We were drinking sweet beverages ladled out of a big bowl, and took turns calling out the answers to Trivial Pursuit questions until we all got restless, and wandered off to the kitchen for another round of snacks.
“No. Really,” Cara was saying. “If I was on ‘Jeopardy’ and the topics were food, shoes, human genetics, and bad date stories, I’d have it in the bag.”
“Right,” said Perry, “you do know a lot about shoes.”
Cara rolled her eyes at me, and slapped Perry’s arm.
“All I’m saying, is outside of work, there’s not much going on these days.”
I looked at the black and white zebra-striped pumps she was wearing. I had noticed earlier that they had a red sole.
“Judging by the vintage Louboutins, I’d say there’s at least one area of your life that’s rockin’ besides work.”
“Thanks for noticing,” she said. “But… hey… how did you know these are Christian Louboutin?”
“By the flash of red – I keep up.”
“You never fail to amaze me,” she said.
“Or me,” Perry said, looking up and down my lanky frame, covered in faded jeans, a starched white shirt, and a grey cashmere vest, and coming to rest on my well-worn Tony Lama boots. “Who would have guessed you were a closet fashion queen?”
“There’s nothing in my closet but clothes. You know that better than anyone, Perry.”
We exchanged the sort of smile that passes between old friends and and even older lovers.
“Well,” Cara said. “It’s that time. I’ve got to get myself home. Alone.”
“I’m glad you were here,” I said. “You brought beauty to an otherwise dull night.”
She flipped her hair back off her shoulder and gave me a coy look and a little drawl, “I’m betting you talk to all the girls that way.”
“Nope. She never talked to me that way,” Perry said. “Not once.”
Cara started for the front door.
I grabbed Perry by the arm. “Come on. I helped you hang the mistletoe in the hallway. Let’s go kiss her goodnight.”
“Together?” Perry said. “Both of us?”
“Hell, yeah,” I said. “She’s hot and it’s the holidays. Let’s have a little fun.”
We followed her to the front hall.
“Can I help you with your coat, Ma’am?” I said in my deepest voice, trying to add a touch of Rhett Butler to my inflection.
“Well, you sure can, you sweet thing,” she said, playing along.
“Can I find your purse for you?” Perry asked.
Cara looked from one of us to the other. “What are you two up to?”
“Nothing really,” I said. “It’s just that I came over early, before the party started, to help Perry hang the mistletoe. She said it was good luck to help put it up, and maybe I’d get lucky and kiss a pretty girl.”
I tried to smile a winning smile.
Cara looked at Perry. “Did you tell her that?”
“You know, standing under the mistletoe almost guarantees you’ll get kissed,” said Perry looking up. “See, there’s a big ball of it above my head right now.”
She reached out and took Cara by the hand, pulling her in closer. “And now it’s right over your head, too.”
Perry kissed Cara gently on the lips.
“Oh, my,” Cara said, feigning surprise.
I tapped Perry on the shoulder. “Excuse me. May I cut in?”
Before she could protest, I wrapped my arms around Cara and began to kiss her lingeringly, showing off a little for Perry.
I stopped when I heard Perry clear her throat. She turned Cara around kissed her again.
Cara came up for air. “Girls, girls. My heck. This is some holiday tradition you’ve got going here.”
She stepped back and smiled a little wickedly.
“Well look at that, now it’s just the two of you under the mistletoe.”
Perry and I looked at each other.
“We couldn’t,” I said.
“We never do,” said Perry.
“But you did,” said Cara.
“It’s been years,” I said. “That was college.”
“We’re buddies,” Perry said.
Cara crossed her arms as though she meant to wait us out. “All in good fun.”
She tapped her zebra-striped toe.
I shrugged and stepped a little closer to Perry and kissed her lightly on the lips and started to turn away.
But Perry surprised me by grabbing my belt and and pulling me back to her. Then, digging her fingers into the back of my cropped hair, she began kissing me for real. As startled as I was, I felt my lips soften and open, as if of their own volition, responding to her still-familiar touch and scent. From somewhere far away, I heard a soft, deep moan. Honestly, I’m not sure if it came from Perry or me. The tip of her tongue began to trace a smooth oval just inside the rim of my lips, and I felt one of her hands slide down to the small of my back, pressing me even closer to her. I let my tongue find hers, and they danced there for a minute.
Then – as suddenly as it started – we broke away, each of us gasping a little.
“Whew. Just like riding a bicycle,” Perry said.
“Yep,” I said, trying to hold on to what was left of my cool.
There was an awkward silence.
“Damn,” said Cara. “Two butch girls like you. Now that was a holiday treat. Thank you. A lady knows when to make an exit, so I’ll leave the two of you alone.” She opened the door and shut it behind her.
Perry and I stood in the hallway, looking at the closed door.
“That was hot,” I said.
“Sure was,” Perry agreed.
“Had a real effect on Cara, didn’t it?”
“Seemed to,” Perry said.
“S0… when do you think she’ll come out of the coat closet?”