Taylor was fighting an internal battle as well, in this situation. Her love for the young woman was obviously clouding her judgment, but the dark-haired artist quickly realized the way she wanted Torrey in her life would never come to be. She looked into her small friend's eyes wanting Torrey to see what was in her heart. Wanting her to realize the depth of her love. For a moment, Torrey's eyes grew bright, then her brow furrowed in puzzlement.
Taylor looked away, suddenly afraid for her friend to see the hunger in her eyes. Unable to stand the confused expression and the tear filled eyes of her friend, the dark-haired woman moved around to face her. Sitting cross-legged, Taylor took Torrey's slender hands within her own.
"Little Bit, I can't tell you whether you should or you shouldn't do this. I lost my virginity when I was fourteen to a guy that was old enough to be my father."
Seeing the wide-eyed expression on Torrey's face, Taylor grinned at her friend. "Yea, I know how both sides live. The point is I thought I was special and loved, turned out all I was to this guy was a fourteen-year old piece of ass." Taylor felt her own eyes grow misty with the memory of her first time.
"Torrey, honey...your first time should be with someone you love, someone special to you, but most of all someone that you know feels the same way about you." Taylor brushed a stray lock of hair back from the girl's face and used her thumb to brush away a tear from her cheek. "Just remember that it's a gift you can only give away once."
Torrey couldn't shake the feeling that the person she wanted to bestow this gift on was the woman sitting in front of her. Shaking her head to dispel the disturbing notion, she smiled up at her friend and squeezed the hands that tenderly held her own.
Torrey walked into the darkened bar and had to squint and stop moving for a moment until her eyes adjusted to the dark interior. It was two o'clock in the afternoon and the bar was relatively empty, all except the back room where the pool table was. Torrey could here the sounds of the balls as they were hit against each other and fell into the pockets.
"Hi, Jack. Is she here?" Torrey asked, not even bothering to show the bartender her fake ID as she reached for the wine cooler the man pushed toward her. Torrey was a regular and Jack smiled down at the petite young woman.
Jack was the owner of the small bar. Part biker hangout, it was also where all the college students bought their liquor and drugs. Of course, that made it Taylor's favorite hangout.
"Yea, you better give her an excuse to leave. She's winnin' again and you know Billy don't like that a whole lot." Jack answered.
"Will do, thanks." Torrey replied. She liked Jack, no matter what a lot of people in the community thought. He was a giant of a man, who wore an old Hell's Angels vest that Torrey suspected was authentic. He looked like Jerry Garcia would have looked if the Grateful Dead star had been a linebacker with the Chicago Bears.
Torrey made her way to the back of the bar. She pulled up as she saw Taylor stand up from her chair and stretch her arms over her head. The dark-haired woman had on a black muscle tee with her usual worn denim jeans. Her lean, muscular frame caught the young woman's eyes immediately. Oh, God I made a huge mistake last night.
Before Torrey could examine her thoughts any further, Taylor looked up and smiled at her. The look on the smaller woman's face caused the muscles in Taylor's belly to clench. For an unguarded second, Torrey had a positively carnal look in her eye as she watched the artist. The young woman's face returned to its casual appearance as soon as Taylor smiled.
Torrey walked over and placed her wine cooler bottle by the chair where Taylor's leather jacket was draped.
"Want another?" Torrey held up Taylor's empty beer bottle. "I got my allowance today," she whispered.
"Well then, I'm not proud," Taylor winked as Torrey made her way to the bar again.
"Wish I had an old lady who took as good a care of me!" Billy yelled over at the tall woman.
"Eat yer heart out!" Taylor tossed back, watching Torrey's backside as the young woman walked away. Taylor kind of enjoyed the bikers thinking someone like Torrey could belong to someone like her.
"Okay, yer up Taylor." One of the men called out.
Torrey had a cold bottle of beer in hand as she returned, but Taylor caught the odd expression, almost sadness, on the young woman's face.
"Hey, you okay?" Taylor asked, touching Torrey's cheek.
"Yea, I'm fine," Torrey lied.
Taylor stood close to Torrey and let her hand rest on her shoulder. Torrey looked up into the cerulean gaze of her concerned friend, taking in the bloodshot eyes and the smell of pot on the woman's clothes. She knew Taylor hadn't returned home last night because she was there all night, most of it spent with someone other than her roommate.
The impatient pool player walked up next to the two women.
"I said yer up. Kiss her, fuck her, or play pool...either way I'll watch, but make up yer mind!"
So fast Torrey hardly knew what was happening, Taylor reached out with her left hand and grabbed the man around his throat. The muscles in the tall woman's arm tightened and stood out as she cut off the man's flow of air.
"I don't like it when you use that kind of language in front of her," Taylor hissed to the man who was well on his way to being on his knees. "Apologize."
"Taylor, please...let him go." Torrey pleaded with her friend.
"Apologize!" Taylor said applying more pressure to the man who could only grab at the iron grip of the woman who towered over him.
"Apologize to the pretty lady, Dennis...now." Billy commanded of the kneeling man.
Dennis gasped an apology and Taylor immediately released the man. He slumped to the floor, desperately pulling much needed air into his lungs, glaring at the dark-haired woman.
"So, Taylor, introduce me to the lovely lady." Billy said.
Taylor scowled over at the amiable biker, attempting to discern if he was trying to jerk her around or not. Noticing the relaxed grin on the blonde haired man's face, she introduced her roommate.
"Okay, now for that game of pool," Billy said, slapping his hands together.
"No can do, I gotta go," Taylor replied, turning back to Torrey.
"Come on, one last game for a hundred bucks." Billy said good-naturedly.
"Where the fuck am I going to get a hundred bucks?" Taylor asked with a smile.
"Hey, I thought you said you didn't talk that way around her," Dennis rasped.
"Nooo," Taylor smiled wickedly at the man. "I said I didn't like it when you talked that way around her."
Like I said, Billy, where am I going to get that kind of cash at?" Taylor asked, grabbing her jacket.
"From me!" Torrey stepped forward.
"There ya go...your old lady will bankroll ya." Billy laughed.
Taylor grabbed Torrey's elbow and pulled her away from the laughing bikers.
"Torrey, put your money away." Taylor said under her breath.
"But, you can beat him, I've seen you play before." Torrey replied.
"What if I lose? You're out your allowance for the rest of the month."
"I believe in you." Torrey answered the older woman.
It was a simple answer, but it implied so much to Taylor. In later years when her confidence would run low, she would always look back on this day and remember that Torrey was the only person, other than her mother, to ever utter those words to her. Taylor rewarded the young woman with one of her sparkling smiles and then turned back to the bikers.
"Rack 'em." She said, removing her jacket.
Torrey and Taylor were lying on the rug in front of fireplace. The Sorority house was it's usual chaotic self on a Friday night, but set back from the rest of the floor such as they were, the noise was almost completely muffled. Taylor's stereo was tuned in low to a local jazz station and the two women were relaxing after the pizza that they literally devoured.
Torrey tried to give the money won from the pool game to Taylor, but the older woman refused. She said she would be happy with a pizza and a six-pack as her share. Taylor rolled over and pulled a joint from her jacket pocket, searching her pockets for a lighter.
"You got any matches, Little Bit?" Torrey rolled over on her stomach, waving the joint in front of her. "I'll share..." she offered.
Torrey shook her head at her friend, in answer as well as in exasperation. In the last month Taylor always seemed stoned. She smoked pot to calm down and took speeders to keep going. The last couple of months seemed especially bad, and Torrey began to worry about her friend's drug habit.
"Aha!" Taylor found her lighter in her jacket pocket and sat back down on the floor. Just as she was cupping her hands to light the hand-rolled item, Torrey reached over and placed her hand over the dark-haired woman's fingers.
"Not tonight, huh, Stretch?" Torrey asked.
Taylor looked over at the young woman and lost her heart all over again. How could she tell her this had become such a habit because she used it to forget, to feel, and to accept? Forget that Torrey didn't belong to her, that the woman she was in love with didn't love her back. To feel something when another woman was touching her and all she could picture was Torrey caressing her body. Most of all to accept that Torrey could never be with her that way; would never love her that way.
But, the older woman had trouble refusing this girl anything, so Taylor simply smiled and tucked the joint away for another time.
Torrey smiled back at her friend in thanks and the look of sadness from earlier crossed her face again.
"Little Bit, what's wrong? And, don't tell me nothing this time because I'm not buying it." Taylor questioned.
Torrey gave a half-hearted grin to her friend and told her the truth.
"I slept with Stephen last night." Torrey said without looking up into her friend's eyes.
"I figured as much." Taylor replied softly.
Actually, Taylor knew what had gone on in their room last night. They had a system to avoid embarrassment. If one or the other was home entertaining someone, they left a Do Not Disturb sign that Taylor stole from a local motel, on the door. When Taylor arrived home from her date, which had been more of a quickie in a car in the Library parking lot, the artist had been amazed to see the sign on the door. Torrey never put the sign out. Taylor listened at the door and the unmistakable sounds coming from their room cut through to her heart. Of course, she didn't hear Torrey, but she heard male grunts and could only assume Stephen had finally gotten his wish.
Taylor couldn't get out of there fast enough. She never thought about all the nights Torrey came up to their door and heard the same type of sounds. The young woman never said a word, she would just find a warm spot to crash and spend the rest of the night there. Taylor never thought about that, especially not now when her heart was breaking. Up to that point she kept hoping that something would happen and Torrey would see all the love the older woman had in her heart for her small friend, but hoping never made it so.
Taylor rushed out and managed to get as drunk as humanly possible while still being able to remain upright, landing in Orono's one and only lesbian bar. The inebriated woman was so out of it, she let herself be coaxed into the bathroom by a pretty blonde that, somewhere in Taylor's intoxicated mind, reminded her of Torrey. The woman went down on her in the bathroom stall and Taylor simply allowed it to happen. As the dark-haired woman climaxed, she groaned out Torrey's name. Which earned her a slap in the face from the pretty blonde.
Now, Taylor looked into the sad eyes of her friend and felt her heart break for her. It was hell to lose your virginity and wake up the next day and not be certain it was to the right person.
Torrey looked back into the frank gaze of her roommate and realized with a sudden clarity that she had given away her precious gift to the wrong person. Her mind finally accepted the truth.