The cab pulls up to the house at around seven thirty, and we exit the car. It feels so strange to be home. The cabby pops the trunk and I help him pull out the luggage as Tina makes her way to the door to unlock it. “That will be twenty-five, seventy.”
I pull my purse off my shoulder and locate my wallet. “Here you go.” I hand him a forty in cash and he smiles brightly. He looks at the luggage and considers it for a moment before picking one up. Wow, someone with integrity…interesting. I return his smile and grab the other bag and we head towards the house.
Tina stops on her way back down the stairs and follows us right back up, smiling at us both as we set the bags inside the door. “Thanks for your help.” He smiles at her and strides back to his cab whistling a jaunty tune. We turn to each other and there’s a moment of silence before we turn and enter the very quiet and unchanged house.
Why does it feel so…awkward? This is home. It has been for years. And Tina’s here. It just doesn’t seem real…I guess. I look to Tina and see that she’s just as uncomfortable. The house is so quiet and it feels…abandoned maybe…deserted. I look around to see that everything is just as we left it, but something still feels like it’s missing.
It’s the end of April and it’s warm, so I decide to just start acting normal. We need to get back to real life, and I’ve always been a feet first kind of person. I open some of the windows to let the warm breeze in and hopefully get rid of the stale air. It helps immediately. Tina’s been watching me this whole time and I smile at her as I grab my bag and head for the laundry room. Tina comes in behind me with her own bag and we start to unload our luggage.
We work together to start a load of the dirty clothes from the bags, and it feels wonderful. We’ve done this together so many times that it feels almost choreographed. I look to Tina as she puts the soap in the loader and smile. Just watching her do something so ordinary sends a surge of warmth down my spine. “What?” She smiles as she says this and starts adjusting the settings.
“Nothing…you’re just beautiful.” She smiles back warmly and hits the start button. I walk up to her and grab her hand, leading her out of the room and through the patio doors at the back of the house. She raises her eyebrow at me as I start to undress and I smile as I jerk my head to the lit pool and setting sun. She hesitates for a moment but returns the gesture and starts to undress as well. I’m done faster than she is but don’t wait to dive in. As I reach the surface, I feel the splash of water ripple around me as she joins me, and I swim up to her with a bright smile as I take her in my arms and tread water.
I kiss her sweetly and she sweeps the dark, wet curls from my eyes. Her face is warm but her expression troubled. “T, what is it?” She hesitates to speak and I get worried. “T, is something wrong?”
She kisses me again and says, “No, nothing’s wrong. I…I just…I’ve been thinking about something since our talk by the fountain yesterday, and I’m not sure you’re going to like it.”
I smile confidently and give her a chaste kiss. “Well, tell me and I’ll try to help.”
She smiles and strokes my face lovingly. “I think…since we want to have a baby right away…that I should…quit my job…”
I furrow my brows at her and can almost feel my eyes widen. After everything that happened, she wants to repeat what may have been one of our biggest mistakes? She told me that she lost her sense of self, her autonomy. Why would she want to go back there? “T…that’s…where is this coming from…” Her face falls and I’m at a loss. I have no idea what she’s thinking, but I think it’s insane…dangerous even…
She looks deeply into my eyes and it’s almost as if she can read my very thoughts. She lowers her eyes disappointedly and tries to pull away but I don’t let her. She meets my eyes again I can tell that she’s struggling with this. I pull us to the shallow water so we can relax, but I still don’t let her go. I stroke her face as I urge, “Come on T, talk to me.”
“You think I’m crazy don’t you.” She says this as a statement of fact, not a question.
I look in her eyes. “Well…sort of…” I can tell she’s getting upset so I try to explain myself. “T, you told me that you felt pressured to leave your job, that you felt listless, like nothing was yours and you were at my mercy because you had to rely on me for everything, like you were just a part of me instead of your own person. Why would you want to do that again?”
She tries to pull away again and this time I let her. She eyes me with frustration. “Well that was then and this is now. I don’t feel pressured anymore. I have my own identity and I’m sure of myself, confident even.” Okay, this is true. The Tina I knew would never have finger-fucked me to the Love Duet during a crowded opera. “And if something happens I’m not out in the cold with nothing.” She laughs a little in exasperation. “I mean, you gave me everything you have, and…I don’t know…it’s just different. We’re equals now. We weren’t then.” Her eyes get glassy with frustrated tears. “Don’t you want to start a family?”
I eye her incredulously. “Of course I do…”
“Then this is the only way. I mean, who else is going to stay with our child during the day and take care of them?” I close my eyes to hold back the intense pain. “And I’m not getting any younger Bette…”
She’s thirty-five. I’m thirty-eight. We’re hardly ready to start shopping for lots at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. I look into her eyes and try to gauge where this is coming from. “T, I could help…”
Her disbelieving eyes go wide and I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut, but I swallow it. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the baby to get here to prove that I will be a good mother. “T, I’m just worried that this will be a mistake. I have every faith that we’re going to be successful together this time, but I don’t want to do anything that might hurt our chances.” She turns away and furrows her brows. I don’t like it, but if she needs this, then I loathe keeping it from her.
I swim closer and turn her face to make sure she can see me as I say, “T…are you sure? Are you really sure that this is the best thing…that it’s what you want…”
Tears stream down her face and I still can’t tell where this is really coming from. She meets my eyes. “I don’t necessarily want to leave my job, but I want to start a family, I need to start a family Bette. I just feel…compelled to try again…it’s something inside me…like something’s missing…”
I stoke her face and try to soften my own. This worries me. Something’s just…off…about it. “T, there’s no pressure.” She scrubs her face and sighs. “I hear what you’re saying, but I think it’s just your biological clock ticking. We’ll have a family. I just think we should take the time to do this right.”
“Bette…I’ve been waiting a long time.” She turns sad hazel eyes on me. “You don’t know this, but…I used the rest of Marcus’s sperm.” My eyes go wide. “I was trying to get pregnant, hoping, but it didn’t take, and then…” I close my eyes. Fuck…just when you think you’ve worked out the majority of your problems, you realize what a foolish notion that is.
I blow out a huge breath. “Okay, let’s compromise.” She looks to me with anguished eyes and what else can I do? It’s not like we don’t want this eventually anyway. “You talk to Helena and try it on a trial basis, but…” She’s gazing at me so hopefully that it’s almost painful. “…the minute you start to show any signs of depression or feel anything like you did last time, you tell me and you return to work. I’ll stay home with the baby.”
She kisses me so sweetly and hugs me so tightly that I can’t help but smile. It’s a nervous smile, but a smile nonetheless. I pull back and meet her eyes. “I’m trusting you T.” My voice turns pleading. “Please…please promise me that you won’t let things get that far again…”
She kisses me again before hugging me tightly and whispering, “I promise…thank you, Bette…” I close my eyes and hold onto her. She leans back and smiles radiantly at me. “I’ll start searching for a donor tomorrow.”
I smile back at her. “T…let’s be smart about this, okay? I want to be sure our child has the best possible start. It may take longer, but we need to be selective for our baby…can you be a little patient?”
She strokes my hair and caresses my cheek with her thumb. “I don’t know Bette. Honestly, no one’s going to be good enough to replace you.” Tears well in my eyes. “I wish so badly that we could have a child together…really together…”
Maybe her opinion of me isn’t as low as I thought. “Thank you…you don’t know how much it means to me to hear you say that.” She eyes me curiously and I don’t ever want to go there with her so I hasten to continue. “…but let’s get the closest we can…okay?” She smiles warmly and kisses me lovingly. I tighten my hold on her and release a worried sigh, hoping against hope that this will work out okay.
“Hey guys.” Tina and I walk up to our table at the Planet with big, sappy smiles on our faces. Once we got more settled yesterday, it started to feel good sinking back into our routine, and it’s wonderful to see our friends again. There’s a chorus of welcome and a few hugs before we all take our seats across from Alice and Dana.
“Well it’s about damn time you two decided to join us in the land where orgasms are more moderately spaced!” We smile incredulously at Alice and she leans forward, resting her arms on the table excitedly as she drawls, “So…how was the honeymoon?” I eye her coyly and Tina sits back casually. Alice snaps her fingers at us. “Come on! Don’t be boring! I want details! Did you actually see any of Italy or was it a veritable fuck-fest of epic proportions?”
Shane throws her head back, “Alice, come on…”
She eyes Shane indignantly. “What?” Dana leans forward pulls Alice back shaking her head. “What?” She rolls her eyes. “You guys want to know as much as I do.”
“Alice, I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer. However, we had an amazing time.” I turn to Tina adoringly and she smiles at me just as Kit arrives.
“Baby sis! What do you think you’re doing sneakin’ in here without giving me a hug?!” I stand and smile as I hug her tightly. “I’m so glad you two are back! It just hasn’t been the same here without you.” She holds me at arms-length. “Mmm Hmm, you’re glowing.” She releases me and leans down to hug Tina. “You both are…”
Tina hugs her back. “Hi Kit. It’s good to see you too. We’ve missed you guys.”
Kit puts a hand on her hip and drawls, “Mmm Hmm,” in a condescending manner before Alice snorts indelicately. “Yeah, I’m sure you guys were thinking of us every minute.” She takes a sip of her coffee as a thought occurs to her. “That would be…awkward…”
Everyone ignores Alice but Dana who slaps her on the arm, almost spilling the coffee in her lap. She shoots daggers at Dana with her eyes and takes another sip. “Kit, while you’re here, do you have a minute? We have something to tell everyone.”
Everyone gets quiet and pensive as they look at me and Kit sputters, “Sure…” as she pulls a seat over and sits next to us.
Tina and I look around us at the worried and nervous faces and laugh. “It’s okay you guys; it’s good news.” I turn to Tina. “You want to tell them?”
She smiles and takes my hand. “Well, I guess it all comes down to Helena.” She turns to Helena who sets her coffee down and gives us her full attention. “I was going to ask for an extended leave of absence on a trial basis.” She squeezes my hand and smiles at those around the table. “We’re looking for a donor and we’re hoping to get pregnant very soon.”
I swear I can hear crickets as everyone considers the ramifications of this and Tina hastens to explain. “I know the last time we tried this it didn’t go well…” Alice snorts and jumps as Dana kicks her under the table. “…but things are different now.”
Everyone is still quiet, so I lend Tina a hand. “Look, Tina wants to do this and I don’t see the harm in it. We’ve agreed that she will let me know if anything starts to feel like it did before. If it does, she’ll go back to work and I’ll stay home with the baby.”
There’s a loaded pause before everyone starts to laugh. I lean back in my chair and fold my arms across my chest incredulously. Does no one have any faith in me to be a good parent? Alice looks at me and says, “I’m sorry, but yeah right!”
I eye her seriously. “Actually, I sort of like the idea of Tina supporting me, and me looking after the children…” Everyone pauses and looks to each other before laughing again and what’s worse is Tina joins them. She lifts an incredulous eyebrow at me but somehow, it just doesn’t have the same effect right now. Alright, fine, I have absolutely no problem proving all of them wrong. It’s just another challenge I’ll face head on.
Tina looks to Helena who sets her coffee down and collects herself. “Of course. Take as much time as you need. I’ll hold your position at Shao Lin indefinitely.”
Shane pipes up, “Well, I for one am happy for you guys.” I look to her and we smile at each other. Everyone else agrees and I release a breath I didn’t even know I was holding.
Kit stands, “Well, I’ll go get your breakfast.” I smile at her and she squeezes my shoulder as she walks away.
Helena and Dylan stand as well. “Well, we better head to the studio. We still need to get picked up for distribution on Lez Girls.” She turns to Tina with a smile. “I take it your leave starts today?” Tina nods her head. “Well then, we’ll see you all tomorrow.” They start to walk away but Helena turns. “Oh, and Shane, count us in for the end of the month.” Shine smiles at her and they leave with a wave.
Tina and I look to Shane. “What’s going on at the end of the month?”
Shane leans forward. “Oh, I’m having a party at my house the last Friday of April. You’re both invited.”
I turn to Tina and give her the ‘is that good,’ look and she nods her head before turning to Shane and saying, “We’ll be there.” Her smile turns bright. “Hopefully, it’s the last time I can drink for a while.”
I smile at her, but it’s not full watt. I doubt we’ll have secured a suitable donor within a week. I just hope she can be patient. I let go of a sigh and Kit arrives with our usual pastries and coffee. I look down at my watch and it’s a quarter to eight. “Actually, Kit, can I get mine to go? I need to get to the gallery. We have a very important client coming in today and I want to be prepared.”
She smiles. “I forgot you’re starting back today. I’ll get this ready for you. It won’t take a minute.”
I grin at her, “Thank you.” I stand and grab my purse and lean down to give Tina a chaste, lingering kiss. “I’ll see you at home.” I turn to Dana. “Try to keep these two out of trouble.” She grins toothily and I doubt her ability in such a function.
Tina smiles at me. “Oh, I think Alice and I will be just fine. It’s Shane you have to worry about.” I look to Shane who sips her coffee and I realize something. Carmen is very quiet, and they aren’t as cozy as usual. Sigh.
I swallow my worry and kiss Tina again. “I should be home around six.”
“Have a good day…” I hold onto her hand until the last second before striding up to the counter to retrieve my order.
Just as I get a few feet away I hear Alice say, “Okay, so…I want details.” I smirk and just keep walking.
I look at my watch, it’s almost one o’clock and our client should been here an hour ago. I hear a knock at the door and look up to see a tall, elegant blond standing in my doorway with Leo right behind her. I stand with a professional smile and walk up to them holding out my hand. “Please, come in and welcome. I’m Bette Porter-Kennard.”
The blond has a brilliant and feral smile on her face as she reaches her hand out to mine. The way she takes my hand almost feels…predatory. “I’m Kelly Wentworth…” She stops speaking as if waiting for me to do or say something more.
I have no idea what she needs but I shake her hand with a smile and say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Wentworth.” I release her hand but she lets go reluctantly.
“Oh, I’m no longer married.”
I smile with chagrin. “My apologies. May I call you Kelly?” Her eyes travel the length of me and she nods her head, the same predatory smile fixed on her face as she grunts delicately in approval.
I eye her curiously before turning to Leo. “Kelly asked for you specifically Bette, so I’ll leave you two to work out the details. I’ll be in my office if you need anything.” He smiles politely and leaves the door ajar as he exits. I take my seat, scoot up to my desk, and get down to business.
I pull out the portfolio of suitable options based on her specifications and reach across to hand it to her with a smile. “I’ve put together a portfolio that I think will…
She laughs a bit incredulously and gazes at me disbelievingly. “You really don’t remember me, do you?”
I furrow my brows and eye her specutively. Something niggles at the back of my mind and it’s on the tip of my tongue but I can’t seem to place her. The blond hair, the tan skin, the movie star smile…the wide eyes…Kelly…Kelly…FREEMONT! “Oh my God! Juicy fucking Freemont?!”
I stand and she comes around my desk and hugs me. Holy shit! Kelly fucking Freemont is in my office. Why…? She squeezes me tightly before I pull back and stare at her agape. “I swear to fucking God, you look better than you did in college…bitch!”
I smile at her in utter shock and bewilderment. She steps back and eyes me approvingly. “Look…at your body…” I am a little taken aback at this. “…are you still a runner?” She nods her head as if this must be the reason I’m fit.
I lower my head with chagrin. “Uh…I mean…sometimes….not very…often…but…”
She shakes her head disbelievingly and drawls. “Right…”
I look at her still completely flabbergasted. “God, what the hell are you doing in LA? I thought you were married to New York forever…”
“Well, I thought I was married to Deke Wentworth forever.” She says this almost sadly before snapping right out of it. “Holy fucking shit…I am so, so happy to see you…” She says this so genuinely that I can’t help but stare at her for a long moment before we both break down in gentle laughter. She hugs me fully this time and I swear I feel her hand go dangerously low on my back.
I pull back but she takes my hands, noticing my wedding set and smiling at me coyly. I laugh. “I actually just got back from my honeymoon…”
Just then there’s a gentle knock at the door and I turn to see Tina’s face peek through the opening. I smile brightly as I walk to the door to welcome her in. She has a carry out bag from the Planet in her hands. She brought me lunch. God how I love this woman. I kiss her chastely and escort her over to meet Kelly. “Kelly, this is my wife, Tina Porter-Kennard.”
Tina shakes her hand and says, “Hello…” She turns to me. “I’m sorry, I thought your meeting would be done by now.”
I smile at Tina reassuringly as Kelly interrupts. “Still a gay…hey Porter?”
I keep the grin on my face as I turn to Kelly and say, “Yeah, well, I lack imagination in some areas…”
Kelly flutters her eyes a bit and innuendo drips from her posture as she says, “Not many…”
There’s a moment of loaded silence before I turn to Tina and say, “This is Kelly Freemont. The Kelly Freemont.” I see the dawning of recognition in her eyes and for a moment I wish I hadn’t shared those journals.
She turns to Kelly a bit stunned and says, “Oh, Kelly Freemont, the…college roommate.” Kelly nods her head still keeping her eyes on me. “Wow…I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Kelly gets a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Did you tell Tina about you and me?”
I look to Tina and it’s a stumbling start but I get out exactly what I want to say, right when I want to say it. “Uh, well, I told her that you…let me almost kiss you once and you were so seized by a deep and abiding homosexual panic that you laughed in my face and didn’t speak to me again.”
Tina laughs at this and I can tell she doesn’t like Kelly…at all. She’s really not that bad…oh who am I kidding? She toyed with me, strung me along, and threw me away for no damn good reason.
I furrow my brows and contemplate this as Kelly shakes it off and looks to Tina. “She got over me in two minutes…”
I smirk at that. She’s the reason I didn’t trust anyone enough to let them get close, not even Tina. Not to mention I wanted to kill myself. “Pretty much…”
Tina chuckles nervously and sets the food on the desk. “Well, I’ll let you get back to work. Make sure you eat something.” I smile back at her and move to lean in for a kiss but she dodges it smoothly. Sigh. “Kelly, it was a pleasure to finally put a face to the name.”
Kelly smiles that predatory smile. “The pleasure was all mine, Tina.”
Tina raises an incredulous eyebrow. “I’m sure it was.” She turns to me. “I’ll see you at home.”
I grab Tina’s hand. “Actually, T, Kelly and I were just about done…” I swallow all the swirling emotions and turn on professional mode. “So, Kelly…” I hand out the portfolio and she accepts it this time. “You can take that home and have a look at it. If you see anything that you don’t want, just let me know. I have a list of second options…”
“What are you doing for dinner tonight?”
I stop and stare at her disbelievingly and Tina and I both chorus. “Excuse me…”
She smiles and I furrow my brows. “You heard me. That would give me plenty of time to look these over. I’m pretty decisive when I know what I want…” She eyes me like a predatory cat stalking its dinner. “…and I know what I want…”
I smile a tight smile and cross my arms over my chest. Does she really think I’m that stupid? “Kelly…I don’t think that’s necessary. We can meet here tomorrow once you’ve made your first selections.”
Her mouth gapes disbelievingly. “Oh come on Porter! I haven’t seen you in years! Would it really be so bad to make up for lost time?”
I smile and put my arm around Tina. “No, but we can’t tonight. Tina and I are looking for a donor. We’re planning to start a family.” I smile radiantly. “It’s just too last minute.”
She eyes me specutively and something tells me that this not the end of it. “I see. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
I smile tightly back at her. She walks to the door with confident strides. “Kelly?” She eyes me over her shoulder. “Be on time tomorrow. I have an appointment after yours.” She smiles that predatory smile before exiting and shutting the door. I look to Tina. “What was that?”
She sits in one of the chairs in front of my desk wearily. “You tell me…”
I squat down in front of her. “T…I thought you had moved past this…”
She sighs and strokes my hair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to seem insecure, but you were flirting, and she was so annoying…”
I release a weary smile. “I was not flirting.”
“Yes you were…” She coyly smiles down at me. “…you can’t help it.”
I smile coyly back. “What? You never flirt?”
She grins wider. “Of course I flirt…but it’s different for you.” I eye her incredulously. “It feeds you. You feed off people wanting you…and they do want you.” Apparently nothing is fully fixed. “For you it’s…it’s like blood to a vampire.”
I close my eyes and let out an exasperated breath. “So now I’m a vampire?”
She looks me squarely in the eyes with a warm and open expression. “I love you. I don’t want to deprive you of something so fundamental to who you are.”
I stare at her for a long moment. She trusts me or she doesn’t? “You have to trust…” I reach up and start to unbutton her white cotton oxford. “…that I know who I am…” I push the shirt down off her shoulders and push her further back in her chair. “…and I know what to do with it.”
I unbutton her jeans and tug them slightly down her narrow hips. She gazes at me and reaches forward to grab my face, pulling me up over her. “I don’t even know what that means.”
I run my hand down her torso. “It means that everyone else can fuck off…” I brace myself against the back of the chair as I slither my fingers under her lingerie and run them deeply through her center. She releases a heavy whimper and a deep breath. “…because I only want you…”
“T?” I walk into the house and set my briefcase by the door. The delicious smell of Tina’s teriyaki chicken stir fry and the haunting sounds of Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials assault my senses. I smile brightly when I see her obliviously dancing as she stirs the vegetables around in the wok. I walk closer and check my watch. Six pm on the dot. It is a goal of mine to never let my passion for work or art force her down the hierarchy of my priorities ever again. It’s a goal I mean to reach, every day, for as long as I live.
I fold my arms across my chest and lean against the fridge with a smirk on my face. She’s wearing a black spaghetti string tank top and matching boy cut shorts. The spun gold of her silken hair is piled up haphazardly on her head and held with a clip. To round out this strangely sexy ensemble is a pair of pink fuzzy wuzzy slippers. I can hear the off key notes of her singing and it’s quite possibly the most wonderful sound in the world.
She turns off the gas burner giving the stir fry one final toss and dishes it up onto the waiting plates on the bar. She checks the clock on the stove and sighs as she pours two glasses of wine, keeping one and frowning slightly as she takes a sip. The music fades out and I take it as my cue. “Waiting for someone?”
She jumps startled, spilling a bit of the wine down her chin and clutching at her breast as she looks at me. “Bette…fuck…you scared me.”
I smile only slightly apologetic as I pull away from the fridge and walk up to her. “I wasn’t trying to scare you, but I was enthralled by your impromptu performance.” I run my finger up her neck and chin, collecting the wine and clean it off with one swipe of my tongue. She smiles knowingly as I take the glass from her hand and set it on the counter by the waiting dinner. She wraps her arms around my neck as I lean in and kiss her sweetly, pouring all of my adoration into this act before leaning back and looking deeply into her eyes. “How was your day?”
Her eyes gleam and she says, “I had a fantastic lunch with this incredibly sexy woman…”
My eyes go wide. “You too?!”
She slaps me on my ass and laughs as she grabs the plates and walks toward the table. “Let’s eat while it’s hot. I have a few donor papers for you to look at.”
I smile wearily. “Let me change out of these clothes.” I start walking up the stairs as I unbutton my blouse. “It smells great by the way.”
I head straight for the bathroom and put my slacks and blouse in the hamper before moving to the sink and closing my eyes to pull off my fake eyelashes. When I open them again, I jump startled at Tina’s face in the mirror. She starts laughing and I squint my eyes at her.
She points at me and says, “Serves you right,” as she puts a tank and relaxed fit pants on the counter. She adds insult to injury as she again slaps my ass and walks out of the room, apparently expecting me to hurry the fuck up.
I shake my head and smile as I get dressed and make my way down the stairs. The music is off now and there’s a stack of papers on the table where Tina is sitting, waiting patiently impatient. Sigh. She wants this child so badly that I really don’t think she cares how she gets it. I approach her and start to take a seat when we both hear a loud but muted thud. We gaze at each other curiously before cautiously heading over to the windows that line the side of the front room. Carmen storms from the back door, out into the back studio, and slams the door shut. Shane comes running out and starts beating on the door calling for Carmen to let her in.
I look to Tina and her worried gaze meets my own. These two are headed for disaster. You never get romantically involved with a roommate until you’ve at least lived together to ensure compatibility. I release a sigh and follow her back to the table where I take a sip of my wine as I settle into the chair. I haven’t even finished the sip before Tina’s settled herself and passed me the first donor sheet. I sigh and start to read as I take a bite.
“English, Scottish, 5”11’, brown hair, brown eyes, enjoys sports and long walks on the beach.” I look at Tina. “Is this a donor registry or a personals ad?”
She rolls her eyes and hands me the next one with a sigh. I take another bite and start to read again. “English, German, Irish, Italian, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, and Peruvian…God T, I feel like we’re shopping for a puppy…”
She snorts a laugh this time but I can tell she’s exasperated as she hands me the third one. I take a sip of my wine and try again. “African, English, 5”9’, brown eyes, brown hair-balding, Associate in art history…” I set my fork down. I have a feeling she saved this one for last because it’s close to most of the traits we’re looking for. But it just doesn’t feel like the one and something tells me that she’s not going to want to hear that. “Well this one is getting closer…”
She isn’t saying anything. Her head is down and she’s eating quietly. “T…I’m sure these are all nice men, but do you really feel that any one of these is who you want to father our child?”
She sets her fork down and gazes at me. “No, I can’t have who I want. We’ve discussed that already Bette, but I went through probably one hundred of these with Alice today. These are the closest ones, especially the last one. In fact, he’s the only African/Caucasian biracial.”
I sigh. “Okay, well, it says here there are twenty-four samples available now and he’s available for recall if we can’t find what we’re looking for. Let’s look some more and he’ll be available if we can’t get any closer to perfect.”
She blows out a frustrated breath and starts eating again. “T…please be reasonable. We’ve barely even begun to look. A little more time won’t hurt when it’s our child’s heritage at stake.”
She sets her fork down and takes a sip of her wine before meeting my gaze seriously. “Bette…I get the feeling that you’re just…I don’t know…it’s almost like you’re not even open to the donors before you read them.”
I sit back and contemplate this for a moment. I want our child to have the best of everything. A first rate education, a decent upbringing. Is it so wrong to be selective about her heritage, to take the time set things up so that we have the best start possible? “T, I want to be selective. Last time we did this, we were desperate and out of control. I don’t want to go there again. It was a mistake. I want to do this right…that’s all.”
She furrows her brows. “This is what I’m talking about. Your approach is so casual. It just doesn’t seem like you want it all that badly…”
I lean my head back, close my eyes, and sigh with extreme exasperation before standing and walking over to Tina. I kneel down in front of her, taking her hands in my own. “T, I want you to listen to me, to hear me.” She meets my eyes and I do everything I can to bring my extreme sincerity to the forefront. “I want…no, I need to have a family with you. I’m not approaching this casually at all. I’m approaching it cautiously and with infinite care. I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to make this perfect, not just for us, but for our baby. Grabbing the first guy we find just isn’t going to work. It didn’t before…and now…” I rest my forehead against her tummy and she tangles her fingers in my hair. “…now that we have a second chance, I don’t want to just do this right, but do it well. Everything we do now will have lasting consequences. This is yours and our child’s health and longevity at stake. You and our baby are worth the time…you’re both worth everything to me.”
I feel her start to cry and I sit up to take her in my arms. She tucks her head in my neck and I hold her tightly. “I just don’t want to wait and have the opportunity slip through my fingers again Bette. What if something happens again? I don’t think I could take it…”
I close my eyes against my own tears as they start to fall. So that’s why it’s so urgent. She’s scared that if she doesn’t do it before things fall apart, it just may never happen. She still doesn’t seem to get it. “It’s going to happen T…one way or the other, we’ll have our family. I promise you…”
“I wish I could believe that…but there’s just no way to be sure. I wish so much that there was a way…”
I lean back and wipe her tears away and she caresses my hair. I smile as I remind her, “Have faith T…just believe it…”
She smiles through her tears and blows out a weary breath. “I’ll try…but until it happens…I just don’t know if I can.”
My grin turns radiant. “Then I’ll just have to believe for the both of us…” She raises and incredulous eyebrow and kisses me so tenderly that it’s heart breaking. She knows that I would never hurt her. She’s forgiven so much, but the vestiges of suffering still cling to her, and honestly there is nothing I can do to free her of it, except one thing: I can be sure to prove her fears unwarranted.