It was pretty animated in the lodge. Vanessa just had won a snowboarding competition and had invited the whole cool girl gang to her winter lodge for a sort of minimalist and improvised school reunion. Even though it had been short notice, most of them had come to celebrate and reminisce.
The cool girls, and Celine. She never had been part of that category, she was more of the shy girl gang (if that even was a thing), yet Vanessa had invited her, and to both their surprises, Celine had come.
It was a joyful mess of a conversation in the main room, girls, now turned young women, updating everyone on their situations, and remembering school shenanigans. Music, alcohol and laughter were flowing freely. Vanessa of course was the center of the attention. She had always been the coolest of them, the leader of the gang, in a way that Vanessa would probably deny being.
Celine was in a corner of the room, participating a little but mainly observing and wondering what she was doing here. She wasn’t shy anymore, she had gained confidence, a fact that Vanessa had made everyone notice and celebrate. But she still wasn’t part of the group, she hadn’t lived the same adventures back then.
At a certain point, Vanessa retreated into the kitchen, announcing that she had to prepare food for the wandering mama cat that had given birth in the washer room of the lodge. When leaving with the food in bowls on a tray, Celine was waiting for her next to the door.
“Could I maybe go with you to see them? I’ll be careful not to disturb them.”
Vanessa smiled at her and nodded for her to follow. They went down some stairs and Vanessa quietly opened a door at the end of a small corridor. They both entered in silence.
While Vanessa busied herself with changing bowls on the floor and checking a litter box, Celine was watching the beautiful scene that was happening in the farthest corner of the room. In a nest made of old rags in a basket, a tabby cat was licking her four or five multicolored babies to encourage them to drink her milk while carefully eyeing the human intruders.
Celine dared not approach them, but she slowly sank downwards and sat cross-legged on the cold hard floor to look at them.
Vanessa had soon finished cleaning the feeding station and went back near the door and Celine.
“Do you want to stay a little longer?”
Celine turned her head and looked up towards Vanessa.
After seeing Vanessa smile at her, Celine turned her head again to watch the cats, her face maybe a little redder than before.
Vanessa hesitated for a few seconds, then went and closed the door, locked it even after a thought. The click of the lock made Celine’s heart race even more, even though she seemed not to react.
Vanessa looked at Celine and placed herself right behind her, sinking to the floor like Celine just did. She placed one leg on each side of Celine’s and shuffled closer, pressing slightly their bodies together. She placed her chin on Celine’s left shoulder and watched the cats in silence.
Celine hadn’t moved an inch until now but she was suddenly shivering and placed her cheek against Vanessa’s, as if to steal a little of her warmth.
Vanessa didn’t need more encouragement than that. She slid her arms around Celine’s waist and hugged her tight. Celine immediately covered Vanessa’s arms with her own and she sighed in contentment. Vanessa smiled against her cheek and Celine couldn’t do anything but respond in kind.
They stayed there for a while in silence. The kittens had gone back to sleep and the mama cat had also given in to her tiredness. She was still opening one eye from time to time to check on the intruders but everything was still around them, although some fingers were slowly moving against the other’s skin.
Too soon though, the girls upstairs had finally noticed that Vanessa had been gone for a little too long for their taste and the couple on the floor could hear them calling her.
Celine sighed again with a hint of sadness this time, and Vanessa took her chance.
“I was thinking. Everybody’s leaving tomorrow, but I’m staying a couple more days for the weekend. Would you… like to stay with me?”
Celine stayed silent for a few seconds and Vanessa swallowed thickly, pressing her heart against Celine’s back even more, hoping she could feel it banging.
Celine pressed their cheeks together in response, and left out a small laughter.
“Yeah, I’d like that. Very much.”
Through their connected cheeks, they felt each other smile.
It was late in the night that some of the girls decided they were too old to party until morning and Vanessa led them all as a pack through the lodge to find them beds to sleep in.
Celine was dropped first in a small room that Vanessa promised with a wink that she would love. But once inside, Celine saw that the only bed was made for a small child and she would have to bend herself twice to fit in. She was left confused as Vanessa was dispatching the others in another part of the lodge.
Celine sat on the bed for a while, wondering what Vanessa had in mind, or if she had too much to drink. She was a little disappointed, after what happened in the washer room a few hours ago, that Vanessa would just drop her like that.
She heard a knock but it wasn’t coming from the door she had came in. She got up and turned around, examining the room further and saw another door being tentatively opened.
Vanessa entered and they looked at each other for a few moments before Vanessa reached for Celine’s hand and grabbed it.
“Come on, you’re not sleeping here.”
Celine followed Vanessa through the door and into another bedroom, this one with a double bed and clothes scattered everywhere. Vanessa stopped them in front of the window and grabbed Celine’s other hand, facing her.
“This is my room. Is it okay for you to sleep in my bed with me?”
Celine sighed with relief and smiled, nodding firmly. They both started laughing and Vanessa slid her hands on Celine’s back, pressing them together in a tight hug. Celine responded in kind and took a deep breath, inhaling full lungs of Vanessa’s scent.
“I’m sorry about the kid room, I thought you’d prefer this to stay private.”
Celine hummed her approbation into Vanessa’s ear, then cleared her throat, hesitating. Vanessa’s rubbing of her back gave her a bit of courage.
“How did you know?”
The question was really vague and Celine groaned at herself for not phrasing it better. But Vanessa just laughed and backed away from the hug just enough to be able to watch Celine’s face.
“It’s the way you look at me, and then blush and look away. I always thought it was because you were shy, but you’re not shy anymore, and you looked at me like that all evening.”
On cue, Celine blushed and looked down, laughing at herself.
“I thought I was hiding it well enough.”
Vanessa placed her hand on Celine’s cheek and gently made her look up.
“You were. It’s just that I was watching you too.”
Celine smiled, bashful at first, then more and more emboldened when she let Vanessa’s words really sink in. Her eyes landed on Vanessa’s lips, and she tried to take a big inspiration, but her breath was just too shaky and she backed away.
Vanessa held her in place, caressing her cheek with her fingers and eyes boring into hers.
Celine nodded, and tried again. She took a long breath and met Vanessa’s lips with her own.
They kissed for a while, trying to learn what was best for themselves and the other, and it was their empty lungs that forced them to stop.
They panted, their foreheads connecting, both slightly laughing.
“This is good.”
“This is perfect.”
They laughed again, holding on to each other, and fell naturally into a soft hug again.
“I’m very sleepy though. Let’s go to bed.”
Celine nodded, her chin resting on Vanessa’s shoulder, and they parted with reluctance. They got ready for bed quickly, Celine picking her pyjamas from her travel bag that Vanessa had secured in her bedroom. They met under the covers, lights out, and kissed one more time, their lips soft and slow.
Then they searched a comfortable position, finding the one, similar to how they sat in the washer room earlier in the night. Vanessa hugging Celine tight from behind, one arm around her waist, face buried against her neck.
They both sighed at the same time, earning giggles from each other.
“Good night, Celine.”
“Good night, Vanessa.”
It was the first time they said their names to each other. The first time they fell asleep in the same bed together.
It was wonderful.
They had woken up too early that morning, given how late they had gone to sleep. Entangled in each other, they had refused to go back to sleep though, preferring lazy cuddles, slow kisses and soft whispers.
They had both sighed deeply when they’d heard the first sound that indicated the other girls had woken up too.
They had gotten up and joined with the others for a very late brunch.
Now the girls had mostly left, and Vanessa was on the porch saying goodbye to the last one while Celine was tidying up inside the remnants of their last minute reunion.
She was nearly done with the dishes when she heard Vanessa come back inside and soon hug her from behind with a sigh.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yeah I did. Yesterday you told everyone you were still sore from the competition. I got you.”
Vanessa snorted and hugged Celine a little tighter, whispering a thank you in her ear. Celine shivered and Vanessa watched her finish the dishes in silence, accompanying her movements.
Then Vanessa grabbed Celine’s hand and led her to the couch where she let herself fall onto it. Celine fell on top of her and they laughed a little before proceeding to make themselves more comfortable in the arms of each other.
“I’m really glad you called me.”
“I’m really glad you came.”
They kissed and cuddled for a while, alone and free for the first time.