Every Saturday at 7pm Myka’s best friend Pete would pick her up for their regularly scheduled date. Her mom’s smile would be broader than normal and her father’s looks a little sterner as her boyfriend waited in the front room for her to come downstairs.
(Six more months and she’d be through with school and out on her own. Mr. Nielson had already promised her a full time position as his assistant and Claudia’s sister would be moving out of the apartment they shared when Clare got married in the spring. It would be perfect.)
They drove into the city and caught each other up on their week. Pete was a couple of years older and worked as a firefighter in Brooklyn. He was saving up to buy a place of his own so he lived at the fire station and a small efficiency near his job. They talked about her school, he shared stories of the week at the station and they both cursed the Yankee’s for their luck in the playoffs.
By 7:45 they had reached Fredric’s Diner where they always had a late supper. One of Pete’s friends worked there with his sister and mother. It would pass down to Buck and Leena when their mother retired.
She greeted Buck with a hug and waved at Mrs. Fredric, the owner, in the kitchen. She turned away briefly as Pete kissed his girlfriend Leena hello, promising to pick her up after he dropped Myka off.
“I’m going to ask her to marry me,” Pete eye’s followed Leena as she waited on a table behind them. “Soon.”
“Have you told your parents?” she asked.
“They’ll flip,” Pete sighed. “Dad went off last week about the Freedom Riders and all the trouble they caused this year. And how Kennedy was a dirty Catholic that would give in to those,” he paused, uncomfortable and embarrassed.
“I’m so sorry,” Myka took his hand. “I know exactly how you feel.”
“Thanks,” he sighed. “At least there’s hope,” he looked over at Leena again with love in his eyes. “Things are changing. Leena was telling me about this preacher from Georgia who’s really stirring things up.” He looked over at his friend. “Your time will come too.”
“I hope so,” she replied.
“I know it will,” he gave her his best grin. “Ready to blow this joint?”
With a wave to the Fredric family they headed out into the night.
Myka was quiet during the rest of the trip, thinking about the changes Pete had brought up and not for the first time thinking about her situation.
She was so wrapped up in her thoughts she didn’t notice the car slowing to a stop.
“We’re here,” Pete said softly. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I’ll see you at midnight.”
The Shirelles were playing when she walked into the bar. The front was packed with so many bodies it took her several minutes to make her way to the back room where her love was waiting.
“You’re late. Is everything okay?”
“It is now,” Myka pulled the other woman into an embrace. “I missed you Helena.”
“I missed you too love,” Helena pushed an errant curl from Myka’s face. “Would you like a drink?”
“Later,” Myka lead her onto the dance floor. “Right now I’d just like to hold you in my arms. Is that okay?”
“Always,” Helena leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on Myka’s lips.
They danced through several songs, both slow and fast, as the dance floor filled. Eventually they made their way to the bar for a drink and some water.
“Helena,” Myka gasped as the other woman kissed her neck. They were out back in the alley behind the bar.
“Take me somewhere,” Myka inhaled sharply.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Myka nodded. “I’m ready. And it’s already quarter past ten so there isn’t much time.”
It wasn’t the first time they’d been together and Myka hoped it wouldn’t be the last. She’d met Helena by chance one day at school. She was here from London studying engineering but her love of literature had brought her to the small library in the English building. Myka was covering for a classmate at the front desk when Helena had walked up with a handful of books.
She was the most beautiful woman Myka had ever seen.
But Helena would be graduating at the end of the semester and in their many months together they’d never talked about the future.
They walked quietly towards the late night pizza place where they would meet Pete.
“So I have news,” Helena glanced over at her silent companion.
Myka’s heart raced. This was it.
“Good or bad?”
“It depends,” Helena gave a small smile.
“My plan was to return to England after I graduate. To work with my father and brother at the family firm.” She began.
“Oh,” Myka cut her off. Her chest became incredibly tight. “Well good for you.” She choked out.
Helena stopped walking, and after a quick glance either direction, took a step closer to Myka.
“That was the plan,” she looked up, meeting watery eyes, “but I’ve found work at a small firm here in New York. The pay is awful to start but there’s room for growth. More importantly, it keeps me here. With you. If that’s all right?”
“You got a crappy job here to stay with me?” Myka couldn’t believe her ears.
“Yes,” Helena smiled. “I know that you’re graduating in the spring and I was hoping…”
Myka didn’t look before pulled Helena into a searing kiss. Luckily for them the street was deserted.
Helena chuckled. “You didn’t even hear my question.”
“It doesn’t matter, my answer is yes.”
Pete turned on the radio for the drive home. She could tell his date with Leena had gone well by the grin on his face.
“Good night,” she asked.
“Great night,” he beamed. “And you?”
“Oh I love this song,” Pete reached down to turn the radio up. The sound of The Shirelles filled the car.