She was laughing at me and calling me a wuss but all I was conscious of was that my body was pressed against hers and our faces were a mere inch apart. What would happen if I kissed her now? That dilemma passed when Jane kissed me on the cheek and tickled me and the moment was gone.
There had been other “moments” as we were often physically close, whether walking arm in arm or snuggled up on the sofa watching a film but nothing ever came of them and it made me even more reluctant to bare my soul. Surely if Jane was interested she’d have made a move by now right? Or at least given me some kind of indication that she found me attractive?
Jane helped me take the boxes down to the local dump and when we returned we went to our separate houses to get ready for our usual Saturday night “date”. Unless Jane was dating, which seemed to be less and less these days, or one of us was busy, we tried to find somewhere new to go every Saturday and this week it was the turn of a new Cuban restaurant that had opened up in town.
The food was distinctly average but the barman could make a mean cocktail, so after several caipirinhas we were feeling no pain and enjoying the lively atmosphe re, despite the food not being great. We were just thinking about moving onto a nearby bar when the music changed tempo and the volume increased as two dancers whirled their way onto a small dance floor, the Latin beat filling the room as their synchronized movements, full of passion and innuendo, caught eve ryone’s attention.
There was enthusiastic applause when they finished but rather than starting again they each grabbed someone from a table to dance with instead and the dance floor started to fill up with couples trying to emulate their style.
“Come on!” Jane said enthusiastically, grabbing my hand and hauling me out of my chair before I had a chance to answer.
I don’t profess to be an accomplished dancer but Jane seemed to at least know the basics, so with her guidance we danced until we were exhausted and I collapsed back into my chair as Jane excused herself to visit the bathroom.
“What’s up?” she asked on her return. I can only assume that I had a somewhat wistful look on my face but I was hardly about to tell her that I’d been thinking about how wonderful it felt to have her hands on my body as we danced. She hadn’t got as raunchy as the professionals but never the less, her hands had skimmed my curves and she had absolutely no idea of the scorch marks they’d left in their wake.
“I was just thinking that learning to dance properly might be fun,” I lied convincingly “fancy coming to a class with me?” I was deviously thinking that if we got to spend more time dancing close then I might find a way to show Jane I was interested in her.
“Hmmm maybe.” Ok, so that wasn’t the enthusiastic response I’d hoped for but I was sure I could work on getting her agreement.
We asked for the bill and while we were waiting Jane asked if I fancied one last dance. As we joined the dance floor the music changed to a slow dance and I thought Jane was going to sit down again, so I grabbed her hand to stop her.
“This I actually know how to dance to.” I stated and pulled her close and placed my hands on her hips.
Only seconds into the dance I realised I was being guided and couldn’t help but laugh out loud, causing Jane to look at me quizzically with a raised eyebrow.
“Sorry, I just thought it funny that you instantly took the lead”
“Hey, I’m used to dancing with women and you’re used to dancing with men; it makes sense for me to lead.” And with that she dipped me theatrically, making me squeal and laugh.
As the dance ended we hugged and I turned my head to kiss Jane on the cheek, thanking her for a fun night. It seemed Jane had a similar idea and as she turned her head as well my kiss landed squarely on her lips. Despite it being the briefest of kisses I know I flushed but it had nothing to do with embarrassment and everything to do with the electric feeling of her lips on mine, so I turned quickly and headed back to the table hoping she hadn’t noticed.
Our taxi ride home was unusually quiet that night and whereas we generally ended the evening with a coffee or nightcap in my house or hers, Jane declined and said she just wanted to head to bed. I was feeling a little squiffy from the cocktails myself but I did find it strange, especially when Jane was stiff as a board when I gave her our usual hug goodbye, so I tried to put a brave face on things and headed inside to bed, drifting into sleep concerned that my accidental kiss had damaged our relationship.
Something woke me but I didn’t know what. Lifting my head from the pillow was a bad idea and I instantly vowed never to drink another caipirinha. Fortunately I’d had the foresight to take a large glass of water to bed with me, so I downed it in one with a couple of aspirin and went back to sleep almost instantly.
The next time I woke I had a strange sensation that something was wrong. I cautiously lifted my head and was pleasantly surprised that the water and aspirin had done their job as my head was no longer banging. It was only when I sat up properly that I noticed Jane sprawled out across the bottom of my bed, fast asleep.
The room wasn’t overly warm and she was only wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top, so I covered her in a light fleecy blanket before heading to the bathroom on my way to the kitchen, noticing my mobile on the counter flashing to say I had a message.
Jane had sent a text at about 8.30 asking if I was up for breakfast, which was probably what woke me the first time, so I rummaged through the fridge.
As I walked back into the bedroom carrying a tray, I couldn’t help sigh at the sight of Jane snuggled up on my bed. She looked so sweet as she slept that I placed the tray on the desk and bent over to kiss her lightly on the forehead. She smiled slightly in her sleep but didn’t stir, so I kissed her gently on her nose.
She stretched like a cat before her eyes opened and she realised where she was, suddenly sitting bolt upright and clutching her head as her hangover reasserted itself.
“Here you go,” and I handed her a glass of water and a couple of aspirin which she accepted gratefully.
“This will help too.” As I sat in bed propped up against the headboard with the tray on my knees, patting the empty side of the bed beside me.
Jane looked dubious for a moment (which didn’t go unnoticed by me) but kicked off her slippers and came and sat under the covers with me, the smell of bacon and scrambled eggs on toast, or the sight of a cup of tea obviously too much to resist.
We ate in silence for the most part but once finished Jane sat back and patted her tummy.
“Ellie you are an absolute angel — that was just what the doctor ordered.” And she flashed me one of her gorgeous smiles, making me relax somewhat.
“So just what were you doing on my bed young lady?”
“Ah yes, sorry about that. I’d sent you a text and when you didn’t answer I came around to wake you up but you looked so peaceful I didn’t have the heart to disturb you. I only sat down for a moment and the next thing I knew you were kissing my nose!”
“You should have got under the covers; you’d have been more comfortable.”
“Hmmm maybe. Sorry, I need the bathroom.” And with that she climbed out of bed and quickly left the room.
I sat there in bed wondering what to do. Jane was definitely being offish with me — usually she’d have a witty comeback. Maybe it was that kiss last night or maybe it was her hangover. Should I just leave it for now or should I try to force the issue and find out one way or the other?
When Jane returned she suggested that we go for a long walk to clear the cobwebs, followed by lunch at a quaint little pub we’d discovered a few weeks ago. I readily accepted, glad that she was still up for making plans with me despite the strangeness between us, so Jane headed home to shower and change while I did the same.
Just as I got out of the shower my phone rang and I was delayed for a few minutes by an old friend, the upshot of this is that by the time Jane returned, I was still wrapped in a towel rummaging through my underwear drawer. She didn’t speak but I knew she was there, standing in the doorway behind me, watching, so I decided to take the bull by the horns to see what would happen.
I dropped the towel and stepped into my knickers, turning around to face her once I had. I let out a long sigh and stood in front of the mirror with my hands on my hips.
“I think I better stick to salad for lunch, I swear I’ve put on a few pounds; what do you think?”
I hoped my question sounded innocent, this wasn’t the first time she’d seen me scantily clad after all, and when she came and stood behind me and looked into the mirror over my shoulder, I could see the confusion in her eyes.
“You put on weight? You know d–n well that you can eat what you want and not gain an ounce!”
Her hands were on my bare shoulders and I could feel her breath on my damp neck and suddenly I was covered in goose bumps, with nipples hard enough to cut glass. Needless to say she didn’t fail to notice — I just hoped she had no idea of the flood that was currently happening in my underwear.
I had deliberately forced this situation but now I had I didn’t know what to do about it, so I just looked at Jane in the reflection. Suddenly she took a big intake of breath and bolted from the room shouting “sorry, think I forgot to lock the door, back in a minute.” over her shoulder as she left.
I sat on the bed for a moment and composed myself. Jane had definitely been checking me out so maybe she was interested after all but if so, why run like a startled rabbit? Now I was more confused than ever!
After dressing I walked around to Jane’s house, calling out as I let myself in through the back door. I was wondering why she’d been so long and had a horrible feeling she was going to cancel our lunch date due to my little stunt.
On getting no response I headed for the stairs where I could hear her half of a phone conversation drifting down.
“I am not being a scaredy cat! …………………….. No, of course I have”t told her ………………………….Yes it’s been ages but ………………… It’s not that simple Mum ………………….shit, I have to go. Bye Mum, love you.”
I called out again and this time she called back saying she’d be right down, so I sat on a kitchen stool waiting nervously, until she walked into the kitchen and greeted me with a big smile, saying “come on, let’s go and walk up an appetite.”
When we reached the pub Jane went to the bar as I found a table. I was sitting there studying the way her arse filled her jeans so perfectly when I heard her cough, so I looked up and found myself staring straight into her eyes. Shit! I’d been caught blatantly checking her out and my face turned every shade of scarlet known to man.
She looked pensive as she brought two pints of ruby ale back to the table so I suspected something but I was still caught off guard by her frankness when she spoke.
“Were you teasing me deliberately earlier?”
I stuttered and stammered and nearly choked on my drink. I’d brought this on myself but now the subject was in the air I had absolutely no idea what to do or say.
“What makes you think that?” I finally got out, my face once again resembling a beetroot.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe the fact that I also just caught you staring at my arse!”
She was laughing as she spoke; probably trying to keep the mood light but all of a sudden I was angry that my obvious discomfort was so amusing to her.
“Well maybe I was trying to gauge if you found me attractive,” I hissed through clenched teeth “and I have to say that having you run out of the room like a startled rabbit didn’t exactly do wonders for my confidence, AND to make matters worse — now you’re laughing at me!”
“Oh Ellie I’m sorry but the look on your face when I caught you was so comical I couldn’t help it!” She was almost crying with laughter and it wasn’t helping my mood.
“You know what, maybe this was a bad idea.” and before I knew what I was doing I’d stormed out of the pub door and was striding across the car park. I knew I was being ridiculous but the combination of embarrassment and anger had triggered my fight or flight response and apparently flight won that battle hands down. I was almost out of sight of the pub when I heard her.
“Ellie! Ellie come back. Where the f–k are you going?”
“Home!” I shouted back over my shoulder.
“You’re going the wrong way!”
I may have been behaving like a toddler having a tantrum but I wasn’t stupid enough to keep marching in the wrong direction. It was only seconds before I felt Jane’s hands on my shoulders, gently turning me around and the next thing I knew she had me wrapped in a tight embrace as I sobbed into her shoulder.
“Ellie what on earth is going on?”
I couldn’t answer her. I didn’t know what to say.
“Come on.” and she guided me to a table in the garden, sat me down and ordered me to stay put until she returned, which she did with a handful of tissues and our drinks.
“Ok woman, so do you want to tell me what’s going on in that pretty head of yours?”
I kept trying to say something but I couldn’t get the words right in my head, however Jane came to my rescue again.
“How about I ask you questions and you answer them — would that help?”
I nodded as I sniffled into a tissue because it wasn’t like I could avoid the issue now I’d made a royal arse of myself, so I took a deep breath and waited for the first question, desperately hoping that this would”t be the end of our friendship.
“So were you flaunting your body at me this morning?”
I gathered my courage and lifted my head to look her square in the eye as I answered. If I was going to do this she needed to know I was serious and I needed to see her reactions.
“Yes, I was wondering if you found me attractive.”
“That’s a silly question, of course I find you attractive! But why is my opinion important to you?”
(Deep breath) “Because I was wondering if maybe…. you know…..if possibly we could….erm….be more than friends?”
I found the courage to keep looking up into Jane’s face but I wasn’t exactly heartened by her expression; she looked almost cross. I sat patiently waiting for her to speak while dreading her words.
“What do you mean why?”
“Why do you want to be more than friends?”
This really wasn’t going well and now I was getting angry again, having to work hard to maintain my composure. As it happens feeling indignant actually helped me to blurt out what I’d needed to say all along.
“For f–k sake Jane, I’ve been holding onto this for f—–g months and I finally get up the nerve to do something about it and you’re just making life even harder! First you storm out of my house, then you laugh at me and now you’re just being obtuse! Why do you think I want to be more than friends? If you’re not into me then just say so rather than drag this around the houses — I’m a big girl, I can take the rejection but don’t make me feel more of a twat than I already do!”
Jane’s face softened but her expression was still unreadable.
“Ok I’m sorry, I know this took some courage and I don’t mean to make it harder than it needs to be but I need to understand your motives; you’re straight Ellie!”
“Well maybe I’m not as straight as you think?”
A light suddenly went on behind Jane’s eyes and the hint of a smile touched her lips.
“Hang on a minute; you said you’d been carrying this for months? Since when and why didn’t you say something before?”
“Oh I don’t know,” I laughed sarcastically “maybe because I didn’t want to lose you as a friend, or maybe because I thought that if you found me vaguely attractive you’d have let me know before now, or maybe I just didn’t know how to tell you and I didn’t want to make myself look like a complete loser. Guess I flunked that last one but I’m desperately hoping I haven’t f—-d up our friendship?”