"Can I get you anything else?" the white haired waitress asked.
"No thank you," the darker haired young woman in the booth replied as she looked up from the magazine she had been reading, glancing as she did at the half filled coffee cup to her left. "I'm fine."
The waitress, her name tag identified as Rhonda, smiled as she totaled up the check, leaving it on the edge of the table before heading off to check on another of her customers.
It had been the third time the twenty-six year old had read the article since coming into the coffee shop. Not that she didn't already know every word by heart before she'd even opened the cover. The most important of which were the simple words under the title - "by Michelle Petrocelli."
After four years of doing all the grunt work that every fledgling writer had to endure, it felt good to finally see her own byline. Having their own feature article was a dream that most of the friends she'd gone to journalism school had yet to see.
"Congratulations," Sally Kirkland, her editor at the magazine had said only a few hours before when she had presented Michelle with an advance copy of this week's printing to have as a memento. "Now go out and do something to celebrate, because come Monday morning I'm going to have a new assignment for you and I'm not going to care what you did for me this week."
"I'm ready to start on it now," Michelle had said in an eagerness that the veteran editor had seen all too often.
"No," she grinned in reply, "there'll be plenty of time for you to start on it after the weekend. It's not every day that a writer gets her first byline, you should go out and celebrate. Take in a show, go to a bar, get drunk, get laid, do something to mark the occasion."
Hiding her disappointment at not being able to jump right back into the pool, Michelle took the copy of next week's magazine and left Sally to her work. After having sacrificed so much to get where she was that moment, the one thing uppermost on her mind was to make sure that she stayed there. To prove that she really was a great writer and not a one story wonder as she'd seen others turn out to be.
The problem with celebrating, Michelle thought as she reached out for the last of the coffee, was that it really wasn't much fun to do alone. Her family was up in Connecticut, and hadn't really been all that enthusiastic as to her choice of professions in the first place. Friends were few and far in between, especially at the office where trying to make a place for yourself among the limited space of a weekly publication didn't make for close associations.
The attractive young woman didn't even have a boyfriend at the moment, at least not one that she wanted to celebrate with. The few guys she'd been with since her break up with Kevin Shaw last Christmas had all been rather forgettable. Warm bodies to sometimes share her bed, but not her life.
The truth was she still missed Kevin, and regretted how their three-year relationship had turned out. Six years her senior, the architect had been just about everything a woman could've wanted in a man. Handsome, intelligent, caring, and great in the sack. The only problem was that Kevin had reached a point in his life where he wanted to get married and settle down. A place Michelle felt was still at least a few years in her future. There were still so much that she wanted to do before then.
The two of them had parted as friends, but Michelle knew that it was a friendship that would quickly wither on the vine. A mutual friend had already told her that Kevin was seeing someone else and it was already becoming serious.
"I guess that old song on the radio is true," she mused as she drained her cup. "The one about the clean-up woman."
Michelle's lament was interrupted by a comment made by an older woman in the booth across from her. It had been made to the woman sitting opposite her, but had been loud enough to carry.
"Isn't that disgusting," the woman had said, the look on her face reflecting her words, "and in public yet."
Curious, Michelle followed both women's gaze to the booth right behind her. She had to look back over her shoulder to see what they were talking about, but tried to do so in a way that looked innocuous.
There were two girls, who looked to be on the short side of twenty, sharing the booth. Or more precisely, sharing half the booth as they were both sitting on the same side and snuggling up against each other. Their hands were all over, touching places the two women across the aisle would've considered highly inappropriate even for a mixed couple. Giggling as they looked into each other's eyes, their mouths drew close enough to share a quick kiss.
"Well I never!" Michelle heard one of the older women say as she and her luncheon guest got up and left in indignation.
"Maybe that's your problem," the writer thought as she turned her head back around and watched the two of them go up to the counter to pay their bill.
Michelle, on the other hand, certainly had and wasn't put off by the two girl's behavior in the least. Back in the summer between High School and College, she had been lucky enough to have been introduced to the intimacies of girl sex by an older woman named Samantha Clark-Worthington, the wife of a rather prominent local businessman. The affair had lasted all summer and had opened the then naïve eighteen year old's eyes to a world of things.
Additionally, she had pledged Delta Theta Phi during her college years, the most exclusive sorority on the East Coast. One didn't become a member of the sisterhood without having gone down on a few of the sisters along the way.
But that had been a much different woman, she reminded herself. There came a time when you had to put aside the adventures of youth and become a responsible adult.
"Listen to me," Michelle told herself as she couldn't believe what she had just thought. "I can't be more than six or seven years older than these girls and I'm still almost ten years younger than Samantha was the night I met her."
The memory of that night, which also happened to be the night of her senior prom, caused the short haired brunette to also think of Bobby Fortuna, her high school boyfriend and her date for the dance.
It had been the last time she had ever spoken to her one time love. After the prom was over, Michelle had expected Bobby to try and take her virginity, something they had been heading towards after a year of back seat trysts. It was a possibility that she didn't have a problem with, having decided that the star quarterback of the All State Championship Team was going to be the one.
What happened was, however, something totally not what she had expected. Bobby had evidently only passed his finals by cheating, having bought copies of the test from another student. Since he didn't have the money to pay what he promised, he tried to convince Michelle to pay off the other boy with a sexual favor.
Outraged that Bobby would even think she would do such a thing, she had walked off into the night, not having any idea where she was going. Thankfully Samantha, who had also been returning from another party at the North Shore Country Club where the Prom had been held, had rescued her. One thing had led to another, and by morning, Michelle had indeed lost her virginity, although not in the way she could ever have imagined.
Bobby later got some other girl more willing to pay off his debt and went off to Northern State on a football scholarship. Caught up in a cheating scandal his sophomore year, that surprised just about everyone but Michelle, he'd lost his scholarship and wound up working for his father's lumber mill. The last Michelle had heard was that he'd married some girl he'd knocked up and they were already three kids beyond that.
Dismissing Bobby from her mind, after the three or four seconds he had occupied it, Michelle couldn't help but steal another glance at the booth behind her. This time, she took a longer, more detailed look at the two women.
One was Asian and more than a little androgynous in appearance. With straight black hair, cut even shorter than Michelle's, she had a face that defied any sexual identity. If not for the firm, rounded breasts quite evident beneath a sleeveless white T-shirt, the muscular young woman in black jeans could easily have been taken for a man.
The other young woman was almost twice her companion's size. A hefty, dark brown skinned girl with breasts larger than both Michelle and the Asian girl's together. Long black hair stretched down her back, framing a round, pretty face with full, bright red lips. Dressed in a form-fitting but not overly tight blue dress, she was quite lovely.
In fact, it was because that they both didn't fit society's norm for what was considered attractive, but were nonetheless so, that Michelle looked at them longer than she should have. At least as not to be considered staring as the now absent women across the aisle had been.
"You have a problem?" the Asian girl unexpectedly asked Michelle as she realized that the older woman was looking at the two of them.
"Me, no, not at all," Michelle quickly said, feeling embarrassed at having been caught. "I was just curious as to what that tattoo meant?"
The girl's eyes glanced down to her exposed upper left arm where a Chinese ideogram had been tattooed. A small look of annoyance filled her face, an expression that Michelle was sure indicated that the girl didn't believe her or was tired of explaining the tattoo.
"They're the characters for her name," the black girl answered for her, "it means Joy."
.... There is more of this story ...