Colleen Braddock sat alone at a table on the far end of the hotel’s veranda, nursing a drink and watching the setting sun drift below the horizon. The Twenty-six year old had been sitting there waiting for at least half an hour, but she resisted the temptation to check her watch to be sure. She knew that she had come down to the bar at least fifteen minutes early, but not to have done so would’ve left her with too much of a possibility of not coming at all.
The cute redhead, draped in a simple but flattering green and black cocktail dress, scanned the room, trying not to make eye contact with anyone while she searched for the person she was waiting for. The drink she was now taking her time with, her second of the evening, had been sent over by a gentleman at the bar. When the waiter had put the glass down in front of her, she had turned in the man’s direction and made as much of a noncommittal thank you as she could manage.
Under normal circumstances, she being a healthy, single woman and he being a reasonably good-looking man, she might’ve even invited him to join her. But her reason for being here was hardly what she considered ordinary circumstances, so it was with trepidation that she had watched him come over to join her of his own accord.
It had turned out that, like herself, the man was an employee of Trans-Continental Transport and was in Washington, D.C. for the week long seminar that had concluded on Friday, two days before. He had remembered her from some of the events, which hadn’t been hard since she was younger than most of the participants, and wondered if she might like some company.
Colleen had thanked him for his offer but explained that she was waiting for someone, even offering to pay for her own drink. The man, who introduced himself as Bruce Myerson, declined, saying that the drink had come with no strings, but if her friend failed to show, he still be over at the bar for a little while. Watching him walk back to the seat he’d just vacated, Colleen thought that for a guy in his late thirties, Bruce had a pretty tight ass. The rest of him hadn’t been that bad either, she added, an observation that reminded her that it had been more months that she liked to think about since she’d been with a man. But she’d made a commitment, one that if she didn’t stick to she was sure she would regret later. Maybe not tomorrow or the day after but she was sure eventually.
Idly stirring the swizzle stick in her drink, Colleen brushed back her shoulder length hair and considered how she’d wound up here tonight. She had worked for TCT, as it was more commonly known, ever since she’d graduated from college, working her way up the ladder to assistant manager of shipping at the New York office. Considering that her two predecessors had been her senior by at least a decade, Colleen soon grew used to some people thinking that she’d advanced quickly because she had a pretty face. Some of those even entertained the notion that her rapid advancement was the result of her providing a service not recorded on her resume.
She quickly learned to ignore people who thought that way, secure in the knowledge that there were few, if any, co-workers in her office who shared that belief. Not only did Colleen know her job, proving it on a daily basis, but it was doubtful that her feminine attributes had any effect whatsoever on Jason Parkes, who had been the manager of shipping for over twenty years. The fifty- four year old was, as he often fond of pointing out, queer as the proverbial three dollar bill. Also, even if Colleen had instead been Colin, and of a similar persuasion, Jason had too much personal integrity to promote anyone who didn’t do the job to his exacting standards.
In fact, Jason had so much confidence in Colleen that he felt perfectly comfortable in sending her to the seminar in his place. His lover of many years, Matthew, a prominent artist, had an exhibition of his work during the same week and that took precedence in his eye. It had also been Jason’s suggestion that she stay in D.C. over the weekend and have a little fun. He didn’t expect her, he’d said, back in the office until Tuesday morning.
The seminar had turned out to be as interesting as Colleen had hoped it would, although she realized by the end of the first day that she found it so because unlike most of the other attendees she didn’t have an overabundance of practice experience. It was also soon apparent that most people only attended just enough events to justify the trip as a genuine business expense. Colleen was probably the only one who tried to attend every single lecture, even to the point of having been the sole attendee at one of them. During which she’d had a delightful discussion with the shipping manager of Los Angeles County, Linda Marshall, who was giving the talk. It had been Linda’s suggestion that they leave the large empty conference room behind and instead go to lunch where she would be happy to answer any questions Colleen might have.
Colleen and the forty-six year old brunette hit it off so well at lunch that they wound up also having dinner together for the next three nights. Linda was everything Colleen was striving to be and her personal insight into the business was illuminating to say the least. Having started off at just about the same age as Colleen, Linda faced many if not more of the difficulties in advancing her career. She explained to the younger woman that she had to decide early on just what was going to be important to her and then go for it.
Of course, she also added with a grin, it wasn’t like she ignored that old adage about all work and no play. While marriage and kids weren’t a goal, there had been lovers, including two whom she had lived with at different points in her life. Colleen was surprised at how easily it was to open up to the older woman, sharing aspects of her personal life in a way she couldn’t imagine doing with friends her own age.
It wasn’t until Saturday night, after the two of them had come back from a day of sightseeing and went out to a quiet restaurant that Colleen discovered what should’ve been obvious from the start, that Linda’s interest in her company hadn’t been entirely platonic. In retrospect, the signs had all been there, but she hadn’t recognized them for what they were coming from another woman. Had Linda been a man, Colleen would’ve recognized them in a minute.
Thankfully, Linda wasn’t offended when Colleen told her she really didn’t go that way and she hoped she hadn’t given any impression that she did. Linda had smiled and said that if she had, it was no doubt unintentional and there was no reason to worry about it. She herself had been unsure, which was why she had finally brought the subject up with an invitation to spend the night together. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
When they had finished the meal and were taking the elevator back to their respective rooms, Linda mentioned that like Colleen, she wasn’t going home until Monday, having booked a night flight back to Los Angeles. If Colleen had a change of heart before then, well she had her cell phone number.
Then, just before she exited the elevator, she leaned forward and kissed the younger woman right on the lips. It had been a relatively chaste kiss, but one whose feel lingered long after Colleen exited on her own floor.
Lying in bed last night, Colleen couldn’t fall asleep, her mind too wrapped up in the thought that perhaps she had been too hasty earlier, her decision made without appropriate consideration. True, she had never been with another woman, but that didn’t mean that the idea hadn’t ever occurred to her. Back in college, she was well aware that there had been girls who’d “sampled the delights” as some liked to call it. In fact, one of her closest friend, Mamie Brown had gone out of the way to describe her own experience to her, in quite intimate detail. Colleen later wondered if Mamie’s sharing had been perhaps an invitation to experience it on her own. If it had been, it was one that also hadn’t been repeated.
It was also worth considering, Colleen thought, that after having worked with and enjoying a friendship with both Jason and Matthew, she wasn’t put off by the idea of a same sex encounter as she might have been when she was younger. Nor would it being a one-night stand be a hindrance, since it would hardly have been the first one of those she’d ever had.
And if asked, she certainly would describe Linda as pretty, and not in that “good for her age” sort of way. Her dark hair showed no sign of grey, and her body while slightly over what she might’ve liked it to be, was certainly well proportioned. Slightly taller than Colleen’s five foot six, the West Coast manager also had a bust at least a cup size bigger. In many ways, the brunette was more attractive than many girls the redhead’s age, and she meant that in much more than a physical way. There was something that just drew you to her. As if all the inanity of youth had been left behind, leaving only a striking maturity.
The more Colleen thought about the possibilities, the more she began to regret her snap decision. Even if she later decided it hadn’t been for her, who would ever know? After all she was two hundred miles from home. That had been her final thought before giving in to the sleep she had been resisting.
.... There is more of this story ...