"Cara, can I ask you something?" Lexi asked from where she was sat eating strawberries against the wall. Myra shushed her gently and continued snapping shots of me as I sat in the window, overlooking the canal, in a long and loose black jumper that draped down to show one of my shoulders, but came to mid thigh. Myra loved black and white photos, as did I, and when she'd mentioned she wanted some I couldn't resist. And so I was curled up, hair tousled, biting my lip and looking out over the water.
"What is it Lexi?"
"Lexi, give Cara one of the strawberries. It'll look amazing."
"My strawberries." Lexi pouted.
"I bought them for Cara."
"You get treated more than I do." She winked and gave me a large strawberry.
"Right Cara, put it to your lips, like you're running it along them."
"How sexy are these pictures?" I raised my eyebrow at her as I put the strawberry to my lip. The camera flashed again.
"Sam's going to love that one." Myra giggled in a rare moment of joking that I hadn't seen happen about her work before. "Don't worry Cara, they're decent. Sam would kill me if I got you to do some of the things I've had other models do."
I raised my eyebrow again and she snapped the shutter again. I narrowed my eyes.
"Stop doing that." I fought to keep the smile from my lips but failed as an embarrassed curl appeared and Myra snapped away again.
"Anyway Cara, I was just wondering," Lexi began again, standing now, leaning casually against the wall in her blue skinny jeans and white strappy top, "whether you'd say yes, you know, if Sam asked."
I blushed and ducked my head.
"Why is everyone asking that? We have plenty of time. It's not been that long..."
"Yeah but you know what they say about us lesbians." Lexi winked. "We bring a U-Haul to the second date."
"Could you be more American?" Myra commented dryly, snapping away.
"I could be from America?" Lexi mused.
"So Cara, would you?"
"I love her, I do. But I don't know whether I'm ready for that. I mean, I'm in University, I don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of my life... I just... I'd be worried that I'd mess it up."
"Sam's crazy about you." Myra said. "If she asks you, it means she's prepared to give up all the things that happened-" Lexi glanced at Myra in surprise; she obviously didn't know I knew, "- and be completely committed to you. It means she trusts you."
I bit my lip and thought. After all Sam had been through, asking me to marry her would be a big thing. And I wanted to be with her, forever, if possible. But still something niggled at me. Would I be throwing everything away? Would I just become Sam's housewife? Even though we joked about it, would I put any career on hold just to be at home for her?
"See Lexi? Now you've destroyed all her expressions. She just looks depressed now." Myra chided.
"I'm not depressed." I smiled. "I'm just thinking." I saw Lexi throw a look at Myra, concerned.
"Cara. Look maybe I shouldn't have said anything."
"Why not? Everyone else has."
"I don't want you bolting because you think Sam's going to propose and you aren't sure. I don't want you hurting her because I said something in passing." Her brows furrowed.
"I would never hurt her. Not on purpose." I remembered suddenly the night of the frozen bra, and Sam crying outside. "Never."
"I hope not. I've seen her crushed too many times, and she wasn't half as in love with them as she is with you."
I looked at her for a moment and then turned away. Outside it had begun to rain, and I watched as it beat against the window and people either side of the canal ran for cover, or put up brightly coloured umbrellas.
"How about a break?" Myra said after a moment. I nodded, not looking back at them. I heard Lexi whisper to Myra and then they disappeared over to the small kitchen and put the kettle on.
I would say yes. But I would ask if we could hold off the wedding, until I had finished university, and gotten a job. That would work... I reached out and touched the cold window with my fingertips. The cold spread up my bones after a moment and I pulled away, sighing. I didn't want to hurt her. But my greatest fear was that she could do so much better, and so saying yes would be hurting her. She'd be stuck with me, someone who would never match up to the expectations of the people she mingled with, the society, the money, the intelligence... I was average, and she should be with someone who was her equal. I could never hope to be that.
The ringing of my phone broke past the sheet of pain that was slicing through me. I sniffed away the tears and went to get it.
"It's Doctor Weaver. Your test results have arrived. I have a space free tomorrow morning at nine if you'd like to come in to discuss them?"
"What do they say?" I glanced over at the kitchen and saw Lexi and Myra deep in discussion. They hadn't noticed I was on the phone.
"It's better to talk in the appointment so I can explain properly Cara. But you shouldn't be worried. Can you make nine?"
"Yes... yes I can make it." I said my stomach churning. I shouldn't be worried? Did that mean I was fine, or was that her trying to stop me from going over it before she told me something was wrong?
"Good. I'll see you then."
"Goodbye." I hung up and stared at my phone. Well. Not long now. And suddenly I decided that I wouldn't tell Anna I'd had the call after all. Her constant worrying about it might mean she'd turn up, and I didn't think I could handle that if it were something bad. I wouldn't tell her until after.