Chord, p.14
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       Chord, p.14

           Chelsea M. Cameron
 
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  “I know. But I feel like we’d get hungry eventually. And we do have supportive friends.” That was true. We did have supportive friends. And we would probably have supportive families, when we decided to tell them. Right now it was just easier and safer to be like this. Just the two of us.

  “We could order food online. And our friends could come and visit us here,” I said. She giggled.

  “But we’d get pretty stinky after a little while, I think.” Oh, she had a point there. We didn’t have a bathroom attached to our room. We’d have to leave to pee and take showers.

  “Damn, that plan is out the window.”

  CORDELIA

  It was perfect. Everything with her was always so much better than I thought it would be. I imagined what it would be like to have Chase in bed, but the reality? Far exceeded that in every way. For someone who had never gone down on someone else, holy fuck. She must have been blessed by an angel or something, because she pushed every single button I had. The other times when guys had gone down on me, I’d been so uncomfortable that I hadn’t even gotten close to enjoying it and pretty much just told him to stop. With Chase I could let go. I didn’t have to hold myself back. I was free.

  I left to take a shower after we messed around, and when I came back, she was in bed reading. Walking in and seeing her sitting there, tugging on the ends of her hair and with that little concentration wrinkle between her eyebrows took my breath away. She was just so beautiful.

  “Hey,” I said, closing the door. She finished her page and looked up at me with a smile.

  “That was really great, by the way. In case I didn’t make that clear.” I kissed her and she grinned back at me. She was pretty pleased with herself, that was for sure.

  She stuck her tongue out at me and wiggled it.

  “Okay, you need to stop that immediately unless you want me to tackle you.” She put her book down.

  “Is that a challenge?”

  “Definitely.”

  We didn’t end up going to sleep for a long time.

  MY DAD CALLED ME THE next afternoon when I was in between classes. I was hanging out with Mariella when my phone rang, so I excused myself from the table we’d been sitting at in the Union and went outside.

  “Hey, Dad,” I said.

  “Hey, Sprite!” he said. My dad didn’t talk at a normal volume. I bet anyone standing near me heard him calling me by the nickname. He was lucky I didn’t embarrass easily. I had more than one story of him saying something that should have been said in a whisper at an extremely high volume so that everyone in the grocery store knew I needed regular size tampons and not supers.

  “How’s the college life?” he asked.

  “It’s good. Busy. Stressful, but what else is new?”

  “You behaving yourself? No frat parties?”

  “Uh, nope. Haven’t done any of those yet.”

  “Good, you stay away from those boys up there, Sprite. They’re only after one thing.” I rolled my eyes. Sometimes my dad had outdated views about people. I knew he meant well, but it was frustrating.

  “I’m not interested in boys, Dad,” I said, and then realized what I had said. Shit.

  “No one caught your fancy? That’s fine, you don’t need any of that in your life. Keep your focus on studying.” I bit my tongue and had to stop myself from saying “I’m not interested in boys, but there is a girl,” but I didn’t. I chickened out.

  “That’s what I’m trying to do,” I said. Telling him about Chase wasn’t the kind of thing I could do with a bunch of people standing around me. And definitely not before I had mentally prepared myself and thought out what I might say.

  He asked me a few more questions and I asked him how work was going. My dad was an archivist and historian, and I think it broke his heart a little bit when I hadn’t been interested in getting a degree in history, even art history. I figured I was taking a class, and maybe I’d change my mind. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do or how to commit to something like that. How could I pick a fucking career to do for the rest of my life when I couldn’t even decide which Pop Tart flavor I liked better? It was beyond ridiculous. I knew Chase had all her shit planned out and mapped and everything and sometimes it made me feel like a failure. I tried to tell myself that we were different people and had different brains and that was okay, but it still got to me.

  I hung up with my dad and went back to Mariella.

  “Sorry, my dad calls and checks up on me. I’m an only child, so he’s a little protective.” Plus, my mom wasn’t around, so it had been just the two of us for my whole life. I was his world, and I wished I could help him feel less anxious about me being at school.

  “Yeah, I know what you mean. My mom is really protective too. And then there’s my aunts and my grandmothers too. I can’t even sneeze on social media without them texting or calling and asking me about it.” I laughed. At least my dad wasn’t that bad. He hated social media. Thought it was a waste of time. I hadn’t been able to explain to him that social media could connect you with people all over the world and he could make friends with people anywhere. He was never going to get it.

  Mariella was a sophomore and lived off campus with three roommates in a tiny ass apartment, but I still thought that was cool. Having an apartment seemed so grown up.

  “Sometimes I miss the dorms, honestly. I have class and I have to drive to campus and then there’s work and by the time I get home from that, I’m exhausted and all I want to do is sleep and I still have to make food and everything.” The idea of all that responsibility made me feel panicky. I had a car, but my dad had helped me pay for it and I worked all summer to have money for this school year. I was hoping I didn’t have to get a job, since Dad said he would send me money so I could focus on school and not have to work, at least for this year.

  “That sucks,” I said because there didn’t seem to be much else to say.

  She sighed.

  “Yeah, it does. But it’s what I have to do, you know?” I nodded. Yeah, I did. My anxiety made it hard for me to do things like making phone calls and going to appointments, and most of the time I had to suck it up and just do those things because they had to be done. Even if I had a panic attack on the way to an appointment.

  She looked at her phone and realized she had to get to work, so I said bye to her and then walked back to the dorm. I couldn’t wait to see Chase, but what else was new? I couldn’t wait to see her every day. We were finally going on our first date this weekend, and I knew she had been planning it all out. No matter what we did, it was going to be awesome. It was going to be both our first dates with another girl, so I knew she was probably going to go all out. Like she did everything else. Meticulous and sweet.

  I wished I could wipe away all those other dates I’d been on and declare that this would be my first one. Still, if I hadn’t gone on all those dates with guys, I might not have figured out that I didn’t want to go on another date with one. Ever.

  Figuring out my sexuality had been put on the back burner for now. I wanted to enjoy my time with Chase without the anxiety of that ruining things. I hadn’t talked to her about it recently, but I knew it was something she worried about too. Why couldn’t things just be easy and uncomplicated?

  I walked through the door and there she was, my girl. I rushed to kiss her and she was right there to meet me. She caught me as I did a flying leap into her arms.

  “Well, hello,” she said as I tried to kiss her.

  “Hello,” I said into her mouth through a kiss.

  We ended up falling over onto her bed. It had become our couch, since we were using my bed to sleep in. It was cramped and we ended up all curled around each other and my hair was in her mouth each morning, but I wouldn’t want to wake up any other way.

  She rolled us so we were both on our sides.

  “My dad called today. I didn’t tell him anything,” I said. I didn’t mean to blurt that out, but it had been bothering me the entire walk back.

&
nbsp; “Did you want to?” she asked, stroking my curls.

  “I mean, yes. I share nearly everything with him. But I’m just not sure how to go about it? How do I tell him something so life changing happened? How do I casually drop that into a conversation?”

  “Yeah, I know. I’ve thought about so many different ways of doing it. Just dropping it like a bomb, or doing it in a more subtle way. Honestly, I don’t think there is an easy way to do this. Which is what makes it so difficult.” I nodded and pressed my forehead to hers.

  “We are gonna figure this out.”

  We’d have to.

  Twelve

  Chase

  The night before our date, I barely slept. I just kept running everything through my mind, making sure I hadn’t left anything out. I wanted everything to be perfect. Statistically, I knew something was going to go wrong, but I wanted to prevent anything big from going wrong. I couldn’t let our first date flop. I wouldn’t let that happen.

  I knew that if I told anyone how nervous I was, they would say I was making a big deal out of nothing. That Cordelia would be content to literally drive to the middle of nowhere, get out of the car and stare at each other for three hours and then go home. I knew that was true, but I also knew that she deserved everything. She deserved fireworks and helicopters and dates like they had on those cheesy reality shows. I wanted her to have the best.

  As she slept, I held onto her and hoped that things would be fine. That we would be fine. If this whole relationship blew up in our faces, there was going to be hell to pay. What if we broke up and couldn’t bear to live with each other anymore? We’d have to switch room assignments and I had no idea how to do that since it was still the beginning of the year. I had the feeling it was complicated, to prevent people from playing musical roommates. I liked our room. I liked our hall. I liked where we were. Changing that would be awful. Not to mention the thought of losing Cordelia completely made me want to scream and cry and break things all at once. I would do anything possible to prevent that from happening, if I could.

  Finally, morning came and it was go time. I had barely gotten any sleep and I was going to be exhausted for the entire day, but who the hell cared? I was going on a date with the greatest girl in the entire world.

  When she finally opened her eyes, I noted that they were extra blue.

  “Hi,” she said in a sleep-thickened voice.

  “Hi, Carrots,” I said. She always smiled when I called her that. “You ready for our date?”

  She yawned and stretched her shoulders until they popped.

  “Mmmm, after a little bit of coffee,” she said.

  “Would you be okay with getting breakfast on the road?” She raised one rust-colored eyebrow.

  “Is our date starting now?” I nodded and she bounced out of bed quicker than I’d ever seen her before.

  “Yeah, it is. So we both need to get dressed.” I pulled my sleep shirt over my head. I hadn’t worn a bra to bed. Her eyes got wide.

  “How about I have you for breakfast?” I put out a hand to stop her.

  “No time for that, we have things to do.” She pouted until I leaned down and kissed her. She threw her arms around my neck and tried to pull me back into bed, and it took everything in me to resist her. We had a schedule to keep.

  “Later,” I said into her mouth as I unlatched her arms from my neck.

  “This date better involve kissing at some point,” she said, standing up and then stripping her own shirt off. Now I was the one who was second-guessing the schedule. Her breasts were so perfect and so full and so touchable.

  Without even realizing it, I’d reached for her, but she waggled her finger at me.

  “Now, now. We don’t have time for that.” She went to her dresser and pulled out a bra. I growled in frustration. She laughed as she put on her bra and then presented her back for me to do the hooks. For a second, I thought of pushing the bra off and onto the floor, but then an alarm on my phone went off, reminding me that we needed to get going.

  I reluctantly did the hooks and brushed the tops of her shoulders, settling her straps into place. She shivered a little and looked over her shoulder at me.

  “You look so sexy right now,” I whispered and then kissed her. The alarm buzzed again. Dammit.

  “Time’s up,” she said as the alarm continued to blare.

  SOMEHOW, WE MADE IT out to the parking lot and I steered her toward Elise’s van. I’d asked her if I could borrow it for the day and she’d handed me the keys, but not before she let me take it for a spin around campus to make sure I could handle it.

  Cordelia raised her eyebrows at the van, but I opened the door for her and held my hand out so she could climb in. It was a little bit of a hop for her, but she made it and I closed the door behind her.

  I jingled the keys as I got into the driver’s seat. Elise and I were almost the same height so I didn’t have to move the seat.

  “You ready?” I asked.

  “As long as we’re not driving off a cliff,” she said.

  “Uh, no. No cliff driving.”

  “I mean, to be honest, I probably would drive off a cliff with you, C.” My heart fluttered in my chest. More than fluttered. It had wings that thrashed inside my ribcage.

  I started up the van and then remembered that I had made a playlist for this. Since the van was so old, there were a bunch of cords that I had to plug my phone into to get it play through the speakers. There wasn’t even a tape player. I was pretty sure the van was older than both of us.

  Just as I was leaving the parking lot, the first song played and Cordelia smiled.

  “Of course you made a playlist. You never do anything halfway.”

  “Never,” I said.

  Cordelia hummed along with the song. Making the playlist had been so easy, I had pretty much done it before we even had gotten together. I had a list of songs that made me think of Cordelia and I’d added them as I went. I didn’t even know I’d been making it until after everything had happened. Since then, I’d added more and more songs until I had a list of over a hundred. It was probably excessive, but I didn’t even care. Like Cordelia said, I didn’t do anything halfway.

  “There better be food on this date,” Cordelia said, and I gave her a look.

  “Do you really think I would neglect something as important as food, Carrots?”

  “I’m sorry. I’m just really hungry,” she said, whining a little.

  “Well, you’re in luck, because we’re almost there.”

  “Where is that?” she asked, looking around. I hopped on the highway right off campus and listened as the GPS in my phone interrupted the song to tell me where to go.

  “I would have thought you’d memorized the directions,” Cordelia said.

  “Nope. Not even I’m that good.”

  I looked over at her and smiled. Her hair was down and messy from sleeping on it. I’d told her to wear something casual, so she’d put on her favorite pair of jeans and a loose top with flowers on it, along with a leather jacket. I loved the mix of hard and soft. It was perfect for her.

  What she didn’t know was that I had a second outfit for both of us in the back of the van, hiding under a blanket.

  I was going to make this a day she wouldn’t forget.

  OUR FIRST STOP WAS a diner that was made out of a converted railway car.

  “Oh thank god,” she said as I pulled into the parking lot and the GPS announced that we had arrived.

  “So. This place is special because it’s the oldest diner in Maine. It used to be open twenty-four hours a day to serve the railway workers.” There were only two dozen seats in the entire place, and there was already a line out the door. We probably should have gotten here before they opened, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I’d had to compromise and we would probably have to wait. I had planned for that as well.

  “Score. Let’s get in line before someone else does.” She jumped out of the van and ran to the door to get in line as I cam
e behind her. There were a stack of menus on a bench outside, so she picked one up and we put our heads together to read it.

  “Oh my god, I don’t even know what to get. Everything looks incredible. Can I just order everything?”

  “If you want to,” I said.

  “You’re so good to me,” she said, kissing me on the cheek.

  “You deserve it.” She snuggled into me and it was about twenty minutes until there were two seats next to each other at the one and only counter. The place was tiny and cramped, but everyone was in a good mood and the food smelled incredible. Rosemary Clooney crooned from hidden speakers and one of the cooks whistled along.

  “This is so cool,” Cordelia said, looking around. “Thanks for bringing us here.” I had the feeling she would love it here, which is why I’d picked it.

  A waiter with more tattooed than non-tattooed skin came to take our order once we’d stared at the menu and made the difficult decision of what to get. I ordered the Silver Dollar Pancake Plate and she got The Deluxe Sandwich that had bacon, egg, cheese, and jalapeno on an English muffin.

  She hummed along to the music as we waited for our food.

  “Even if this is the only part of our date, it’s already perfect. Just so you know,” she said, grinning at me.

  “Being with you is perfect.” She leaned forward and kissed me. It was only the second time we’d been out together in public, but no one yelled or made any comments. I let out a breath.

  “You’re so sweet, I can’t even deal sometimes,” she said. I blushed and looked up as our waiter brought us both coffee and water.

  Our food came a few minutes later on plates so hot, we didn’t dare touch them for a few minutes.

  “Cheers to our first date,” I said, raising my coffee cup. She clinked it with hers and we dug in.

  There wasn’t much talking as we both stuffed our faces and switched plates so we could try everything. I finished her sandwich, which was probably a bad idea, but it was so good I didn’t care.

 
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