Book 1, Chapter 30

When we got to the bar I was disappointed to see no sign of Megan or Katherine.   I was further disa… Relieved.  I was also relieved to see that the bartender was a rather average looking guy with shaggy hair, a goatee, and neither raver nor gothic accessories.

Emma helped me onto a stool and took the one next to me for herself.  She waved at the bartender.  “You know me, Mark,” she said.  Then she pointed at me.  “And Abby’s on my tab.”

Mark nodded.  A moment later he put a shot glass of something green and jeweltone in front of Emma.

“You don’t have to…” I started to tell her, but Emma just shook her head.

“It’s not a big deal,” she said.  “Order whatever.”

I nodded and decided not to argue.  Knowing me, I was going to freak out about something eventually, so I might as well be amenable while I could.  “Okay,” I said.  “Um, water?” I added to Mark.  I may not be arguing but I still didn’t want to take advantage – and I know from hanging out with Megan that even juice gets expensive when it’s on a menu next to booze.

Mark nodded and flipped a bottle out of a cooler.  He caught it in midair and set it down in front of me.  Then he wandered off to check on someone else.

I picked up the bottle.  It was ice cold, which was wonderful.  I still felt a little flushed.  Also, the seal around the cap was in place, so: Score.  I was not about to get roofied.  Unless someone had used a syringe to inject it with drugs, and was trusting any leakage to be mistaken for condensation.  I gave the bottle a surreptitious squeeze to see if water came spraying out of any pinholes.  When I didn’t see any I decided to risk it and drank.

When I put it down the bottle was more than half empty.  I was also a little embarrassed that Emma had just watched me chug it like a frat guy with a beer – and I wondered if she thought I was making light of her generosity.

“I’m the designated driver,” I hastened to explain.  Maybe it was the acoustics of the club, but it seemed easier to talk here at the bar.

Emma chuckled.  “I know how that is,” she said.  Then she threw her shot back, demonstrating that she was under no such constraint tonight.  Mark appeared with another one and then disappeared just as quickly.  Since I still wasn’t feeling drugged and he hadn’t said a word to me so far, I decided I could approve of how Mark handled his business.

“So, really, how’s your ankle?”  Emma asked as she picked up her second glass.  “You’re sure it’s okay?”

I nodded.  I couldn’t afford to go home with a sprained ankle this early.  Who knew what trouble Megan might get into?  She might decide to take advantage of Mr. Salvatore’s prepaid taxies and hit the office party – only to find herself stuffed in a crate and shipped off to some old English castle, where she would spend her days chained up in the wine cellar next to a bunch of other nubile young women.  I couldn’t let her live out the rest of her life imprisoned in the dark by some stodgy butler who doubled as a sommelier of blood types and only let her out for undead banquets!

“I’m fine,” I said.  I wiggled my foot to prove it.  And to distract myself from images of torturous exsanguination devices and surreal vampire drinking habits.  Would they really surgically implant straws in people’s necks just for convenience’s sake?  God, those were some creepy bastards.  I mean, you had to be a sick freak to come up with stuff like that.  I looked at Emma.  “See?”

Emma looked.  For a long time.  In fact, I started to get the impression that she wasn’t just taking in my ankle.  Actually, her gaze seemed to stray as far up my legs as my skirt would allow.

But that was just me being crazy, right?  I mean… I’d obviously just been letting my imagination get away with me when we’d been on the dance floor and I’d thought she was going to try and kiss me.  And now I was doing it again.  And I didn’t even know why!  I wasn’t into girls.  All of my fantasies involved guys.  Sometimes just guys.

My memory betrayed me with the mental image of Emma and Katherine making out, somehow mashed together with some earlier thoughts about Fumiko and Megan.  My legs were crossed, but I found myself squeezing them tighter together.  I tried to smooth my skirt down to cover more of them.  It didn’t really work.

Okay… so, some fantasies had just girls.  But those didn’t count.  They were all Fumiko’s fault.  And besides, I was into guys.  I had a Hans!  In fact, I was so into guys that most of the time when I had fantasies involving other women, they were fantasies about other women with guys.  I couldn’t be into women – I hadn’t even experimented with lesbianism in college, when it would have been socially acceptable!

Of course, I hadn’t actually experimented with guys before yesterday, so maybe that wasn’t the most logical of arguments… but, still!

Emma threw back her second shot and smiled at me.  I kicked the leg of my stool with my bad foot – I didn’t need to be spazzing out because I was imagining a pretty girl might be inexplicably into me.  Especially since I knew she was into guys: Megan had told me Emma had broken up with her boyfriend.  Or had Megan just said there’d been a breakup?  I couldn’t remember.

“So, where do you think Megan and Katherine went?” I asked.

Emma snorted.  “Knowing them?  They probably got a bottle of the good stuff and snuck off somewhere for cuddles.”

I frowned.  True, I’ve seen Megan twitch her fingers, summon a guy, and wind up in his lap before.  And if Katherine snagged a guy by the collar and told him to get on his fucking knees, he would – but she just didn’t strike me as the cuddly sort.

“Hey,” said Emma.  “You look like you bit a lemon!  Am I that bad of company?”

“No,” I said.  “I just can’t imagine Katherine being cuddly,” I added to explain.

Emma laughed.  “It takes some doing, but Katie is a sweetheart when she lets her guard down.”

I must have looked incredulous because Emma laughed again.  “No, really,” Emma said.  She leaned forward, propping her elbows on the bar.  “I… I had a pretty rough time recently,” Emma confessed.  “A bad breakup, you know?  But Katie went into mother hen mode and got me through it.”

I nodded.  I still didn’t see it – but if Megan was friends with Katherine then I guess there had to be something more to her than just terrifying me.

Emma waved to Mark for another drink.  This one she sipped.  “Anyway, that was last year.  So screw that guy.”  She sat up and pumped her fists in mockery of a tough guy pose.  “I am back and ready to party!” she declared.

I fidgeted.  “You should totally do that,” I said – because encouragement seemed to be the desired response and I had no idea what else to say.  Also, I was weirdly disappointed to hear Emma confirm that her ex was a guy, and I was too busy trying to figure out what that was about to make good conversation.  “I’ll watch,” I said.

Emma looked at me and blinked a couple times.

“Ankle,” I explained.  Why was I getting nervous about this?  I wiggled my foot.  “I probably shouldn’t dance on it.  So I’ll watch.”  I didn’t like the idea of sitting alone at the bar, but I could nurse the rest of my water and ignore the crap out of anyone who sat down next to me.  Right?

“That’s no good,” Emma said.  “Dancing just isn’t as fun when you’re on your own.  Although….”  She leaned in and I leaned closer to hear despite myself.  “…I did like how you were watching me before,” Emma confided.  “It was all intense and shivery.”

My eyes widened.  “I… uh…” I stammered.

Emma bit the corner of her lip.  “In fact,” she added in a hushed tone, “I liked it a lot.”  She licked her lips unconsciously and straightened.  She was starting to blush.  “I mean… aw, shoot,” she said.  “Look:  I’ve been a miserable social shut-in for, like, a year.  I probably still have baggage from that guy.  But when Katie convinced me to come out tonight I promised myself it would be a no-regrets evening, right?”

I nodded.  I felt like my brain was working but nothing was happening – I was stuck in a loop of ‘She’s hitting on me!’ and ‘No she isn’t, you sex-obsessed weirdo!’

“So….” Emma finally said.  “I guess what I’m saying is… I know I’m being really forward, but…”  She took a deep breath.  “If you want tofindaprivateboothandfuck, I’dtotallybeokaywiththat.”

The last of Emma’s words came out in a blurted rush, and it took me a stunned moment to decipher them.  “What?” I squawked.  Holy fuck, she actually is hitting on me?

“Or make out?” Emma suggested.  She fidgeted in belated shyness – or maybe embarrassment.  “I’m sorry,” she hastened to add.  “It’s cool if you don’t.  I just… no regrets, right?  I didn’t want to not ask.”

I stared numbly.  I think my mouth was ajar.  I’d been so busy convincing myself I was making things up that Emma’s proposal was a complete blind side, and I had no idea how to answer it.

The logical choice was probably: ‘I’m not a lesbian, sorry.’  But since when have I been logical?  “I have a boyfriend,” I blurted out instead.

And that gave me pause, because, really… did Hans count?  I hadn’t thought he did two hours ago at Megan’s.  Shoot, I’d only known him for two days and we’d only gone out once.  So unless Hans was right about me being the possessive type, I was just freaking out and trying to turn Emma down without actually saying no for some reason.  Why the hell wasn’t I just saying no?!

“Oh,” Emma said.  “Is he open?”

I stared.  What?

Emma winced shyly.  “I mean… my ex always liked it when I fooled around with my girlfriends in front of him.  So if you want to call your guy and ask if it’s okay, that’s cool.”  She suddenly grinned.  “Oh, and I have a camera phone if he wants pics,” she offered.

I didn’t know what to do with that, so I ignored it completely.

“I should warn you,” I said in one last attempt to dissuade her, “I might be the possessive type.”

Emma practically glowed.  “That’s okay,” she said.  “I kind of like that.”

Midnight Moonlight, Book 1

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