Therese stood there and stared at Carol. Every memory, every touch, kiss; it all came flooding back as if she was being hit by a wave. Stunned she stopped in the middle of the room, just taking in the features of the women's face. How could she have said 'no' to her? This perfect, mystical beauty, who was unique in every way. Her heart began to beat fast as she watched Carol smile at something one of her guests had said, in only the way Carol could smile.
The numbness that had momentary taken over her body began to ease and Therese felt her feet act on their own accord, as if drawn by a magnetic force, they moved her forward to the table where Carol sat. Therese, unable to take in the busy room kept her eyes fixed on the woman. She stopped about a foot from the table and Carol looked up, looked up straight into her eyes. Joy lept into Therese's heart like never before, spreading to every inch of her body sending a warm excitement through her.
"Madam" came a huffing voice behind Therese that made her jump "I must insist on seeing a reservation."
Therese broke the gaze with Carol and turned to the speaker. He was the man at the door who Therese had ignored and walked past. His face was red and round and he was giving her a disapproving look
"I…I-" started Therese, but she was cut short.
"She is with us," replied Carol, a cold look appearing in her usually warm eyes as she addressed the concierge . "Now if you could draw up a chair for her, she wouldn't be standing."
Therese felt a jolt in her stomach. Just the sound of Carol's voice could have this effect on her. The concierge turned to Carol and seemed to tremble under the look she was giving him, his tone changed abruptly. "Yes, of course Madam, my mistake, I thought…well no matter. Here." And he pulled a chair forwards and set it at the table. "Can I get you anything else?" He added looking at Carol as if desperate to seek her approval.
"A large glass of the picpoul de pinet will suffice."
"Of course, I will see to that immediately" He said with a little bow and bustled off.
Carol turned her attention back to Therese.
"Take a seat?" She said, a hint of hesitation in her voice, something that Therese was unused to hearing.
Adverting her eyes away from the power of Carol's, Therese sat and looked instead at the guests before her.
"Therese, allow me to introduce you to George Kidston, Linda Wood and Alan Finlay," said Carol gesturing to each of her guests as Therese shook their hands.
"And this is Therese Belivet."
"Charmed," smiled Alan, his hand lingering on Therese's a few seconds more than was perhaps necessary.
"Your wine," said a waiter, placing a large glass of white before Therese.
"Thank you," she replied in a whisper, before taking a large sip.
"So Therese," said Alan, saying her name slowly "how do ya know Carol here?" he asked patting Carol on the back.
Therese turned to look at Carol, and was startled to see Carol was staring intently at her. A questioning look in her eyes.
"Oh you know, the usual way..." Therese replied in the most nonchalant fashion she could muster. She deliberately did not look at Carol.
"That is ambivalent," laughed Alan, taking a large slug of wine.
"I guess it's hard to remember when you meet certain people," lied Therese, who couldn't help but smile at the absurdity of what she was saying. Like she could ever forget the day she met Carol. She thoroughly doubted even if she had serve amnesia she would forget, it was so deeply entrenched in her memory as if it were a part of her.
"Well," he continued leaning forward "I don't think I will forget meeting you." He winked at her. Therese, feeling slightly shocked, looked down and took a deep drink from her glass.
Oh, how she wanted to be out of here and be alone with Carol. To hold Carol, to hear her speak, to just look at her in peace and quiet. But what if Carol didn't want that? What if Carol had changed her mind? What if she was so angry with her, that she would no longer want to be with her? The thought of this made Therese's heart sink rapidly. She chanced a glance at Carol. Carol's eyes were fixed on Therese in a deeper that deep look that made the butterflies flutter into life in Therese's stomach, she blushed and looked away, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks.
Carol then engaged Alan in conversation, which was a relief because Therese could sit there and just watch Carol. She drank and listened to the melodious tone of Carols voice feeling a wave of bliss sweep over her. It just felt right being near her, to hear her was such a pleasure she could happily sit there all evening listening to Carol talk. Besides, maybe this was the last time she would hear Carol speak. She must savour every minute of this. She drained the rest of her drink and set the empty glass on the table. As if this were a cue for something Carol stood up.
"Well this has been a pleasure, but I really must get going, I'm exhausted," said Carol looking first at her guests and then at Therese.
"Aww that's a pity but Therese, you'll stay?" asked Alan with what he must have thought was an alluring smile.
"Uh no, thank you though, I…I should get going as well."
"I'll give you a lift." Said Carol simply.
"That would be…lovely" replied Therese. She shook hands with the guests and followed Carol out the room, down the stairs and out the door, not saying a word to her the whole time.
"You really don't have to give me a lift you know." Said Therese, as the stepped out to a cold breeze a gentle drizzle of rain in the air. Therese looked down at the grey pavement miserably. This was it. This was the last time she would see Carol. Carol was taking her home, she was being kind but that was all it was, she was taking her home and would leave her there, alone.
"Do you not want a lift?" Carol asked, one eye brow raised.
"No I would, I just, don't want to inconvenience you."
Carol touched her lightly on the wrist so that Therese looked up at her. You have never inconvenienced me once." The force of the gaze that Carol was giving her was making Therese light headed and giddy.
"Now come on, get in."
Carol held open the door for Therese, who obliged and entered, her heart beating fast….