Chapter 3

It Only Takes A Taste

Over the following weeks, Sara didn't see Paige in the diner once. She had Paige's number saved in her phone (and the napkin it was written on pinned to her wall) but hadn't found the courage to use it again.

Two days after first receiving Paige's number, Sara decided to risk sending a simple "Hey" text. And weeks later, she received no response. Sara wasn't about to keep texting her and seem desperate if Paige didn't want to reply. Plus, Paige saw her number written on the cookie sleeve, right?

Unfortunately, Sara Morganson wasn't exactly known for her spine and had decided against texting Paige until they saw each other again.

Friday night, Sara went to bed with no need to set an alarm because she had Saturday off. A Saturday off. Finding a unicorn that doubled as an honest politician wasn't as rare as an actual Saturday off. She couldn't remember the last time she had a Saturday to herself.

She awoke after sleeping in, but remained in bed for an extra half hour, just because she could. It was raining outside, and Sara enjoyed just staying in bed and listening to it.

Eventually, a little after ten, Sara rolled over and picked up her phone, eyes widening at the text on the screen from six minutes ago.


Feel like grabbing lunch later?

No "hey", no "how are you", just a simple invitation. Sara stared at the screen for a full sixty seconds before propping herself up on her elbow and tapping in her reply with her thumb.

What did you have in mind?

Paige's reply came almost immediately.

I need to hit the mall. The food court at noon?

BV mall on a Saturday? This girl was either a thrill seeker or desperately craved a Wetzel's Pretzel.

Yeah, see you there.

An hour and a half later, Sara paced her front porch impatiently. Sara didn't have a car, so her only options to get to the mall were either take the bus, get an Uber, or ask Seth for a ride. She had already missed the bus heading for the mall, and Uber was a really good way to get kidnapped and murdered (she didn't care how safe Seth said it was, she was not getting in a car with a stranger), and that just left Seth.

And, as per usual, he was late.

Sara had spent the entire last hour and a half getting ready. Paige had never seen her in anything but a greasy neon green diner uniform, apron, and go-go boots, so she had to show her that there was so much more to her fashion sense than that.

The day was rainy but warm, so Sara settled on a pair of jean shorts that she hoped would accentuate her long legs, along with her favorite purple blouse and a pair of Sperrys. She used a little of her "special occasion hair taming mousse" in her long, curly hair, and she was very pleased with how it now looked.

Seth's car pulled into her driveway and Sara walked up to it. His window was down, giving Sara a view of Mira in the front seat, animatedly chatting about something and adjusting her pink aviators on her nose.

"Hey, Sare," Seth greeted, unlocking the doors with his thumb.

"Thanks for doing this," Sara said, reaching for the backseat door and opening it. She paused at two other people sitting in the back. "Are... we babysitting?"

Mira laughed and turned in her seat. "No, we're dropping my sister and her friend off at the mall, too." She pointed at the girl in the middle seat. "Marli, Sara. Sara, Marli. And that's Jimmy." The younger girl gave a two finger wave without looking up from her phone, while the boy stared out the opposite window.

Sara climbed in the empty seat beside the sister, looking them over. To no surprise, Marli Pascal was pretty much a younger version of her sister. Maybe thirteen or fourteen, with the same long blonde hair, same blue eyes, and similar facial features. The only difference seemed to be while Mira was famous for her cute dresses and girlish styles, Marli wore dark, torn jeans and a maroon halter top with a pair of wedge sandals propped up on the center console. She couldn't get a look at Jimmy's face, as he wore a large, less-than-clean orange hoodie, with his head covered like Kenny.

"So, what do you need from the mall on a Saturday, Sare?" Seth asked, looking at her through his black sunglasses in the rearview mirror as he backed out of her driveway. "Something important?"

"I'm meeting a friend for lunch," Sara said casually, pulling her plastic sunglasses from her purse and slipping them on.

"Ava?" Seth guessed.


"That one cook guy from Mervs?"




"Dude, she doesn't wanna tell you," Marli said, finally looking up from her phone, brows furrowed at the boy behind the wheel. "Leave her alone."

Sara saw Seth shift in his seat, looking a little sheepish. Marli muttered something under her breath and Seth turned the music up.

Anyone would have thought it was Christmas Eve by how busy the BV mall was on Saturday. Everywhere you looked, people ran by with shopping bags in their arms, yelling and near chaos all around.

"You sure you want in on this?" Seth asked over the noise. Mira was clinging to his back, just narrowly being knocked down by a woman and her four kids in tow.

"It's not that bad," Marli said with a shrug. She took Jimmy's hand; what Sara could see of the boy's face looked terrified of the crowd. "C'mon, Z- I mean, Jimmy. I don't wanna miss the previews."

"Text me when the movie's over and we'll pick you up," Mira called to her sister, who gave a wave over her shoulder as she led Jimmy into the crowd and disappeared.

"I'm going to the food court," Sara told Seth and Mira, shouldering her purse.

"We'll be at Macy's," Mira replied, taking Seth's arm. "See ya."

"Have fun at your lunch, Sare."

Sara took the escalator to the lower level, checking her phone to see if Paige had answered her text from a few minutes ago stating that she had arrived at the mall. No dice. Sara really hoped she didn't stand her up.

The food court was busy; almost every place had a long line of people and all the tables seemed to be full. Sara played with one of the charms on her bracelet as she looked around for Paige.

Sara spotted Paige standing near the Subway, hands on her hips, seemingly reading the menu over the heads of the patrons in line. Sucking in a deep breath for confidence, Sara approached her.

"Hey, stranger," Sara said as she came up behind her.

Paige turned at the sound of her voice, and once again graced Sara with that smile. "Hey, yourself," she greeted back, turning to face her.

Sara took a moment to look her over, noticing that Paige did the same. She had only ever seen Paige in sweats and a tank top, and Sara was struck at how pretty she looked in a dark blue spaghetti strap skater dress with white flowers printed on it. It stopped at mid-thigh, showing Sara just how long and muscular her legs were under the pair of black tights. Gone where her scuffed combat boots and on her feet were a simple pair of black ballet flats. With her long, messy blonde hair back in a ponytail at the crown of her head, she looked every bit like Sara's dream girl.

"Have you been waiting long?" Sara asked after a long moment of enjoying Paige eyeing her own ensemble.

"Nope, just got here a minute ago," Paige replied. She tucked her black clutch under her arm and pointed at the Subway menu she had been looking at. "Trying to decide if I want a sandwich or pizza."

"I'll take anything except breakfast food right now," Sara told her, cocking her head to look at the other restaurants.

Paige chuckled. "A little worn out on Paffles, are we?"


"Alright, so no breakfast food. And I'm not in much of a mood for Hotdog On A Stick."

"Panda Express?


"It leaves such a weird feeling in my mouth, but God do I love this." Sara moaned around a bite of orange chicken

"Phrasing, boom!" Paige quipped, pointing her plastic fork at her.

Sara covered her mouth with her napkin to keep from laughing food out of her mouth.

"Jesus, don't choke," Paige said, picking up Sara's water and handing it to her.

"Sorry." Sara took a long gulp of water and cleared her throat.

"Better now?"

"Yeah." Sara watched Paige nudge a piece of broccoli around her almost completely full bowl with her fork. "Not good?"

Paige looked up. "Huh?"

"You're not really eating." Sara pointing her fork at Paige's bowl.

"Oh, I guess I'm just not that hungry," Paige responded, laying her fork down. "I'll take it home, my roommate will love it."

Sara propped her elbow on the table, holding her fork under her chin in thought. "Why did you ask me to get lunch with you?" she asked bluntly.

Paige looked startled, her confident visage slipping away to... was that fear? "Did you not wanna come?" she asked after a few seconds.

"No!" Sara said quickly, instinctively. "I mean, yes, I wanted to come. I'm asking why you wanted to come. You're not even hungry." The plastic fork spun between Sara's fingers as she stared at Paige in uncertainty.

Paige blinked once, twice, before finally settling on a confused look. "Be...cause I wanted to see you?" she asked slowly.

"You didn't answer my text a couple weeks ago."

"Alright, you caught me," Paige capitulated, raised her hands level with her head. "I'm a flake." She looked so forlorn and pouty that Sara had to smile. Paige returned the smile and lowered her hands. "And I'm sorry, it's just a busy few weeks. But for what it's worth... I do think about you. A lot."



"Me too," Sara admitted.


"Kinda hard not to think of literally the most beautiful girl I've ever met."

Paige's brows shot up, her face turning a noticeable shade of pink. Sara couldn't help but grin at the sight.

Wow, I really have it bad, don't I?

"Then maybe..." Paige said slowly and deliberately. Sara's heart gave a thud. "The next time we hang out, we could call it a real date, instead of getting lunch."

Sara slid her hand across the table until their knuckles touched. "Well then, it's a plan."

The next hour was the best hour in the history of hours. Paige could not remember the last time she smiled so much. After lunch, she and Sara had walked around the mall just talking as if they had been doing it their whole lives.

It amazed Paige how easy it was to talk to her. Sara was so open and genuine, laughing when she wanted. She had such a beautiful laugh; her eyes became crescent moons, she showed all her pearly white teeth, her nose crinkled. Paige almost melted every time she laughed.

Paige learned that Sara was seventeen and a senior at Brennan High, she was a huge fan of musicals, she had a cat named Marianna, she was a Taurus, her favorite color of purple, she refused to watch any TV show or movie that didn't have at least a fifty percent cast of women, and if she could be any animal she would pick the seagull because she loved the ocean and always wished she could fly.

Sharing her own life with Sara proved to be more difficult than she anticipated, though. Paige Taylor had many stories, told to many people. She spent half her time pretending to be the person whoever was paying wanted her to be. So when asked about herself, she had to stop to think of what answer she could even give.

Paige kept it as simple as she could; she was eighteen (almost true), a Sagittarius (true), she could do an entire eight rung salmon ladder in eight seconds (it was nine but Paige liked to round down), her favorite color was gold, she was Jewish (a "Jewess" as she proudly called herself), and she had gotten her GED two months ago. That just barely scratched the surface of who she was, but the story of the real Paige Taylor was enough to scare anyone away, so it was a story that stayed under wraps by now. Luckily Sara never asked anything sibling or childhood related, so Paige was safe there.

They sat on a bench, hips touching, watching people pass while they snacked on a Cinnabon and watching people pass. Paige had her collapsible nightstick in her purse ready in case some overzealous patron wanted to take their bench.

"I think you could pull off that color," Sara said randomly, nodding at a passing redheaded woman with half her head buzzed.

"What, Jessica Rabbit red?" Paige asked, breaking off a piece of the cinnamon roll.

"Yeah, I think it'd look good with your eyes." Sara turned to look at her, eyes flickering over Paige's ponytail.

"You know, I've always thought that!" Paige agreed, pointing a finger at her. "Red hair and green eyes, right?"

"Right!" Sara said with a grin. Their faces were so close, Paige could smell the Wintergreen mint she had seen Sara eat mixed in with the sweetness of the cinnamon roll. Paige really wished Sara had gotten icing on her face so she could wipe it away with her thumb as an excuse to touch her. She had such a nice face, and her skin looked so soft.

"Hi," Paige whispered, lightly touching Sara's hand around the cinnamon roll. Sara had such pretty lashes fringing those chocolate brown doe eyes.

"Hi," Sara whispered back, opening her fingers for Paige's to partially slip in.

"Having fun?" Paige asked, her voice slipping down a few octaves. Her seductive husky voice was a surefire way of getting her lady.

"So much fun," Sara replied. The cinnamon roll lay forgotten on Sara's leg as she touched Paige's wrist with her other hand.

We're so close. I could just lean in and kiss her right now if I wanted to. And I really want to...

Would she let me?

"Hey, it's Sara!"

Sara abruptly looked up just as Paige began to lean in, and Paige mentally released a flurry of every swear word known to man as a short blonde girl in a flowy dress approached them, followed by the guy Paige vaguely recognized from the diner a few weeks ago.

Ew, it was the guy with the bangs.

"Look what I got at Macy's," short blonde girl said, dropping a shopping bag at her feet and reaching into it. She pulled out a wrapped package and held it out for them to see. It was a comforter, white with purple trim and purple flowers on it.

"Oh, cute," Sara said with a smile that looked more indulgent than actually interested.

"Isn't it cute? It matches my new throw pillows perfectly and it was on sale!"

"Mazel Tov," Paige said, smiling slightly at the girl's enthusiasm. "Gotta love when fate comes together like that, right?"

"Right!" The girl stuck her hand out, her bracelets jangling. "Mira Pascal. I'm a friend of Sara's."

"Paige Taylor." Paige shook it with a small, somewhat flirty smile. "Very lovely to meet you, Mira Pascal." Paige almost let out a giggle when Mira become noticeably flustered at Paige's tone, her cheeks turning as pink as her nails. You definitely didn't meet girls who looked like that in the foster care system.

"Mira's dating Seth," Sara said hastily, eyes flickering between Paige and Mira. "I mean, that's Seth Elsen, my other friend. Mira's boyfriend."

"Hi," Seth said, looking nonplussed and wrapping his arm around Mira's waist, offering his other hand out to Paige.

Ooh, man-bangs be jealous.

"Hi." Paige shook his hand, turning her attention back to Mira. "So, Pascal. Any relation to the hot lawyer on all the bus benches, Leda Pascal?"


"So, did you guys get lunch?" Seth interrupted. "We were gonna get calzones then head to the pet store." He was sharing a pointed look with Sara, one Paige couldn't read, and definitely didn't like.

Nuh-uh, bitch, she's mine.

Paige nudged Sara's knee with her own. "We were just heading out, actually," she stated, getting to her feet. She noticed Mira's eyes widening slightly at the good four or five inches of height between them. Paige ignored it and looked down at Sara, offering her hand out. "Coming?"

Sara slipped her hand into Paige's and stood as well. "Coming."

The next half hour, the two girls wandered from store to store. Paige bought the shampoo and lotion she came for at Bath & Body Works, followed by wandering around Bed, Bath & Beyond just for fun. Sara had to step into the supplement store, so Paige headed to the candy store beside it.

After filling a bag with over a pound of Jolly Ranchers, Paige leaned against the counter as the guy weighed it along with her other purchases. She had made sure to include her WarHeads and bags of Hunter's favorite pretzel M&Ms, and, of course, Swedish Fish for Cameron. If Hunter's boyfriend wasn't happy, none of them were.

"$22.89," the cashier said.

Paige opened her wallet, quickly counting three fives and eight singles and passing it to him. "Thank you," she said, taking her bag and heading out of the store. Her phone chirped in her purse and she took it out, face drawing at the message on the screen.

The Sap:

Roxie is doing the fishnets thing tonight before you, so you're back in the schoolgirl get-up.

What the hell? Since when did Gary have something to say about her costumes? And since when did Roxie go on before she did?

Plonking on a bench, Paige quickly sent a text to Hunter.

P: I think Roxie bit the bullet and did Sap.

Hunter's reply came quickly.

H: That's what they're saying around the club. She get your spot?

P: And my act.

H: I'm sorry, P.

This was what Paige hated most about her life as a stripper. That after such a wonderful few hours of smiles, laughter, flirting, and all around romance with a gorgeous girl like Sara: all it took was one text from Gary Sapperstein for it all to unravel. One man had come to control her entire life, again, and she loathed it.

Hunter had pulled strings to get her this job, and the money was a serious pro. But the lying, the pain, the pole burn, the bruises, the headaches, and the pressure... those were cons that got to her.

Paige hugged her huge bag of candy in her lap with a long sigh. It would all be worth it one day soon, she knew it would.

Seeing as Sara was still in the store, Paige decided to people watch. She had seen something out of the corner of her eye that had been a little disconcerting.

Roughly ten yards away, a girl stood alone near a potted plant. She was pretty, towheaded and dressed in a maroon halter top with torn jeans, and despite obviously developing early, Paige could tell that she was just barely a teen.

What set the uneasiness in Paige's stomach was the middle-aged man lingering around her, consistently trying to make a conversation with her. Having had such men attempt to talk to her as well, Paige was all too familiar in the look of discomfort on the girl's face as she pretended to look at her phone, reminding the man that her friend would be coming back from the bathroom any minute.

Jolly Ranchers tucked under her arm, Paige stood and reached into her purse for her collapsible nightstick. Odds are the dude would just fuck off when she appeared, but it wouldn't hurt to be ready in case he didn't feel like leaving.

She walked over slowly, attempting to overhear the conversation to confirm the suspicion.

"-girls as pretty as you when I was your age. How old are ya, sixteen, seventeen?"


"Coulda fooled me, you look a lot older. And you seem real mature for your age. How bout I buy you a soda before your friend-"

"Hi," Paige said brightly upon approaching.

The guy visibly startled, eyes darting around guiltily. The girl looked at her in confusion but definitely looked more at ease now that the guy had stepped away from her.

"You know this guy, hon?" Paige asked the girl, playing with the nightstick between her fingers, not taking her eyes off the man.

"I just saw her standing here and thought I'd strike up a conversation," the man snapped, folding his arms across his chest. Gone was his smile, in its place sat an ugly, petulant sneer that Paige wanted to knock right off his face. Paige just cocked her head and stared at him. If he thought his glare was enough to scare her, then he was just so very wrong.

Finally, the man huffed and walked off, disappearing into The Cheesecake Factory.

"I coulda taken him," the girl said suddenly. Paige looked over and quirked a brow.

"Is that so?"

"Yeah, that's what this is for." She held up her keys, a black canister of pepper spray dangling from the ring. "See?"

"My mistake, then." Paige tucked her nightstick back in her clutch and held up the bag of Jolly Rancher. "Want one?"

"You scare off that guy and then offer me candy? Isn't that counterproductive to what you just did?"

Paige smiled slightly. This child was saucy, and she looked oddly familiar. "I didn't poison the entire bag, kid. I just thought I'd spread the wealth around."

The girl shrugged and reached into the bag when Paige opened it, selecting several green ones. "You don't have any cherries," she noted.

"I know."

"Can I grab one for my friend? He likes the blue raspberry." The girl reached in and took one before Paige could reply, tucking it in her pocket. "Thanks."

"No problem."

"I'm gonna go find my friend, he should be out of the bathroom by now." The girl popped the candy in her mouth, crinkling the wrapper.

"Stay sharp, kid," Paige told her, tying the bag closed. She began to turn back when the kid called out to get again.

"Uh, thanks," she said sheepishly with a small smile before turning on a wedge heel and walking off toward the bathroom alcove.

Smiling to herself, Paige walked back to the bench. It was always a joy to end pedophilia culture when she could, helped to ease the guilt of partially contributing to it on school-girl night at the club.

Sara was walking out of the store as Paige came up to her, a shopping bag hanging from her hand. "Hey," she greeted cheerfully. "Sorry about that, I couldn't remember what kind my mom takes so I had to call her and it took forever to reach her."

"Nah, you're fine, I made my own fun." Paige walked to the bench with Sara and sat, opening the bag of candy again. "Jolly Rancher?"

"Ooh, thank you." Sara reached into the bag. "Any cherry ones?"


Sara popped the watermelon candy in her mouth, rolling it around her tongue. "So, what do you want to do now?"

"People watch?"

"You're on."

Sara wasn't ready for this to end yet. This had been the best day of Sara's year. Hell, maybe even the best day of her life. But, unfortunately, Paige had to head back and get in a nap before she went to work that night.

The last half hour, the two girls had just sat on the bench and talked. It was incredible, how like night and day Paige truly was. The girl she had met at the diner was all smirks and cockiness and sex appeal, but the girl on the bench was smiles and laughter and... kind of a dork.

They stood in front of the mall waiting for Seth's car and Paige's Uber. The rain had stopped, but the sky remained grey.

Silence stretched between them. Paige scuffed one of her shoes against the wet pavement absently, playing with her fingers in front of her. Sara stared at her hands, her lissom fingers, black painted nails, the two rings she wore, one with a stone, one without. They had held hands earlier -sort of- and Sara was tempted to do it again.

Taking a step closer, Sara carefully slipped her hand in the crook of Paige's arm, resting it on the inside of her wrist. Paige looked down at the feeling. A smile pulled at her lips and she moved her hand the rest of the way down to Sara's, intertwining their fingers.

"This was fun," Sara whispered.

"It really was," Paige agreed, smiling back at her.

Please just kiss me. You're so ballsy, just reach out and kiss me. It's the perfect moment for it!

Paige looked up as a black car pulled up in front of them in sync with her phone chirping in her clutch.

"Looks like my ride's here," Paige noted regretfully. She gave Sara's hand a squeeze, her gaze flickering between her eyes to her lips. "But I'll text you later, okay? I really had a fun time, Sara."

"Yeah, me too." Kiss me, dammit!

"Later," Paige said softly, beginning to disentangle their hands and walk to her uber.

Oh, fuck it.

Sara tightened her grip around Paige's hand and yanked her back. They fell naturally into each other's arms, and their lips met in their first kiss.

It was soft, warm, slow, but enough passion to make Sara's head spin. Paige had brought a hand up to hold the side of her face, angling her head to deepen the kiss. She was an incredible kisser, her lips moving perfectly against Sara's, the faint brushes of her tongue tasting like the abundance of Jolly Ranchers she had eaten earlier.

Eventually, oxygen became an issue and they pulled apart, Paige pressing one last, brief kiss to Sara's lips before nudging their noses together. They kept their faces close for a long moment, opening their eyes and staring at each other. Sara grinned first, unable to hold it in any longer.

"Much better than my dreams," Paige whispered, wrapping a few of Sara's curls around her fingers and stroking them back.

"Mine too," Sara agreed. Their lips met in another kiss, more brief than the last but just as firm, Sara's arms wrapping around her waist.

"See ya, Sara" Paige said after the second kiss ended, carefully stepping out of her embrace, holding her hand until she was out of reach as she walked toward the car.

"See ya, Paige," Sara said back.

Paige got in the Uber and waved goodbye as it sped off.

Seth's car drove up a minute later and Sara climbed in. She didn't offer much of an answer when he asked how it went, she didn't ask why Mira's younger sister suddenly had green dyed lips, she just stared out the window until Seth pulled up to her house, said a polite thank you, and climbed out.

And when she was inside her house, she tossed her shopping bags on her bed and danced around her room to her music blaring because not only had she met her actual dream girl... they had kissed!

Yep, definitely the best day of her life.

This chapter more or less beat my ass, but I got it out!

So I pretty much have planned how this story will go, and this chapter was a big part in setting up my plans, developing their characters, and what obstacles will pop up for our girls in the future.

I hope everyone liked this chapter!

Read and Review!