Chord, p.9
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       Chord, p.9

           Chelsea M. Cameron
 
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  “Shush,” I said belatedly to Cordelia’s comment about me being hot.

  “Never,” she said, getting up and throwing our plates away. She said she was heading to the bathroom, and Kyle said she needed to go as well.

  I found Stella looking at me.

  “What?” I asked.

  “Nothing. You just remind me of myself a little. Things with Kyle were complicated at first, too.” I hadn’t heard the whole story of how they’d met yet.

  “Yeah?” I asked.

  She nodded.

  “Yup. Totally complicated. We didn’t know what to do. And it all seemed insurmountable. But then we talked and we talked to our families and our friends and it turned out fine. I mean, there are moments, but if I have any regrets, they’re only that I didn’t get more years with her.” Wow. That was powerful.

  “Same with us,” Elise said, looking at Eli, who agreed.

  “For what it’s worth, you two are very clearly into each other. You can’t stop smiling,” Eli said. I put my hand to my face. They were right.

  “I don’t know what I’m doing. My dating experience is almost nonexistent. I was always too scared.” I shook my head at myself. I was still scared, but I was scared of different things. And more than being scared, I wanted to be around Cordelia. More than anything.

  “That doesn’t matter. What matters is right now. And how you feel and how she feels. The rest will come later. Or never. You don’t have to put a label on yourself if you don’t feel comfortable with it. You can just ... be. Some people feel better with a label. Others don’t. Find out what works for you,” Elise said.

  “If you want, you can come to the meeting of the campus queer organization. No pressure. But you’d be around other people who are questioning.” Questioning. That was definitely me. I was made of questions and uncertainty.

  “I’ll think about it,” I said. That seemed to be a good enough answer for now. Kyle and Cordelia came back and there was a rush in my heart when she sat back down next to me. I was giddy around her.

  “Stop talking about me,” she said, pushing her hair over her shoulder.

  “Never,” I said.

  CORDELIA

  Bowling was a blast and it had helped taken my mind off things. Chase had a good time too, and I could feel her relaxing next to me as the night wore on. She talked more than I expected her to and I could tell she and Elise had really bonded. She was so cute when she got a strike. The shock on her face made me burst out laughing. I didn’t know what I would do if she wasn’t in my life. How different my college experience would be if she hadn’t been paired as my roommate. I wasn’t sure if I believed in fate, but somehow, this girl’s name had ended up being paired with mine and I would always be grateful for that. No matter what happened. I would always be grateful that I met Chase Hillier.

  Kissing her was off the charts. It made my brain just STOP whenever she did it. As the night wore on, the kisses became more frequent, and I was relieved Chase felt so safe with Stella, Kyle, Elise, and Eli. I wished she could be this free all the time. Not many people got to see her like this, and it was a shame because they were missing out on what an incredible person she was.

  We decided to head back to the dorms after we ate, since the bowling alley was getting more of a night crowd and they had fired up the karaoke machine.

  “Hell to the no,” Stella said, and we all agreed.

  “I’d only do it if everyone was doing it,” Elise said. “Or if one of you dared me. I’ll pretty much do anything. I have no shame.” I saw Chase’s look of terror.

  “C, I would never make you do something like that. Ever.” No one who cared about her at all would.

  She leaned on me as we walked back to the van.

  “Thank you for being you,” she said.

  “Thank you for being you.”

  WE WERE BOTH EXHAUSTED from the turmoil of the past few days, so we said goodnight to the others and went back to our room.

  “I wasn’t expecting you to be the most aggressive in the PDA department, that’s for sure. You’re always surprising me,” I said, putting my hands on her shoulders.

  “I guess I just wasn’t thinking about it. I wanted to kiss you, so I did. I’m not usually like that. I can stop if you want.”

  “Don’t you dare,” I said, pushing up on my toes to kiss her. I wanted Chase to kiss me as many times as she wanted to. Kissing Chase was better than ice cream. Better than swimming in the ocean. Better than a roller coaster. Better than anything else I’d experienced. Kissing Chase was going to ruin me for kissing anyone else, and right now, I wasn’t worried about that. I wasn’t going to worry about tomorrow and the next day and the next because right here, in this moment, everything was awesome. The prettiest girl in the whole world wanted to kiss me and that was more than enough.

  “What are we doing, Cordelia?” she whispered.

  “I don’t know. But if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” She laughed a little.

  “Should we go to bed?” There was an added layer of question.

  “In separate beds, right?” I asked. She nodded.

  “Kissing is one thing, but ...” she trailed off.

  “Yeah.” I mean, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had thoughts about being with Chase that way. Being naked with her. Sliding my body against hers. Kissing her everywhere. The idea of being with her like that made me more turned on than I had ever been in my entire life. It made me ache.

  I didn’t want to freak her out with that kind of desire being so strong, so quick. Apparently, I had unlocked the door to my inner Lust Room and it was all spilling out.

  “You’re blushing,” she said, stroking my cheeks.

  “Just thinking,” I said.

  “About?” She raised one eyebrow.

  “Things?” Chase laughed.

  “You wanna tell me about those things?”

  “Not really?” I mean, at some point, yes. I hoped we would get to that point.

  “I bet I could guess. You wear your emotions on your face, Cordelia.” I couldn’t get over how sexy her voice was when she said my name.

  Sexy. My roommate was beyond sexy and she had been this whole time. I was just lying to myself about it. Telling myself that the feelings I had for her were friendship feelings.

  “You can’t prove anything,” I said in a sing-song voice.

  “Yeah? Is that a challenge?”

  Ohhhhh. A delicious shiver went down my spine. This was new. This was new and exciting and overwhelming.

  I felt myself biting my bottom lip between my teeth.

  “Maybe,” I whispered. I watched so many things flit through her brown eyes.

  “I don’t know if either of us is ready for that yet, Cordelia,” she said, stepping back. I knew she was right, but part of me howled in rage.

  I had no idea what I had gotten myself into with Chase. She had already changed my life and I had the feeling we were just getting started.

  MONDAY MORNING WAS awful. I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night, mostly because I kept having very graphic dreams involving kissing Chase and they wouldn’t let up and give me a rest. I felt like I needed to sleep the entire day, but I couldn’t. I had to get up and there was Chase, reminding me about all those dreams. Hiding my constant blush was my main goal when I was around her. I even went to class way early so I wouldn’t have to answer questions about why my entire face looked like a tomato. Sometimes being so pale was the worst.

  “Are you okay?” Mariella asked when I sat down in art history. Bree swiveled in her chair and raised her eyebrows.

  “Yeah, why?” I said. I was totally flustered even though I had gotten to the building so early. I’d thought that since I was so early, I could go and get one of the really good blueberry scones from the little coffee shop next to the art building, and it had taken way longer than I thought it would, so I’d barely been able to make it in a few minutes before class. Add on top of that all the thoughts I was still having a
bout Chase and this weekend and I was a hot fucking mess. I wished it wasn’t so obvious to everyone else.

  “You just look a little ...” Mariella said, trailing off and looking at Bree.

  “Flustered,” Bree supplied.

  “Yeah, I just got up late. Couldn’t sleep.” Even though I’d been in public with Chase last night and if they were at the bowling alley they would have seen us, I wasn’t ready to tell everyone that I was dating a girl. Chase and I hadn’t talked terms yet. Could I call her my girlfriend? Would she call me her girlfriend? Would we go on dates? What about our parents? I hadn’t talked to Dad in a few days and I knew this was something I couldn’t not tell him. I could try to leave it out of our conversations, but he was going to know that I was omitting something and want to know what it was. And then he probably wouldn’t cave until I told him every single detail. I wanted to do this on my terms. I had to prepare for it and I hadn’t done that. I needed to talk parameters with Chase.

  “Ugh, I know how you feel. I know we’re just a few weeks into the semester, but I’m already stressed about finals and losing sleep worrying about studying for them. How ridiculous is that?” Bree said, rolling her eyes.

  “You stress too much,” Mariella said. “Calm down. Finals aren’t here yet. Breathe.” Bree took an exaggerated deep breath and I was relieved the heat was off me. A few seconds later, our professor started the class and I was able to let my brain do something else other than think about Chase. Or at least try to.

  “AM I YOUR GIRLFRIEND?” was the first thing I said to Chase when she got back from class. I’d been sitting and wondering and worrying and had worked myself all up, so I had no filter when she finally walked in.

  “Uh, hi?” she said, setting her bag down.

  “Sorry, I sort of shot that question at you. But I’ve been thinking about it all day and I really need to know.” She opened and closed her mouth a few times.

  “I ...” she sat down with a thump. “Yeah. You are.”

  “Haven’t you thought about that?” I asked.

  “Yeah, I have, but I guess I didn’t think about it actually happening. Like having you as my girlfriend. Having a girlfriend, period.” It was a lot and I was probably pushing too far. I mean, we had just kissed a few days ago. We’d just realized we liked each other a few days ago. In other ways, this felt like it had been building since the moment we met. It was all confusing as fuck.

  “You’re my girlfriend,” she said and then started laughing. “That’s so weird to say out loud, but it feels like that’s how it was supposed to be?” I got up from my bed and sat on hers. I had missed her today. I missed her whenever we weren’t together. I always had something that I wanted to tell her. Always wanted to see her reaction to something.

  “I know. It feels so easy and so hard at the same time.” I reached out and took her hand. She fit her fingers in the spaces between mine. So easy.

  “Yeah, it does. But I want this. With you. If things don’t work out—”

  I interrupted her.

  “We don’t have to worry about that now. We’ll figure things out. We’re just starting. I don’t want to be constantly wondering if we’re going to break up.” I couldn’t handle that. I had to think about the positives, or all the potential negative voices were going to get into my head and sabotage me. I knew myself enough to know that it could happen. My brain was a complete asshole sometimes. Especially about things I wanted. And I wanted to be with Chase in the worst way.

  She opened her mouth, maybe to argue with me, but then she closed it and squeezed my hand.

  “Okay. We can talk about that later.” I didn’t want to talk about it later. I didn’t want to talk about it at all, but I knew she would. Chase liked to sit with something and imagine every single possible outcome. Like plotting a point on a map and then figuring out all the possible paths to that point. Her brain worked so differently than mine.

  “Okay,” I said, bringing her hand to my lips and kissing it. “Can we kiss now?”

  She laughed and the negative thoughts retreated from my mind for a little while.

  Chase leaned forward and pressed her lips to mine. I almost sighed in relief because I hadn’t kissed her goodbye this morning and I regretted it the entire day. I had never had a girlfriend, so I wasn’t sure if I should or not, plus I’d been all wrapped up in my sexy dreams and I’d basically run away before thinking about it.

  “I’m sorry I didn’t kiss you this morning,” I said, breaking the kiss.

  “It’s okay. I didn’t expect you to. Should I have expected you to?” She was so cute and so perplexed that I had to kiss her again.

  “I don’t know, C. This is all new to me, too.”

  Chase sighed.

  “I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing, Cordelia. But if I don’t know what I’m doing, I’d rather not know with you than with anyone else.” I thought my heart was going to explode. That was the most wonderful thing she had ever said to me. Other than when she said she wanted to be with me.

  I kissed her forehead.

  “Just tell me where you want to go and I’ll go there with you,” I said.

  She squeezed my hand and kissed me again.

  Nine

  Chase

  In less than a week, I had gone from a girl who was looking for a boyfriend to a girl who had a girlfriend. Beyond that, I had no idea.

  The next time I saw Ti in class, I smiled at him and tried to look at him objectively. Yes, he was cute. Yes, he was nice. But other than that? He was just a guy. There were thousands of guys on campus. Thousands that I had walked by and not looked twice at. I put him next to Cordelia in my mind and he just disappeared. Next to her, he was no one. Even thinking about her made a wave of happiness and excitement crash over me.

  I couldn’t even imagine being on a real date with Ti, let alone kissing him. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to kiss him. I wanted to kiss Cordelia.

  Did that make me a lesbian? Would I have to change my wardrobe and watch new shows and hang out with only other lesbians? Some part of me knew those questions were ridiculous, but another part of me was really wondering. Would my entire life have to change now?

  I didn’t know the answer to that and that question was the one that hovered in the back of my mind. That snuck up on me when I least expected it. That tried to yell at me when I was with Cordelia. Kissing her was the only thing that made it shut up. I decided I needed to kiss her more.

  I turned away from Ti and didn’t think about him for the rest of class. I honestly forgot he was even there until he tapped on my shoulder as I was gathering my things.

  “Hey, you busy?” I didn’t know how to answer him. “I was just wondering if you wanted to get coffee again.” Oh, crap.

  “Yeah, I actually have to get back. I have plans,” I somehow said. It wasn’t a lie. I did have plans with Cordelia. Plans that hopefully involved her lips and my lips. I had to bite back a smile when I thought about that.

  “Oh, okay. Maybe another time?” He was cute and nice, but that wasn’t enough. Not for me. He would be right for someone else.

  “I’m actually seeing someone,” I said. I knew I was taking a risk, but I wanted to cut things off so he didn’t get the impression that I was busy today, but I was still interested in him.

  “No, sure, that’s fine. We can have coffee anyway, can’t we? Unless that’s not okay with your boyfriend.” He chuckled a little and I had a moment of panic. Was I supposed to correct him?

  I stuttered that we could have coffee as friends and then rushed away as quickly as I could.

  When I got back to my room, Cordelia was there with Elise.

  “Hey,” I said, going over and giving her a kiss.

  “Hey,” she said, smiling up into my face. I could stare at her for weeks and never get tired. Her eyes were halfway between blue and green today. Like tropical water.

  “You’re just so cute. I’m so happy I get to witness this,” Elise said with a sigh.
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  “So, Ti asked me out for coffee again and I said I was seeing someone. Then he said something about still being friends, as long as that was okay with ‘my boyfriend’ and I didn’t say anything.” Why did I feel like I was confessing something awful? “Should I have corrected him?” I asked.

  “You don’t owe him anything,” Cordelia said. Part of me had worried a little that she would be upset. Like I was hiding her. Or I was ashamed of being with her.

  “I know. But I didn’t want you to think that I was hiding us.” Cordelia shook her head and then kissed me.

  “I don’t think that. You don’t have to tell every single person that you have a girlfriend. No one is entitled to that from you. Not him, not anyone. It’s fine, Chase.” I hoped it was.

  “I didn’t want to tell you this originally, but coming out isn’t a one-time thing. I happens over and over. It happens to me every time I talk about Eli with someone new. It happens every time someone asks if I’m single. It happens hundreds of times. I’ve skirted around it, I’ve lied, I’ve changed the subject, I’ve done everything. Sometimes you don’t want to and that’s okay. It’s shitty that you have to keep doing it, but that’s the way things are right now. I hope it will change,” Elise said.

  “Oh,” I said, sitting on the bed. “I didn’t think about that.”

  “You don’t have to, until you do,” Elise said.

  “Hey, we don’t have to do anything right now,” Cordelia said with her hand on my face. I knew she could see me spiraling.

  “I know,” I said. “I’m fine. Really. It surprised me, that’s all.” My stomach growled.

  “Do you want to go have some dinner?” Cordelia asked. I nodded.

  “You want to come?” I asked Elise.

  “Sure, Eli is working so I can poke my head in and hassle them. Kyle and Stella have a date tonight, so they’re out.” I should take Cordelia on a date. A real one. Maybe with a fancy restaurant or something. She deserved to be taken on dates. Plus, we both needed to learn how to date another girl. Not that I had had much practice dating boys either. I mean, I’d hung out with guys in group settings and gone to the movies and so forth, but usually I ended up not calling them back, or ignoring them until they stopped contacting me. I always chalked it up to my anxiety, but lately I was wondering if I liked boys at all. Since I had never really found one that I had wanted to date. Looking back, all of those dates I’d been on had been awful. I mean, I had fun with the guys but when it came to kissing or other romantic stuff with them, I hadn’t wanted it. Couldn’t make myself do it.

 
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