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Lesbian LGBTQ+ Romance

I stepped out of my car and walked up the flagstone pathway to my friend Rose’s one-story house. We had originally met in college and she was having a celebration for her 29th birthday, meaning that we had known one another for roughly a full decade. I turned that thought over in my mind, coming to terms with the ramifications that had for my own age as I reached out and rang the doorbell.

The door opened to reveal a burly man with a wide, genuine grin: Rose’s boyfriend, Kaz. “Welcome, Alice! Grab a drink. Make yourself comfortable! Presents can go on the coffee table.” he offered. Kaz and Rose lived together in a cozy house, and despite its small size, he had clearly spent the better part of the day decorating for the party. I gave him a hug as I walked past, ducking to avoid the Happy Birthday banner festooned across the ceiling. I placed a small package containing my gift for Rose on the small, worn wooden coffee table Kaz had pointed out, noting that the stack of presents was growing and would likely be overflowing by the end of the night.

I heard voices coming from the kitchen and entered to find Rose in a lighthearted argument with her friend Beatriz, who appeared to be asserting that the birthday girl shouldn’t be cooking for her own party. I greeted them both as I placed the beer I brought in the refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of lager that was already cold. “She’s right, Rose. Out of the kitchen. People are arriving already. Go change.” I said.

Rose huffed halfheartedly as she removed her apron and set it on the counter. “That’s not fair, teaming up on me like that.” As she walked off to her room, she called over her shoulder “The oven should be done in 5 minutes. Don’t forget.”

“We won’t.” we laughed as we watched her go. She is a wonderful person, but she has a hard time delegating at times.

“Kind of funny having a party halfway through January, isn’t it?” Beatriz asked me, setting a timer for the oven on her phone.

I laughed and took a sip. “It’s all good though. It’s not like Rose chose to be born half a month after the holiday festivities. The only potential drawback I can think of is that we’ll see how many people made a resolution to drink less this year.” Though nobody would hold it against anyone to not partake, Kaz and Rose tended to throw parties where alcohol flowed generously and it is not always fun to be the lone sober person in a room full of drunks.

“Not me.” Beatriz said, pouring a glass of wine for herself. I raised my drink in acknowledgment and took another sip. “My resolution was to work out enough to burn the calories I drink. Did you make one?”

“That’s a good one. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’m throwing myself into the dating pool this year.” I admitted. “I downloaded Tinder and had a couple of dates, but they’ve been disappointing. Is it just me or would guys be so much better if they weren’t… you know… guys?”

Beatriz snorted into her glass. “Two dates in two weeks? Get it, girl. But seriously, I know exactly what you mean. Isn’t that what makes them so lovable though?” I let her truism pass, not quite sure whether I agreed with her.

Before long had passed, the kitchen and living room were full of Rose’s friends. I mingled the best I could, though I knew only roughly a quarter of the attendees myself. Rose had always been more outgoing. While I could count the friends I held close on one hand, she had an expansive social network. Within the next hour, I met colleagues from her work, a friend from her yoga class, someone she met through the animal shelter she volunteered with, and reconnected with some acquaintances from college.

The door knocked again and I heard Kaz shout out in excitement. “Leena! So glad you came out tonight.”

Within a few moments, I felt Kaz hang an arm around my neck as he dropped a fair portion of his weight on my shoulder and pulled a girl into the conversation circle. “Hey guys. This is my little sister, Leena. Get her a drink and see that she has a good time tonight.” he ordered. The next moment, he was gone, abandoning his sister to the mercy of our social group. I noticed that she seemed to be slightly uncomfortable, so I introduced myself.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Alice.” I offered, shaking her hand. I let the others in the circle follow my lead before asking her what she would like to drink.

“Rum?” Leena said, so I pulled her off to the side to show her where the drink station was set up. I quickly learned that by rum, she did not mean a mixed drink. I watched as she poured herself a small glass of liquor and swallowed it before pouring another to sip on more gradually.

“Sorry. Nerves.” Leena offered as way of explanation.

“No judgment from me.” I reassured her. “Parties can be a little intimidating to me too.”

“Thanks. I normally wouldn’t come to something like this, but it’s Rose’s birthday and she asked me to come tonight as a present to her.”

I laughed. “Well, then let’s do what we can to make it as enjoyable as we can.”

Rose walked up behind Leena and lifted her off her feet with a big hug, threatening to spill her drink. “Leena! Thank you for coming tonight.” she exclaimed. Leena accepted the hug, but appeared to do so somewhat grudgingly. “Let me show you around.”

I watched as Rose dragged Leena through the party, introducing her to all of her friends. Kaz noticed me watching and he sidled up next to me. “I see she’s been properly kidnapped.” he joked. “She made it her New Year’s resolution to be more social, but Rose asking this of her might be pushing her too far.”

While it was true that Kaz knew his little sister well, his words were still almost prophetic. Within half of an hour, Leena was sitting on a couch in the den, nursing her drink. People milled around her, lost in their own conversations, but she was alone in a room full of people. I pushed my way through the crowd and dropped onto the cushion beside her. “How’s it going?” I asked her.

“To be honest, this is all a little much for me. You’ll probably find better company elsewhere.” she said.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m happy to sit here in silence with you. Or we could go for a walk?” I offered.

“I know Kaz asked you to look after me, but I’m fine, really.” she protested.

I put my hands up to placate her. “It’s not that at all. I’m getting kind of tired of walking into conversations halfway through or standing between two groups and trying to follow what both are saying at the same time. A break wouldn’t hurt. And if we go for a walk, you’d still be socializing, which would appease Rose while still giving us some time away from the party.”

Leena thought about my proposal for a while before agreeing. We got up and wended our way through the crowd. I tapped Kaz on the shoulder on our way out and let him know we were going to get some air. He looked at me appraisingly before clapping me on the shoulder. “Take good care of her.” he turned to Leena and said something in her ear that made her blush before giving her a hug and returning to the banter we had interrupted.

The night air was bitingly cold against our exposed skin. It rarely snows where we live, but it felt like it could that night. I silently thanked my grandparents for the warm coat I was wearing. It had been their Christmas gift for me this year.

Leena and I walked in silence for a while before the thought of Kaz’s comment crossed my mind again. “What did Kaz say to you when we left?” I asked her. She stumbled, but caught herself.

“Umm…” she started, but trailed off.

“I don’t mean to pry. It’s just that I didn’t quite expect the reaction I got when I told him we were going on a walk.” I explained.

Leena sighed. “He was being a bit of a pig.” she explained. “That’s all.”

Her explanation did not help me at all. “What do you mean? I mean, I know he’s your brother, but I don’t get it.”

“He told me that there are some quiet, dark corners on the greenbelt.” Leena groaned.

“So… like a safety concern? I don’t see why that would make him a pig. Unless...” I thought aloud.

“I’m gay. And he was making a joke about us hooking up.” she blurted out. Her face almost glowed in the darkness with the force of her blush, her hands clenched around the bottom hem of her jacket. I found myself thinking it was cute.

“That explains why he looked at me that way.” I laugh. “No offense, but I think that that would be moving a little faster than I am comfortable with.”

Leena stopped walking. “Wait. You’re not weirded out by that?” she asked incredulously.

“Nah. I’m used to Kaz. It’s partially my fault for telling him I was hoping to find a partner this year. I’ve gone out with a couple of the menfolk, but they’ve been disappointing company so far.”

“Thank you for taking it so well.” Leena said. “I’m not normally very out about it. People in high school and college made it clear to me that there are certain dangers in being publicly out of the closet. I’ve been out of school for a few years now, but that lesson sticks.”

I know that Kaz grew up in the Midwest, so it made sense that her experiences may have been considerably different than what I’d seen growing up in a liberal coastal town. “I’m sorry you went through that.” I said. “Nobody has any right to make you feel unsafe because of who you are or who you love.”

“Have you thought about dating a woman?” she asked me, clearly finding some comfort with the ease of my response.

I considered her question while watching her illuminated under a streetlamp, her breath condensing into puffs of cloud in the frigid night air. “I’ve thought about it, but I wouldn’t know how to go about it. Guys have always made the first move, so I guess I’m not used to being forward.”

“What would you say if I made the first move? Right now?” Leena stepped towards me, closing the distance between us. I could smell the sweetness of the rum on her breath. She no longer looked so shy, her determination having taken over.

My mind started racing. What would Kaz say? I supposed he had already made that clear when we left. I may have entertained the thought of dating a girl before, but faced with the prospect so suddenly, I did not know how to respond. Moments passed as I questioned my self-image and strove to rectify the girl I had always been with this new opportunity.

Leena’s boldness faltered and I saw the doubt start to creep back in as she took half a step backwards. This was enough to break me from the mental cycle that had trapped me and I managed to whisper one word in response. “Yes.”

No later had the word left my lips then I felt Leena softly press hers against mine. When had she gotten so close? She broke away before the thought finished forming and all I could think was that I wanted to feel her again. Without even thinking about what I was doing, I leaned forward and kissed her back, drinking in the sensation of her lips. Her hand brushed my cheek, prolonging the contact.

I reached up and took her hand in mine as we ended our kiss and pulled away. The butterflies in my stomach settled slightly as I stood transfixed by her eyes and smile. Had one of the men I had met kissed me so suddenly, I would have felt affronted, but it felt so right coming from Leena.

A shiver shot up my spine as the bracing coldness of the night air imposed itself on my thoughts once more. “Shall we keep walking? I think I need to get warm again.” I offered.

“I know a good way to get warm.” Leena said suggestively. I would have thought she was being serious, but she waggled her eyebrows at me and started laughing.

I joined her in laughter, adding “Which way to the greenbelt?”

Instead of searching out a private corner as Kaz had suggested, Leena kept my hand in hers as we walked around the darkened streets, filling them with the sounds of our conversation. I slowly grew to understand and appreciate this young woman who had captured my interest.

When we returned to the party, Rose had already begun opening her presents. I saw Kaz’s eyebrows raise as he watched us walk in with hands clasped and rosy cheeks, but he was handing Rose her gifts and was unable to abandon his post to give us his regular dose of snark.

As the party wound down, Leena walked around with me as I said my goodbyes. Eventually we reached Kaz and he pulled us both to the side. “I was joking before, but it looks like maybe I shouldn’t have.” he admitted.

“You don’t think I know you by now?” Leena said. “I’ve only had twenty four years to get used to your humor.”

Kaz smiled at Leena’s forgiveness as I added “And for my part, I guess I’ll just have to do as you directed.”

“I mean take care of her, not find a quiet corner in the park.” I added quickly, realizing just how my comment could be misconstrued.

“I don’t really have any concerns there.” Kaz assured us. “But still, I thought you were straight.”

“More bi, I guess.” I admit, hugging Leena into my side. “Leena’s a first for me, but I haven’t found anything to complain about so far.”

Leena gave me a small kiss on the cheek as thanks and Kaz pulled us both into a big hug. “Just don’t make things awkward if things don’t work out.” he asked.

Leena accompanied me outside as I left the party. She had plans to stay the night with Kaz and Rose, but wanted to give me a proper goodbye away from the crowd. If she felt the same way I did, then the was also reluctant to part. I opened my arms for a hug and she pulled me close. I caught her questioning gaze and tilted my head down to meet her lips for one final kiss for the night.

“See you this Saturday?” I asked.

“Yes. 4:00 at Pizzeria Medici.” she confirmed, and I felt my heart swell with anticipation. Maybe this year would be a little less lonely than the last.

January 08, 2021 01:37

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3 comments

Alise Olivia
17:19 Jan 12, 2021

OMG!! I just found out about this site and i've only been interested in one story until I read a snippet of yours and It caught my eye . As being apart of the LGBTQ community myself really understood this story and could relate to some parts . I feel like these type of stories are the best genre on this site and I definitely will be reading more . Your story is so great and I really hope there might be a part 2?? Maybe , but i'm sure this story took a while to write and I'm just very happy I read this you totally deserve a win!! So proud :)

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Oliver Golding
01:16 Jan 13, 2021

Thank you so much! It's flattering to hear how much you've enjoyed this story. I've started a bunch of stories over the years, but this is the first one that I've submitted anywhere other than my own hard drive. I am not planning on writing a sequel at this time, but I appreciate your enthusiasm. I decided to try the reedsy writing prompts as an exercise to develop the skill and confidence to tell this type of story better. Thank you again for taking the time to share your enjoyment of this story with me!

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Kristin Neubauer
15:21 Jan 14, 2021

I really liked this, Oliver. You write very clearly and cleanly, but still vividly and so I was drawn into Alice’s personality and story. I’ve never read a story about a person’s first experience or realization of being bi or gay so I found this really interesting and insightful. Well done! Hope you write more!

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