Beatrice was in the process of finishing her coffee when music began to play loudly from the hallway.
In the year that she had lived in the building, the last few months had been relative bliss since her last neighbour had moved out.
Apparently that peace was now over.
And apparently her new neighbour had a penchant for late nineties early noughties pop.
It was far too early to be listening to basshunter.
But it was fine.
Beatrice had to get to work so her new neighbour could play their music to their hearts content.
Unless the new neighbour was the type to play music late into the night, then there was going to be a problem.
But she'd deal with that if and when it happened.
Beatrice pulled on her jacket and grabbed her keys and sunglasses from the counter and stepped outside to a hallway full of boxes.
The door to 1008 was propped open with a box and the music was blaring inside.
Beatrice stepped around the boxes and made her way towards the elevator.
The doors opened before Beatrice had reached it, a girl around the same age as her stood inside, box in her arms and what was clearly two iced coffees balanced on top.
Watching the girl try to drink from one was like an accident waiting to happen.
She seemed to finally realise that the doors had opened and looked up, gaze meeting Beatrice's directly.
Is this the new neighbour?
New neighbour with lovely brown hair, wide bright eyes and an easy smile.
Hot new neighbour.
"Oh shit, Hi!"
Hot new neighbour with a nice voice and a hint of an accent?
"Hi." Beatrice greeted. "Do you need a hand with those?"
"Nah, I think I can shuffle it the… what, ten feet?"
Beatrice glanced over her shoulder to the door at the end of the hall. "Twenty."
The girl hummed thoughtfully and promptly set the box down before picking up the drinks.
She was wearing a plain white t-shirt and black sweatpants and while the outfit was simple, Beatrice still found her gaze dropping from the girls face to -
It was rude to stare at a girls chest, especially when Beatrice didn't even know her name yet.
"I'm Ava." The girl greeted with a smile.
Ava had a great chest.
"You live here?"
"I do. 1003."
She watched Ava tilt her head to the side and after a moment her eyes brightened. "Oh! You're across the hall, we're neighbours!"
"So it would seem."
"I swear I'll get all the boxes out of the way as soon as I can and, oh fuck the music, is the music too loud? I'll make sure to turn down the music. You won't hear a peep out of me I swear."
The girl was full of energy, her words came out rapidly and Beatrice was certain that if she didn't have her hands full, she'd be gesturing wildly.
"Okay maybe not a peep, I'm clumsy and have a tendency to set off the fire alarm and there may be a house warming party at some point but -"
"Ava?" Beatrice interrupted gently.
"It's okay, you can play your music, I'm going to work so it's not a problem." Beatrice said.
"Of course. Welcome to the building." Beatrice stepped around her to walk into the elevator.
"You too!" Ava replied confidently.
Beatrice watched as Ava's eyes widened as she registered what she had just said, and as the doors closed, saw Ava tilt her head to the ceiling and close her eyes.
It was definitely one of the weirdest starts to the morning that Beatrice had experienced for a long time.
Weird, but not unwelcome.
Ava was sitting on the floor when she heard footsteps approach her.
"You look like you're having an existential crisis." Lilith said bluntly.
Ava stared at the elevator. "Yep."
"Usually you have to think to have one."
Lilith scoffed and picked up the ice coffee from the ground. "You wish."
"Why are all the boxes out here?" Ava asked.
"Why are you having a crisis?"
"My neighbour is super hot and she said welcome to the building and I replied 'you too.'"
As expected, Lilith snorted.
Her best friend, everybody.
"I know it's not exactly hard for your brain to fail, but was she really that hot?"
The second the elevator doors had opened and Ava had seen Beatrice staring at her, her brain had completely stopped.
The all black outfit and leather jacket combination really gave the impression of badass and dangerous, but Beatrice's eyes were nothing but kind.
And when she smiled, that had only been warm.
And her voice?
Fucking hell, that voice.
Delicate but just low enough that Ava could still hear it now.
"She's British, Lilith." Ava sighed. "She's already hot but… God, Lilith. British accents are so hot did you know?"
The silence dragged on for long enough that Ava lifted her head to look up at her friend, only to be met with an incredulous glare.
"Ava, I'm fucking British."
"Well yours doesn't count!"
Lilith made a face and held a hand up in sheer confusion.
"Honestly Ava I left you alone for five minutes."
Ava picked up her own coffee and took a long drink from it. "Actually it looks like you just sat in my apartment while I kept bringing up boxes."
"Speaking of, many more left to bring up?"
"You better get to work then."
"I will move these boxes." Lilith nudged one with her foot. "Unpack at least half of this stuff and I'll buy you lunch."
Ava hopped to her feet. "Seriously? And dessert?"
Lilith was already walking away. "Yes Ava. You can have dessert."
"Mary said to stop avoiding her calls."
Beatrice didn't look up from her computer. "Mary needs to stop calling me when I'm at work."
She heard Camila's chair roll closer until she appeared in her peripheral vision.
"Mary also said that she expected you to say that and that as you're one of the bosses then you can make the time to answer her calls."
Beatrice lifted her gaze and opened her mouth to speak. "But -"
"And that if you protested then as the other boss, I could order you to call her back."
Beatrice closed her mouth.
She was only delaying the inevitable.
Camila put her elbow on Beatrice's desk and rested her chin in her hand as she watched Beatrice curiously.
Beatrice stared back. "What?"
"Why are you avoiding Mary?"
Beatrice sighed and sent her email before leaning back in her chair. "Because she wants to set me up on a blind date."
"...And that's bad because?"
"She wants to set me up on a blind date."
Beatrice could see where Mary and Shannon were coming from, she'd known the pair and Camila since college and in all those years they had only seen Beatrice go on a handful of dates.
They definitely hadn't seen her have a long term girlfriend.
But Beatrice had always said that dating was secondary, her career came first.
And her career had turned into an idea, the idea had turned into a startup with Camila and now they were finally getting there.
OCS Industries was up and running and building a very fast reputation of being amongst the best in terms of cyber security.
Camila had declared that she wanted to build something that not even she could hack into, they were still working on getting to that point, but they were close.
Being under thirty and a CEO certainly felt like some kind of success.
And apparently that meant that she no longer had an excuse to put dating on the back burner.
"Would it really be that bad?" Camila asked.
It had been a while.
"It… Wouldn't be the end of the world I suppose." Beatrice admitted.
Dating in itself isn't the end of the world, but blind dates? Not knowing what she was getting into?
Camila's phone vibrated with another message and Beatrice watched as her eyes skimmed over the screen.
"Mary said she's on her way."
Beatrice wasn't one for running away.
But she also wasn't about to deal with this right now.
"Are you okay to hold down the fort here?" Beatrice asked.
"You're going to work from home aren't you?"
Beatrice was already shutting down her computer and grabbing her keys. "Yes."
"She knows where you live."
"But she can't get in, which is an important factor." Beatrice pointed out. "I'll call you when I'm home."
Camila waved a hand dramatically. "Yeah sure, leave me. It's fine."
"You're the best, if Mary calls-"
"You had to step out for a meeting, but Bea, I can't keep doing this so just… Consider the date? Free food."
"I always split the bill unless I like them." Beatrice mumbled as she got up from her seat.
"Of course you do."
"I feel like I should have made you at least put the bed up before this." Lilith sighed as Ava locked the door behind them.
"I'll do it when we get back."
"That's a lie."
"Not entirely!" Ava replied. "Worst comes to it I'll crash on the sofa."
Lilith scoffed. "I did not just clear my entire day to help you move in only to have you sleep on the sofa. You didn't even do that when you lived with me. You're not a broke student, stop acting like it."
"Did you just tell me to grow up?" Ava asked.
Ava snorted and bumped her shoulder against Lilith's.
Lilith had been in her life since Ava was a teenager, her dad had been more of a father to Ava than Ava's own ever was.
Sure he'd… kind of taken her in after her mom died.
But it was Lilith and her dad who really took care of her. Every business trip their dad's went on, Ava got to go too.
Long weekends sharing a hotel room and raiding the mini bar and bonding over feeling as though they never had had a place to belong.
And what started out as a hyper preteen and a moody teenager forced to interact turned into Ava skipping school to go to Lilith's campus and crash in her dorm.
Or when Ava went to college she spent more time in Lilith's apartment than her own dorm.
It was only natural that Ava would intern at Lilith's fathers firm and eventually take up the offer of working at a new branch and follow Lilith out to New York.
She'd lived with Lilith for almost a year before Ava decided it was time she got her own place.
And even though she kind of hated her dad most of the time, the inheritance she kept as an emergency fund proved to be handy for slapping down a deposit on a shiny new apartment.
Lilith was her best friend.
"I'll let you choose where to eat as long as you don't bring up your hot British neighbour again."
Oh, how she hated her.
"I haven't even mentioned her that much!"
"Her eyes were so intense, Lilith." Lilith began in a mocking tone. "The leather jacket she wore was so fitting Lilith. Her neck was so-"
"Oh my god stop!" Ava slapped the button for the elevator. "I do not sound like that."
Lilith raised an eyebrow. " That's the part you're choosing to focus on?"
"I feel like you're just going to quote me some more and if you are you may as well try to get the voice right."
Lilith scoffed and draped her arm over Ava's shoulders. "Yeah I'll definitely take the criticism on board."
The elevator finally reached their floor and opened.
And Ava wasn't sure if it was God's work or the devil's, but as soon as she caught a glimpse of leather Ava's stomach flipped.
And now she was wearing aviators.
Hot sexy neighbour who wasn't even a snack.
She was a whole damn meal.
Beatrice reached up to lift the aviators and smiled. "Oh! Ava."
"Beatrice, hi." Ava grinned.
Beatrice stepped forward as Lilith and Ava awkwardly stepped aside so that she could walk out.
Ava watched her give Lilith a curious once over as she took the glasses off and tucked them into the pocket of her jacket before she turned to face Ava.
"We're just…" Ava cleared her throat. "Going to grab some lunch."
Lilith was still staring at the back of Beatrice's head, her gaze dropped down and- was Lilith staring at Beatrice's ass?
…Was it a good ass?
"Oh, enjoy. I imagine you're probably hungry after moving all those boxes."
"Yup! Can't wait to eat out."
Behind Beatrice, Lilith pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Go out. For lunch." Ava said. "Okay. Bye"
Beatrice laughed softly and turned away. "Goodbye, Ava."
Ava allowed herself three seconds to watch Beatrice walk down the hall and yep, good ass.
Beatrice started to turn, most likely towards her door, but there was a part of Ava that was certain Beatrice was about to look back at them.
She grabbed Lilith's arm and dragged them both into the elevator and pressed the button.
Ava walked until she faced the far wall and pressed her forehead to the cool metal as she heard the doors slide closed.
"Oh." Lilith said.
"Perhaps you had a point." Lilith continued. "I thought this was just an Ava Silva thing but even I have to admit, your neighbour is really hot."
Ava sighed and let her head thud against the wall before she turned and leaned her back against it.
"I don't know what that means but… I told you so." Ava groaned again. "Oh my god did I tell her that I couldn't wait to eat out?"
"Yes. You started to turn red."
"Fuck. I can't fuck this up, I can't afford to move again."
"Ava, she is really hot, on a good day you trip over your words, you didn't stand a chance."
And god, if Lilith finds her that hot and if Beatrice was into women?
They'd make such a power couple, two super hot British women and oh…
Ava wouldn't stand a chance if Lilith liked her too.
"Please don't sleep with her." Ava said suddenly.
Lilith looked confused. "What?"
"You're really hot and I can't compete with you."
Lilith folded her arms across her chest and gave Ava a critical look. "Ava. You're attractive. Extremely attractive to the point where it's effortless and sometimes I want to slap you for it."
"...Thank you?" Ava replied. "But seriously Lil, you and her… please don't sleep with her."
It felt weirdly petty to be saying that to Lilith, to beg her not to try and pursue anything with this mysterious, beautiful woman.
But at the same time, she couldn't help herself.
If there was a chance to be had, then she wanted it.
Lilith's expression grew serious, even as her voice took on that rare softness only Ava really got to see. "I'd never do that to you."
"I believe you."
"You better." Lilith replied. "Now come on, lunch and dessert. Try to limit your gushing about hot neighbour."
Ava snorted. "Is gushing really the word you want to use?"
Lilith gave the back of Ava's head a soft slap. "Behave."
"No? I never have and I don't plan on starting now."
Beatrice leaned back in her seat and rubbed at her eyes.
She glanced at the clock in the corner of one of her monitors, it was four in the afternoon.
She'd been working for four hours solid and as her own music switched tracks, Beatrice heard the faint vocals of the backstreet boys playing in the distance.
In the time since she had started working, Ava had gone to lunch, come back and presumably continued to unpack.
Beatrice wondered if Ava's friend was still there too.
Was she a friend though?
The woman had been tall, broody with cheekbones that had made Beatrice do a brief double take.
And with the arm around Ava's shoulders and from the warm and familiar way Ava had been looking at the woman...
Trust Beatrice to get lucky enough to have a new, hot neighbour who caught her interest enough to be on Beatrice's mind throughout the day, only for said neighbour to most likely have a girlfriend who is almost as hot.
She sighed and got up from her desk to head into the kitchen and pour herself a glass of wine.
Maybe Mary was right.
Going on one date probably wouldn't kill her.
Ava didn't see Beatrice for two days after she moved into her apartment.
And it hadn't even been for lack of trying.
Every time she'd left to explore the neighbourhood or meet Lilith for dinner and drinks she'd lingered in the hallway wondering where the other woman was.
Hell, she'd almost knocked on Beatrice's door with a lame excuse of asking to borrow milk or something like that.
She just really wanted to see her hot neighbour again.
But the few days off Ava had taken to get moved in were at their end, and now she had a few case files waiting for her on her coffee table.
And Ava definitely wasn't about to deal with that until she was suitably caffeinated.
She'd found a nice coffee shop a few streets away that also did a mean cinnamon roll.
And to make things better, it was a coffee shop that doubled as a record store.
She didn't own a vinyl player yet, but at least the music was good.
But Ava was ready to get back to work.
If she could remember the fucking code to get back into her building.
After her third try Ava was ready to punch the damn keypad.
"You son of a bitch." Ava sighed and pressed her forehead to the wall.
One of the reasons she'd chosen this place was because of the security it had. To even get into the building she had to scan a chip in her key fob and type in the code.
Which was great, if she hadn't forgotten it.
She really should have written it down.
Lilith would know.
Lilith would have had it written down and saved in her phone. There was a reason Ava had trusted her with her spare set of keys.
Ava sighed and set her coffee and to-go bag on the ground and pulled out her phone.
Her thumb was hovering over Lilith's name when she heard jogging footsteps approach.
Oh, she didn't know if there was a God, but if there was, they were throwing her a solid right now.
Hello sexy British accent.
Ava turned around to the source of that voice to see Beatrice come to a stop beside her.
Oh God, Beatrice was in running gear.
Holy shit her t-shirt was so tight.
Beatrice was all sweaty and sexy and smiling at her.
And… Ava still hadn't spoken.
"Beatrice, hi!" Ava greeted. "You… you run?"
"I do." Beatrice replied softly. "Most mornings, actually."
Good to know.
"Cool. Cool, cool, cool. Gotta stay in shape right?"
Beatrice's head tilted to the side slightly.
It was so endearing, even if Ava wanted to kick herself.
Beatrice nodded towards the keypad. "Having trouble?"
"Turns out I'm not good at remembering four digit codes." Ava sighed.
"Here." Beatrice laughed and stepped into Ava's space to reach up and scan her key fob and punch the code in. "8433."
"You say that as if I'm really going to remember it." Ava said.
Honestly, the fact that she can even make a whole sentence while she was staring at Beatrice's arms was a miracle.
Beatrice smiled again and pushed the door open, leaning against it to keep it open for Ava.
"Ava?" Beatrice spoke up as Ava bounded past her into the lobby.
Which was on the sidewalk. Right.
Pull your shit together Ava.
Ava laughed through her pain and ran back outside to grab her neglected coffee and cinnamon roll before following Beatrice back into the building, falling into step beside her as they reached the elevator.
"Is that from Wavelengths?" Beatrice asked, nodding towards Ava's drink as she pressed the button.
"Oh, yeah. I found it when I was exploring the neighbourhood, you go there?"
Beatrice hummed. "I often meet my partner- business partner there when we want a change of pace from our office."
"Business partner? What do you do?"
Beatrice shifted her weight and gave a small shrug. "I run a company that specialises in cyber security, although we're looking into getting funding to expand into home security too."
Okay what the fuck?
So Beatrice was a genius too? A genius who apparently owned her own company?
"Holy shit Beatrice." Ava replied despite the eyebrow raise she received. "So you're what, a CEO?"
"I suppose so, yes. But I still prefer to be as hands on as possible with our projects."
Ava loved herself a girl who was hands on in any regard.
"That's really cool, am I leaning into a stereotype if I ask if you ever hacked into anything?" Ava asked.
Beatrice laughed as the doors opened and the pair stepped inside.
"That's really more Camila's style." Beatrice replied. "I'm pretty sure she hacked into the police database one time."
"Holy shit, why?"
Beatrice made a thoughtful sound. "Either to prove that she could or to get rid of a record, she never elaborated."
Camila sounded so cool.
"Should you be telling me this?"
"Probably not." Beatrice smiled. "Keep it between us?"
The elevator rose through the floors slowly and as Ava turned to face the girl once more, she watched as Beatrice reached for the bottom of her shirt and lifted it to wipe at the sweat on her brow.
Ava's gaze didn't shift.
Because holy shit, Beatrice had abs.
Fucking rock solid abs at that.
The shirt dropped over the glorious sight and Ava wished she had gotten a few more seconds to just commit it to memory.
Ava snapped her head up to meet Beatrice's amused smile. "Yo?"
"What do you do?"
"Oh. I'm a paralegal."
"Surprised?" Ava smiled.
It wouldn't be the first time someone had looked at her and scoffed when she told them about her job.
But Beatrice wasn't scoffing, she wasn't laughing, she was just smiling.
"Not at all. Do you like it?"
"It wasn't what I expected to be doing but I kinda fell in love with it, Lilith is the attorney and we're just naturally a great team."
Beatrice glanced away as they finally reached their floor. "Lilith is the woman you were with the other day?"
"Yep. Oldest friend, our dad's were friends so we'd end up going on a lot of business trips with them, sharing hotel rooms you know?"
The doors opened and Beatrice stepped out first. "Sounds like you're very close to her."
Ava trailed behind as they headed to their apartments.
She wasn't about to miss out on another chance to check out that ass.
"Do you have much planned today?" Ava asked.
Beatrice hovered at her door and leaned against it. "Shower then heading into the office. You?"
Beatrice was trying to kill her.
The amount of brain power it was taking to not picture her naked in the shower was a lot.
"Just reading up on case files, Lilith is in court on Friday so I need to be on my game."
"I'm sure you'll be fine." Beatrice replied. "Trust in yourself."
Ava fished her keys out of her pocket. "I'll try."
"You'll let me know how it goes?" Beatrice asked.
"Well…" Beatrice stood up straight. "I should let you get to work, I'll see you around?"
"Yeah, I hope so."
As Ava stepped into her apartment and glanced at the files waiting on her coffee table, she took a sip of her coffee.
Right now Beatrice was probably stripping down and getting into the shower.
Oh, the abs.
Ava glanced at her files and prayed for the motivation to push that mental image aside to get some work done.
"So a little birdy tells me that you agreed to go on a blind date."
Beatrice was already regretting coming into the office.
"Let's not dwell on it." Beatrice mumbled. "We have to get this proposal outlined."
"Yeah of course." Camila smiled.
Camila wheeled herself closer and leaned into Beatrice's space to peak at her screen.
The silence only lasted for a few moments.
"Okay but what changed your mind?" Camila asked.
The possibility of Lilith apparently being more than a friend to Ava for starters.
Beatrice knew how to flirt.
She was damn good at it too, and when she had lifted her shirt, Beatrice had been certain that Ava had been checking her out.
But then Ava had started taking about Lilith and how long they had been friends and how they had shared hotel rooms.
Beatrice closed her eyes and pushed back every thought of the things Ava would have gotten up to with that woman.
It might just be the coffee, but Ava struck her as the type who was highly energetic and extremely eager.
Stop thinking about it.
"Because I feel as though it's time to get back into dating." Beatrice said. "A blind date isn't a commitment."
"Weird point to focus on but okay."
She didn't have to look at Camila to know that her friend was frowning at her.
"What's wrong? Apparent commitment issues aside, which we will be coming back to."
Beatrice looked up. "Who said I have commitment issues?"
"Other than you, about forty seconds ago? Bea, you haven't dated for ages."
"I'm doing the blind date aren't I?"
"Consider it me easing myself back into the dating game. It's been long enough." Beatrice replied. "And I don't have commitment issues."
"Whatever you say Bea." Camila replied. "When's your date?"
"Saturday, no idea where yet, Mary is going to text me the details."
"Are you excited?"
She'd much rather spend her Saturday night on the sofa watching netflix than making awkward small talk with a girl.
"I'll be more excited once we've finished this proposal."
Camila laughed. "Point taken."
Ava was going to be pushed to the back of her mind.
And the blind date.
She was going to work, and deal with all of that later.
Saturday couldn't have come fast enough for Ava.
Had her and Lilith not been held back at the office for so long the day before, she would have tried to drag her friend out for a few drinks.
But she'd been so tired that she'd crashed out almost as soon as she hit the sofa.
Chanel had been texting her pretty relentlessly about throwing a housewarming party, which… tempting.
But Ava just wanted to spend her day lazing around, maybe unpacking a few more boxes. Maybe order pizza later on and settle down with Netflix.
God it was going to be such a relaxing day.
But first, she really needed coffee.
Ava threw a hoodie on and grabbed her keys and paused by the door as her phone rang.
"Wow, you're up early." Lilith said. "What's the occasion?"
She really wanted to point out that Lilith had been the one to call her, but thought better of it.
Ava left her apartment and headed towards the elevator. "Um… Ava needs coffee?"
"Why are you up this early?" Ava asked.
"I've been to the gym, Ava. I always get up early."
"Weirdo." Ava scoffed. "You wanna meet me for coffee?"
"Do I have to?" Lilith asked.
"No, but you need those files from my place, which I'm guessing is why you called me and there's a cute barista at the coffee shop by me?"
"Are you trying to set me up?" Lilith asked. "Also how cute?"
"No and… Cute?"
Lilith laughed. "Where does she fall compared to your hot neighbour?"
"Nobody is as hot as Beatrice." Ava replied. "But they also do great cinnamon rolls?"
"You're heading there now?" Lilith sighed.
"Fine, I'll be there in a bit."
Traffic :( I'll be there ASAP.
Which was fine, Beatrice wasn't in a rush to go anywhere.
Blind date was one thing, but a shopping date with Camila too?
She loved her friend dearly but now this?
Beatrice really wasn't a fan of shopping.
She typed out a quick response to Camila and leaned back in her seat as she took a sip of her coffee.
Beatrice kept herself busy for a few minutes as she scrolled through her phone.
"Can I get a large ice coffee please?"
And that voice was familiar enough to make Beatrice set her phone aside and looked over to the counter to see Ava, drowning in an oversized hoodie, her hair pulled up into a messy bun.
She moved down the counter, still talking to the baristas with a bright smile.
Ava just seemed to radiate positivity, even these baristas seemed happier by having Ava around them.
The drink was handed to her and Ava turned around, eyes scanning the room for an empty table.
She wasn't quite fast enough to avert her gaze before Ava's eyes locked with hers.
Beatrice's embarrassment only lasted for the few seconds until Ava broke out into a huge smile and started to walk over.
"Beatrice, hey." Ava stopped at her table. "What brings you here?"
"Other than the good coffee and music?" Beatrice asked. She gestured to the empty seat opposite her. "Please, sit."
"Of course, unless you're waiting on someone?"
"Only Lilith, but she won't be here for a while." Ava explained as she dropped down into the seat.
Lilith, of course.
"She won't mind?"
Ava looked amused. "Of course not. How about you?"
"I'm meeting my friend, she's taking me shopping."
"Oh? Special occasion?"
Beatrice hesitated and after a moment, shrugged. "Just… A dinner."
Ava leaned forward to rest her chin in her hand. "You got anything in mind?"
"Originally I was just going to wear a button down and my leather jacket, Camila said that's a no."
"Has Camila ever seen you in your leather jacket?" Ava asked seriously.
The back of her neck felt warm.
Beatrice laughed. "Yes."
"And she's still saying no?" Ava raised an eyebrow. "Crime."
"Camila thinks I should make a good impression."
"I could keep going on about how that is a crime but I also don't want to stick my foot in my mouth and accidentally insult your friend." Ava looked away as she took a long sip from her drink. "Okay so, dress, no dress?"
Beatrice smiled. "Not opposed to it, but I have to be in the right mood for it. Also I tend to save it for something special."
"Hmm… Noted." Ava nodded. "Romper?"
"Also a possibility."
Ava grinned. "So you want to make a good impression-"
"Camila wants me to make a good impression."
And Mary, and by extension her fiance Shannon.
"Okay so it's a dinner and your friend wants you to make a good impression, how invested are you in the whole thing?"
Beatrice brushed her finger along the rim of her mug and sighed. "I'm being polite and honouring an agreement more than anything else."
"Well, no disrespect to your friend, but I say the shirt and leather jacket is a solid option." Ava shrugged. "But treat yourself, get a new shirt, I'm getting the vibe that you're not super invested in this whole dinner so buy a new shirt, wear the leather jacket. Be comfortable and a badass."
Ava didn't even know why Camila was taking her shopping, but she was giving advice so easily.
And it was good advice too.
"What colour?" Beatrice asked softly.
Ava regarded carefully for a few moments, her eyes were bright as she stared at Beatrice.
"Blue. No… Navy. Go for something navy."
Ava smiled. "Yeah."
"Any particular reason?"
"I just think it'll suit you." Ava replied.
Beatrice smiled. "I trust you."
Ava grinned and shuffled happily in her seat.
Beatrice was happy to let the moment hang as she finished off her coffee.
She loved Camila, so much.
But that was certainly one way to kill a moment.
Beatrice turned to look over her shoulder and smiled at her friend as she approached.
"I'm so sorry I'm late, traffic was a nightmare and…" She trailed off as she finally noticed Ava. "Oh hi!"
"Camila, this is Ava, my new neighbour. Ava, this is Camila, my business partner and friend."
Ava held a hand out and Camila took it with an amused smile.
"Nice to meet you, are you joining us to help Bea pick out an outfit for her date?"
Beatrice looked over at Ava.
The smile had faded from her face as she drank from her coffee with a surprisingly unreadable expression.
"No." Ava laughed as she shook her head and got to her feet. "I've gotta meet my… boss, to give her some files."
"Isn't Lilith meeting you here?" Beatrice asked.
Ava pulled out her phone and shook her head. "I read her text wrong, she's meeting me back at my place. Camila, it was nice to meet you."
"Beatrice, remember what I said?"
Beatrice nodded. "Navy."
"Cool. I'll see you around."
"Ava…" Ava was leaving before Beatrice could finish. "Goodbye."
Camila slipped into the now vacant seat. "She seems nice."
"You'd like her." Beatrice replied, turning her attention back to her friend. "She's bright."
"Bright as in happy."
"Invite her out for drinks some time, it'll be fun."
"Maybe I will, do you want to head out or do you want coffee?"
"I'm good to go now." Camila stood up. "What did Ava mean by navy?"
"Colour suggestion." Beatrice rose to join her. "For the shirt I'm going to get."
"Shirt?" Camila pouted.
"It's my first date in a while, I'm already putting myself out of my comfort zone. I want to feel like myself."
Camila nodded, understanding as ever. "Okay, whatever you want Bea."
Beatrice wasn't entirely sure what she wanted now.
When the knock came at Ava's door, she shoved her spoon into her mouth and shuffled over to pull it open.
Lilith raised an eyebrow as their eyes met and frowned when she saw the jar of peanut butter tucked under her arm.
"You look miserable."
"Beatrice is going on a date tonight."
Lilith brushed past her and into the apartment. "Your hot neighbour?"
"Yes, well, you've seen her Ava. We both have, it's not surprising that someone has asked her out."
Ava kicked her door closed and glared at Lilith's back as she dug her spoon into her peanut butter.
"It's the truth." Lilith replied. "Is this why you ditched the coffee shop? Because you saw her on a date?"
Lilith dropped down onto the sofa and threw her feet up onto the coffee table.
"No, she was waiting for her friend cause they were going shopping to get her an outfit for tonight. It was Beatrice's friend who said that she was going on a date." Ava flopped down beside Lilith. "After I gave her fashion advice."
Lilith reached out to give her knee a half hearted pat. "That's rough buddy."
"Usually I'd be thrilled that you're quoting avatar at me." Ava shoved the spoon into her mouth. "Today is not one of those days."
Lilith pulled the spoon from her mouth and waved it in Ava's face. "I'm getting second hand depression just from watching you."
"That's not a thing!" Ava snatched the spoon back. "And I'm not depressed, I'm just a little bummed out."
Lilith looked thoughtful as she took her feet off of the table and leaned forward to grab the files on her table.
"Is it serious?" Lilith asked. "This date?"
"No idea." Ava sighed. "I left as soon as they mentioned it."
"Of course you did." Lilith rolled her eyes.
Ava tried not to feel offence at that little jab.
So she ran from her problems sometimes, who doesn't?
"You know, if it isn't anything serious, you could ask her out."
Ava scoffed. "Yeah, right."
"What's with the scoff?"
"Lilith, she's a CEO of her own company, I'm a glorious assistant."
Lilith stared at her for several moments.
It was extremely unnerving.
"I'm going to punch you." Lilith said very seriously.
"Because you're so much more than that, you're brilliant and- Beatrice is a CEO?"
Ava shoved more peanut butter in her mouth. "Yes. Good talk by the way."
"Sorry. How old is she?"
Ava didn't know, but she wanted to find out.
"Right, yes. This is about you."
Lilith was typing on her phone.
"You're looking her up on Google, aren't you?"
Lilith set her phone down on the arm of the sofa. "I was just curious about her net worth."
"And just for that, no peanut butter for you." Ava curled up on her corner of the sofa.
"Ava, I mean it, you're brilliant, it doesn't matter if she's a CEO. A paralegal is more than an assistant and you know it. Plus you deserve a hot romantic partner."
"...Do you want to date me?"
"No." Lilith grabbed one of the files and threw it at Ava. "Now go over this with me."
Ava pouted. "But it's Saturday."
"Do you want me to distract you or not?"
"Fine." Ava sighed. "But only a couple hours."
Ava set her peanut butter aside and began to flip through the file.
"She's twenty seven by the way."
"Your hot neighbour, idiot. Beatrice Kline, twenty seven, CEO of OCS Industries."
"For the record, you're really bad at distracting me."
But Beatrice was only three years older than her, good to know.
Hell, Beatrice was younger than Lilith.
"Sorry. Let's start from the top."
Ava was still pouting into her peanut butter even as Lilith gave her leg a gentle nudge.
Beatrice stepped out of the elevator, bag in hand as she made her way down the hallway.
She tried not to pay attention when she saw Lilith step out of Ava's apartment and turn to hug the considerably smaller girl.
Ava looked so happy, eyes closed as she nuzzled into Lilith's hug.
"I'll call you tomorrow, try not to eat all of the peanut butter, okay?"
Ava laughed as she disappeared into the apartment. "I'll try."
She didn't even notice Beatrice was there.
Lilith, however, did.
She glanced at the bag in Beatrice's hand and back up to meet her gaze.
This woman just radiated intimidating energy.
No wonder she was an attorney.
"Beatrice, yes?" Lilith asked. "Ava failed to introduce us the other day."
Beatrice held a hand out. "I am, and you must be Lilith. Ava speaks fondly of you."
"She'd better." Lilith said as she shook Beatrice's hand firmly. "Is she causing you any trouble?"
Beatrice laughed. "No, not at all. She's a delight, truly."
Lilith hummed. "Doesn't sound like my Ava. The Ava I know is a golden retriever on speed."
Beatrice sighed under her breath and swapped her bag into her other hand.
"It sounds as though you two are very close."
"I'm very protective of her." Lilith replied.
If she was dating Ava, Beatrice would probably be the same.
"I wouldn't blame you. It's good that you care so much for her."
Lilith made a faint humming sound and checked her phone. "I have to admit, I looked you up."
"Ava mentioned you owned your own company, it's impressive what you've managed to achieve in such a short time."
Beatrice took a small step backwards.
Why did it feel like Lilith was a step away from running a whole background check on her?
"Can't say that I've done the same, but Ava did mention that you're an attorney, is it your own firm?"
"My father owns the company overall, but I run the firm here in New York, these days he mostly oversees everything from London."
Beatrice came from money, that was hardly a secret in a lot of social circles she'd been a part of, and from the way the other woman carried herself, Beatrice was willing to bet that Lilith had a similar upbringing.
But unlike her, Lilith seemed to have a decent relationship with her father.
And from what Ava had already told her, she was pretty close with Lilith's father too.
Beatrice didn't stand a chance.
Lilith's smile bordered on dangerous. "There's no room for humble in our lines of work, is there?"
"I suppose not." Beatrice replied.
"And on that note, I have work to do. It was good to finally meet you."
Beatrice watched Lilith walk down the hallway and rather than wait for the elevator, she turned to push the door open to the stairwell.
Beatrice lingered in the hallway for a few moments and sighed.
She didn't get intimidated easily.
But damn, Lilith got close.
Ava bounced on her heels as the elevator rose to the tenth floor, the pizza box in her arms was the best thing to happen to her today.
Until the doors opened and Ava was greeted with the sight of Beatrice.
A very dressed up Beatrice.
God was playing a sick and twisted game with her.
"We have to stop meeting like this." Ava joked.
Beatrice looked surprised for a moment, taking a brief step back before smiling warmly.
She had followed Ava's advice, clearly, if the navy shirt was anything to go by.
Ava's advice had not included barely buttoning it up so that a hint of lace peaked through, but Ava was not going to complain.
Maybe be a little bitter at whoever Beatrice was meeting that they got to see this for the next few hours, but Ava wasn't about to voice that.
"You went with the navy." Ava smiled.
Beatrice pulled at the sleeve of her jacket, her smile almost turning shy. "Yes, it's not too much?"
Ava allowed herself to take in Beatrice, the delicate necklace that kept some of the attention on her neck, the smoky eyeshadow and eyeliner, the fact that her hair was down.
"Your hair is down."
Beatrice looked amused. "I am known to do that sometimes."
"You look good." Ava said. "Really good. Your date doesn't stand a chance."
"I'm not trying to kill her, Ava." Beatrice laughed.
Ava nearly dropped her pizza.
Beatrice was into girls, confirmed!
It would have been a fist pump moment had Beatrice not literally been about to leave for a date.
"Really? Cause you're gonna knock her dead."
Beatrice laughed. "Thank you Ava."
"And hey, if for whatever reason it doesn't go well, my door is open if you need to vent. I'll even save you a couple of slices."
"That's sweet of you. Thank you."
Ava forced herself to smile encouragingly and walked around Beatrice. "Break a leg, you'll be fine."
The date was not going well.
At first glance, Jocelyn had been nice enough to look at with long blonde hair and intense blue eyes.
Drinks and food had been ordered, it had looked promising.
Then the conversation started.
And now Beatrice was locked in the bathroom stall, phone pressed to her ear as she waited for Mary to answer.
"Beatrice? Shouldn't you be on your -"
"Date?" Beatrice interrupted. "Yes, I'm here now."
"And you're calling because…"
Beatrice tried really hard to keep the annoyance out of her voice. "I thought the idea of a blind date was that both parties went in not knowing who their date was."
"Ah. About that -"
"She only said yes because of my name, didn't she?" Beatrice asked.
"Bea, you're hot shit. The second I drop your name girls are clamouring to get a date."
Oh, Beatrice had mixed feelings about that.
"Please don't use my name to… procure dates." Beatrice sighed. "I don't know if they'll only be interested because of my company or my parents."
"You do know you're hot too, right?" Mary asked. "So which one is Joc-"
"Very much my parents." Beatrice interrupted. "Congratulations Mary, you managed to find the only Republican lesbian in New York."
Mary was silent on the phone for a solid fifteen seconds.
"Indeed." Beatrice leaned against the wall of the cubicle. "You know one of the reasons I left London was to get away from all that right?"
"I'm sorry Bea."
At least she sounded genuine.
"The next date will be better and -"
"Excuse me? Next date?"
"This is a false starter right? I'm not quitting until I get you laid."
"...I'm hanging up now."
Beatrice hung up.
She closed her eyes and let her head thud against the wall.
Ava's face flashed through her mind.
God. Why did Mary have to mention sex?
Though to be fair, the only thing more effective than a long run or a cold shower was finishing dinner with the girl waiting for her.
Ava's night of pizza and presumably netflix sounded so much more tempting right now.
Ava was so bored.
She'd considered calling Lilith, but there was only so much passive aggressive conversation she could take.
Plus she was pretty sure that Lilith would just sigh and hang up on her.
This was a pity party for one.
Ava reached for another slice of pizza as the next episode of Modern Family began to play.
She wondered how Beatrice's date was going.
Ava wasn't the kind of person to actively wish bad luck on anyone.
Beatrice was such a nice woman, she deserved to be happy.
But a part of Ava was listening for a knock at that door, due Beatrice to take her up on that offer if the date did turn out to be a disaster.
Ava let out a long sigh.
"I could just masturbate." Ava said to the empty apartment.
She considered it for a moment.
Pizza, wine and modern family.
Beatrice stepped out of the elevator, sighing as she checked her messages on her phone.
She'd gotten a text off of Camila asking how the date had gone and another apology from Mary for setting her up with Jocelyn.
Beatrice responded to Camila with a thumbs down emoji and left it at that as she walked down the hallway.
She paused outside her door as she spotted the plate on the mat.
Two slices of pizza.
She looked over to Ava's door.
Ava had said to come over if the date went badly, and nothing really fit the criteria quite like tonight.
Had she meant it though?
Beatrice didn't want to overstep if she hadn't, after the night she had had, she didn't want to lose a new friendship too.
At least Beatrice has gotten away from her date in one piece, and the woman hadn't gotten her number so that was as close to a win as she was going to get.
Beatrice picked up the plate and smiled at the small gesture from Ava.
As Beatrice walked into her apartment, she knew she'd have to do something to say thank you.