Karen Pelly has never kissed a girl. Despite what anyone says. (Oh, she knows what they say, and it's probably only because of the paperwork she'd have to fill out that there aren't more repercussions.) Why she was thinking about that statement as she sat at the counter in The Ruby finishing up her lunch she couldn't understand. It was an odd thought to be having while slurping a rapidly cooling coffee and partaking of her normal noonday ritual of surreptitiously staring at Brent.

Now, she wasn't proud of what she did on most days at this time. It was kind of skeevy, but Brent was just so good looking with his wide shoulders and chiseled features... compared to the rest of the guys in town he was so dreamy. Sure, out of her league, but a girl could dream, right? But something was wrong with those dreams ever since she had come back from her trip to Saskatoon. Something just wasn't right with this picture anymore.

So maybe it was because her mind was turning over, busy contemplating other things, that she failed to be as sneaky as usual.

"What?" asked Brent with the mildest of annoyances.

Karen pointed at her own chin. "You have some chili sauce dribbling down there. You've got a bit of a vampire thing going on."

Brent perked up a bit. "Ooh, a scary vampire or a sexy vampire..." he drew out every syllable of the word 'sexy', including a few syllables that the word didn't normally have.

"Neither," she said, frowning. "Sort of a sitting in a diner, eating a chili cheese dog sort of vampire."

"Oh," pouted Brent, disappointed. He picked up the nearby napkin dispenser (which was, of course, shiny metal and did indeed reflect Brent) and, using it as a mirror, tried to capture the escaping sauce with his tongue.

Somehow, Karen just didn't find that as sexy as she once would have. And she really, really wondered how she could have possibly found that enticing at all... but up until recently she did and now it felt weird that it didn't anymore. It was just unsettling, like when Davis dragged her to go see the new Star Trek movie and suddenly Spock was frenching Uhura and half the audience was yelling 'what the fuck?!' while Karen's stomach churned with what she couldn't tell was revulsion or tittilation.

Or too much pop drunk too quickly.

Sometimes she'd been known to do that.

It had all started when she had taken a trip to Saskatoon to visit some friends from way back when she was a kid. She hadn't visited in a while... a long while. Part of the reason for that was that one of these friends was the girl who, that one time during a slumber party (and following an especially enthusiastic tickle-fight), had pinched Karen's nipples in her sleep.

She tries not to think about that too often.

Karen had met up with her old friends and they were walking down the streets of Saskatoon, down to the local bar, and she was getting a good look at the people around. The guys going past her as they walked just seemed... well... better than the ones in Dog River, and her mind wandered back to a conversation in The Ruby, some wild theory of Lacey's... What was it that she had said? Something about the size of cities and the good-lookingness of the residents or however she worded it? Karen had dismissed it as crazy talk back then, but now, now that it was in her head and she was looking for it, Lacey might have been right.

If Brent had been standing next to, for instance that guy hailing a cab right in front of Karen and her friends, would Karen have given Brent a second look? Brent was still hot, but...

Wow, this was disappointing. Her love-life was pretty damned sad, actually. Her old friends were all in committed, long-term relationships, while the only man Karen had slept with in years was (ugh) Hank. Hank.

So that thought brought her back into the present, where she lamented her lack of someone to have and to hold, of companionship, love, and sex; no lover, no prospects, little hope, still sitting in that same diner where she spent each and every lunchtime, by herself (or with Davis, but that doesn't count).

A graceful hand slipped a piece of paper beneath where her eyes had absentmindedly lost their focus. "Here's your bill, Karen," said Lacey, startling Karen from her brooding.

Her heart leapt up and down like a well-kicked footbag.

Karen found her eyes drifting up the diner owner's arm until she briefly locked eyes with Lacey, before looking back down to her coffee mug. Nope, never kissed a girl, never at all. Kind of sad, isn't it?

So maybe the only reason she was focusing on Lacey was that it was Lacey's idea about hotness being relative. And that one time when she thought that Lacey might have been coming on to her. (And that other time, which was completely innocent until she stopped to think about the phrasing later that night, when she so desperately wanted to see inside Lacey's box.)

Maybe it was time to give into these urges... was it?... well... no. Totally no. Well... no. Maybe? No...

No.

Still... as she happened to glance Lacey's firm ass in those hip-hugger jeans as she walked the length of the counter to freshen up someone's coffee, she couldn't help but wonder. And keep glancing.

***

"Brent," Lacey hissed at the overweight gas station owner, "Did you see that?"

"See what?" he asked, genuinely confused, which was not unlike his usual mental state.

Lacey looked to her left and right to make sure no one was listening in on them. "Did you see Karen? That was weird, right, that thing she did right before she left? She ran her hand up my arm and everything." Lacey went white, well, whiter than usual. "I think she might have a crush on me."

Brent scoffed. "Oh please, you think everyone has a crush on you."

"Is it so unlikely that someone actually might?" She took in Brent's withering stare.

"Lacey, do you need me to go through the list? You thought I had a crush on you. You thought Davis had a crush on you. You thought Fitzy had a crush on you. Heck, you even thought Fitzy's Grandma had a crush on you."

"I did not."

"True, but it's no more crazy than what you're talking right now."

"Yeah, you're right. I am talking crazy." And Lacey put that thought out of her head and went on with her day.