"Let's sit outside," she said as they handed her the pager that would let us know when our table was ready, "it will give us a chance to talk."
We walked out and found an empty bench in the courtyard. Lots of people were coming and going, both college kids and people who tended to flock to Mill Street on weekends for the theaters, restaurants and nightlife. We sat down and Naomi and I started chatting, about nothing in particular. I was finally relaxing, sure now that she hadn't noticed my show in the showers, sad she hadn't, but glad it hadn't cost me our friendship.
"You know, when I first met you, that first day of practice this spring, I knew you had a lot of promise," Naomi seemed to be complimenting me a lot this evening. I certainly didn't mind the attention.
"Thanks, I guess I just needed the right coach." I said, blushing a little at her compliment.
"Oh, I didn't mean just running," she said, letting the comment hang in the air for a second. "I mean you are a wonderful girl in so many ways. You are pretty, very mature for your age, smart, confidant; seem to know what you want and how to get it. You really are something special you know. Too bad I am leaving school. I think you and I would have made great roommates."
I was really blushing now. I didn't know what to say, although the idea of being roommates instantly had me wishing it could be true. First roommates and then bedmates?
"So, I know you were pretty much planning on either ASU or that other school," I knew she really hoped I would accept the scholarship to ASU if it was offered. It would mean I would be close to home, which actually was not what I wanted. I was hoping to go away to school. But to be able to run, and get a scholarship for running, was going to be hard to turn down. "But what else have you thought about regarding school. Have you decided on a Major?"
"I was thinking of business, something in marketing. But I really am not sure yet." I kept noticing how many of the men walking by were checking out Naomi. I felt jealousy creep back into my mind. "Sorry guys, but she is with me tonight," I thought to myself.
"I could see you in business, marketing especially. You are outgoing enough and seem to enjoy challenges. Have you ever thought about teaching? Not that I am recruiting or anything, but I think you would make a great teacher." Naomi seemed oblivious to all the attention she was getting.
"I had thought of that, but Daddy really wants me to go into business. Although even more than that he wants me to find a husband in college. But that is not what I am going for," I noticed two men who seemed to be paying us a lot of attention. I was sure they were trying to muster up the courage to come over and chat with Naomi.
"So you and Tommy aren't serious? I saw you guys at the prom and was wondering if you were dating him. You always seem sort of guarded about your private life, but I have seen you two around school and when I saw you at the prom, well, I just figured you two were seeing each other." Naomi also noticed the two guys, but one look and a turn of her shoulder seemed to send them a signal that told them she was not interested. Their shoulders slumped and they went off to find some other young women to hit on.
I laughed. Tommy and I, even though our parents really hoped we would get romantically involved, were nothing but friends, and not really good friends at that. He was looking for a good girl who would take care of his house and give him lots of babies. I made it clear that I wanted a career and expected to be an equal partner in any relationship I had. We were also very far apart politically. He was very right wing and conservative. I once considered buying a t-shirt with a picture of the Marx brothers on it, and also a picture of Karl Marx that read, "I am a Marx Sister." I didn't because I knew if my parents ever saw it I would find it in the trash, or worse.
"No, not at all, in fact the only time we have even kissed was after a dance at the prom. And even then, it was not much of a kiss. Not much more than a peck on the lips." I looked down, suddenly realizing that I had never truly kissed anyone. Not a single kiss of passion. I had been out on a few dates, but never let them kiss me other than a quick peck.
Naomi must have sensed my thoughts. "Oh, that will change once you get into school. I was a real wallflower and bookworm before I got into school. All I did was run and study. I went to the prom but, now don't laugh or I will have to punch you, it was the only date I went on in high school. I mean, I had lots of friends, but I was sort of plain, wore glasses, had braces and just was not someone who had guys falling all over her. I was also skinny as a rail. I didn't even start wearing a bra until I got to Tempe. I guess I was your typical late bloomer."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing? I found it hard to believe that Naomi had ever been plain. I just sat there staring at her for a minute. How could beautiful woman ever have been an ugly ducking?
"Not that you are plain," Naomi misread my reaction. "In fact you are very beautiful. I find it real hard to believe that you don't have guys calling you all the time. I mean you have it all. You are smart, ambitious, in great shape, have a HOT body and a beautiful face. Just sitting here I have seen all the guys that have been checking you out."
I giggled, "You mean checking you out," I was blushing at everything Naomi had said, especially the part about my body. The way she had said HOT. I always liked my body, although like most young girls always felt I needed to lose a little weight, but never had I thought of myself as HOT. And to have this beautiful woman, who had one of the best bodies I had ever seen, see me as HOT made me squirm a little. Not just from modesty but also from the heat that was now radiating from between my legs.
Just then the pager informed us our table was ready.
When we sat down I noticed that for a Chinese restaurant the prices were a little steep. "You sure you want to treat me?" I asked after seeing the prices. "I have enough money to cover my own dinner."
Naomi just laughed. "Actually it is Jim who is treating us. Did you really think I had that Miata from my student teacher salary, which by the way is nil? No, Jim has a great job and covers our bills, at least that is the plan until I get a teaching job. Even then, he will be making three times what I make, if not more. So you see, he is not only cute, but also rich." As if to make the point she ordered one of the more expensive things on the menu when the waiter took our order. I ordered a spicy orange shrimp dish that would have been out of my price range had I been paying. Naomi ordered us some appetizers, some dumplings and fried squid. She also ordered a glass of wine. I told the waiter I was fine with just water.
Now once again I was jealous. They way she talked of Jim said volumes. She was planning to marry him probably. Why did I always have to get crushes on women I would never be able to have. Why couldn't I be attracted to some of the butch girls at school, who everyone else whispered about? No, I was always attracted to beautiful, feminine women who were very heterosexual. I started to sulk.
Lucky for me Naomi wouldn't let me sulk long. She was a great conversationalist and we soon were talking about all sorts of subjects. She asked me how I could be a left wing liberal coming from such a conservative family. Daddy was known around town for his political contributions and support for the GOP. While he never actually ran for office, he had as much power as anyone else in the local party machine. He was also very vocal in his support for other right wing causes, including his anti-choice and anti-homosexual beliefs. He had led an assault on the local library board because it had books on its shelves that he believed were too pro-choice or 'promoted the homosexual agenda.'
"I guess I just don't believe what he does," I felt uncomfortable talking about this with Naomi, not knowing her political leanings. "I have learned not to talk politics or issues around the house, it always leads to a fight or worse. It is pretty much the same way at school. Everyone is so conservative that I feel uncomfortable expressing my own views."
Naomi laughed, "I can relate to that, although things will change a lot when you get to college. While Jim and I are compatible in almost every other way, we are from different sides of the political spectrum. The first time I met him was at a party and we spent the whole night arguing politics. He is actually more libertarian than republican, but still, some of his ideas make me shiver. If he wasn't pro-choice and a little more on the live and let live side of peoples' sexuality, even though he complains about gays and lesbians who he feels flaunt their gayness simply because they want to hold hands or kiss in public, I wouldn't be able to tolerate him. But even with his right wing ideas, he is generally a good person and I am also beginning to get him to see the error in some of his ways. Still, we stay away from politics most of the time."
"I can't imagine that," I said, amazed that anyone could be in love with someone who they disagreed with so much politically.
"You learn to live with it. I guess there really is something about what they say about opposites attracting. My parents were thrilled about me finding a nice conservative guy. He and my dad get along great. My mom was just relieved I was with a man." Naomi halted there for a second and then quickly changed the subject. "So besides running what other extra-curricular activities do you plan on doing in college?"
What had she meant by 'found a guy?' Why had she said her mother was 'relieved I was with a man?' Why had she so quickly changed the subject, like she hadn't meant to let that slip out? My mind was racing.
I realized that Naomi was staring at me. Then I realized I hadn't answered her question. "Oh, I don't know. If I get that scholarship I might not have time for much besides classes and track." But my mind was still focused on those words, 'relieved I was with a man.'
"You might change your mind once you get to school." Naomi seemed to be trying to make conversation and make it quickly. "I got involved in some of the political groups, a few other fun groups and a lot on inter-mural sports teams. So much of school is what you do beyond your classes."
Just then, the waiter arrived with our appetizers. They were delicious, but still, what said about her mother kept my mind from focusing on anything else.
We made small talk through the rest of dinner, Naomi suddenly staying far away from any discussions of her and Jim or anything else. Even when I probed she quickly changed the subject.
I even tried the blunt approach. "So did you date a lot of people in when you were an undergrad? I mean, you said you only met Jim about a year ago. You probably had guys falling all over themselves trying to date you."
"Oh, it wasn't anything like that. I didn't really date much. Hey, isn't this food great," Naomi quickly changed the subject again. I decided not to try and press anymore.
When dinner was over Naomi put the bill on her credit card and we headed over to the movie theaters. I had seen most of the movies with friends of mine and Naomi had seen the others with Jim. The only movie neither of us had seen was something called "Bound."
Neither of us had heard anything about the film.
The movie turned out to be a story of a mobster's girlfriend and her lesbian lovers plan to bump the mobster off and take off with his money. To say I was uneasy watching the movie would be an understatement. Add to that the fact that the lesbian love scenes made me sopping wet and unable to sit still only made things worse. I was often squirming in my seat. I noticed Naomi seemed to also be having a problem sitting still.
We sat there through the whole movie, not saying a word. Even when the movie was over, all Naomi could mutter was, "Well, we probably should get you home. Let's go."
We walked back to the valet station in silence. Neither of us spoke again until we started to drive off.
"Well, that movie was certainly interesting," I finally broke the silence.
"Yes," was all Naomi said in return. But a few minutes later she did say, "Did you like the movie?"
"Well, it was sort of predictable up to a point," I replied. "But I guess I liked it. It was a lot different than the movies I usually go to with friends. In fact, I really can't imagine many of my friends liking that movie."
"Why, because of the lesbians?" It seemed like Naomi was relaxing a little more.
"Yea, most of my friends are from church and they wouldn't have dealt with the subject well. They tend to think that stuff like that is sick." I was turned away from Naomi, watching the students as ASU enjoying the warm night.
"You said they, does that mean you don't?" Naomi seemed to be trying to act casual.
"Well, I guess I figure that peoples sexuality are their own business. I don't really feel the same way as I am supposed to according to the church and my parents," I turned to look at Naomi but her eyes were glued to the road ahead. "I mean, I see nothing wrong with two people who love each other showing it, even if they are both women." I couldn't believe I had actually said that. Now all I could do was wait and see what Naomi did.
It was silent for a moment, but I thought I saw a small smile creep across Naomi's lips. Finally she said, "That is how I feel too. I don't see anything wrong with two women sharing their love for each other." Just then she turned onto the highway that led from Tempe to Mesa and accelerated. The wind with the top down made further discussion impractical.
Unfortunately my house was not far from the exit from the highway so by the time we got off the exit where we could talk it was only about a minute to my house. We hadn't said another word to each other until Naomi pulled in my driveway. It was past my curfew, but my parents said that since I was with Naomi not to worry about it for tonight.
"I will call you later this week," Naomi said, never shutting her car off. "It is only two more weeks until States. We probably should plan on another workout next Saturday, and why don't we plan on going out afterwards again, because we really will need to talk a little strategy for States."
"Okay, sounds good, but this time I will pay," I said as I got out of the car.
"Oh, I was thinking maybe I would just make something over at my place. I have some tapes of the other runners as well as their times there. We could have something to eat and then watch the tapes, if that is okay with you," I swear I saw Naomi take a look at my bottom as I was climbing out of the car.
"That would be fine," I said while I was thinking that it actually would be great. But then I remembered him. "Are you sure Jim won't mind a third for dinner?"
"Oh, he will be away in Vegas on a gold outing with some friends, so we will have the place all to ourselves," Naomi was looking me right in the eyes as she said that.
I just smiled back at her, "That would be great then. I will plan on it."
Naomi roared down the street in her little convertible. I stood there, not believing what I heard.
I went into the house and my mother was up. She said she had just come down to make herself a cup of tea, but I knew she had been waiting for me. We talked a little about what we had done, although I avoided telling her the movie we saw. I did tell her that I would be doing something similar next week. That Naomi wanted to spend some time going over the plans for States. I didn't tell her that it would be taking place at Naomi's apartment.
When Mom had finally satisfied herself that everything was on the up and up, that I hadn't been out with some boy after my training session with Naomi, she went up to bed. I did also, but the last thing on my mind was sleep.
I couldn't believe everything that happened that night. I checked them off in my brain. The choice of the movie, well, it was the only thing neither of had seen or that sounded at least a little interesting to either of us. The reference to her mother's feelings of relief that she was with a man, not had found a man or something like that, but was with a man. Who else had she been with? Her discussion of the lesbianism in the movie, and her saying that she saw nothing wrong with two women being together. Finally at the car, inviting me to have dinner at her apartment, and stressing that we would have the place all to ourselves. All this was running through my mind as I undressed and climbed into bed. All this was running through my mind as my fingers explored my body, as they had so many times before. I knew I had to be quiet, but I was so horny that I just had to touch myself. But as I did, as I fantasized about the evening and what would happen next week, doubts crept into my mind.
Couldn't all of it have been innocent? I mean, there was nothing there that I could call a come on, or even a hint, except when I spun it he way I wanted it to go. The movie, neither of us knew what it was about when we walked into it, it was just released. The relief of her mother, wouldn't any mother be happy to see her daughter land a handsome and successful man like Jim? The discussion, just natural after seeing a movie like that, and her knowing my religious upbringing. The following weekend, where the hell else could we watch tapes? What did I expect, her to bring pizza into the locker room after the workout? As the doubts crept over me my fingers started to slow down, and then stop. Suddenly I wasn't feeling sexy or horny anymore. Instead I felt foolish and frustrated as I rolled over in went to sleep. Still, my dreams that night replaced the women in the movie with Naomi and myself. We weren't killing anyone. We were just making love.
All week my mind went back and forth. Was she really coming onto me? Was she dropping hints? Or did I just have an over active imagination because of my crush on her? I was moody, so much so that my friends all started making PMS jokes. My parents even noticed it. I just told everyone I was focusing on States and that was what was going on. And I was focusing on States. I was working as hard as I ever had, following the training Naomi had left with Coach Lopez to the letter. My times were steadily improving and now the key would be not to peak before States.
Thursday night Naomi called. She seemed upset about something, but was just calling to confirm Saturday. She asked if I would mind if we started a little earlier. I told her I had to work and she said she understood.
"Coach, are you alright," I finally came out and asked her.
"Yea, just some personal things going on, nothing that you need to worry about. I want you to focus on States. I have looked at the tapes from our competition and I think I see a weakness. We will go over it on Saturday." There was more she wanted to say, but it just hung there in the air. Something was going on. "Oh, and one more thing, do you think your parents would mind if you drove your own car. I just know it is going to a late night, and if you could drive yourself home."
"Yes, I am sure that I can borrow one of their cars," I said wondering what else was going on. "And if not, my brother is home from school for the weekend and he might let me borrow his car."
"Well, if you can it would help," again she paused. What was going on? "Well, I will see you Saturday. And if you can get off earlier give me a call."
"Okay," I had never heard Naomi like this, but it worried me. "I will see you Saturday. You sure you still want to do this?"
"Now more than ever," and then she hung up.
If I was confused before that phone call I was really messed up afterwards, the next two days I was walking around in a haze. Now not just wondering if there was something there or if my imagination was just running wild, but also worrying about Naomi and what was going on with her.