“You have an admirer,” smiled the barman.
Kelly looked up in puzzlement, “Sorry? What did you say?”
The barman made it clear, “Would you like the same again? You have caught someone’s eye and they want to buy you a drink.”
Kelly glanced around the bar, curious as to who it was that wished to pay the compliment. The barman was waiting for her order so she nodded, “Yeah, same again – hold the olive this time please.”
Feeling self-conscious, Kelly scanned the rest of the wine bar, trying to detect if anyone was looking in her direction. It was mostly couples and groups of friends. There was nobody on their own, except… Kelly gulped, on the other side of the bar, a pair of eyes were fixed straight on her.
Feeling her face flush the same colour as the hair of the woman who had asked the barman to serve a drink, Kelly wriggled on her stool. In embarrassment, she started to fidget, pulling out her phone from her pocket and scrolling through her contact list to see if there was anyone she could call. Her mind was blank. She began typing random letters into a blank text message in an effort to look as if she had not noticed the pretty eyes that were still staring at her.
Every time Kelly raised her head, she could tell out of the corner of her eye that the redhead was shamelessly gazing at her, waiting to catch Kelly’s eye. But Kelly was not going to encourage her. She kept her own eyes focused on the fire-exit, trying to contain the urge to make a swift escape from the bar.
What was she even doing in Vixen’s Wine Bar on her own? It was a year since she had met Mike at the same bar. Since he had moved to Seattle, Kelly had mourned for his loss. The loneliness was excruciating. Why Mike had chosen the internship in Seattle she never understood. Mike had said she could visit him. But less than a month after his move, he had called her to say he had met up with an old girlfriend from school and that they had decided to get back together. Kelly was tormenting herself by coming to the wine bar exactly a year after they had met.
The waiter arrived with a fresh martini. Kelly felt impelled to decline it, but felt at a loss for words to give a reason, “I can’t accept it. I’m not…I’m just not interested.”
Without any hint of an opinion, the waiter winked, “It’s just a drink. She thought you looked a little down, so she wanted to cheer you up.”
Kelly acknowledged to herself that she was downhearted. For the past half an hour she had been sitting reminiscing about Mike, trying to suppress the tears on her eyelids. After taking a sip from the martini, she decided to make eye contact with the woman who had paid for her drink to indicate her gratitude.
What surprised her is what happened when she locked eyes with the stranger…
The red haired stranger had the most sensational smile. Kelly felt butterflies as she saw her beaming and winking. It went on for several minutes, flirtatious looks and grins, the stranger licking her lips, Kelly blushing, winks, more smiles, and then eventually the red haired stranger beckoned Kelly over to her with her index finger.
Feeling slightly sick about what she was doing, but relieved of an excuse not to be tortured by memories of Mike, Kelly picked up her martini glass and walked around the counter. She then perched on the empty barstool, and without looking at her neighbour, she said in a quiet voice, “Thanks for the drink.”
“You are oh so very welcome Gorgeous,” purred the beautiful woman next to her, “I thought you might be waiting for someone else at first. But then I noticed you looked a little sad. I couldn’t bear to see your pretty face looking so forlorn.”
Kelly took another large sip of her martini before deciding to share, “I met my ex here. He’s with someone else now. I shouldn’t have come here really. I just wanted to remember that night we met. It was so special.”
The young woman next to her pouted, “I’m so sorry Sweetie. It’s brave of you to come down and agonise over a lover who is with someone else. But that is something we have in common.”
Kelly turned to look at her with curiosity, “How do you mean?”
“Lainey by the way”, she replied, “Short for Lorraine, which is not a suitable name for someone my age. My mom named me after her older sister who died before I was ever born.”
“I’m sorry,” Kelly immediately volunteered.
“Oh don’t worry about it, I just thought we should exchange names,” she waited for Kelly to reply.
“Ke…, Kimberley,” Kelly answered.
“Nice to meet you Kimberley. So my ex is right here in the bar. Look over there in the corner.”
Kelly turned to see a table with a blonde woman sitting between two men, “Which is your ex?”
Lainey’s hard cold glare was intimidating, “She is a dirty little slut. I can’t believe I was in love with her. Totally in love. She came here every night for a month and she flirted with me and threw herself at me. We became lovers and from then on there was nothing I would not do for her. She manipulated me. I spent a small fortune on gifts for her. I just so blinded by love. I did not see the signs. She has an appetite for men and women. She has no feelings. She is incapable of love.”
Kelly could see the pain in Lainey’s expression, “Why are you tormenting yourself by being here when she is here?”
Lainey turned to Kelly and smiled, “Kimberley, I am here all the time. I own the wine bar. She comes here to parade her latest fling to torment me.”
“Oh! How long is it since you broke up?” Kelly asked.
“It’s around four months. We were together for over a year. It was the best year of my life. I adored, no, worshipped her. She was lying to me for most of that time.”
Feeling awkward but wanting to show polite interest Kelly inquired, “Did she cheat on you?”
Lainey nodded, “I came home to find her in my bed with one of our waiters. I sacked him off course, not for screwing her, I knew he was stealing money out of the till. I asked her to move out. She tried to blame me for her unhappiness.”
For the next couple of hours, Lainey and Kelly drank cocktails (on the house of course) and chatted, sharing stories about travelling and their other interests. Lainey’s eyes kept on wandering over to the table where her ex was sitting. On one occasion Kelly noticed Lainey’s face become grave and she turned away in agony.
Kelly turned around and saw the blonde woman was kissing one of the guys who was sitting next to her, while the other guy had his hand on her leg under the table.
After several martinis, Kelly’s inhibitions had evaporated, “Lainey, you need to give her something to be jealous about. She is only here because she thinks she can make you unhappy. I bet she would hate to see you with someone else.”
A sweet smile appeared on Lainey’s lips, “Oh I know she is performing. She can see that you and I are getting on and she is jealous as hell!”
“That’s good, I think,” Kelly blurted out, “What she is doing is cruel. You should make sure she knows that you are not affected by her.”
“It’s not that easy Kimberley. I am affected by her. She hurt me a lot and I am still not over it.”
“But you need to make sure she can’t carry on bringing her dates here. That’s not fair. She is just hurting you over and over. Make her think you don’t care. Make her think you are over her and you are moving on without her. Make her think…” Kelly paused, “Make her think that you are with someone else.”
“I’m not going to play the kind of games she is playing Kimberley.”
Kelly sighed, “You said you thought I was pretty. Do you still think so?”
Lainey raised her eyebrow, “Sure I do, you are beautiful. But you told me as soon as we got talking that your ex was a guy, so I figured you are straight.”
“I am straight, but I have had some pretty hot fantasies about kissing a woman.”
Lainey laughed, “You fantasize about women? That probably means you are curious about how it would feel to be with a woman. It does not mean you want to get seriously involved with a woman.”
Kelly crossed her eyebrows, “Is kissing getting involved?”
“Kimberly, I’m not into casual hook-ups. I never have been. I’m a romantic. I like dating, candlelight dinners, ice-skating, shopping together, intimate gifts, curling up on the sofa to watch a movie. I like to get to know someone and see if there is a spark and then, well, yes, I am looking for a relationship.”
Leaning forward, Kelly took Lainey’s hand, “I really like you. I know we have only just met, but I would like to get to know you better. On my part there is definitely a spark.”
Lainey was flattered and pleased with Kelly’s admission that she was attracted to her. But Lainey was not going to rush into anything and she certainly was not going to parade her new friend in front of her ex.
For the next few weeks, Lainey and Kelly texted and called each other every day. They met up for coffee away from the wine bar and went to the watch a couple of movies together. They discovered they were both huge Beyoncé fans and sat close on the sofa watching Beyoncé music videos together. There were looks and smiles, the two women gradually became more tactile and lingered in hugs whenever they parted.
Lainey just did not want to rush into anything, and knowing that Kelly (she had been surprised to find out Kimberley was a fake name) had never been involved with a woman made Lainey even more cautious. But gradually Kelly’s desire for Lainey was growing steadily. She was often kept wide awake at night fantasizing about her. One day, Lainey was caught by surprise when Kelly pressed her lips against hers in the hallway.
That evening, the two curled up on the sofa embracing and explored each other’s lips and tongues with repeated sessions of kissing. But Lainey made Kelly wait until she was sure it was the right time before her fantasies would become reality. In typical romantic fashion, Lainey booked a room for them at a spa hotel. It was a beautiful night. Lainey made sure that Kelly would never think about Mike again. Lainey had healed from her former heartbreak and had fallen in love again. The passion the two women had harboured for weeks was finally unbridled.