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Where do the panties go next?
"Kelly, I wasn't laughing at you," she quickly said. "Believe me, that's the last thing that I'd ever do. Just give me a minute to explain and I'm sure you'll understand."
"You've got thirty seconds," a now angry Kelly said, pulling her arm away.
"Kelly," Rachel simply said, "I'm gay."
Kelly froze in mid-motion. She looked at Rachel for a long moment, then sat back down without saying another word.
"That's why I found what you said so funny," Rachel quickly went on. "You were so worried that I was going to notice that you were checking me out, and I spent half my time doing the same thing."
"Oh my God!" Kelly said as it all finally hit her. "You and I were both ..."
"It seems so," Rachel said, completing Kelly's thought. "Although it seems that neither of us knew it at the time."
"It seems like such a waste," Kelly said.
"A waste?" Rachel repeated.
"That we didn't know," Kelly replied. "Our lives could've been so different."
"I suppose," Rachel said as she looked deep into Kelly's blue eyes, knowing that she was imagining just what that life might've been like.
"Do you have ..." Kelly started to ask, then rephrased her question. "Are you with someone now?"
"No, not really," Rachel answered. "I guess my social life has been taking a back seat to my career for a while now."
No sooner did Rachel answer one question, then Kelly asked another. She seemed quite curious about life back in San Francisco, especially the fact that her friend had come out a few years back and no one seemed to care.
"You're life sounds great," Kelly said as Rachel answered her last question.
"Well like anything else, it has its ups and downs," Rachel replied.
"Well at least it's better than anything you would've had around here," Kelly added, emphasizing her point with a wave of her hand in the direction of the town beyond.
The broad motion caused Rachel to look up and take note that the two of them had become a center of attention to some of the other patrons. They might not have been close enough to hear the topic of their discussion, but it was pretty obvious that at one point they were having some sort of disagreement. The chance of that discord turning physical, a not uncommon occurrence in the bar, was enough to hold their interest.
"Why don't we get out of here?" Rachel suggested as she drew Kelly's attention to their audience.
"I think that's a good idea," Kelly agreed.
Once back in Rachel's rented car, the two decided that the reporter's room at the Holiday Inn out by the Interstate would be a lot more private than going back to the room at the boarding house where Kelly had been living since Tom had thrown her out.
The boarding house was in walking distance, but it was almost a given, Kelly said, that if they went there, it would be all over town by morning that she'd had another woman in her room. That the woman was an old friend that she'd met at the Reunion was a fact that she was equally sure would be left out of the gossip.
"Nice," Kelly said as she looked around the room as Rachel locked the door behind them. "I wish I could afford a place like this. My place is really a dump, but it's the best I can do right now."
"Well the paper's actually picking up the tab for this," Rachel said, even though she could easily afford the room on her own if she had to.
"It even has a little kitchenette," Kelly said, making reference to the microwave, mini-refrigerator and coffee maker.
"Would you like some coffee?" Rachel asked, thinking that they'd had enough to drink for the night.
"That wouldn't be a bad idea," Kelly said, thinking pretty much the same thing.
As the brunette poured water into the coffee maker, they continued the conversation they'd begun at the bar. This time, it centered on Kelly's plans for the future.
"Well, Tom and I are getting a divorce of course," she said as Rachel returned and sat down next to her on the couch with the coffee.