Chapter 2

After exchanging texts with Heather for the next couple of days we scheduled our coffee date for Wednesday afternoon. The coffee shop near campus was usually busy at that time, but Heather had found a table. Her face lit up when she saw me, and I couldn't help smiling in response. She reached out to grip my hand briefly. "I wasn't sure what you'd want, so I didn't get you a coffee."

"I should have said," I agreed. "In all the texts we could have exchanged preferences. I'll be back in a moment."

"I'll be here," Heather said, grinning.

She was reading a heavy paperback while I stood in line to order. She'd taken her glasses off and set them on the table. She must not need them to read.

I placed my order and gave my name to the short redhead at the counter. "We'll call you as soon as it's ready," she said. She seemed a little frazzled with how busy the store was, but her grin was still perky.

Returning to Heather's table I sat across from her. She looked at me before picking up her glasses. Her eyes were quite an intense green. She wore a casual cream knit top, unbuttoned just far enough to show a hint of cleavage, but no more. The gold cross peeked out from inside the shirt.

"See," I said with a smile. "You don't have to wear a dress to look great."

Heather's face reddened at the compliment. "Well, now I know what the club is like, I can dress like this," she said, adjusting her glasses after slipping them on.

"You don't need to, though," I said. "You looked amazing on Monday, really. Being more stylish than the rest of us didn't make you out of place. And you were dancing fine in those heels."

She blushed again. "I've practised," she said. "The church I go to... well, the church I went to... my parents' church... they have problems, but they're not one of those that abhors dancing. So my mom made me take lessons. You know, to attract the right boy."

I made an educated guess. "Do they know?"

"Have I come out to them?" she asked. "No, I haven't. I haven't even known myself for long."

"You said you thought they might stop paying your tuition," I said. "Is that why?"

"Rent," she corrected me. "My tuition's mostly covered by the scholarships. But yes. I'm not looking forward to that conversation."

I heard my name being called. A blonde barista was setting my cappuccino on the counter. I excused myself and went to pick it up.

"You've hinted a couple of times that you only recently discovered you like girls," I said. "How did that come about?"

She took a sip of her drink. "There was a girl," she said. "We had a... a bet. A forfeit, I guess. She had a lot of compassion, I think. She made me realize that I was, well, deeply attracted to her, and I never had been to a boy. When she got through to me I realized it had always been that way. I never had any feelings for boys, but I had... well, I had blocked out feelings I had for girls, because of course they were wrong."

I let out a slow breath. "I'm beginning to see, I think. This church you grew up in."

"Right," she said, emphatically. "I couldn't know what I was until I could see my own bigotry. She helped me with that. She even helped me find a new church where they don't believe those things." She must have seen the skepticism in my expression. "They really don't," she insisted. "The woman she introduced me to, she married her best friend there. They helped me through some dark times."

"You said she was your first lover?" I asked. "What was her name?"

"Sophie," Heather said, watching me for any sign of recognition. I gave her a slight shake of my head. The name meant nothing to me. She seemed relieved. "Though... not so much first, as only."

"Wait, didn't you say you'd dated a church member for months?" I asked, confused.

"Yes, but we didn't... uh..." She blushed again and fell silent.

"Oh," I said. "I see."

"I think I would have done," Heather said, her eyes on the lid of her coffee. "She wanted to be sure that we were going to stay together. So I guess she was right to say no, because we didn't."

"Why didn't you stay with the first girl?" I asked. "Sophie? It doesn't sound like you had a bad breakup or anything."

Heather looked up then, but she shook her head, with a small smile. "She warned me that she didn't do relationships. Don't worry, she gave me every option to back out of our forfeit. I could have said no."

Saying, "I don't do relationships, either," was on the tip of my tongue, but I didn't do it. I felt it would push Heather away before I'd had the chance to get to know her. And after my last few encounters, I wasn't sure if "no relationships" was still a long-term goal of mine.

I settled on, "You know, the girls in the club are a lot like that. They tend to hook up with each other without any thought of relationships."

"Is it okay if that's not why I'm there?" asked Heather. "I want to make friends, not find lovers."

"Sure," I said. "No one will push you to do anything you don't want."

"And not everyone is like that there," she objected. "There are couples, too. Like Emma and Tiff."

"That's true," I admitted. "Do you think you'll be visiting regularly?"

"I think I will," she said, "if you all will let me."

On an impulse, I reached out to take her hand lightly. "Of course we will. I'd love to see you there. Maybe I'll wear my heels and you can show me how to dance in them."

Heather blushed. "I'd like that."

I checked my phone. "I need to get to my next class. I wish we could talk longer."

"We can see each other again," Heather said.

"Sure," I said. Then, "Hey, would you like to go see a movie tomorrow?"

She blinked. "Uh. Er... what do you have in mind?"

"Umm, I don't even know," I admitted. "I don't know what's showing, or what you like. But I'm sure we can find something. We could meet about six, get something to eat, and find out what's on."

"Make it seven, I have a late afternoon history class."

"Sure," I agreed. "Meet here?"

"Okay," Heather said, with a smile.


I was in a strange mood the next day. It reminded me a little of early Mondays. The excitement of a probable hookup. I'd forgotten about that thrill, and I wondered when I'd lost it. There was no way that Thursday at the movies was going to end with a hookup, but the anticipation of spending an evening with Heather gave me a similar feeling.

Which was just weird.

Were we going on a date? We hadn't used the word, but was it a date? I guessed it would be hard to see it as anything else. Hell, I'd asked her to the movies. She had to see it as a date, didn't she, whatever I thought?

Arriving at the coffee shop at seven, I almost ran into a tall woman entering the cafe from the opposite direction. Then I realized that it was Heather. She was wearing a lightweight jacket over a dress. As when I'd first seen her, the combination made her look older, and more sophisticated. I should not have been surprised, but I was.

I'd worn a lavender blouse and skirt that exposed a narrow band around my navel, with a pair of lavender quartz earrings. Having decided that Heather would see the invitation as a date, I felt I had to dress for it.

Judging by her outfit, she'd done the same, though our ideas of dressing for a date were radically different.

I bought our coffees, then we studied movie schedules on my phone. There was a historical romance showing that we both felt we could enjoy, but the next showing was in fifteen minutes, and then again at ten after ten. "We could do that one," I said, "but we'd have a lot of time to kill. How about we get something to eat and then spend an hour window shopping?"

"That would work," Heather agreed.

We ate at an Italian restaurant; one cheap enough to be a regular student haunt, and lingered over our meal for as long as we reasonably could, before wandering around the stores. Not all of them were open, since it was mid-week, but we used the opportunity to talk, and weren't bored.

The movie wasn't great, but it was okay. When we left the movie theater, Heather turned to me. "Uh, Margot, if I invite you for coffee, is it okay if I only mean coffee?"

"Sure it is," I said. Then I took her hand. She seemed surprised, but gave my hand a small squeeze and didn't release it.

It was a half hour after midnight when we reached Heather's apartment. She led me into her tiny bedroom, motioned to the bed, then whispered, "Try not to wake up my roomies. It would be awkward."

I nodded. She left to brew coffee, returning with two mugs to sit beside me on the bed, which creaked badly.

I chuckled. "If you ever change your mind about hooking up at the club, you'd better go to her place. Don't bring her here."

She frowned at me until she realized what I meant. "Oh, the noisy bed. Uh. Yeah, I guess that would be embarrassing."

We talked for at least half an hour. It was almost one thirty by the time I set my mug aside. "I guess I'd better get home," I said. "Thank you for a great evening."

I considered leaning in to kiss her, but Heather was distracted. "Do you hear something?" she whispered.

I sat silently. I didn't hear anything at first. Then there was a creak. The flooring wasn't as noisy as Heather's bed, but it wasn't silent, and someone was moving around.

There was a thunderous knocking on the bedroom door. Heather and I both leaped into the air, the bed creaking loudly, then we each grabbed the other's hand.

Two girls entered the room. Both of their faces were white with cold rage. The one in the lead pointed to Heather. "You! Jezebel! Dyke whore! You don't live here anymore. Get out."

Heather sat there with her mouth open in utter shock.

The lead intruder turned to me. "And your dyke friend. She goes now!"

She grabbed my arm and yanked me forward, ignoring that I had maybe seven inches and thirty pounds on her. I immediately pulled out of her grip.

"Touch me again and your nose will be decorating the back of your skull," I said.

She took a step back, but her screams were even more shrill. "She threatened me!" She turned to her companion. "Did you see that? She threatened me! You're a trespasser," she yelled, facing me again. "You're trespassing!"

"No she's not, Angie," said Heather. She was white-faced and looked terrified, but her voice was strong. "She's my guest, and you had no cause to assault her!"

"I have every right!" yelled Angie, at the top of her voice. "You were fornicating! Dyke whore! You're not welcome here! Get out!"

"We were not fornicating," Heather contradicted. "Do you even know what that means? Now you get out. Both of you. Don't worry, I'll leave. I'm sick of your bigotry. Literally sick. But don't you dare lay hands on my friend. And you will give me time to pack my things."

Angie glared at her, uncertain. Then she reached a decision. "You need to be gone by morning," she said, then stalked out of the room, pushing her companion through the door before her.

As soon as the door closed, Heather collapsed to the bed and began to shake. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

I sat beside her, then lifted her from the bed and wrapped my arms around her.

"Heather," I murmured to her. "Heather, it's okay. They're gone. You stood up to them."

She mumbled something that I didn't catch.

"What was that?" I asked.

"What am I going to do?" she asked me. "Where can I stay?"

I wanted to say she could sleep on our living room couch, but that would be horrible for her. I'd hold that one in reserve for a last resort.

After a moment's thought, I said, "Your friends. The ones who helped you switch churches. They probably know someone you can stay with."

"Maybe," Heather sobbed.

"Give me their number," I said.

"Call Faye," she said and gave me a string of numbers.

I plugged them into my cell, and after a moment a woman's voice answered.

"Is this Faye?" I asked.

"Yes?" The voice replied, suspiciously.

"You don't know me," I said. "I'm Margot. I'm a friend of Heather's."

"Oh my God," the woman said, her demeanor instantly changed. "Is she alright?"

"Yes, she's... well, she's unharmed," I said. "She's very upset and has nowhere to stay. I wondered if there was someone at your church she could stay with for a while. I don't know how long."

"Here," said the woman, instantly. "She can stay here. We have a guest room. As long as she needs. What happened?"

I described the scene as accurately as I could. I said I assumed the two girls were Heather's roommates, and I felt the girl in my arms nod in confirmation.

"Give me the address," said Faye. "I know more or less where she lives, but not the number."

I managed to coax the address and apartment number from Heather, and passed it on.

"Erin's getting dressed," the woman said. "She's coming to pick you both up."

"Do you have any moving boxes?" I asked. "I think I should pack up her notes and some clothes so that she's okay until we can collect her stuff."

"Lots," Faye said. "We only moved here last year. We have broken down boxes in the garage, tape and scissors, marker pens, whatever you need. How many boxes?"

"Half dozen?" I said. "That should do for now. I don't want to be packing all night. Heather needs rest, and your wife needs to get back home."

"Thank you, Margot," she said. There was a low conversation at the other end of the line, then Faye returned. "Erin's on her way," she said. "How's Heather?"

"Very upset," I said, "but you should have seen her standing up to the bullies. She was great! It was only after they'd gone that she let the stress overwhelm her."

"She has strength that she doesn't realize," Faye agreed. "She'll figure that out one day. Why were you with her?"

"We'd been, umm, on a date, I guess," I said.

"That makes me happy to hear, in spite of the situation," said Faye. "Thanks for being there for her, Margot. I guess I should let you take care of getting her things together. I'll see you both soon."


Heather wasn't catatonic, just emotionally fragile after the scene with her roomies. After I'd hung up the phone, she sat up and wiped her eyes. I saw a box of tissues on the dresser, so I got up to hand them to her.

Even though she was still shaking, she helped me prioritize her papers and books, which I stacked neatly on the floor. When Erin arrived, we let her into the apartment. She carried the broken down boxes. Heather's roomies were nowhere in evidence.

Erin prepared the boxes, and Heather and I filled them. Heather took clean clothes from her dresser, half-filling each box, then I added the books and papers, so that no single box would be too heavy.

I couldn't help notice the brightly colored garments she collected from her underwear drawer. Lime green, hot pink, and cutesy animals. One had chunky dinosaurs. Another seemed to be anime girls. Catching my amused gaze, Heather said, "Oh, God, don't look," and turned red.

I grinned and pushed an empty box over to her, then whispered, "Are you sure those dinosaurs won't make it too heavy to carry?"

She gave me a gentle slap on the upper arm and whispered, "Don't be mean." Her friend Erin watched the exchange with raised eyebrows.

I'd expected Erin to be middle-aged, but she looked to be in her late twenties. She was efficient and calm. Before we left Heather's apartment, Erin gave her a key. "Our home is yours as long as you need, sweetie. I'll talk to Krys tomorrow about finding somewhere to store your furniture and we'll get a posse of men from the church to pick it up."

"I was imagining showing up with a group of girls from the club," I said. "Let the bigots have to deal with a team of dykes. But I think your idea would be easier to manage."

"That would be amusing," Erin said, "but it wouldn't change their outlook on life."

We put boxes in the trunk of Erin's car. Heather set one on the passenger seat, which meant that I'd have to ride in the back with her. I understood her need for company.

"Erin?" I said as we entered the car. "Could you stop by my place? It's not far. I'd like to get a few things so that I can stay with Heather. No funny business, I just don't want her to be alone."

Erin nodded, but she turned in her seat to look at us. "Listen, Heather. I meant what I said. Until you move out, our home is yours. The guest room is your room. What you do in your room is your business." She glanced at me, with a quick grin. "Funny or not."

"Thank you, Erin," Heather and I said in unison, then Heather reached for my hand and held it until we arrived at my apartment.


Erin's home was a compact four-bedroom a few miles from the U district. Three bedrooms were upstairs, but the guest room was conveniently downstairs, fully furnished with a full-sized bed and a full bathroom shared with the living room. The decor was pale blue, frilly, and very comfortable.

We moved the boxes into one corner, then returned to the living room to say a quiet hello to Erin's wife. Faye didn't get up to greet us, since she had a very small baby latched onto a nipple, but she did give us a tired smile. "Hi Faye," said Heather. "This is Margot. The baby is Maeve," she added, to me.

Erin brought cocoa to us in the guest room, then left us alone. Heather opened boxes until she found the one where she'd packed a nightgown. I turned away as she changed, finding my own long tee in my bag.

"Which side of the bed should I take?" I asked.

"I... uh... I've never shared a bed before," she said. "I don't know."

"Which side do you usually sleep on?" I asked.

"My right," she answered.

"Then take the right side," I suggested. "I'll be fine with the left."

She gave a nervous chuckle as she slipped under the sheet. "You know, if I'd known it would be this easy to get you into my bed..."

I laughed. "If that's what you wanted, you could have just said yes to coffee on Monday. You wouldn't have had to persuade your roomies to put on such a show for me."

"But that would have been your bed," she said. "That's different."

She turned out the light on her nightstand, and I followed suit.

"Margot?" she said, a few moments later.

"Mmm?" I responded.

"I'm sorry our date got so f-fucked up," she said.

"So am I," I agreed, "but it wasn't your fault. How did you even end up sharing with them? You're nothing like them."

"I was," she said, sounding despondent. "We were in the same church youth group. Before I... changed. Not Faye and Erin's church. My old one."

I felt her turn over behind me. "I don't want to be who I was," she said, her voice close to my ear. "But I feel like I can't get away from it, even when I try."

"You're not like them, Heather," I said. "I haven't known you long, but I can see that. Even if you were still prejudiced - and I don't think you are - but even if you were, you are not mean like they are."

"I hope you're right," she said.

I rolled to face her. My hand found her forehead in the dark, then my fingers traced around her eyes, finding them damp. I wiped away the tears. "I'm sure I am," I said. "At least in this."

"Would you hold me?"

"Okay," I said. "I'll try to refrain from ravishing you."

"I don't think I'd mind," Heather admitted.

"I don't think I would, either," I said, "but I'm not going to take advantage of your situation."

I moved my hand to her shoulder and drew her to me. Her body nestled against mine. There was a yielding pressure against my breasts that made my heart race, but I put it out of my mind as I kissed her forehead, then settled in to sleep.