It had been a month since Calleigh's accident, and the blonde criminalist couldn't be more embarrassed about how the entire incident occurred. What do you get when you combine a pair of Christian Louboutin heels, a single glass of wine, and a flight of stairs? It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke, yet in this case the “punch line” was a trip to the emergency room.
The damage? A mild concussion, a twisted ankle, and a dislocated shoulder. To think, someone as poised and coordinated as Calleigh Anne Duquesne took a tumble down the stairs at a wine tasting, of all things.
It was mortifying, to say the very least. Calleigh refused to express the true reason she’d ended up on medical leave for at least two months. No one aside—from Natalia, who had been at the wine tasting with her—knew the truth behind her fall. Neither her on-and-off boyfriend, Eric, nor her concerned father knew the actual truth. She even lied to her supervisor, Horatio. She’d told everyone that she ‘lost her footing on some stairs while trying to stop a criminal undercover’. She couldn’t bear to let anyone know the actual truth.
What kind of woman trips down the stairs in heels after a single glass of wine? Sure she was slightly tipsy—she apparently hadn’t inherited a high tolerance for alcohol from her father’s genes. Still, the entire incident was something that Calleigh saw as beneath her, especially at an event as prestigious as a wine tasting.
What was even more shameful for the Duquesne woman was her inability to take care of herself once she returned home. Maneuvering within her minuscule kitchen was damn near impossible on crutches, and showering was quite the task with an ankle brace. Though the blonde had been put in some compromising positions, she told herself the last thing she was going to do was call Eric for help. It wasn’t that she hated him after their last breakup, but she was actually convinced Delko wasn’t the right one for her. They were just at two different places in life: she wanted a committed relationship, but Eric wasn’t quite ready to settle down yet. Perhaps that came with the territory of dating a man younger than her. At this point she felt that they would be nothing more than friends, and asking him to come over would suggest otherwise. Of course she could call a family member, like her mother or father. However, her mother was out of town, and after eight p.m. her father was likely too drunk to care for himself, let alone anyone else.
So far she’d managed to care for herself without having to call on anyone for help, but with her independence came limitations. She couldn’t stand up long enough to cook her own meals, which meant calling for takeout or eating instant foods for the past week that she was home. She couldn’t exercise much, which was problematic for the normally-active bullet girl. She had massive migraines from hitting her head, though the intensity of her headaches had decreased since she left the hospital. She also couldn’t take a shower, but she found that taking long hot bubble baths soothed her nerves when she was frustrated, plus she could rest her ankle on the side of the tub. Nevertheless, Calleigh couldn’t wait until she was out of her ankle brace and off crutches. All she wanted was to go back to work, for things to be normal again.
It had been a month since Calleigh's accident, and Natalia couldn’t be more concerned with her friend’s wellbeing. It started off as a nice evening; Calleigh mentioned she wanted to get away, especially after her latest breakup with Eric. Natalia was surprised when Calleigh approached her, of all people, to go to a wine tasting. Even though she figured Calleigh needed some female company, she was mostly expecting Calleigh to save something as big as a wine tasting for her next date with Eric. Not to mention Natalia herself was another ex-girlfriend of Eric, and once he started dating Calleigh, both of them cut contact with Natalia. Yet on that day about a month ago, Calleigh swore it was all water under the bridge. She’d moved on, and she wanted to begin a friendship with Natalia. Once the two women arrived at the wine tasting, they shared a few stories and had a few laughs. However, things soon took an unexpected plunge—no pun intended—when Calleigh lost her balance going down the stairs.
The damage? Well, aside from the physical ailments, Natalia could tell Calleigh had a bruised ego, too. Natalia agreed to keep her mouth shut about the true reason why Calleigh ended up in the hospital, and she even helped the blonde create a story to tell everyone else. To think, someone as strong and independent as Calleigh Anne Duquesne took a tumble down the stairs and ended up in the emergency room.
It was terrifying, to say the very least. Natalia was worried whether Calleigh would fully recover from her accident. The blonde had knocked herself unconscious upon falling down the stairs, and she didn’t come to until after she was being loaded into the ambulance. Natalia sped after the ambulance to Grace Memorial, whispering a silent prayer that Calleigh would be okay. While she waited for the news on her colleague’s condition, a nurse asked Natalia how long she and Calleigh had been dating. Natalia’s face flushed upon that comment. Trying to regain her composure, Natalia coolly replied, “Oh, no. Calleigh is just my friend.”
“I never saw anyone—man or woman—get so worked up as you did over just ‘a friend’,” the nurse replied swiftly.
Unsure of what else to say, Natalia kept silent. She thought she was certain that she and Calleigh were nothing more than friends, yet she later found herself questioning the boundaries of their friendship.
What woman purposely seeks out an ex-girlfriend of the man she last dated solely to spend time with her? Of course, Natalia knew Calleigh wasn’t the type who would be vengeful, and she certainly wasn’t the type of woman who would hate her boyfriend’s exes. Another possibility was that Calleigh honestly did want to spend time with her, but to what extent? Was their relationship strictly platonic, or was there more to it than that?
What was even more confusing to the Boa Vista woman was her sudden infatuation with Calleigh once the blonde was released from the hospital. She found herself wondering what Calleigh was doing at the very moment. How was she doing after her accident? Why was she so driven to make up a story and not share the truth behind her hospitalization? Did she not want to tell others that she and Natalia were spending time together? Was Natalia her secret? Natalia called Calleigh only once during the week that she’d returned home, and Nat felt she made an absolute fool of herself when she did. Her words turned to mush, and she quickly ended the call after receiving news that Calleigh was doing all right.
What is wrong with me? Natalia wondered to herself. Why was she so concerned about Calleigh? She hadn’t the slightest clue. It wasn’t as if she was questioning her sexuality; she knew well enough that she was attracted to both men and women before Nick came into her life. Something that absolutely no one else knew was that a majority of her ex-husband’s violence stemmed from her bisexual orientation; he constantly was afraid that she would leave him for a woman. In his eyes, he was certain the only way to keep her was to beat her. A twisted theory it was indeed, though Natalia gave up on trying to understand Nick’s logic long ago. The only mystery she wanted to solve now was what, exactly, was Calleigh to her now?
Calleigh sighed as she rolled over in bed one morning. It had been two weeks since she returned from the hospital, and that very morning she was attempting to sleep in—an attempt that went horridly unsuccessful. Her ankle ached, her head pounded, and her stomach growled. After coming to terms that she just wouldn’t get any more sleep that morning, the blonde hobbled out of bed to retrieve her crutches that lay against her dresser.
Four more weeks, Calleigh thought to herself. Four more weeks and I’ll be off these crutches for good.
The blonde slowly made her way down the hallway to the kitchen. Leaving the crutches by the breakfast nook, Calleigh limped back to the refrigerator. She told herself she was going to make a real breakfast for herself today, ankle brace or not.
The woman cracked a couple eggs into a skillet, ignoring a slight pain in that formed in her ankle. After frying the eggs, she wiped the pan clean and stared frying some bacon. Suddenly, the soreness in her ankle turned grew worse. The woman doubled over at the sharp burst of pain, topping over backwards.
“Damn it!” Calleigh exclaimed.
Natalia sighed as she drove towards Calleigh’s home. She told herself her visit was solely to check on how Calleigh as doing as the southerner didn’t pick up the phone when she called last. At first Natalia sensed it was because of her own stupidity the last time they spoke on the phone. Yet later, as her mind raced over many possibilities, she wondered if Calleigh was in trouble. Whether Calleigh was avoiding her or not, Natalia had to know how Calleigh was doing, for the sake of her own sanity.
Maybe she is more than a friend to me, Natalia thought to herself.
Once Natalia reached Calleigh’s place, she knocked on the door. Calleigh didn’t answer immediately, but that wasn’t what worried Natalia.
No… what worried her most was the loud beeping noise coming from inside Calleigh’s home.
“Is that a… smoke alarm?” Natalia asked herself softly.
Thinking fast, Natalia scanned the immediate surroundings for somewhere that Calleigh was likely to hide a spare key. Within moments, she located it and flung open the door.
“Calleigh, it’s Nat! Are you okay?!” the Hispanic woman called frantically.
A pause and then Calleigh admitted, “No. No I’m not.”
Natalia followed the sound of Calleigh’s voice to the kitchen and saw the blonde sprawled across the linoleum floor. On the stove was a burnt pan of bacon, the likely cause of the fire alarm sounding. Natalia quickly turned off the burner, removed the pan from the stove, and covered it with a lid, extinguishing the flames within moments. She opened a few windows to let the smoke out before returning to the kitchen.
“What happened?” Natalia asked as she wrapped an arm around the blonde and helped her ease down into a chair at the breakfast nook.
An elongated silence preceded Calleigh’s response. As Natalia waited patiently for the blonde to speak, she saw frustrated tears well in the southerner’s green eyes.
“All I wanted to do was cook breakfast for myself again,” Calleigh murmured as tears made an unexpected decent down her oval face. She lowered her head in shame. “I can’t even do that much by myself. I almost burned down my house.”
Natalia couldn’t even begin to describe how heart wrenching it was to see Calleigh cry. The way her lower lip quivered, the way she squinted her eyes shut before sobs attacked her body. Just the very sight made Natalia want to break down and cry with her.
The Boa Vista woman surprised Calleigh—and herself—when she leaned over to embrace the petite woman in a tender hug. She held Calleigh close to her, stroking her golden locks and whispering, “It’s okay, Cal. Things will get better soon. I promise you they will.”
Natalia felt Calleigh tense in her arms for a brief moment before she relaxed completed the hug, resting her hands on Natalia’s shoulders. Neither one of the women wanted to break the hug, yet neither one of them understood why the other’s embrace was so comforting.
After a long moment, Natalia reluctantly pulled away. She gave a small smile and said, “I know what’ll cheer you up. Why don’t you go take a nice hot bubble bath? The last time we talked you said that always made you feel better.”
Calleigh nodded, wiping her tears from her eyes. “That actually sounds really nice right now.”
Natalia handed Calleigh her crutches, and the blonde left down the hallway. As Calleigh went to take her bath, Natalia figured the least she could do was finish making Calleigh’s breakfast. She turned the oven on a low setting and placed the eggs inside to keep them warm, then she pulled out a new skillet to fried fry what was left of the bacon. Once she was done and was plating the food, her mind couldn’t help but wander to the fact that she was standing in her Calleigh Duquesne’s kitchen while just down the hallway, the bullet girl was taking a bubble bath. Natalia then found herself imagining what Calleigh looked like; her beautiful, petite frame lay in the bathtub, the only censorship the bubbles covering her…
Natalia literally shook her head to rid that thought from her mind. There was no way that she could think of Calleigh that way. Especially after Calleigh basically admitted to feeling vulnerable. Thinking of Calleigh in any manner beside platonic could be seen as taking advantage of her, something Natalia said she simply would never do to anyone.
The Boa Vista woman finished plating the bacon and put it in the oven alongside the eggs to keep it warm and crisp. After that she took a seat at the breakfast nook, losing herself in her thoughts.
Calleigh closed her eyes, savoring the feeling of the warm water against her skin. There was just something about taking a bubble bath that eased the blonde’s troubles, as if she could literally feel herself washing the stress off her body and going down the drain, never to be seen or heard from again.
This particular bubble bath was to rid her stress of losing her independence until she was well again. It was a miracle she didn’t burn down her entire house. If it hadn’t been for Natalia stopping by that day, Calleigh wasn’t sure what would’ve happened.
The blonde’s thoughts then drifted to her colleague, that Natalia Boa Vista. The way she whisked into the room without hesitation was amazing, as was the way she quickly took control of the fire situation before it got out of hand. She didn’t even have to ask Natalia why she was there; she could tell by the concerned expression on Natalia’s face that she was there because she honestly cared about Calleigh.
Calleigh had to admit that she wasn’t one-hundred percent honest with Natalia when she invited her to the wine tasting a little over a month prior. She told Natalia that she only wanted to get away from her normal routine, and that was a portion of the truth. However, she’d left out the part about her wanting to actually spend time with Natalia to get to know her better.
Part of her reasoning for lying to Natalia was that she’d just gotten out of a relationship, and she didn’t want to rush right into another one. Another reason was that although she had a feeling Natalia was attracted to women too, she wasn’t sure if Natalia was attracted to her. Not to mention Calleigh had never been in a relationship with another woman before. As much as she hated to admit it, Calleigh was honestly too nervous to voice her true feelings. What she should do next, she wasn’t sure, but she did know that she had to eventually get out of her tub and face Natalia, whether she wanted to or not.
The Duquesne woman let out the water from the bathtub before carefully getting up and drying herself off. She slipped on a pair of sweats and a tee shirt before spritzing on some perfume and wandering down back the hallway to the kitchen. There she saw Natalia sitting at the breakfast nook holding her head in her hands. Her expression was deeply contemplative. What was she thinking about? Was Calleigh herself in Natalia’s thoughts?
“Something smells good,” Calleigh finally spoke.
Natalia glanced up and flashed her pearly whites at the blonde. “Uh, yeah… I just figured I’d finish what you started. Bacon and eggs. Do you want some toast too?”
“Natalia, you know you don’t have to do this,” Calleigh interrupted.
“I know, Cal. But I want to,” Natalia replied.
There was just something in Natalia’s voice that made Calleigh realize she was sincere. She wasn’t there because she felt she had to be there. She honestly wanted to be there.
“So, wheat or white?” the Hispanic woman questioned as she stood by the breadbox.
“Wheat, please,” Calleigh responded as she rested her crutches against the wall and carefully sat at the breakfast nook.
Within moments, Natalia set a full plate of bacon, eggs, and buttered toast before Calleigh.
“Thanks, Nat,” the blonde murmured softly.
“It’s no problem, Cal,” Natalia whispered back, just as softly.
An awkward silence succeeded, and Calleigh shifted in place before saying, “Do you want to eat breakfast with me?”
“No thanks… I already ate breakfast. I think I’ll go do the dishes. You enjoy your breakfast.”
And with that, Natalia was gone.
As Natalia washed the dishes, she found herself replaying the wine tasting event that Calleigh invited her to, but with a completely different outcome. Instead of Calleigh losing her footing and tumbling down the stairs, Natalia told herself that she would’ve caught Calleigh before she fell. Calleigh would smile, and the two women enjoyed the rest of their evening together.
“Pass me that towel?” Calleigh said.
Too preoccupied with the thought of her fantasy date, Natalia obeyed Calleigh’s order and handed the blonde the towel. A moment later Natalia realized what happened, and she snapped back to reality to see Calleigh standing right next to her, drying off a skillet.
“Calleigh, what are you doing?” Natalia asked. “Go sit down.”
“I’m not letting you wash my dishes alone in my house,” Calleigh countered. “Besides, you didn’t seem to mind me helping a few moments ago.”
Natalia couldn’t help but laugh. “Cal, you really are stubborn sometimes.”
Calleigh grinned. “Can’t help it; it’s in my blood. Stubbornness is the Duquesne way.”
The Boa Vista woman’s smile remained as she studied the petite woman beside her. Though Calleigh was only wearing a pair of sweatpants and a MDPD t-shirt, she was still absolutely beautiful in Natalia’s eyes. Natalia leaned close to smell the sweet scent of Calleigh’s perfume. She smelled of Jasmine; an aroma that was powerful yet elegant, much like the bullet girl herself. Natalia barely even noticed she was invading Calleigh’s personal space, leaning closer, and closer until…
…Their lips met. Barely touching at first, as Calleigh was still drying a ceramic plate. Yet once Natalia reached up to hold Calleigh in her arms, the plate suddenly slipped from her hands. Natalia barely seemed to notice the clatter of the dish hitting the linoleum floor. She caressed Calleigh’s cheek with one hand, running her hand through Calleigh’s golden mane with the other. It wasn’t until Calleigh let out a soft moan that Natalia returned to reality, and she suddenly broke the kiss.
The two women’s eyes met for a moment, brown into green. A hint of color crept into Calleigh’s cheeks and she gazed down at the floor shyly. Natalia covered her mouth, now realizing what she’d just done.
“Cal, I’m so sorry… I didn’t… I wasn’t trying to…” Nat tried to explain herself, but her words failed her. At a loss of what else to do, she murmured, “Maybe I should just leave.”
Without another word, Natalia left the kitchen and headed for the front doorway.
“Natalia wait!” Calleigh suddenly cried. She limped after Natalia as quickly as she possibly could, hoping that Natalia wouldn’t leave before she had a chance to tell her how she truly felt. Fortunately, Natalia heard Calleigh before she had a chance to leave out the front door, and she lingered near the love seat as she waited for Calleigh to speak.
“Why are you leaving?” Calleigh asked.
“I...I don’t know. I just feel like I took advantage of you,” Natalia admitted.
“Well, you didn’t.”
Calleigh could see that Natalia was surprised by the certainty in her tone. Hell, Calleigh was surprised by the certainty of her own tone.
“Look,” Calleigh’s mouth began speaking without her brain’s permission, “I know our first date wasn’t the best considering I ended up in an emergency room, but—”
“Wait a minute… wait… did you just say ‘date’?” Natalia interrupted.
Calleigh fell silent. She barely even realized that she unintentionally outed herself. She felt herself blushing once again before she truthfully replied, “I guess I did.”
Natalia grinned widely upon her words. Calleigh found the woman’s smile incredibly contiguous, for she was grinning too within moments.
“Would you like to spend the day with me?” Calleigh asked. “That is… if you’re not busy.”
Natalia’s smile remained. “Cal, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.”