Sam Donovan and Jenna Monroe have never met, but when both are asked to be bridesmaids in the wedding of Sam’s sister to Jenna’s brother, the electricity between them is immediate. Fierce. Electric. Sam’s been out for a while, comfortable with the fact she dates women exclusively even if being queer makes her mother crazy. Jenna, on the other hand, has always felt that it’s never been her family’s business to know about who she’s dating, whether it’s a man or a woman.
Still, their attraction to each other is undeniable, and it’s Jenna who starts off determined to get to know Sam as something more than a fellow bridesmaid. Trying to keep a low profile so they don’t upstage the wedding is important to each of them, but soon it becomes clear that moving forward means coming out – for them both.
Love is love, but sometimes you don’t know it until you find yourself taking the leap.
I haven’t been this nervous about a date since…well, hell. Never, not that I can remember. Probably because I’ve never been unsure about how into me, or not, someone might be. I know it’s bitchy and arrogant to say it out loud, but guys usually make it pretty clear they think I’m hotter than fuck.
Sam, though…Sam is…I shiver as I look at myself in the mirror, trying hard to see what she might see. I think of the picture of her with the woman who has to be her ex, and I know that I’m prettier than that, but does that matter? I turn my face from side to side, checking out my makeup. My hair. All the things I’d do for a date with a guy, I’ve done for Sam, but I’m totally not sure she’ll like it.
Then I think, suddenly standing up straight, I shouldn’t care if she likes it or not. I feel good wearing winged liner and sparkly lip gloss, with my hair curled. I feel good in a cute dress and shoes. I feel good for myself, I realize, which is a lot different than putting all this on to impress someone.
I still want to impress her, of course. I don’t know why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since we first hung out, why that kiss, that tiny, simple kiss, has set me on fire. I don’t want to delve too deep into my reasons why, to be honest. If I have a habit of going after exactly the person who is the most wrong for me, I don’t want to face it.
We’ve agreed to meet at Firestone’s, a really nice restaurant halfway between the two of us in a town known for its historical tourist attractions. I don’t care much about what ancient president slept in some old bed and breakfast, but the food at Firestone’s is supposed to be out of this world. I park in the garage and wait for her by the front door to the restaurant. I don’t pace only because the sidewalk is a little uneven, and I’m afraid I might trip and wipe out. That would be impressive, all right. Impressively uncool.
Then, there she is. Sam comes around the corner, and she hasn’t yet seen me. My heart skips. My breath hitches. I start to smile, and I can’t stop.
“Hey,” she says, sounding a little surprised, but she smiles and takes a long look at me, up and down. “You look…amazing.”
“This old thing?” I flip the hem of my dress.
We both laugh. She puts her hands in the pockets of her black skinny jeans and rocks back on the heels of her Converse to look at the front of Firestone’s. Now that she’s here, I’m strangely, suddenly calm.
“Shall we?” Sam asks, pulling a hand from her pocket to make a sweeping bow at the front door. “After you.”
Inside, we get a table upstairs by the balcony railing. The server brings us ice water as we look at the menus. My stomach is rumbling. I was too excited and nervous to eat all day.
“What looks good?” Sam asks, studying the menu.
She looks up, eyebrows high but lowering as her gaze turns assessing. “This old thing?”
God, she’s funny. Clever. Witty. I am smitten. I realize this as I watch her order us the cheeseboard to share, and tell the server we’ll need a few more minutes to decide what we want for entrees.
She catches me looking. “So…we should get this out in the open, I guess. This is a date, right?”
“God, I hope so,” I tell her.
“Good. Me too.” She grins, pauses, then adds with a more serious expression, “I didn’t mention anything to Abby.”
“Do you usually talk about your dates with your sister?”
The cheeseboard arrives, and we fall silent for a few seconds in appreciation of its glory.
“I haven’t actually been on a date in a long time,” Sam says as she digs the fancy cheese knife into the small pat of bleu cheese to spread on a cracker. She hands it to me before making one for herself.
I make a muffled sound of yum when I tuck the cracker and cheese into my mouth, chewing and swallowing before I say, “it’s not like I tell Tony everything, either. Anyway, believe me, he doesn’t want to know.”
Sam adds a dab of apricot jam to a slice of cheddar and nibbles. I like the way her expression twists with pleasure. Getting this much pleasure from watching her eat might be a little weird, but I can’t help it. I like seeing her indulge.
She orders the salmon. I get the steak. We agree with hardly any discussion to share each. I also order us a bottle of red, since hey, this is a classy place and a fancy dinner, and it is a date, after all.
The wine comes before the food. We clink our glasses. I sip; it’s good, but I don’t know anything about wine. Sam takes the time to breathe it in and sip it, doing that whole wine tasting expert thing, and I watch her, fascinated and impressed, although it’s clear she’s not at all doing it to show off.
“Took a couple classes in wine appreciation,” she says when she catches me looking. “This one’s nice.”
Then we’re just staring at each other across the table, both of us with silly grins. Wine, cheese, a woman who makes me laugh.
“This is the best date I’ve had in a long time,” I say.
Sam lifts her glass again. “Cheers. Me too.”
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