I am a hopeless romantic. And this, well, it's endearing. It's sweet. It makes you say, "awe!" It's lovely. And it's from Imperfect! Does it get any better than that? ;)
Happy reading, y'all! :)
Carol had anticipated this day for years. Just like so many college students, the day she could legally drink was a great rite of passage in her life.
Marlene, Carol’s roommate, along with other friends and fellow students, had planned a wild night for their typically reclusive friend. Carol knew it would be a long, unpredictable night despite her early class. Carol didn’t care, though. She never went out and never partied. Her social life typically consisted of long nights with her textbooks. She deserved this one night to live it up.
At around seven, there was a thunderous pounding on Carol’s dorm room door. Wearing makeup and nice clothes for a change, Carol opened the door. A herd of people stood in front of her, some of whom Carol didn’t even recognize. She didn’t mind. This was her night. Tonight was her night to live, to laugh, and to enjoy.
“Surprise!” Everyone shouted, but the surprise was on them. Marlene was floored to find Carol wearing an uncharacteristically soft, delicate, slightly ruffled black blouse and a cute asymmetrical black skirt. This was Marlene’s first time in four years seeing Carol in anything other than a tee-shirt and jeans. Her outfit confirmed her ownership of this night. Carol grabbed her winter coat and purse and the crowd left to go paint the town.
Marlene had decided on the evening’s venue. Since her roommie was openly gay, Marlene led the crowd to the best lesbian bar in town: City Girls.
Carol’s troops wasted no time in splurging on shots, beer and a variety of hard alcoholic beverages.
Carol, normally introverted, drank the shots and other intoxicating spirits; it didn’t take long for her to become inebriated.
Alexandria, a 24-year old local, watched the loud, raucous group and quietly chuckled to herself. She went to City Girls tonight to people watch and she certainly got an eye-full.
Suddenly, Carol got off her bar stool to go to the ladies’ room. Carol tripped over her own two drunken feet and began to fall forward. She saved herself by slamming her hand on the table in front of Alex. Embarrassed, Carol slowly pulled herself up to find the dark beauty smiling back at her. With skin like rich, dark chocolate, eyes that were beautiful, tranquil, bottomless pools, and neatly braided jet black hair, Alexandria took Carol’s breath away. The two paused and the world around them melted away as they intensely stared at each other.
“Sorry,” Carol weakly whispered. Mortified that she had made such a fool of herself in front of this stunning woman, Carol hastily stumbled to the ladies’ room.
Carol leaned onto the sink and held on to it with all her might in fear she might fall over again. She took in a few deep breaths as she stared at herself in the mirror. Carol’s beauty was her simplicity. She had brown hair to her shoulder in a simple style, but there was a special charm to it. Her skin was fair and delicately painted with tiny freckles. Her face seemed plain, but it was brilliantly symmetrical. The very tip of her nose turned upward in a playful manner. Her deep brown eyes sparkled like jewels. She had a slight gap in between her front teeth; Carol was embarrassed by it, but her father had always compared her to model Lauren Hutton. He told his beloved daughter that the imperfection made her unique and beautiful. Carol sighed thinking of her father’s words. She pushed the faucet on for cold water and took a few handfuls to sip with the unrealistic hope she would miraculously sober up. She really wanted to go back and talk to that gorgeous mahogany queen. Focusing on her father’s words telling her that she was pretty, Carol mustered up the courage to go back out and speak to the woman who currently occupied every thought in her mind.
Carol took a step slowly and then stepped again. She focused on each step and she walked back out to the bar, this time with a bit more grace.
As she turned the corner, she saw the beautiful black woman still sitting at the table. Carol’s crowd hadn’t even noticed her absence.
Alexandria happened to look up at just the right moment, and saw Carol carefully approaching her. Alex’s dark eyes lit up and she smiled a big, beautiful, wide smile at the birthday girl.
Carol carefully sat across from the intriguing woman. “Hi,” she said feebly. “I’m so sorry about before. I normally never drink, but today’s my twenty first birthday.”
Alex began to laugh lightly. “It’s ok. I understand.” Her voice was smooth and rich. Carol was becoming more intoxicated on this woman than she was on the alcohol. “I’m Alexandria. My friends call me Alex.” The dark beauty extended her hand to Carol.
Carol grasped her hand. Alex’s skin was soft and as smooth as silk. “I’m Carol,” she replied. “My friends call me Carol,” she joked as she gently shook Alex’s hand. Alex couldn’t help chuckling at Carol’s wisecrack.
Suddenly, a large wave of cheers and shouts sounded from the bar. Both Alex and Carol looked over. Carol’s group was intently engaged in a drinking game. The team of people who had come with her were busy celebrating, having completely forgotten the cause of the celebration. They did’nt appear to be slowing down either. It didn’t matter though, Carol was enjoying this quiet time with Alex more than anything. Alexandria’s company was an exceptional birthday present for Carol.
Alex stole a glance at her watch. “Well, it was nice meeting you.”
Carol looked up at Alex, startled.
“It’s 11:30 already. I need to go.”
“I should go too. I have an 8 o’clock class,” Carol replied.
“Do you want a ride home?” The question was unexpected. Carol wasn’t sure if she should trust this woman she had just met. Whether alcohol induced, or caused by infatuation, she accepted the offer.
The two ladies quietly left City Girls and walked to Alex’s white Camry. Alex opened the door for Carol. Even in her drunken state, Carol thought about A Bronx Tale, and quickly unlocked the door for Alex.
“Thanks,” Alex winked as she got in. “So, where to, birthday girl?”
Carol blushed. “I live at the Martin-Haagen dorm at the University.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Alex enthusiastically answered. “What are you studying?”
“I’m a computer science major with a history minor.”
“That’s an unusual pairing.”
“I know. I’d love to be an historian,” Carol admitted, “but I know I’d have a better career in computers.”
“Smart plan. I’m impressed.”
“Thanks.” Carol blushed again. “What about you?”
“I’m a paralegal.”
“That’s really interesting,” Carol said sincerely.
“It’s ok. It’s a living.” Alex pulled up to the front of Carol’s dorm. “Well, I guess we’re here.”
“Oh,” Carol said, surprised that the trip had seemed so quick – too quick. “Thanks.” She began to open the door.
“Wait,” implored Alex. Carol turned to look at the striking woman again. “Did you get what you wanted for your birthday?”
Carol paused for a moment. “Yeah – I spent my birthday with great company,” she answered flirtatiously.
“How about something sweet for your special day?” Carol looked at Alex, puzzled. Alex slowly leaned in and gently kissed Carol. Her lips were warm, soft, and inviting. It was the sweetest birthday present Carol ever had. Slowly, Alex pulled away and the two women just smiled at each other. Alex took Carol’s hand and placed something in it. “Here’s my card,” she said tantalizingly. “Feel free to call me – any time.”
Carol sat in the car staring at this amazing woman. “Thanks,” she quietly replied. Reluctantly, she opened the door and slowly stepped out.
“Happy birthday,” Alex called through the open door. Her smile seemed endless now. Carol gleamed back as the car door closed.
Carol watched Alex pull away. This was definitely Carol’s best birthday ever. She looked forward to seeing Alex again.
A week passed by since Carol met Alex. Carol desperately wanted to call her, but her inhibitions held her back. Now it was Valentine’s Day and Carol was spending it alone, studying as usual.
Carol looked over the words in her textbook about servers, hardware, CPU’s, and other endless computer terminology when she was startled by a knock on her door. All of her floor-mates knew she’d be studying.
Carol wondered who was at her door.
She opened the door hesitantly. Before her stood Alex, radiant as ever in a beautiful red dress that contrasted nicely against her dark skin. Alex held a dozen roses and handed them to a dumbstruck Carol. Slowly, Carol’s face began to reflect the bright, beautiful smile and glow from Alex’s face.
“It’s a good thing your friends like to talk,” Alexandria said.
Carol just stood there silently for several minutes. Finally she said softly, “I’ve wanted to call…”
“I heard,” Alex laughed. “Now, are you ready to go?”
“But – I’m – you...”
“Oh, just put those books away, and come with me already.” Alex jokingly commanded Carol.
Carol simply laughed and walked out of her dorm room with her stunning companion.
Alex drove them to her apartment. It was the ground level of a house and she had her own driveway. It seemed to be a nice, quiet place to live. As they entered, Carol was greeted by candles lit all over the apartment. The dining room table had two tall pink taper candles glowing beautifully. Rose petals surrounded the two places settings on the table. It was the most beautiful, romantic picture Carol had ever seen.
Alex grabbed Carol’s hand. “C’mon, it’s ok.” Alex led Carol into the cozy apartment. Carol heard smooth jazz music playing in the background. Alex had tended to even the most minute of details. “Sit,” Alex quietly said.
Carol sat herself at one of the elegant place settings at the long, rectangular, wooden dining room table without saying a word.
“Ever have Riesling wine?” Alex asked.
Carol shook her head no.
“It’s my favorite. I have a major sweet tooth so I even like my wine sweet. It’s very light and fruity. I think you’ll like it.” Alex sounded like a wine expert as she poured the two glasses. “So,” she said setting the glasses down and sitting across from Carol. “Tell me about yourself. Not that your friends haven’t already told me a lot. You have them to thank for this by the way.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I had this all planned out, but all I had to go on was your first name. I drove back to your dorm in the hopes that I would somehow find you. Thankfully a group of people were just heading out of your dorm as I pulled up.”
“Marlene,” Carol whispered.
“Is that your roommate?”
“Well, thank God. She saw me and came right up to me. She asked me if I was the ‘incredible Alexandria’ that you met at City Girls last week. I told her I was anything but incredible, but my name is Alexandria.”
Carol giggled quietly.
“Anyway,” Alex continued to ramble. “She asked me if I was there to get you. I said yes, but only if you didn’t have other plans. So then she laughed and said your plans were a hot date with your books. She told me all this stuff about how quiet you are, you take classes every term, even during school breaks, you rarely date, blah blah blah. So please explain to me how a cute and obviously very intelligent girl like you isn’t living it up during your college years.”
Carol silently stared back at her companion. How on Earth would she even begin to explain everything? “It’s – uh – complicated,” she said softly in the hopes that it would satisfy Alex.
“Well, that’s ok. We’ll start with the simple stuff. And we’ll do that over dinner.” Alex stood up and walked into the kitchen. She returned with two heaping salad bowls. “Caesar salad ok?”
“Oh yeah – great. Thanks,” Carol sheepishly answered. Carol felt so awkward next to this beautiful, elegant, graceful, articulate, boisterous woman. Her ambitious attitude and her positive personality was all too irresistible for Carol. Alex was so intriguing and inviting to Carol. She wanted to be wrapped up in the light and beauty of this woman. She wondered what she had to offer Alexandria. What did Alex see in her? She felt lacking compared to Alex, yet there was an incredible comfort and safety she felt with her. Carol had never felt so at ease before – not even with her own family.
“Ok,” Alex started in again. “So, explain the computers and history thing to me.”
“Well, like I said, technology is constantly changing, improving and becoming more and more of a cornerstone to all businesses. There’s steady work there, but I love history, always have.”
“Really?” Alex cocked her head to the side; she was intrigued.
“My dad was really into history. Since I’m an only child, I spent a lot of time with him when he wasn’t working. He loved me like a daughter, but treated me like a son. He’d read me historical stories and books. We watched a lot of historical movies together. He taught me a lot.”
“That is so sweet,” Alex soothingly commented. “Is he proud that his little girl is a history minor?”
Carol looked down at her salad. She pushed a few pieces of lettuce around the bowl before answering. “My father died almost four years ago now.” Her bottom lip began to quiver.
Alex reached out and placed her hand over Carol’s. “Oh, I am so sorry.”
Carol heard the sincerity and compassion in Alex’s voice. Slowly, she looked up and her eyes locked with Alex. “Thanks,” her voice was shaky.
After a few quiet, awkward moments, the conversation started up again and the two made small talk during the rest of Alex’s delightful dinner.
Carol found herself laying on Alex's couch with her head resting in Alex's lap as Alex continually ran her fingers through Carol's soft brown hair. Carol felt as if she was in heaven. It felt perfect. Carol couldn’t feel more comfortable or content.
“By the time I had graduated high school, I had kissed and briefly dated three girls. I just kind of knew,” Carol began. “I decided it was important that I told my folks before I went off to college. So, one night – just a few weeks before I left for school, I decided to tell them.”
“Uh oh,” Alex mumbled.
Carol sighed heavily. “I don't know what I expected, but it didn't go well. It got nasty pretty quick. Dad, as usual, was trying to keep the peace between my mother and me. We never had a great relationship, and my coming out just made it worse.”
“So, anyway, mom started screaming. I was crying, and Dad couldn't fix any of it. He tried. He tried so hard to understand me and to keep my mom cool.”
“I wasn't trying to piss my mom off any more, but it seemed that she refused to accept that her one and only daughter was gay. I refused to take it back, to deny who I really was – am. My mother's inability to accept me and my refusal to pretend to be something I'm not just escalated everything to an all out shouting match.
“My poor dad tried so hard to let me be me and to comfort my mom at the same time, but it just wasn’t working. Mom was calling me all kinds of horrid names. He told her to stop, but she wouldn't. I was just crying so hard – I was inconsolable and you could just see how much that broke his heart. It all became way too much for him. So he said he was gonna go for a ride on his motorcycle to clear his head.”
“Was that normal for him?” Alex's voice was soothing and reassuring to Carol.
“When things got out of control, yeah. Mom's so overbearing and bitter. Dad's bike was his sanity.
“He was going to leave,” Carol's voice cracked. “I begged him not to go – not to leave me. My dad was my best friend – my savior. I didn't want to be left alone with my mother.” Tears began racing down her face. “He told me he wasn't leaving me. He said he'd be gone for just a few minutes. He looked at me and said, 'it's gonna be ok, kiddo.' Those were the last words he ever said. We got a call a few hours later. Dad was killed in an accident while he was riding. Some asshole who was driving a big SUV wasn't paying attention...” Carol began to sob so much that she could not speak.
“Oh honey,” Alex tried to comfort her by rubbing her shoulders. “I'm so sorry,” she whispered.
After several minutes of uncontrolled weeping, Carol was able to compose herself enough to continue. “My mother blamed me for Dad's death. She blamed me for a lot of things and she just added dad's death to the list. I guess I was just too evil in her eyes. In a way, she was right. Had I not come out, he wouldn't have left - or gotten killed. So, she kicked me out of the house that night and hasn't spoken to me since. I can't say I blame her.” Her crying started up again.
“Sssshhhh. Don't say that. It's not your fault.” Alex paused. “You do know it's not your fault, right Carol?”
“I don't know,” Carol blurted out between tears.
“It's not. What happened is horrible and I am sorry for that. But, it's not your fault, Carol. I promise you that.”
Carol wept uncontrollably for the next few minutes until she couldn’t cry any more. “So,” she blubbered, “I went to school and I've just buried myself in my studies. I took classes even during school breaks like Marlene said. I had nowhere else to go. So I stayed on campus all day, every day. I took classes I didn't need just to stay busy. Studying and working so hard also helped me to not think of the pain of Dad's death, or the cruelty of mom's words. It helped and I'm graduating Magna Cum Laude so the work's been worth it.” Carol took a deep breath.
Unsure what to say, Alexandria decided the conversation needed to change direction to ease Carol's pain. “So, how did last week happen, then?”
Carol chuckled through her sniffles. “Marlene and I met at Freshman orientation. We've actually been roommates since day one. She and her boyfriend, Brad, are always out. It's one reason we get along so well. She's never home and I'm always home. Kinda funny how that worked out.”
“She insisted that I go out for my birthday. She said 21 was way too important to miss. I figured one night out wouldn't kill me. Marlene knew about City Girls and she's straight. She decided that was the best place for me to spend my big day and the rest is history.”
Alex laughed as Carol wiggled in to cuddle with her.
“Hey, what time is it?”
Alex looked over her shoulder to see the big digital clock on the oven behind her. “2:38.”
“Oh shit,” Carol mumbled. “I should go.” As she sat up, she noticed a snow storm had started some time earlier. The snow was falling heavily. “If it keeps up like this, classes might be canceled,” Carol thought to herself. She looked up to Alex for an answer.
“You want me to bring you back? I will if you want.”
Carol sighed. Not once in four years had she ever played hooky from school and classes might be canceled anyway. “No,” she finally decided. “But I promise I won't be a burden.”
“You're no burden. Girl, I'd love it if you stayed.”
Carol turned to the beautiful Alex, confused. Alex saw the confusion in Carol’s eyes. She slowly leaned over and tenderly kissed her.
“You have got to get over this,” Alex said. “I invited you here for a reason. You're beautiful, intelligent, sensitive – you're different, Carol. In a good way. I really want to know you better.”
Carol still looked puzzled. Alex placed her hand on Carol's face as she leaned in to kiss her again. This was a longer, softer kiss. There was emotion in this kiss. It was passionate, yet tender. Finally after several moments of pure bliss, Alex slowly pulled away. Carol finally opened her eyes. They sat in silence, visually studying each other.
Finally, Carol broke the silence. “I, we, should get some rest.”
“Ok. I'm sorry to say, this couch isn’t comfortable to sleep on.”
“Actually,” Carol stammered, “I was wondering – ummm, can I sleep next to you?”
Alex's eyes grew wide and bright. “Of course!” She stood up and held out her hand. Carol placed her hand in Alexandria's and stood up. They walked hand-in-hand to Alex's bedroom.
Alex pulled back the thick, warm duvet and bed sheets. Carol crawled in underneath all the warmth and soaked it in. Alex followed suit. She pulled herself right behind Carol and placed her arms around her. Carol had never felt so safe, or so wonderful, as to just lay in Alex's arms. Quickly and comfortably, the two slipped into sweet sleep.