One-Forty or Less – Chapter 13

Chapter 13

“Jesus! Is that the time?” Sasha exclaimed noticing the clock on Iria’s phone. It was staring back at her ominously proclaiming in brutal honesty that it was indeed 2:45am. Sasha looked up at Iria and only got a blank stare in return.

“It would seem so. Why are you looking at me like that?” Iria asked defensively.

“Because you know I have an exam I have to study for–”

“–and you also know that you know you have an exam to study for.” Iria pointed out.

“Yeah but–”

“No one forced you to stay up this late.”

“I kind of did.” Jessica chimed in, raising her hand timidly. The other two girls chuckled and Jessica watched as Sasha stood quickly. “So, now what?” there was the same air of trepidation that had consumed her during their initial meeting. Jessica very much wanted to stay with Sasha but knew in the back of her mind the answer would likely be not one she wanted to hear. This awkwardness was made worse by Iria who was watching the exchange like a tennis fan expecting a grand slam spike at any moment.

“Hmmm.” Sasha muttered, looking at Iria for assistance. It was clear that Jessica wanted to stay, but Sasha just didn’t quite feel comfortable enough to have her sleep in her bed. “I suppose we could–”

“–you can sleep in my room.” Iria interrupted before Sasha could finish her thought.

Jessica turned from the redhead to the petite asian in the room. “Oh?” she asked, slightly shocked at the offer.

“Yeah.” Iria explained roughly, “I’ve got a king sized bed and as you can tell, I don’t use very much of it when I’m by myself.” Iria held out her arms and looked down at her small frame.

Jessica was taken with the image of Iria being swallowed up by her bed in a storm of covers and scented pillows. “If that’s ok with you?” she asked Sasha, suddenly not sure why she was asking her permission.

“Sure. If you’d like. I’ve got a tiny bed–”

“–I remember.” Jessica snickered and Sasha rolled her eyes jokingly.

“–Annnnnd; I have to be up in a few hours when Jonathan comes over to help me study.” Sasha explained. The strange thing was she now felt irritated that this was the situation. The moment Iria offered her bed to Jessica, Sasha caught herself feeling let down as pangs of jealousy crept through her mind. The feelings of awkwardness had been pushed away by the sudden removal of attention.

“No I understand.” Jessica held up her hand to stop Sasha as she stood up beside the smaller redhead. “Thanks for an interesting night.” she said with a smile before leaning over and hugging Sasha softly. Jessica did her best to mask the attraction she felt for Sasha but the smell of Sasha’s hair, and the feeling of the redhead’s arms around the her body sent mini bolts of electricity throughout her. It made her stomach turn again and her heart flutter like some cartoonish cupid was riddling her body with arrows. She leant in and kissed Sasha on the cheek. “Goodnight Sasha.” she said softly looking deeply into her eyes as if searching for a different answer than she had already received.

“Goodnight Jessica. Sweet dreams.” Sasha felt herself being torn in two. She simultaneously wanted and didn’t want Jessica. Not in the way that you might want a piece of cake but know it’s bad for you. It was far more complicated than that. She felt herself torn between being enamored by Jessica’s affection while being repulsed by it. Sasha couldn’t figure out what was causing such a schism inside of her. “Goodnight roomy.” she turned to Iria and Iria nodded back.

“Night.” she responded in kind. Iria was still sitting and had been watching the exchange with much interest. She couldn’t help but find it fascinating. She watched as Sasha turned and walked away, and much like a dismissed pet might, she took five steps and looked back to see if she was still being watched. It was endearing. Iria saw herself in Sasha. She was a younger Iria; a less confident, less self aware girl with so much potential and so much ahead of her. Iria sighed softly to herself. As much as Sasha was still clearly repressing her own desires for the sake of what was considered socially acceptable, she had come so far.

Iria smirked to herself. Without her soft handed guidance there was no way this night would have happened for Sasha. Now her roommate, challenged with new sensations and new situations would have the opportunity to grow. Iria treated it like a physical trainer might treat a particular muscle group. If you want self confidence to grow, you need to place yourself in a situation that strains your confidence. If you come through it successfully, you’ll end up with a stronger sense of self. It was a technique she had perfected in her own life and now, despite Sasha being completely unaware of it, Iria was using the same strategy on Sasha. She smirked again and thumbed through her phone. A new message had just popped up from Mr. Baritone. Iria shook her head and laughed quietly to herself as she began to key in a quick response.  

Sasha left the living room and passed by the kitchen on her way down the hall towards her room. As she passed the front door she could hear a low hum unaccounted for in the normal background noise of the apartment. Sasha stopped in her tracks and listened intently. A moment later the hum came again. “No, it wasn’t a hum.” she thought to herself, “It’s a buzz. A vibration. A phone.” Sasha looked down and saw Jessica’s bag. Picking it up she turned to the brunette, “Jessica? I think your phone is ringing.”

Jessica who had only just sat down again shot up suddenly and nearly sprinted across the room to reach her bag. She quickly rifled through it to find her phone. “Oh shit! Oh shit shit SHIT.” She looked up with Sasha and as the two women locked eyes the realization crept in mightily.

“You forgot to call your mom.” Sasha blurted. She looked down at Jessica’s phone and back up at the brunette.

“Fuck me.” she mumbled, keying through the phone’s recent call list. Her mom was listed 7 or 8 times, but the number at the top of the list; the number that had just called her and had called her three times before that. “Jacob.” she said softly.

“Jacob?” Sasha exclaimed. “Your ex?” Jessica nodded. “Are you going to call him back?”

Jessica shrugged and made a face, “I–I don’t know.” She stabbed away at the keys and brought the phone up to her ear.

Sasha looked on in curiosity.

“Mom?” Jessica said softly, “Mom? I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry. I–” she stopped briefly as mumbled wailings from the other end of the phone percolated through the device. “–I know. I meant to but–” She paused again this time scrunching her face up. “Well you didn’t need to call Jacob mom.” Jessica sighed and rolled her eyes in Sasha’s direction. “Well I know–I know you were scared and all but you still shouldn’t have called him mom.” Jessica’s shoulders slumped and it was clear to Sasha she was beginning to get annoyed at her well meaning but clearly uninformed mother. “Because we’re not together anymore mom ok? That’s why. That’s why you shouldn’t have called him–” She sighed again, “I know you didn’t know–it’s not your fault–it’s just. Well I’m safe ok, so you don’t have to worry anymore ok?” Jessica looked up at Sasha, then back at the floor. “Don’t worry mom, I’m with friends and everything is ok. I’m going to stay the night with them.” She furrowed her brow and continued, “No—no there’s no boys here. I’ll be safe mom.” Jessica sighed again as it was clear her mom was now giving her a lecture after the fact. “Look it’s just a couple of girlfriends. No boys. No drugs ok? No one’s going to gang rape me like on that Date Line you watched.” She rolled her eyes at Sasha again and held up her hand.

Sasha smirked a little. It was clear that Jessica’s mom was a little out of the loop with her daughter. She didn’t know that Jessica and Jacob were broken up, and she definitely didn’t know that her daughter prefered the intimate company of women. If she did, perhaps her reaction would have been different upon finding out Jessica was staying with a bunch of girls. Sasha sniggered to herself and mouthed the words “Good night” to Jessica before turning to walk back to her room.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Also walking down a hallway at this very time was Jacob. He had located the building in question and gained access to it by pretending to be someone that forgot his keys. Remarkable how easily security is breached when people are involved.

He had made his way down each floor’s hallway calling Jessica’s phone as he went. He was listening for her ringtone as he walked by each door. On the first three floors Jessica’s phone toggled over to voicemail after four rings, but this changed when he reached the fourth floor. On the fourth floor, the phone went directly to voicemail. This could really mean only one thing, she was on the phone with someone else right now. Quickly Jacob called Jessica’s mother back and just as he suspected, he received a busy signal in return. Mrs. Anastas’ line was occupied. With a speedier pace he jaunted down the fourth and final hallway, this time not listening for Jessica’s ringtone. Instead he was listening for Jessica herself. About midway down the hallway he could easily detect the tone of her voice.

“Remarkable how that is,” he thought to himself. Without being able to understand what she was saying, and only by hearing the faintest wisp of her voice he knew in an instant it was Jessica. “How it is when you’re in love.” Jacob supposed. You become acutely aware of your partner and their unique fingerprint in the world. Jacob gritted his teeth and head towards the doorway from which her voice was clearly emanating. After taking a few long angry breaths he closed his eyes and knocked on the door.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Holy fuck!” Jessica exclaimed, startled by the sudden rapping coming from the door. She looked over at Sasha who by now was nearly at the end of the hall and no longer listening to what was happening behind her. Jessica whirled around to look for Iria but she was no longer on the chair in the living room. Unbeknownst to Jessica, Iria had wandered off into her bedroom to prepare it for a visitor. Jessica stared at the doorknob, then the peephole, unsure what to do. In that moment of confusion she heard once more the voice of her mother. Jessica looked down at her phone and quickly brought it up to her ear. “Sorry mom, gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow kay?” before abruptly hanging up.

Again there was a knock on the door and Jessica stood, frozen in place. Not thinking through her next actions she slowly reached for the doorknob, softly turned it, and pulled the door inwards to reveal. “Jacob? What are you doing here?”

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One-Forty or Less – Chapter 12

Chapter 12

“I don’t know.” came a voice soaked in worry, “She’s never out this late except when she’s with you.”

Jacob furrowed his brow and looked at his phone. Jessica’s mom was on the other end of the line flustered and scared. “Well Mrs. Anastas,” he answered as politely as possible, “she’s not with me.” He gritted his teeth at the unintentional double meaning of his response. Clearly Jessica had neglected to tell her mom they had broken up three months ago. “She’s probably out with a friend.” he offered, the sentence filled with icy spite.

“A friend” he thought. “Probably another guy already.” He clenched his fists, took a big breath and pulled himself out of bed. He looked over at the clock radio on his bedside table as it shouted back at him with angry red numbers. “Two in the fucking morning.” he thought to himself, shaking his head. Jacob had not taken the break up well, which is not that surprising. Breakups are never easy. Neither for the one doing the breaking nor for the one getting broken. But with Jacob the situation was compounded. He was convinced that Jessica was the woman he would spend the rest of his life with but she didn’t feel the same. Her explanation was even more ludicrous. There was no way Jessica could be a lesbian. No way. Jacob would have noticed. He would  have known. At least he had convinced himself of this.

“What friend?” Mrs. Anastas asked nervously. “Oh Jacob can you call her and tell her to come home already? It’s too late for any respectable woman to be out.” Mrs. Anastas wrung her hands together and looked over at a picture of Jessica and her late father.

“I don’t know if that would work.” Jacob answered candidly.

“Oh could you please?” Jessica’s mom pleaded, “I can’t….I can’t call her. If I call her she’s going to get upset that I’m being nosey.” She sighed, “We—had an argument the other night. I just—I don’t think she’d listen to me. I think she’s staying out to punish me.” She shut her eyes tight and begged god for that not to be true.

“Ok Mrs. Anastas,” Jacob relented, “I’ll call her. Don’t worry. She’ll be fine. Ok?”

“Ok.” she said thankfully,”I’m glad she has you in her life Jacob. You’re a great boyfriend. You remind me of my husband.” Jessica’s mom smiled and placed the photo back on the dresser where it rested. Her handsome husband and beautiful daughter smiling back at her.

Jacob cringed at the compliment but did not correct her. “Thanks Mrs. Anastas.” he replied. “I’ll call Jessica now. Talk to you later.”

“Ok Jacob. Thanks.” she placed the phone back on the receiver and sat back down on her bed, staring off into the distance.

Jacob pulled on a pair of jeans and swung a t-shirt over his head before retrieving his phone and sliding it into his pocket. He looked back at the clock once more and it clicked over to 2:16AM. “Fuck.” he muttered under his breath and walked out the door.

—————————————————————————————————-

“Ok, so now that we’ve got that out of the way.” Iria said returning to the living room. “How was it?” she asked bluntly.

Sasha immediately blushed and turned away shyly. Iria and her had numerous sex talks, but this was different. She was asking about something devient. Something out of the normal. She wasn’t asking about a recent fling’s cock size, or how good he was with his tongue. Iria was asking her about how another woman was. Sasha cringed and looked back at Iria finally, still without uttering a word.

Jessica, for all her earlier aggressiveness was playing it just as coy. “What—What do you mean?” she asked, as if somehow asking questions about Iria’s question would make the line of inquiry die in it’s tracks.

Iria rolled her eyes. “Look you ‘tards. I don’t give a fuck who you fuck or what you do. It doesn’t matter to me in the least. If you want to go all lez right now and asked me to hold the camera, I’d be right as rain doing so. Hell I might even encourage it.” she raised an eyebrow at the two women before letting out a surprisingly girlish laugh. “I’m just curious.”

Jessica looked at Sasha, then back to Iria, before looking back at Sasha once more. Sasha shrugged so Jessica replied cautiously, “Well, I don’t really have that much experience to compare it to.”

Iria looked over with interest and plopped her petite frame down on the chair across from Jessica noticing for the first time the imprint of her hand on Jessica’s right cheek. “Oh? What about you, Sasha?” she turned to the redhead who instantly became the shade of a nicely ripened roma tomato.

“Uhh,” she muttered.

“Oh fuck off Sasha. Now you’re bashful?” Iria rolled her eyes. “After all we’ve talked about?” Iria shook her head in disgust and turned back to Jessica. “So what do you mean you don’t have that much experience.”

Sasha slumped her shoulders and looked down to the floor. As much as she didn’t want to answer Iria’s questions she honestly felt like she was letting her friend down. “How does she do this to me every time?” Sasha thought to herself, and looked over to Jessica waiting for her response.

“Well—Sasha. She was my first—” Jessica mumbled bashfully.

“Your first?” Iria exclaimed with surprise. “Shit girl. Congrats on popping your cherry then.” Iria raised her hand up and Jessica laughed nervously as she slapped the enthusiastic woman’s hand in an odd locker room style high five.

“S–she’s my first too.” Sasha finally piped up, hoping to gain some acceptance and enthusiasm from Iria.

“No shit.” she responded, “As if I didn’t know that already.” Iria chuckled. Sasha smiled bashfully and waited expectantly but received no high five. “You’re wanting a high five too aren’t you?”

“No.” Sasha protested, lying through her teeth quite obviously.

“Uh huh.” Iria responded sarcastically before continuing. “You’re not going to get a high five, and I’m going to tell you why.” She looked over at Jessica and then back towards the redhead. “You don’t deserve it.”

The two women looked at each other, then back at Iria, both curious as to her reasoning. “Why?” Sasha asked, surprisingly irritated.

“Because she did all the work here.” Iria explained. “She put herself out there. She met you, she came home with you, and I’ll bet you two months rent that she’s the one that talked you into the bedroom.”

Sasha furrowed her brow but didn’t refute any of her roommate’s claims. “But why–”

“Why does that mean she gets a high five and you don’t?” Iria interrupted, “”Because she risked everything and you risked nothing. At any point she could have been shot down and have to endure the emotional punch to the cunt that would have been.” Iria finished, ever so eloquent.

“But–she. She lied!” Sasha retorted finally.

“And?”

“Well–I don’t know. Doesn’t that count for something that I didn’t tell her to fuck off?” Sasha explained. Jessica remained silent, watching the two roommate’s exchange points like the monitor of a presidential debate.

“It’s in your nature.” Iria explained. “It’s easier for you to accept that she lied and continue to talk to her because that’s just what civil understanding perfectly normal people do. So if you want points for that you’re not going to get any. You don’t get credit for acting like a normal human being. It didn’t cost you anything, and you didn’t risk anything at all.”

Sasha opened her mouth and then shut it again. Iria’s argument was irritatingly valid.

She continued, “When she agreed to meet you, she knew immediately the moment you saw her that there was the chance that she would be humiliated. That takes big fucking balls. For that alone she should get a high five regardless of the lie.”

Sasha looked over at Jessica, who now had raised her hand up again, but this time to wipe a small tear from eye.

Iria kept going though. “You invited her back to our place, but you only did so because you thought I was staying with Anthony tonight.” Iria continued, finally revealing the proper name of Mr. Baritone. “You thought you’d be alone. Away from prying eyes. So once more you risked nothing.” Iria gestured over to Jessica, “She came anyway, knowing that she was going to throw herself at you before the end of the night.”

Jessica snorted a laugh and nodded. “Yep. That pretty much sums it up.” she chuckled.

Sasha turned to the brunette, “Seriously?” she wasn’t sure if she was upset or impressed.

“Oh hell ya.” Jessica blurted back, “I was staring at your ass all the way up the stairs. I was aching to see it—” she paused briefly considering editing her thoughts, but relented, “–to see it naked and bouncing on my tongue.” she laughed with a mixture of adrenaline and nerves again shaking her head at her own bluntness.

Iria chuckled and took the conversation over once more, “See what I mean?” she asked Sasha who reluctantly nodded. “She came over knowing she was likely going to get rejected, but she did so anyways. It’s so much easier to say ‘No’ than it is to offer yourself up as a lamb for the slaughter.”

Sasha nodded again, “Ok ok. I concede, I’m not worthy of a high five. You’ve made your point.”

Iria winked, “And that’s why I’m in Law.”

Sasha rolled her eyes but laughed with the two women all the same.

In the front hall, muffled by the purse it was contained within, Jessica’s phone vibrated.

—————————————————————————————————-

Jacob looked at his phone as Jessica’s voice, sweet as ever answered robotically. “This is Jessica. I can’t get to the phone right now. Please leave a message at the beep.”

Jacob hung up and frowned. He was in that no-man’s land between anger and fear. The point at which you can’t be sure that the person you’re worrying about is safe or not. Jacob sighed and chose to be angered instead of afraid, it was the more useful of the two emotions anyways. He turned the key and started his car, a meticulously detailed 1976 Pontiac Firebird. Jacob’s father had given it to him when he went off to college. At that time it was old, in disrepair, and lacked the virile machismo that it had exuded earlier in it’s life as part of the mystique of the Smokey and the Bandit franchise. It was only in the last few months, after he and Jessica had broken up, that Jacob suddenly found himself with the time to take care of the beast. He gripped the wheel tightly and felt it’s engine rumbled around him reassuringly. There was something about it’s throaty guttural roar that was savagely male. It invigorated Jacob as a noble steed would a knight. He shifted into gear and tore off into the pitch black night.

A few minutes later Jacob realized he hadn’t even figured out where he needed to drive to. He pulled over to the side of the road and called Jessica’s phone once more. Again the call went to her voicemail. Jacob reluctantly thumbed through his phone to the “Find my Phone” app he had previously installed in both his and Jessica’s phone. It was Jessica’s idea. She wanted to be sure that if there was any emergency they could find each other. Jacob keyed in the password of “JessicaAndJacob4Eva” he cringed and waited for the phone to spit back the result. Thirty seconds later a blue blip appeared in the center of the screen with an underlay of a map below it. Jacob squinted, then adjusted the zoom on the screen until he could see where it was located. He could hear himself growl even over the rumble of the engine as it became apparent the phone was located near the college housing area. Noting the location he tossed the phone in disgust onto the passenger seat and hammered on the accelerator. The engine roared to life once more and Jacob peeled away, squealing the tires as he went.

Jacob felt himself gripping the wheel tightly while he gritted his teeth together. The apartment complex he was heading towards was full of college student renters. He had been there before visiting a friend. Despite himself he felt as if a great injustice was being committed upon him. He was certain regardless of any evidence to support it, that Jessica was obviously sleeping with someone in the building. She wasn’t in any danger. There was nothing scary about this at all. Jacob could have easily reported back to Jessica’s mom and told her what was going on, but he couldn’t let it go. He needed to look her in the eye. He needed to see the look on her face when he knocked on the door and caught her with the new man in her life. He hated this feeling. The weakness he felt was suffocating. Jacob felt the anger coursing through his body, a dull metallic taste in his mouth, and despite all of this a tear running down his cheek.

One-Forty or Less – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Sasha stared at her diminutive roommate with her mouth open. Her brain was frozen into stunned silence completely unable to articulate a single word. Her skin was even more pale than usual as all the color had drained from her face and she felt the unsettling twisting of her stomach that made her feel as if she was about to throw up while simultaneously needing a big drink of water. “Uhhh…” is all she managed to get out.

“Oh fuck Sasha, grow a pair.” Iria said rolling her eyes, “Come on you two.” and she turned to saunter down the hall, her silk kimono flowing gracefully behind her.

Jessica, standing behind Sasha, took a deep breath and replied finally, “I’d love some tea thank you.” she said with the brightness of a cheery new day.

Sasha turned to Jessica, her eyes pleading for help. Jessica simply hooked her arm into the limp arm of the redhead and pulled her along down the hallway. Sasha stumbled after her as if she was in a zombie like trance. Looking at the pictures on the wall, the pattern on the tile, the color of the front door, all objects seemed formless and moving as in some trippy dream. She finally snapped out of it when her body realized she hadn’t taken a full breath since Iria confronted them. She gasped and swallowed a bulky chunk of air before turning back to Jessica, “What….what are we doing?” she stammered.

“We’re having tea.” Iria replied from the living room. “Come now roomy; it’s a soothing camomile tea. It’ll calm your nerves.”

Sasha felt herself being lead into the living room and sat down on the couch. Jessica flopped down beside her and Iria gracefully deposited herself in the chair opposite them. Sasha stared down at the steaming tea and quietly retrieved her cup, bringing the lightly flavoured hot liquid to her lips and taking a small tentative sip. The two other women did the same, but Iria’s playful eyes never left the redhead.

Despite Sasha’s fears, Iria wasn’t actually looking at her with judgment. She was merely excited to chomp down a morsel of an intriguing and utterly juicy story. Iria had immediately worked out that more was going on behind the closed door of Sasha’s bedroom than a simple sleep over or gab-fest. Her suspicions were proven correct the moment she saw her roommate’s face in the hallway. So how did this happen? Iria was excited to find out. How did her usually uptight and inhibited roommate make such a bold leap in one night? How did she go from being afraid to meet “Jacob” to being intimate with this leggy brunette sitting next to her. Iria drew another sip from her cup and placed it neatly down on it’s accompanying saucer.

Not one for subtlety Iria smiled at the two women and asked bluntly, “So how was it?”

Answering simultaneously and without thought Jessica blurted, “Amazing.” while Sasha mumbled, “It’s good tea.”

Sasha furrowed her brow and took in an annoyed breath. “Uhh…yes, the tea…..it’s…amazing.” Jessica corrected herself, looking back at Sasha nervously.

Iria chuckled and took another sip, her eyes going from Jessica to Sasha and back again. For such a small woman she was very intimidating. She didn’t say anything, she just looked at them while calmly sipping her tea. She was patiently waiting for the two women to crack and reveling in the awkward silence as they squirmed uncomfortably.

Jessica no longer felt like this was a friendly moment, she felt that she was being interrogated. Her mom had escaped from East Germany before the wall came down and had related to Jessica how intimidating a silent stare from a Stasi officer could be. Jessica finally understood.

“I’m glad you like the tea.” Iria said softly, lowering her gaze to her tea, “but that wasn’t what I was asking about.” She looked into Sasha’s eyes, “and you know that.”

Sasha looked away and shifted in her seat before looking to Jessica, her eyes pleading with the brunette to pull her away from this awkwardness.

Iria placed her teacup back on its saucer and sighed, “Look I’m not stupid.” she began, her eyes darting from woman to woman. “I know you two were,” she paused for a moment trying to find the appropriate words, “investigating alternative lifestyles.” She frowned. It sounded better in her head, but aloud it had the texture of a cold stainless steel autopsy table.

Sasha winced at the question. She felt sick to her stomach. It wasn’t the tea mixing with the wine she had earlier, it was this nervous agony Iria was putting her through. Whatever the reason, Sasha found herself unable to articulate a coherent thought. In a room with two other women she could not have felt more alone. She looked over to Jessica for help. Her eyes pleading for the brunette to extricate Sasha from this crushing awkwardness.

Jessica recognized the look on Sasha’s face. It was the very same look she had on her own face when she admitted both to herself and to her ex-boyfriend about her interest in women. It was the fear of being ostracized. It was the fear of being teased and bullied. It was the sneaking specter of every cruel joke you accidently laughed at. The karma of teasing the girl that was different for no other reason than she was different. All of that silly, childish, taunting that you knew was wrong; it felt like all of it was enveloping you in a cascade of impending misery. Jessica knew this feeling all too well. She looked at Sasha and saw her wallowing in it; alone and afraid. Frightened of the next moment in time.

“So you two hit it off huh?” Iria interjected, cutting through the dense silence.

Jessica looked at Sasha, and the redhead looked back at her. They remained silent.

“What?” Iria continued. “Pussy-cat got your tongue?” she chuckled at her own stupid joke, but her audience was less than receptive.

“Iria, stop.” Sasha sighed.

“Stop?” she turned to look at Sasha, “Why should I stop? Am I offending you?” she scoffed. “Why so sensitive all of the sudden Sash?”

“Just,” Sasha winced and shook her head, “just stop.”

“Oh come on.” Iria retorted with a chuckle, “I’m just curious, that’s all.”

“Do you have to be?”

“Yes.” she nodded, “Yes I think I do.” Iria smirked. “I think I have the right to know how long you’ve been a member of the Muffin Munching gang.” she laughed and sipped her tea.

It didn’t occur to her for one moment how Sasha was feeling. Every joke Iria uttered, and every smirk that crossed her face made Sasha feel under attack. Sasha felt ridiculed. Belittled. “I said stop.” Sasha mumbled her eyes closed.

Jessica sat stunned next to the redhead. Unsure what to say or how to interject. She didn’t know Iria at all, but this didn’t look like playful teasing. It felt mean.

“Oh hush,” Iria continued. “I just want to know how you went from hoping to hop on Jacob’s big boner, to taking a spin in the sheets with this tart.” she gestured over at Jessica. Iria laughed, “Bet you knew it was a chick all alone.” she continued.

Sasha shook her head, “No. No I didn’t.”

Iria laughed, “Sure.” she elongated the word to the point it was saturated with sarcasm. “I totally believe you.” she chuckled again. Iria had become a wrecking ball of teasing inertia. She was completely oblivious to Sasha’s pain. With every jab and taunt she threw at Sasha with light hearted humor, it was caught by her roommate as a razor sharp knife. Iria, in all of her uninhibited glory, could not comprehend Sasha’s interpretation of this moment.

“I–I didn’t,” Sasha stuttered and in a sudden moment of clarity Iria realized this wasn’t a humorous moment at all. “I–I wasn’t going.” she took a big breath. “I–I didn’t want this.” she finally blurted.

“But–” Iria looked at the redhead with concern, “–then?”

“It,” Jessica paused for a moment and took a quick stuttering breath, closing her eyes and slumping her shoulders forward, “it was me.” Jessica opened her eyes and looked over at Sasha. The brunette’s eyes glistened as tears began to collect at the corners of her eyes. “I got her drunk.” she sighed and continued, “I took advantage of her.” Jessica bit her lip and looked over at the redhead. She didn’t want Sasha to go through the same pain she did. She didn’t want Sasha to feel ugly, dirty, or unwanted. Jessica would make her blameless. Jessica would take that choice away from Sasha so she could wash herself of this night and move on with her life.

Iria reeled back in confusion. She was looking forward to a frank and honest conversation with the two younger women, but not for a moment did she think she would be hearing a confession to what appeared to be date rape. She was floored. She sat in stunned silence.

“I’m sorry.” Jessica whispered gently to Sasha, beginning to sniffle. “I took advantage of you.” Jessica shook her head and brought both hands to cover her face quietly sobbing behind them. Her mind was racing. Fears and doubt saturated her mind. Maybe she did take advantage of her. Did she? Sasha seemed like she wanted it, but was that just what Jessica wanted to hear? She sobbed again.

Iria stared at the brunette, then back to the confused redhead. Her initial surprise gave way to seething anger. She jumped up, crossed the table, wound up, and swung her hand down at the shocked brunette’s face. The concussive impact filled the room with the distinct timber of flesh striking flesh. “How could you!” she wailed, swinging successive blows down at Jessica.

“No!” Sasha wailed in Jessica’s defense but her call fell on deaf ears. Sasha watched as Iria, small, demure, and delicate as ever, landed a vicious backhand slap across Jessica’s face.

The brunette tumbled to the floor in surprise. “Wha–?” she managed to mumble out before Iria stood above her poised to strike again.

“How could you!” she squealed angrily. “How could you take advantage of my friend like that!” she brought her hand back down with vigor, swinging mercilessly at the downed woman. She was filled with rage. Her blood was pounding in her chest. Jessica was able to deflect most attacks with her arms and hands but Iria swung down at her relentlessly. “How the fuck could you do this!” she screamed before Sasha tackled her into the couch from behind.

“Stop!” Sasha shouted, “Just stop! STOP!” she had to repeat herself as Iria struggled to get away and continue her attack. “She didn’t take advantage of me.” Sasha yelled at Iria. “She didn’t,” Jessica looked back at the redhead through the defensive shield of her own arms. “I wanted to.” Sasha admitted, “I asked her to.”

Iria was breathing rabid hateful breaths, but stopped struggling against the roommate she was defending. She turned to look at Sasha, “Are you sure?” The anger within her bubbled below the surface.

Sasha looked at her roommate, then at Jessica and simply nodded. “She was just trying to take the blame so I wouldn’t be embarrassed.”

“What? Why?”

Sasha shook her head, “I was afraid that you’d make fun of me, or that you’d tell everyone what I,” she looked over at Jessica, “What we did.”

Iria stared at the redhead and shook her head, “I would never.” she mumbled.

“Are you sure?” Sasha asked, “I mean, you’re a bit of a loose cannon.” she gestured over at Jessica still crumpled on the floor.

“I–” Iria started but closed her mouth again. She swung her arms around so she could pull Sasha into a hug. “I was only teasing.”

“It didn’t seem like it.” Sasha admitted.

“Seriously I was only kidding around.” Iria looked into Sasha’s eyes and tried to convey as best she could that she was being genuine. “I don’t fucking care if you’re a lesbo or whatever. Hell I think it’s pretty cool!” Iria chuckled.

“But that’s just it Eye.” she placed her hand on the petite woman’s shoulder, “I’m not.”

Iria cocked her head to the side, “Huh? But–”

“I don’t know what I am Iria. I’m just–” she looked over at Jessica and then back to her roommate, “I’m just me. You know? No label. No special parade. No flag or club. I’m just–me.”

“Well whatever you are or aren’t, I love ya.” Iria blubbered and gripped the redhead in a tight bear hug.

Jessica, still on the floor. She stood and watched for a moment, unsure of what she was supposed to do.

Iria caught her eye and immediately let go of Sasha. She stood up quickly and embraced the brunette tightly, “I’m so sorry. I hope I didn’t–”

Jessica shook her head, “No I’m ok. I–” she looked over at Sasha and smiled, “I’m fine.” She rubbed her forearms unconsciously as a warm ache of a new bruise began to grow but still repeated, “I’m fine. I’m ok.”

“Are you sure?” Sasha asked softly.

Jessica nodded and smiled, “I’m ok.” she chuckled and looked over at Iria, “you’re pretty feisty for a little shit aren’t you.” The much taller Jessica wrapped Iria with one arm and kissed her on the top of the head, “Sasha’s lucky to have you as a friend. God help anyone that tried to hurt her because holy fuck you’d kill them. You’re fucking vicious!”

Iria smiled and laughed with the two women. For now she was calm. For now the anger had subsided, “Hey, if you’re small like me, you’ve got to be.” she chuckled. She picked up the tray of tea and cups and walked over to the kitchen taking slow steady breaths as she took each step. On the edge of her mind was a ragged memory of a time where she wasn’t so vicious, or at least, not vicious enough. It was not a memory she wanted to recall, and definitely not a memory she could endure to relive. She looked down at her shaking hands, closed her eyes, and took a few more deep breaths. When she opened her eyes again, the shaking had subsided. Iria turned and smiled like an enthusiastic Walmart greeter and sauntered back into the living room.

One-Forty or Less – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

The door to Sasha’s room slowly opened and light from the hallway began creeping inwards. It etched away the darkness of the room, inching towards the two women in their naked embrace. Sasha froze. Her body tensed up and for the first time tonight she felt incredibly exposed. “No Iria! Close…..close the door!” Sasha screamed but no noise escaped her lips. She quickly realized that the words were only forming in her head. Her mouth was locked open in a stunned trance and she was not able to articulate a single word. Her eyes instead grew wider and wider as the potentially horribly awkward situation was becoming increasingly inevitable.

Jessica looked into Sasha’s shocked eyes and knew what she needed to do. She let go of the pale statue that was Sasha and launched herself backwards with her arms outstretched. She flopped to the floor with a thud and with the extended fingers of her right hand she held the door fast stopping it’s unwanted intrusion into Sasha’s now deathly quiet room.

Iria heard the thump and felt the sudden resistance on the door so stopped pushing making the assumption that Sasha was feeling modest again. “Anyways, just wanted to let you know I’m back. I thought you might be up and….well….interested in talking about your….date…tonight.” Iria smirked to herself, intrigued and salivating at the promise of a juicy intriguing story.

Sasha shook herself out of her trance and answered back quickly, “N….not..no….not tonight I think.” she managed to splutter nervously.

Iria nodded to herself in the hallway. “Ok then. Night.” she replied, before frowning at the confusing distance of Sasha’s voice. Though the door was being held closer to the hallway, it sounded like Sasha was still in bed. Iria looked back to the door and opened her mouth to ask if there was someone there with her, but thought better of it and instead simply assumed that the thud she heard was more likely to be something Sasha had thrown towards the door to stop it from opening. Iria shrugged to herself and turned to walk back down the hallway to her room.

“Night.” Sasha replied finally. She listened intently to the extremely faint footsteps of her petite roommate making her way down the hall. Then with dizzying relief took a deep breath that felt very much like the first breath she had taken in the last four minutes. Sasha looked at Jessica sprawled on the floor. Her body was stretched as far as possible with only the tips of her fingers touching the door. The brunette raised her head to look at Sasha and a nervous smile dashed across her face. Sasha smirked as well before clapping her hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. Jessica pushed the door closed and did the same, laughing silently as a tear streaked down her cheek.

Sasha shook her head and whispered to her new companion, “Well now we’re really fucked.”

“Why’s that?” Jessica replied, thinking she had already done a fantastic job of dodging the awkward bullet.

“Iria is a light sleeper.” Sasha explained sitting the bed with her legs crossed and one hand pulling nervously at her bangs. “, and you’ve heard our door.”

The creaking door had been an annoyance since the two had moved in. More for Sasha than for Iria though as Iria was usually the one that was attempting to creep back into the apartment at ungodly hours. The squeaking hinge was only half of the problem as when the door closed again it had a tendency to slam shut with a rattling thud. Sasha knew at once that Jessica was trapped in her room and for the life of her she couldn’t begin to figure a way out of this.

Jessica winced as she realized the predicament the two women were in. As much as they had enjoyed their time together and had pushed passed boundaries of comfort and social acceptance, the two were in no way willing to be broadcasting their newfound excitement for same-sex sexual encounters. While Jessica had been the aggressor in this case it was more because of a pent up need and desire. It pushed away all thoughts of backing down and made her fearless at least for the night. But now, what was going to happen in the morning? Would they all sit around the breakfast table and exchange stories about the first time they ravaged another woman with their tongues? Highly unlikely. Jessica, just as Sasha, feared exposure. She worried about what other people would think of her and like anyone that’s scared to show their true nature, it doesn’t matter if the person is a stranger or not, she just didn’t want to share her feelings about women to anyone. Period.

“Oh…fuck.” she muttered under her breath and Sasha nodded in agreement. “How….how the hell do I get home then?” Jessica looked around the room as if she was going to find some sort of secret trap door that lead out of this situation. She looked back up at Sasha, “I….I live with my parents right now…..oh fuck.” She look mortified, “They think I’m just meeting a friend for coffee.” Jessica’s eyes darted from side to side, blinking rapidly, “My mom is going to go apeshit. She’s going to think the absolute worst!” Visions of her mother calling the police rushed into Jessica’s mind. She’d have a press conference arranged by the FBI; search parties; phone lines set up for anonymous tips where Jessica may have been seen last. The panic was no longer creeping, it was tightening a vice around Jessica’s chest and crushing her inch by inch. She felt it was difficult to breathe as the weight of the moment squeezed down on her.

“Shhhhhh” Sasha exclaimed as quietly as she could. “Shhhhhh….don’t…..don’t panic.” she whispered, hardly believing her own words. “Don’t…..don’t worry we’ll figure it out ok? Please don’t worry.” She waved her hand beckoning Jessica to stand up and come closer.

Jessica picked herself off the soft carpet and stumbled towards Sasha, closing her eyes as fell into the redhead’s arms. The two women took deep breaths and stared into the emptiness of the darkened room. They shivered and held each other desperately running simulations through their minds on how best to exfiltrate themselves from their predicament.

Meanwhile, several paces down the hall Iria stood staring at a pair of shoes she didn’t recognize. and a purse she had noticed from somewhere. Iria looked skyward trying to recall where she had seen it before when it dawned on her instantly. “Oh fuck me!” she exclaimed to herself. Looking at the purse, the shoes, then back down the hall towards Sasha’s room. “Holy fucking dirty fuck nut!” she babbled. Her jaw dropped and she stood transfixed, completely taken by the realization that Sasha was hiding a visitor tonight, and this visitor was none other than the girl she had seen earlier. Iria giggled, turned on her heel, and walked the rest of the way to her room closing the door loudly so that the two women knew she was no longer in earshot. She owed Sasha that at least.

Inside the room the thud of Iria’s door reverberated through their skulls. “What do we do?” Sasha asked Jessica, knowing full well she didn’t have a solution. “I….I’m not ready for this sort of thing. I…I hope that doesn’t offend you…I just….”

Jessica shook her head emphatically, “No…no I know what you mean. I feel the same. I….this…well…. this is my first time.” she admitted sheepishly.

“Seriously?” Sasha blurted, louder than she expected.

“Shhhh!”

“Seriously?” she repeated in a hushed whisper. “Didn’t seem like it….” Sasha questioned, trying not to sound too accusatory.

“No…you’re definitely my first. Why did you think there were others?”

“Cause….well…” Sasha smirked at the brunette, “You’re fucking awesome?” She chuckled and then clasped her hand over her mouth trying to muffle her own laughter.

Jessica smirked and blushed, “well thanks.” she replied. “That’s sweet of you to say.” She took a breath and looked around, “But I still don’t know what we’re going to do. If I don’t get home, my mom is going to freak out.”

“Why don’t you just call her?” Sasha asked, surprised that neither of them had thought of such an obvious answer. “Just call her and like, tell her you’re staying at a friends or whatever.”

“That would be a great idea,” Jessica replied quickly, “but my phone is in my purse and my purse is…..” she stopped abruptly. Her eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped again.

“Is….is what?”

Jessica shut her eyes tightly and winced, “Is sitting in the front hall next to my shoes…”

“Which Iria has already walked by…” Sasha slumped her shoulders forward and sighed. “Fuck.”

“Fuck.”

Sasha shook her head. “Well there’s no point in hiding here then.” She shrugged then offered, “You know she might not have noticed it. If she did she would have probably said something. Iria’s blunt like that you know?” Sasha chuckled. “Come on. Let’s get dressed and get your purse. Then you can call your mom.”

“What do I tell her though?” Jessica asked innocently.

“Just….I don’t know.” Sasha replied then she laughed quietly, “Tell her…..tell her that you were having such a good time you didn’t realize what time it was.”

Jessica chuckled as well as she started to pick up the piled elements of her wardrobe. “Ya, I could tell her I met this cool chick and we ate out.” she smirked at Sasha, “or…at least…I ate her out.”

Sasha laughed, “Oh as if! Could you imagine telling your mom that? Oh my god.”

“Hell no!” Jessica agreed. “I mean…like…I don’t regret this at all. Not for a second but…that’s crazy.”

Sasha nodded fervently. “Same here. I don’t regret this either.”

“Really?” Jessica asked before slipping her shirt over her head.

Sasha nodded, “Yeah….I’m….I’m happy I went out of my comfort zone for once. It was….” she paused and smirked, “….it was….rewarding.” she finished and giggled.

Jessica laughed, “Yes…I think I may have had a hand in that reward…..literally.” she winked.

Sasha slapped her on the shoulder, “Oh shut up you little turd.” laughing again.

There was a pause in the conversation as both women looked around for the rest of their clothes. The brief silence allowed Sasha to review the crazy night. She went from potentially meeting a one night fling with a cool guy she met online, to meeting the real person who turned out to be a woman. Then after all the shock and annoyance at being bamboozled Sasha found herself seduced by the very same person who had lied about who they were. She shook her head in amazement. She could have never predicted her own behavior tonight. It was so far beyond what she had ever done before.

“Do….do you think we’d ever do this again?” Jessica asked quietly, breaking the silence. There was an innocence and feeling of concern in her voice.

Sasha tilted her head to the side and thought for a moment before looking back at the brunette and nodding slowly, “I think maybe….yeah…I think so. But we’d have to be a little more organized and a lot more discreet next time.” she laughed. “I’d hate for Iria to find out. You know?” Sasha smiled at Jessica and then opened the door.

“Tea?” came the polite query from a silk kimono wearing Iria standing in the hallway, a smile stretched from ear to ear. “I made three.”