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One Last Drop

Less Than Three Press LLC

Heat Rating: SWEET
Word Count: 60,000
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Rory is a university student—and she's just a little too fond of drinking and partying. But when she woke up with no memory of the evening, or the person beside her and what they did, that was the last straw.

Getting help seems the obvious first step, but it's still hard to walk into the AA meeting, and harder still to stick to her goals.

But if she wants a chance to make things work with the beautiful Michelle, and further explore the submissive side she's ignored, she's going to have to commit to recovery and pull her life together, no matter how difficult that seems.

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Rory felt an attack of indecision as she stared at the people already gathered at the end of the hall. Unlike the meeting rooms, the kitchen and living room spaces were brightly lit, stark. She wouldn’t be able to avoid anyone’s gaze once she stepped in there. At the moment, she was still safe. Nobody had seen her. A part of her wanted to keep it that way: not moving forward, not moving back.

One foot forward. Then another. Chin high and heart pounding, Rory fixed her eyes on the fridge. If she didn’t make eye contact… A part of her knew the idea was stupid. It wasn’t like she could deny her presence here if she didn’t look at anyone. Yet, just for now, it gave her the strength she needed to walk through this hallway and out to the other side. For just right now, she could ignore the room beyond the kitchen, the room where the Alcoholics Anonymous group met in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

“Hello.” It was the person standing beside the fridge who greeted her. Rory noted he had a nametag over his left breast pocket and hoped desperately that she wouldn’t have to wear one herself. “First time?” He had a friendly face, and she could see that he was doing his best to put her at ease.

“Uh, yeah,” Rory said shortly, looking towards him and away again. There was a check off list where people were meant to write their names and pay the couple of dollars that covered the room hire. Gratefully, Rory noticed the sheet also listed how much she needed to pay, so she didn’t need to ask.

She found a handful of change in her pocket that added up to almost the amount she was supposed to pay.

“I’ll pay in the rest I owe next week,” she mumbled, still not looking at the man in front of her. God, he probably thought that she was some bum off the streets. She wasn’t dressed particularly well or anything, but her jeans didn’t have holes in them, and her blonde hair was brushed and tied back even if her face was devoid of makeup. It wasn’t like she’d left her place intending to come here tonight. It just kind of… happened.

“That’s okay.” She could hear the smile in his voice and hazarded a look up. It didn’t seem like he was judging her. The smile in his voice went all the way up to the twinkly eyes. The smile Rory summoned back for him wasn’t her most sincere or convincing. It felt stiff on her face, but it was a smile, and it was the best she could do right now.

“In there?” she said through numb lips that told her that she needed to move before she lost her nerve entirely. Her hand pointed flaccidly towards the living room space.

“That’s right,” he answered before lifting his head to greet the next person to arrive.

Rory was glad she no longer held his attention. She found a seat near the window and looked down at the hard wood floor. A couple of other attendees were talking softly to each other. She imagined they knew each other from past meetings. From the shoes and pants she could see out of the corner of her eye, they didn’t look as though they were straight off the streets, either. Maybe Rory had been guilty of projecting stereotypes herself. Maybe no one else here was thinking the same judgmental thoughts she was.

Many of the chairs in the hardwood floor living room weren’t yet full. Rory concentrated on breathing in and out. It would be good if it was a small group, she told herself. Less confronting.

Eventually, the facilitator closed the door between kitchen and living room. His voice spoke up as everyone else quietened down.

“Okay, so we’ve got a few new people here tonight. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jake, and I’m the facilitator of this meeting. This is a safe space where everyone can talk about the struggles they’ve been having. If you don’t want to talk and just want to listen, that’s fine, too. We try to avoid subjects like sex or politics or anything that might cause inflammatory language. Please remember that things that are shared in session are private and don’t leave this room, and, of course, please turn off your phones. We’ll be having a short tea break at around 8:30, and then we’ll finish up at around 9:30.”