If you haven’t read January 20 yet, you can do so here.
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Ellen was empty aside from a few stragglers heading into Manila late. Cleo had been watching the ebb and flow of guests since sunrise. Most visited on their way to breakfast, or dropped by for a coffee before heading to their tours. She told herself she wasn’t, but Cleo was waiting for a glimpse of Adrienne. Instead, she found herself, laptop open, studying the only other woman who hadn’t left her table in two hours. She had short blonde hair, the kind of petite frame Cleo had been jealous of once upon a time, before she’d realized she could never have it, before she’d realized women were hot regardless of whether they looked like fitness models.
The blonde woman barely looked up from her screen. She typed furiously for a good twenty minutes and the staff would deposit a fresh cup of tea on her table just as she finished. She’d sip at it for a few minutes, then back to the typing. Something about her fascinated Cleo, almost as much as Adrienne. The two shared a kind of focus that Cleo didn’t possess.
Just five women were left in the huge two storey lounge, now was her chance. Cleo caught sight of the staff steeping a cup of tea. Her window had arrived. She slapped the lid of her Mac shut and slid it under her arm. One deep breath and she rose from the table. She could do this. Everyone kept telling her to make friends.
The frantic typing came to a stop. Cleo hovered for a moment, forcing the staff to move around her to place the tea cup.
The blonde woman glanced up, almost elbowing her own tea cup as she caught sight of Cleo.
“Hello, sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to come introduce myself.”
The woman smiled tentatively and raised the tea cup daintily to her lips.
“I’m Cleo. I’ve been at that table over there, and I couldn’t help but notice you typing away. Can I ask what you’re working on?” Cleo spilled all of her words in what she hoped was a coherent jumble. It must have been because the tentative smile was replaced by something that appeared genuine.
“Of course, please, sit.” Cleo dropped into the empty chair and waited for the woman to continue.
“I’m an author. I’m working on my next book. It’s due at my editor in a week.”
“That’s amazing. I love books. I mean, I love reading. What do you write?”
Cleo wasn’t sure if she imagined the miniscule pause before the woman answered.
“Ooh, I didn’t know that was a thing. What’s your name, I’ll look you up.” Cleo had read widely in what she thought was every genre, but somehow in all her reading, she’d never come across lesbian romance.
“Wait, you’re serious. You’ve never heard of lesfic?” Cleo shook her head.
“Okay, look, I’m going to come up with a whole list for you. You need a serious education. A lesducation if you will. No, sorry, that was awful. Pretend I never said that.” Cleo laughed.
“Really? That sounds great. I take it you’re not heading into Manila today?”
The woman shook her head. “No, I’ve got to get this writing done. I’ve been too busy exploring that I’m already 10k behind schedule.”
“10k?” Cleo asked.
“Oh, ten thousand.”
“That sounds very behind.”
“Not really. I’ve written almost five while I’ve been in here.”
“Oh well, I should stop distracting you.”
The woman shook her head. “No, I should take a break anyway, rest my wrists. If you’re lucky, I may even have one of my books in my room that I can lend you.”
“Come on, if you’re up for a little walk, I’m on deck five.”
“I’m Ruby, I don’t think I said that before.”
“This might be way out of line, but… I’m working on a book. I’m not going to ask you to read it or anything, but I wondered, could you give me some pointers?”
Ruby smiled. “Sure, I’m teaching a bit of a writing thing starting in a few weeks. You should sign up. But, if you want to come have lunch with me today we could chat a bit more. Dining alone is so boring.”
Cleo smiled, there was none of the sexual chemistry she felt with Adrienne but it was nice to have someone to talk to, for weeks she’d been feeling as if she didn’t fit in, with Ruby, that faded away.
You can read January 22 here.
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