#Sunday-Romance Serial: “Are We Really Doing This?”

Photo by Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash
  • Continuing With: Meredith and Lily
  • Setting: Contemporary; unnamed/generic American town
  • Length: 1,417 words
  • Key Tropes: best friends to lovers, Big Scary Feelings, bisexual and pansexual MCs
  • Content Warnings: alcohol, swearing
  • Explicit?: not very

One slice of pizza remained in the box, and the bottle of wine was half empty. Meredith lifted the remote and turned off the TV.

Lily downed the rest of her glass and reached to refill it, sighing. “I wish this didn’t feel like doom,” she muttered. “I hate when you’re angry with me.”

Meredith leaned back against the arm of the couch. Her feet were inches from Lily’s leg, and she resisted the urge to unfold herself, to rest her legs across Lily’s lap. She wouldn’t like that yet. “Yeah, well, so do I.”

“I’d be handling this better if I had any idea what to say.”

“Okay, then, I’ll go first.” Meredith set her empty glass aside. “I’m completely on board with the idea of trying to make this best-friendship romantic. And sexual, when we both feel comfortable with that, though I admit that’s probably going to take some time for me, because I’m so used to trying not to think of you that way. It’s going to be an adjustment.”

Pointedly staring at the blank TV instead of looking at her, Lily sighed again. “How did I not know you were into me? This felt like a much bigger risk before I did it.”

“How was I supposed to know you had any feelings for me when half the time we go out together you end up going home with someone else?” Lily looked over at her sharply, but Meredith held up her hands in defense. “I am not shaming you for your one-night stands, you know that. But what was I supposed to think when you’re bouncing through three or four different lovers every few months? I thought you didn’t want anything serious, but I do. And you know I do, you know I’ve been looking for something stable, long-term. So why would I think you wanted to date me?”

Something in Lily’s expression softened. “You’re right. Of course you’re right. And because you would never shame me for my endless one-night stands–though some of my partners did last longer than that, I’ll have you know–you never realized that I was only having them because I thought I couldn’t have the person I really wanted.” She laughed darkly and looked away. “I’m so fucking trite, it’s pathetic.”

Meredith chucked a pillow at her, aiming for the arm not holding the wine glass. “So you’ve been pining for me, huh?”

“Go ahead, make fun of me.” She sipped her wine.

“Not now, when I’d only be indulging your self-loathing.”

That made Lily laugh again, more brightly. “I hate feeling this stupid.”

“You’re not stupid,” Meredith insisted, shifting so she sat by Lily’s side and could wrap an arm around her back. Comforting friend-level hugs were familiar territory. “Come on, how often do either of us get a new relationship right on the first try? We’re not exactly smooth talkers. You charm people into bed by being direct, then don’t end up keeping them. I mostly fail to get them into bed in the first place. Why would we be any different with each other?”

“That’s just it,” Lily whispered. “I want to be different with you. I want to be better. I know I’m picky about your partners and I never think they’re good enough for you. I can admit that, yeah, some of that might have been denial and spite, but at the end of the day, I was trying to look out for you. Just like with Jessie. If somebody gives me a bad vibe, I want you to know.” She laid her head on Meredith’s shoulder. “But since we’re being ruthlessly honest about everything tonight…I’m not good enough for you, either. As your best friend, I would tell you not to date me. I’m a mess.”

Meredith’s throat tightened with the first signs of tears forming. She leaned over a few inches to kiss Lily’s temple. “You’re my mess, though. After everything we’ve been through, after all the times we’ve put each other back together after breakups and job setbacks and family drama, don’t you trust me to have a little more patience with you than with some random guy I picked up at a bar, or a blind date a coworker set me up on?”

Lily’s arms came around her waist and squeezed, which put the sloshing wine glass dangerously close to her sweater. Meredith plucked it from her hand and set it on the coffee table. “Are we really doing this?”

“I am,” Meredith said simply. “You can still say no, and I’ll back off, and we’ll…we’ll figure it out from there.”

Lily lifted her head, gazing first at Meredith’s eyes, then her lips. “I don’t want you to back off. Can I kiss you?”

Meredith wanted to laugh at her remembering to ask first, but there was no laughter in her when Lily looked at her like that. “Yes, please.”

Lily’s mouth was soft, and the lingering taste of wine seemed different than what Meredith had drunk herself, the result of some alchemy as it combined with Lily’s own taste. Meredith yielded to the steady pressure of the kiss and let Lily bear her down to the couch and stretch over her, slotting their legs together, bringing them chest to chest. The scrape of Lily’s body against hers hardened her nipples, making them ache for a more direct touch.

Maybe she wouldn’t need much time to adjust, after all.

Too soon, though, Lily broke the kiss, pressing up on her hands, braced above Meredith. “Too much?”

“No,” Meredith breathed. “But we probably shouldn’t rush.”

“No, we shouldn’t,” Lily agreed as she sat up. Meredith pulled back as well, making space on the couch for her. “I meant what I said, Mere. I want to be better with you, and you know sex is easier for me than relationships. So I don’t want to take the easy way out, because that’s probably going to mess us up, and I don’t want to lose you.” She pushed an unsteady hand through her hair. “That’s what’s so terrifying about this. If we try this, and it goes badly–you’ll be an ex instead of my best friend. I don’t think you can be both of those things at once. So the only way this works is if it’s forever, and–” She broke off.

“And forever is pretty scary all on its own, at the beginning of a relationship,” Meredith finished for her. “I know. I think we’re still in a window, where we can step back and say, this isn’t a good idea, we’re making a mistake. Where we can still be best friends, even if it’s a little awkward for a while because we both thought about more. But Lils, I don’t think that window’s open much longer. If we really start dating, and definitely if we sleep together, I won’t be able to step back anymore. I know sex can be casual for you, but it never is for me. So if you’re still not sure you want to take this risk, I think you’d better decide now. Or at least, very, very soon. Like, before our first date, soon.”

“Okay.” Lily scrubbed the heel of her hand over her eyes, though Meredith hadn’t seen any tears falling. “Okay, that’s fair. I don’t–I wouldn’t want to hurt you, like that. So I will call you tomorrow, and I will either ask you on a date, or I will tell you I’m calling this off before it really starts. Because–because I’m too wrung out to make a decision that big tonight, tipsy on half a bottle of wine and one extremely good kiss.” She glanced at Meredith and smiled weakly. “I promise, this time, no ghosting. But I need to sleep on this and think about it more clearly tomorrow. Is that okay?”

Meredith’s heart squeezed painfully, and she hated that she couldn’t completely banish her doubt. But she smiled back, and stood, and lightly kissed the top of Lily’s head. “Get some rest. And I’ll leave you the rest of the pie, so have some for breakfast and think of me, okay? I’ll let myself out.”

“No, Mere, you don’t have to go yet–” Lily began as she reached out.

“Yeah, I do. If you want to be better with me, then I’ll be a good best friend for now and remove your temptation to be bad. No more kisses until we know where we stand.” At Lily’s pout, she grinned. “Can you honestly say you weren’t hoping we’d make out more?”

Lily sighed. “Okay, fine, go home.”

Meredith grabbed her purse and blew a kiss from the doorway.

#Sunday-Romance Serial: “Day After Day”

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
  • Continuing With: Meredith and Lily
  • Setting: Contemporary; unnamed/generic American town
  • Length: 1,426 words
  • Key Tropes: best friends to lovers, We Need to Talk, bisexual and pansexual MCs
  • Content Warnings: verbal/nonviolent fighting, swearing, brief panphobia issues
  • Explicit?: No

Tomorrow never came. Sure, Meredith woke up and did the things she usually did; she went to work and had a good lunch shift, making nearly twice as much in tips as a typical day, somehow. Her tables were all a smidgen nicer than usual, and more takeouts tipped than she expected, and by the time she clocked out after the initial dinner rush, she had lost track of the running total she always kept in her head.

How had she managed to do her job so well when she’d spent half the time anxious about Lily?

The staff was allowed to keep their phones on them during service, because emergencies were always a possibility, and plenty of the servers had kids. But Meredith never checked hers much, and today she’d been too busy even if she’d wanted to. Whatever Lily did or didn’t text her, it should wait until her shift was over. She even resisted on the drive home. She showered and changed and threw some leftovers in the microwave for dinner.

Only then did she look for messages.

She didn’t have any.

Tomorrow, Lily had said. Well, there was still plenty of “tomorrow” left–it was barely seven. Lily had a nine-to-five office job, but maybe she’d gotten held up, or maybe she needed to relax with a book for a while before she tackled her problems.

Or she might just be quietly freaking out at one end of a suspended conversation, like Meredith was.

A book. Reading sounded like a good distraction. She would grab a favorite from her small collection, liberate a few squares of chocolate from her stash, and take it easy for an hour. By then, Lily would call. Or text, text was fine too.

Two hours later, Meredith woke with a jolt in her chair. Not surprising, she hadn’t slept well the night before. But her neck was angry with her for not being in bed when she fell into her unintended nap.

The uneaten chocolate sat by her phone. Still no messages.

It wasn’t too late in the evening to call her best friend Lily. Was it too late to call the Lily that had kissed her? What were they now? What did Meredith want them to be?

Her thumb hovered over the call button under Lily’s name, but she decided against it. Forcing the issue so soon didn’t feel right, even though she was dying to offload some of her tension. Normally, Lily would be the one she talked to if she was unsure about seeing somebody new.

Obviously that wouldn’t work now.

Day after day followed the same pattern, until most of the week had gone by. Saturday she worked the dinner shift, and she usually tried to hang out with Lily during the day, but she made no plans as Lily’s silence continued.

Sunday, Meredith started her day by knocking out all her chores and baking a pumpkin pie. The cleaning was fueled by rage at her best friend ghosting her for a week; the baking, her attempt to medicate her rage with soothing kitchen time and plenty of sugar. It half-worked, because by afternoon, she wasn’t as angry but still had too much energy to sit around and wait for Lily to decide she existed again.

She packed up two slices of pie and drove over. When Lily answered the doorbell, her face went still with shock, then she looked away guiltily.

“Busy?” Meredith asked in her most chipper tone. “I brought pie.”

Lily stepped back to let her in.

As much time as she spent there, Meredith knew where everything was. She got plates and forks in the kitchen while Lily hovered in the doorway, watching. She held out one plated slice of pie and Lily took it without comment. Meredith’s rage reignited at Lily’s continued silence in person.

“Are we going to talk about this?” she demanded. “Because if you were drunk enough to screw up and you want to take it all back, you should say so. I don’t know if that would work, but we could try, if that’s what you want. But I don’t want my best friend ignoring me anymore, so here I am.”

Lily’s shoulders sagged, and she took her plate to the table, sitting down. “I haven’t called you because I don’t know what I want.”

That was a start. Meredith sat down too. “It seemed pretty clear you wanted me. At least, you did then.”

“I do now, too. But Mere–” She sighed and dug her fork into the pie. “I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have kissed you, I had no right to.”

“Did I, or did I not, tell you to ask me on a date right then instead of waiting? Was I not perfectly clear that I was into it, at least once I got over my surprise you’d kissed me at all?” Meredith shook her head. “Listen, I get that half our friends don’t think I’m queer enough to belong. I say I’m pan, and they see me dating yet another guy, and they look at me and think I’m a straight girl pretending. I’m not. I’m interested in women, but I can’t explain why they never seem to be interested in me. I’m not butch, I’m not femme, because of my job I can’t die my hair wacky colors or shave half of it off to prove I’m queer, I’m just me and apparently I read straight and so women aren’t falling at my feet.” She ran out of breath there and stopped to drag in a deep one. “I thought you knew me better than that. So if any of this uncertainty you’re feeling is that you had no right to kiss me, well, permission first is always better but I was one hundred percent okay with you kissing me, alright?”

“Mere–” She must have expected an interruption, because she paused there. “Okay, I’m an asshole, because yeah, some of that had crossed my mind. But it’s not just that. You’re my best friend!”

“I’m your best friend enough to know that half the romance novels you read are friends-to-lovers. So why is that a problem in real life? I’m here. I brought you pumpkin pie. You told me a week ago you were going to ask me on a date tomorrow. I’m not impressed with your punctuality, Lils. Am I going to have to ask you? Because I will, I just thought you wanted to handle that yourself.”

Lily finally took a bite of the pie. “This is really good,” she mumbled.

“I know.”

“And you’re really pissed off.”

“Yep.”

“I’m sorry I freaked out?”

Meredith sighed. “Are you, though? If you got cold feet and you don’t want to go through with this, I’d rather you say so then ghost me.”

“Did I ruin everything?”

“I don’t know yet. But you will if you won’t talk to me.”

“Okay, but–but I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I’m doing, Mere, and that’s what I’ve been freaking out about all week! You know better than anyone outside my exes what an awful person I can be in a relationship. I’ve always felt lucky that you’re such a great friend anyway, because I know I have a lot of flaws, and I’m working on that, but it’s hard. So pardon me for not wanting to ruin the best relationship I do have by trying to turn it into something else!”

“Good! Yes! Thank you!” Meredith applauded like she was an acting coach praising a student. “Real honesty!”

Lily shoved a forkload of pie into her mouth and thumbed her nose at Mere. “You can be pretty awful, too, you know,” she said after she chewed and swallowed.

“I’m a bitch when I’m angry, fully aware.”

“Too bitchy to even eat the pie you brought.”

It was true, Meredith hadn’t touched it. She lifted the slice, skipping the fork, and took as big a bite from the pointed end as she could.

“Much better,” Lily observed. “Are we friends again?”

Meredith couldn’t talk yet–too much chewing necessary. She nodded.

“Can we get pizza for dinner and open a bottle of wine and do our usual whining about life tonight, like usual?”

After a huge, painful gulp, Meredith spoke. “I will allow one episode of a shitty reality tv show as a breather, but after that, we’re figuring this out. Over pizza and wine is fine, but I’m not letting you put me off again. I did that for a week and all it got me was heartburn.”

Lily laughed. “Skip the pizza, then? I’ve got some of Mom’s chicken noodle soup in the freezer, you love that–”

“Lily.”

“What?”

“It’s a metaphor.”

“For how crazy I made you?”

“Exactly.”

#Sunday-Romance Serial: “I Love You, You Idiot”

Photo by Ray Reyes on Unsplash
  • Introducing: Meredith and Lily
  • Setting: Contemporary; unnamed/generic American town
  • Length: 1,093 words
  • Key Tropes: best friends to lovers, the big reveal, bisexual MC
  • Content Warnings: alcohol, prolific swearing, cheating mention
  • Explicit?: No, but sex is discussed frankly

Meredith stormed out of the bar. The wet August heat persisted even near midnight. If she walked home, she’d melt from sweating, but she was angry enough to want to work of the energy. I actually liked this guy–

The sound of her name shouted down the sidewalk stopped her high heels in place. So it was going to be a sidewalk scene, as if her humiliation in the bar hadn’t been enough. She turned around.

Lily was jogging towards her. “Meredith–”

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“But he’s–”

“This is the first guy in a year I’ve had a good feeling about, Lily. You know what a shitty run of luck I’ve had. Don’t we all get together and bitch about ourselves every week? The guys have been lobbing me their friends and coworkers for months and none of them stick! So you come crash my date with Jess–”

Lily tossed her head impatiently. “I didn’t set out to ruin your night, Mere. But when I happened to run into you two and I realized your ‘Jess’ was the same asshole ‘Jessie’ who cheated on me with a married woman, yeah, I felt compelled to speak up. Pardon me for being a good friend!”

“That was four years ago!” Meredith snapped. A man passing on the other side of the street gave her look. She’d been too loud, so she lowered her voice. “Are you sure it’s him? And even if it is, dammit, Lily, I really liked him. He was treating me so much better than the last few guys who never got past a first or second date.”

Lily stepped close enough to lay her hands on Meredith’s shoulders. One of the straps of her top slipped under the pressure, but Lily smoothed it back into place. “I’m sorry this is hard on you, but I refuse to be sorry for interfering. Yes, it’s him, and okay, maybe he’s changed. Maybe he would never cheat again. But you deserved to know, and I knew you hadn’t slept with him yet. I wasn’t going to bite my tongue now and tell you later, only to find out you went with the three-date rule and got lucky tonight. Wouldn’t you rather know before then? That he might already have a girlfriend somewhere, that you might be the other woman?”

Meredith closed her eyes and leaned forward to touch her forehead on Lily’s, one of the benefits of having a best friend the same height. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “You’re right. Of course you’re right. I hadn’t made up my mind yet, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering going home with him tonight. So thanks for cock-blocking me, I guess.”

“Any time.” She giggled. “Though I’d call it saving you from inevitable disappointment. He wasn’t that great in bed. Adequate at best.”

A matching giggle sprouted from Meredith’s throat. “Now that I’m not angry anymore, I’m embarrassed. Is my taste in men that bad? Also slightly tipsy and more horny than I’d admit to anyone but you.”

Lily’s hands tensed, gripping Meredith hard enough to make her notice her own bones. “Best friend’s privilege, huh?”

Meredith wasn’t anywhere close to drunk enough to miss the odd note in Lily’s voice. She pulled back, opening her eyes to study her friend’s expression. “Lily?”

“Well, I kind of ditched someone back there to come after you.”

Oh. Lily had been there to fish for a hookup. “Sorry. You can go back–”

“She’s probably already chatting up someone else, she seemed just as eager to get laid as I was. Can’t blame her for passing on the disaster bi who had to go rescue her friend from the clutches of an evil man.” She laughed softly, but Meredith didn’t think her heart was in it.

“New plan, then.” Meredith took Lily’s arm and swung her around. “Let’s go back in, and I’ll be your wingman. Woman. Whatever. We’ll find you somebody else.” She tottered on her heels as she headed back to the entrance, but after two steps, Lily wasn’t following, so she had to stop. “Lils?”

“I don’t want anyone else.” The combination of streetlights and neon signs made her face a patchwork glow of colors, but the sadness there was plain enough. “You’re more important. Let’s get you home.”

Meredith tugged on her hand. “But there’s an entire bar filled with sexy people for you to pick from! Right over there! Who knows, we might even find me somebody worth dating.”

“No, Mere. I’m not going back. The bar full of sexy people will just have to do without me for a night.”

“But why?” Meredith wailed. It was such a perfect solution.

“Because I love you, you idiot.” Lily tugged her hand, this time, hard enough for Meredith to stumble right into her. She planted a kiss on Meredith’s face, catching the corner of her mouth. Had she been going for the cheek and missed? Or was she aiming for Meredith’s mouth?

Despite the heat, Meredith shivered. “Lily,” she breathed. “Am I an idiot? Is there something I should have seen before now?” She braced for a bark of laughter, for Lily to claim she’d misread the situation.

It didn’t come. Lily kissed her again, and she didn’t miss. Her lips were soft, and as soon as they parted Meredith could taste something fruity and sour, the remnants of the last drink she’d had before interrupting the date. The zing on her taste buds translated to a jolt of electricity down her spine.

“I’m going to keep being the responsible one,” Lily murmured as soon as they broke apart. “We’ve both been drinking, and we’re both horny as hell. So we’re going to get you home safe, but then I’m going home too, okay?” She stole another quick, glancing kiss. “You’re not a hookup. So tomorrow I’m going to call you and ask you on a date.”

“Ask me now,” Meredith whispered.

“Tomorrow.” Lily pulled away completely and dug her phone out of her purse. “I’ll get us a ride and drop you off.”

“Lily–”

She met Meredith’s stare. “Tomorrow,” she insisted. “I didn’t mean for it to happen like this, Mere. I wasn’t sure I meant for it to ever happen at all.”

There was pleading in Lily’s tone, and for once in her life, or at least once in their friendship, Meredith saw the edge of the cliff in time to stop herself from falling off of it. “Okay. Tomorrow.”