Elish parked her Mondeo as close to her office as possible. The rain was coming down hard this Monday morning, the night had been hot and muggy, offering one of the few times when air conditioning would actually be useful in this part of the world. El hoped the rain would help clear the air. Grabbing her briefcase, she opened the car door, umbrella in hand, ready for the dash into the community centre. Shaking the excess raindrops from her umbrella, she made her way through the glass doors and into the shelter of the building.
Upon her arrival El noticed that Brenda had her head buried in paperwork. Deciding not to let any awkwardness hang between them throughout the day, she made her way up to the reception desk.
"Ah, morning Elish." Was the slightly mumbled reply.
"About the party…" El noted that Brenda couldn't maintain any kind of eye contact with her, so decided to make this quick and painless. "I'm sorry about the…you know.'
Brenda nodded, "And I'm sorry about…" Brenda was unable to complete her sentence. El watched the red blush creeping up Brenda's neck, as her eyes darted around, again wanting to settle on anything but El.
"Good. So we're…Good? Yeah?" Brenda nodded furiously. "Right…I'll see you later then?"
Again Brenda nodded, "Yeah, sure." It was painfully clear that the girl was suffering more with every second that El remained in her presence, so a quick exit was the only option left for both of them. Once inside her office El closed the door and let out a long sigh while rubbing her temples. Damn, that didn't go as planned, she thought.
Elish spent the next three hours in her office trying valiantly to go about her normal routine. She found herself all too frequently distracted with thoughts of the weekend and occasionally daydreaming about a certain green-eyed blonde and entertaining the idea of taking a trip to the butchers. After finding her thoughts yet again wandering towards seeing Aisling, Elish gave up her attempts to concentrate on her work and headed off to the kitchen in search of a cup of coffee. She took a moment to look out into the car park through the kitchen window. The rain was still falling heavily, but the thing that El noticed most was the lack of a silver Mercedes. Elish was slightly disturbed to realise that not seeing Aisling's car was more depressing than the miserable weather.
Elish pulled her car into the gravel driveway of her cottage. Finally the rain had stopped around two hours ago, giving way to some late afternoon sunshine. Opening her front door she set her keys on the small bureau and dropped her umbrella into the holder. Jacket hung up and briefcase set aside, she made her way to the kitchen in search of some food.
Deciding she had stalled long enough, employing the tactic in an attempt to not look too keen, El reached for her telephone to make the call to Aisling. She felt a little nervousness mixed in with the anticipation of chatting to the blonde again. As her fingers pressed the appropriate numbers on the pad, her anticipation surged.
After four rings the phone was answered at the other end by a rather posh sounding Irish woman.
"Good evening, this is the Kelly residence."
"Oh, hello, can I speak to Aisling please?"
"Aisling is in Scotland at the moment, would you like to leave a message?"
"Oh," El was momentarily speechless, but quickly regained her composure. "When will she be back?"
"We're not sure at the moment." Was the curt reply from the stranger on the other end of the line.
"Okay, thanks, I'll call back."
"Bye." Elish added distractedly as she set the cordless phone back on its charger. Gone were the feelings of anticipation and any hint of nervousness. Instead El was left wondering what had caused Aisling to leave the country since she had last seen the blonde. Deciding to get caught up on some of the work that she had given less than her full attention to earlier that day, El contented herself with the hope that Aisling would call her that evening instead.
It was a tired and introspective Elish that exited her car the following morning. Glancing around the car park there was still no sign of the silver Mercedes. Elish knew she was in a bit of a funk and despite her best efforts to convince herself that there would be a perfectly good reason for Aisling not contacting her, she couldn't help but feel a little miffed with the situation. Elish barely grunted a morning greeting to Brenda before she holed herself up in her office and delved into work with a bit more aggression than usual.
"Come in!" She barked, when there was a knock on the closed door. It was a sign that Elish only wished to be interrupted if it was absolutely necessary.
Naomi peeked her head round the door, before entering. "Everything alright El?" She asked tentatively. The glare she received in return gave her the answer to her question. "Does it have anything to do with the disappearance of a certain blonde?"
Elish looked at her friend sharply, "What the hell is it with you people? You have to go around meddling in everyone else's business. Can you not just mind your own once in a while?"
Naomi was taken aback with El's sharp reply, but recognised her friend was simply lashing out due to frustration. "Look El. I've obviously caught you at a bad time. I'll come back later."
"No, don't go…I'm sorry, you just hit a nerve."
"I can see that." Naomi waited patiently for her friend to say more.
"I'm being irrational. I called Aisling last night, only to find out that she's in Scotland. She knew I would be calling, so I just assumed she would call me to explain, but I haven't heard from her." Elish sighed, "I wouldn't normally be so bothered, but I really like her, you know. I don't know a lot about her, but…" El took a deep breath, "I'm very attracted to her."
Naomi knew that the time for teasing and interfering was over. When Molly had come to her requesting help to invite Aisling to the barbeque, Naomi had thought it was a good idea, unfortunately she hadn't fully taken into account the repercussions of her meddling when things didn't go as smoothly as anticipated. She really hoped that there was a perfectly good reason for Aisling's behaviour. However, she was genuinely surprised to hear El confess how much she felt for the little blonde in such a short space of time. Elish had seen her share of romances over the years, but Naomi had never known El to be so keen on someone so quickly, if at all. It was a surprise to see her friend so touchy over a missed phone call. The tall brunette was usually quite cool with relationships, taking the ups and downs in her stride. Naomi thought that this could prove to be a very interesting time for her friend.
A short while later there was another visitor to El's office. Molly felt truly awful for El, especially since she played a major part in proceedings. She had spent the last five minutes apologising to Elish for interfering. Molly, El knew would never knowingly do anything that would cause any harm or upset to another human being, but El felt the need to make a point and re-establish some boundaries.
"I appreciate what you were trying to do Molly - really, but sometimes it's best to let these things take their natural course." El paused as she gathered her thoughts. She wanted to make sure Molly understood her point, without causing the older woman further upset. "The truth is, I don't really know Aisling. This could be the norm for her, I really have no idea, but I'm hoping there is a good reason behind her lack of contact."
"Don't give up Elish. I'm sure there is a perfectly good explanation for her disappearance. I'm not often wrong about people, I think she is a good lass."
El offered Molly a weak smile. "I hope so, I really do." El paused. "I think now though, I need the time and space to deal with this my own way."
"Molly smiled. "I understand El. No more interfering, message received loud and clear."
"Go on, get back to work with you - Oh, and Molly?"
"I'm going to be making an impromptu visit to one of those tea dances. I've been hearing a lot about them. Apparently some of the pensioners have been getting it on at these things. Are you running a dating service as well?"
Molly recognised the tease in El's words and was glad to hear it. It was a sure sign that all would be well between them. "You're more than welcome at one of the dances El. And if folks happen to date at them, well I think that's an added bonus."
"It sure is Molly, but I heard that Joseph McGinty and Patrick Gourlay ended up coming to blows outside the newsagents over the affections of the widowed Mrs Martin."
Molly looked genuinely disturbed at this information. "Oh my God, Elish. That's awful."
El laughed, "Had you there Molly."
"You are terrible Elish Maloney! I don't know how your Mam ever put up with you?" Molly stormed out of the office and could still hear El's laughter when she reached the end of the hall.
That evening El chose not to work at home and instead, found herself relaxing on the sofa with a glass of wine, listening to some classical music from her favourite selections. She was roused out of her comfortable buzz by the ringing of the telephone.
"Eugene! Oh my god, it's been too long!" El was positively delighted to be hearing from her old friend.
"True, but I have to make sure to give you enough time to miss me."
"Well it worked, how are you?"
"I'm fabulous and I'm home for a few days."
"Really, you're here? Can we meet up?"
"Of course, you're at the top of my list."
Elish laughed, Eugene would say that even if she were last on his list. "How's life in the big city?"
"London is great, but every so often I crave home…true it's not very often, but it happens. Spend the day with me on Saturday and I'll tell you all about it?"
"It's a date, I happen to be free Saturday." El answered readily.
"You know darling, while I'm delighted that you're free to spend time with me, it's a travesty that such a gorgeous woman is available at such short notice to spend the day with an old queen like me."
Elish wasn't quick enough to reply and her old friend sensed turmoil immediately. Drama and gossip were Eugene's favourite past times, he could sniff it out no matter how much a person attempted to hide it.
"Ah, I suspect there is a story to tell and I want to hear the entire sordid lesbian drama in full Technicolor."
Despite her sudden dip in mood, Elish managed to laugh at Eugene's theatrics. "Its not that bad and it might not be a drama."
"I'll be the judge of that, no-one does drama quite like me."
Elish proceeded to relate the entire story of Aisling from mystery blonde with a gorgeous car, to sausage maker then accountant.
"Wow, she sounds delightful Elish, but remember, she didn't call you." He cautioned.
"I know that Eugene."
"I sense a but coming here." He guessed.
"I really like her." Silence greeted El at the other end of the line.
"Oh, sorry El, I was just picturing which hat would go best with my dress for your wedding."
"You think you are so funny."
"I try…seriously, Elish. Don't get too hung up on this woman until you are sure about her. I already don't like her for not calling you."
"That's sweet Eugene and I will try, but can we change the subject now?" El pleaded.
"Off course we can…. So. Any chance you can entice one of your brothers along for the ride?"
"Not a snowballs chance in hell. They all still chase the fairer sex."
"Ah, such a waste. Tell me darling, have you stolen any of their girlfriends lately?"
"Not since I was Fourteen Eugene and she kissed me remember?" Elish smiled at his teasing, he asked her the same question every time they got back in touch with each other. Elish had told him the story since it was all part of her coming out to her parents. Mary McGrath had been dating her older brother Tim, for a few weeks, but it turned out she was more interested in dating his sister. This had come as quite a surprise to a young Elish, since she had a crush on Mary who was a year older than her, but never in her wildest dreams did she think that Mary would return her interest. That was until the day Mary came round and Tim wasn't home. She asked Elish if she could hang out with her until Tim came back from playing Gaelic football. It didn't occur to El at the time that Mary would have known he wasn't home. That afternoon in her bedroom El was kissed for the first time by Mary McGrath, the girl of her dreams. A week later Mary came round again when Tim was playing football and they ended up repeating the kiss from the week before, unfortunately El's mother found them sitting on El's bed kissing. It was to be a monumental moment in the life of a young Elish Maloney. She found out her Father was more wonderful than she imagined, that her Mother believed confession was the answer to every problem Elish would face and her older brother Tim could hold grudges for a very long time. The teasing from his five other brothers didn't help matters any. Elish also found out that day she really enjoyed kissing girls and intended to make it a life long hobby.
El's Mother had been extremely upset. Her staunch catholic upbringing, making her fear for her daughter's soul. El's father had smoothed the way for her; he spoke to her mother at length, allowing her to understand that El could not change her preferences. It wasn't a choice she had. If she followed her heart that was all they as parents could ask.
Her father also gave her one of the sternest lectures of her life. She would find her own girlfriends from now on. Nothing good could or would ever come out of stealing someone else's. Especially from one of her brothers.
No sooner had El hung up the phone, after arranging to pick up Eugene on Saturday, than it rang again.
"Forget something?" she teased. Eugene was always calling back immediately with some additional piece of information. He was a stickler for details.
"Are you there?"
"Yes, I…I didn't expect to hear from you."
"About that, I'm sorry El. This is the first chance I've had to get in touch. It's a long story. I was called away on a family emergency."
"I called you on Monday." El stated. There was silence on the line, as neither knew what to say next. Aisling broke the silence.
"I'm sorry El, truly I am. If we could meet up when I get back, then I can explain?" If El could have seen Aisling at that moment, she would have been witness to the pain etched on her face, which may have helped her make the decision Aisling wanted her to. Unfortunately that was not the case.
"When do you get back?" El's voice remained Neutral, not cold, but Aisling could read nothing from it.
"I'm not sure, but I have to be back before Saturday. Maybe we could meet up on Saturday evening?"
"No, I have plans." She didn't intend to sound so abrupt. None the less, that's how it came across to Aisling.
"Can I call you when I get back?" She asked tentatively.
El was torn. Her heart wanted to say yes, but her pride won out. "Maybe we should just play it by ear? I'm sure we will bump into each other at some point."
It wasn't what Aisling had hoped for, but she decided given the circumstances it would have to be enough for now. "I really am sorry about the call El. I hope I see you soon…Bye."
El hung up the phone for the second time that evening. Her earlier good mood was gone, but she wasn't deflated. Aisling had called and wanted to see her. El went over the conversation in her head and one word stood out, emergency. Aisling had said it was a family emergency. Now Elish was feeling bad for not being more understanding on the telephone. Should she call back? She felt torn now. The naturally compassionate side of her character warring with the part of El that felt hurt, causing her to react in a less than cordial manner.
El's attempts to find sleep that night were interrupted with pangs of guilt. She suspected that Aisling could really do with a friend right now and instead she had given her the cold shoulder. Damn! El cursed herself. How did life get so difficult all of a sudden!
"Morning gorgeous." Eugene leaned forward to kiss El on the cheek then enfold her in a warm embrace.
"Hi handsome." El replied, burying her face into her friend's neck and inhaling his fresh scent. "Mmm, you smell nice."
"I thought I better make an extra effort for my favourite girl."
"You scrub up nicely," Elish teased. Eugene was the vainest man she knew.
They made their way to El's Mondeo. "I have to make a quick stop at the community centre to drop in a set of keys, then I'm all yours for the day."
"Sure. I thought we could go to that nice restaurant by the waterfront in Dun Laoghaire. It's a beautiful day for it."
Despite El's protests Eugene insisted on accompanying her into the community centre. She quickly left the keys with the caretaker and they headed out into the sunshine, Eugene playing the gentleman to the hilt and insisting that El take his arm. To anyone who didn't know them they looked like a loving couple out for a stroll in the sunshine. Which is exactly what Aisling thought when she spotted the pair walking towards her. Elish had her head thrown back laughing at something Eugene had told her, gripping onto his arm tighter to maintain her balance. She looked into his eyes and gave him a quick peck on the lips then they continued on towards the blonde. When El saw her she pulled up short causing Eugene to glance her way questioningly. Looking from El to Aisling told him the reason for his friend's abrupt stop.
"Who's that El?" He asked discretely.
Elish moved her sunglasses onto the top of her head and took in the sight of Aisling from head to toe. Deliberately taking her time to linger. Aisling was dressed for what El assumed to be a meeting. She wore well-fitted dark trousers with a crossover white silk blouse, a pair of heeled open toed sandals completing her outfit. Her jacket was draped over one arm and a folder clasped in the other.
"Looks like a number cruncher to me." El spoke loud enough for Aisling to hear. They both shared a wan smile. Pleased to see each other, but hesitant at the same time.
"Hi yourself." El replied. "Aisling meet my good friend Eugene." El motioned to her friend, "Eugene meet Aisling." The pair exchanges polite greetings.
"You two off somewhere nice?" The blonde enquired politely.
"Eugene is taking me to lunch." El patted her friend's arm. "We have a lot of catching up to do."
"Sounds great. Unfortunately I'm going to be spending the afternoon in a meeting."
"No rest for the wicked huh?"
"Something like that." Aisling answered cryptically. "I, ah, better get going or I'll be late."
"Sure, see you around?"
"I hope so." Aisling replied feeling a little more encouraged.
"Nice to meet you Aisling," Eugene replied politely.
"And you…Bye El."
They made their way to El's car.
"That is the woman you believed made sausages?" Eugene was incredulous. "El, no-one who drives a car like that makes sausages!"
"I know that…now." El, glared.
"She gorgeous El."
"This I also know Eugene, but…"
"But what? El, she's interested in you, make up and go to bed with her."
"I don't want to go to bed with her Eugene."
"What?" Eugene felt El's head to check for a fever as El batted his hand away. "Are you sick? Turned straight? Something's up."
"Let me rephrase. I don't just want to go to bed with her. Of course, I would want that, but it's complicated." El blew out a breath, "Anyway, just the other night you were warning me off her and saying you didn't like her."
"That was before I saw her."
"Now who has a fever? You like men Eugene."
"I appreciate beauty Elish. I love flowers, but I don't want to date a plant."
"You forget I've met some of your ex boyfriends."
They both burst into laughter. "God, I've missed you." El stated.
The smell assaulted El's nasal passages. It was rancid and made her stomach queasy. She removed her glasses and headed out to reception to find Brenda already heading her way.
"Do you smell that?"
"Yeah, I think it might be coming in from outside." Brenda replied.
By this time some other members of staff were starting to gather in reception. El rolled her eyes. No one was following the fire safety procedures that they all had been made to sign off on. It was typical.
"Brenda, look out the front door, I'll check the back."
Elish immediately spotted the source of the smell. The skip outside the back of the pub was ablaze. She called to the staff in the foyer that it was safe to remain in the building, not that they had ever left it in the first place. Then Elish made her way down towards the skip, Brenda was hot on her heels.
"Should we call the fire brigade?"
"It will have burned itself out by the time they get here." Elish replied.
"Yeah, but maybe we should still call them."
"It's okay, I've already done that." Came a familiar voice from behind them. El, turned to see Aisling standing in the back entrance to the pub, a yellow hard hat protecting her head. Damn she looks cute! She took a moment longer to take in Aisling's attire. A tight v-neck short-sleeved tee was worn with a knee length dark brown skirt, that had a design woven into it. Her look was finished off with a pair of tan leather flip-flops. El wondered if Aisling's toes were claustrophobic, she had never seen them enclosed. They could now hear the fire engine sirens in the distance; help would be there in minutes. Elish could feel her stomach roiling with the smell coming from the burning skip, the last thing she wanted to do was vomit in front of Aisling. By this time Naomi had made her way down to the skip as well.
"So, what's cooking?" Naomi asked.
"Rotten meat by the smell of it." El replied.
"Were you having a barbeque with your special sausages Aisling?" Naomi enquired innocently. Elish couldn't contain her laughter.
"I suppose I asked for that." Aisling said, sharing in the fun.
"Elish lunch is ready!" She turned to see Molly, at the back of the community centre. Molly was always making her lunch whenever she was around. Turning back to the group she looked from Brenda to Naomi, who both took their cue and made their way back to work.
"Would you like to join me for lunch?"
"Oh, I don't want to impose."
"You wouldn't be imposing. Will you join me?"
"I would love to."
Aisling walked alongside Elish to the community centre as the fire brigade arrived.
"You know, as cute as I think it is, you can take the hat off now." El tapped the hard hat on Aisling's head.
"Oh, I forgot!" It was the first time El could recall seeing the confident blonde blush. She removed the hard hat and ran her fingers through her mussed hair, attempting to give it some body.
Molly looked to the kitchen door to see her boss walk in with Aisling, she managed to hide her smile and immediately set about making up more sandwiches.
"I hope you don't mind another one for lunch Molly?"
"Not at all Elish, Nice to see you again, Aisling.'
"And you Molly. How are the tea dances going?"
Molly shot a glance at Elish before replying. "They're going very well." El, snorted. "Ignore Elish, she's been teasing me about all the dating going on at the dances."
Aisling's eyebrows shot up at hearing that. "I take it this was an unexpected happenstance Molly?"
"Well, yes, I hadn't really taken that possibility into account when going through the plans, but it's a welcome surprise."
"Oh, it's a surprise all right. Next thing we know your tea dances will need bouncers at the door and a security detail inside." Aisling laughed.
"Oh, away with you Elish. They'll need no such thing." Molly seemed to ponder that for a moment before shaking her head. "I've got some work to catch up on, so I'll leave you two to enjoy your lunch."
El escorted Molly to the kitchen door, "Thanks for making lunch Molly." She smiled sweetly.
"Yeah, well…see you later Elish."
El sat at the table and poured herself some orange juice from the jug Molly had set out, she offered some to Aisling, who accepted. "Is it my imagination, or are your staff a little subdued?" Aisling enquired.
"Lets just say, there were a few discussions that took place last week. Some folks are still feeling a little fragile." El answered cryptically and Aisling chose not to enquire further.
"Mmm, these sandwiches are good."
"So I see. You have quite the appetite there Ms Keenan."
"Yeah, well, I'm a growing girl." She answered as she licked some mayonnaise from her thumb. El smiled.
"I want to explain about my disappearance Elish."
El nodded, "Go on." Now seemed as good a time as any to hear what Aisling had to say.
The blonde took a drink of her water before continuing. "I have a younger brother, he's studying law at university in Edinburgh, well at least he was." Aisling paused again, to gather her thoughts.
"If it's too difficult to talk about, I can accept that Aisling." El offered gently, as she touched her friend's hand.
"No. I mean, yes it's difficult, but I want to explain it to you, please?"
"Of course. Go ahead." This time El entwined Aisling's fingers with her own to offer some comfort.
"My brother, Aiden, is schizophrenic. He developed the illness mid way through his third year at university. He is currently an inpatient in an Edinburgh hospital. A professor there specialises in mental health problems that develop in gifted young people. It's a good place for him to be, but it's obviously quite far away from his family."
"Is there no unit here?" El asked.
"Even if there were he wouldn't come home. My parents are having a very difficult time coming to terms with the collapse of their perfect family. Three years ago they had two children destined to have good careers that they expected to marry suitable partners and provide them with grandchildren. Then they find out that I'm a lesbian, that was two years ago and now their son has mental health problems. They keep wondering where they went wrong with us. It's been an especially difficult time these last six months since my brothers diagnosis."
"That's a very tough situation for everyone involved. Perhaps with time, your parents will be able to cope better with your sexuality and your brothers illness."
"I hope so. Right now I'm all he's got. He doesn't want to see them, because their negativity is detrimental to his wellbeing. I fly over once a month to visit with him. He told my parents not to visit until they could accept him for who he is now."
"And they can't do that yet?" El enquired.
"No, I've talked to them about it. It's like they have just put him out of their mind. They're not ready to deal with the reality of the situation. As far as their friends are concerned Aiden is still at university studying. The truth is he will probably not complete his studies."
"You said it was an emergency that had you going to Edinburgh?" El prompted.
"Yes, I got a phone call from Aiden. He had a weekend pass from the unit and had decided not to return. He called me late Sunday night; he was in a highly anxious and confused state. He had been drinking and wasn't making too much sense. I left immediately for the airport. I took a flight to London, because it was the first one available, and then took the shuttle to Edinburgh. I just prayed that I would find him or he would call again and tell me where he was. It took me almost 36 hours to find him. There are so many bars in that city and I think I covered at least half of them."
"Where was he?"
"He booked into a hotel. My parents might not be ready to see him, but they have no problems throwing money at him. He called me three more times, the third time I managed to get a rough location from him and by then I knew he was in a hotel, so I found him quickly after that."
El stood up and walked around the table to enfold Aisling in a comforting hug. "You must have gone through hell in those hours before you found him. I'm so sorry."
"He's my brother El. I would do anything for him."
"He's very lucky to have you."
"I'm lucky to have him. When my parents found out I was gay, they were very angry. Aiden was a constant source of support to me. Everything I'm doing for him, I know he would do for me and more."
"You're a very special woman Aisling."
"I don't know about that Elish, I'm just doing what any loving sister would."
El, knew differently, but chose to maintain her silence. She was sorry she ever doubted this strong woman in her arms. Hearing today what she had been through, the lengths she had gone to, to assist her brother only served to increase El's attraction, and desire to get to know Aisling better.
"I was wondering?"
"What?" Was the muffled reply from El's shoulder.
"Would you still like to go out to dinner with me?"
Aisling smiled into the fabric of El's shirt. "I would love to."
Finally, El thought to herself. We are going to have a proper date. She was sitting in the bar of an independent cinema and Aisling was due to arrive any minute. They had both expressed an interest in a New Zealand film showing at this place, now El was sitting with the tickets waiting for Aisling. She glanced towards the bar door as the blonde arrived; both smiling as soon as their eyes met. As usual Aisling looked good. Low waist boot cut jeans and a purple v-neck t-shirt, El glanced to the blonde's feet and sure enough, yet another pair of flip-flops. Casual, but sexy, a look Aisling seemed to pull of with ease. Considering her own attire briefly, El wasn't much for dressing up outside of work. Her Levi's had to be at least ten years old, the faded look and soft feel of the denim testament to the many times El had worn and washed this pair. Her brown belt was probably older. The long sleeved kaki tee and suede fawn trainers were fairly new. El's first consideration was always comfort before fashion, she suspected that Aisling loved clothes and fashion was more of a lure for her.
"Hi yourself. We have twenty minutes before the film starts, would you like a drink?"
"Sure, I'd love a water thanks."
"With or without bubbles?" El enquired.
Aisling smiled, "Without if possible, but I'm not too fussy."
"Okay, be right back." El headed of to the bar to order their drinks, thinking things were looking better by the minute, behind her Aisling had her eyes glued to El's backside wondering if she had ever seen a butt look so good in denim.
"Now that film came close to crossing so many lines." Elish proclaimed as they made their way out of the cinema.
"Yes, it certainly didn't gloss anything over…what did you think of the ending?" Aisling enquired thoughtfully.
"Hmm, it didn't wrap things up in a neat little package, but I suppose that in itself makes the ending more realistic. Life rarely offers a neatly packaged ending."
Aisling looked at El, recognising a kindred spirit. "I hear you…"
They walked to the car park, both deep in thought; the film had a very bleak and at times dark storyline, which had left both women feeling introspective. El thought maybe a change of scenery would lift their spirits.
"Would you like to go to Florentine's? They do great cakes and coffee, anything you want."
"Oh, I haven't been there in ages!" Aisling exclaimed. "Do they still serve hot chocolate in those enormous cups?"
"With a flake and whipped cream?"
El laughed, "Yes."
They spent almost two hours at the café getting to know each other better, sharing bites of their cakes and funny stories. Neither woman wanted the evening to end, but they both had work the following day, so it was with great reluctance that El settled the bill and offered to walk Aisling to her car.
"Well, I had a fantastic evening. I would love to do it again sometime."
"So, would I, but next time I pay." El smiled, it had been a moment of brief debate between them, El won out stating that she was the one to invite Aisling on a date, so she got to pay."
"It's a deal, next time you can pay." El conceded.
"How about Saturday? Can I take you to dinner?"
El nodded, "That would be nice."
"I'll pick you up around seven?"
"Looking forward to it already."
They had arrived at Aisling's car, their date was almost over and they were experiencing their first moment of awkwardness that evening."
"Well, I'll no doubt see you around, this week."
"Count on it," Aisling replied.
Elish desperately wanted to kiss Aisling, but they were on a main street and she wasn't sure how the blonde would react to a public display of affection. She bent hesitantly to place a kiss on her lips and was surprised in a most pleasant way when the blonde seized control of the moment and pulled Elish in for a lingering toe curling kiss. Elish remembered enjoying the kisses they had shared at the barbeque, but this was so much better, probably because she hadn't had any alcohol to dull the senses El thought. The kiss seemed to take on a life of its own and the only thing that brought it to a halt was the sound of cheering from nearby. A small group of guys had spotted them and decided to encourage them to go further.
They broke apart, Aisling giggling at the antics of their spectators.
"I think it's time to call a halt to these proceedings or we're going to have to start charging that lot." El motioned to the grumbling men behind her.
"I had a great time, goodnight El." Aisling got into her car and Elish watched her drive off down the road. She turned to head back to her own car when she caught one of the men staring at her. "What?" she asked.
"I was just wondering, how do I get myself a woman like her, or you?" He enquired cheekily.
"Oh, that's easy," El, replied. "Just become a lesbian." She walked towards her car with a smile on her face as she heard his friend's laughter follow her.
The next day El had an unexpected, yet very welcome visitor to her office.
"Morning Aisling. This is a pleasant surprise."
"Morning El, I wondered if you might be able to help me out?"
"Sure, if I can." El couldn't stop the flirty tone that crept into her voice.
"Next week I'm going to be having the painters in and…" Aisling was stopped mid sentence as she watched the water El had sipped spray out of her mouth.
El coughed, "I'm sorry, go on."
Aisling looked sceptically at her. The woman was acting very strangely. "As I said, the painters will be painting my office. I didn't find out until this morning, they've kind of sprung it on me. It means I'm looking for a base to work from, do you have anywhere in the community centre I could use? Or perhaps Naomi has somewhere?"
"What will you need to do your work?"
"Fax, photocopier, occasional internet access. That should be all I need."
"You can share my office while they paint yours."
"Are you sure El? I don't want to impose."
"It's no trouble really. You can work from here. I mean how long does it take to paint an office?"
"They said it would be a few days. That's to paint it, lay a new carpet and put the new furniture in."
"Okay, that's no problem. So you will be here from Monday till your office is ready?"
"I really appreciate this El."
"Glad I can help." El smiled.
"Did I just see a gorgeous blonde leave your office Elish? Should I be jealous?" Naomi affected a pout.
"Yes and yes." El smirked at her friend's antics. "Bye the way, I could cheerfully kill you."
"That expression you use when you have your period." El stated.
"Yeah, what about it?"
"Aisling just used it innocently, but I didn't know that at first and sprayed water everywhere. She must have thought I was having a fit or something!"
Naomi laughed until there were tears in her eyes, "Oh boy. I wish I had seen that." She attempted to get the conversation back on track. "So what did she want, apart from you that is?"
"If you must know, Aisling was looking for some office space while she 'has the painters in', but her office really is being painted."
Naomi chuckled again, "We have a spare office at the moment, she's welcome to use that."
"Eh, yeah. She won't be needing it." El answered while feigning interest in some paperwork.
"I didn't realise you had a spare office here El."
"We don't, she's sharing mine."
"Really? You hate to share your space." She pointed out.
"Obviously." Naomi paused, absorbing this new information. "So you two getting on well then?" Her implied innuendo wasn't lost on El.
"A lady never tells Naomi." She teased.
"Uhuh, and what's your excuse?"
"You think you're so funny." El mocked.
"Okay, I can see I'm not going to get anything from you…unlike a certain blonde I could mention."
"It's only office space Naomi." She answered nonchalantly.
"No El, it's your office space, there is a big difference. Have fun my friend." She winked and left.
El put the papers she hadn't been reading back onto the desk in front of her. Why had she been so keen to share her office with Aisling? Naomi was right, she hated to share her workspace, not wanting any distractions and as few interruptions as possible. There was no doubting that Aisling would be one major distraction. The two of them sharing El's small office was sure to disrupt her routine - but El knew the truth was she had offered her space to Aisling because she wanted to spend more time with the cute, confident blonde. El was already looking forward to next week, but she had Saturday nights date to enjoy first.
El was tucking into her potatoes with gusto. She loved the way her Mam did them. Even if there were no other reason to be here, she would come along for the potatoes alone. The dinner table was quiet the only sound being the clatter or scrape of cutlery on china.
"How many dates have you been on with this new girl Elish?" El raised her eyes to meet those of her Mam's, a mirror of her own pale blue. Somebody's been talking, she thought to herself. She looked at her brothers seated around the table, she knew they were listening, but none were paying her any attention.
El swallowed her food before replying, "Two Mam."
"Did you take her somewhere nice?" Honestly, El thought, since her Da's passing nearly five years ago her Mam had taken on his role of ensuring Elish treated women properly with relish. No wonder she could only have uncomplicated sex in a foreign country!
"Yes Mam. I took her to see a film, and then we went to Florentine's. Last night she took me out to dinner at a new French Bistro, the food was lovely, as was the company."
El's mind drifted back to the evening before. The stunning black dress Aisling had worn, showing a hint of cleavage and a teasing length of thigh where it split. The expensive jewellery and the intoxicating smell of her perfume, providing a heady concoction, which had driven El, mad for most of the evening. When Aisling had dropped her off later that night it was all El could do not to drag the woman into her cottage and ravish her. They had spent a good few minutes kissing passionately in the car. Both knowing what would happen if they ventured inside the cottage. El recalled how Aisling's breasts had felt against her palms, the feel of the satin material that provided a barrier and their weight as she cupped them. When her hand wandered to the inside of Aisling's thighs beginning to tease the soft creamy flesh there, they both knew they had to stop. Reluctantly they disentangled themselves from one another. Elish was left with no option but to take care of herself that night. Her overheated and highly aroused flesh would have made sleep impossible otherwise.
El's Mam looked at her sternly. "I thought you said two dates? That's three by my counting." El looked puzzled so her Mother continued, "She was at your barbeque was she not?"
"Yes, but how…never mind." There were a few sniggers from around the table. Obviously someone had been talking a lot.
"Right boys, you know the rules - you stay away from El's woman. She is officially off limits." El liked the sound of that, her woman, she smiled at the image.
There was a chorus of "Yes Mam." From around the table, before they all tucked back into their dinner, except Tim, who had more to say.
"Mam, it occurs to me that the off limits rule doesn't really apply to El's women. Seems to me that it's much more likely that El would end up dating a woman after us, than we would an ex girlfriend of hers."
El bristled at this, was he still holding a grudge? She was about to tell him to get over it when her Mam interrupted.
"How do you mean Tim?"
"I'm just saying, her ex girlfriends are all lesbians. None of them are interested in us, but some of the women we date are interested in El." There were a few nods and murmurs of agreement from around the table. El decided it was time to torture her brothers.
"Noreen Jackson and Mary Cahill." She stated, and then looked pointedly at the twins Danny and Thomas. It was fun to watch their faces as they began to realise exactly what she was saying.
"Aww, God. No. That's just sick!" Danny protested. El shrugged, "What can I say? If the women stayed off limits after me, there wouldn't be any left for you lot."
"Alright Elish, that's enough of that kind of talk at the dinner table. And Danny…do not take the Lords name in vain."
"Elish, bring your new girl to dinner soon." Mrs Maloney instructed.
"Yes Mam," El mumbled. She sighed and offered a silent apology to Aisling for what she would be subjected to in the near future.
It had been two hours since Aisling had arrived in El's office and El was regretting her impulsive decision. She had left herself wide open to the most exquisite form of torture, Aisling had just left the office to use the bathroom and El picked up a folder to fan herself. Stay focussed. Stay professional. We both have work to do. This was about to become her new mantra in the coming days. If this was how she felt after two hours she had no chance of lasting a few days in the presence of Aisling. It had all started just minutes after the blonde arrived. Aisling was bending down to get something from her bag on the floor and gave Elish a wonderful view of her black lacy bra; El hadn't been able to focus since. Did she have to wear a low cut top? Does she have to look so damn sexy in everything?
Aisling returned to find El buried in work, she wished she were able to concentrate as well as her dark haired friend. Unfortunately she was finding her all too distracting. Sighing, she attempted to focus on what she was doing.
"Do you have any scrap paper Elish?"
"On the shelf above the printer." El pointed.
Aisling reached up for the paper and inadvertently gave El a flash of the back of her black thong. That was it for El; she stood up from her chair, removing her glasses running her fingers through her long hair. "I'm going to make some coffee, would you like a cup?"
"Oh, sure. That would be nice."
"Just some milk, thanks."
Elish walked to the kitchen glad to be away from temptation though only because she had to keep her hands to herself while at work. She grabbed two mugs and looked towards the coffee pot, noticing it was still half full. Typical, she thought. Usually the pot is almost empty. Today I want to waste some time here and for once there is enough coffee in the pot! El emptied the dark liquid into the sink and removed the coffee from the fridge, putting a new filter in place, she spooned the coffee into it. Taking a seat at the kitchen table while she waited for the coffee, Elish lamented the lack of work she would get through during her normal working hours, knowing she would be working from home the next few nights. Still, she found it hard to regret her decision to offer the use of her office to Aisling. It was the sweetest form of torture after all. She poured the dark liquid into the mugs, and then added milk to Aisling's. Taking a deep breath she headed back to her office, this was going to be one hell of a day.
At three o'clock Aisling informed Elish that she was finished for the day.
"Oh, right." El removed her glasses to look at Aisling properly. "I forgot you wouldn't be here the entire day."
"I'll see you tomorrow, El. Once again, thanks for letting me share your office. I'll check on the painters in the morning to see how things are coming along."
El smiled at Aisling, "Honestly, there's no rush."
"I know, but I have to chase them up anyway, bosses orders." Elish had practically forgotten that Aisling's father was the owner of all the buildings around them. Now that the accountant was leaving for the day, she wanted some physical connection with the blonde after denying herself that for the last six hours. El stood up intent on intercepting Aisling before she left.
"I know this isn't really the time or the place and I'm breaking my own rules, but I would really like to kiss you before you leave."
El's answer came in the form of a sweet parting kiss from Aisling, it was brief, but very enjoyable. Both of them fully aware that anything more would be inappropriate. El decided the kiss alone was definitely worth sharing her office for.
Relieved to find that she was a little more relaxed in Aisling's company the next day. El spent most of her time surreptitiously observing the blonde. Noticing her quirks, some of which she found very endearing, others quite funny. Aisling was like a daemon when she got to work on her large calculator. Her fingers were a blur as they tapped out the numbers on the pad. What El found to be so cute was that she tapped her foot in time with her typing. She wondered if Aisling was aware she had that habit. When the blonde stopped using the calculator she would immediately search the desk for a pen, this made El smile, as the pen was behind her ear. It was very amusing to watch and El was finding it hard not to laugh every time she witnessed the same behaviour pattern. Elish had one major complaint though, Aisling was messy. Her paperwork was spread out over every available surface. In comparison, El liked to keep her workspace tidy. The accountant assured El that she knew what every piece of paper was for, where it was and would tidy it up at the end of each day.
Aisling turned her head and caught El watching her. "What?"
"You're left handed." El remarked.
"Really?" she teased.
"I hadn't noticed that before." El removed her glasses and as was her habit put one of the arms into the corner of her mouth. Aisling's eyes slid down to El's mouth, then she ducked her head and mumbled something El couldn't make out.
"What was that?"
"I said I wish you wouldn't do that?"
El was puzzled. "Do what?"
"Put your glasses in your mouth. It's distracting."
El frowned and looked at the glasses in question. "I'm sorry, I'll try not to distract you, I wasn't aware that I was doing it."
Aisling could tell El wasn't aware of exactly why it was distracting. "It's a habit you have when you remove your glasses. It's really sexy El."
"Oh… Oh!" El smiled as realisation dawned on her. "Well I'm not the only one with distracting behaviour." Aisling's eyebrows rose up upon hearing this piece of information. "Oh?"
"I keep getting little peeks of your underwear."
"Yesterday you were wearing a black thong and matching bra. Today you have on a peach thong and matching bra."
"I beg your pardon?"
"The shade is nude, not peach."
El swallowed the lump that suddenly appeared in her dry throat.
"What shade are yours? It's only fair I get to know."
"Wh..." El cleared her throat. "White, cotton."
"A woman who likes her staples."
"Ah, I'm late for a meeting." And with that Elish fled her office, leaving behind a very bemused blonde.
A very flustered Elish burst into Naomi's office. "Hi Stud, what's up?"
"I needed to escape for a little while." Naomi raised her eyebrows.
"I would have thought only an emergency could have pried you from that office at the moment."
"Yeah well. I didn't anticipate just how difficult it would be to spend so much time with her and not be able to touch her. It's driving me crazy."
"You do look a little flushed."
"It's not funny." El moaned.
Naomi left to get El a cold bottle of water. "There you go Stud, that should cool you off."
"You're taking too much pleasure from all of this."
"Oh, come on Elish. You would be exactly the same if the roles were reversed. I've never seen you like this. I think it's fantastic."
El grunted her reply and continued to drink her water. Fantastic my arse!
The following day was glorious. El had dressed in a light cotton blouse with linen trousers. It was going to be a scorcher, not a good day to be stuck in an office with no air conditioning. She greeted Brenda who was outside smoking her pre work cigarette.
"Nice day for it."
"Groan, it's gonna be murder today El."
"I know." She could just imagine how some of Bren's day would go. Disgruntled members of the public made more irritable than usual due to the heat. Ah, never mind, it won't last forever. El told herself. They never got enough sunshine; she just wished that it would make an appearance on weekends.
Upon entering the office Elish knew her day was going to be tough and not because of the heat. Aisling had dressed to keep cool. A tight spaghetti strapped top and light cotton skirt was finished of with yet another pair of flip-flops. She must have shares in some flip flop company, Elish mused. Urgh, this is torture!
Good morning El, lovely day isn't it?"
"Marvellous." El replied, trying valiantly to keep the sarcasm from her voice. "Did you sleep well?"
"Oh, like a baby."
"Lucky for some," she grumbled.
"What did you say?"
"Nothing, I just didn't sleep too well."
They both fell into the rhythm of their work routines, occasionally stealing glances at each other. The day progressed that way, leaving El feeling more in control, as the situation became more tolerable.
"Elish!" El's ears perked up at the sound of her name being called. She got up from her seat and headed towards where she thought Aisling was.
"Elish, the bloody photocopier is jammed!"
She entered the small utility room to find Aisling with her head stuck inside the photocopier attempting to see the problem. She banged on the side a couple of times, frustrated when nothing happened after pressing a flashing button.
"Anything I can do to help Ms Keenan."
"I hope so, it's your equipment." Aisling answered sharply.
El's eyebrows shot up her forehead, she had never seen the confident woman so wound up.
"Please stand aside while I check my equipment, which I am so graciously allowing you to use." Aisling stood to the side and crossed her arms over her chest, an almost petulant look on her beautiful face. El fiddled a bit with the trays, less than a minute later she turned to Aisling, a triumphant look on her face. "There all sorted, a simple paper jam." She smiled.
Aisling stood in front of her and said nothing. Instead her eyes trailed from El's, down to her mouth, and then dropped to linger on her breasts before looking back up into El's amused features.
"Enjoy the tour?"
Aisling was unrepentant. "Very much so." She held eye contact with El, until the tall woman turned and left the small room.
The day continued on in that vein. They found themselves becoming more tactile with each other. Their caresses as they brushed past one another becoming more bold as the day wore on. At one point Aisling was turned away from Elish, standing in front of the window. El took the opportunity to have a really good look at the blondes rear. When her eyes drifted back up, she found Aisling's grin reflected at her in the glass. Elish simply shrugged unapologetically, they had moved well beyond the point of attempting to hide their appreciation of the others form, and instead their perusal had become as overt as their touches.
Elish was between a rock and a hard place, as much as she was enjoying her time with Aisling the pain of not being able to do exactly what she wanted was becoming so unbearable, she was about to explode. She finally cracked when after returning from a trip to the bathroom, she collided with Aisling at the office door, the blonde had been on her way out. They bounced off each other with the impact, and then instinctively grabbed the other to steady them. Elish had a hold of Aisling's upper arms, while the blonde had a hold of El's waistband. El ushered them quickly into the office and closed the door, her lips immediately finding her partners. Aisling groaned at the first contact between them, as desperate for the kiss as Elish.
For a few moments they both forgot where they were, giving themselves over fully to the feeling of being with the other, when a hand started to stray inside her shirt and towards her breast, El grasped it lightly. "We can't. Not here."
Aisling let out a sigh of sheer frustration in response to El's gentle reprimand.
"Come home with me, please?" El groaned as their mouths met hungrily yet again.
"Yes." Aisling kissed El again. "Soon El, I can't take much more of this."
"I'll be there in an hour."
"I'll be there too."
El arrived at her cottage fifty minutes later. Taking a deep breath, before opening her front door, noticing how her hand shook slightly as she slotted her key into the lock. Putting her briefcase down near the bureau she ran her fingers through her hair. Damn what am I doing? She asked herself, she had no time to make any preparations, no time for second thoughts. Aisling would be here in minutes and they both knew exactly why. Don't think Elish just do. You want this woman and she wants you in return. So why did she feel so nervous? Looking out her front window El saw the familiar silver car pull up. Aisling got out and locked her door, then made her way up the path to El's front door. It opened before she could knock.
"Come in, I only just got here myself." Elish was clearly nervous. Aisling decided that there was no time left for talking. She closed the door and stepped up to her tall companion, resting her palm lightly on El's cheek she reached up to capture the lips that she had been bewitched by for most of that day. Elish pulled her closer as she groaned into the blonde's mouth, her tongue seeking entry into the hot interior. Tongues met and moved together softly, caressing then retreating. Aisling was determined to pick up right where they left off, her hands seeking out the buttons of El's shirt, undoing them with skilful fingers. El's hands moved to the blonde's buttocks pulling her tightly against her and massaging the firm globes. The shirt now unbuttoned, Aisling slid the garment from her partner's shoulders, letting it drop on the bottom step of the stairs. Her tongue trailed down from El's mouth to the long column of neck, where the blonde assaulted the skin there with kisses and a gentle sucking on her pulse point. This made Elish squeeze tighter and Aisling's skirt rode up as El moved her thigh between the blondes legs, running her hands up the back of smooth thighs to once again rest on the firm globes of flesh she was so fond of. Their hips began instinctively thrusting against each other; Elish shuddered under the physical onslaught.
"Oh, yes." She could feel Aisling's hands at the waistband of her trousers, undoing the button and pulling down the zip. Moving the fabric over her hips the trousers pooled at El's feet, leaving her clad only in her pants and bra. She reached for the hem of Aisling's tight white top, deciding the blonde was still wearing too much clothing; Aisling lifted her arms to assist in its removal. Elish paused a moment as she let the garment fall to the floor. Her eyes finding those of her soon to be lovers, this was the first time Elish had felt in control in days. With steady sure hands she reached under the blondes skirt and pushed her panties down, Aisling lifted one bare foot to assist with there removal, then locked her leg around El's waist, offering everything she had. El worked her hand between the blonde's legs, caressing her inner thighs before moving to circle the hard nub she found there. Aisling's hips thrust forward in an attempt to get El's fingers exactly where she wanted them. Elish didn't even consider teasing her and swiftly buried two of her long fingers inside Aisling, quickly setting up a rhythm. El could feel her own legs tremble with arousal, putting thoughts of her needs on hold; she concentrated on the beautiful woman moving powerfully against her.
"Oh God yes. Harder Elish!"
El matched Aisling's thrusts and all too quickly she felt the familiar signs of orgasm. El was amazed by the blonde's physical response to her; she hadn't even brought her thumb into play. El stilled her fingers within Aisling and left them nestled there. The blondes head lay on her shoulder, face partly buried in her neck, her breathing ragged. El's hand played gently with the back of the blonde's short hair, wanting to soothe and relax her lover. Aisling whimpered when El removed her fingers from their nesting place. The tall woman offered soothing words and light kisses to the still frazzled woman.
"Do you think you can make it upstairs?" El asked gently. Aisling smiled and nodded her reply. "C'mon, lets go." Shoes and most of their clothing left discarded at the bottom of El's staircase the pair made their way upstairs to continue what had started earlier that day.