Gail does not care what all those concerned parents and journalists say: violent video games don’t make her violent. They stop her from feeling violent. A couple of solid hours of shooting at anything that moves and Gail is feeling like Gail again. She rests her arms while the game sets to the next level, running her hand through Holly’s thick hair.
Holly is lying on the sofa with her head in Gail’s lap. She is wearing a pair of Gail’s leggings, a hoodie and the pair of fluffy red bed socks Gail’s grandmother gave her last Christmas, a change of clothing she had demanded the minute they got back to the apartment from Gail’s parents’ house. For the last hour or two she has been alternating between watching Gail run riot with a machine gun through the badlands of a fictional city, sipping the beers they found in the fridge (they have decided to save the wine for a special occasion) and thumbing through a book—probably one of Dov’s— she has found on a shelf somewhere.
All of this makes Gail happy. Incredibly happy. Sunday lunch, the spectre that has been hanging over her head all week, is all but done. And they seem to have got out of that one scot-free. Okay, well maybe Gail didn’t, she thinks. But then she never does. But Holly, Gail smiles down at her frowning reading face, Holly seems unscathed. They haven’t really spoken about the lunch at all. Gail isn’t sure she wants to.
Her parents didn’t really say anything about Holly either. Her mother had plenty of opportunities to slip in her opinion when they were alone after lunch, but for whatever reason, never did. In fact, she didn’t say a word. This was a surprise. But Gail knows she is still bound to find out what her mother thinks at some point. From her appraisal of “that rather big-toothed” Pete Ellis in grade six to her “Is he going to run off on you again, though?” query about Nick only a month or two ago, not one single relationship of Gail’s has ever gotten past her mother without some comment at least. The fact that her mother hasn’t said anything about Holly can only mean one of two things: she has so much to say it has to wait until Holly isn’t around, or she really is a little freaked out Gail is seeing a woman and doesn’t know how to react. Gail has no idea which it is, but she is certain her mother has not given up having an opinion on every single aspect of her life overnight. She’s just making her wait for it.
Whatever this slightly disquieting radio silence over Holly means, Gail is happy that at least for now that they are Elaine-free until the awards night. Family time is over. And now, Gail has video games, she has beer, she has a living room free of her flatmates until they come home from work, and she has this glorious woman in her lap. It’s all good.
She gets ready to attempt the next level, lifting the remote and watching the screen intently for enemies.
“So, what exactly are you trying to do, anyway?” Holly asks, turning her head to the side to watch.
“It is all very complex and intellectual, Holly. I am not sure I could explain it so you would understand.” Gail tells her, spying some insurgents behind a building and planning her attack.
“Oh, right.” Holly picks up her beer and goes back to her book. “My bad.”
Half an hour later, just as Gail is about to free the prisoners from the nuclear plant, Holly suddenly sits up.
“Okay, you are done,” she announces, pulling the control out of her hand.
“Holly, I was just about to …” Gail growls, trying to grab the remote back.
“Don’t care.” Holly places the remote at the far end of the table, out of Gail’s reach. “I’m hungry. It’s dinner time.”
“Yeah, if you’re a pensioner, maybe,” Gail tells her, folding her arms and looking out the window. Okay, so it has actually gotten dark at least, but it can’t be more than 6pm.
“Hush. I’m hungry. Find me food.” Holly tells her, poking Gail in the ribs.
“Okay, okay,” Gail says, reluctantly removing her legs from the coffee table. “But I’m pretty sure I don’t have anything.”
“Well, let’s go see.” Holly gets to her feet, grabs Gail by both her hands and drags her up and away from the sofa. Gail trails her into the kitchen and begins foraging through the cupboards for something resembling food. The first thing she finds, of course, is a half-mast bottle of tequila. She whips it out, grabs two shot glasses from the cabinet and turns to Holly, holding up the bottle and smiling her best airhostess smile.
“Really?” Holly shakes her head, laughing. “As long as you are aware that this does not actually constitute dinner.”
“I know.” Gail tells her, clearing a spot amongst the dirty dishes on the counter and carefully pouring the liquid into the glasses. “But it does make a wonderful pre-dinner cocktail.”
“Classy,” Holly mutters, taking the glass and squinting at it.
“Shut up and drink your tequila, Holly.” Gail tells her, kissing her quickly and downing the shot. She sighs. She loves the quick burn of tequila as it passes her throat. It makes her feel alive and awake. She puts the bottle back on the shelf, feeling the warmth spread through her chest.
Holly drinks her shot and grimaces.
“Now find me some food, please,” she begs, putting the glass on the bench and grabbing hold of Gail’s back pockets as she turns and opens the food cupboard.
“There’s baked beans,” Gail says, pulling the lone can from the cupboard and inspecting the label, “… with ham chunks.” She screws up her nose.
“If you would like me to throw up, please say ham chunks again.” Holly tells her.
Gail smiles, puts the can back and opens the fridge. She finds a bowl of spaghetti wrapped in plastic.
“Some pasta, but no sauce,” she announces.
“Boring.” Holly sings, leaning on the counter.
In a last ditch attempt before seeking out the take away menus, she opens the freezer. Things look up immediately.
She grabs the thin box from the freezer and holds it aloft, triumphant. “Frozen pepperoni pizza?”
“Yes! “ Holly grins, clapping her hands together. “The mother lode!”
“I wouldn’t have picked you for the frozen pizza type.” Gail tells her, still holding up the box. “I thought you’d be too gourmet.”
“I can be surprisingly low rent at times, Gail.” Holly tells her, grabbing her by the waist and kissing her neck.
“Thanks,” Gail tells her, sarcastic, receiving the intended double meaning loud and clear. She examines the packet. “I think this might be Dov’s, which means it’s extra-cheap.”
“Okay, well, we’ll buy him a new one tomorrow. A fancy one to make up for it.” Holly replies, leaning her chin on Gail’s shoulder as she reads the instructions.
It’s all pretty much as expected. Turn on oven. Take off packaging. Wait.
“And this,” Gail turns around and grins at Holly. “This I can cook.”
She turns back around, leans over and switches on the oven while Holly rips off the packaging and inspects the frozen disc of pizza.
“It is definitely cheap,” she tells Gail, frowning. “Look, it’s got a bald spot,” She points to a small patch near the crust where there is neither sauce nor cheese.
“Oh well,” Gail takes it from her and thrusts it into the oven. “It will do.”
“You’ll do.” Holly smiles at her as she turns back around.
“Ha, ha. You want another beer?” Gail asks, opening the fridge.
“Nope, I think I have had plenty to drink.”
Gail takes one beer from the shelf and opens it, taking a swig. She puts it on the bench. Holly immediately grabs Gail’s beer and takes a sip, smiling at her.
“How long ‘til we eat?” she asks, putting back the beer on the counter, thrusting her hands in her pockets and jumping up and down a little on the spot. “I’m hungry.”
“Not long.” Gail says, shaking her head and grabbing her face with her hands. “I have never seen you drunk. You’re very cute.”
“Hush. How many minutes?”
“And kind of demanding, too,” Gail adds.
“Is that so?” Holly leans into her, pressing her up against the bench top.
“Uh huh,” Gail tells her, wrapping her arms around her waist.
“Well, it’s good for you.” Holly tells her, leaning down and kissing softly on her sternum.
“Oh, why is it good for me, Holly?”
“No reason,” Holly says, straying across her collarbone and then her neck in a slow drift of light kisses.
“Because usually I am the demanding one and now it’s your turn?” Gail smiles, as she feels the press of lips under her ear, enjoying Holly’s current project. “You’re such a …”
“I said no such thing,” Holly interrupts, suddenly whisking her around so Holly is the one leaning against the bench. She wraps a hand around the back of Gail’s neck, smiles her lopsided smile and pulls her into another, more substantial kiss this time. Gail kind of likes bratty Holly. There are definitely worse ways to wait for a pizza to de-freeze. She forgets the slur, focused now on the slow tidal turn from affection to desire in Holly’s kiss and instead concentrates on kissing her back, her hands gripping tightly to Holly’s hips. Never breaking away, she clumsily unzips the hoodie Holly is wearing, relishing in the slow drift of hands running up the inside her top, coursing all over her back. A moment later she feels the sudden release as her bra comes cheekily undone, followed by the teasing sideways slide of Holly’s fingers as they move around to her front, easing up under the cups of her bra, thumbs skimming over her nipples. Gail breathes out hard, and, biting gently at Holly’s lower lip, slides her hands into the back of her leggings.
And that’s when the front door opens.
Gail pulls away, eyes wide. Holly, however, just smiles and slips out from between Gail and the bench, gently, reassuringly, pinching her waist before she saunters out to the living room, all casual and charming like nothing is going on.
“Hi there!” she hears her say cheerfully as Gail, trapped in the kitchen, desperately tries to reach up behind her and do up the clasp on her bra. But she can’t get it. She ducks behind the wall, next to the dining table, out of sight, listening to the sound of Holly chatting with Dov and maybe someone else as she tries frantically again to make the clasps meet. But she simply cannot get it. So instead, desperate, cursing, she does the old locker room manoeuvre, sliding the straps out of the arms of her t-shirt and whisking the bra through her sleeve. She hurriedly stuffs it into her back pocket just as Dov and a guy she recognises but doesn’t know from 15 shuffle into the living room.
“Anyway, nice to see you,” she hears Holly say. She doesn’t come back into the kitchen, though. Gail hears a door close and realises Holly has gone into hiding in her bedroom. She folds her arms folded protectively across her front and hurries through the living area to the hall.
“Hello to you too,” she hears Dov call after her.
Just as Gail gets to her bedroom, Holly opens the door and peeks out, grinning at Gail. Leaning against the doorjamb she pulls her close for another deep kiss, her tongue immediately, insistently, teasing at Gail’s, her hands working straight back inside her t-shirt. Gail is just about to push the door open and take this thing to the bed when the oven timer goes off, dinging loudly from the kitchen.
“The pizza!” Holly whispers loudly, grinning. “Get the pizza!” She pushes Gail back into the hall.
Shaking her head, Gail retreats back down the hall. Drunk Holly is quite the handful.
She ducks back into the kitchen and pulls open the oven door. She reaches out and grabs a plate from the dish rack. Using her fingers, she slides the hot disc from the oven rack and onto its surface. Just as she stands up, the guy, a tall brunette with a brush cut comes in.
“Hi,” he says, reaching for a glass and filling it up at the kitchen sink.
“Hey,” she mutters, turning away from him quickly and scampering out of the room.
“We ate your frozen pizza.” She quickly tells Dov, who is sprawled on an armchair, and makes a break for the hall. “I’ll replace it tomorrow.”
“What?” she asks, pausing just inside the living room door and turning her head back.
“Something’s hanging out of your pocket.” He tells her, his malicious grin telling her he knows exactly what it is, too. His eyes flick down and up again.
She fights the urge to Frisbee the pizza—plate and all— at his head and instead smiles sweetly, holding it at chest height.
“Oh yeah,” she tells him. “And we drank your beer too.”
She turns and bolts for the bedroom.
To be continues. Reviews are welcomed.