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Romance Contemporary Lesbian

Tess once again found herself in Lydia’s cosy living room, nestled on the familiar, slightly worn-out couch. Their tradition of analysing her social interactions had become a sanctuary for Tess, a place where she sought solace and advice from her trusted friend.

“So, if she likes me, why hasn’t she messaged back yet?” Tess implored. 

Lydia cradled her teacup, the ceramic warming her hands as she brought it to her lips, inhaling the soothing aroma that filled the room. Steam swirled upward, dancing in the air before she took a languid sip, savouring the flavour. Time seemed to stretch as Tess waited for a response, each moment heavy with anticipation.

“Well,” Lydia began, “there could be many reasons. How long has it been?”

Tess looked at her watch and stared at the ceiling, her mind a whirlwind of calculations. “25 hours and 12 minutes.”

Lydia’s laughter, like a gentle breeze, broke through the tension, filling the room with its lightness. “Sweetie, that’s hardly any time at all,” she assured. “Sometimes I take days to answer!”

Tess groaned. “I just hate the suspense. And I think it’s rude not to reply to people more quickly, you know?”

“I know, I know, but I would give it more t-” Lydia’s words were interrupted by the sound of Tess’s cell phone vibrating, followed by an excited shriek. 

“Lydia, it’s her! It’s her! Rebecca messaged me!” Tess was smiling with her whole face, and her hands started to shake. 

“You see? Read it!”

Tess took a deep breath, her fingers trembling with excitement, as she prepared to read the message. “She wants to meet up! Here, take a look – what do you think?”

Lydia’s eyes danced over the message, and a delighted grin spread across her face. “Awesome!” she exclaimed. “It all looks very promising, Tess. You’re going on a date, woohoo!”

“Yes! I’m going on a date with Rebecca!” Then her face dropped. “Shit, I’m going on a date with Rebecca. I’ll mess it up!” She groaned. 

“You will do no such thing! She already likes you – just be yourself!”

***

But being herself has rarely worked out well for Tess, which is why she often tried to mask her true identity. But it never lasted long; it wasn’t so easy to hide your true self. 

They had agreed to meet at the Solace in the Wind statue on the waterfront. Rebecca was already there when Tess arrived, even though it was early. The early afternoon sun cast a warm glow on the bay, and the sea breeze carried a hint of salt.

Rebecca turned towards Tess, her eyes sparkling with anticipation. “Hey, you,” she said with an affectionate smile. 

Tess returned the smile, feeling her heart flutter. “Hi there.” 

Rebecca took a step closer, closing the gap between them. “Would you like to hug?” 

Tess nodded, her pulse quickening. As their bodies embraced, Tess marvelled at how natural it felt, the way they seemed to fit perfectly together. There was none of the usual awkwardness that often accompanied physical interactions with new acquaintances. Rebecca’s touch was warm and reassuring. 

“Hope you haven’t been waiting too long?” Tess asked as they separated. 

Rebecca shook her head, her curls dancing in the gentle breeze. “Oh, not at all. I was just admiring the statue. Anyway, shall we walk?”

They strolled along the waterfront, the lively sounds of seagulls and people chatting providing a pleasant backdrop to their conversation. Their words flowed smoothly as they discussed movies, books, colleagues from work, family, and hobbies. To Tess’s surprise, the conversation was not just flowing but thriving.

They eventually reached Oriental Bay and decided to grab some take-away coffees from a nearby café. They settled on a bench overlooking the glistening water, the sun now much nearer the horizon.  

Rebecca turned to Tess, her eyes softening. “I’ve had such a good time today.” She reached out and delicately took Tess’s hand. 

Tess felt a surge of energy through her body. She met Rebecca’s gaze and smiled. “Me too. I… uh. I really like you.”

Rebecca’s fingers tightened faintly around Tess’s hand. “I really like you, too.”

Tess felt a rush of joy filling her heart, and smiled broadly. “So… what do you want to do now?”

Rebecca glanced at her watch. “Oh, I didn’t realise how much time has gone by. I actually have to go soon.” 

Tess’s face fell, her mind racing with thoughts. Had she once again misread the situation? Was this not going as well as she thought? Was Rebecca only saying those things to be nice? “Oh. Uh, ok. What have you got on?” She tried coming across nonchalant, but was failing. 

Rebecca hesitated for a moment before replying. “I’m meeting my girlfriend.”

Tess’s heart sank, and a pang of jealousy gnawed at her. “Girlfriend? You mean a friend who is a girl, as in platonic?”

Rebecca laughed. “No, I mean my girlfriend, as in romantically and, well, sexually. We’re friends too, though.”

Tess’s mind raced, trying to process this revelation. “Oh, I see.”

“Are you upset?”

Tess struggled to find the right words. “No, uh… I mean, yes, honestly. It’s just… uh… I thought this was… you know – a date? I guess I read it wrong? Sorry.” She pulled away her hand. 

Rebecca reached out and gently touched Tess’s arm. “You didn’t read it wrong, it was – is – a date, and a truly good one too. I’d love to see you again.”

Tess’s confusion deepened. “So, you’re … uh, you want to cheat on your girlfriend with me? You know, I’m not d-”

Rebecca quickly interrupted, her expression earnest. “No, not at all! I should have told you sooner, I’m sorry. I was going to wait until I see if we hit it off or not. The thing is… I’m polyamorous.”

Tess’s brow furrowed in uncertainty.  “Polyamorous? So… what does that mean exactly?”

“Well, I guess etymologically speaking, it means ‘many loves’, which is not a bad definition.”

Tess stared at the water, watching a few people brave the cold water for a late afternoon swim. “Oh… and how many loves do you have?”

Rebecca’s lips curled into a fond smile. “There’s Erin, who I’m meeting tonight. We’ve been dating for six months, she’s great. And then there’s Megan. We’re not dating, just … you know, having some fun.”

Tess nodded thoughtfully. “I see.”

Rebecca continued, her eyes lighting up with passion as she shared further. “I’m a solo polyamorist. It means I don’t have nor do I want to have a primary partner. I prefer to live alone and to maintain my independence, but I still like to have intimate relationships with other people. How many depends on who I meet and what my emotional capacity is. At the moment, I feel like I have capacity for… one more…,” Rebecca added playfully, winking at Tess.

Tess hesitated for a moment before answering. “Uh, no judgement, but this is not really for me. I prefer to be monogamous.”

“That’s fine, Tess. Or rather, the second part is fine. It’s completely okay if this type of relationship structure is not for you, I get that – everyone is different. But, in my opinion, saying ‘no judgement’ already seems to imply that you’ve judged me. Or that you even have a right to, which you don’t.”

Tess’s cheeks flushed with a tinge of embarrassment, and she hurriedly apologised. “I’m sorry, I didn’t, uh, mean to.”

Rebecca’s gaze held Tess’s for a moment before softening. “That’s alright,” she began, her voice gentle and reassuring. “I should have told you before.” With a subtle shift in her posture, Rebecca drew herself nearer, her eyes alight with an inquisitive gleam. “But hey, I have a question. How can you know it’s not for you if you haven’t tried it yet?”

Tess shifted uncomfortably on the bench. “I, uh, well, I just don’t think I’d be able to share my partner, you know?”

“Ok, that’s fair.” They gazed out across the simmering water and sat in silence for a few minutes, until Rebecca continued. “I like you, Tess. I think you’re an amazing person, and I don’t want this to end just because we have different relationship preferences. I’d love to get to know you better. So – would you like to remain friends?”

Tess smiled, feeling a sense of relief that Rebecca would remain in her life in at least some capacity. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

***

And yet, Tess wasn’t sure if she could be ‘just friends’ with Rebecca. A spark had ignited between them on their date and it had grown since then. She couldn’t shake the memory of her; the softness of her skin, its contrast with the relative roughness of Tess’s fingertips sending goosebumps down her arm. Equally thrilling to Tess was how their conversation flowed effortlessly – something that she had never experienced with anyone but Lydia before. 

Yet, as she pondered this, she began to understand the complexity of her feelings. She didn’t want to lose Rebecca, but the prospect of building a friendship while concealing her deeper desires felt disingenuous. She imagined them being intimate and the prospect of losing this possibility loomed over Tess like a dark cloud as she thought about her feelings for Rebecca day after night, drowning out everything else in her life until one morning she woke up feeling exhausted from lack of sleep.

Unable to quell her longing, Tess delved into the world of non-monogamy, scouring online resources and immersing herself in books. She sought counsel from Lydia, who, in her ever-supportive manner, encouraged Tess to embrace new possibilities and venture beyond her comfort zone.

Though at first hesitant, Tess finally gathered enough courage to take action; one day she approached Rebecca at the coffee machine at work with trepidation. Her heart pounded in her chest as she said: “I would like to talk about our last date.” It felt like an eternity passed before Rebecca responded.

***

Tess was already on her second glass of Sauvignon Blanc by the time Rebecca arrived, so she was a little less awkward, and more daring, than usual. She stood by the stove, a whirlwind of culinary prowess, putting the finishing touches on her famous spaghetti carbonara. The aroma wafted through the room, tempting Rebecca’s senses. 

“I hope you’re hungry,” Tess said with a friendly smile as she dished generous portions into two awaiting bowls, artfully sprinkling them with a handful of parmesan cheese. 

Rebecca’s eyes sparkled with anticipation. “I sure am. This looks and smells divine!”

Tess chuckled modestly. “Well, hopefully it is.” They settled at the table and began to eat.

“So… listen,” Tess began after a few bites, “I wanted to apologise for what I said the other day. The ‘no judgement’ thing.”

“Oh. No, don’t worry about it. In fact, I wanted to apologise – or rather explain. Usually I would tell people before dates that I’m poly… but I just wasn’t sure that it was a date. I mean that you meant for it to be one? But then we had such a strong connection and I couldn’t help touching you and… Anyway, I’m sorry.”

Tess smiled, her wine glass momentarily hovering near her lips, her words echoing. “That’s okay.”

Rebecca released a relieved breath and reached over to touch Tess’s hand. “So, how… are you feeling about all this?”

Tess intertwined her fingers with Rebecca’s and took a contemplative sip of her wine, considering the question. “I would like to give it a try. To be honest, I’m kind of excited. Reading up about polyamory has been truly eye-opening. I think I just always assumed that being monogamous is the default. I guess in the same way that people just assume being straight is the norm. And now I’m starting to question things.”

Rebecca nodded appreciatively. “Well, I’m glad to hear you’re branching out.”

“I wanted to ask,” Tess began, her fingers softly tracing the rim of her wine glass, “how did you end up being poly?”

Rebecca considered this for a bit. “I soon realised that monogamy just wasn’t for me. I don’t want to be exclusive to one person, you know? Why limit yourself?”

Tess’s brow furrowed slightly. “But… don’t you get jealous?”

Rebecca nodded thoughtfully, her fingers absently twirling a strand of hair. “Sometimes yes, and that’s okay – it’s an emotion like any other. But there are plenty of ways to deal with it. And it’s more than offset by all the positives. For me anyway.”

Tess leaned in, her expression thoughtful. “And how exactly would it work? Between us, I mean.”

“I don’t want to force or anticipate things. I’d like to just see what happens. Would that be alright for you?”

“I guess… although normally I like things being a bit better… organised. But, as long as I’m going outside my comfort zone, I might as well, right?” 

“That’s the spirit!” Rebecca chuckled. “Shall we have more wine?” She suggested with a playful wink, reaching for the bottle to pour another round.

***

After Rebecca left the next morning, Tess reflected on the evening they had spent together, her heart filled with an overwhelming sense of contentment. For the first time in a long while, she had connected with someone on a level she hadn’t thought possible. Their shared laughter echoed in her mind, the memory of their conversation lingering like a cherished melody. Tess couldn’t help but smile as she remembered the tender moments they had shared, the gentle caresses, and the sensation of their first kiss that still tingled on her lips. Thinking back to their intimacy made her body shiver with a delightful, electric thrill. Tess had never felt so effortlessly herself with anyone before, not even Lydia. 

Over the next few weeks, they enjoyed getting to know each other better, spending countless hours together. They took walks around the city and cooked meals together in Rebecca’s tiny kitchen, discussing politics and philosophy over glasses of red wine. They found themselves drawn into deep conversations about love, relationships, and polyamory. 

But Tess was feeling a complicated mix of emotions; she was excited about where their relationship could lead, but at the same time she wondered whether she was truly prepared for the complexities that might arise, in particular the prospect of having to share Rebecca with others. While this cast a shadow over her happiness, she tried to put such thoughts aside. 

***

“Did you hear about the queer comedy show on Friday? Let’s go!” They were lying in bed, Tess’s head snuggled in the space between Rebecca’s chin and shoulder. 

Rebecca stopped scrolling on her phone and looked at Tess. “This Friday? Sorry, I can’t. Erin and I have plans.”

Tess’s face fell, and she turned away, her disappointment palpable. “Oh, uh, fine,” she muttered. 

Rebecca propped herself up on one elbow. “Tess…”

“What? I said fine,” Tess replied tersely. 

“I know what ‘fine’ means. Come on, what’s upsetting you?” Rebecca urged. 

“Nothing. I just really wanted to go.” Tess tried to avoid meeting Rebecca’s gaze, keeping her eyes fixed on the wall.

“You can still go. Go with someone else.”

“I wanted to go with you.” Tess’s voice quivered, and her eyes began to glisten with unshed tears.

Rebecca reached out and tenderly cupped Tess’s cheek, turning her face to meet her gaze. Tess’s body tensed under Rebecca’s touch, but she didn’t pull away. “Tess, honey, have you thought about going on some dates?” 

Tess shifted slightly in the bed, pulling away from Rebecca’s touch. Her fingers fidgeted with the edge of the blanket. “I don’t want to. I’m happy just with you.”

“But I thought you were going to explore being polyamorous?”

“Yeah, but there’s no rule that says I must have x amount of lovers, right?” Tess retorted, her arms crossed. 

“Of course not. It’s just that–” Rebecca began, her words trailing off as she searched for the right way to express her feelings.

“Just what?” Tess pressed, her eyes locking onto Rebecca’s, searching for answers.

“Well, we’ve been spending a lot of time together. And I’ve absolutely enjoyed that. But I also need to invest time and energy in my other relationships. If you just have me–”

Tess cut her off, her voice trembling. “Rebecca, I need to be straight with you.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “I don’t like the thought of you being with other people. And I don’t want to be with anyone else. Can’t we just be exclusive?”

Rebecca’s eyes widened and her brows furrowed. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Tess, we discussed this at the beginning. I don’t want to limit myself. And you agreed to it!”

There was a silence the length of the Te Araroa trail. Tess’s shoulders slumped, and she stared at the floor, her fingers clenched into fists. Rebecca sat with her arms on her knees. Neither wanted to be the one to say what needed to be said. 

Then, finally, Tess broke the silence. “I just don’t get it. Why am I not enough for you?”

Rebecca sighed and reached out, gently tucking a strand of Tess’s hair behind her ear. She pulled her into a tight hug. “It’s not about that. It’s about having variety. Forming connections with different people. Me loving other people doesn’t diminish my love for you – it’s not a finite resource. I mean, you don’t have just one friend, do you?”

Rebecca laughed, but stopped when she saw Tess’s expression. 

She pulled her into a tight hug. “Well, now you have two.”

September 29, 2023 23:44

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2 comments

AnneMarie Miles
02:49 Sep 30, 2023

A sequel! It was nice to revisit these characters, especially since the first story that I've read about them is still fresh. I think this was a great way to present a conflict that would result in a not-so-happily-ever-after. It certainly isn't a topic I could have come up with, and that was very refreshing. This offered the opportunity to see a perspective and life style that is not often represented (in the literature I read) so it was a very intriguing story for me. I commend Tess for trying to be open about it, especially knowing her pa...

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05:38 Sep 30, 2023

Thanks for reading the follow-up, AnneMarie! Yes, poly is definitely not for everyone. Tess really wanted it to work out with Rebecca, so I think she was fooling herself a bit on purpose. I think she deserves a happy ending though, so a part 3 might be on the cards!

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