Our (Wayhaught) Cute Meet
As I ascended the stairs to Laura’s apartment, a feeling of apprehension grew in my gut. I knew I was being set-up, but I also knew I wasn’t ready. Laura was sweet, well-intentioned, and my best friend, but she had no idea what I was looking for. I could hear the laughter from the party spilling out into the hall. I stepped up onto the landing and took a deep, steadying breath.
A couple days earlier, we were several hours into a study session for our upcoming finals. Laura and I shared two classes, and we studied well together. We were equally driven to be successful in our studies.
“So Waverly, I was wondering if you are free on Saturday night? Mack and I are having some friends over to celebrate the end of the year.” Laura smiled sweetly, folding a large textbook closed. She lifted her hands above her head in a stretch. Her long, brown hair cascaded down her back.
Laura’s boyfriend, Mack, called us the Bobbsey Twins. We both had long, brown hair, both petite with slim figures, both annoyingly positive (Mack’s words, not mine), and both extremely intelligent (definitely my words).
“I don’t know, it’s only a week before finals start. I don’t want to get distracted, or worse, hungover.”
Laura leaned in and nudged me with her shoulder, “Come on Waverly, we’ve been working so hard. We both need to blow off some steam.”
I hesitated, slowly pulling my books and papers together.
“Plus!” Laura sang, “You won’t be the only lesbian there.” She grinned at me. I let out a loud sigh.
Six months ago, I broke up with my longtime boyfriend, Champ. When talking to Laura about it, I kinda revealed that it just wasn’t working for me anymore. I told her that I thought I might be bisexual. She was the only person I felt safe telling. But since that time, Laura kept trying to push me to explore it further.
“Laura,” I huffed, “I’m not a lesbian!” I paused. “In fact, I don’t even know if I’m bi.” I said, exasperated.
“Well, there’s one way to find out.” She said, cheekily.
I shook my head, and tried to hide my smile as I packed up my bag.
“Oh come! Please, for me?” Laura wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “I don’t want to be the only sophomore there. It’s mostly going to be Mack’s friends.”
“So, who’s the lesbian then?” I asked, slightly worried.
Over the past couple months, I had been introduced to almost every gay person Laura knew. Most of the women were jocks, just like Champ, and that became an instant turn-off.
“Well, she’s in Mack’s senior legal studies seminar. They’ve been working together a lot on their senior thesis.”
“So she wants to be a lawyer like Mack?”
“Actually, a police officer.” Laura returned quickly. “Please come?” She asked, grabbing my arm, hugging it. “I want to hang out with you. Just hang out, no studying.” She placed a quick smooch on my cheek. I smiled back at her brightly.
“OK,” I relented, and Laura squealed in delight.
“Great! I’ll see you Saturday at 8pm. My apartment.” She said, while quickly packing the rest of her things in her floral backpack.
“Should I bring anything?”
“Nope.” Said Laura. “Just your adorable self.”
So this is how I found myself climbing the stairs, each step filling me with a little more dread. I really didn’t want to be set-up. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to explore my sexuality. It was terrifying enough in theory. I’m here for Laura, I told myself. And I can always leave early and get back to my studies.
From the landing, I reached out to open Laura’s door. I could already hear the music seeping through the door into the steep hallway. Just then the door opened up before me, and there on the other side was a tall redhead with warm, brown eyes that captured the most beautiful smile.
And she had dimples. Dear God!
I felt like time stopped as I stared open-mouth. My tunnel vision saw only her smile, wide and welcoming. My heart raced and my palms began to sweat.
“Hi,” she said, continuing to smile. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts.
“Hi.” I managed to force out. Then from behind the stunning stranger, I saw Laura bound over.
“Waverly! You made it!” She yelled. “I’m so glad you’re here.” She pulled me into a tight embrace. As Laura stepped back, I peeled my eyes from the redhead to look at Laura and smile.
“I made it.” I quickly tried to catch my breath and slow my heart rate down. She jumped into my arms again and I hugged her back enthusiastically. I could smell the scent of whiskey on her as she held me tight.
When she pulled back once more, Laura turned to the redhead.
“Nicole, this is Waverly. Waverly, Nicole. She’s in Mack’s seminar.” I held out a slightly damp and shaking hand. Internally cringing, I hoped she didn’t notice.
“Nice to meet you, Nicole”
“Good to meet you, too.” Her smile widened, causing her dimples to really pop. I left my palm in her hand a little too long, forgetting myself.
“So,” Laura said, breaking the awkward silence, “Waves, let’s get you a drink.”
She grabbed my arm, dragging me into the apartment. Nicole followed close behind. We walked into her small kitchen. Mack greeted me by the small sink, pulling me into a bear hug.
“Hey Waverly, good to see you.” He drawled out in his deep southern accent.
Mack was big, huge really, a former high school football player. He had thick, dark brown hair and beautiful blue eyes. He lifted me off the ground in his embrace and set me back down gently as if I weighed nothing.
“Laura was worried you weren’t going to show tonight.” Said Mack. Laura winked at me. Clearly, they both were in cahoots. “So, you’ve met Nicole? She’s been a huge help this semester.” Mack flashed a boyish grin at Nicole.
“The feeling’s mutual.” Nicole smiled back at Mack. Again with those dimples! I knew I was in trouble. She continued, “I can’t believe some of those idiots in that class made it to senior level.”
Mack laughed in agreement.
“God help us, if some of them actually become lawyers.” Nicole said with a smirk.
“Or police officers!” Said Mack, raising his beer bottle in toast to Nicole. She smiled back, slightly blushing.
“I need another drink.” Said Nicole, raising an empty hand in mock toast.
Turning toward the fridge, Mack asked, “Wave, do you want a beer?”
“No thank you, beer isn’t my thing.” I replied, thinking back to all the high school parties flowing with cheap, crap beer.
“I know what Waverly wants!” Laura spoke up. I flashed her a horrified look. “You’re a whiskey girl, right?” She winked at me again. I released my held breath, glad she didn’t say something snarky about wanting girls.
“Come with me, Waverly, I’ll show you where I hide my good whiskey.” Laura grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the kitchen and down the hall to her bedroom.
“So?” Laura asked, leaning into my arm as we walked down the hall.
“So what.” I answered.
“Oh come on, she’s cute, right!”
“Maybe.” I looked down at my feet, trying to hide my blush.
“Maybe! Please, you’ve been drooling over her since you got here.”
“No, I haven’t!” I said.
“Uh huh.” Laura smirked.
“Ok, she’s kinda cute.” I relented
“Yep, and those dimples are to die for.” Laura continued.
“Shut up. Are you sure you aren’t gay?”
“Just saying.” She crowed. I shook my head, laughing.
When we got to her bedroom, Laura and I sat down on her bed. She reached over to her bedside cabinet and pulled out a large bottle of Maker’s Mark.
“I keep the good stuff in here, for select friends.” Laura smiled.
“Thanks, Laura.” I said as she handed me a shot glass that was sitting next to the bottle.
“Well, I know how much you hate beer.”
“Amen.” I replied, “I don’t know how anyone can drink that crap.”
“It’s not all bad.”
“All the beer I’ve tasted was.”
Laura laughed at me. She poured us two generous shots of Mark and raised her shot glass. “To blowing off steam.”
“Here, here!” I agreed. We threw back our shots, and I flinched as the whiskey burned down the back of my throat. Still better than beer, I thought.
Laura refilled our glasses and raised her hand again. “To dimples!” She said and winked.
I shook my head, then raised my shot. “To baby blues.” I added.
“Amen to that.” Laura said, dreamily. I chuckled, and we tossed back the second shot.
“Want another?” Laura asked.
“No thank you! Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“Maybe.” Laura lightly punched my shoulder. “So, seriously, what do you think of Nicole?”
“Laura, I don’t know her! It seems a little soon to pass judgement.” I laughed.
“Fine, then let’s get to know her.” Laura plucked the shot glass from my hand and set the two of them down on the cabinet, and stood to walk out of the room. “Let’s not keep the lady waiting.” Laura chuckled.
Mack and Nicole had moved to the living room and were joined by a couple other people who I assumed were Mack’s friends. They both looked too old to be sophomores, and I knew most of Laura’s friends already. Mack and Nicole stood next to the open couch. Laura pulled me down next to her on the couch, leaving room next to me for someone else to sit on my other side. The conversation was centered on the university’s baseball team.
“Nicole,” Laura jumped into the conversation. “Don’t you play baseball?”
“Softball, I played fast pitch in high school, but I don’t play for the university.” She responded. She quickly looked down at me and then back at Laura. “I hurt my knee.” She said, patting her left leg. “Plus, I wanted to focus on my studies.” I smiled at her when she looked back at me.
Just then, one of the other guys interrupted the moment. “You should see hot-stuff here play on our intramural team.” He gestured at Nicole. “She’s got a wicked pitch.”
Nicole laughed at him, “It’s slow pitch, basically like lobbing watermelons at the plate.”
The guy leaned forward and slapped her shoulder.
“Don’t sell yourself short.” He said with a twinkle in his eye. He was as tall as Mack, but much thinner.
“Waverly, this is John, he’s also pre-law.” Nicole introduced the slightly scruffy guy, and I started to blush, hearing Nicole say my name.
He smiled sweetly as he leaned over to shake my hand. Instead of shanking my hand, though, he lifted it to his mouth for a curt kiss and winked. My blush grew.
“You can call me Doc,” he said with a broad smile. “Everyone else does.”
“Doc?” I asked.
“It’s a long story,” Nicole replied. “And this is Xavier, but everyone calls him Dolls.”
“And I’m sure there is a great story behind that one!” I laughed.
The tall, extremely handsome man gently shook my hand. He had creamy smooth and very dark skin with a shaved head.
“Actually, it’s my last name.” Dolls responded in a deep baritone, and sat back against an overstuffed armchair.
“Oh,” I said, a little sobered. Dolls nodded in reply, clearly a man of few words.
Doc jumped into the conversation again. “So, Waverly, do you play softball, too? Can I recruit you for the team?”
“Oh, me? No! I don’t play any sports. I used to cheer in high school, but now it’s only yoga.”
Nicole looked back at me with an eyebrow raised. “A cheerleader, huh?”
“For three years, yep.” I said.
“I’d like to see that.” She whispered under her breath, as Laura spoke over her.
“I didn’t know you were a cheerleader.” She squealed.
I blushed furiously, turning to Laura. “Sure, Champ was a football player, that’s basically how we maintained our relationship.”
“So, you’re into football players?” Nicole said, pulling my attention back to her. She had a quizzical look on her face.
“No, actually, I’m kinda sick of football players right now.” I responded.
“Hey!” Shot back Mack in mock-horror.
“Present company excluded.” I quickly amended.
Laura stood up, “Honey, you look like you could use another drink.” She walked over to Mack, wrapping her arms around his waist, kissing his chest. “Come with me.” She smiled up at him.
As they turned to walk back into the kitchen, hand in hand, I saw Nicole look back down at me. She slid into the space next to me on the couch. I tried to steady my breathing.
“It looks like you need a drink, too.” Nicole said gently. I flushed again, feeling the two shots coursing through my veins. I really wish I could control my blushing.
“Actually, I’m good.” I smiled, and it felt like Nicole’s warm eyes looked right through me. I raised my hand to my chest, feeling exposed. “I’m not a beer drinker.” I added.
“Right,” she smiled, her dimples reappearing. I swallowed hard. “So, was it a bad experience with beer?” She asked.
“No, not really. I just don’t like the taste.” I replied. I looked over at Doc and Dolls who were engaged in their own conversation.
“Maybe you’re just drinking the wrong kind.” She whispered.
God, why did that feel like a metaphor for my life.
“Maybe,” I said quickly, and then tried to redirect the conversation. “So, you want to be a cop?”
“A police officer.” She corrected.
“Sorry,” I said, hurriedly.
Nicole smiled again, “I like the sound of police officer better.”
I nodded in agreement. “More official,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. Nicole’s smile grew wider, across her whole face as she looked down at her feet. I thought I noticed a slight blush on her cheeks, and my stomach jumped.
“So,” she looked back up at me, “if not beer, what else can I get you?”
“I’d love some water.”
“Water coming right up.” She braced one hand against the edge of the couch as she stood.
“You don’t need to get it for me.” I tried to explain.
“It’s no problem, I was going to get something for myself anyway.”
“Thank you,” I added on instinct.
She stopped to look at me. “My pleasure,” She responded, flashing her dimpled smile, a twinkle in her eye.
My heart stopped dead-cold. Oh shit, I thought as I felt a heat grow through me.
She quickly returned with two bottles of water, handing one to me as she sat back down.
“No more beer for you?” I asked.
“I think I’ve had enough for now. I don’t want to lose my head.”
I tried to hide my grin behind the water bottle as I took a sip. “How very responsible of you, Officer.” I tried flirting. Nicole laughed out loud.
“Right. Well, I have a final on Monday, and our seminar thesis is due Friday. I have a lot of work ahead of me this weekend.”
I nodded my head, taking another sip. It suddenly dawned on me that if Nicole was a senior, then she’d be graduating in a couple weeks. A slight panic settled over me. I had only a couple weeks to get to know her before she left for who knows where. Crap.
I resolved to get to know as much as I could about her by the end of the party, without tipping my hand to my needling attraction.
“So, how to do you become a police officer?” I asked.
“There are police academies all over the country, but I’m looking into a Master’s program geared toward becoming a detective one day.” She explained, then she lifted her water bottle to her lips, leaning her head back, stretching out her long neck to take a drink. I swear I could smell vanilla on her. I shook my head, trying to break my reverie before Nicole could catch me staring at her.
“So is detective your end goal?”
“Sure, that or sheriff. I’d love to have the opportunity to run a police department one day.”
“So you’re setting your goals small, I see.” I said mockingly.
She laughed back at me. “I figure that this is the best time to get the advanced degree, before I start working. Keep my options open.” She said.
“You’re a planner,” I said, impressed.
“As far as that goes, yes.”
Just then, Laura called from the kitchen. “Hey everyone, we’re getting ready to make an announcement.” I looked quizzically at Nicole. Then Laura continued. “Can you all join us in the living room.”
She and Mack came back into the living room along with the few others who were also in the kitchen. We were all crowded around, waiting for the couple to begin
“So everyone, Mack and I have an announcement to make.” Laura started, she reached out and took Mack’s hand in her own and squeezed it. Mack spoke up next.
“We invited you here tonight to celebrate a big moment for us. And it has nothing to do with finals. I’m graduating in a couple weeks and I knew I couldn’t let Laura out of my sight when I left the university. So, I asked her to marry me.”
“And I said Yes!” Laura shouted as a roar of cheers erupted in the small room.
I shouted my own congratulations. Laura raised her left hand in the air, and there on her finger was a large diamond ring. I jumped up from the couch to give Laura a big hug. As I held her, I told her how happy I was for her and Mack. I knew they would make a great couple, they already did. Mack was a total teddy bear, a real gentle giant. We sat back down on the couch so I could get a better look at her ring.
“So, how did he ask,” I said, while holding her hand, turning the ring back and forth to see the light catching on the angles of the diamond.
Laura let out a sigh, “It was so romantic,” she began. “He took me out for dinner last week. We’ve been working so hard and he said he wanted to help me relax a bit.”
“Wait!” I interrupted. “You’ve been engaged for a week and you kept it a secret from me?”
“Oh, don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad, I’m impressed. I thought I could read you like a book,” I laughed.
“Do you want to hear the story, or not?” Laura asked.
“My bad.” I held up my hands.
“So, he took me out for dinner. I thought we were going to Nick’s, as usual, but he took me to the new French restaurant on Main Street. I should have guessed that something was up at that point, but he said he wanted to try it before he left. So after dinner, we walked over to campus and wandered over to the quad. He was talking about how he was going to miss this and that. I was thinking to myself, you big dummy, you’re going to be visiting me all the time, right?” She paused.
“Right!” I answered back, still holding Laura’s hand, squeezing it gently before letting go.
“Well, I asked him about that, and he got really cagey. He said something about hoping he didn’t have that excuse to come and visit. And I was like, What!”
I nodded my head following the story.
“I was thinking, is he breaking up with me? I had no idea what was going on.” Laura explained.
“Anyway, I’m panicking and then he got down on one knee and my stomach hit the floor. I swear to God, Waves, I couldn’t breathe. I suddenly knew exactly what was coming, and it felt like the whole world just stopped. My heart was jumping out of my chest…”
At this memory, Laura began to cry and I couldn’t help myself. When someone else is crying, I start to cry, too. She leaned over and we hugged on the couch, weeping. I was so happy for her. She took a deep breath and leaned back squeezing my forearms in her palms.
“Anyway.” She tried to restart, wiping her eyes. “Fucking mascara. I knew I shouldn’t have put any on.”
Nicole reached an arm around my body to hand Laura a Kleenex. I completely forgot she was sitting there. Then she handed a Kleenex to me with a soft smile, and I melted.
I grinned back weakly through my tear-streaked face. God, I though to myself, I must look awful.
Laura placed her hand on my arm, getting my attention back. I turned to face her, using the Kleenex to wipe my eyes, feeling a little more self-conscious with Nicole sitting behind me.
“So Mack was down on one knee, I was having a panic attack, and he said that he hoped he didn’t have a reason to come back to visit because I would go with him after he graduated and marry him. He said he couldn’t live without me that long.” She paused to wipe her eyes again, and I felt the sting of new tears in my eyes. She blew out a hot breath to calm herself.
“Then he said, Laura Elise Baton, will you marry me and make me the happiest guy in the world.” She choked up a bit saying this, and I felt my tears run free again. I’m such a sap.
She hiccuped a bit, continuing, “and I squeaked out a yes, just like this, and, God I was a mess,” She laughed at herself, then looked me in the eyes. “Oh God! I can’t look at you right now.” She looked down at her feet. “I’m crying, you’re crying.” She leaned around me, keeping her hand on my arm. “Pardon me, Nicole. I’m going to steal Waverly away for a bit. We need to clean up.”
Nicole silently nodded and watched as Laura pulled me up and hugged me before leading me down the hall to her bathroom.
Once she closed the door behind us, I asked. “How were you able to keep this under wraps?”
Laura laughed. “I felt like I was going to burst all week.” She admitted. “I’m so glad you came to the party. See, I wasn’t just trying to set you up.” She winked.
“I love you, you know, and Mack. I’m so happy for you.” I said hugging her again.
“Actually, there is another reason I hoped you would be here.” She smiled at me. “I have a question for you, too. Will you be my Maid of Honor?”
My mouth fell open for a few seconds before I squealed out my own yes. I hugged Laura tight, and we hopped around the bathroom, screaming, crying, and laughing.
“Oh my God! This has been the best day ever.” I exclaimed, then taking a bunch of tissues, we began cleaning ourselves up. We giggled like school girls skipping class. We talked about her timeline, what we wanted to do, and who else should be bridesmaids.
When we finally emerged again, the party had taken a turn for the more intoxicated. Laura disappeared back into her room to continue her clean up. Mack and his buddies had all started throwing back shots while making ridiculous toasts. I noticed that Nicole was no longer on the couch. I glanced around the room, hoping to spot her. She was no where to be seen.
Shit! I guessed she was using the other bathroom. I sat back down on the couch and waited for her to return.
Mack looked over at me, “Nicole had to leave, she asked that I say goodbye for her.”
“She left?” I asked trying to keep the panic from my voice. “How long ago?”
My mind was racing back to our last conversation. How was I going to find her now? I was going to ask for her phone number before I left, maybe find an excuse to give her a hug or quick kiss on the cheek. Friends do that, right? But now she was gone and I couldn’t do any of those things. More importantly, I didn’t know her last name, her number, nothing.
Mack replied, “Not long, she just left a few minutes ago.”
“Oh, good,” I tried to sound causal. “Well, I should probably go, too. So much work ahead of me.” I stood and reached out for Mack, “Congratulations. I’m so happy for you both.”
“Thanks, Waves. It meant a lot that you were here.”
I smiled at him. “Say goodbye to Laura, I’m going to see if I can find Nicole outside so I can say goodbye to her in person.”
“Sure,” he smiled.
I grabbed my purse and rushed out the door, silently praying that she would still be in the parking lot. As I got to the bottom step, I quickly looked around for her red hair, but I couldn’t see anyone. I ran out into the middle of the parking lot to scan the cars for red hair. I had no idea what kind of car she drove. My stomach was sinking as I realized that I lost my opportunity to learn anything more about her. Shit! Shit! Shit! Why didn’t I ask for her number when we were sitting together? I held my breath and tried to think of a solution. I could ask Mack or Laura for her number, but then I’d give them the satisfaction of knowing they were right. No, I wasn’t ready to face that. Nicole said she wanted to be a detective. Tomorrow morning, I’d hit the Student Union and do a little detective work of my own.