Bea woke up early and not in a good mood, she was flying to Perth in a few hours and she really didn't want to go. Dragging herself from her bed she needed to get ready before Liz arrived, she would have already left before Debbie had to go to school and Liz hadn't minded one bit staying over with her but it didn't make leaving her behind any easier. It had been almost eight months since her last trip anywhere but she had to be at this conference, the only light at the end of the tunnel was that she would only be away for three days and Maxine would be with her. When Liz arrived Bea was almost ready to leave.
“Don't you worry about Debbie too much love, just try and concentrate on what you have to do and look forward to coming home again.”
“I'll try Liz, you know how much I hate leaving her, I don't know what I'd do without you.”
Maxine arrived in a taxi twenty minutes later and Bea hugged Liz before she left telling her to not to let Debbie get her own way too much. It was early morning and the airport was relatively empty something that they were both relieved about, the last time they had to travel they were leaving later in the day and it so busy that they couldn't even get a coffee before they boarded their flight. The 0630 flight was not what Bea had wanted at all but the conference started at 1pm, and the early flight meant that they arrived in Perth around 1045 giving them just enough time to relax before they had to head out of the hotel again. Bea had just sat down after arriving at her room when her phone chimed and she knew straight away who it would be without even looking.
I hope your flight wasn't too stressful, do you want to hear something funny?
It wasn't bad, just arrived at the hotel. What have you done now?
Me! What are you trying to say Bea? Ok seriously I think I made a massive error in judgement when I got dressed this morning. Of all the things I could have put on I chose the only skirt I have that rides up every time I sit down and I have a meeting later.
Yep that's a serious error in judgement! You couldn't pay me enough to wear a skirt to work so I'm never going to have that problem.
I was going to wear trousers today then I changed my mind at the last minute, still I bet hearing about my mishap cheered you up.
It did, just how far does it ride up?
Perv…..I never thought I'd hear that coming from you.
Oh hush, stop trying to make something out of nothing, do you have enough time to go home and change?
No I don't, well no rest for the wicked I better get myself ready for this meeting.
Bea sat for a while longer smiling to herself, before Maxine knocked on her door insisting that they had to get something to eat before they headed out. Bea couldn't deny that she was quite hungry and the food at the last conference they attended hadn't been that great.
“Why are you smiling so much hun?”
“Can't I be happy?”
“Of course but you're never normally this happy when you have to leave Debbie, so come on tell me what's got you smiling so much?”
“Maybe later, I thought you wanted to get something to eat.”
After grabbing a bite to eat they headed over to the conference centre, they both hated this kind of thing and spent half the time whispering to each other and quietly giggling at things they kept showing each other on their phones. It was late when they got back to their hotel and they were both tired as they walked back to their rooms Maxine decided to ask again why Bea seemed so happy.
“So come on you have to tell me, why were you smiling so much earlier?”
“You're just going to keep asking aren't you?”
“Uh huh, you know I will.”
“It was just Allie she sent me a text just after we arrived ok.”
“Allie…. I umm have a confession to make.”
“What did you do Maxi?”
“Nothing bad, just….well the night we went out and Allie was there I may have passed her one of your business cards.”
“You mean you did there's no may have about it, I wondered how she got my email address. Please tell me Franky didn't put you up to it.”
“Do I ever do anything that Franky asks me to? I just thought…..truthfully I'm not even sure what I thought, you're not angry at me?”
Bea just shook her head as she stopped outside her door, if she had found out it had been Franky that had passed her details on then things might have been a little different but Maxine always did everything with the best intentions, and if she was honest she was glad that Maxine had done it, she enjoyed hearing from Allie everyday weather it was an email or a few texts spread out through the day.
The next morning they had to be up early they had to be over at the conference centre for 7am and the thought of the long day she had ahead of her made Bea want to slip back into bed and stay there for the rest of the day. It was a nice thought but not a possibility, the director would want to know everything about the conference and returning to work on Thursday with no clue about anything she had seen or heard would not sit well with him. The only thing she knew she had to look forward to was the next day, only half a day and then they would be on their way home, even another early start wouldn't be able to make her unhappy tomorrow, but that was a full day away and she had to get through today.
Just as she had suspected the day was no more interesting than the previous day, and trying to concentrate on anything as the day wore on was becoming increasingly more difficult. By the time it was time to leave Bea was struggling to even keep her eyes open, Maxine linked their arms and led her out of the building the second the cool breeze hit her skin it felt like a light mist had just washed over her just the perfect coolness to make her feel refreshed and wide awake again. Returning to the hotel they went back to their rooms to freshen up before going for dinner, neither of them could even remember much about he day, Maxine had tried to take a few notes of the most important points that had been covered in the morning but by the afternoon she had almost given up, they both found it funny as they tried to come up with something that sounded halfway decent to tell the director when they got back, Bea knew she was in for an interrogation as soon as he got in to his office on Thursday morning. Maxine said she was going to try and catch up with one of the other PA’s who she knew and was also at the conference in the hope that they could help her out with any of the points she had missed and Bea returned to her room for a shower and to relax. She hadn't looked at her phone all day and noticed that she had two unread text messages, the first being from Franky,
Hope you and Maxi are having fun, don't be chatting up all the women over there will ya, leave some for the rest of us.
Bea shook her head before replying,
You know if we weren't friends I may take offence, its as exciting as watching paint dry. Remind me again why you never get sent anywhere!
The second text was from Allie, she was a little mad at herself for not having checked her phone at lunch time but she hadn't even given it a thought.
Hope you are have a great day, remember to stay awake won't you?
She hurriedly sent a reply.
Sorry I've only just seen you text, trust me if I'd have had to sit through much more I would have been dead to the world. What are you up to this evening?
She wasn't expecting a reply, they hardly ever sent each other texts in the evening so was surprised when she received a reply.
Sounds really interesting! I'm just making dinner and I think I'm going to open a bottle of wine. What are you doing?
I'm just staying in my room while Maxi tries to catch up with someone she knows. What are you making for dinner?
Well I had planned on something more elaborate, but now I'm just making pasta, not much point spending time cooking when I'm home alone, Jess has gone out with friends.
She's gone out in the middle of the week? Maybe next time your over in Sydney I'll cook for you, let you have a night off.
Sounds like you've been thinking about that?
Cooking for you, no not really, it was just a suggestion.
So what do you think about?
Meeting up with you again, hopefully without Franky hanging around next time.
Really? Are you sure?
Why are you so shocked?
I'm not shocked, it's just that Franky said you hate hanging out with people you hardly know, I didn't expect you to have even thought about us meeting again.
We speak to each other almost every day how do you expect me not to think about it.
I don't know, I just didn't think you would, next time I'm over we’ll have to arrange something, and I agree definitely no Franky.
They spent another hour texting back and forth until Bea said she really should try getting some sleep, if the next day was going to be half as bad as that day had been she was going to need all the sleep she could get and the next day was only going to be another half a day of torture before they flew home.
The next morning dragged, four hours felt as though they had been sat there for double that length of time. Both Bea and Maxine had got up half an hour before they needed to to make sure that they wouldn't leave anything behind, their flight left at 1600 and the conference would finish at lunch time giving them enough time to get some lunch and check out of the hotel.
As soon as they left the conference centre they had decided that it would be better to have lunch at the hotel, it would make things easier for both of them. Over lunch they chatted quite happily, Maxine filling Bea in on just how much they had missed from the previous day, her time spent the previous evening had been worth while even though it had been a little exhausting. The conversation had turned to how Bea had spent her evening, she didn't want to lie to Maxine but she also didn't want to tell her that almost her entire evening had been spent texting Allie, she knew she wouldn't read the same thing into it as Franky would but she wasn't ready to be completely honest with anyone.
Sitting in the airport Maxine watched Bea intently as she heard her phone chime, the smile on her face said all she needed to know, that smile told her who it was. It was just a brief exchange and when Bea looked up from the screen Maxine was still watching her,
“I'm guessing that was Allie.”
“Umm yer…….your not going to give me a hard time like Franky does are you?”
“Why ever would I do that? It's nothing to with me who you choose to speak to, but you like her don't you?”
“As a friend Maxi that's all.”
It had been a long day and when she arrived home all Bea really wanted to do was fall into bed and at not quite 8pm that was unusual for her, even after a long day of meetings she was never this tired. Liz was happy to see her offering to make her something to eat before she left, Bea said she was too tired to eat, all she really wanted was a shower and her bed. After Liz left she locked up and headed upstairs looking in on Debbie who was already fast asleep before retreating to her own room.
Allie was having a bad night, the second she had walked through the door Jess had demanded to know why she was late, late Allie could have laughed, traffic was murder owing to the fact that there had been an accident the way she had seen it twenty minutes was nothing. She had a busy day at work, she was due back in Sydney the next week and it couldn't come soon enough for her, it was only for one night but a night away from the constant questioning was better than nothing, she was going to tell her when she got in but she knew there was no point judging by her mood. She made dinner listening to Jess constantly droning on about something that had happened at work, ‘what happened to being asked how my day was,’ she wondered to herself. As soon as they had eaten Allie as usual was left with the dishes as Jess disappeared off to watch something on tv. Allie sat at the kitchen table with a glass of wine for over two hours, the answer to the question Bea had asked now right at the forefront of her thoughts. Jess returning to the kitchen drug her from her thoughts asking why she was still in the kitchen, Allie didn't even want to answer her, she was tired and just wanted to go to bed but she knew that the second she said that she'd have to listen to the whining that always went with her saying something Jess wasn't happy with. After another hour of half listening to something that she had no interest in hearing she went for a shower, falling into bed a short time later she was soon asleep.
The second Beas eyes opened she was wide awake, she was glad to be home but not looking forward to going back to work, after three days away she knew the amount of work that would be waiting for her would be huge. After showering and getting ready to face the day she made sure Debbie was awake before making a start on breakfast, her phone chiming made her smile because she knew it would be Allie.
Goodmorning short stuff hope you slept well.
You're skating on thin ice Novak, I'm only two inches shorter than you! But yes I slept great, how about you?
When I finally got to bed I slept ok I guess.
When you finally got to bed, did someone keep you up?
Just Jess running her mouth again! So what are you doing next Friday night?
Nothing much, Deb will be away on a camping trip all weekend and just for once Franky's going out without trying to drag me along so I'll be home alone. Why do you ask?
No Franky! Well since I'm going to be over in Sydney I was going to suggest that we could have dinner or something, if you still want to?
I'll have to think about it…
Debbie coming crashing into the kitchen saying she was starving distracted her from her phone for a while, but Debbie couldn't help notice the smile on her mum's face, when her phone chimed again Bea tried to ignore it leaving Debbie for three days wasn't something she hadn't wanted to do and she didn't want her to think she wasn't paying her any attention but when she told her to just read the text she'd received she went straight back to her phone.
Ok, but don't think too long about it, I'm only offering free food. But if you don't want to that's fine.
Let me get back to you, I have to drop Deb off at school soon.
Allie knew she shouldn't even really be asking but she wanted to see her again, had to see her again. She knew that they would never be any more than friends, and she shouldn't even think about her the way she did but she couldn't help herself. Ten years without seeing her had been too long and she wished she'd gone back to Melbourne sooner but then she thought that everything was fine between her and Jess and clearly they weren't. It was crazy, they spoke almost everyday now but when other things got in the way she missed her, she missed Bea way more than she ever missed Jess.
Bea walked into her office sighing as she sat at her desk, the pile of paperwork she knew would be there was something she knew she had to tackle even though she didn't want to and Maxine walking into her office with another armful of folders left her wishing she had taken the few day off, but that would only have led to more paperwork.
“I'm sorry about this Bea, the one on the top is your notes from the conference.”
“You mean your notes, as long as I don't get too many distractions today I should get at least halfway through all this.”
After Maxine disappeared Bea sat quietly for a few minutes before picking her phone up.
Free food is too tempting to turn down, we'll have to work out the details later you would not believe how much I have to do.
As soon as she sent that text she felt her anxiety rise in the pit of her stomach, picking up the first thing on the top of the pile that furnished her desk her attention wasn't fully on what she was trying to read it was focused on actually seeing Allie again or more on the idea that this time they would be alone. She was trying to convince herself that there was nothing to worry about, it was just dinner with a friend. Just because over the last few days the only thing she had been able to think about was Allie was just a strange coincidence wasn't it? She'd been away from home and had little else that she wanted to think about. How had they gone from emails to texting to the couple of phone calls they shared while she was in Perth?
Allie read the text as soon as it arrived, she had convinced herself on her drive to work that Bea was going to say she didn't want to see her and she had to be ok with that, it was her decision and she wasn't going to push her to do something she didn't want to do. She now sat at her desk with a huge grin on her face, Bea wanted to see her and she couldn't be happier. Nothing anyone could say to her would be able to upset her, she knew she couldn't deny that she was attracted to her, she always had been and figured she always would be all she had to do was act naturally they were friends weren't they, that was all they ever would be but she couldn't deny to herself just how much time she spent thinking about her. She drifted off when Jess was talking to her and she knew she'd noticed on more than one occasion resulting in a couple of small arguments. She just didn't want to listen to Jess, didn't want her to touch her everything just felt wrong, that was nothing to do with how she felt about Bea though she'd felt like that for months. Bea listened to her, she answered her questions she'd never dismissed her as being stupid when she couldn't quite get her head round something, she took the time to explain anything she didn't understand and they had a couple of conversations about work that had left Allie slightly confused.
Bea slowly worked her way through the pileup of paperwork, she still wasn't sure why she'd agreed to meet her. “What the fuck am I thinking?” She mumbled to herself, Allie was smart and she was funny and so unlike anyone else she had ever known and now she'd agreed to have dinner with her. Every time she heard her phone or spotted an unread notification when she had to have her phone on silent she couldn't fight the smile. She couldn't allow the thought to creep back in that she'd had while she was in Perth, she had so much to do but when it hit her again she couldn't concentrate. Could she really be attracted to Allie?
“Shit, shit shit!” She said a little too loud as she jumped out of her chair pacing her office as Maxine rushed in.
She stopped pacing and looked at her apologetically, “Sorry Maxi, I'm just…..I'm….oh fuck I don't know. I'm fine honestly.”
“You sure hun? Want to talk about it?”
Bea shook her head as she sat down, this couldn't be a healthy situation for either of them, and she knew that it certainly wasn't one sided, Franky was never going to let her forget how Allie had always felt about her. But that wasn't the point Allie had a girlfriend, she lived miles away and Bea wasn't gay was she? ‘You keep telling yourself that,’ she thought to herself, ‘With any luck you'll convince yourself.’ Honestly right now she wasn't certain of that statement, she wasn't even sure of anything anymore, looking over at where Maxine was still standing she knew she had to tell her something eventually but right then wasn't the right time. She had no clue how she was going to get through the rest of the day with all that floating around in her head.
The rest of her day was just frustrating, Maxine would pop in and out of her office with more things that needed her attention, some more important than others, her phone would alert her to another message from Allie sometimes she tried to ignore them for longer than she though she could but she couldn't ignore her for too long she just couldn't help it. On her drive over to pick Debbie up she went over everything they had said to each other that day, neither of them had mentioned the following day again, Bea was relieved about that but it didn't stop the anxiety she still felt. As she arrived home with Debbie she told herself that they would just have dinner together as Friends, that was it.