"I think I might major in Art." Blair said casually as she read through her first year Langley syllabus. She was sitting at the table in Edna's Edible's, munching on a croissant.
Jo looked up from her sweeping and scowled, "You do work here, Blair."
"I know I know...but I have to find a course to complete my credits for the semester. I've left it too late. I have to find something!" Blair said irritably, waving Jo off.
"Look, take that drama course with me on Tuesday and Thursday...it's an easy art credit and you'll have just missed two classes. We don't have any classes together this semester, didn't you notice?" Jo said casually as she put the broom down, slowly wandered over to Blair to have a look over her shoulder so as to read the notes she was taking.
"I realize that we have no classes together and usually that would be a good reason to celebrate but considering our situation, it's tragic! It would be very nice to take one class with you." Blair said affectionately. She smiled at Jo, blushed ever so slightly and went back to looking at her booklet, very aware of Jo's proximity.
"It would. Speaking of nice, are we still on for Friday night?" Jo whispered in Blair's ear as she pretended to read over her shoulder.
Blair smirked, "I can't wait. Finally a real date without fear of a Eastland curfew. Do we know what we are doing?"
Jo kissed Blair's ear, stood up and walked over to the chair opposite Blair, and smiled, "It's a secret, Princess. Remember we are in Peekskill, not Vegas."
They grinned at each other, and before they could reach over and hold hands, Natalie wandered in.
"I'm coming in the room, with my eyes wide open!" She said with a laugh.
Blair and Jo's hands darted back into place and Jo stood up quickly.
"Nothing is happening here." Jo exclaimed with a little too much conviction.
Natalie laughed harder and waved her hand at Blair, "Too bad for you, huh Blair?"
Jo and Blair frowned at Natalie. Ever since Nat had found out about the pair, she was incorrigible to live with. The teasing and innuendo was driving Jo nuts. Blair just found it immature.
Mrs. Garrett was aware of everything and had laid down the law regarding how they, meaning Jo and Blair, should conduct themselves around the store, Peekskill, Langley and their younger roommates, especially Tootie who was only 14. Natalie was just making it more difficult, even though she seemed fine with the situation and rather supportive. Still, her silliness just made the new couple more anxious than happy.
"Stifle it, Nat!" Jo practically growled as she picked up her broom and started sweeping again, with a violent flair.
"Settle down ladies, I'm just here to relieve Blair from her shift...of sitting around and eating our profits. Good work, Blair." Natalie said with a chuckle as she donned her apron.
"I worked! Now give me a minute...let's see Drama 101 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am...that works! Thanks, Jo!" Blair said happily, jotting down the information and gathering her notebooks in her arms.
"Blair, can you at least balance the register before you go?" Jo asked, annoyed and attracted to Blair, at the same time.
Natalie, of course, picked up on that, "Oh that's okay Blair, you go on now, Jo and I have work to do."
Jo rolled her eyes at Natalie while trying to keep on track with Blair, "No Natalie. Blair has time to do one job and ah... by the way Blair, I can take your registration card to school tomorrow; I have a class near the drama department."
Blair flashed a smile at Jo, "Why thank you Jo. Now I'm just going to go freshen up and I'll be right back to balance that ole register."
Jo nodded with a frown, "That's better."
Blair sailed out of the room with her books, leaving her perfume fragrance behind. It made Jo feel slightly giddy. She looked over at Natalie, who was grinning at her like a loony.
"What!" Jo yelled.
"You do know she's not coming back, right?" Natalie said with a laugh.
Jo looked slightly deflated, "Yeah".
"Go follow her, Jo. I'll count the cash in the register. Tootie will be on shift in an hour. I think Mrs. Garrett and I can handle the supper crowd." Natalie said with an air of sympathy.
Natalie kind of felt bad for Jo, Blair being the way she was and thought that the fates would look upon her favorably if she helped Jo out with her relationship with Blair. That sounded so weird...relationship. How an explosive homicidal situation turned into a homosexual situation perplexed even the worldly Natalie Green. The fates were a fickle crew, she thought. The balance in the store was off and if she got the two girls together, that could possibly restore some harmony in Natalie's little world. Things kinda worked out that way for Nat.
Jo looked at her suspiciously, "What? I can go?"
Natalie nodded happily and walked over to take the broom from Jo, "Go west young girl!"
"Huh?" Jo asked with an annoyed air. Natalie babbled way too much for Jo's liking. It was like Nat was from another planet.
"Go follow Blair, away with you now." Natalie interpreted. Jo was rather thick sometimes. Brilliant academic mind, almost mentally incompetent in social situations.
Jo was nonplussed but found the idea of following Blair's trail of perfume too much to bear. "Yeah well, I should talk to her about her responsibilities at the shop, right?"
Natalie rolled her eyes, but smiled sympathetically, "Yeah go talk to Blair, Jo. You got lots of time to talk now."
Jo frowned but passed on a rebuttal, it was beginning to become redundant with Nat, "Okay, but I should tell Mrs. G..."
"...for gosh sakes Jo, can't you just walk away. Do you really want Mrs. Garrett to know about your 'talking' with Blair?" Natalie said with exasperation as she made quotation marks with her fingers around the word talking.
"Would ya stop with the implying! Really Nat, grow up!" Jo said as she stomped away from the store front, blushing slightly.
Natalie put the broom away and sighed. "Now you owe me one." She was referring to the fates again. A customer came in and she put on her best Edna's Edibles grin as she began a long shift of pushing pastries on people.
Upstairs, Blair had already put her things away and had redressed. She was applying her make up in the shared washroom when Jo appeared at the door.
"Hey!" Jo whispered so as to not startle Blair.
"I thought you might be coming by" Blair said casually.
"Did ya now? That wasn't cool, Blair. We gotta pull our weight around here, Mrs. G depends on us." Jo said with half hearted scorn. She entered the washroom without invitation and sat on the edge of the tub, watching Blair.
"Yes I know that Jo. But thank you for the reminder. I sometimes forget I'm living above a kitchen again." Blair said as she carefully applied her lipstick. Although she would never admit it, she loved the family like atmosphere of living with the girls and Mrs. Garrett. It was a bonus that Jo was also her...she didn't have a word for it yet even after almost two years. Amore? Lover sounded vulgar, girlfriend? Sweetheart? Side kick? Who cared, really? Blair thought as she admired her lipstick shade in the mirror.
"Going somewhere?" Jo asked, feeling apprehensive. It still perplexed her that Blair went out with Langley guys. She knew it was Blair's way of putting on airs in front of her friends at college but still, everyone who mattered knew about them. Their parents, Mrs. G, even Mr. Parker at Eastland had been told so if Tootie became confused, the school could deal with it.
"Gamma Gamma is having a mixer at the sorority house tonight. Boots invited me so of course I have to make an appearance." She said with a quick smile. Blair looked in the mirror and seemed pleased at what she saw. Perfection.
Jo, rather speechless, looked at her in anger, "Mixer? So I let you off early so you could run off to a mixer?"
"No, you let US off early so WE could go to a mixer. You are not going to wear that I hope because beige sweat suits are really not appropriate." Blair responded as she flew gracefully out of the washroom and back into their share living space. Jo followed her quickly, a bit taken aback.
"I wasn't invited, Blair", Jo said when she caught up with the blonde.
"Of course not. You are my guest. Why not wear that nice grey shirt and black wool tie you have in the back of your closet. The one that goes with your tweed blazer. Jeans are acceptable although I prefer you wear your skirt but since you might want to take your bike -"
Jo cut her off, "Guest? Like a date?"
"Whatever you want to call it. Now get dressed, we want 'fashionably late' not last year's jeans late." Blair said as she sat on her bed and began flipping through a text book.
Jo had no response. This wasn't what their first college date was supposed to look like. She caught Blair staring at her.
"Is there something wrong?" Blair queried.
"Is this our first college date?" Jo asked.
"It's one of many, is it not? Now get ready already." Blair said, now annoyed. Jo was very intelligent but sometimes she wasn't as street wise as she led on.
How Jo had missed some of Blair's best romantic overtures in the past was beyond her. A year before they finally got together, Blair had been hinting to Jo that she was crushing for her. Jo constantly took it as an insult of some sort and they would argue. They would have been together back in their freshman year at Eastland if she had gotten her way. But she supposed it was better that they had waited and took their time. They would have never got away with some of the things they did now if they had been 15.
Jo, feeling rather silly now, got dressed quickly. She wore the grey shirt and black tie, a pair of new black jeans her mother bought her last Christmas, and her Nike runners.
When she looked in the mirror in the washroom, she winced. Yikes, she looked a mess. Taking her hair out of its usual ponytail, she brushed her hair until it looked tidy. She was about to put it back with an elastic when Blair appeared suddenly behind her. Jo startled but Blair just wrapped her arms around Jo's waist and leaned her chin on her shoulder so they could see each other in the mirror.
"You look perfect. Leave it like that." Blair whispered into Jo's ear.
Jo felt giddy again, inhaling Blair's wonderful scent. She turned around and faced Blair, who kept her own arms wrapped around Jo.
"You sure do surprise me sometimes...all the time actually." Jo said softly.
Blair smirked, "Kiss me, idiot".
Jo did just that. After what seemed to Blair a few seconds and to Jo, hours, they heard footsteps and broke their embrace quickly. Blair briskly removed the smudged lipstick off Jo's mouth with a tissue.
"Blair?" A voiced called out from their room. It was Mrs. Garrett.
"Just a minute, Mrs. Garrett, I'm just fixing my face! Blair yelled out while grinning at Jo.
Jo escaped the washroom and kind of fumbled her way towards the door of the bedroom. Edna Garrett was standing there, a look of knowing on her face.
"Hi Mrs. G!" Jo said with a little too much enthusiasm.
"Hello Jo", Mrs. G said with a sigh.
"Everything okay?" Jo asked cringing inside.
"Oh just fine dear. What could be wrong?" She replied. Oh God, Jo thought.
Blair waltzed into the room, looking fresh and happy as could be. "Yes Mrs. Garrett?"
Edna gave Blair her 'I'm very close to having steam spout out of my ears' look. "Are you two going somewhere?"
Jo's guilty look made Edna soften a little. Edna wondered how that girl ever could have been involved in a street gang so many years ago before she entered Eastland Academy. Jo was so damn honest.
"You both are still on the clock. Can I assume you are finished your shifts early?" Edna asked them both.
"Natalie shooed us away Mrs. Garrett, what could we do? She was very insistent." Blair responded honestly.
"Oh really? How nice of her. I suppose we could rename the shop 'Natalie's Edibles." Edna remarked with irritation.
"Listen Mrs. G, if ya need us, we can come down..." Jo started to say but Blair cut her off.
"...We are expected at Gamma Gamma in 20 minutes Mrs. Garrett. There is a possible job for us if we attend this mixer. The Phi Delta's need a caterer for their pledge party next month and I think Jo here could sway them to choose Edna's Edibles for the job! Jo plays basketball and she has a lot of friends in the sports department, including a lot of senior Phi Delta's." Blair said in all seriousness. Jo looked at Blair then Mrs. Garrett.
"Really?" Edna asked, her tone now softening even more.
"We have to be there or Boots may make some comment about our previous...catering at the Gamma Rush party. You understand, don't you?" Blair said knowingly.
"Oh dear! Yes! You girls better get going and hurry before, well, let's just say I over reacted. Thank you Blair." Edna said, turning a 360 and marching back downstairs, most likely to lecture Natalie. They'd be gone before Natalie could spill the beans, Jo thought.
"Nice save, Blair. I'm impressed!" Jo said as she put her tweed jacket on.
"Oh no, Jo...that was the truth. That's why we are going." Blair said as a matter of fact.
Jo looked a bit stunned, as if someone threw ice cold water on her, "So this isn't like a date?"
Blair donned her Chanel wool jacket, and sighed at Jo as if she were dealing with a toddler, "What is wrong with you? Wait don't tell me, I already know. You are nuts. Now let's go, please? You can drive my car. I'm afraid to ride on that bike of yours with you being all weird." She tossed the keys to her father's Porsche at Jo.
Catching the keys, Jo frowned, wanting to argue but Blair was already heading down the stairs.
Jo found herself rushing down the stairs to catch up with Blair. Natalie was standing near the landing and when she watched Jo chase Blair down the stairs, and she couldn't help but laugh.
Tootie stuck her head in from the doorway connecting the living room to the store, and yelled, "What's so funny?"
Jo snarled at Natalie as she ran by, "Quit it, Nat, will ya?"
Blair waved goodbye to them all and walked out of the house leaving the door open behind her.
"Ah for God's sake Blair will ya wait up!" Jo yelled as she ran out the door too.
Natalie walked over and began to close the door, but not until she watched Jo open the car door for Blair and then run around the car, jump in and take off. Nat finally closed the door and chuckled, "Oh Jo you are so whipped".
"What the heck are you babbling about, Nat?" Tootie asked as she wiped her hands on her apron.
"Are you legally blind, Tootie?" Natalie asked her best friend. Everyone knew about Blair and Jo, it was the biggest non-secret in Peekskill, yet young Tootie Ramsey still hadn't put two and two together. Nat supposed it was better that way. She was a bit young to be dealing with something so out of the norm in a small town during an era that was intolerant of mostly everyone. The 80's were like a high tech 50's here in Peekskill, NY.
"Very funny, Nat. What was that all about? Mrs. Garrett said Blair has a job lined up for us." Tootie said, pouting just a bit.
"That's not all Blair has lined up for tonight." Natalie mumbled.
"What?" Tootie said.
"Nothing, Tootie, let's get back to work and later I'll tell you a little story I'm writing about the Princess and The Grease Monkey." Natalie said as she and Tootie walked back into the shop.
End of Chapter One