Rachel and Ariane first met each other on Halloween. A couple of weeks later in November, they arrange to meet.
“Oh look, its the supermodel I ordered,” says Ariane as she answers the door, “Come on in!”
“Thanks, it’s like 4 degrees out here,” says Rachel.
“Um, my weather app says 40.”
“Well, I’m a science major, I live on the metric system,” Rachel explains.
Ariane smiles, “That is such a geeky thing to say.”
“What do you mean?” asks Rachel.
“There are many geeks at work,” Ariane explains, “who like to pretend to live in their own little fantasy worlds, with their own made up rules.”
“Yes, no one in the REAL world would ever use the metric system, except, you know, everyone outside the United States,” answers Rachel sarcastically.
OK point taken, 4 degrees it is,” says Ariane, “I keep my thermostat at 70, hope that is not too hot for you.”
Rachel has a look around Ariane’s place.
“Interesting color scheme,” says Rachel, “This room is so red it reminds me of a Loco Cola photo shoot.”
“The original was white walls with blue carpeting,” explains Ariane, “it reminded me too much of Facebook.”
“So you picked the color scheme of your favorite porn site then?” asks Rachel jokingly.
Rachel sees the bookshelves by the TV, “Your book collection is pretty good too, lots of sci-fi classics H.G. Wells, Asimov, Bradbury. Have you read all these?”
“Just one or two. It’s actually my dad’s collection. He no longer has room, and suggested I take them,” explained Ariane, “If there are any you want to borrow…”
“I might take you up on that.”
Rachel takes a longer look around and asks, “So, where’s the hot tub?”
“In the backyard next to the pool,” replies Ariane pointing to the backdoor with her thumb.
“Whoa, you have a pool too?” asks Rachel.
“Yeah, but it is not heated, the water probably feels like 4 degrees.”
“Celsius or Fahrenheit?”
“Either way it is too cold to swim. Come by in January and we can ice skate,” says Ariane.
“You said you got something to show me?” Rachel asks, “a new game your employers are developing?”
“Yeah, sign this NDA and I can show it to you,” answers Ariane.
“Sure,” Rachel signs the document, and looks at what’s on Ariane’s TV. “Looks like some kind of Medieval real time strategy game like Age of Empires?”
“It is, with some Assassins Creed mixed in,” replies Ariane. “Ever play those defend the fort games that seem to be everywhere?”
“Yeah, they were fun for a while,” says Rachel, “haven’t played them in years.”
“Well that is basically what we have here with two added twists,” explains Ariane.
“First, it is player vs. player. One makes the impenetrable fort, the other tries to penetrate it.”
“I always thought there should be more penetration in video games,” says Rachel.
“Get your head out of the gutter, Rachel. You are blocking my view.”
“So its Player vs. Player. OK, Is there a second monitor or split screen for me to use?” asks Rachel.
Ariane hands Rachel a VR headset. “You can use this.”
Rachel takes off her glasses and puts on the headset, “Wow! Is this in first person?”
“Yep,” says Ariane. “That’s the other added twist. You can attack head on with weapons, or sneak through with stealth, or mix it up,” she explains. “You control a party of up to 6.”
“It’s still alpha,” Ariane continues. “The controls aren’t very intuitive and right now you have to play with a standard controller.”
“Difficult, as I can’t see what buttons I’m pressing,” says Rachel.
“A problem we are still working on, but I figured since you are gamer you know where all the buttons are by touch.”
I do, and that tower guard is now toast.
Rachel and Ariane continue to battle for a good 30 minutes or so.
“Wait, you just took out my north wall?” asks Ariane. “The beta testers always go for the main gate — like they are supposed to.”
“Yep, I’ve played enough of these kind of games to know weaknesses when I see them,” explained Rachel.
“Well we will need a defense mechanism for that kind of strategy to keep the game balanced. Let’s just say we still have a big ‘to do’ list before we are even in beta.”
“I understand,” says Rachel, “but I’m impressed so far. I’ll totally buy it when its finished.”
“Thanks,” says Ariane, “and I’m using that north wall strategy in tomorrow’s daily test. Your unusual strategy just made the game better.”
An hour later after Rachel beats Ariane two games to one. The two of them go out for Pizza.
Evan is behind the the counter.
“Evenin’ Ariane, Rachel, you two together tonight?” he asks with his charming southern accent.
“Yes we are,” answers Ariane flirtatiously.
“Sorry Evan, you had your chance but I decided to switch sides.”
“Seriously?” Evan asks, “Want to join our local Rainbow community? I got an application under the counter here.”
“No, I’m not serious,” Ariane answers with a smile. “We’re just here for pizza.”
“Let me guess, one large: half vegetarian, half pepperoni and sausage,” says Evan.
Ariane turns to Rachel who is trying not to laugh and nods yes.
Ariane thinks for a second then says, “Actually, make it all vegetarian.”
“Comin’ right up,” says Evan. “Never thought I’d see you say ‘no’ to sausage, Ariane.”
Ariane smiles. “Make it for ‘here’ we’re going to grab a booth.”
“Can I get y’all cokes while you wait?” asks Evan in his quaint Alabama accent.
“I’ll take an orange coke, thanks,” says Rachel.
Ariane looks a little confused.
“Oh, you are talking about ‘pop’,” says Ariane, “Loco cola is fine.”
Rachel and Ariane take a booth in the corner of the restaurant, and immediately out of habit take out their phones.
“So, what’s with all the flirting with Pizza Guy Evan?”, asks Rachel.
“Kind of a running gag whenever we meet,” says Ariane, “Started over a year ago when I was a bit drunk and flirtatious, and drunk dialed a pizza order.”
“So, I’m not the only one you playfully flirt with?”
“Not by a long shot!” Ariane looks up from her phone as she says it. Rachel gives here an odd look in return. “Don’t get jealous, Evan is gay.”
“Yeah, I figured as much when I first met him. He delivers pizza to me three or four times a month.”
“Me too, another thing we have in common,” says Ariane looking back at her phone.
“But I’m not a vegetarian, whats up with that?”
“I’m a vegetarian for dietary reasons,” says Rachel, “I’m not one of those preachy vegetarians that thinks everyone should give up meat. In fact I drink milk and eat eggs for protein.”
“Good to know,” says Ariane. “I’m pretty much a carnivore, just so you know.”
“Got it,” Rachel says with a smile.
“Lydia! Oh my god, where did you come from?” says a shocked Ariane.
“Came from band practice. My turn to get dinner,” says Lydia. “I haven’t seen you since…”
“The night we had sex,” Ariane interjected.
Lydia looks at Rachel a little embarrassed.
“Don’t worry, Lydia,” Rachel explains, “I already know, and this is not a date.”
It suddenly dawned on Ariane that Lydia was trying to be discrete in front of Rachel.
“Yeah, don’t worry. Rachel and I met a couple of weeks ago and hit it off — in a friendly non-sexual way — and we are sort of having a girls night out.”
“That’s my favorite kind,” says Lydia. “Mind if I join you until my pizza is ready?”
Ariane slides over and Lydia sits down next to her. Rachel enables the camera on her phone and snaps a picture.
“Nice to see you again too, Rachel,” says Lydia.
“How do you two know each other?” asks Ariane.
Lydia answers first, “Between school, and various events, our paths crossed a few times. We even kissed once.”
Now it is Rachel’s turn to be shocked. “I completely forgot about that. I was doing this kissing booth thing for charity, mostly men, but Lydia cut in line and laid one on me.”
“Nice!,” says Ariane nodding approval.
Evan shows up with the pizza.
“Here ya go ladies, and Lydia yours is comin’ up.”
“Thanks,” they all say together.
“Evan, whens the next meet up?” asks Lydia.
“Next Saturday, right here, we are doing one of those Japanese singing things,” says Evan.
“Karaoke?” suggests Lydia.
“Yeah, that’s it, starts right after the ‘Bama game.”
“Aye, Rick isn’t going to sing again is he?” asks Lydia.
Evan laughs, “I don’t know, depends how drunk he is, so I’m guessin’ yeah.”
“Who is this Rick?” asks Ariane.
“Evan’s husband,” answers Lydia.
“Wait? Evan is Married?” say a shocked Ariane, “Since when?”
“Since the day it became legal, darlin’,” says Evan, “Enjoy the pizza, ladies.”
“Want a slice?” offers Ariane. “Pretty sure we won’t finish this all ourselves.”
“No, thanks,” says Lydia politely.
“So how was the concert tour?” asks Ariane.
“As good as can be expected for an unknown band with only a minor hit. We made some money, played in a sold out arena.”
“You sold out an arena?” asks Rachel.
“No, the Arctic Monkeys did, we just played there as an opening act. People seemed to dig it.”
“We mostly played at much smaller venues, with crowds ranging from 50 to 3,000.”
“What are you doing now?” asks Ariane.
“We just added a keyboard player, and we are recording some new stuff, our next gig is the New Years Eve block party downtown, which you both should come to, I’ll be sure to put you both on the backstage list.”
“Cool,” says Ariane.
Rachel checks her calendar, “I am currently free New Years Eve, but I don’t know how long that will last, so consider me a ‘maybe’.”
Lydia nods to Rachel then turns to Ariane. “I’ll be in town the rest of the year Ariane, if you want to get together. I got some more stuff I could teach you.”
Ariane raises her eyebrows, surprised at Lydia’s proposal, she gestures that she can’t answer right now because her mouth is full of pizza.
“Think about it,” responds Lydia. “It looks like my carryout order is ready, so I’ll leave you two amigas alone. Call me later, Ariane.”
Ariane nods. Still eating.
“What does she want to teach you?” asks Rachel with a smile suspecting the answer already.
“Not sure, but it probably involves her getting into my pants… or me getting into hers.”
“Do you have this problem with all your former lovers?”
“Just the ones I still like,” admits Ariane.
“Wow, Lydia is even hotter than when I met her. Between you and her, I keep having to remind myself that I am a heterosexual.”
So, you find me sexually attractive?” asks Rachel.
“Well duh, who wouldn’t?” responds Ariane.
“Well thanks, I find you attractive too,” says Rachel returning the compliment. Ariane smiles.
“So how heterosexual are you?” asks Rachel suggestively.
“Quite a bit,” answers Ariane. “There is just something about putting my arms around broad shoulders, and my legs around narrow hips, and having a hard dick pumping inside me that is too enjoyable to give up.”
Rachel sighs, “Actually, I like that a lot too.”
“Maybe we are both closer to pansexuals?” Rachel suggests already questioning her own diagnosis.
“Maybe,” says Ariane noncommittally. “Do you think that’s enough to join Evan and Lydia’s fruity little club?”
“You can always ask Evan,” suggest Rachel, “If it isn’t I’ve got an extra kink or two in reserve.”
Ariane smiles wanting to hear more. “Ooh, I’m all ears, considering you were open about your menage a trois it’s got to be good.”
Rachel suddenly gets shy. “I’m not ready to share just yet. A girl has to have some secrets,” says Rachel.
“Touché,” says Ariane with a smile.
After dinner, Rachel and Ariane returned to Ariane’s house. Ariane showed her the back yard.
“Whoa, this is nice!” says Rachel, “Is that a Thompson 5 inch reflecting telescope?”
“6 inch, about 200x. I went through an astronomy phase when I was a kid and my dad decided to encourage it,” explained Ariane.
“City lights are too bright to see much except the moon, and the planets. Drive a ways out of town and you can see nebula, galaxies and a lot of other cool stuff.”
“Wow, sounds like you haven’t completely outgrown your astronomy phase,” Rachel observed.
“Figured a science nerd like you would appreciate it.”
“My dad encouraged me to learn stuff. He was a mechanic, and taught me engine repair too.”
“Your dad sounds cool, is he still around?” asks Rachel.
“Both of my parents are,” replies Ariane. “They divorced when I was in High school. I see them both occasionally, but me and my brother are both closer to my dad.”
“My parents are still together,” says Rachel. “They encouraged me and my sister to learn as well but they never got me anything more than a library card.”
“Ready to check out the hot tub?” asks Ariane changing the subject.
“I’d thought you’d never ask,” replies Rachel.
“Great, help me take the cover off, and we’ll go into my bedroom to change.”
“Did you bring a swimsuit?” asks Ariane.
“No you said we could hot tub naked,” answers Rachel.
“Ah good, then I don’t have to find mine.”
“How often do you use the hot tub?”
“Lately, two or three times a week. The colder it gets the harder it is to get ready.”
“Oh wow this is nice,” says Rachel.
“4 degrees outside, 35 in the tub,” says Ariane.
“Hey! you used metric. My face is a little cold, but the rest of me is comfortable.”
“You talk like it is your first time in a hot tub.”
“Not my first,” says Rachel, “but my last time was years ago when we rented a house one summer trip. Never quite got the appeal as it was hot outside, so it was just like a big bath tub.”
“Then you really haven’t been initiated into the joys of hot tubbing,” says Ariane. “Here let me show you. Put your left leg on that side, and your right foot over here by me.”
Ariane continues, “Then I turn on this magic switch over here, and…”
“Oh my god!” reacts Rachel, “Those jets are awesome! Better than a vibrating shower-head!”
“I know, right?” says Ariane.
After a while of relaxing with the jets and bubbles, Rachel decides to get out of the hot tub.
“I need to cool off, I’m going to jump in the pool,” says Rachel.
“Don’t. It’s way too cold!” orders Ariane.
Rachel stops at the edge and turns to Ariane. “Aren’t you the try anything once girl?”
“Yes, and I already tried it,” notes Ariane.
Rachel tries it anyways, and immediately regrets it as slightly warmer than ice water covers her from head to toe.
Ariane gets out of the hot tub and grabs the towels she set out.
Rachel does an amazingly fast swim to the stairs and climbs out. Her body is involuntarily shaking and shivering.
“Come on in,” says Ariane as she holds open the doors to her bedroom. Rachel considers getting back in the hot tub.
“You’ll get warmer faster if you just dry off,” suggest Ariane who obviously knows what she is talking about.
Rachel takes the advice, grabs the towel and goes in the bedroom.
Rachel is still shaking and shivering as she quickly dries off. “I still feel cold,” she says.
“Get into bed,” suggests Ariane. “Want a hot drink? Coffee, tea, cocoa?”
“Maybe later,” answers Rachel.
“If you really want to help warm me up you should get in bed with me,” Rachel says.
“Is this a pick up line?” asks Ariane.
Rachel laughs, “Maybe, but I think I’d warm up faster if you were in here with me.”
Ariane drops her towel and joins Rachel in bed.
“You were right, that water was way too cold. My nipples are as hard as rocks right now,” says Rachel.
“Yes, they are,” says Ariane sneaking a feel.
“Whoa,” reacts Rachel as she feels Ariane’s hands on her breasts.
“Sorry, was that a bit too much?” asks Ariane after removing her hand.
“No, don’t stop, your hands are nice and warm. But, you should know, before you round second, that I’m not interested in sex,” says Rachel.
Ariane has a curious look on her face and lets Rachel continue.
“I should explain that secret I have. I have a bit of a fetish, I only have sex in ‘role play’ scenarios. I never have sex as myself.”
Ariane’s curious face turns to confusion.
“You think it’s weird, don’t you?” asks Rachel.
“Well,” Ariane starts pausing as she thinks what to say next. “Yes, it is a little weird, but I have a sex problem too, and this might work out for both of us.”
Now it’s Rachel’s turn to be curious.
“Actually, it is not so much of a sex problem as a relationship problem. I have had ‘boyfriends’ come and go, and I think I know why: I have sex too quickly.”
“Well when you sleep with a guy on the first date, and the second, and the third, eventually you get tired of the guy and it turns into ‘obligation sex’, which is no good for anybody… which is usually when I break it off.”
“I get it. All your relationships have been based only on sex. Have you tried not having sex so early?” asks Rachel.
“Tried and failed. I’ve been thinking I should build a non-sexual relationship first, until we really understand each other, then the ‘obligation sex’ stage can be avoided.”
“You’re probably right,” says Rachel, “I was raised in a conservative religious household where I was taught I was not supposed to have sex until marriage.”
“WOAH! No way I am holding out that long! Especially since I have zero desire to ever marry,” responds Ariane.
“I don’t believe in it either. In fact I think I developed my fetish as a loophole. ‘Rachel’ has never had sex, but my alter egos have. Now, I believe sex is an important step in getting to know someone, but I’ve never gotten close enough to anyone to be myself.”
“I see,” says Ariane, “I think my problem probably started with my parents as well, they never taught me what a good relationship was like, because they didn’t have a very good one themselves.”
Ariane continues as she starts to get emotional, “Somewhere between my sex on the first date approach and your parents abstinence approach, is the right balance to a good long lasting relationship, and I want to find it…”
Ariane pauses, she knows the next words, but worries about saying them as she fears rejection.
“And I want to find it with you!” Ariane finally says.
Rachel takes a moment before she answers.
“OK,” says Rachel, “but for now we are ‘just friends’, no commitment, no exclusivity. We should continue to get to know each other and let the relationship grow into whatever it is going to turn out to be. Agreed?”
Ariane thinks about what Rachel said. “Is she rejecting me? Does she really JUST want to be friends?” she thought to herself.
On the other hand, Ariane realizes, she has major doubts herself about where this is going and simply answers, “Agreed!”
“Just one thing I got to do first,” says Rachel.
Rachel takes her arm out from under the covers and puts it around Ariane’s neck pulling her close then kisses her deeply.
Ariane kissed back, her doubts about Rachel answers, followed by thoughts of seriously questioning her ‘no sex’ commitment as the kiss lingered for what seemed like a long time.
“Sorry, all that sex talk was getting me hot,” says Rachel.
“Don’t be sorry, that was an amazing kiss.”
After a long awkward pause, Ariane laughs and the mood suddenly gets less awkward.
Rachel takes the hint. “OK, change of topic. Got a favor to ask you.”
“Exactly,” says Rachel, “I want to shoot you.”
Ariane looks curious.
“I’m taking an advanced photography class this semester and I need a model for my final project,” Rachel explains. “Will you help me out?”
“Oh, does it involve nudity?” asks Ariane with a smile.
“It might,” says Rachel with a grin, “but probably not, it’s not that kind of photography class. Maybe you’ll be clothed and I’ll be the one naked behind the camera.”
Ariane laughs loudly at the suggestion. “Either way, I’m in,” says Ariane says with a smile.
Rachel smiles back.
Rachel and Ariane continue to talk for a couple of hours about a variety of topics until they eventually fall asleep in each others arms.
END OF PART 2