Chapter 10: Justice
At four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, Rosemary was seriously scrubbin’ it. She had on an old pair of sweatpants that she’d probably bought in high school circa 1999, a comfy t-shirt over a sports bra, and her hair dragged up into a ponytail with no brush. Yup, she thought with satisfaction, it’s a real weekend, at last. All morning she’d lazed at home, done her laundry and the dishes, drinking tea and reading romance novels. Meanwhile, she let her mind wander to the sex last night, how good it had been. It was deliciously indulgent.
She had a plan with Thyme for dinner. Some place in the U District specializing in all-vegetarian Thai food. Rosemary rolled her eyes when she looked up the restaurant. When will Thyme start eating real food again? I’m starving every time we go out together! One thing was for sure: she didn’t plan on changing.
Sipping her tea, Rosemary belatedly reached for her Tarot bag. Even though the day was well past halfway over, since she hadn’t done anything it was kind of like the morning. Without thinking much about it, she reached in and pulled out Justice.
Unsurprisingly, Justice was blind. She stood firm, arms outstretched, looking straight ahead despite her thick blindfold. Naked to the waist, she was fiercely feminine, strong and determined. In one hand she held an uplifted sword; in the other, a set of balanced scales.
“Justice, huh?” Rosemary said. “Weird.”
Setting the card half-hazardly onto the bookshelf (which, she noted, was becoming rather crowded… she would have to start a second row of cards), Rosemary finished her cup of tea and headed for the bus.
Thyme greeted her with a hug and a wide, grateful smile. They sat together at a small round table, ordered cocktails, and perused the menu. To Rosemary’s relief, this restaurant was just vegetarian, not vegan. Thank God. Thyme made a big show about picking a completely animal-free dish, but Rosemary ordered the Pad Thai – with extra egg.
“So,” she said, dipping their fresh roll appetizer into the peanut sauce, “What’s new, little brother?”
Thyme chuckled. “Shut up, you’re only two minutes older, sister mine.” He sighed, then continued, “You know, the usual. Too much work, too much drinking, too much hooking up. But hey, c’est la vie.”
“I know, I know what you’re gonna say. Some shit about me getting my priorities straight, figuring out my life, making grownup decisions, and all that.” He cut his eyes at her sharply. “Come on, I know you.”
“You’re right. That’s exactly what I was going to say.” Rosemary sighed. “Only that might be the pot calling the kettle black. My life is hardly sparkling clean these days, either.”
“Oh?” Thyme asked, lifting a quizzical eyebrow. “Now that sounds like a story.”
When their noodles arrived, Rosemary spilled it all. She didn’t go into scandalous detail, but still related the conversation she’d had with Fabricio, their kiss, Josh’s revelation, the great sex. True to form, Thyme listened with rapt attention, nodding his head at all the right places, raising his eyebrows, but not pushing her. He let the story come out on its own.
At the end, Rosemary sighed. “So, I guess that’s what’s going on. I’ve got one guy who’s amazing in bed, but maybe a commitment-phobe. Then the other is a baby, only he says he’s fine on the back burner, as long as there’re perks! What a mess, right?”
“Sounds like a paradise to me. I don’t know what you’re worried about – you should just be fucking them both!”
“Thyme! Be serious.” She laughed, shaking her head. Her brother was incorrigible. Ever since he came out and began living on his own, Thyme had been indulging in all the possibilities gay hookup culture had to offer. In Seattle, that was plenty. Rosemary worried, though. He was thirty-two, like her, and had never been in any kind of committed relationship. She suspected – and Parsley agreed – that he was hiding behind the sex, avoiding even the possibility of something more. What is with men and their commitment issues?
“I am serious. It’s seriously what I would do,” he insisted.
“Yeah, I know. However, I am certainly not you.”
“Thank goodness,” Thyme said, grinning cheekily as he smoothed back his coiffed hair, “The world can only handle one Thyme Smith.”
“Of that, I have no doubt,” she replied, laughing in spite of herself.
Just then a group of people came into the restaurant. Rosemary just happened to be glancing over at the door, and when she saw who came in last she almost choked on her Thai iced tea. It was Fabricio. His face was turned away from her, chatting with a tall guy beside him. To her horror, she saw the waiter gather up menus and lead the way to a large table not far from her and Thyme.
“No way,” she breathed, eyes wide.
“What?” Thyme turned to look, and his eyes popped wide open too. “No fucking way!”
“Huh? How do you know Fabricio?”
“Who? Oh, your boy toy? No, I mean – him! The skinny Black guy! We were, um… well…”
Rosemary gave him an exasperated look.
“You hooked up with him, right?”
“Yeah. Last night after the drag show. I took him back into the employee lounge, gave him a blowjob. Then I snuck away before he came looking for me. He told me he didn’t come out to Capitol Hill much. I didn’t think I’d see him in the fucking U District!”
“Well, he’s probably a student, like Fabricio.”
“Gee, ya think?”
Rosemary bent her head, hoping to disguise herself in the food, and Thyme did the same. But of course, it was not to be. As the nearby table began getting settled, she heard a voice ring out towards them.
“Here we go. Shit,” Thyme muttered under his breath. Lifting his head, he turned and smiled tightly at the guy. “Oh. Hey.”
The tall guy was utterly adorable. He looked delighted as he strode over to their table. Fabricio glanced his direction, and caught sight of Rosemary. With a grin, he spun his wheelchair and cruised on over, too. Here we go, indeed, she thought grimly.
“Wow, this is a surprise!” said the guy. He was smiling down at Thyme like it was the best thing that had happened all day. “I had such a good time last night, but you disappeared before we could exchange numbers. How awesome to run into you here!”
“Yeah, um, good to see you, too,” Thyme said, clearly stalling for time.
Rosemary had to suppress a giggle when she realized he was avoiding the guy’s name. He probably forgot it – if he even ever asked for it! Thyme had been known to end up with complete strangers before, and never remember a thing about them. Except for the size of their cocks. She had a mind to let her brother stew in it for a while; he deserved every bit of discomfort. Meanwhile, Fabricio looked back and forth between them, his face a mask of smug understanding. Oh yeah, he knows what’s going on, Rosemary thought.
“You must be Thyme, Rosemary’s brother,” he said, holding out his hand. Thyme shook it with relief, glad to be away from the hookup guy’s attention for a moment. “So, how do you know Bruce?”
Rosemary covered her mouth with a hand to hide her grin. Nice save, thanks to Fabricio. You lucked out this time, little brother.
“Ah, well, Bruce and I met at the bar last night.”
“At the ‘More Than A Woman’ show!” Bruce enthused. “It was excellent! You’re one of the co-producers, right?”
“Uh… yeah, I guess,” Thyme said. “I do a bit of everything, really.”
“I’m still just so surprised to see you here. What a lucky coincidence!” Bruce was shaking his head, grinning, obviously delighted to have found Thyme again. Her brother, however, was turning red in the cheeks. He was ridiculously uncomfortable – and well earned, too.
“So, Fabricio, how do you know Bruce?” she asked, deciding to save her twin a bit of scrutiny for the moment.
“We’re in the Student Art Appreciation Club together. It’s pretty sweet; we meet up every two weeks or so, visit any new expositions together, then get dinner and talk art. There’s a great revolving collection at the Henry, you know. All student artwork, really diverse and cool. That’s where we were this afternoon.” He chuckled, “Just my luck Bruce was in the mood for Thai.”
Fabricio swept his eyes appreciatively over Rosemary’s figure. She felt embarrassed in her scrubtastic weekend clothes. Nothing is less sexy than sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, she thought. Then, Why do I even care? It’s not like I’m trying to seduce him!
Or are you? her inner voice needled.
“It’s good to see you,” Fabricio said. “You look great.”
“Liar,” said Rosemary. But she couldn’t hide a smile of pleasure at the compliment.
“No, I mean it. You’ve got a glow.” Fabricio’s lips spread into a naughty smile. Leaning closer, he asked, “Did you have a date with Mr. Perfect last night?”
“Uh…” Rosemary felt her face go bright red. “Yes. Yes, I did.”
“That’s what I thought.” Taking advantage of Thyme’s distraction – Bruce was chatting away, occupying all her brother’s attention with eager questions – Fabricio reached out and laid one hand on her bare arm. Slowly, he stroked up, leaving a tingling sensation in his wake. He kept going, past her shoulder, to brush his fingers against the tender skin of her neck. By that time Rosemary’s heart was pounding. His lightest touch made her body respond in a visceral way, thinking about their kiss. Wanting more, if she was honest with herself.
“One day,” he whispered, “You’re gonna glow like that, because of me.”
He leaned back then, still smiling. Rosemary’s attention was sucked abruptly back to the real world. Thyme was doing his best to avoid blabbering awkwardly, and Bruce was peppering him with attention. If ever a man demonstrated interest, it was him.
“So,” Bruce was saying, “maybe we can exchange numbers? It’d be cool to hang out again. Plus, pretty sure I owe you something for last night.”
He winked, and Rosemary grinned, remembering Thyme’s blow-and-run.
“What if we did something all together?” Fabricio suggested. “There’s a new exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. Masterpieces of the Silk Road. How about we go next weekend, the four of us?”
“That would be great!” said Bruce. “What do you think, Thyme?”
“Uh… yeah. Sure. Why not.”
Knowing her brother, Rosemary could tell he was cutting his losses. Poor Thyme didn’t know what to do when faced with his one-night stand, the day after. It didn’t help that Bruce was so patently adorable.
“Rosemary?” Fabricio asked, glancing her way.
“Of course. Sounds like fun.”
“So, you’ll just have to let anybody else know that you’ve already got a plan for Saturday. Art museum, then lunch,” he said. The smugness in his voice was evident.
Too late, Rosemary realized she’d just agreed to a double date. Which meant, when she talked to Josh again, she would definitely have to mention Fabricio. Damn it, I really walked into that one. She smiled weakly to hide her confusion.
“Cool. So, see you two next weekend.”
Sending her another saucy grin, Fabricio wheeled back to his friends at the other table. Bruce stuck around long enough to get Thyme’s number – and confirm it with a text – before waving goodbye and joining his group. The twins sat, stunned, around the remains of their dinner. Each was lost in their own uncomfortable thoughts.
Rosemary remembered the card, then. Once more, Tarot had played itself out in a most unexpected way.
Justice, you bitch.