Saturday, August 26, 2017
Chelsea FC Cobham Training Ground, Cobham, Surrey
“Stop staring, Vic. She has a girlfriend.”
“So? I’m not going to woo her, anyway I just like to watch. That’s it.”
Victoria Chase handed the ball to her teammate Chloe Price and headed to the locker room. The practice was over. She didn’t stop staring, at all, though. Number 16 the newest addition to Chelsea defence was definitely something worth to look at. Doesn’t matter if she cleared the ball, performed the tackle, drink from the bottle or just breath.
“But you’d love to.”
“As you said. She's taken. And even if she wasn't, queen bitch like me won't be her type. And even if it was… whatever. This is all new for me. Watching is more than sufficient.”
Victoria sighed. Frankly, She had no clue what she would love to. It’s only been a couple of months since she finally admitted boys will not do it for her. It’s only been a couple of days since she told her parents, which ended in disaster. Which she kind of expected. She entered the locker room and finally stopped shamelessly ogling Number 16. It was a sacred place. Checking out a shirtless teammate in there was off-limits. She was many things, lots of them she’d discovered only recently, but she wasn’t a creep.
“Did you pick a suitable candidate for a roommate already?”
“No, I didn’t. And find someone else to pester, will you?”
Chloe was more pain in the ass than usual, and even when she meant well, Victoria wasn’t in the mood. She tossed her things to the sports bag, took the towel and hoped the shower will wash away at least some of her pressing issues. Like the desire to look at Number 16 glorious ass. When the water was cooling her heated body situation only worsen. Her thoughts went two weeks back to birthday dinner with her parents.
“You can’t break off the engagement with Nathaniel, Victoria. He’s such a nice guy. He studies at Oxford and his parents--”
“Nate is gay, mother!”
“Every issue can be settled, my dear if there’s a will.”
“As I am! We are both homosexuals. You know. As Elton John or Martina Navrátilová.”
“Martina who? I don’t understand.”
Yeah, Mrs and Mr Chase definitely didn’t understand. Engagement with Nathan Prescott was the last thing that kept them in check. Her football carrier didn’t make them particularly happy, mildly speaking. She had pissed them almost equally with her major choice. Forensic science. Mother couldn’t even spell it correctly. Father refused to pay tuition until she chose a proper major. She had had to work her ass off to get a scholarship. And she had also been successful in deceiving the parents that Nathan is going to live with her, so they had agreed to pay rent till they both studied. While Nate had outmatched his parents the same way and was fucking some fancy boys in Oxford, she had had the place all for herself without a need to take care of expenses. But it wasn’t true anymore.
She slammed the shower wall and pondered if it had been any other way how to act. Maybe she should lie some more, keep engagement intact. Mother and father had believed that because of Nathan, she will drop forensic science and football eventually and go to Oxford. So if she’d lied a bit longer… No, she couldn’t. She knew when she broke it off with him, they’ll lose patience and stop supporting her for good. The gay bomb had been unnecessary, but it felt amazing. For a very brief moment. Father had tried to reason with her. First warning, the tow truck taking away her beautiful Aston Martin was a hit below the belt.
But it only pissed her more and convinced her she’s not going to yield, or moving out from her apartment, even when the rent was expensive as fuck. Not to mention her indulgence in luxury. She didn’t know how, yet but she was about to find a roommate who’ll pay half of the expenses and fix this mess.
“Hey, queen bitch, are you coming or what? Max is here, we can drive you home.”
Chloe shouted from the locker room. Victoria wanted to tell her to fuck off, but without Aston Martin, she had limited options. Use public transport or go with Chloe and her girlfriend Max and listen to the patronising speeches how she should finally pick someone. Some freaking stranger who will share an apartment with her.
“Just give me a sec, loser.”
“Ok. We’ll wait for you in the parking place. Wanker.”
If not for the messy situation, she would shout some more nice words towards Chloe, but it all made her feel drained, so she passed. She just turned down the water, dried herself and put on her fancy clothes. The clothes she maybe won’t be able to afford to buy soon.
“Hi, Vic. Are you alright? You seem troubled.”
Great. It was only her and Number 16 left in the empty locker room. She smiled at Victoria warmly and looked genuinely concerned. It made her nervous. Now, when she stopped pretending she’s someone who she’s not, straight judgemental asshole, she has no clue how to behave around girls. Especially girls who she liked. She had used to be a bitch. The more she had fancied someone, the more bitchy she had been. Defence mechanism. But there was no reason to be like that anymore. Unfortunately, it was the only pattern she was familiar with.
“I-I’m fine. Just exhausted.”
“I heard about your break-up. I’m sorry about that. I’m here for you if you want to talk.”
It wasn’t any effort to get close to Victoria, she was sure of that. Number 16 was just a fellow defender. A normal, kind and friendly person. A person who would never be interested in someone like her.
“It’s fine, really. It wasn’t a bad break up or anything. We just aren’t into the same things. He is into boys I’m into girls. Kind of incompatible.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.”
“Yeah, I tried to pretend I didn’t know either.”
“That’s one more reason I’m here for you if you want to talk.”
“Thanks, but I really have to go.”
“Have a nice day, Vic.”
Victoria smiled and left the locker room. Number 16 and her girlfriend have been together for two years, and everyone knew. Literally. Friends, teammates, coaches. They fucking kissed in the national television broadcasting Danish footballer of the year gala. It sounded like sci-fi. She couldn’t imagine holding hands with a girl in public, thinking about kissing a girl in tv made her sick on her stomach. She has been judged her whole life because of who she was. Rich man’s daughter. And now this infatuation with women that couldn’t be ignored anymore. Fuck. She just wanted to kick some asses on the playfield, wear her Burberry dress and Dior bag in the club and not give a shit what anyone thinks about that. She couldn’t.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Victoria’s apartment, Richmond, London
Chloe and her girlfriend Max had been camping in Victoria’s apartment for the whole evening. Or more specifically on the floor of her living room. Maybe they tried to prepare her for the fact she’s not going to be here alone anymore. Or perhaps they just wanted to piss her. She shouldn’t be such a bitch about this. She knew that. They were trying to help. With her shitty personality, she didn’t even deserve friends like them. It still surprised her sometimes how it all happened. She knew Chloe for years, they played together since she could remember. And had totally hated each other in the beginning. Two stubborn, strong-willed individualities couldn’t have it any other way. Right after they had found a way how to respect each other on the field, it almost had gone to shit quickly after one crazy night. They had won youth league and partied hard and hooked up. It had been the first time Victoria realised her preferences might be different than she had supposed to believe. Of course, it had caused a mess in her head. She avoided Chloe, she lied to herself about the insignificance of the whole encounter and chased boys like her life depended on it instead. Crazy times. And then Chloe’s father had a car accident. Victoria still had no clue how exactly it all happened. That she actually was a human being for once, not the queen bitch and supported Chloe when she needed it the most, but it brought them together again. As friends. Having a friend indeed was one of the most remarkable things in the world. But then Chloe met her long lost friend/lover Max when she attended the college. Victoria liked Max instantly. Well, of course, she pretended she couldn’t stand her. Also accepting the whole lesbian thing between them was a tremendous struggle. Even when they were always cautious in front of her. When Chloe and Max got back together, she felt a whole range of mixed emotions. Jealousy, rage, sadness. She thought she’s going to lose a friend. Instead, she gained a new one. Somehow, they stuck with her. And in the end their sweet gross loving relationship fell into place like one piece of great puzzle and became one of the reasons she finally admitted she cannot pretend anymore. That she cannot marry Nathan Prescott, or any man and she doesn’t have to be a pretentious bitch all the time because of her own frustrations. This realisation supposed to free her and bring her happiness. Yet, it didn’t feel like it recently.
“What about that girl, you talked with, yesterday? This one.”
Chloe beamed and fetch the laptop she was checking to Victoria, who was sitting on the couch, massaging her temples and hoping to wake up from this nightmare.
“Did you see her profile?”
“Yeah, it says she studies medicine. She wants to help people, no? It’s a good thing.”
“When asked about him she said Louis Daguerre is a singer from One Direction.”
“Doesn’t mean she’s a bad person if she doesn’t share your artistic obsession.”
“And her favourite book is 50 shades of Grey.”
“See, she likes colours. Some sense of art at least.”
“Check her profile more thoroughly, Chloe. It suggests she slept, or she wants to sleep with every boy, girl and probably also the stuffed animal in the campus. I don’t want this place to become a brothel. Animal brothel.”
“Ok. Ok. Maybe she’s not the best candidate.”
Victoria was ready to open the bottle of wine and drink it in one shot when Max woke up from her dream world and turned to Chloe.
“What about Steph. You know the Nerd girl. Parents work in the film industry. Best friend of your classmate Mikey. She studies Electrical Engineering, same as you but she’s already couple of steps ahead because she didn’t slack off like...”
“You’re awesome, Max. Steph would be perfect. She shared the place with Mikey and his brother last year but constantly complaint about too much testosterone. She’s on vacation in Italy now. So I think she hasn’t figured the housing situation, yet. I’m calling her.”
Victoria would stop this insanity right away, but it was so unexpected she only could stare in awe. The phone call was very brief, and it seemed this Steph girl was going to accept the offer. The offer that wasn’t even on the table.
“Wait, Chloe, wait!”
Victoria snapped the phone before the deal was sealed.
“As long as it’s a neat and quiet place, where I can focus on my master degree in peace, I don’t care about money. I’m in.”
Initially, she planned to cut the call quickly without any deal, but the voice on the other side was magical. Magical, what a stupid pathetic expression, she thought. But that was precisely the first thought that came to her mind after hearing it. The words neat and quiet also help to melt her bitchy heart. A bit. So instead of politely telling the potential roommate to fuck off, something else happened.
“Good day. I am Victoria. Victoria Chase. The owner. Would you kindly answer a couple of questions first?”
It wasn’t for the debate, and she wasn’t the owner, but this conversation had to stay civil, she’s in charge despite the weird magical power of the voice on the other side.
“Oh, hello. I’m Steph. I can--”
“Do you enjoy a company of stuffed animals?”
“Stuffed animals? I can't say I do.”
“What’s your favourite book?”
“I guess, Gray & Meyer’s Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits. Or, wait… I choose The Art of Electronics from Horowitz and Hill instead.”
Was the girl teasing her, she wondered.
“Fiction. I meant fiction.” She said matter of factly.
“Holly shit in the bucket, could you be more original perhaps?”
“The wonderful wizard of Oz.”
“No kidding, Dorothy.”
“Steph, my name is Steph.”
Was she oblivious or just responded to the sarcasm with much better sarcasm? Victoria was irritated and interested at the same time.
“Who’s Louis Daguerre?” Max and Chloe gave her WTF look because this question definitely was unfair.
“The guy who exposed a thin silver-plated copper sheet to the vapour given off by iodine crystals, producing a coating of light-sensitive silver iodide on the surface… and seized the light? I guess.”
“ So is that an answer or a question?”
“Are you asking these questions every potential candidate?”
“SHE DOES!” Chloe shouted before Victoria could react, which resulted in the middle finger pointed her way.
“Did someone answer correctly?”
“Are there any more questions?”
There was something about this girl. She was amusing. In a weird way. She wasn’t stupid and had a sense of art. Sort of. And sought for neat and quiet. She reminded Victoria of Chloe. Minus rebellion without the cause element and neat and quiet. Damn it! The possibility she'll find someone better was equal to zero.
“So are you interested?”
“Do you have a bathtub?”
“Are you interested?”
“If you have a bathtub.”
“Too bad, Dorothy. We could be perfect roommates. But I only have a whirlpool tub. Bye, then.”
“Wait. Wait, Victoria Chase, the owner. I’m interested.”
Victoria felt back on the horse. Even when she wasn’t straight judgemental bitch anymore, she still had what it takes to be a queen.
“I’ll email you the details. When you can move in?”
“September the 4th. But my dad would bring my stuff on 1st.”
“Alright. Don’t forget about neat and quiet. That’s the main rule here.”
“I thought it’s no stuffed animals.”
“That too, smartass.”
“Have a nice evening, Landlady. I am looking forward to meeting you.”
“Wish I could say the same, Princess of Oz.”
Victoria handed the phone back to Chloe, who bore smug expression. As she just solved the world biggest mystery. Even when it was actually Max, who brought Steph in.
“Don’t grin like that. If she pisses me, I kick her out. And I’ll kick you in the shin.”
“And then what? Sell all your Dior bags? I just save your ass. And your precious bags.”
“If I remember correctly, it was your precious girlfriend suggestion that saved my precious bags. Temporarily.”
Max said, took Chloe by hand and dragged her to the hallway.
“Come on, Captain Chloe. Our job is done here.”
Chloe gave Max a light peck and looked at Victoria one last time.
“And I have a bonus for you. Steph is a lesbian. If you’ll be nice, she can give you a handful of advices. She definitely knows how to get a girl. Her girlfriend is Elite look model who works in Milan.”
They left, and she sighed. She didn’t need any guidance. She wasn’t about to make a move on anybody anytime soon. Watching was pretty much enough for her.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Victoria’s apartment, Richmond, London
“This one is good, Vic.”
“No, shit, Max. And you’re supposed to be the new rising star of photography? It’s rubbish.”
“Alright, It’s rubbish. Satisfied?”
Victoria grabbed all photos spread on her kitchen table and tossed them where they belonged. In the trash. She had taken them the other day in Westminster. She believed a little photo shooting diminish the overwhelming feeling of anxiety that was appearing a lot recently. But it didn’t. Football always worked for her when she needed to release some steam, to be wild and ferocious. Photography had the opposite effect. It always calmed her. There were times when she dreamt about her pics in some big gallery. Like real art. Although she had many nasty personality traits, thankfully stupidity wasn't one of them. She figured out her cold, bitchy heart and self-discipline can make her a great footballer but never an outstanding photographer. She didn’t have what it takes to be an artist. Sensibility. Like Max, for example. That’s why she didn’t choose photography for her major and picked forensic science instead. She found it amusing that her pictures of crime scenes will help catch criminals, eventually. Her photos will definitely affect people's lives. Just not the way she had imagined.
“Hey, what’s bothering you?”
“Except your girlfriend occupying my couch, eating my food playing on my console? Nothing, really.”
“I heard you,” Chloe shouted.
“I hope you did and take your lazy ass somewhere else.”
“Is this about Steph?”
“Your new roommate who is going to move in on Monday.”
“Fuck, I forgot it’s almost the time. Thx, Max. Now I will think about this shit, too.”
“So what are those other shits you’re thinking about so hard you can’t even take one solid picture.”
“It supposed to make me feel better to admit it, but it didn’t. Hell, I feel like crap most of the times.”
“And you are talking about?”
“I don’t want to be a lesbian.”
“Oh. Is there any particular reason why?”
“Because it complicates everything.”
“Like everything, for fuck sake. I don’t even know how to recognise those of my kind. What if I hit on someone who’s heterosexual?”
“She rejects you. No big deal.”
“No one rejects Victoria Chase!”
“I thought your I’m the queen of the universe period was over.” Chloe joined the conversation again.
“Some piece of garbage on my couch can speak. How marvellous.”
“Vic, calm down. If this bothers you I can assure you, there are places we can visit, where are plenty of girls that are our kind.”
“What about the door or jacket?”
“What about--- what?”
“Who holds the door for who and who gives the jacket to who if there is too cold when both are girls. Who?”
“And what if she would want to hold my hand in public. Shit. I don’t want that. Everyone will look at us.”
“No one will care. Besides, you don’t have to hold hands in public if you don’t feel like it. Some couple don’t do that, no matter if there are two girls or boy and girl or--”
“And what about the wedding?”
“You are really wrecked, aren’t you? From I will not hold her hand to a wedding in less than three seconds. Anyway, same-sex marriage is legal in England, you know..”
“I’m talking about proposal. Who proposes who? It’s so confusing. Everything. Why things can’t be simple? Where I learn about these shits?”
“It’s not something you should learn about, it’s how you feel it. You and your future girlfriend or wife. When the time will come, when you'll meet her, you'll know what to do. Maybe don’t be bothered by that, yet. Just try something easy. Hook-up or dating. No one marries the first person they meet.”
“Bullshit. I bet you’ll do. Besides, this is so easy for you to say. You and your lowlife girlfriend are fucking soulmates. One of a kind. Childhood best friends became lovers and lived happily forever after.”
“It was anything but easy for us, Vic. I hurt Chloe in more ways you can imagine. I didn't know if she would take me back if she’s ever loved me in the first place. I had to fight for her. And I would do it again thousands of times. It took me a long time to understand, but she's my number one priority.”
“And you are mine.”
Chloe appeared next to Max and suddenly look all tender and vulnerable. It wasn’t something one could see often. Victoria was sure they would kiss if she wasn’t there but respected her state of utter loneliness and just stared at each other lovingly. Like forever, until Chloe turned to her.
“And you Vic, you’ll find special someone, too. And the fact that it’ll be a woman won’t change anything. But Max is right, just take it easy. One step at the time. Don’t be bothered by jackets and door or for fuck sake proposal. Try to grab a coffee with a girl first. No need to hold her hand, right away. Or try it with a couple of different ones and all those other things will come naturally.”
“Well, if an asshole like you found a perfect girl like Max, there is definitely a chance for me, too.”
Victoria chuckled and felt her eyes watering. She would swear Chloe wanted to react, but instead, they both hugged her tightly.
“I hate you guys. I hope you know that.”
She muttered, and a felt a lot better.
“Don’t you think it’s becoming hot in here? And I mean really hot.”
Chloe was first who left the triple hug and looked severe.
“We told her to grab a coffee with a girl first, isn’t it too soon to even joke about threesome, love?”
Max didn’t sound amused.
“Oh, babe I didn’t mean… You two don’t feel it? I lower the temperature at air-condition console three times and despite that this place is becoming hotter and hotter.”
Victoria rolled her eyes. She was happy and calmer for two seconds. If air-condition really was broken, life had a funny way how to screw up with her.