Tuvielle Rodgers read through her near-complete essay again before sighing. I need a break... and a coffee. Her essay for her Masters of Emergency Nursing only needed a summary and a conclusion, but the words were now beginning to jumble inside her brain. She knew that if she continued writing like this, it would come out as complete and utter drivel.
Easing her way out of her chair at her vintage letter-writing desk in her bedroom, she trudged her way to the kitchen and filled the kettle before switching it on. As it started to heat up, a voice called out from the lounge room, "yes please and thank yooooouuu!", at which Tuvielle snorted somewhat before taking two mugs from the stand on the bench. Into one she placed a tea bag, while the other she scooped a teaspoon of coffee with two spoons of sugar. She rested her elbows on the bench as the water boiled, absent-mindedly twisting a string of her midnight blue hair between her fingers.
After mixing the tea and coffee, she took both mugs through to the lounge room, where she promptly snorted again at the visual with which she was welcomed. Her housemate, Natalia Easton, with her bright, red, curly hair flapping over her face messily, was perched on the couch with her legs in the air, head almost on the floor, watching Twilight on the TV.
Tuvielle shook her head at her housemate's antics. Having been best friends since they were five years old, she was used to Talia being hyperactive, goofy, outgoing and happy, as opposed to her own resting state of introverted, calm and rational. Part of the reason for them being friends, especially for so long, was that they seemed to balance each other out.
Despite their long friendship, and Tuvielle’s circle of good friends, the walls she had so carefully constructed kept her from becoming fully open or relaxed with anyone else. She truly felt like she was at home in her skin when she was working as a senior ED nurse, able to delve into her innate senses of compassion and empathy to help her patients, but allowing another to do the same for her was a concept that triggered an internal war.
"Hellooooooooo?" Talia's perky voice interrupted her. "You're spacing out again. You imagining yourself as a vamp?", she questioned with a smirk, as Edward Cullen 'brooded' on the television.
Natalia was one of the few people who knew the full extent of the pain, still lingering, plaguing her thoughts. But it was Saturday; they had the day off together for the first time in a long while, and Tuvi did not want to ruin it by talking about everything she was trying so hard to forget.
"Well are you coming out tonight? I know you've got something like four days off, and your essay isn't due for a week, so I can't think of any excuses for you to come up with. Especially since there's apparently some sort of trivia happening at the bar, and we both know how much you enjoy winning those things," Talia stated in a matter-of-fact way, ending the statement with a satisfied look.
Realist that she was, Tuvielle recognised her own need to get out of the house, and try to give herself the chance at relaxing to take her mind off the essay... and everything else.
"Yayyyyy! Okay, we've got two hours before we leave, so let's pick your outfit and get your makeup and hair started!" She clapped her hands gleefully.
What have I gotten myself into?
Looking at her reflection in the floor length mirror in her bedroom, Tuvielle knew that she looked good.
Despite looking good, and knowing that she needed to get out of the house, Tuvielle's confidence level was still abysmal after her breakup with Josh, and she was in the process of rethinking her decision to go out when Talia bounced in with a whoop.
"You look hot, girl! Let's go!"
Tuvielle picked up her black bag with a sigh. This was going to be a long night.
The Orion was a mostly open-air bar, with a good atmosphere - it had been a long time since Tuvielle had been there. The last time, she recalled, had been with Josh.
Sighing and pushing the memories away, she headed onto the deck, trying to keep up with the effervescent Talia. The redhead was already garnering attention, and Tuvielle instinctively tried to blend in behind her. The confidence she had felt looking at her reflection had long been shoved to the back of her mind, being replaced instead by her insecurities at the thought of strangers judging her as she walked past.
As they reached their group of friends, she smiled. Audrey was laughing with her fiancé Matt, and she slid into the booth seat next to the always stunning make-up artist with a quiet greeting.
"OH MY GOD! Tuvi! I can't believe you're here!" Audrey almost screeched, before grabbing Tuvielle in a bone-crushing hug. "How the hell did Talia get you out of the house? I feel like we haven't seen you forever!"
Laughing, Tuvi replied, "First I need to breathe, babe!"
Extricating herself from her friend's embrace, she smiled and waved a quick "hi" to Matt, a sales consultant for a building company, as well as to Frankie who was sitting across from them next to Talia. Frankie, real name Francine, hated her "old lady" name, as she called it, though she was anything but, with her long blonde waves and slinky pink dress.
Turning back to the brunette next to her, Tuvielle replied to Audrey with a snort. "You know what my work hours are like, babe, and with studying, it's been full on."
"Well it's awesome that you're here, you look brilliant!" Leaning back, Audrey appraised her friend. "Have you lost weight?"
Tuvi was fairly proud of her figure - she had been doing a lot of yoga, and jogging regularly.
"You're smoking! I haven't seen you looking this good since..." Audrey trailed off, but Tuvielle knew what she was thinking. Since before Josh, before... everything. Tuvi sighed.
Audrey caught the look in her friends eyes. "Sorry babe, I know. But seriously, his loss. You are a catch!"
Not wanting to dwell on that situation, Tuvielle smiled weakly. "Thanks Aud. I feel good. Now who wants a drink?" She asked, standing to get the next round.
Standing at the bar, Tuvi was thankful for escaping her friends for a moment. She hoped that when she came back with the drinks that the conversation would be headed in a different direction.
She leaned against the bar, waiting to catch the eye of one of the bar staff. The sun was only just starting to set, and the bar wasn't too busy yet, which was why she was surprised to sense someone standing quite close to her.
Her default response, ever the introvert, was to resist the urge to look, but out of the corner of her eye she could still observe. The hands and forearms of a man, leaning against the bar next to her - just slightly closer to her than she felt comfortable with. That made her stubbornly stare at the bottles lined up behind the bar, and avoid paying any attention to the delicious smell of cologne that was quickly overtaking her senses.
"Excuse me, this lady has been waiting for a while."