“Hey T, Malcolm and Tom are here and they say…” Bette’s eyes go wide as I had hoped they would as she steps into our bedroom. It’s been two weeks since Angie got the all clear and I want my wife back, at least for one night. I’m wearing a shoulderless black dress that hugs my newly tight skin and curves, tying behind my neck with a plunging neckline that droops low in my cleavage. The back is open and flows right into my skirt that’s looser and just barely reaches my knees. My hair is down and styled a little wild, I’ve put on a long gold pendant, dangingling earrings, and golden pumps that ribbon around my ankle.
I smile seductively at her and walk forward to lock my arms around her neck and kiss her warmly. It becomes heated and hungry before Bette pulls back and pulls in air as she tries to clear her head. I sigh. I’m not breakable and she’s going to learn that. I stroke down her exposed arms to grab her hands and put them tight around my waist. I meet her eyes and say, “Malcolm and Tom are here because I asked them to be.” I put my finger to her chest. “You…” I pull her hand up and settle it low between my breasts, “…me…and the gang are going to Hit tonight. We’re going to have some… fun.” I pull her hand up to my mouth and take one of her fingers into my mouth, stroking along its length with my tongued before releasing it.
She opens her eyes and I can see the fire gleaming in her eyes but I can’t tell if it’s lust or anger or even incredulity. “T, we can’t leave Angie…”
I raise an eyebrow at her and stroke her face. “Bette, she’s just fine. Don’t you want to get out and do something? Maybe even spend some time with me?”
She looks at me with patient exasperation. “Tina…” I close my eyes. When she uses my full name it usually means it’s business or a fight. “Of course I want to spend time with you, but new parents don’t get that luxury. We have a daughter now. Do you really want to leave her?”
She furrows her brows at me and eyes me like I’ve been touched in the mind. “Bette, you make it sound like I want to abandon her…”
She sits down on the side of the bed with a sigh. “Well, that’s sort of what you’re talking about…”
“You’re not serious.” I look into her eyes to find that she’s entirely serious and snort shortly at her. I’ve been patient. I understand that we don’t neglect or abandon our child and I’m a little insulted that she’d think me capable of that. Is it so wrong to want a night out with my wife where we have fun, come home, and hopefully reconnect sexually? “Bette, having someone watch her for one night while we go out is hardly abandonment…”
She puts her hand up. “Tina, I can tell that this conversation is upsetting you and we both know what that could do. I think we just fall on two different sides of the spectrum here. I don’t want to leave her.”
I close my eyes and blow out a frustrated breath. “Have you spoken with Dan about this?”
She frowns and nods her head.
“Where does he fall in the spectrum?”
“He and I disagree.”
I look to the ceiling and hope that anything, alien, God, man, whatever will give me the strength to deal with this. I’m trying so hard to give her the space she needs, but I can’t ignore my own either, or hers for that matter, like she seems intent to do. I throw my hands up and let them fall slapping my thighs. “Okay Bette, I guess I’ll just go without you. I need out of this house.”
She stands abruptly and disbelievingly says, “You’d really leave us both here to go to a club?”
“If that’s what I have to do to get out of the house once every two months, yes. I’d prefer you came with me and let her uncles watch her, but you’re not amenable to that idea, or any other idea that doesn’t involve her in every aspect of our relationship.”
She crosses her arms over her chest and becomes defensive. “What do you mean by that?”
I sigh. “I mean that you told me that if I ever felt like I was home too much or feeling the way I used to, that I’d tell you. I’m telling you now. I need to get out and vent a little. Why can’t you do that? Angie is safe for the night here at home. There’s breastmilk in the fridge, and both of her uncles are here. They can handle her for a few hours.”
“I doubt they’d know what to do if she stopped breathing or for any number of the issues that can happen with a preemie.”
“Bette, Doctor Wilson told us a week ago that she’s perfectly healthy, that she’s a normal child. You keep thinking that she’s not. You have to look at reality.” I let out a short incredulous laugh. “They even immunized her. That means her immune system can fight infection just as well as any other child’s.”
“Okay, Tina. We’re not going to agree on this. If you want to go, go. I won’t stop you.” She looks utterly defeated on the inside, but outwardly, her shoulders are square and her head high.
If I stay with her, I enable her to continue this way and I might just pull my hair out. I need to go out. Surely she does too. “Bette, you need to get out as much as I do. Why are you really doing this?”
She wants to soften, I can see it, but she’s too trapped in her fear. “I… I just don’t think it’s a good idea. But you can go. I’ll stay with Angie.”
Tears well in my eyes. So we’re here again. I’m a bad mother for being as secure as a person can be given the world we live in. What in the fuck do I do? “Alright Bette, you win.”
I turn and go to the dresser to get some other clothes. The point was to connect with her anyway. I start to remove my dress but hesitate, grabbing the other clothes and heading for the bathroom. “Tina, wait…” I stop but don’t turn to her. I can’t manage it right now. I’m sad and angry and just can’t hear anymore either. “Listen, just go. We’ll be fine here.”
That’s it. I snort a laugh incredulously and look at her with a barely contained plethora of emotions. I set the clothes on the bathroom counter and leave the room without another word.
The cab pulls up in front of Hit and I hand the driver a twenty before exiting the car. I walk up to the bouncer and roll my eyes as he grins lecherousy and hands me a VIP pass, letting me in without missing a step. I scan the crowd and locate my friends sitting at a table towards the back of the dance floor by the bar. I make my way over to them and even over the thumping bass music, I can still hear the chorus of, “Hey,” as I take a seat next to Alice.
She leans into me and immediately yells, “Where’s Bette?”
I lean into her ear and yell back, “She was tired.” What more could I say. We’ve set boundaries with this stuff. No matter what, I won’t cross them.
She eyes me with knowing incredulity and I sigh as she leans in and yells, “Please tell me you two aren’t having issues again…” I give her a stony gaze before shaking my head. Let it go Alice…
Shane who’s been listening and watching this whole time looks to Alice and they seem to have a whole conversation with their eyes alone. They both stand and each grab one of my hands, pulling me out to the dance floor. I can’t help myself as I laugh and start to dance with them. This is exactly what I needed, minus who I needed. Soon, everyone’s out and dancing with us and I can feel some of the anxiety drain away. The music’s good, better than usual, and I look up to see Carmen at the DJ booth. She smiles and waves at me and I return the gesture.
Shane and Dylan disappear for a moment and return with shots. I shake my head no and mouth the word, ‘breastfeeding.’ They all nod and Shane takes the extra shot, one right after the other. I look around the room to see that the other lesbians are eyeing us appreciatively until they see Shane, at which point they give us a wide birth. It’s amazing what a few little false words can do.
We dance for several songs, until I start to feel hot and breathless. I retreat back to the bar and order an ice water with lemon while I watch our friends dance and have fun. I can’t help but smile. Even though Bette and I are having issues, I still have more than most people could dream about. We’ll work through this. My confidence in Bette is astronomical. The bartender trades my water for a decent tip and I take a large sip of it. It’s cold and it feels good as it runs down my parched throat.
“That looks good!” I turn to see a statuesque brunette close and smiling at me through hooded brown eyes as she gestures to my water. Her hair is long and wavy, her skin darker, and for a moment I thought it was Bette.
I smile at the irony of it as I raise my glass and say, “It’s just water.”
She chuckles as she nonchalantly touches my shoulder and leans over the bar to order a water with lemon for herself. I feel a small twinge southward and start to feel very uncomfortable. She tips the bartender and strokes her hand down my arm as she pokes her tongue out to meet the glass before taking a slow, delicate sip, the condensation rolling down the side where her fingers touch the glass.
I divert my eyes when she smiles seductively and reaches her hand out to me. “I’m Elizabeth.”
I stare at her nonplussed for a moment. Did she really just say… I quickly shake her hand and say, “Tina. If you’ll excuse me, I really have to be going.”
She grabs my hand softly and smiles as she leans in closely and says. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Tina. Are you sure you don’t have time for just one dance?”
I smile and shake my head as I lift my left hand. She takes it softly in her own hands and gazes at my wedding ring before smiling and again leaning in. “That’s a beautiful ring, but I’ve been watching you all night, and you appear to be alone to me.” She strokes my arm again. “Are you sure you don’t have time for just one… dance?”
I pull away from her and shake my head, giving her a peturbed expression. Why don’t people take no for an answer? Alice walks up to me with Shane and Dana in tow and crosses her arms over her chest as she eyes Elizabeth warily. She grabs my hand and pulls me through the throng of bodies and into the bathroom. The others file in as she checks the stalls and faces me with her arms crossed over her chest. “What the hell was that about? She was all over you, TK. And you didn’t seem to want to stop her.”
I lift an incredulous eyebrow. “Al, I told her no twice and showed her my wedding ring. What was I supposed to do, douse her in water, slap her, and pull her hair?”
She sighs, “That’s not what I’m talking about.” I cross my arms over my chest and wait. She rolls her eyes and gestures to me. “She… you know… lit you up.”
I turn to Shane and Dana disbelievingly. Shane smiles sadly and Dana doesn’t even look at me. They aren’t wrong. I felt it and ran. Bette hasn’t shown any interest in me in two months. “Well excuse the fuck out of me. I had involuntary reaction to a beautiful woman who reminded me of Bette as she hit on me. I told her, ’no.’ Fuck, Alice… I’m only human.”
She softens. “Come on, TK. What’s going on with you? You and Bette seem happy. You weren’t that turned on by Bette clones even when you were playing the field. What gives?”
I sigh and look to the ceiling for a moment before meeting her eyes again. “I won’t talk about this, Al. It’s a boundary…”
She scoffs at me. “I think Bette would be okay with you coming to us for help with something that doesn’t exclude her.” She snorts. “Hell, I helped her when she found your dildo.”
My eyes go wide as I shout, “What?!”
Her self-satisfied smile falters and she starts to stutter. “Well, yeah, when she found your dildo in your apartment she was worried that she wasn’t meeting your…needs. I explained it to her, and… she didn’t talk to you about this?”
I close my eyes and groan. You’ve got to be kidding me. I point at her. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow. I need to get home.” She starts to protest but I glare at her as I open the door and head through the writhing bodies and out into the night to find a cab. I have no idea what to do.