Tales and Musings

Original Fic: Charming

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Original Fic: Charming

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Part of the Nancy and Gretchen series I'm doing. This is from Nancy's POV. Eventually this will be a series of short stories, or perhaps a book.

Warnings: Lesbian theme and content.
Rated: PG-13, maybe.


“Come on, Nancy. It’s just a few friends, and some dessert.” Her voice is cajoling, patient. She’s so patient with my foibles.

She wants me to be charming. It would be laughable if I didn’t know she truly does find me charming. I stare suspiciously at her. Why she finds me charming is a mystery best explained by the Goddess after I move beyond the veil. “Why?”

“Dean wants to meet you. I’ve known him two years and he’s never met my wife. He just wants to meet you. You haven’t seen Laura in awhile. Terry will be there. It’ll be fun, honey, I promise.” She lays a hand on my arm, slides another around my waist. I relax into her familiar embrace.

I sigh deeply. Why does she always try to pull me away from the familiar safety of our house? Doesn’t she know I have work to do? Doesn’t she realize…I don’t like people, particularly not in person. I don’t find them charming, or amusing, or interesting. Just her. She’s all I need. I think for a moment about what she might need.

“I’ll think about it. Depends on how I feel by then. All right?” I smile at her and she smiles back, satisfied for the moment.

She leaves to go to work an hour or so later and I’m once more left in blessed peace. I try not to notice how quiet the house is when she’s not in it. I really do like the quiet. Being a writer means that interruptions aren’t conducive to creating the next Brilliant Short Story. Still, I find it difficult to focus this evening. I rise and turn on some music. It doesn’t help. I pace and think and smoke.

I am not charming. Truly, I’m not. She thinks I am, and that makes me think I can be, at least for an evening. It’s often this way; she’s convinced I can do or be some particular thing. With tremendous effort, I sometimes find I can be. For her. Only for her. I grab the phone and dial. Her sweet voice is in my ear in an instant.

“Hi, Baby. I miss you. I love you. I’ll come. What time.” It comes out in one breath, before I can change my mind. I never break a promise to her, unless I cannot help it. She tells me what time and we talk for a moment more before she has to hang up. Some crisis in the kitchen, no doubt.

I am not charming. Her friends think I am. She says they’re my friends too. I know better. I am cranky and irritable, aloof and reserved. At times, I am frankly mistrustful. I am often lacking in basic social graces. I don’t give my heart or my friendship easily. Once, long ago, I gave it all and it was thrown back to me. It took me more than a decade to mend myself, and another two years after that for my darling to finish the job well enough so that I could give my heart and soul to this amazing creature that graces my life.

She is everything I am not. She is light; I am darkness. She is easy gregariousness; I am angst ridden suspicion. She is fluent conversation. I am icy silence and raised eyebrows at the effrontery of it all. Virtual strangers trying to make conversation with me, a condition I discourage. She is open and trusting, sometimes too much so. I am the safety net that prevents her from being used by the unscrupulous. I trust no one. Just her. Always her.

I sit at the computer, a blank canvas open in front of me. I’m ready to paint another word picture. Ideas and thoughts flow, sometimes easily. The story completes itself without my conscious volition. I simply try to type fast enough to not miss anything. Characters become flesh and blood, setting becomes real. I look up several hours later. It’s a bit of shock to see I’m still in the same familiar office I’ve been using for years. I expected to find myself in Greece, somehow.

I glance at the clock. Damn. Almost time to go. I close my canvas and reluctantly shower and dress. I climb in the car and go to her domain. Her calling and avocation; her restaurant. The bell above the door jingles as I slink inside. Uncomfortable is not quite the word I’d use to describe my state of mind, but it’s close.

She’s there by my side before the door can close, kissing my cheek, a chaste public bussing of lips to skin. It never fails to surprise me; this easy display of affection. Long ago, it shocked me. Now, it heals me in placed where I didn’t realize I was wounded. Her arm slides to the small of my back, guiding me to the social setting she’s determined I inhabit. A waitress brings me a Diet Coke, no ice and an ashtray. She greets me hesitantly. I smile and thank her. The employees treat me with a mixture of reverence and surprise; it’s not often I grace these walls with my presence.

I slide into a chair, grateful for its support. Immediately I’m engulfed in a hug. There’s a woman on my lap. Not my woman. It’s Laura, temptation incarnate, disguised as a warm and affectionate friend. I love her, I really do. In small doses. She sees too clearly, knows too much. She kisses my cheek and retreats, knowing exactly how large a dose I can stand.

My wife is there again, at my elbow, introducing me to people. There is Terry, familiar and amused, non threatening and wickedly funny. He knows how uncomfortable I am in social situations. He thinks it’s cute and is relentless with his comments. They’re always gentle, and they do draw me out. I allow it, Goddess knows why. There is a strange woman whose name I don’t catch. Possessively, I slide my hand up my wife’s arm, staking my claim clearly. I make sure our wedding bands are displayed at least twice in five minutes. There’s no reason to and I know this. Nonetheless, I claim what is mine, as is my nature.

There is Dean, whom I’ve never met. He’s obviously got a serious crush on Terry, who ignores him. We make small talk and his eyes constantly shift from me to the man sitting next to him. I find out Dean works at the bar they all hang out at. The one I flat out refuse to go to, unless threatened. Or unless Laura is singing. He tells me pointedly that he’s single and gay, as if this matters to me. He smiles warmly at me and tells me he’s happy to finally meet me. I return the sentiment, however unwillingly.

There is a reason Terry is single and I idly wonder what it might be. I decide it’s more fun to make up reasons than it would be to ask him. I’d hate it if he were to ask me something so personal. He asks anyway; I usually answer. Terry is a tsunami and always has been. He’s determined to win my trust, if not my affection. He’s no idea he already has both, albeit in small quantities.

Laura is asking me questions interspersed with innuendo about the people sitting around us. In this way she gives me information about who and what they are. I answer her absently, mind working busily, inventing connections. I file them away for future use on a new blank canvas. I ask after her husband and child, her work, her life, focusing on her for nearly an hour. I’ve missed her, I realize. Spontaneously I hug her, not missing my wife’s pleased smile at the contact. Laura is warmth and softness, wickedly sexy humor and the same core of reserve that I myself possess. We get along much better than people think.

My Gretchen is there and not, gliding gracefully through the restaurant, taking care of work, yet not leaving me on my own for long. Before I know it, there are dishes in front of me. I am eating appetizers and dessert. I am laughing and joking with people. I am having fun. I am charming and rather witty. I surprise myself. I never surprise her; she knows I can do this. She knows I enjoy it, once persuaded. I have a million new ideas for the next Brilliant Short Story. Some of them might even be workable.

She pulls me out of myself because she can. She knows I need this. She needs this from me. Not really, but she likes it; to show off her wife is something that gives her pleasure. I have no idea why. I am not charming. I am not witty. Except when I am. She cleverly makes me think she needs for me to come out of myself, when really it’s my need she’s meeting.

People begin to leave. I make the polite noises to most, and give more personal gestures to the two I like best. A hug and kiss and promise of a phone call to Laura. Another hug and wicked suggestion regarding Dean for Terry. He smacks my ass and thinks he might take my advice. I know he won’t. The restaurant is quiet. I am busy scribbling impressions in a notebook, preserving turns of phrase that flit through my mind underneath the conversation. She comes to me, sits beside me, presses her warmth next to mine.

“Did you have fun?” She asks me this, knowing what I will say, what I always say. I turn and press a kiss to her temple. My scribbling resumes. I sketch her out in words, glancing at her face from time to time. Finally, I answer her.

“It was somewhat bearable.” I laugh softly at her expression. “It was nice. We’ll do it again next week?” She nods, pleased with me. I am filled with a warm glow of happiness. She moves away, closing down her kingdom. I scribble and cross out, think and write and absently drink my Diet Coke. I smoke and think and write some more.

Finally she’s finished and we go home. Together. She always knows exactly what I need. Bless her heart, she makes me take what I need, even when I don’t want to. Every single week.
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