The lessons with Meg and Sandy were progressing nicely. Lissa was beginning to understand the attraction of women for each other. There was a kind of emotional bond between two girls that just did not exist between a man and a woman, no matter how close they were or how much they loved one another. There was a kind of understanding, impossible to put into words, that all women shared, something that a man could never experience.
Part of the lessons involved what Sandy called "ambiguous flirting," little gestures and touches that could be construed as sexual or innocent depending on the context. Lissa recognized plenty of these tactics, since Meg used them on her roommates constantly. However, when used by an obviously straight girl, no one would attribute anything sexual to them at all. The point, in Lissa's case, was to get her secret admiree comfortable with these gestures, so that the shift wouldn't be so abrupt when Lissa graduated to more obvious moves.
Sandy also suggested getting the girl into debt, not of finance but of friendship. Lissa should look for opportunities to do nice things for her, always being kind and generous. If the girl started feeling obligated to repay that kindness, she would be more open to Lissa's feelings and more willing to do whatever it took to make her happy. She would want to please Lissa.
The third bit of advice was to make their friendship all about trying new things. At first Lissa would have to be the driving force, but once the girl got comfortable experimenting, then it was only a matter of finding an excuse to try out lesbian sex. At first their new experiences should be simple and basic: trying out a new recipe, or visiting some place together they had never gone before, or developing new hobbies together. Later, Lissa could look for more risqu?xperiments that would get them comfortable with one another's sexuality.
At the beginning of the second lesson, Sandy suggested she shave off her pubic hair like Meg and her, claiming that there was nothing tastier than a hairless pussy. Lissa was a little curious about how it felt, so the three of them went into the bathroom and did the deed. It felt surprisingly erotic, especially when Meg and Sandy ran their hands over her newly shaved pussy. She decided that from now on, she would keep it that way.
Each lesson ended with hands-on "in the bedroom" instruction, which was really just the three of them having sex together. Sandy and Meg showed off some of their favorite positions, and tried them out on Lissa to see how she liked them. At first hesitant, with each lesson she grew more and more comfortable. After a while she was starting to really enjoy herself. It didn't really matter whether the hands and mouths roaming all over her body belonged to a man or a woman, after all; physically it was the all same at least. In fact, Meg and Sandy naturally knew what felt good to a girl, so even in their short time together, sex with them was like being with an experienced lover. That was something that could only come after years of romance with a man.
She also felt a kind of thrill at the forbidden nature of the act. Every time she ran her hands over one of the girls' tits, or sucked on the nipple, or stuck her finger up inside the girl's pussy, she couldn't help but feel excited at the thought that she was doing something so contrary to the way she had been brought up. She had told herself she would never feel guilty again, and surprisingly, it worked. The guilt transformed itself into a kind of excitement.
The disgust that she thought she would feel was absent too. That disgust came mostly from her conservative upbringing, exactly what she was trying to escape from. That feeling reversed itself too, and she found that she really did enjoy the erotic contact between their bodies.
During these escapades, she spent as much time as possible eating the girls out. After the initial shock of licking their bodies, she found that sucking their tits or nibbling on their nipples or even tonguing them between the legs was just a neutral taste. She wanted to get used to the flavor of a girl's love juices.
Sometimes she focused her efforts on the clitoris, experimenting to see what worked the best to drive the girl into a frenzy. Other times, she shoved her tongue as deep inside her partner's cunt as she could. She felt a kind of power over Meg and Sandy when she brought them to orgasm with her mouth, and it delighted her to no end.
As they drove back from Sandy's place, Meg often added a few suggestions to the lesson that applied to girls who were roommates, since Sandy didn't know that it was Alya that Lissa was interested in. There were some of those ambiguous flirting gestures that could only be done in the privacy of their apartment, for instance, and only when the two of them were alone together.
She also suggested that Lissa start to take her clothes off in the apartment. Lissa joked that Meg only wanted to see her naked, and Meg admitted that that was partly the truth, but also it was to get Alya used to seeing her nude. They needed to be comfortable with each other's bodies.
That brought up thoughts of Allison. She remembered how nice it felt to go without clothes with her stepmother, even going so far as touching. She had never really thought of it as anything sexual, even when hugging, or massaging each other's shoulders, or rubbing suntan lotion on each other's chests. Now that her lesbian tendencies were awakening within her, she thought how much more fun it would be to do the same things while allowing herself to feel those sapphic pleasures. She wondered whether she would get an opportunity at Christmas vacation, which was now only a couple of weeks away.
As usual, Meg dropped her off on campus. So as not to appear to be leaving and arriving home at the same time every couple of days, Meg and Lissa always met at a prearranged spot to drive to Sandy's place, and afterward Lissa always walked home from campus so that Meg would arrive first. It seemed to work; neither Alya nor Monique suspected any kind of arrangement between their two roommates. Lissa didn't mind walking, even in the chill December air.
This time, Meg had some other errands to run, so she wouldn't be home until later. That suited Lissa well; she remembered that on Thursday nights Monique also usually got home late, which would leave Lissa alone with Alya. With that cheerful thought she hurried home, anxious to try out some of the suggestions Sandy had made.
As it turned out, there was no need for Meg to drop off Lissa on campus tonight, because the apartment was empty when she arrived. No matter; Alya would be home soon enough. It gave her time to fix dinner, a recipe that she hadn't made in a long time but that was new to Alya. She would pretend it was the first time she had made it and ask Alya if she would be her guinea pig and try it out. Fortunately, there was just enough time to throw the ingredients together and put it in the oven to bake before her roommate would arrive home.
Alya arrived right on time, just as Lissa had expected. What she hadn't expected, though, was Alya's condition when she walked in the door. The girl looked like she had just come in out of a torrential downpour, with chattering teeth, icy red cheeks, ice particles clinging to her hair, and water dripping off the ends.
"What happened?" Lissa exclaimed in shock.
Through her shivering, Alya managed a weak laugh. "You know that big tree by the hill? I was walking under it, and suddenly it decided to drop a big load of snow right on top of me."
"Alya, that tree's half a mile away. Did you walk the whole way home soaked like that?"
Alya nodded, then sneezed.
"You're going to catch pneumonia!" said Lissa. "Come on. Let's get you out of those soggy clothes."
Alya didn't protest, so Lissa hurried over and took her hand to lead her into her bedroom. She noted with alarm just how cold the girl's hands were. She immediately gripped them in her own and started rubbing them.
"I'm fine," Alya told her, but it was obvious that she enjoyed the attention.
"No you're not," Lissa insisted. "You're an ice cube." She released Alya's hands and put her own to the girl's cheeks, which were, not surprisingly, just as cold. She held her hands there until a bit of warmth returned to them. "Too bad we don't have a fireplace," she commented. "The best thing for you would be to lie down in front of it for an hour or so. But never mind that. Come with me."
She took her hand again, and this time brought her into the bedroom. Alya's fingers, which were too numb to be of much use, fumbled at the zipper of her coat. Lissa helped her unzip it and remove it, discovering that the moisture had seeped through into her clothes as well. Her shirt didn't quite drip water, but it looked on the verge of doing so. Alya sat down on the bed to take her shoes off, but Lissa immediately knelt in front of her.
"You don't have to do that," said Alya with a smile, but Lissa ignored her and helped her out of her shoes and socks. The girl's feet were just as cold, if not colder, than her hands, so Lissa immediately set to work rubbing them as well.
"It's okay, really," Alya protested. "You don't have to rub my feet."
"I don't mind. Besides, maybe I'll come home one night in the same condition, and then you can repay me."
Alya laughed. "Okay, it's a deal."
Lissa continued to attend to her roommate's feet until she felt the cold slip away, replaced by their natural warmth. She found that she didn't mind doing something like that for Alya. Sandy had suggested, after all, that she look for chances to do nice things for her, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.
After a few minutes of rubbing the girl's feet, she stood back up. Then she reached for the bottom of her shirt.
"Hey!" Alya giggled, swatting her hand away. "I can manage by myself from here."
"You sure?" asked Lissa.
"I have been known to undress myself once in a while," said Alya. Then she sneezed again. "Oh dear," she said. "I hope I'm not coming down with a cold."
"You will if you don't hurry and get out of those wet things," Lissa insisted, but made no move to leave the room. She wondered if Alya would undress in front of her. She remembered Meg mentioning getting naked in front of each other. Besides, Lissa really was curious about the girl's body. With clothes on it looked great, and she suspected it looked even better without.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. "Do you mind?" asked Alya. "I'd like a little privacy."
"Of course," Lissa nodded. "Tell you what. I'll go fill up the tub for you. The best thing for you right now is a hot bath. You just come in when you're ready."
"That sounds nice," smiled Alya, and Lissa left the room, closing the door behind her. She headed into the bathroom and turned on the faucet in the tub, then stood in front of the mirror.
"This is it," she whispered to her reflection, quiet enough that her roommate was certain not to hear. "You've got Alya all to yourself tonight, and a good excuse to fawn all over her. Do your best." Then she sat down on the edge of the tub, pulled her foot out of her sandal, and dipped it in the water to test the temperature. She adjusted the faucet until she got it right, then took her foot back out.
Alya appeared in the doorway a moment later, dressed in her bathrobe. Lissa had secretly hoped that Alya would come in without any clothes on whatsoever, but hadn't really expected it, so she wasn't too disappointed. Lissa turned off the water and rose to her feet. "Perfect timing," she said. She walked over to Alya and reached for the sash of her robe.
"What are you doing?" asked Alya.
"Well, you're not going to get in the tub like that, are you?"
"Okay, what's the deal? Are you trying to get me naked or something?" Alya laughed.
"What? No, of course not. I mean, yes, but only to get you in the tub. Look, don't read anything into it that's not there; it's just that I'm perfectly comfortable with nudity. If it bothers you, I'll leave, but don't think I've got any ulterior motives." The truth was, she did have ulterior motives, but she wasn't about to admit it. "I guess it all started with my stepmother," she said.
"Oh?" asked Alya.
Lissa laughed. "It's not how it sounds," she said. "But never mind that. I'll tell you later. The last thing I want to do is keep you from your bath." She turned and headed out the door. Alya closed it behind her.
Lissa sat down on the couch, smiling. That last bit about Allison made for an enticing little mental image, especially leaving it unexplained like that. Let Alya think about that while she soaked in the tub.
In the mean time, Lissa needed to think of an excuse to go into the bathroom while her roommate bathed. She knew that if she could just get through the door, she could manage to get the girl talking, and pretty soon Alya would lose any self-consciousness she felt about being nude in front of Lissa.
Immediately, she came up with an idea. It probably wouldn't work, but at the very least it would give her something else nice to do for her roommate. She headed into the kitchen and filled the tea kettle with water. Alya was a fan of green tea. She drank iced tea every day during the summer, and during the winter she usually brewed up a pot as soon as she got home from classes.
She raided Alya's stash for the tea, and measured out the correct amount of sugar. She had watched Alya do it enough that she knew exactly how many teaspoons to use. Soon she had it all ready, so she poured it into a cup and brought it to the bathroom door. Then she knocked.
"Yes?" asked Alya from the other side.
"I've made you some tea," Lissa told her.
"Really? That's so sweet of you."
"Do you want me to bring it in so you can drink it in the tub?"
"No, that's okay. I'm almost finished in here. The water's getting cold anyway. I'll be out in a minute."
Well, it was worth a shot. Still, she had scored a couple of brownie points with Alya, so it wasn't a total waste. There would be other opportunities to get her clothes off. She headed back to the kitchen table and sat down to wait for her roommate.
She didn't have to wait long. Alya opened the door a couple minutes later, dressed once more in her bathrobe, and came over to sit next to her. Lissa immediately put her hands to the girl's cheeks, which were fortunately much warmer than they had been previously.
"Much better," she said. "You had me worried."
"I think you're more worried than I am," Alya grinned, then sneezed again. "On the other hand, maybe you're right to be concerned," she laughed. "Looks like this might turn into a cold after all. Damn it. I have a date with Matt tomorrow." Then she stared at Lissa. "Sorry," she said. "I wasn't thinking."
"Don't worry about that. I'm completely over him. Tell you what. Tomorrow if you're not feeling well enough to go out, I'll go rent us some movies and we'll watch them instead. You can even invite Matt over if you feel like it."
"Really? You'd do that for me?"
"Absolutely. We're friends, aren't we?"
"And it wouldn't bother you if Matt came over?"
"To tell you the truth, I'm secretly hoping he catches your cold, then it turns into something more severe, preferably fatal. For him, not you, I mean."
Alya laughed. "And here I was thinking I had the old Lissa back. You know, the nice girl that wouldn't hurt a fly."
"Well, the new Lissa cares just as much about you as the old one did."
"Thanks," said Alya with a smile.
Now was a good time to bring up an idea she had come up with a couple of days ago, when Sandy had talked about trying out new things. "So Alya," said Lissa. "Do you have your classes all figured out for next semester?"
"I've got a tentative plan. Why?"
"Well, I was thinking about taking a tennis class, but I don't think it would be as fun without a dedicated partner." Lissa had tried to come up with an idea for a class to take with Alya that satisfied two criteria: first, something that could develop into a hobby, and second, something physically exerting so that they would shower together in the locker rooms afterward. She had skimmed through the list of physical education classes that the university offered and decided upon tennis.
"You mean a spoiled rich girl like you doesn't know how to play tennis?" Alya teased. "I thought rich girls always belonged to sports clubs and spent all day playing tennis and racquetball and soaking in a jacuzzi."
"Well, my family does have a hot tub," she confessed.
"Aha!" Alya grinned. "Well, one out of three isn't bad I guess."
"So will you do it? Come on, it will be fun. I was going to ask Matt to take the class with me, but then we broke up."
"I'm sorry," said Alya, and from the look on her face, she seemed sincere.
"I told you, don't worry about that. Tell you what. You can make it up to me by taking his place." And not just on the tennis court, she thought.
Alya laughed. "Since you put it that way, how can I refuse?"
"Oh, thank you!" Lissa exclaimed, then threw her arms around her roommate and hugged her.
"Careful, or you're going to catch my cold."
The timer sounded on the oven.
"Oh, dinner's ready," Lissa announced. "It's a new recipe I'm trying out. Since you're probably not up to making dinner, would you like some of mine?"
"You don't mind?" asked Alya. "I mean, do you have enough?"
"Plenty. I always make enough for leftovers, so sharing isn't a problem."
Lissa retrieved the dish from the oven, a kind of Italian casserole similar to lasagna, but with fettuccine noodles instead, and diced eggplant. She served it onto two plates, and the girls ate dinner together, in bright spirits despite Alya's illness.
Alya went to bed early that night. She even skipped her usual bedtime studying, not really feeling up to doing much. With the sneezes coming more and more frequently, she probably wouldn't be able to concentrate anyway. She took some cold medicine before going to bed, which at least helped with the sniffling and sneezing, and she managed to sleep all night, only waking once when Monique came into her room to go to bed. Usually Monique turned on the light briefly to get her bearings, but tonight she left the room dark. Through her half-conscious haze, Alya was rational enough to suspect that Lissa had briefed Monique on what had happened, and told her not to disturb her.
Unfortunately, in the morning she felt even worse than she had in the evening. When her alarm went off, she merely groaned and punched the snooze. Monique yawned and sat up. Since she got up at the same time as Alya, they only set one alarm between them.
"That's not like you," Monique commented. "Usually you're wide awake in the mornings."
"Mommy, do I have to go to school today?" Alya groaned, not quite sick enough to lose her sense of humor.
"Lissa told me what happened," Monique said, confirming Alya's suspicion. "Do you want to just stay in bed all day?"
"Sounds good to me."
"Can I get you anything?"
There was only one thing Alya wanted, and it surprised her. All she wanted was for Lissa to stay with her. Maybe it was because Lissa had been so nice to her last night, and Alya was beginning to enjoy having her wait on her like that. Still, it was a strange feeling, to want to be near another girl so much.
"I'll be fine. I just need to rest."
"What about your classes?"
"The hell with my classes," Alya mumbled.
Monique laughed. "Okay, sounds like you need to be left alone. If you need anything, just give me a holler." She quickly retrieved her clothes for the day, crammed a couple of books in her backpack, then left the room and closed the door behind her.
A few minutes later, there came a knock at the door. "Alya?" Lissa's anxious voice asked from the other side. "Are you okay?"
Alya couldn't help but smile at that; apparently Lissa was still just as eager to help her as she was last night.
"Come on in," she said, and Lissa opened the door. She still wore her pajamas; it looked like she had hopped out of bed and come straight there as soon as Monique had mentioned it to her. She hurried over and knelt down by the bed, then put a hand to Alya's forehead.
"Well, you don't have a fever," she commented, sounding relieved. "Probably just sinuses then. Still, I know how that feels. It's not pleasant."
"Looks like I may take you up on your offer after all," Alya said.
Lissa grabbed the chair sitting in front of the desk and brought it over to the bed. She sat down on it and started to rub Alya's back. "You just rest. I'm going to take care of you."
"But don't you have classes you need to go to today?"
"Quoting from Monique, who was quoting from you, 'The hell with my classes.'"
Alya laughed. "Thanks, Lissa," she said. "I'm feeling better already."
Just then the alarm went off again; Alya had forgotten to disable it after hitting the snooze button. Lissa grabbed it and yanked the cord out of the wall. "Stupid clock," she commented. "Interrupting you like that when you're trying to sleep."
Alya grinned. It really was nice to have Lissa look after her like that. She yawned, then closed her eyes again. It wasn't long before she drifted off to sleep once more.
When she awoke, Lissa still sat by the bed, dozing in the chair. Alya just watched her for a minute, her heart full of gratitude for the girl's concern. Lissa really was the sweetest girl, and Alya felt a little guilty about hurting her. It wasn't right that such a caring and self-sacrificing girl like Lissa had to be alone.
But she wasn't alone. Maybe she didn't have a boyfriend any more, but at least Alya could be her best friend. Maybe her earlier impression about the new Lissa was wrong. Maybe the new Lissa really was just as caring as the old one.
The girl opened her eyes, and smiled at Alya. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Terrible. But hungry. I think it's time I got up and went to get me some breakfast."
"Let me go get it for you. You just lie here."
Alya smiled. "Thanks, but I really do think I need to get up. If I'm not going to go to classes today, at least I can study."
"Well, if you insist, but Nurse Lissa recommends that you stay in bed."
Alya ignored the recommendation and climbed out of bed. She threw on her bathrobe over her pajamas and made her way to the front room, where she plopped down on the couch. Breakfast had seemed like a good idea a moment ago, but now the thought of even fixing a bowl of cereal seemed like too much work.
Lissa apparently sensed her lethargy. "Would you like me to fix you something?" she asked.
"You don't have--"
"I want to."
Alya nodded. "If you wouldn't mind."
"Let's see... How does an omelet sound? With toast and jam on the side, and a glass of orange juice-- Gotta have your Vitamin C, after all."
"Sounds great," Alya smiled.
Lissa fixed the meal, then brought the food over and sat down beside her, placing the plates on the coffee table in front of them. The two girls sat and ate breakfast together, and Alya felt as cheerful as it was possible to be with a cold.
For the rest of the day Alya didn't feel much like doing anything. She tried studying-- Lissa seemed almost eager to do little things for her like fetching her books-- but between the cold and the side effects of the medicine to counteract it, she really couldn't focus. Maybe Lissa had been right; maybe Alya should have stayed in bed.
She took a nap just before lunch time, lying on her side on the couch with her head in Lissa's lap. She didn't know how she ended up in that position, but when she woke up later it felt so nice that she didn't want to get up, especially with Lissa gently stroking her hair.
They had leftover casserole for lunch, again sitting on the couch together. After a nice nap and a filling lunch, Alya had a little more energy, so she hit the books again. Lissa retrieved her own books from her room and sat down in the chair across the room to do some studying herself. Alya secretly wished that she had sat by her on the couch again, but there really wasn't room with the textbooks spread out on the coffee table.
In the afternoon, Alya called Matt and told him she wouldn't be able to go out with him because she was feeling sick. He offered to come by, but despite Lissa's insistence that it wouldn't bother her, Alya knew it was always a little awkward still when Lissa and Matt were together in the same room. Alya said she would be fine; her roommates were there to look after her.
Lissa stayed with her the rest of the day, except for one quick trip to the video store after Monique arrived home. Lissa picked out a couple of old musicals that she liked but that she remembered Alya mentioning that she had never seen before. Meg had a date with Sandy that night, but the other three roommates sat together on the couch watching the movies.
All drugged up on cold medicine, Alya had a hard time concentrating. She found herself nodding off several times. Each time, she ended up with her head on Lissa's shoulder. She awoke with a start, then apologized to Lissa, who said it was all right. After the third time, she quit apologizing and just let her head rest there. Lissa even put an arm around her, which felt really nice. Alya felt so relaxed that she just lay there for the rest of the evening.
When she woke up, the movies had ended. Monique was nowhere to be seen, but Lissa remained there in the same position, except fast asleep with her head back against the couch. Alya felt so relaxed and peaceful sitting there in her roommate's arms that she wanted to just sleep there all night.
Unfortunately, Meg arrived home a few minutes later, and the sound of her opening the door woke them both back up.
"Sorry to interrupt you," she said.
"It's okay," Lissa told her. "It's time we went to bed anyway." But she made no attempt to get up off of the couch, or even to remove her arm from around Alya's shoulders.
Meg came over and sat down on Alya's other side. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Better than I was," Alya commented.
"Has Lissa been taking good care of you?"
"She has. She really is the sweetest girl."
"Just my maternal instincts kicking in," Lissa smiled. "Right now you need someone to mother you. Speaking of which, it's past your bedtime, young lady."
"Yes, Mom," Alya grinned.
They rose from the couch, then Lissa accompanied her into her bedroom. Alya lay down, still just as sick but somehow not minding it so much. Lissa tucked her in, continuing her maternal role. She even kissed her on the forehead. A few days ago, that would have made Alya feel uncomfortable, but now she found she didn't mind it. It was too bad that Lissa had to leave her, but both girls needed their sleep after all.
The next morning, Alya felt a little better, but still not well enough to leave the apartment. Fortunately it was Saturday so she didn't have classes. Matt came over to spend the day with her, which she would have enjoyed more if not for the fact that Lissa decided to make herself scarce. She wasn't rude about it; she simply mentioned that she had some errands to run. Alya could feel a kind of tenseness in the air with Lissa and Matt there, though.
Her cold had mostly disappeared by Sunday, which was good because she couldn't afford to miss any more classes.
Lissa also knew she would have to make up for the time she had lost on Friday. She would have to talk to each of her professors to get copies of the class notes and assignments. Lissa had a couple of classes with daily quizzes, but she figured a little flirting on her part would make sure the professors wouldn't let that affect her grades.
On Monday, she decided to move on to the next stage with her roommate. If Alya wasn't going to take off her clothes, then Lissa would. As soon as she came home from school, she turned up the heat on the thermostat, then headed into her bedroom. Meg was already there, sitting on the bed with a textbook in her hand. Lissa gave her a wink, then started stripping out of her clothes.
"Ooh, what's the special occasion?" asked Meg. "More importantly, does it involve me?"
"Sorry," Lissa replied. "This is for Alya. Maybe if she gets used to seeing me naked, she'll be more inclined to take her clothes off in front of me."
Meg shrugged. "Too bad."
"I'll make it up to you at the next lesson with Sandy," smiled Lissa. She finished undressing, tossing her clothes in the laundry hamper. Then she grabbed one of her own textbooks, sat on the bed, and began to study.
She knew Alya wouldn't be home for another hour or so, but she wanted to get comfortable before the girl saw her. She was a little nervous about the whole thing, so it wouldn't do to take her clothes off only five minutes before Alya got home.
She talked with Meg during that time, discussing the plans and getting feedback on how she was doing. Meg seemed to think Lissa was doing extremely well; there was a noticeable change in Alya. The girl seemed really happy, and although that could be attributed to her having a boyfriend, she also seemed to really enjoy Lissa's company, even more than her other roommates'. Meg, of course, claimed to be jealous, but she said it with a lighthearted and teasing tone.
An hour and a half later, they heard the front door opening. "Good luck," Meg whispered to Lissa, then went back to her studying. Lissa lay down on her bed, waiting to see if Alya would pop her head in to say hi.
There was a knock on the door. "Come in," said Meg. Alya opened the door.
"Lissa, I was--" she began, then stopped as she saw her lying there on the bed naked. She blinked a couple of times.
"What is it?" asked Lissa, as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
"I was... I mean..." Then the tone of her voice changed to one resembling that of an angry parent. "What are you doing, Lissa?" she asked.
"I don't mean that." She glanced over at Meg. "Lissa, can I talk to you alone for a minute? I mean, would you come into my room?"
"Sure," said Lissa, hopping up off the bed and heading for the door.
"Put some damn clothes on first!" Alya exclaimed.
"No need to be rude about it," said Lissa. She grabbed her bathrobe and slipped it on. "Good enough?"
"Good enough," Alya said, then led her down the hall to her bedroom. Once there, Alya sat on her bed and Lissa sat on Monique's.
"Lissa, what were you doing naked?" Alya asked.
"Oh, don't get so upset about it. I was just feeling a little warm, that's all."
"But just going around naked..."
"I wasn't going around anywhere. I was just lying on my bed studying. Meg goes naked all the time, and you haven't said anything to her about it."
"You're not Meg."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I mean, you're not... you're not a lesbian."
"And lesbians are the only ones to take their clothes off?"
"No, I didn't mean that."
"So tell me what you meant. Come on, Alya. How am I supposed to understand you when you won't even say what it is that's bothering you?"
"All right, you want the honest truth?"
"The truth would be nice."
"Okay. I suspect Meg goes naked because she likes the thought of other girls seeing her naked body. Because she's a lesbian."
"But that's not why I was doing it."
"Maybe not. But you were in there... with Meg... and both of you were naked. Do you see how bad that looks?"
"So you thought we had done something naughty?"
"No. I mean, maybe."
"And you were feeling a little jealous."
"Of course not! Don't joke around about things like that. I just thought it looked a little suspicious, that's all. Look, I know Meg wouldn't just take advantage of you, but doesn't it bother you a little bit to know that your naked body is being gawked at by a lesbian?"
Lissa laughed. "She wasn't gawking at me. Sure, she made a couple of off-color comments when I first took off my clothes, but that's just her style. After that, she just went back to her reading."
"Lissa, you're not considering... switching over, are you?"
"Oh, I see what you're thinking. You're thinking that after what happened with Matt, I'm fed up with men completely, and so you're worried I'm going to turn into a lesbian."
"Well... actually yes."
"And what if I am?"
Alya stared at her for a second, obviously not sure what to say. "Look, I'm not your mother, and you're old enough to make those decisions on your own. But don't do something you'll regret, okay?"
"What, like get involved with Meg?"
"I know Meg wouldn't deliberately hurt you, but if you're playing those kinds of games with her, I'm not sure she could control herself. And then, well, she's already got a girlfriend, and so she wouldn't be able to give you the care you would need. Just be careful."
The two girls remained silent for a minute. Then Lissa broke down laughing.
"Oh, Alya, don't worry about me. I'll be fine. I like men too much to ever become a lesbian, all right?"
"So then you're not planning to... I mean..."
"Not at all."
"But aren't you concerned about Meg looking at you and thinking--"
"I don't give a damn what Meg thinks. Hell, she can have sexual fantasies about me if she wants, as long as she keeps them to herself. It doesn't hurt me, so why should I care? You know, you ought to take your clothes off in front of her some time. Then you'll see it's no big deal."
"Not me. One exhibitionist in this apartment is enough."
"Then there's a problem, because now there are two."
Alya rolled her eyes. "Why me?" she asked, though her worried tone had been replaced with a playful one.
Over the next couple of weeks, Alya noticed Lissa being extra nice to her. It wasn't any one big thing that she did, but a lot of smaller ones. Lissa fixed her dinner a few times, and helped her make her bed, and even gave her small presents. They weren't anything fancy, just some old jewelry and clothes that she didn't wear any more.
Lissa also spent more time just sitting and talking with Alya, who found those times to be very pleasant. The two of them had already gotten along well, but their relationship only strengthened after the incident with Matt. Alya found that during the days she actually looked forward to coming home to spend time with her roommate.
Her first reaction to the new Lissa had been dislike, mostly because she felt the girl was hurting herself. But she also seemed to be going out of her way to be nice to Alya. That confused her. How could a girl who seemed hell-bent on ruining her own life also be so sweet and likable?
It wasn't what she had expected from the girl whose boyfriend she had stolen. In any sane world she would expect Lissa to hate her. But for some reason, her roommate really seemed to care about her.
Alya finally decided to ask Lissa about it. One afternoon when the two of them were alone together in the apartment, Alya approached Lissa.
"I want to ask you a question, and I don't want you to take it the wrong way," she said.
"What is it?"
"Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden? Ever since you broke up with Matt, you're being extra friendly with me. What's going on?"
"Is it that obvious?" asked Lissa.
"Okay, maybe I overdid things a little. I just wanted to show you that I have no hard feelings."
"Okay. I suppose that makes sense. And I appreciate it, I really do. I was just curious, that's all."
"There's something else too," said Lissa. "I suppose you might as well know."
"I still think Matt's going to betray you. And when he does, it's going to be hard on you. I want you to have a good friend that you can come to, and because it's something that I've gone through myself, I would like to be that friend."
Alya hugged her. "You're so sweet, Lissa. What other girl would want to look out for the girl that stole her boyfriend? You're really amazing, you know that?"
"I just don't want to see you get hurt like I was," Lissa told her.
"Okay, if it ever happens like you say, you'll be the first one I tell."
After that, the two of them were inseparable. They were at the very least best friends, and perhaps even as close as sisters. They started buying their groceries together, making dinner together, and occasionally going to the movies together, at least on the nights when Matt and Alya didn't go out. Lissa seemed to be in brighter spirits after that, and Alya was happy to know that she was helping her to heal from the pain Matt had caused her.
There was always an uneasiness whenever Matt came over to visit Alya if Lissa was there, but Alya noticed that even that seemed to diminish over time. Lissa even started laughing and joking with them, and the whole atmosphere seemed to be quite cheerful, considering what had just happened to Lissa a couple of weeks before.
In fact, only Alya seemed to feel the slightest uneasiness whenever the three of them were together. She always expected Lissa to suddenly blow up and yell at Matt, but her fears proved unfounded. Still, she tried to limit the times that Matt came over to visit. That meant spending less time with him, but she didn't mind. She still had Lissa to keep her company after all.
It was Friday night, a week before Christmas vacation, when something happened that set in motion events that would change her relationship with both Matt and Lissa forever.