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The Morning After

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The Morning After The Night Before

Even whilst still half asleep, Vanessa realised that waking up in this now not so unfamiliar bed was becoming a bit of a habit.

It had been three months since the first time, which had been a most unexpected turn of events, however despite her own protestations at the time it had not been a one off. Two months had passed with very little interaction other than playful banter until that night just before Christmas, when a second cellar encounter had tipped this – whatever this was – from a delicious memory of a one night stand into something more.

The irritating vibration from her phone, which she assumed had been what had awoken her, forced her to open her eyes and reach out to the bedside cabinet. Holding the mobile in front of her face and trying focus, she eventually managed to read the first message.

“Little man is fine. Hope you had fun in town. Want ALL the details T x”

Lying to her sister was not something she had planned to do, especially when entrusting her with Johnny overnight but Tracy would not have been impressed with her choice of sleeping companion and this was one battle she did not yet have the energy to fight. It had only been three weeks since she realised she may have actual feelings for the woman currently lying beside her, but she had already spent six nights away from her son and that wasn’t including all the other random times of day she had been in this room. Tracy, her dad and Rhona were more than competent babysitters but the guilt was beginning to eat away at her.

“Saw Tracy. Were you really in town? I’m worried about you. Rhona xx”

The latter of the trio was more aware than the others as to where Vanessa was choosing to spend her time, although neither of them had brought it up since that conversation before Christmas except a few pointed remarks from the other vet.

She shifted slightly, moving over on the bed and swinging her legs off the side. She reached down to pick her clothes up off the floor and went to stand up before looking back over her shoulder. There was something so beautifully peaceful about Charity when she slept, but after getting to know her intimately over the last weeks Vanessa knew that this was nothing but a constructed exterior. As much as the two of them tried to pretend that what was happening between them was just a chance for a bit of a laugh whilst Vanessa explored her newfound identity, she figured that they both now knew this was nothing but a lie.

Her own feelings for Charity were still confusing, suffocating and intense, but she knew that it was even more complex for the other woman. She had been the one to pursue Vanessa, despite saying she would get bored of her and since recent events with Debbie, the Dingle family and this Joe guy, things were different. She had considered that the other woman was using her as a distraction and whilst this was not exactly what she wanted, she wasn’t likely to say no to night times spent exploring what made each other scream into a pillow. However the desperation with which Charity had kissed her the previous night when she had snuck Vanessa upstairs after the pub was closed was something she doubted either of them had experienced before. It was like all the pain and anger Charity felt at this very raw situation her family was going through was threatening to rip her apart and the only thing keeping her rooted in reality was Vanessa.

She sighed and turned away, starting to get dressed. The previous night had been intoxicating and exhilarating, to the point she knew these overnight adventures were fast slipping from habit into addiction. She doubted either of them would be prepared to acknowledge it out loud but both were investing far too heavily in this thing, whatever it was, albeit for different reasons and that was likely to lead to them both getting burnt.

As she silently dressed, Vanessa pondered how she kept putting herself in situations where her heart did not feel safe. She had never really been into the concept of long term relationships or putting her heart on the line until the last few years, but since then she had made bad decisions that always ended with her feeling broken. She had laid herself open to being torn apart when she declared her feelings for Rhona, even though that felt like another lifetime now, and then when she finally found someone to settle down with he was over twenty years younger than her. That in itself had not been an issue to her, but it had meant that when things got difficult he did not have the maturity to stick it out and support her and their son.

And now she was finding herself falling hard for Charity Dingle, a woman she had barely spoken to or thought about for years but was now the topic of most of her waking thoughts and every one of her dreams too. She doubted it was healthy, to be obsessing over this woman like a schoolgirl with a crush but every time she started to do something to put an end to it they ended up back in this room.

She readied herself to leave, quietly picking up her bag and coat from the floor and pleading with the universe to let her get out of the pub and across the village without being spotted. However before she walked out of the door she glanced back at the sleeping woman, feeling her heart beat a little faster as she did. Charity had crashed into her life three months before, throwing her a complete curveball and making her question everything she knew about herself. She was fully expecting this to be over at any second, but in spite of the secretive nature of their connection Vanessa knew she could not willingly give this up.

She slipped out of the room, down the stairs and out into the cold morning air. Skulking across to her front door she fumbled for her keys and let herself in, aiming to make as little noise as possible. Heading to the kitchen to make herself a much needed coffee, knowing caffeine was needed to take the edge off tired muscles and a lack of sleep, she flicked open her messages again before typing quickly.

“Morning sleepyhead. Had to get back for J. See you later?”

The moment she had sent it she wondered if the question mark sounded too desperate, too needy, but it was too late to take it back as she could see the message had already been read.

“Gonna get a complex if you keep leaving first thing. Working this eve. You could come by after?”

Vanessa studied the response. The ability to send messages rather than always calling people was convenient but she cursed the lack of context words alone gave. She wondered if it was possible to over-analyse a question mark too much, but without the tone of speech it was not clear to her if that was a specific invitation or more of a casual, don’t mind if you do sort of statement. However before she had time to reply further a second message appeared.

“Or I could come to you?”

The question, whilst not wholly unexpected, floored her slightly. They had briefly discussed sleeping arrangements but had settled on things happening exclusively at the pub at Vanessa’s insistence. For Charity to put forward this alternative option was moving things forward and she couldn’t help but wonder if the woman was trying to get a reaction from her.

“I can’t really spend another night away from Johnny”

She thought hard about her reply before pressing send, and then held her breath to see what the response was. She had not offered an explicit invitation in return nor had she declined the suggestion, putting the ball back firmly in Charity’s court to make a move.

“Yours it is then. Be there 11:30. Will be gone by morning if you need me to be for the boy”

Vanessa exhaled and took another deep breath to steady her heart rate as it pounded. Whatever this was and for whatever reasons it was happening, she knew it wasn’t just her who was getting involved. She was forever grateful that today was a Saturday, no work and the chance to spend some quality time with her son to help mediate her mummy guilt but then tonight would be the first time the three of them had all stayed over in the same place. It was a big step, perhaps one she wasn’t quite ready for and shouldn’t be taking, and yet she could not think of anything else she would rather happen.

“Looking forward to it already”