"Probably because she was sick." Even so, Leslie took some for herself, covering her Coco Pops.
The kettle boiled. Tea and coffee were poured, a couple of glasses of orange juice set in the middle of the table.
"Got any plans?" Cloe asked through a mouthful of cereal, a drop of milk dribbling down her chin.
"Molly rang last night. She wants to meet up with me and Lucy for coffee in a couple of hours. You're welcome to come to town."
"Yeah, I will do. Have a bit of a shop," she said. Cloe was one of those girls who could never shop too much. It was just physically impossible to exhaust herself by visiting too many stores, browsing racks and aisles until her feet ached but she kept going.
"Ok, well, as long as you're ready to be out for ten."
"If you have something I can borrow. Preferably not ankle-length, and preferably not from the nineties."
Leslie flapped her hand in the direction of her bedroom. "You know where my stuff is. Go find something for yourself, and could you get my bag? It's by my side of the bed."
"Sure." Cloe scampered through to her sister's room and could be heard rifling for something to wear that wasn't last night's leftovers. She returned only a few minutes later, fully dressed and swinging Leslie's bag. "You not doing anything with Greg then?"
"Not that I know of."
"Nothing to celebrate your new unsingleness?"
"We haven't decided what we are yet," Leslie said, slurping the last of her coffee a little more noisily than intended.
"That's messy," Cloe said, swinging her own bag over her shoulder and checking she had her purse. Leslie was worried she was right.
A certain kind of mood was required to be able to tolerate Molly at any time, especially on a Saturday morning for coffee and especially when she had news. Molly with news was even more of a tour de force than usual and Leslie battened her hatches in preparation for Molly's whirlwind. She and Lucy were the first to arrive at the coffee shop, bang on time. It was no doubt a ploy by Molly to make sure attention was on her when she eventually arrived, which it was. Or rather, the gleaming rock on her finger.
"Oh my God!" Lucy squealed, jumping to her feet to inspect Molly's hand. Leslie just rolled her eyes, glad for the interruption when a waitress delivered their drinks. Lucy had ordered an iced tea for Molly, pre-empting her demand.
"You're engaged?" Leslie asked, making a maximum effort to show at least a smidge of interest.
"Paul asked me last night. We're getting married," she said with a self-righteous grin. Leslie couldn't help but see every move of hers as slightly malicious and self-bettering, and it often was.
"Wow," was all Leslie could muster. A grudge-holding part of her couldn't let go of how Molly had treated her. "I suppose congratulations are in order." She clinked her mug with Molly's glass.
"Thank you. And how about you? It feels like forever since we last met," she said, though it hadn't even been a week.
"You know, since we're sharing news," Lucy said, drawing out her last syllable, "I'm pregnant."
Leslie tried to shut herself off from the ensuing hysteria, almost laughing at the flash of jealousy that shot through Molly's eyes. The two of them could be quite the embarrassment to be out with, drawing attention to themselves in the café like Leslie had on Valentine's Day, but she didn't mind. It was easy to slip into a world of her own when she had had years of practise of filtering out her friends' girlish giggles. Until, that is, an unexpected text brought her back to reality.
Hey Les, it's Greg. I just wanted to let you know that last night was fantastic - the food and the company and you. Don't get me started on the sex! I want you to know that whatever you want this to be, that is completely up to you. I respect whatever you decide, though I hope you're even half as happy as I am right now. Love, Greg.
Had she been standing, she would have had to have sat down. Instead, she leant back in her chair, glad for the solid back support. She kept her childish squeals to herself until Lucy turned to her.
"What's up, Les? You alright?"
Leslie nodded, her head bobbing up and down faster as her grin grew wider.
"Go on then. Share your news," Molly said. She had a knack for sounding jealous, whether she was or not. Leslie guessed she was just irritated that her thunder had been stolen by a pregnant friend and Leslie, of all people.
"I, uh, this," Leslie said, holding out her phone. Her cheeks went pink as her friends peered at the tiny screen. Molly stepped back slowly.
"Oh. My. God," she said, plumping down on an unexpectedly deep seat. "You and Greg ... did it?"
"Mmhmm," Leslie said, nodding through pursed lips. The bubbling excitement soon boiled over, disregarding the fact that she was supposed to be a little bit irritated with Molly, and the fact that Lucy and Molly had much bigger news. It was news none the less and they had been pestering her to get hitched for a while.
"So you're together now?" Lucy asked. For the sake of simplicity, Leslie nodded until a squeak escaped, jiggling her knees.
"I don't think I've ever seen you so happy," Molly said. She was unable to remove the trace of cynicism from her voice.
"I don't know how serious we are," Leslie admitted, "but I don't even care. I've never been so fucking excited not to need a vibrator in my life."
She had to do it, even just to bring Molly down a notch. It worked.
"Do you really have to?" she asked.
"Oh, it's only a vibrator," Lucy said, showing off her newfound confidence. "I'm so happy for you, Les!"
"Thanks, Luce. I'm kind of still in shock."
"You had sex?" she asked.
"How was it?"
Leslie thought for a moment. "I've slept with, what, twenty men in my life," she said slowly, a shock to the two women whose cumulative mating partners totalled two. "I can safely say that Greg was the best ever, by far." She didn't betray him by adding the fact of his initial virginity. It was an unnecessary detail to prudish friends, and an odd accomplishment that she wanted to keep to herself. She replied to him.
Whatever we are right now, this is what I want.
She sent it quickly, her fingers flying over the keypad in her sudden excitement. Lucy and Molly looked at each other.
"You know what this means?" Lucy asked. Molly raised an eyebrow to finish her friend's sentence. Leslie prepared herself for their attack, squaring her shoulders and clenching her jaw, an unnatural reaction to what would have been a bit of friendly advice for anyone else: when it came to her, friendly advice was a thing of the past. Her friends no longer bothered.
Molly sipped her tea delicately, her new ring giving off a satisfying clink against the glass. "We're going to have to teach you how to be a lady."
YOU ARE READING
Leslie's Study of Femininity ✓ChickLit
•COMPLETE• Everyone tells Leslie she's one of the guys, so she sets out to prove that there are no rules to being a girl. --- watty award winner 'hq love award' 2014