A/N: Ahhh, the date with Tanya. Next chapter will be the date with Emmett, and then we'll have a chapter from EPOV... because, like I said – canon pairings, eventually ;)
As usual, the outfits I mentioned in here are on my blog. Yes, I spend too much time thinking about clothes, shoes, purses and other random nitpicky details. I try not to go into detail in the story, so if you're ever curious what they look like, check them out.
All copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
I gave him one last quick kiss and turned to unlock the door, letting myself into the empty space. I rotated back to close the door and look at Jasper, giving him a smile before he walked off. After I closed and locked the door, I went to my room, changed and laid down on a cloud of bliss.
How am I ever going to make it through three of these this weekend?
I laid in bed, willing my body to calm down so I could fall asleep. Morning was going to come fast and even though it was only just past midnight, I knew I needed to get up around eight if I wanted to be on time for breakfast with Tanya.
I was still so fucking confused; was it a date, or was it two friends getting together for morning brew? Worrying about it wouldn't give me an answer, so I did my best to just let it go and sleep. Of course, I knew my lunch date with Emmett was a date, so there was that to obsess over, too. Crap. I think I'm in over my head already.
Waking to the soft melody flowing from my iPod, docked in the iHome made me grateful for the shopping trip the day before. Before I docked the iPod, I set my playlist, so I knew one of my favorites was bound to come up – and it did. I smiled as I heard the first few lines of Pictures of You by The Cure.
The sound was turned down, so I let the whole song play out while I laid in bed waking up. Robert Smith's voice was soothing and I had to resist the urge to sing along, not wanting to wake up Rose or Alice so early on a Sunday.
Turning the music off, I hopped out of bed, praying there wouldn't be a queue for the shower. Gathering the toiletries I'd need, I made my way to the bathrooms with a yawn. I figured it was early enough, so I brought only my soft blue robe to wrap myself up in for the trip back to the room.
Taking my time, I lathered my body with my Body Shop Strawberry shower gel. I wanted to wear my hair down, so I used an extra conditioning treatment to make up for the abuse I was about to inflict on it with styling tools. Once I had shaved all necessary body parts, I stayed underneath the warm water, running through my day one last time. Breakfast with Tanya, lunch with Emmett, back to the dorm for homework and dinner with the girls.
Turning off the water, I wrapped my robe around my body first, then flung my head over, wrapping my hair in another towel, and stood straight again. I slipped into my matching fuzzy slippers and made sure I had all of my supplies before I went back to my room.
I decided to dress casually – I wasn't sure what I was doing with Tanya and I knew Emmett was playful, and it was Sunday lunch, so we probably weren't going anywhere too fancy. I slipped on some jeans, a purple sweater, my purple Chucks, a simple silver necklace, and swapped to a purple Coach bag. In case it got cold, I decided to bring a jacket. I blew dry my hair with the diffuser so that it retained a little wave to it and applied some light mascara and lip gloss.
Ready and eager, I was down in the lobby by 8:58. Tanya was standing there, waiting for me. She was looking significantly more dressed up than I was, in a grey sweater dress, killer grey heels with hot pink hoop earrings, bracelet and purse, and I panicked.
"Hey. I'm sorry, I hope you weren't waiting long." I tried my best to act casual, but I was nervous.
"Nope. No worries, I just walked in. Ready?"
"Yeah. I do feel a little underdressed, though. I hope you weren't planning to go someplace too fancy?"
She looked slightly embarrassed, but I thought it was better to be honest and up front rather than spend the next hour or so uncomfortable about my appearance.
"Well, how about if we walk down to the Collis Cafe? I had other plans in mind, but we can get some coffee and fruit or pastries, and have a nice chat, okay?"
"That sounds perfect," I said with a smile.
We walked the few blocks mostly in silence, which was killing me. When we got there, I noticed it was pretty empty, and Tanya asked what I wanted.
"I can get my own coffee, Tanya, it's no big deal."
"Nope, I insist. I invited you, I'll get breakfast. I'm going to grab a variety of food choices, so just pick your caffeinated poison."
"Okay, thanks. I'll have a large vanilla latte. I'll go grab us a table."
I turned and walked off to sit at a two-person table. I wanted to be close to her, to figure out what was going on between us.
Watching her interaction with the barista at the register, I noticed they exchanged a few smiles and some light conversation. She ordered a mixed fruit bowl, a muffin and a croissant, bringing the pastries, fruit and two plastic forks over before making a second trip for our beverages.
Once she sat down across from me, the tension started back up again.
"So, I owe you an explanation," Tanya began with a large huff of air.
Nodding, I sat back and smiled, letting her take the lead.
"Before I came to Dartmouth, I lived in New York with my parents. Like I already told you, they wanted me to go to Harvard, but I had other plans. I was pretty serious with a girl named Kate. We dated for a year and a half, but my parents never accepted us together. They kept insisting she was just a phase."
At the word phase, she made air quotes, which made me giggle.
"Trust me, she was no phase." She laughed. "I've known I was gay from around age thirteen."
Ah, so she's gay, not even bi.
"Like I said, we dated for a year and a half, and she was by no means my first girlfriend – just the first one my parents knew about. I thought we would be together forever, but I suppose that was a little optimistic of me; how many people marry their high school sweethearts?"
She sighed and looked around the cafe wistfully before breaking off a piece of croissant and popping it into her mouth.
"She wanted to go to Dartmouth," she continued. "It was always her dream. I mean, it's an okay school, but I don't get the rabid fascination some people have. I had no strong feelings about any college in particular, so I applied here as well, hoping we would get a small apartment together. A few weeks before we were supposed to start, I found her paperwork and discovered she got a single, actually in your dorm building, ironically. When I asked her about it, she said she wanted to spend some time apart. I was crushed, of course, but I went along with it. I thought we would stay friends and she'd see that we were meant to be together, but I found out right before classes began that she met a pre-med student online and was dating him. Can you fucking imagine?"
Boy, could I.
The tears were pooling at the edges of her eyes and I wanted nothing more than to kiss them away. This unfamiliar feeling was unsettling to me still.
"That sounds awful. I'm so sorry," I said.
As I reached for a piece of the muffin, she grabbed my hand across the table.
"I never meant to push you away or reject you that day in the library. I find you interesting in a way I was never attracted to Kate, but I'm still hurting so much. I was also confused about your advances. That's what they were, right, advances?" Her eyebrows scrunched up in the cutest way as she questioned me, probably even questioning herself at that moment.
Wanting to answer her truthfully, I thought about it for a moment before speaking.
"Yes, I suppose they were, but I want to be honest with you – I have never, and I mean never, been attracted to a woman before. I've had one boyfriend and other than that, my life has been pretty boring. You can imagine how confused I am right now."
I tried to smile and ease her obvious nervousness. We moved our hands apart and each picked up a fork, sharing the fruit bowl.
"Well, I'm not looking for any kind of commitment right now. It sounds like we're both interested in each other, right?" she asked.
Nodding my head towards the end of her sentence, I smiled shyly at her.
"Okay. And you're not looking for any grand commitment, right?"
I shook my head vehemently.
"Great. Then let's just have fun together. This is all new for you, so I wouldn't expect you to want to take things too fast while you're figuring things out anyways, so let's take a few steps back. You said in the library that you're from the pacific northwest; where, exactly?"
"Forks, Washington. Have you ever heard of it?"
She laughed. "Nope, sorry."
"Don't worry, most people haven't," I said.
"Okay, good." She gave me a million dollar smile and I felt the jolt again. Mmm, soft, warm lips.
"Now, I caught you saying something about parents at the library. I let it drop then, but what did you mean?"
Had she not looked so damn genuinely curious and caring when she asked, I might have tried to change the topic.
Instead, I told her the whole sordid story. I went deeper with her than I had with Jasper, feeling like she would understand more, emotionally, than he had. When she pulled a tissue from her purse, handing it to me to dab my eyes, I was grateful. At some point, she leaned across the table and squeezed my hand gently in hers for a moment, before letting go. It wasn't a sexual move and anyone observing us would have thought we were two friends having a casual but emotional conversation. I was appreciative of that, because I still didn't know what to do with my feelings and how "out" I wanted to be, since I knew with certainty that I wasn't gay.
"Wow. Just wow, Bella. One parent dying is a lot to handle, much less two in the span of two years. Then you discover your boyfriend cheating on you, and now you're off to college in a whole new environment. Do you like it so far?"
I smiled. If only she knew.
"Truth, Tanya? I fucking love it. Don't get me wrong, I loved my house in Forks, but it held no real attachment for me. I hated the weather, not that it's all sunshine and rainbows here, but at least it's different and probably temporary. Also, the town was so small, everyone knew all of your business and that irritated me at times. I feel like I'm being given the gift of a chance to discover who I am again. Not many people get that, a time to be free and figure out exactly what they want and need from life without limits, you know? It was a terrible tragedy that brought me to this point, but I'm hoping in the end it will turn into something wonderful."
"You're amazing, Bella. Most people would be wallowing in self-pity, but you just pulled yourself up by the proverbial boot straps and you're ready to take life head on. Amazing."
She looked at me with such open eyes, like she was truly seeing me, drinking me in, memorizing me.
"Yeah, it was going a lot easier until I met you," I said, laughing. She kept looking at me but began to blush.
"Sorry, sweets." She winked.
Fuck fuck fuck.
"Sure you are, ladykiller," I teased and gave her a broad smile.
"So, Bella, do you think I can take you on a real date sometime? I know you said you have other plans today and I don't want to keep you, but I'd love to spend more time with you."
Beautiful and considerate.
"Oh, right! Crap, what time is it?"
Looking at my watch, I realized it was already 12:30. Somehow, we'd spent hours just talking about each other. I began to gather up my purse and drank the last of my now cold latte.
Tanya had the sweetest smile as she asked, "Can I walk you back to your room?"
"Of course. And, to answer your previous question, I would love a real date. I wasn't sure if this was a date or what!"
We both laughed and stood up. Walking slowly back to my building, we chatted about nothing in particular. When we got to the door of my room, I invited her in for a quick second so we could exchange phone numbers. After we'd done that, she gave me a quick peck on the cheek, and I internally squeed.
"I had a nice time with you, Bella. I look forward to getting to know you better."
"Same here, Tanya. Thanks again for breakfast. Call or text me and we'll arrange that date, okay?"
Once she was gone and the door was closed, I turned my back and slumped against it.
Two down, one to go.