Charity walked into the coffee shop. She glanced at the mostly empty tables heart beating fast as she proceeded towards the counter to order her usual caramel macchiato. Sipping on the foam she sat at the far end table close to the comic book rack. She sat with her back towards Ryan with his face buried inside a comic book. She took another sip hoping to quell the rising giggles that threatened to explode from within her.
She checked the time on her phone wondering where this so called mother of hers was. She scrolled through her messages trying to distract her mind from the woman’s lateness.
“Excuse me. Is this seat taken?” a woman’s voice asked.
Shaking her head Charity stifled the irritation that rose as the woman sat next to her. OMG this was it. This was her. Her mother. She was finally meeting her. The woman who gave birth to her. Stunned she found her lips trying to spread into a goofy grin pulling at the corners. “Mom?” Charity mumbled watching for some kind of reaction from the older woman beside her.
A faint smile tugged at the woman’s lips than was gone “hello dear.” She sat back crossing her legs “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”
“Nope” Charity assured the woman pushing aside all of her concerns “would you like something to drink?”
“A latte would be nice” the woman said folding her hands on the tabletop.
Charity hesitated a moment halfway expecting her to offer to pay for the drink. Her parent’s would always reach into their pocket and give her a twenty to cover the cost. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen this time. She walked up to the counter searching her wallet hoping she had enough to cover the latte.
The door behind her opened and a couple walked in laughing and joking. She didn’t need to turn to know who they were. She’d recognize Nana’s laugh anywhere. She was tempted to ask her friend for a loan but restrained herself not wanting her mom to feel bad that she hadn’t thought of giving her money for the latte.
With a resigned sigh she dug into her emergency stash when her search failed to come up with enough to cover the drink. Walking back to the table she smiled at the woman. She couldn’t believe that was her mom sitting there waiting for her. She set the hot beverage in front of her mom before sitting across from her. “I’m so glad we’re getting this chance to talk” Charity said unable to keep the excitement and yearning from her voice.
Blowing on her drink the woman scanned the room. Eyes coming to rest on the noisy couple. She frowned “so am I” sounding distracted.
“Did you want to go someplace else?” Charity asked afraid her mom wouldn’t stay.
“Do you know them?” she asked nodding towards the couple.
“Who? Them?” Charity asked her voice rising at the unexpected question. “Why would I?” she asked. Something was off about the way her mother expected her to know who the couple was. Little alarm bells started to go off inside her head.
Shrugging the woman gave her a disappointed shake of the head “she looks familiar. I thought she was a friend of yours.”
Charity frowned. How did she know who her friends were? She had only ever been at the dorm the one time. Spoke to Ryan multiple times on the phone. Why would she think Hannah was her friend? She was but how did she know? Charity had the uncomfortable feeling this woman had been watching her. “Do you have a problem with meeting my friends?” Charity asked her earlier excitement at meeting her mother diminishing.
“I wanted to get to know you without outside influences” the woman sipped her latte “I thought you understood that when you suggested meeting here.”
“What about my parents? My dads? Don’t you want to meet them either?” Charity asked as a lump formed in her chest.
“I’ve met them” her mother said giving her a sly smile “I hoped you’d be different.”
“Different from what?” From them?” she could feel her anger building at what felt like rejection of the two most important people in her life. “They raised me. Made me who I am.”
“I gave you life” the woman said standing up “I’ll call you in a few days when you’re done playing games.”
“I’m not playing games” Charity objected her mother’s unkind words.
“Aren’t you?” the woman asked “isn’t that the young man who appointed himself your protector? Those two are definitely friends of yours. They’ve been watching us the entire time. I meant what I said. I want to get to know you without anyone else getting in the way.”
Grabbing the woman’s wrist Charity demanded “what do you expect? I don’t know you. I don’t feel comfortable meeting you by myself.” Her mother’s cold eyes and unrelenting demeanor had Charity relaxing her grip “go just go. I don’t need you. I’ve gotten along fine without you and I’ll continue to do so.”
“I’ll be in touch” the woman said walking away leaving the latte behind unfinished.
Shaking Charity sank into her chair. Disbelief written all over her face. Her mother had been here. She had been able to reach out and touch her. Talk to her. She looked up as she felt her friends surround her. Glancing up with tears in her eyes “she left. She left. She doesn’t want me.”
“Aw honey” Hannah cried pulling her friend close “I’m so sorry.”
Divia looked up as the door creaked open. A smile spread across her face “you look absolutely ravishing.”
Twirling around Marzia enjoyed displaying her amazing curves to the young girl who had captured her heart. Wriggling her hips she asked “do I really look alright?”
“You know you do” Divia shook her head. Walking towards the young woman “you’re beautiful.”
Sliding an arm around Divia she asked “where are you taking me tonight?”
A slight mysterious grin flashed across Divia’s face “it’s a surprise. I promise you’ll like it.”
“I’d like anywhere you take me” Marzia kissed Divia’s cheek softly “even if it was just to my bedroom.”
Cheeks flushing with heat Divia’s eyes flashed with concern “I…I…”
Laughing Marzia shook her head stepping away. “One day” she said confidently “I can wait.”
“Can you” Divia asked “I’m sorry that I um…that I’m not…” words failed her. She worried all the time that Marzia would lose interest in her. She knew that Marzia was a sexual being and waiting for her to be ready might be more than Marzia could take.
“Sweetie” Marzia said holding the door open for the girl “don’t worry about how fast or slow things are progressing. It’ll happen when the time’s right. I won’t rush you. I promise. I want our first time to be special.”
Looking away Divia sighed “you never had to wait before…”
“Yeah and look where that’s gotten me” Marzia shook her head “I’m still alone looking for love.”
“Maybe the tortoise will actually win the race this time” Divia said lifting her head up peering into Marzia’s eyes.
“I’m counting on it” she said “so where are we going?”
“You’ll find out soon” Divia shook her head leading the way to the car.
“Don’t I need to know where we’re going so that I can drive?” Marzia called after her enjoying the way Divia’s hair swirled around her shoulders.
“That’s why I’m driving” Divia called over her shoulder.
Getting into the passenger seat Marzia said “won’t you give me a little hint where you’re taking me?”
“You’ll know as soon as we get there,” Divia said shaking her head enjoying being the one in charge.
Twenty minutes later they were parking and walking arm in arm up the sidewalk towards a prestigious art gallery. “What are we doing here?” Marzia asked lagging behind pulling on Divia’s arm.
Stopping Divia took Marzia’s hands in hers “do you trust me?” Marzia nodded her eyes wide “good. Trust me a little bit more.” Divia pulled her towards the doors of the gallery. “Oh look” she breathed in relief “they’re here.”
Marzia looked up at a young couple holding the door open for them. Divia moved forward giving the striking young woman a hug and peck on the cheek. Frowning Marzia sized the girl up instantly comparing herself to the other woman.
“Marzia this is my roommate Teasha Ferris and her boyfriend Phoenix,” Divia turned to Marzia with an easy smile.
“It’s nice to meet you” Teasha held her hand out “Divia has told me so much about you.”
“And I you” Marzia said forcing herself to smile while inside she was busy finding all the reasons why she was lacking and why Divia couldn’t possibly like her.
“You must be so excited” Pheonix said taking Teasha’s arms to escort her while Divia took Marzia’s.
“Excited for what?” Marzia demanded an edge to her voice. This night was turning into a nightmare. She was in a gallery for someone else’s exhibit. On some sort of double date with the woman who had been Divia’s crush for years. She could feel the doubts and jealousy trying to crush her from the inside out.
The crowd parted for them as they entered the main exhibition hall. Someone whispered “there they are. The artist and the model.” An older man with white fluffy hair stepped forward “it’s a pleasure to meet someone with so much raw talent and beauty.”
Marzia stared at him sure he was mistaken and this flowing introduction was for someone else. She turned to Divia who was smiling at her like the cat who ate the canary. Divia leaned in close whispering “this is your exhibit. You’re the artist.” She slipped a flyer into Marzia’s hands .
Marzia flipped through the catalog. The paintings she had thought were long gone in a rubbish heap were listed as Marzia originals. The picture she had made of Divia was the focal point of the nights show. “Well my dear shall we go?” the man asked holding his arm out to her “I have some art dealers interested in your work that want to meet you.” Nodding she looked towards her companions who waved her forward.
Closing his book Zach stretched “what would you like to do?” He turned towards Waylon hoping the boy would suggest something to alleviate the growing boredom he felt confined inside the dorm.
“We could go see a movie” Walyon suggested keeping any emotion from his voice.
Shocked Zach was silent staring across the room at his roommate. Sooner or later he knew he had to leave the confines of his safe little haven. He would have to let other’s know he was gay if he ever hoped to keep Waylon. He couldn’t forever hide from it. Swallowing hard he nodded “sure I’d like that.”
“Dinner too?” Waylon asked hoping he wasn’t pushing the blond too hard too soon.
“Um” Zach’s eyes shone bright in his face round with fear and apprehension.
“How about if I see if anyone is around tonight who wants to double with us?” Waylon suggested getting up and heading towards the door.
Zach followed him with his eyes. Why was this so hard? Why couldn’t he let go of the past? Why did he still feel once people knew he was gay they wouldn’t like him? Not that his friends would ever do that to him. It was what other people might do to him when they found out that scared him.
Meanwhile Waylon went to Donovan’s room first. When he wasn’t there Waylon stroked his chin wondering who else he could get on short notice. He saw Vincent coming from his room “hey Vincent” he called startling him “I have a favor to ask.”
“What kind of favor?” Vincent asked sounding cautious.
“Would you mind doubling with Zach and I?” Waylon blurted running his hands through his hair “he’s nervous about going out just the two of us.”
Vincent knew well what caused that fear in his friend. Zach hadn’t been the same outgoing fun loving guy they had grown up with in a long time. This was a step in the right direction. He wanted to do his part to encourage him. “I’ll make a call” his mind ran through the girls he knew with the ones who would want to go out on a moment’s notice. He smiled when he thought of the perfect girl “I’ll give Trinity a call and let you know.”
The relief in Waylon’s eyes was palpable when he smiled his thanks and walked back to his room. Vincent took his phone out “hey do you have plans tonight?” he asked when she mumbled a hello in his ear.
“I should be studying” she said.
“Yeah right” he smiled “I have something better than dusty old books.”
“Like what?” she asked interested despite the carefully practiced bored tone she was using.
“Dinner and a movie” he said cringing at the silence that followed “Trinity are you still there?”
“You’re joking right?” she sounded incredulous “I thought you meant a club or something.”
“Well” he debated telling her about Zach wondering if it would be a breach of confidence. “It’s for a friend. His date is a little shy and wants to double. Please they’re really good friends of mine. This would help them out a lot.”
“Alright I’ll go” Trinity laughed “it’s been a while since I’ve been to a movie. It might be fun. Just don’t make me sit through a sappy romance. If I’m going to a movie I want some action.”
Grinning “I’ll see what I can do to accommodate you.” Finishing the call with Trinity he walked down to Zach’s room. Waylon opened the door “it’s all set. Trinity will be ready in an hour. We can pick her up on the way to the restaurant.”
“Great” Waylon enthused turning to look over his shoulder “did you hear that babe?”
Zach nodded looking like he was about to puke. He tried to smile. It did nothing for the greenish-yellow pallor of his complexion or the overly round look of his eyes making him appear to be a scared raccoon. “Great” he mumbled suddenly darting around his friends for the bathroom.
Waylon watched him go wishing there was something he could do to help. He turned to leave when he felt a light touch on his shoulder “It’ll take time” Vincent said “it’ll be worth it in the end. Zach’s a great guy.”
“He is” Waylon affirmed “I’ll give him all the time he needs.” His jaw was tight from his clenched teeth. What he wouldn’t give to have five minutes alone with the guy who did this to him.