“Would you like a drink?” Laura’s voice carries over as she makes her way to the kitchen. Bradley’s stuck in the living room, transfixed, feet feeling like they’re held down by lead weights as she watches Laura reach for two wine glasses. Laura turns back to look at her, tilting her head. “Wine, water…”
“I think I’d like a red, thank you.”
“Red, it is.”
Bradley can’t take her eyes off of the side table where the vase she broke had been previously sitting. She still feels fucking horrible about it, so much so that she wants to jump out of her own skin, but other than feeling sorry for the sheer vileness of breaking somebody else’s furniture, she just feels embarrassed. Losing her shit in front of Laura, the journalist Laura Peterson, and taking it out on an innocent, inanimate object. She supposes it’s something so Bradley that it’s pretty much a defining characteristic of her now -- anger, seething red hot in the face until she’s having a screaming match and punching the air.
Laura didn’t deserve it.
In hindsight, Bradley knew that now.
It had only been 24 hours without Laura and for all of those long hours, she’d thought about apologizing. A five-second dead air on a test screening, about some shots of espresso, and several I’m sorry drafts later, she finally made it in front of Laura’s house with a kind of audacity she didn’t think she had in her.
I guess you’ll have to find some other woman’s vases to break then .
She doesn’t want to.
Bradley’s yet to come to terms with her sexuality -- it’s a long process (apparently, if her one quick google search earlier in the morning wasn’t lying), and she doesn’t think she can do it so soon. Not yet. She doesn’t know if she wants other women, wants to kiss them senseless and break their vases, but all she knows is this: she wants Laura. Desires her, even, that it makes Bradley backtrack on all of it for a few seconds. It’s an intensity of emotion that has no business being placed outside of a classic romance novel, but it’s there now. Living somewhere in Bradley’s stupid, broken heart, and all she wants to do is to nourish it -- hold Laura’s hand, wine and dine her.
How do gay women even do this?
She’s decades late to the game, but she’s willing to try. And she’s going to be fucking good at it.
Laura comes back to the living room with two wine glasses and a bottle in hand, expression softer than Bradley had expected. She expected some hostility, some sharpness that always came hand-in-hand with Laura, but she’s there leading Bradley to go sit down on the couch with gentle hands as she poured them both a drink.
“So.” Bradley bites her lip.
“You came back.” Laura remarks over the sound of the wine splashing onto the glass. Bradley takes it once offered, downing a rather big gulp. She’s shaking a little, but not too much that it’s noticeable to Laura, or at least she hopes so.
“I did. I, uh--” Her mind goes blank, as if all of the pages she’d memorized and bulleted off the top of her head got erased -- slate wiped clean. Come fucking on. “I came to say that I’m sorry.”
“You already said that a while ago.”
“Well, then, I’m saying it again. Jesus, Laura.” Bradley shakes her head, taking a deep breath. If she’s going to do this, she’s going to do it right. She finishes the rest of the glass with haste and sets it down on the table. “I did… I did some reflection. And before you say anything, please let me finish.”
Laura just blinks at her, nodding inconspicuously and Bradley takes that as the green light.
“I am a pain in the ass. I did say that. I get angry, I explode-- often , and that’s probably why everybody fucking hates me. So when you told me that I was repressed I just… I just lost it. Deep down, on some fundamental level, I knew that what you were saying was right. Forty years of spending their life in West Virginia is bound to give anybody some form of repression one way or another. I just didn’t think I’d have some sort of internalized…”
“Homophobia?” Laura supplies.
“I told you no talking.” Bradley cuts her off with a glare before sighing when she remembers that she’s supposed to be apologizing. Laura smiles at this so gently, clearly amused, and Bradley almost misses it when she blinks. “Sorry. Yes. Internalized… that. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I had an abortion at fifteen. Fifteen . I’m as open-minded as one could be. So I thought.. I thought I was too old to be repressing some form of homosexuality.”
Laura’s voice switches to something softer, a little kinder. “You could never be too old for that.”
“I know that, now. That’s what I’m trying to say. I understand that I’m not exactly straight, and I don’t know where my attraction to other women lies in all of this, if it even exists at all but--” Bradley pauses, locking her gaze with Laura’s. “I do know that I like you. And that I’m attracted to you. And that I want to keep doing this. With you.”
Laura’s face remains unreadable, and all Bradley wants to do is hold her close and keep apologizing until it fixes the very fragile, young thing that Bradley broke. Laura takes one tiny sip of her drink, the first one she’d taken that night, and Bradley’s impressed she even got through to her rather embarrassing, huge, emotional dump without taking at least a swig of it. She sets it down the table before taking Bradley’s hands and holding them with hers, thumbing little circles on the back of them so gently that Bradley feels like she might actually cry. Laura’s hands are colder than hers, and it does nothing but make her even more nervous.
Her eyes hold Bradley’s for a lingering instant before Bradley sees it -- a smile. A small one, but it’s a smile nonetheless. She could never expect anything more from Laura. If this is all she had to say, then it would be enough.
“So you like me, huh?” Mirth dances around her eyes so mischievously that Bradley almost takes all of it back instantly. Laura’s smile grows by tenfold now, until it reaches her eyes and the years crease over them. She’s so beautiful.
Bradley chuckles, shaking her head and biting her lip in the process. She doesn’t take her hand away from Laura’s. She only squeezes them tighter, intertwines them together through each finger until she’s certain that Laura’s hand had warmed enough from the contact. “That’s all you got from that?”
“That, and the mere fact that I got you to say sorry.” Laura grins. “Bradley Jackson apologizing. I might have to call YDA, tell them about this explosive insider knowledge I have.”
“You’re enjoying this too much.” At this, a willingly defeated, wonky smile spreads across Bradley’s face. Laura’s closer now, inching closer and closer until all Bradley can smell is the heady scent of her perfume -- all old spice and wood, mixed with the wine in her breath. It’s making her feel dizzy, and in the good, toe-curling way she’d found always came with Laura’s increasing proximity.
Bradley’s breath hitches, because Laura Peterson just has that effect on her. She’s sexy and incredibly smart and has the kind of smile that makes Bradley’s heart flutter so firmly that they’re practically mini-heart murmurs. Right now, at this moment, that’s exactly what Bradley’s heart is doing. Flip-flopping embarrassingly all over the place, and Laura probably knows it. With the way she’s staring down at Bradley, desire painted all over her face, it’s like she knows that Bradley would drop everything for her in a heartbeat if she’d asked to.
Infuriatingly enough, she doesn’t close the gap between them, instead she keeps them so close and yet so far away for some taut moments before she pulls away. The spell is broken, Bradley is once again Bradley, and she can finally fucking breathe.
“You’re horrible.” Bradley narrows her eyes at the brunette, who’s currently chuckling as she moves away from the couch to retrieve the paper bag Bradley had given her a few moments ago.
“Did you really get me a $300 gift card for my one vase?” Laura plucks out the card in question, examining it. “How would a person who lives in a hotel quite possibly know about a niche furniture shop downtown?”
Bradley shrugs, recalling her frantic morning where she’d stormed in and out of control and dressing rooms, asking people where the fuck do rich people buy their furniture? . “I had some help.”
“Well…” Laura smiles sheepishly as she makes her way back to the couch, and Bradley almost loses her mind when Laura suddenly sits down on her lap and loops her arms behind her neck. “Would it make you feel better if I say I got it at IKEA?”
“How would you know that?”
“I don’t think you’d put anything under the price range of a hundred dollars anywhere near your decor.”
Laura shrugs. “I do when I have crazy women who have tendencies on breaking furniture coming over my house.”
Bradley uses her hands for something better as she moves them from the couch and right on Laura’s waist. She pulls her closer, until Laura’s face is only a few daunting inches away. “You have other crazy women over?” She asks, finding the space where Laura’s shirt separates from her pants and uses that so that her hand glides across the skin on her back. She feels Laura shiver against her, and it only goads her further on. She traces upward, fingers only grazing against the skin lightly as she traces where Laura’s spine juts out.
“Just you.” The brunette breathes, clearly enjoying Bradley’s ministrations, before she finally swoops down and pulls Bradley into a searing kiss.
And, yeah, Bradley could get used to this.