She was so frustrating. A beautiful, annoying distraction.
Everything Tahani did was wonderful. Everyone thought so. Even Evelyn thought so and she really, really wanted to hate herself for that.
"Just look at her, Chidi." Eleanor gestured in Tahani's direction across the grand lawn separating their tiny house from Tahani and Jianyu's massive one. "It's like I can hear her from here. 'Oh hello, Michael, it's so wonderful you could come. I hope the tea and cake was to your liking and oh, isn't my perfect hair looking even shinier than usual today?' I mean, come on."
"I don't know Eleanor, you make her sound… nice. I mean, she is nice. And her hair does look lov--"
"I know." Eleanor rolled her eyes. "I can't think of anything worse to say. She's gorgeous, she's got that posh accent, and she's just so forking kind all the time."
Chidi gives her the look that says he heard the attempt at swearing, but he doesn't comment on it. Which Eleanor thinks probably says more about how often she tries than he's acceptance of the attempt. She shrugs and looks back at Tahani with a frown.
"If you want to go over there--"
The words are barely out of his mouth before Eleanor is taking long, fast strides across the lawn. Chidi shakes his head and turns away, choosing to go inside rather than watch what is sure to be an uncomfortable moment for everyone. Michael is on his way back towards town in the time it takes Eleanor to cross the yards. He waves at her and calls out a pleasant enough hello, which Eleanor responds to in what was probably a whole word, maybe even a sentence. But her eyes are on Tahani.
"Eleanor, hello!" Tahani is waving as she approaches. It's that small, delicate wave of the rich where the fingers wiggle in a way that could dismissive under a different guise. Tahani manages to make it look sweet, welcoming. Her smile is wide, bright, perfect.
"Tahani." She stops just in front of the other woman. It's just her name, but Eleanor makes it shorter somehow, terse. She can't stop herself.
"I've missed you today," Tahani says. "You could've joined Michael and I for tea this afternoon."
"I had plans with Chidi," Eleanor says. Which is true but it doesn't keep that little piece of her from feeling slighted by the absence of a few extra hours in Tahani's company. She supposes it should be nice to be missed, but that's just something people say, isn't it? It isn't as if Tahani actually missed her.
"Oh, brilliant. Chidi is wonderful. Tell me about it?" If it was possible for her to smile wider, Eleanor thinks she's managed it. Tahani starts walking to the front door of the mansion, gesturing for Eleanor to follow, which she does.
Tahani always brightens a little at the mention of Chidi, but that's no real surprise. Everyone likes him too. Chidi is wonderful, Eleanor thinks. He's patient with her like no one has ever been before, and he's not run away screaming from her yet or given her up.
But Chidi, is Chidi and that means he is not Tahani.
"You don't want to hear about my day with Chidi."
"And you don't want to hear about my day with Michael, I suppose."
Tahani closes the front door behind Eleanor as soon as they're both inside. She looks down, still smiling but the curve of her lips has taken on a new quality. There's barely any space between them now, Tahani impossibly close to her, staring down as the heavy door clicks in place. There's a small echo throughout the room and then all is quiet. Except for the breath Eleanor can't get rid of fast enough.
"I did miss you today, you know," Tahani says quietly.
"Uh huh." It's not Shakespeare, but it's all she can manage.
Eleanor reaches out and grabs Tahani, fingers wrapping around her neck and pulling the tall, beauty down towards her. She lifts up enough to split the difference, bringing her lips to Tahani's.
There's a muffled "Mmphhhffff-" sound as Tahani's caught by surprise, but her lips sink against Eleanor's with practiced ease. Her expression of surprise turns into a far more inviting sound, one that make's Eleanor's knees weak.
"So you missed me, then," Tahani says as the kiss ends.
"Shut up," Eleanor says, but there's no bite to her words.
Tahani pushes a few stubborn strands of Eleanor's hair back behind her ear with one long, slender finger. The move is part graceful, part endearing, part incredibly sexy and Eleanor's forearms tingle with the sensation. It's like she can still feel some extension of Tahani touching her even as her hand is lifted away.
"Ahhhh," Eleanor sighs, both craving more of that touch and grateful it's there at all. Chidi's company is more than merely tolerable, but it's not something she craves. Not like this. Not like this at all.
"Do you know-" Tahani says as she pulls Eleanor by an arm into the drawing room. There's a lounger there where they've spent many an afternoon, and Eleanor happily lets herself be led there. "Do you know that I've spent all day trying not to say things to Michael to give us away?" Tahani grumbles and sits, pulling Eleanor down too.
Eleanor turns and leans in, kissing Tahani again. "I'm sorry," she whispers between kisses and inhales. "I'm sorry. And yes, I did miss you."
"Again," Eleanor says.
"Eleanor," Tahani repeats without needing more to the request. Her name is a whisper, little more than a breath escaped from Tahani's lips and she smiles at the sound. Her lips brush Tahani's cheek, moving until she can capture the curve of her ear between her teeth. Tahani's breathes heavier, her eyelids fluttering as she leans back to let Eleanor press closer.
Eleanor feels like she's been caged all day, pacing inside the bars with Tahani just out of reach. But now the woman is under her fingertips, beneath her lips and Eleanor can't get enough. She lets her fingers catch the long strands of Tahani's hair. She smells like sugar and coconuts, storms in the desert the lily she's pinned to her dress.
Like this and in moments like it, Eleanor can almost forget her problems. The problems she's creating. The secrets she's keeping. The guilt and the worry that today is another day she'll fork up something else that creates a hole in the center of town, or sends something else hurtling down on them from the sky.
Her hands fumble onto the zipper on the back of Tahani's dress and she wiggles her hips with victory as she tugs it down.
Tahani doesn't stop her but encourages her, leaning into her to allow her hands to reach further down. She pulls her arms from the cap sleeves of the dress, letting it fall off her shoulders as she leans back again. She grins at Eleanor, a show of perfect white teeth and dark pink lips curved in their own excitement.
Eleanor sighs at that smile, her hands sliding over Tahani's bare shoulders. "Why are you like this?" She asks, voice incredulous as she scours all the visible points on Tahani, following her sight with soft, curious fingers.
"Perfect. You're so, forking perfect, Tahani. I don't know how you stand it."
Tahani laughs. Her voice is quieter when she answers, almost reserved a very-un-Tahani-like quality. "I'm far from perfect, Eleanor."
There's already a retort on deck, but something in the shift in Tahani's voice makes her push it away. Instead she curls her fingers under Tahani's chin and leans down, pressing a gentle kiss against her lips.
It's slow this time, the way the kiss builds. It's not hurried and eager like before. It's not insistent but patient, and Tahani's lips answer hers in kind. After a few moments she lets her arms slide back down Tahani's arms, finding their way to the slight swell of her hips and resting there as she pulls back.
"I’m unconvinced," Eleanor whispers, sliding down until she can bend to kiss the hollow of Tahani's neck. She sneaks a hand behind her, tugging up the hem of her skirt in order to find the smooth dark skin beneath.
"Are you?" She lifts a sharp brow at Eleanor.
"Oh, yes. I think this requires more research. A thorough investigation."
Eleanor nods, her hand sliding up Tahani's thigh as her other hand tugs at the neckline of Tahani's dress. She pretends to peek beneath it and sighs deeply.
"It really does. It might take quite some time too." She winks and Tahani giggles, shaking her head.
"You're incorrigible, Eleanor."
"Yes. Completely." She nods and slides farther, letting her feet come back down to the floor. Standing, she bends to grab Tahani's arms, pulling her up. "Now, come on. Lead me to your finest investigation room."
Tahani kisses her cheek and shimmies slightly until her dress falls the rest of the way to the floor. In dark heels and a lingerie set chosen specifically for the floral pattern that best matched the dress, Tahani stands like a goddess.
Oh she's going to have the worst dreams, tonight. Watch out, Good Place. Perfection is going to ruin you.