Blake Steel sat loudly in the chair opposite her. His beard had exploded in the couple of weeks since they’d last caught up. He was tall, solid, and a commanding presence of over the top energy - highlighted this afternoon by his bright red blazer. He was the brightest thing in the coffee shop.
“Do you want to go back?”
Her eyes remained fixated on her mug. Shrugged her shoulders. Fatigue. “I have no idea.” She shook her head. “I really don’t.” It’d been three days since Bianca had told her about the road to sobriety.
As empathetic as she was to what Bianca had been through, she’d had to deal with her own shit. The woman whom she had loved so much had become merely a source of resentment. She’d given up. There was absolutely nothing. And Jodie hated her for it, because they way she saw it, Bianca had left her. Signed out. So Jodie did too.
London had always beckoned Jodie. Even at a young age it appealed to her. Her visit at 19 was surreal. A whirlwind of a week with her father who had gone over for business. She’d been allowed to go as his assistant. She’d loved the pubs, the shops, the cars, the food, the fashion.
Her second trip, at age 24, saw her do a summer of music festivals across the UK and Europe. Wellington boots, muddy clothes, tents and underwear. Bus tickets, plane tickets, train tickets.
Her third trip, at 29, she’d gone over to see Blake who had decided that he too loved London. So much, in fact, he was staying there. It was three weeks of backstage passes, pub gigs, and photo shoots. Crawley’s. An underground, unassuming pub. If you weren’t looking for it - hard - you’d walk right past it. She nearly had, when a voice that rang vaguely familiar yelled out to her. “Well, well, look at you.” Jodie remembered her from the club the previous week. If it were possible, she was more attractive in the natural light of the evening. “Come to buy me dinner have you?” Just as cocky as the other night.
Jodie followed her down the stairs, introduced Blake to “Bianca mate, nice to meet you.” There was no need though. “I remember you from last week, how’re you?” He smirked as she then gave Jodie her number. For when she wanted to buy her that dinner.
Two days she’d ummed and ahhed and gone back and forth about whether or not to call. Blake was just about to go into a meeting, he really had to hang up. “Oh my God! Just do it already. Have dinner, have sex, go home with the memory of a hot holiday girl.” Blake. Snapping her into action.
So this morning she’d called him for some tough love and suck it up princess honesty. Surprised when she didn’t get it. His hand found hers.
“Stop over analysing everything.” He paused to thank the waiter. “What you’ve done for her is nothing short of amazing. But you’re both living in this very intense heavy bubble. Get some space between you two. Take a step back.” He sipped his latte. “Even if it’s just so you can figure out what you want.”
It’d been a month since Jodie had moved in with Blake. It had been a pretty easy decision. She hadn’t accumulated too many more clothes since she’d been back, pretty much living out of the same suitcase as when she’d first arrived. She took up less space than his previous housemate, and definitely smelt better. He’d invited her to the album launch the day her office had said it was time to make a decision about returning. “Stop thinking, come out! Dance,” he said. “Drink!”
Screaming as loud as she could over the drums, bass pounding her chest. “They are amazing!” Blake grinned his wide, ridiculous grin as they clinked glasses. Hips swaying, glass in the air when she wasn’t bringing it to her lips. They were brilliant. Supposedly, the next big thing. It was the full affair. Open bar, suits and cocktail dresses. You weren’t here if you didn’t know someone. Or were someone. And by Christ, Bianca was someone. What the fuck?
The music left her for a second. She was pretty sure it was Bianca. Her eyes scanning faces, hair. Bodies. The crowd was thick, the music loud, she’d had more than a couple of drinks. Open bar - of course she had. There was a blue hue to the room, courtesy of professional lighting. With more than half the crowd in black, she should have just blended in. Bianca was Bianca though - so of course she stood out.
She’d come here to get out. Get some space. Get dressed up get out of her head, not think about Bianca. Yet there she was. All cheekbones, loose curls and black suit. Dancing away. They’d caught up a couple of times, mainly for lunch. As far as she could remember, nothing had been mentioned about the launch.
Bianca suddenly appeared next to her, unabashed smile plastered across her face. “And what are you doing here?” Jodie nodded in his direction. “Blake.”
“Oh my god of course! I didn’t even think!” Bianca raised her glass to him. A flash back to some years ago of a similar scene. Jodie couldn’t take her eyes off her. “What are you doing here?” Bianca turned to face her and spread her arms, half bowing.‘You,” she proclaimed, “have the pleasure of talking to the photographer.”
“Do I now? How lucky for me.” She didn’t feel lucky. She felt...tingles. Everywhere. Maybe she had more alcohol than she realised. “You look good.” Bianca took a step closer, her smile softening. “Do I?”
Jodie laughed, then softly stated fact. Her heart pounding. “You know you do.” Bianca smirked at that. “Of course I do! But I like that you think so.” She raked her eyes appreciatively over Jodie’s body. “And you,”she paused, took another step closer. “Look delicious.” They held each others gaze. Fighting their own urges.
Jodie shook her head, softly laughing, spell suddenly broken.“What are you doing?” She put her empty glass on the nearby table, folding her arms across her chest as she lent her back against the wall.
Bianca raised an eyebrow then smiled, feigning innocence. “What?”
“You know what.”
A pointed nod. “You started it.”
It was true, technically she had. “I thought we agreed that night at the pub was a one off?”
“And yet,” her voice low “here we are.” Bianca came in front of Jodie, put her hand on the wall and stood over her, close. Jodie wouldn’t meet her eye, suddenly very interested in the crowd. Trying in vain to suppress a frustrated smile. Trying to sound absolute. “We are not doing this.”
Bianca closed the final gap between them.“No?” Bianca couldn’t deny the excitement coming off her own body. Her skin was crawling in the most delicious way. Her hand found Jodie’s hip. The sheer material of her dress doing nothing to conceal the warmth emanating off her body.
Their lips were so close, their breath’s mingling, teasing. Jodie barely had herself under control.
Bianca’s voice, at its lowest register, husky in her ear. “That’s a shame.”
Bianca stood there in the wake of Jodie exploding through her front door. “Okay we need to sort this out because that cannot keep happening every time we go out after dark!”
Bianca had shut the door but hadn’t moved. Watched the brunette tornado around the couch, then the kitchen in a flurry. “I mean it Bianca this is ridiculous! You can’t just smirk that smirk of yours and play with me because you feel like flirting-”
That did it. “Excuse me?! Feel like flirting?” She took a couple of steps forward. “May I remind you who came up behind me at the pub that night? Who told me I looked good tonight? Don’t point the bloody finger at me when you-”
“It’s different for you! You flirt for the sake of it where it means something when I do it!” Jodie froze. Exhaled. Confession she wasn’t expecting. She opened her mouth to say something. It didn’t happen.
Bianca eyed her from her position behind the couch. Rubbed her forehead hard, as if physically trying to find sense - or appropriate words - from within her own skull. She remained standing but put her hands in her pockets. After a couple of minutes she spoke, questioningly. “Play with you?”
Jodie took a deep breath, desperately trying to rid herself of the tension.“Yes, play with me. You love a good flirt. You enjoy it.” She pulled to cans of coke out of the fridge and made her way over to Bianca. Jodie took her spot in the recliner.
“It’s ridiculous, how attracted I am to you.” She expected an arrogant retort, but pressed on when it didn’t come. “The past few months have been so...weird.” A sip of her drink. “We fall into the exact relationship we had, all those years ago. The exact relationship! Except we don’t sleep together. There’s the underlying tension, we both know it, but we just-” she’s up and walking around the lounge room. The defeated confession escaped her lips in a breathy whisper.“I wanted to kiss you so badly tonight.” Defeated. “So badly. But all I could think, was that you were on a night out, and you were merely having fun.”
Bianca stood up. “Yeah I was on a night out. With a bunch of people I hardly knew. I’d only been invited because I’d done a photo shoot for them the week before. I hadn’t even seen Blake until I found you.” She walked around the table tentatively, not breaking eye contact. “And I did find you.”
Jodie almost startled at the intensity of Bianca’s gaze. “Because you are this gorgeous, sexy...delicious
woman.” She stopped right in front of her. She ran her hand up Bianca’s arm as she continued. “And my body,” she brushed the fallen strands of hair behind the brunette’s shoulder, “knows where you are,” closed the distance between them, “whenever you’re in the room.”
“We’ve tried this before.”
Bianca nodded. “Yes, we have. And you left.”
Jodie, solemn, lowered her eyes. “So did you.”
“Okay, but that was then.”
Jodie’s eyes found Bianca’s. “And now?”
Bianca smiled. That cocky, sexy smile.Then sincere. Ran her hand through Jodie’s hair. Rested her forehead against that of the shorter woman’s. “I’m right here.”