Dingle."
"I..I don't-" Vanessa looks between them a few times before slumping in her seat. "Sod it. Get another bottle in."
The evening progresses and they move on to less incendiary topics of conversation. They laugh and poke fun at each other. Charity slinks by every so often to bring them more wine or make suggestive eyes at Vanessa. After their second bottle, Vanessa excuses herself to go to the loo, and Tracy and Rhona barely notice her leaving. It must be at least fifteen minutes later when Rhona looks at her watch and frowns.
"She's been gone a while. Think she's okay?"
"I'll check on her. I need to pee myself." She pauses on her way out of the booth, confused at her own wording. "Not, like... pee myself. I meant-"
"I know, Trace." Rhona waves her off, laughing. "Just go"
It's only when Tracy's gone that Rhona realises Charity's not behind the bar. And hasn't been for a good while. She puts two and two together just as Tracy comes back, looking pretty shellshocked. She slides back into her seat, eyes unfocused.
"I am scarred for life." She pours herself another wine and drinks half the glass. "They were just... there. Snogging. Hadn't even bothered to go in the toilets. Just right there in the corridor. Proper going for it they were as well."
Rhona covers her mouth with her hand at Tracy's distress. "Did they see you?"
"I doubt it. Too busy trying to eat each other's faces off. And Charity's hand was..." Tracy shudders and finishes her wine in another single gulp. "This is it, isn't it? This is my future. Charity Dingle's gonna be my sister-in-law."
"I think that's jumping the gun a bit Trace." Rhona's attention is drawn when Vanessa emerges from the doorway that leads to the toilets. She looks thoroughly debauched. There's not a single trace of lipstick left on her lips, though there is a dopey smile on them. She doesn't bother to take her seat, choosing instead to remain standing and lean on the table.
"Well, this has been great, ladies, but it's getting late and you've both got homes to go to so " She clears her throat, eyes flitting around and settling anywhere but their eyes. "Why don't you get off and I'll settle up the tab here before I leave?"
"No, we can wait while y-"
"Trace!" Rhona stares meaningfully at her. "I think we can leave Vanessa to sort it out, can't we?"
Tracy narrows her eyes and lets out a sigh, but nods. "Fine."
They both shuffle out of the booth, Tracy teeters a little and Vanessa steadies her. Tracy throws her arms around her sister and holds her tight. "You have got terrible taste in women. But I love you anyway."
"Thanks? I think?" Vanessa pats Tracy's back, throwing Rhona a questioning glance over her shoulder. Rhona just shakes her head and takes Tracy's place when she moves away, hugging Vanessa close.
"Remember what I said. We all love you. No matter who you choose." She plants a kiss on Vanessa's cheek and takes Tracy's arm, supporting her as they head to the door together. Charity has reappeared behind the bar, her lips in a similar state to Vanessa's. She lifts a hand in farewell and Rhona offers her a nod. She'll need to make sure she has a little talk with Charity at some point in the near future if this continues. As she ushers Tracy out of the door, she watches Charity's face change completely when Vanessa says something to her. She actually looks...genuine. Rhona smiles. Maybe they'll be alright after all.
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