Friday morning and Bea woke up to the sound of her phone.
Just getting ready to leave for the airport, sorry if I woke you.
Bea glanced at the time before she replied, it was an hour before she would have been woken by her alarm but she couldn't be angry with her, no matter how much she would like to be she just couldn't.
You did wake me up but it doesn't matter, what time is your meeting?
Lunch time….I've been thinking, if you don't want to have dinner with me you don't have to, I really won't be offended. I'm not overly keen on eating alone but I want you to know that you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with.
Bea hadn't been expecting her to say that, of course Allie could tell it made her uncomfortable, she lay back and looked up at the ceiling as if the answer she was looking for would somehow magically appear before her eyes. Closing her eyes again for a few moments she knew what she wanted to say and sat up quickly typing out a reply.
As much as I really do appreciate your concern I wouldn't let you eat alone. I know the perfect place unless of course you want to eat at your hotel? I could meet you at your hotel.
Allie was waiting for the reply, Bea noticed that as quickly as she had sent it Allie was typing again. She wanted to put her phone down uncertain of what reply she was going to get, but she couldn't her heart was hammering in her chest as she kept her eyes on the screen.
Can I make a suggestion? And you can say no if you want to. How about I pick you up from yours and I'll drive, I always have to hire a car when I'm over for work. And I won't be drinking because Saturday is going to be busy for me and I need a clear head for that.
Ok, I'll send you my address later, guess I better be getting up and you need to finish getting ready.
I do, I'll see you later.
‘What the fuck am I doing? Why the hell did I just agree to that?’ Bea wondered to herself as she got out of bed. Should she text her back and tell her she couldn't do this, she had so many questions rushing around in her head as she got in the shower. The thought of spending the evening with Allie was exciting, and as long as Franky didn't know it would be safe enough, it's not as if Bea had actually invited her over and she remember that she had once said she'd cook for her, maybe one day she would.
“Why do you have to go again, weren't you just in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago?” Jess whined.
Allie rolled her eyes, did she think if she kept asking the same question that the answer was going to change. She'd already given her the answer to that question three times, she wanted to say something sarcastic this time but she knew that if she did that it would only end in an argument and she didn't have time to argue.
“I'm sorry, I can't help it, you know that this happens. I may not be back until Sunday, it depends on how the first meeting goes. It's my job, you know I can't tell my boss that I'm not going to go.”
Allie picked up her bag and turned to face Jess who stood with her arms crossed over her chest, a frown on her face, she wasn't happy, but that was Jess she was never happy unless she was getting her own way.
“Isn't there anyone else that can go?”
Allie shrugged as she walked passed her headed towards the door, she wanted to scream, why did it always have to be like this? Every time she had to go anywhere this was always how it was.
“No, Toms on vacation and Rebecca is in Adelaide. What's the problem, it's only for one maybe two nights at the most?”
Jess had a temper and Allie knew that, as she looked back at her she regretted what she had just said the second the words had slipped out of her mouth. As Allies eyes met Jesses the glare she was giving her made her shiver, she could see the anger on her face and she could swear that if she wasn't as close to the door as she was she would have to make a run for it.
“You don't see a problem here? You're always at fucking work, always bringing work home with you and even when you are here the last few weeks you haven't really been here. You don't want to be here I can see that, you never want to listen to me. You're always on your fucking phone and now….well off you go again doing another fucking disappearing act. What about me?”
Allies mind went blank, how could she even answer that? She wanted to laugh, she didn't listen to her? All she did everyday when she got home was listen, when she had to take work home with her she couldn't get anything done because Jess wanted her undivided attention. Bea was the only person apart from Franky who ever listened to her, was it too much to ask to be heard? Allie just stood rooted to the spot a blank expression on her face.
“It's just work, I don't have a choice, I'm going to be working the whole time I'm there, probably late into the night.” She lied hoping that she didn't pick up on it.
She wasn't going to tell her about her plans for the evening, if she thought she was spending an evening with Franky she would go mad, she certainly couldn't tell her she was spending it with Bea. When they first got together she had mentioned her and that had caused an argument, no amount of explaining that she hadn't seen her in years had helped yet it had been fine for Jess to tell her about everyone of her girlfriends, Allie just had to sit back and listen to all of that. Her phone chiming didn't help the situation much and she knew it would be Bea, she could never ignore her and now she had no choice.
“You honestly think I want to go? I don't.” Another lie, but she couldn't tell her how she was really feeling.“And I know I seem to always be working but you know how crazy things get sometimes. How about when I get back I book us a mini break in the Bunya Mountains, might be a little chilly though.”
Allie did pay attention to most of what she said, and god knows she'd dropped enough hints over the last couple of months about wanting to go there and judging by the way her face softened it had worked.
“Seriously? You promise?”
“I promise, but I have to go or I'm going to miss my flight, and if I miss this meeting I'll be in shit with the boss.”
Jess could be so easily pleased sometimes, other times nothing Allie promised her was ever going to be enough. She left the house and jumped in her car thankful that it was still early and traffic shouldn't be too much of a problem. When she reached the airport she remembered her phone, pulling it out of her pocket slowly she was a little worried what Bea may have said, had she changed her mind?
You keep asking me if I'm ok with going to dinner but are you sure you really want to? You can change your mind if you want to.
Allie rolled her eyes, she was hardly going to change her mind, she just wanted to be able to do the one thing she'd wanted to do for too long and that was spend some time with Bea alone.
Calm down would you, it's not good for a CEO to show up for work in a state. And yes I really want to, there's nothing wrong with wanting to go to dinner with a friend is there? Sorry it took me so long to reply, I kind of got into it with Jess but I sorted it out, what's the point in earning money if you're not going to spend any of it right?
How much is it costing? Not sure dinner is worth that much.
Not funny I'd pay way more to treat you to dinner than a trip to Bunya Mountains is going to cost me.
Is that so? And the ice princess caved in for that trip?
You know she usually does, I'll text you again after I land ok?
Bea spent the whole day at work in a semi panic, nothing she did was helping and she could hardly concentrate on anything after Allie had sent her a text letting her know that she was there. Maxine had been more than a little puzzled by the way she was acting but hadn't questioned her. Franky making her presence know just before lunch certainly wasn't helping, of course she wasn't taking no for an answer when it came to their lunch arrangements, it was Friday the day they usually had dinner together but not today so naturally she was insisting on them having lunch together.
Walking down the street together Franky had suddenly fallen silent, and Franky was rarely silent when they were together. Bea knew she wasn't capable of sustained periods of silence unless her brain was in overload. Right then the only thing Franky seemed capable of was walking a little more quickly than normal and looking over her shoulder every now and again. It wasn't her typical behaviour and Bea couldn't stop wondering what was going on with her. Slipping into their favourite cafe they soon ordered their food since they usually had the same thing every time they went there, Franky looked at her intently as they waited for their food to arrive and she knew she wanted to say something, and she had the feeling that Franky knew more than she was letting on. Bea had just taken a bite of her sandwich when Franky finally spoke.
“So why are you keeping having dinner with Allie a secret?”
Bea almost choked as she tried to swallow and she felt herself falling back into the grip of a silent panic her heart was racing and her brain was on fire. It took her a couple of minutes to regain her composure enough to answer her.
“How do you know about that?”
“Novak may or may not have slipped up when I spoke to her earlier, thought it was strange at first when I asked her to come out with me tonight and she said she'd had a better offer.”
“We're only friends Franky, fuck I have you over almost every week for dinner.”
“I know, I know, not like you though is it? Going out is one thing but keeping it secret, ya shock me Red.”
Bea didn't say anything, what could she say?
“So how did this little date happen?”
“Piss of Doyle it's not a date, it's just friends having dinner.”
“Yer, so how did ya get so friendly all of a sudden?”
Bea knew she wouldn't let it go and she was going to have to tell her, not that she wanted to, Franky was likely to take the piss that was nothing new. Bea wasn't going to tell her everything so she just told her that they had exchanged a few texts while she had been in Perth hoping that would be enough to satisfy Franky over enthusiastic interest.
“If ya say so, reckon it's more than a few texts but I'll leave it, never say I don't go easy on ya. She told ya about the bitch?”
“You mean Jess?”
“Yer who else, evil little bitch if ya ask me, bet she hasn't told ya she's slapped her around a few times has she? I tell ya I have no fucking idea why she's still with her. It's something new every other fucking day.”
Allie had never told her that and Bea wasn't sure she wanted to know, she could understand how she would stay with her she'd done it herself with Harry, it was the one thing that Franky would never truly understand.
Back in her office Bea really did try to concentrate but her mind was only half on what she was doing. She just wanted the time to pass quickly, she was leaving the office early she knew that and 4pm couldn't arrive fast enough. When Maxine saw Bea leaving her office early she would normally have been a little surprised but after a rather interesting conversation with Franky two hours ago she knew why she was leaving early.
“I'll see you Monday Maxi, I'm going to work from home tomorrow.”
“Sure hun, enjoy your evening.”
She was going to kill Franky!
As the time ticked away getting closer to the time Allie was due to be picking her up she couldn't remember a time she'd ever been as nervous as she she was now feeling. She had thirty minutes before Allie was due to arrive and she still hadn't decided what to wear. Hearing her phone ringing somewhere in the room she just knew it was either be Franky or Allie, she looked around for her phone before she remembered that she'd left it on the bed, trying to find it under the pile of clothes that she'd dumped on it was seeming like an impossible task as she started throwing things around. Finally finding it she answered it without even noticing who it was.
“Bea, everything alright?”
“Yes, I was trying to get ready then my phone rang.”
Of all the times her mum would choose to call it just had to be right then, and her mum always kept her talking, if it wasn't something that her dad had done that she wanted to complain about then she would have to tell her every detail about her day. Bea loved her mum, she really did but since Harry had disappeared she always did this, and always managed to call at the worst time possible.
“I was just thinking about you and I wondered how everything was with you and Debbie. So what are you up to?”
Bea sighed a little louder than she had intended to, she didn't have time for this right now, she glanced at the time, Allie would be there in twenty minutes.
“Nothing much Debbie's on a school camping trip and I'm meant to be going out with a friend for dinner, she should be here soon. Not that I don't want to talk to you but I really need to finish getting ready before she arrives.”
“Dinner with a friend, I'm guessing that's Franky then?”
Bea was starting to lose her patience, why could her mum never take a hint?
“No mum not Franky, you probably don't remember her, Allie she lived in the same foster home as Franky years ago.”
“I seem to remember the name, ok sweetie I'll let you finish getting ready, you have a good evening and I'll call you tomorrow.”
“Yes mum, I'm working from home tomorrow.”
Finally she took the hint and hung up, another couple of minutes less that she had to get ready. She finally went with her first choice of what she should wear jeans and a shirt, the restaurant they were going to was pretty casual and Bea didn't want to look like she had made too much of an effort, judging by the state of her room she knew how much effort it had taken and she seriously didn't have time to put the contents of her wardrobe away now. Heading back downstairs she went straight to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine. Retreating to the living room she sat on the sofa looking at the time on the clock on the wall, five minutes. Taking a sip of her wine she half hoped that she'd arrive late, she could use some extra time to try and calm her already frayed nerves.
She watched the clock as the minutes ticked away, exactly on the hour her phone rang making her jump and causing wine to land on her shirt.
Jumping up off the sofa she put her glass down on the coffee table as she answered the phone.
“Hello.” She snapped, instantly regretting her tone when she heard Allies voice.
“That wasn't how I expected you to answer. I'm outside, what's wrong? Have you changed your mind?”
“What? No, no…..the phone ringing made me jump now I wearing half the glass of wine I had in my hand. I need to get changed, just come in yer, the doors unlocked.”
Bea hadn't intended to invite her in but she didn't want to leave her sitting outside and she quickly hung up and ran back off upstairs grabbing another shirt. Pulling off her wine soaked shirt she couldn't believe how jumpy she was, it was only Allie, shit she'd spent long enough talking to her surly she shouldn't be reacting like this. Pulling on a clean shirt she looked in the mirror shaking her head, ‘pull yourself together,’ she mumbled to herself, ‘it's just dinner.’ Walking back down the stairs she could feel her heart beating and she was sure that any minute whatever remained of her lunch might be about to make an appearance.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs Bea stopped and took a deep breath trying to compose herself once more, she'd been waiting for this all day and she'd been so nervous and now she didn't know what to expect or how she really felt. ‘Breath you idiot,’ but no amount of internal chastisement was helping in the few moments that she stood there frozen to the spot. Closing her eyes she took a few more deep breaths before deciding that she was just being completely stupid, besides if she didn't move soon Allie would probably go looking for her and finding her standing there like an idiot was not going to look good. Walking into the living room her eyes landed on the top of Allies head as she sat quietly and patiently on the sofa waiting for her to put in an appearance. Allie must have heard her and she stood up and turned around.
“Hope you don't mind, I've spent half my day standing up, worst meeting I've ever had.”
“No, no course not.”
She couldn't say anymore, she didn't know what she had been expecting but as Allie stood in front of her it definitely wasn't how she looked right then. Bea was sure she looked taller than she remembered, as she walked further into the room and round the sofa her eyes traveled from her face to her feet, of course she was wearing heels, ‘idiot’ she thought to herself as her eyes stayed firmly on her feet. When their eyes finally met for the first time that day Bea was sure they were bluer than she remembered, no hint of mischief in them today just a slight touch of amusement.
“Hi, sorry about that I have no idea why I'm so jumpy today.”
“It's not everyday you meet an almost complete stranger for dinner is it?”
“No, you're right of course.”
“You really do have a lovely home, not that I'd expect any less.” Allies tone was always confident and she's always smiling, as she saw her eyes wonder over her Bea felt the blush rising and there was nothing she could do about it, and she watched her expression change to a more quizzical look.
“What?” Bea found herself asking.
“Nothing, just never thought you'd have a thing for feet.” Allie giggled.
“I…I don't, I just thought you looked taller than I remembered…”
Allie silenced her when she started laughing, noticing her obvious discomfort she stopped and apologised. Bea grabbed her jacket and pulled it on before picking up her bag.
“You ready to go?”
Allie nodded and followed her to the door.
Sitting in the restaurant Allie had hardly taken her eyes off Bea, she couldn't think why anyone could or would even want to. Sure she was shy and didn't always say a great deal but Allie was sure if they got to know each other better that would change, she had no trouble speaking to her other Friends. And she couldn't deny that when she did speak she was intelligent, quite funny and the fact that she was devastatingly beautiful didn't hurt. Allie tried to concentrate when Bea was talking to her but she was fighting a loosing battle and when Bea asked her a question that she couldn't find the answer for she thought she would think that she hadn't even been listening to a single word she had said. Her expression told Allie that try as she might to concentrate she had missed something that was probably important as she reached for her glass of water.
“Am I boring you?”
Allie could listen to that voice for the rest of her life she knew that so missing anything she had said was just irritating, she wanted to remember their conversation, especially now when she figured that she'd probably never be alone with her again after messing up.
“No, honestly, I think I just wondered off for a second and I missed the last bit.”
Allie swallowed hard, she knew that she hardly sounded convincing but hoped that she wouldn't take too much offence or realized why she'd really not heard what she had been saying.
“I asked you how bad your meeting had been, you said you'd been on your feet for most of it but you didn't elaborate.”
“Oh yer right, well I had to give a presentation on financial planning, it was meant to be short but then it seemed that everyone in the room had a few thousand questions that they wanted answering so I had to stand for the best part of the afternoon.”
“I hate that, does that happen to you often?”
“More often than I'd like, I thought I was never getting out of there, I had intended to go back to my hotel and change but if I had I'd have been late picking you up and I really didn't want you to think that I'd changed my mind, I know I could have called but I decided that I'd just come straight over.”
“Hmmmm, well I did think you were a little overdressed, I understand why now.”
Allie really couldn't miss Beas eyes moving as she looked from her face, she'd seen her do that more than once already in the last thirty minutes and had tried to not think too much about it, she couldn't really be checking her out could she? Allie couldn't allow that thought to remain in her head and she continued speaking.
Allie couldn't not notice as those brown eyes snapping straight back to hers, she could willingly lose herself in those eyes, they were every shade of brown that she could imagine, a raw umber and caramel mix with hints of dark chocolate that at times glowed with playfulness that gave Allie the shivers while giving her the feeling of being wrapped up in a warm embrace at the same time.
“God knows how bad tomorrow will be, I'm pretty certain that it's going to be a long day and I'll end up finishing late so I guess I'll be staying another night, good thing it's easy to get a flight back to Sydney at the last minute. Maybe we could do this again tomorrow?”
Bea didn't answer straight away and Allie worried that maybe she shouldn't have said that but she had, there was no taking it back. She knew she would make up any excuse to stay one more night if it meant seeing Bea again, even if it was just for a coffee.
“I think that if you have to stay I'd like that, I know I've been nervous all day about this but you really are good company. And I do enjoy talking to you.”
Allie couldn't hide her happiness, Bea wanted to see her again, she'd said it and that was more than Allie had ever hoped for. She was just about to say something when her phone started ringing, looking down at the offending item that sat on the table she frowned seeing that it was Jess.
“Shit, I better take this….Jess!”
Allie was just about to stand when Bea ran her fingers over the back of her hand instantly dragging her attention back to her.
“You stay here and talk to her, I need the ladies, won't be long.”
Allie couldn't even nod her head in response, that simple touch had set her entire body on fire. Even as she answered the phone her eyes followed Bea as she walked away, everything about her was too enticing and she knew she had to get a grip on her emotions.
“Hey Jess, I'm glad you called.”
“Really? So why did it take you so long to answer?”
Her tone of voice pulled Allie from her thoughts of Bea and she felt a little guilty, but what was she meant to do, she couldn't deny what she felt, what she'd always felt and she really didn't want to have this conversation. Her focus turned back to Jess on the phone and as much as she didn't want to speak to her she knew she had to.
“Of course I am, sorry it's been a long day.”
Allie sat listening to Jess drumming her fingers of her free hand on the table as she told her all about her day and naturally all the office gossip that Allie never had any interest in hearing. Allie gave all the answers that she knew she wanted to hear but she as always was only half listening to what she was saying.
“So where are you now, it seems a little too noisy to be your hotel?”
“One of the managers who was at the meeting asked me to go to dinner, ya know to pick my brain some more, it's all really boring and exhausting but I have to make a good impression.”
Allie knew she wouldn't really believe what she was saying and she'd dig for more information.
“I suppose you do, so what's this managers name?”
Allie wasn't stupid and had done her research before she left that morning, just in case this question cropped up. She'd told her the company name that she was having the meeting with and she knew she'd be straight online looking for information just to check she wasn't making things up.
“It's Andrea, Andrea Johnson, but don't start jumping to conclusions please, I assure you she's straight and very married with a couple of kids.”
Silence descended between them for a moment when Allie spotted Bea on her way back over to the table.
“Listen yer I better go, Andrea’s coming back and you don't want me to appear rude do you?”
“No I guess not, call me before you go to bed won't you? Just so I know you're safe.”Allie rolled her eyes, ‘You mean so you know I'm alone,’ Allie thought to herself.
“I will, I'll talk to you later, love you.” She didn't wait to hear her response and ended the call even though she knew what would happen later but she had no desire to hear anything more that she had to say. When Bea sat back down Allie couldn't help but wish she turned her phone off and left it in her bag.
“She still not happy about you being here?”
Allies eyes were drawn back to those gorgeous warm brown eyes that didn't look like they were looking straight through her like Jesses almost always did. Jess never looked at her like that, she wasn't even sure that she ever had. Jess didn't listen to her the Bea did, Allie always tried to listen to her none stop running commentary about everything she thought Allie needed to know but she never asked her how she was or how her day had been, the only time she ever knew how Allies day was was if Allie herself could slip that information into the conversation.
“She's never happy when I'm not at home, she doesn't understand that I have to travel. Sometimes I think she thinks I'm making it up and god knows there have been plenty of times I've thought about it just to get some peace and quiet for a day or two but then I know she'll call and I'll have to listen to every irrelevant detail about her day that she thinks I need to know.”
Bea just sat there quietly watching her thinking about what to say, if things were really that bad why did she stay, worse still if what Franky had told her about Jess was true she couldn't understand how Allie would do so much for her. Allie was kind and had a big heart she knew that much already, Bea had never felt this relaxed with anyone, not even Franky she thought and that scared her a little more than she suspected it really should. She had no idea what was going on with her but she needed to find out.
“If things are that bad why do you stay?”
Allie didn't even know the answer to that question. Sitting back in her chair she couldn't take her eyes away from her as she searched desperately for something to say but there was nothing other than her thoughts of just how beautiful this woman sat across from her really was. Her skin had a glow to it her eyes were so expressive and those fucking cheek bones. The way her hair framed her face left Allie wondering what it would feel like to run her fingers through it, what she would look like sleeping next to her, she knew her thoughts were running wild and unabated into very dangerous territory but she couldn't stop it.
“You ok there Allie?” Bea asked softly her tone full of concern.
“Yer, I guess I'm just tired,” glancing at her watch she couldn't believe how much time they had spent together, “Shit it's almost midnight, I better get you home.”
“Why, will you turn into a pumpkin at midnight?” Bea giggled.
Allie waved the waiter over and asked for the bill, she noticed the look of disappointment that had fallen on Beas face and as much as she didn't want to take her home and leave her alone she had to, she did have to work the next day. The thought returned as soon as she had paid the bill that maybe she wouldn't see her again and as much as she didn't want that she couldn't keep doing this could she, it wasn't fair on either of them, Jess hated Franky there was no way she would let her know she was talking to Bea. Something else that Allie hated, Jess could have her friends but Allie couldn't, when they did go out it was always with her friends never with anyone Allie called a friend.
Allie drove back to Beas in silence, Bea wasn't sure if she should say anything and when Allie didn't speak she decided that she'd just say nothing, she had so much that she wanted to say but knew she wouldn't be able to get the words out no matter how hard she tried. The shiver that ran the length of Allies spine when her hand brushed Beas leg as she changed gear almost made her jump right out of her skin. Pulling up outside Beas house and turning off the engine Allie turned to look at her.
“I'm glad you didn't chicken out on me, I really enjoyed tonight.” Allie said quietly.
“Me too, call me when you have a chance tomorrow? I'm sure I can manage to spend another evening in your company. If you still want to that is.”
As soon as the words left her mouth Bea could feel her blush rising, and she was just glad it was dark hopefully Allie wouldn't notice. Allie nodded and smiled, she wanted so much to close the distance between them and kiss her, instead she leaned closer and kissed her on the cheek letting her lips linger a little longer than she really should. If that was the only time she ever got to kiss her she wanted it to count, she wanted to remember it forever.
“I'll call as soon as I can….Goodnight Bea.”
Bea got out of the car, leaning back in she really wasn't sure why but she didn't want her to leave even though she knew she had to.