“B-13!” Mercy Mia sounded off at the head of the room. Ellie looked up at her friend, Mercury Martin. His lips were a dark red tonight with an edge of gloss with liner to bring out the shape. He had shadowed eyes that added sultry to the girl next door, and his cheeks brushed with enough color for the added drama. He had on his favorite sequenced form fitting dress. Also red. And she knew underneath the table he had on a pair of five-inch heeled shoes by one of his favorite designers, Manolo Blahnik. His breasts were hiked up and sitting proud. She wished she had that much cleavage. Add the bigger than Everest hair, and you had the perfect drag queen. Ellie couldn’t help but smile.
Ellie snickered as Merc told another dick joke in between number calling and Merc’s boyfriend, sitting next to her, snorted every time Merc looked over. They’d recently moved in together. They were adorable.
“Unlucky,” Ellie shouted at her friend and frowned. She blotted the letter/number on her bingo sheet.
“Suck it up, sister!” Merc yelled back.
Ellie smiled at her friend again. She stuck her tongue out at him. Mercury was one of her best friends and forced her to come out to drag queen bingo. She’d been hiding too long for his taste he’d told her.
She sighed. Her apartment was like a living dirge swallowing her up like a grave, and she was starting to resemble a vampire.
“G-7,” Mercy Mia called out.
Ellie slammed the blotter on the empty space on her card. She’d sat an hour already, and she was no closer to getting bingo.
“Honey,” Merc’s significant other Jackson said, “I don’t think your game board can take any more.”
She looked over at him. “Serves it right for not giving me any winning squares.” She looked at her board. Empty. Like her life.
Jackson was the total opposite of Merc. He was short and fit, muscular in all the right places. Though five foot ten wasn’t considered short to her, it just was short compared to Merc’s six foot four. Jackson wore a tailored suit of dark blue and a pair of trousers that fit and held him just right as they tapered down to his ankles. He’d just taken off his jacket, and the light azure shirt hugged his chest like it was a breast plate. How did he get it to look like that she wondered? He looked scrumptious.
Too bad he was of the man-loving-honey-bunches-of-oats-kind and wasn’t single. She would totally try for some of him. Though lately, she wasn’t of the man-loving-honey-bunches-of-oats-kind either. With each relationship tried, she felt something missing. There were orgasms, but they lacked that wow factor that all her other friends talked about. At 25 she’d think she’d have had an earth-shattering sex partner. A little voice seemed to be knocking at her subconscious more and more, letting her know she had to stop denying the truth about her sexuality. It was getting harder and harder to ignore.
She set down her blotter when the next letter-number was called out. She didn’t want to play anymore. Ellie wanted to go straight back to bed and bury herself under the covers like she’d done all week and enjoy some mint chocolate chip ice cream and then enjoy even more her B.O.B. battery operated boyfriend. If she couldn’t find someone to interest her tonight, she would do just that.
Ellie got up. “I’m going to get a drink.” And it would be a hard one, not the soft ones served on the bingo side of the building.
The venue for drag queen bingo was a renovated church, from saints to sinners. Its space was adjacent to the main part of the church, or the nave, and could fit enough tables to hold a banquet. There was a bar in the back that served only juice concoctions. But what was great about the place, it was lit up like a dance club. There was a disco ball that flashed different lights, sections that had high tables along with a glammed up wait staff that rivaled Mercy Mia’s in the bling department. The bar did up the drinks like guests were on a tropical island, and held several contests throughout the night.
The best part, though, the nave next door was an actual nightclub that catered to all kinds. Gay, straight, lesbian, transgender; name it, it was here. No judging anyone’s preference. It just was. Ellie loved the place and had often come until her last break up. Hidden under all the sheen that was Justin, was a prick in a suit, who, once she peeled away his outer layer had been the biggest judging asshole she’d ever met. She’d brought her to an event that Merc and Jackson were hosting and all he’d contributed was disdain for her friends.
She crossed over the threshold into Club One and got blasted with base and the image of gyrating bodies. She easily picked up the beat with her hips as she walked into the space, the sound hitting her body, and rippling over her skin. Ellie loved to dance and decided she would stay awhile and see if she couldn’t find someone to rub up against. Merc was right, she needed to stop moping around her apartment and join the living again.
Sidling up to the bar leaning her elbows on the smooth mahogany surface she waited for the bartender’s attention to turn her way. She relaxed into the sultry techno number that had just transitioned from the heavy base and let the beat take her as she waited, knowing that the bartender would come over as soon as she could.
Not realizing she had closed her eyes and was swaying, Ellie was startled by the bright and cheerful voice that greeted her. “What can I get you?”
Ellie stared at the girl in front of her, the drink she wanted to order on the edge of her tongue.
The woman smiled, and Ellie stumbled over her drink order. “A cos-cosmopolitan,” she said. Stunning was not a word she would use when describing a woman, but this one had made something light up inside Ellie tingling across her sex like a sparkler anxiously waiting for its lighting. Flashing a smile, the woman walked away backward to make her drink, and Ellie’s eyes couldn’t help but follow the woman’s hips. Tight fitting, low-rise jeans hugged the bartender’s ass as the curves of her waist moved gracefully up to just under her breasts, her shirt short enough to allow a peek of pale freckled skin. And then she turned away. Ellie licked her lips and then sucked in a breath that sent an unsure quiver up her spine.
What was she doing ogling the woman? She liked men. But as soon as the thought entered her mind she knew it was time to stop denying what she’d known a long time. Her head fell back, and she focused on the cathedral ceiling, blew out a slow controlled breath trying to sort out her thoughts.
In college, she had sometimes looked at some of the girls in her classes wondering, what if, but nothing ever made her body react giving her a nice buzz like this bartender. But neither had the guys she’d met or dated for that matter. What was it about this woman?
Ellie watched her work. Her delicate fingers, polished in a black glaze, plucked the bottles she needed off the back bar as her hips swayed to the rhythm that was shaking the walls of the old church. She twirled, poured, and flipped the liter bottles with aplomb to the delight of the crowd, the stream of liquor entering the shot glasses. The ice was next in the shaker and then she put the lid on, did her thing, next pouring the alcohol mixture into a martini glass. Her head turned, and the woman’s eyes flashed over at Ellie and Ellie’s nipples got hard. Ellie leaned forward trying to get closer, waiting, her breasts aching as they pressed against the bar.
The bartender didn’t take her locked gaze off Ellie as she came closer and set the drink down in front of her. She waited. Ellie didn’t dare move. She didn’t want to break the connection, but the woman moved her hand toward the drink and traced a bead of moisture down the stem of the glass and slid it closer to Ellie, and said one word. “Drink.”
With an unsteady hand, Ellie reached for the drink, her fingers brushing the bartenders. Time seemed to slow and then stop as skin met skin. Her breaths roared in her ears, and her chest hurt with each short puff like she’d just run a marathon. She was so turned on by this woman, never experiencing anything like the energy that their contact caused. And it went straight to all her delicate places. And then things started to move again, the woman smiling and walking away to make another drink.
Ellie sat and watched the bartender, nervous and confused, her knee tapping irregular rhythms as it bounced. She would catch the woman glance at her, making sure Ellie was still there. At least that’s what Ellie imagined. Or hoped. Would she come back over and talk to her? What would Ellie say?
She was looking down at her now empty glass when her eyes snapped up at being addressed. “What’s your name?” The bartender asked.
Suddenly her mouth went dry, and it was hard to speak. She picked up her glass and put it back down realizing again that she’d drank it all. She licked her dry lips.
“Ellie,” she said. But it was so soft the bartender had to lean in to hear, which brought her even closer, so close that their lips were almost touching.
“My names Sabrina.”
Ellie blinked and nodded, the woman’s minty breath dancing across her lips making Ellie’s insides quiver and her need grow even more. Did she have the courage to ask this woman to spend time with her after her shift?
As she was contemplating what she would say, Sabrina came back and set another drink in front of her. “This one is on the house.” Before she moved away, Sabrina reached out and touched her fingers that had the stem of the glass in a death grip. Ellie opened her mouth to say something, anything to keep her close but Sabrina moved away before she could.
The night grew later, and Ellie kept herself seated. She saw Merc and Jackson come in. They waved and went straight to the dance floor. Merc had changed and was now in a nice pair of denim and a t-shirt, always more casual than Jackson. She turned to watch them for a while. She was happy for Mercury, and desperately wanted to find what he had with Jackson.
Ellie turned back around and saw Sabrina talking to another woman at the end of the bar, leaning in, reaching out to touch the woman’s hand, and Ellie frowned. Did Sabrina do this to every woman that came to the bar? Was Sabrina even interested in Ellie? And then she saw Sabrina kiss the woman’s cheek. Ellie’s shoulders slumped, and she pushed her empty drink away.
Maybe it was just Ellie that nobody was interested in. Her mint chocolate chip ice cream was looking a whole lot better. She pulled out some money from her pocket and threw it on the bar. Before Sabrina looked this way, Ellie made her way over to her friends and said goodbye. She was tired of trying so hard trying to find what the universe was putting out there for her.
“I’m going to go home,” she yelled in Merc’s ear.
“Okay,” he said, his eyes narrowing and his lips pinching. She could tell he was worrying, but there was nothing Ellie could do to ease his concern. Ellie just needed more time to come to terms with her unlucky life.
“Don’t forget, Jackson and I will be at your house tomorrow at eleven.” He gave her a hug and kissed her on the lips.
Jackson turned to her and caressed her cheek in an unexpected gesture. He got close enough that she could feel his lips on her cheek and whispered right in her ear, “Everything will be okay.”
Will it? She wondered, waved, and walked away. She looked one more time over to the bar and unexpectedly caught Sabrina’s eyes. She turned away from the woman’s look of confusion toward the door and decided she would just ride out the storm that was brewing inside her. Things were going to have to change if she was going to find her happy. But she would think about that tomorrow.
When she woke up to the banging on her front door, she curled her head under her pillow and yelled, “Go away!” Of course, she knew it was Merc at the door, and he wouldn’t wait for her to get up. And sure, enough he didn’t.
“Rise and shine sleepy head,” he said from the front room after he used the key she’d given him.
She grumbled and started moving when the bed bounced up and down with Mercury’s weight.
“Give me a minute asshole.”
“I’ll make coffee, pumpkin.”
“Don’t call me pumpkin, jerk!”
He laughed some more, and she heard him talking to Jackson.
She moved sloth-like toward the bathroom and finally felt human again after a quick clean up in the bathroom. She put on a pair of her favorite skinny jeans that were so soft they felt like leggings, rolled them up a little at the bottom and then got out a bohemian flowy top to go with it. It was a bluish red color that highlighted her brown wavy hair. The keyhole at the collar showed off what cleavage she, which she knew could be more, but she wasn’t willing to go under the knife to get it. She grabbed her most comfortable wedges because she didn’t feel like looking like she’d woken up from a binge on mint chocolate chip ice cream, which she had, or the marathon of Game of Thrones she watched because she needed the violence to get her mind off romance. To finish off her look, she grabbed some bangle bracelets and lip gloss and called it done.
When she walked into the kitchen, she caught Merc and Jackson in the most romantic clutch and couldn’t help her envious thoughts. She shook her head to remind herself she’d decided the previous night, while downing more ice cream, she’d leave her lot up to destiny and asked, “So, what’s the plan? Where are we going?”
“We’re heading up the coast to check out a wine tour at a converted Monastery.”
“Well, that sounds fun. Wine, sun, monks.” She laughed.
“No monks, but definitely wine. We’re determined to get you out of your funk.”
“Okay, I’m ready.” She was unsure another outing would get her out of her funk, but she would let Merc and Jackson try.
When they got to the monastery, now called The Monk Monastery Winery, the beauty of the place floored her. The campus the monastery sat on was huge, the grounds were lush with flowers, and it was so peaceful she wanted to stay forever.
They walked into the main entrance, and the man at the front desk nodded and said for them to proceed to the right.
“Gorgeous.” She couldn’t stop looking around.
The architecture was right out of something you’d find in Spain. High ceilings like Club One, stone walls, gorgeous wood carvings and a stone floor that made her feel like she’d just stepped into another world. She took another step, and her foot landed wrong in her wedge. She heard Jackson call out and try to grab her hand, but it was too late. Ellie took a header right done a set of stairs grabbing the rail causing her ankle to twist in the wrong direction. Her last thought before her head hit the floor was at least in was only a set of three stairs.
Groaning filled her ears and then she figured out it was her pained voice she was hearing. She lifted her hand to feel her head and winced with the pain. Ellie noticed she wasn’t on the floor anymore and there was a floral scent that surrounded her. They must be near one of the pretty gardens. Christ her head hurt.
She shifted to sit up.
“Go slow, baby girl,” Merc said. Hands helped her sit up, but they weren’t Mercury’s or Jackson’s. And they weren’t the man’s she saw at the entrance.
“Ellie, are you okay?”
She turned slowly afraid she heard things that weren’t real because she hit her head so hard. The hands that had helped her sit up didn’t let go. They held her firm but gentle all at the same time.
The woman from the bar.
Ellie blinked. Was she in a dream?
She looked at her friends. They didn’t say much, but watched her as she couldn’t form words. Ellie looked back at Sabrina.
“Hi, Ellie. Are you okay? You hit your head pretty hard.” Sabrina moved her hand off Ellie’s arm and gently touched the side of Ellie’s head. Her delicate fingers Ellie watched make drinks the night before made her skin tingle again as they danced across her temple.
“I’m, I’m fine,” she said with a nervous but giddy feeling in her stomach as she smiled so big it made her wince again. Ellie didn’t know what the universe was trying to tell her, but she sure as hell liked what had landed in her lap. Or should she say who’s lap she landed in.
Mercury and Jackson kept glancing over while they whispered to each other and smiled like the devil’s she knew they could be.
“What are you doing here?” Ellie asked.
“Second job,” Sabrina said and shrugged. “Why’d you disappear last night,” she said but too quickly closed her mouth and looked away. Where was the confident seductress she’d seen at the bar last night?
Ellie didn’t know what to say since she’d never been interested in a woman before, so she kept quiet.
Sabrina turned back to her, and that heat that Ellie had experienced at the club came rushing back. She could see the same flare go up in Sabrina too, but neither of them responded to the other. They both jumped as if guilty of something when Merc and Jackson came back over.
“You okay to still do the tour?” Merc asked her. Ellie nodded noting there wasn’t as much pain gripping her head anymore. “You hit your head, but you didn’t black out, so I don’t think we need to cart you off to the emergency room or anything.”
Jackson frowned at Merc, but Ellie reaffirmed she was okay.
“Okay then,” Sabrina said. “Come with me.” As she stood up, she took hold of Ellie’s arms and helped her up. They were so close front to front that if she leaned in just enough their lips would touch and she’d get the first taste of a woman she’d ever had. Her mind went to all kinds of places with the image and as their chests bumped they nearly fell onto the small settee that she’d evidently been laid out on after she fell. As they stumbled and then righted themselves, Ellie took a step back and smiled.
“Lead the way,” she said and motioned with her arm to Sabrina. Sabrina smiled at her and Ellie returned it with one of her own. Ellie was looking forward to the tour, and she had a feeling she was really, really going to like it.