“What happened to us, Bethy?”
“What do you mean?”
Dana sighed. “Us. You and me. We’re living two different lives now, you know? I hardly ever see you anymore --”
“Because I’m working,” Bethany interjected. “You are, too. We’ve gotten busy. It’s part of growing up.”
“Well, it sucks.” Dana raised her glass to her lips before she remembered there was nothing in it and set it back in her lap. “I don’t like it. Any of it. This city, the damn building outside all our windows that blocks out everything else. My job, your job --”
Laughing, Bethany asked, “My job? How can you not like my job? It pays all the bills.”
“And keeps you away from me.” Dana twirled her wine glass and pouted at the way the scant light played off it. “We barely see each other and you know it. I come home to an empty house every night, eat dinner by myself, get up in the morning and you’re already gone --”
“Jesus.” Bethany took a shaky breath and chased it down with a sip from her glass, finally. Dana watched her greedily, eager for another drink herself. “You make it sound like we’re an old married couple. I know I’m busy. I’m sorry I’m not around more, but you have to understand, I’m still pretty low on the totem pole at the office. If someone doesn’t want to do something that has to get done, they pass it onto me. I have to leave so early just to get there on time. I mean, yeah, I have a bike, but it takes thirty minutes weaving through busy streets in early morning rush hour and that’s if traffic isn’t heavy. Coming home takes almost twice as long some days, I don’t know why --”
“What time to do you usually leave?” Dana felt bad now, complaining like a petulant child that she never got to see Bethany when her friend had bigger issues just to get to work.
Another sip of wine, and Bethany’s voice evened out. “I’m supposed to work until five thirty, but my boss always, always calls me into his office at quarter past to go over something, and then I end up staying until six or later. If it’s a Tuesday, we have staff meetings at five that run until seven. No one else seems bothered by it, so I pretend I’m not, either. I can’t be all like, oh, I’ve got to go, when the rest of the staff is still hard at work, you know?”
“So you stay until all hours of the night,” Dana asked, “for what, to look good?”
Bethany shrugged. “Partly, yeah. And so when a better position come available, they think of me and move me up.”
Dana let the wine glass fall on its side as she tossed her head against the back of the couch. “God, look at you. You have it all figured out, don’t you?”
“What?” Bethany gave her a funny look. “No, I don’t. Far from it, honey.”
“You’ve got a great job,” Dana went on, “and you’re trying to get a promotion. By this time next year, hell, they’ll be sending you to work in France.”
Bethany laughed. “I wish.”
As far as Dana was concerned, there was nothing funny about the idea. “And I’ll be stuck here. Or worse, back home in BFE. What am I supposed to do with my life, Bethy? Tell me.”
“You’ll figure it out.” Bethany’s hand covered Dana’s knee.
Maybe it was the wine, but at her friend’s touch, a comforting warmth spread through Dana’s thigh and set her crotch tingling. When Bethany patted her knee, each tap crackled along Dana’s overheated flesh, and it took all the strength she had not to grab that hand and pull it up to the V between her legs, where she really wanted it.
“Besides,” Bethany was saying, “if I move to France, you know I’d take you with me. I wouldn’t make you go back to BFE.”
Dana blew out her lower lip, ruffling her bangs. “What the hell do I know about France? Nothing. I can’t speak the language, I can’t read it, the only thing I know is this.”
Without thinking about it, without even realizing what she was going to do, she turned to Bethany and pressed her lips to her friend’s.
Bethany must have been too stunned to pull away. When Dana’s mouth parted, her tongue eased between Bethany’s lips and Bethany did nothing to stop her from delving in.
At least, not at first. It was heady, finally kissing the woman she loved, and Dana leaned in closer, wanting more. Bethany tasted like sweet like freshly baked bread slathered with fruit and honey, though Dana realized that might be the alcohol in her own system tainting her perception.
And maybe it was the wine that made her think Bethany was kissing her back, but she could’ve sworn she felt Bethany’s tongue brush over hers, tentative, unsure. The hand on her knee squeezed, and a small moan escaped Bethany’s lips when Dana pulled back slightly to catch her breath.
It was all the encouragement Dana needed to sigh, “God, Bethy, I’ve loved you forever, don’t you know that yet?”
Then Bethany pinched her knee, and Dana sat back with a cry. “Ow! What --”
Pushing past her, Bethany rose from the couch. “I’m sorry, but ... I’m not -- we can’t --”
Confused, Dana frowned up at her friend. “Can’t what? You kissed me back. I thought --”
“We’re just friends, okay?” Bethany’s voice was shaky with fear or tears, maybe both. “I’m sorry if you thought I was ... but I’m not. I’m just not.”