Chapter 9 – You do… You will…

“T, are you sure this is safe?” I smile lovingly at Bette as she attaches Angie’s car seat to the stroller frame. Once she’s done she stands with a worried look on her face as she stares at the blanket covered dome where our baby sleeps.

I reach up and stroke the dark curls from her face. “Bette…?” She finally meets my eyes and I want to cry at the anguish I find there. How can I help her get past this? We’ve come through so much. If we can get past this last hurdle, we could start to fully enjoy life. I hate what I’m about to say, but she has to hear it, understand it, and learn to live with it, just like everyone does. “…there are no guarantees in life, babe. There never will be. We do what we can and hope for the best.” I smile at her with all the confidence I can muster. “But I believe that she’s ready…” I reach down and touch her warm breast where her even warmer heart rests, “…and I think you know it too. She’s strong…” I gaze deeply into her almond eyes. “…just like you.”

I see tears gather in the open, brown depths as she pulls me in and hugs me. She just needs to get past this. “Babe, maybe we should go to counseling…”

She blows out a breath. I know she hates the idea, but just someone to talk to about all her fears might do her some good. “I know I’m scared, T. I don’t think a doctor can help with that without prescriptions, which just aren’t necessary. I just need to let them go.” She squares her shoulders and I can see the proud determination wash over her smooth face. “I don’t know how to yet, but I’ll find a way.”

I stoke her face and smile adoringly at her. “Baby steps, you just need to take baby steps in the right direction.” I smile brighter. “And I’ll take them with you.”

She grins at me and a thought seems to occur to her. “Why aren’t you as scared?”

I sigh sadly for her plight. I love her so much I may as well be feeling her terror for her. “I think you went through more than I did.” She eyes me curiously. “I didn’t have to sit at your bedside for seven days not knowing if you were going to make it. I’m here, and I’ll do whatever it takes to stay here. If you can’t trust anything else right now, trust that.”

Her grin grows into a radiant, beaming smile of doe-eyed innocence, and I don’t hesitate to reach up and kiss her soundly. A cat call sounds out behind us and we both grin as we pull away to see Alice and Dana striding up holding hands. “Well, well, well… good to see the new baby hasn’t killed sexy time.” We both sigh at Alice, but we can’t help the smiles that light our faces. We haven’t made love yet, but we’ve only had the baby two weeks, and I know that Bette still desires me. It’s in everything she does, her actions, her fear of losing me. We just need to adjust. Alice rolls her eyes at our lack of comment but for once, lets it drop. I smile at her gratefully and she glares at me. I mouth the words, ‘Thank you,’ and she softens. Even Dana grins as she rubs circles on Alice’s back.

Bette walks to the front of the stroller and sets the economy sized bottle of aloe hand sanitizer in one of the cup holders, and we all walk inside together. “There’s my baby girl!” We smile as Kit comes around to see Angie but Bette stops her, pointing to the sanitizer. Kit lets out a sigh and douses herself in the strong smelling gel before looking to Bette for approval.

Bette looks around the restaurant to find that it’s a little more than half full. She looks back to Kit. “Let’s get her away from this crowd and then you can see her.”

Kit smiles and shakes her head. “Come on then. I think I have the perfect table for my little boo.” She turns to the girl behind the counter and says, “Two vente VSLs, two Danish, a ‘get up and gojo,’ and a capp with a shot.” The girl nods her head and the five of us follow Kit to a table in the far corner of the building. I stroke Bette’s back lovingly. The others may not understand Bette’s need to be overly cautious, but I’m thankful for her protectiveness, and I’ll support her in it so long as it’s not a detriment. She meets my gaze and I can tell she’s still nervous but she seems to relax knowing that I’m in full support of her.

We arrive at a table situated against the wall of open doors that lead to the patio, the location much further away from the other tables and patrons. Bette smiles approvingly as she pushes the stroller to the far end in the corner and sits in the closest chair. I take the chair next to her and Kit doesn’t wait a moment before pulling a chair up in front of her niece and lifting the blanket to play and coo at our half-awake baby. Alice and Dana settle in across from us, and we watch as all three of them make over our daughter with bright smiles.

The girl arrives with the order, placing our usual Danish and vanilla soy lattes in front of us. Alice takes a long sip of her cappuccino with a satisfied groan and Dana starts to down her smoothie. It’s always the same every morning, but I can’t help but smile. I’ve missed our time together these past few weeks.

I look to Dana. “Are you training this morning?”

She smiles and nods her head. “I have to be there at ten.”

I smile at her. “The doctor gave me some exercise information and I’m thinking that I want to start doing something, running and yoga maybe?”

Dana’s eyes take on a far-away look. “I remember the days when exercise just felt good. My training has been pretty intense. I have a meet next weekend and I’m trying to win a spot in the WTA.”

Bette looks away from the baby to Dana. “Wow, that’s great, Dane. Congratulations.”

She smiles toothily and blows out a breath. “Well, don’t congratulate me yet. I have to get in first.”

Alice sets her coffee down and pushes on Dana’s shoulder. “Quit being so modest…” She looks to us seriously. “…she’s been kicking ass and taking names. She’s totally got this in the bag…”

Dana blushes through her goofy grin and I look to Bette with a grin of my own. She loves these women as much as I do. I’m just so thankful for them. Alice leans over and kisses Dana sweetly and that only makes Dana more adorable… it’s almost sick. After a long moment, Alice turns back to us. “So…”

“Morning, everyone.” Helena and Dylan walk up to the table hand-in-hand and Dylan has a seat as Helena goes to the baby. “There she is…” Bette clears her throat before taking a sip of coffee and Helena stops just as she’s about to take the baby from Kit’s arms. Bette looks pointedly at the sanitizer and Helena follows her gaze. “Oh, right, sorry about that.” She cleans her hands and smiles brightly as she squeezes in next to Kit and they both start to make over the baby.

Alice rolls her eyes at Bette and I eye her disapprovingly as she says, “Bette, the baby’s obviously fine…”

Bette crosses her arms over her chest and her gaze turns serious with warning. “Al, she’s thriving, but taking needless risks right now could kill her. I’d rather be too cautious, than have her get sick because it’s too inconveniencing for someone to take three seconds to disinfect their hands. If you want to play with her, you’ll use the sanitizer. Otherwise, you won’t.”

Alice rolls her eyes again and I set my coffee down before meeting her gaze. “Al, you heard Bette. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. You don’t have to play with her.”

Her face turns shocked and a little hurt as Bette sits back smugly, resting her arm across the back of my chair. She looks to me with so much gratitude and lust in her eyes that I’m a bit blown away by it. Wonderful, a window of opportunity to finally reconnect with my wife and I can’t do one damn thing about it. I eye her seriously saying, ‘later.’ She receives the message loud and clear and winks at me.

Alice’s voice interrupts our moment and the hurt turns to pride. “Um, I’m her earth mother…”

We both sigh. I had completely forgotten about that, and by the look of her, so had Bette. Alice had said something the day before I went into labor, and we agreed with the understanding that if anything were to happen to both of us, Malcolm would take Angie. I look to Alice and smile. “I know you love her Alice, that’s why this is so important.”

She sighs and nods her head. I sigh with relief. She’s not great at the boundaries yet, but she seems to be accepting them when they’re verbally reinforced. I feel Bette’s fingers absently stroke a lock of my hair and it sends tingles through the base of my scalp. I swear on all that is holy that these hormones are going to be the death of me. I shudder and refuse to look at her. Instead of what I want at just that moment, I start eating my Danish.

Alice’s voice is low in warning. “Well look who it is…”

We all look up to see Shane at the counter ordering. I meet Alice’s gaze. “Al, it’s just Shane…”

She snorts and picks up her coffee. “You haven’t been here, either of you.” She takes a sip and leans forward conspiratorially, all of us watching Shane as she explains. “That letter that was posted on OurChart totally fucked up her mojo. I mean, look at her…”

Shane’s back is to us. She’s standing rigidly at the end of the counter, stuffing a huge brownie in her mouth as she fidgets and chews. She keeps shuffling her weight from one foot to the other nervously as her eyes dart around the café; every time an attractive woman passes in front of her, her eyes glaze over as she openly ogles them until they’re out of sight, one such woman smiles and stops to talk to Shane. Shane swallows her huge bite of brownie hard, and her normal suave demeanor falls over her as the girl introduces herself.

The front door opens, and in walks Carmen holding hands with young woman with large, hooded brown eyes. Her skin is a little darker than Bette’s, and she has tight braids throughout her coffee colored hair, with light highlights streaking through them as they knot together, off-center at the base of her neck. She’s wearing a bandana around the top portion of her head, and a silky, grey fedora is pulled lower over her brow. The brass of her over-large hoop earrings glint as brightly as her teeth as she smiles knowingly. The smile isn’t for anyone in particular; it conveys an air of conceited confidence for all within viewing distance, as if she not only owns the world but will devour it at any time. Her attire consists of a black tank under a tight pinstripe vest that shows about two inches of mid-drift, the points of it touching her carefully faded and ripped, low-cut, dark blue jeans.

We all look at one another and Alice says, “Fuck…” as Shane introduces herself to the pretty, young lesbian on her hook. Just as we see her take the girls hand and her mouth form the word, ‘Shane,’ the girl pulls her hand back and wipes it on her jeans as she nearly runs Carmen and her mystery woman down in her haste to escape. Shane watches her go with an angry and dejected expression before her eyes light on Carmen and her guest.

Carmen doesn’t even look at Shane as she scans the room for us and Alice continues. “That chick with Carmen is Papi. She has nearly twice as many connections as Shane on OurChart, and the numbers are growing every day.” I raise an incredulous eyebrow at her and she nods her head. “Shane hasn’t had one connection since that letter showed up on her profile. Not one! That’s why she looks like she’s tweaking out. She’s gonna blow any day…”

Helena pipes in. “Carmen showing up with Papi every morning isn’t helping Shane either.” She looks to Dylan. “It’s not helping anyone, for that matter.”

Dylan’s eyes take on a steely quality very uncharacteristic of her. “If she calls you her little English muffin one more time…”

“Ah…” Papi strokes Helena’s hair. “How is my little English muffin this morning?” She crouches down between Helena and Dylan. “You look beautiful, as always.” Alice grabs Dylan’s collar and tugs her back. Helena blushes and looks to me as she raises her glass to her lips and mouths the words, ‘Help me.’ “You want to go for a ride in my limo later? I can show you a whole ‘nother side of LA, sexy.”

Helena chokes on her drink and sets it down. She smiles tightly at Papi and says, “Papi, you know I’m with Dylan.”

Papi smiles and looks to Dylan who’s barely holding it together. “She can come too…”

I hear a clipped chortle next to me and turn to see Bette covering her mouth to stifle her laughter. I barely see Carmen roll her eyes before heading straight to the hand sanitizer, and taking the baby from Kit. “And who do we have here?” I look back up to see Papi walk up behind Alice and Dana, staring at Bette. “You got a problem, Brown Barbie?”

I raise an incredulous eyebrow and look to Bette who leans back in her chair indignantly cool and incredibly sexy as her eyes harden and her low voice sounds. “Who the fuck are you calling Brown Barbie, you fucking Carmelita Tropicana?”

Papi smiles and sucks her teeth as she eyes Bette from top to bottom and I feel my ire rise. “You’re not as tender as you look, Rodeo.”

I lean into her line of sight and wave my hand to get her attention. “I’m Tina, and this is Bette, my wife.” She looks me over in the same manner as Shane sits down next to me and I can feel the indignant anger radiate off of Bette. I stroke her thigh to soothe her. The baby starts to cry and I sigh relieved at the distraction as Bette takes her from Carmen.

Papi smiles lecherously at me and Alice jumps in to help me out. “Fuck. Papi…now you’re scaring babies…”

Carmen takes a seat on the other side of Dylan, leaving just one between her and Shane where Papi settles herself. Papi slouches low in her chair and puts her arm around Carmen as she ignores Alice and looks to Shane. “What’s up, vanilla?”

Shane ignores her and sips her coffee as an awkward silence falls over the table. I look to Carmen to see her playing with her water and can’t help but wonder why she would put up with this. I look to Shane to see her twitching and fidgeting as she stares at Carmen out of the corner of her eyes. The tension mounts for long moments before Alice rolls her eyes. “So, anyway, TK…” I look to Alice relieved for the shift in atmosphere. “What do you say we start running in the mornings after the Planet? I have a yoga DVD. We could do that and then push Angie with us as we go for a run.”

Alice smiles at Angie and sanitizes her hands a little over dramatically before reaching out for her. Bette sighs and carefully hands her the baby. Alice’s smile is radiant as she gazes down into Angie’s eyes. “That way mini-Bette can be with us.”

I look to Bette who smiles at me incredulously and I chuckle before turning back to Alice. “That would be great, Al.”

Shane sets her coffee down with a shaky hand. “Could I join you guys? I have a lot of energy lately…”

Papi scoffs at Shane, but Shane still ignores her. Alice looks to me before meeting Shane’s intensely pointed gaze. “Um… I don’t see why not, but aren’t you in pre-production for Liquid Heat?”

She nods and Helena answers for her. “There’s not much for her to do yet. We won’t need her until we actually start shooting.” Helena snorts delicately. “You should see Niki at the dry readings in the morning… Shane’s going to have her work cut out for her.”

“And that means I get this one all to myself for a while, huh chica?” Papi leans in close to Carmen who smiles dramatically and makes mooning eyes at her. It’s everything I can do not to scoff. This is a joke. Even Shane has to know that. Alice has no compunction to filter herself so she snorts audibly and Papi looks to her. “You jealous, cariño?”

Alice rolls her eyes and looks back to me and Shane. “Anyway, we starting today?”

I set my coffee down and swallow the last of my pastry. “Actually, I can’t today, but I’m good for tomorrow.” I turn to Bette. “Did you want to join us?”

She smiles at me. “No, you go ahead. I have a few things to take care of with the gallery. I can do that and help watch Angie.”

I smile adoringly as Helena and Dylan stand. Dylan is still brooding as Helena takes her hand. “We should probably get to the lot. We’ll see you all tomorrow.”

Papi leans her head back to look up at Helena. “Have fun today, my little British bombshell.”

Helena squints her eyes and shakes her head at Papi as she drags an indignant Dylan away. Kit stands as well. “Well, we’re about to get slammed.”

She strokes Angie’s head and Bette smiles at her. “See you tomorrow, Kit.”

She grins at Bette. “I’m glad you two are coming back around…” She looks down to Angie and coos, “…and bringing my baby girl with you. Yes, I am. Yes, I am…”

Alice stares at Kit until she stands and walks away awkwardly. She looks down at Angie. “You’re going to need therapy, BJ.”

Bette furrows her brows at Alice. “Seriously, Al… BJ?”

She smiles at Bette. “Bette Junior.” I chuckle and Bette scolds me with her eyes. “Bette… look at her. She looks just like you.”

Bette sighs but I know how much she loves her resemblance to Angie. “Just find a name that works for you and stick with it. I don’t even want to know what you could randomly come up with given the time and space to make variations.”

Alice smiles mischievously. “Well, it may take me time and space to land on the proper nickname…” She looks back down to Angie. “…huh, you little Bette clone?”

The baby coos encouragingly and I look to Bette with my own mischievous smile. She meets my gaze with patient exasperation and I say, “Don’t look at me. She’s your daughter.”

She smiles brightly and I feel it warm me to my toes before Papi’s voice slices through the comfortable atmosphere we managed to make. “You need to get laid, Vanilla.”

I look to Shane as she stands abruptly and downs the rest of her coffee. “See you guys tomorrow morning.” She power walks to the door but somehow, I think that’s just her normal speed as of late.

Papi laughs. “That letter on OurChart really messed up her game, not that I wasn’t kicking her micro ass before…”

I look to Bette and it’s unanimous. We both stand and Bette gathers Angie to put her in her car seat. “We have some errands to run.” I walk out from behind the table and Alice eyes me with a, ‘Don’t leave me here alone, please,’ expression. I sigh as I look at her pointedly. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

She squints her eyes and turns back to the table mumbling, “Traitor…” and I smirk as Bette covers Angie’s carrier with a blanket. About ten feet from the table we both release a heavy breath and look at each other knowingly. Mornings may never be quite the same…


“Al…” I bend at my waist and put my hands on my knees. “…I’m still so fucking out of shape…”

Alice smirks at me as she wipes her forehead. “You just squeezed a tiny human out of your lady parts, TK. I think you’re entitled to be winded…”

I laugh and it hurts. I grab my side with a wince and we push the stroller around to the back of the house. Shane is still running in place and we both look to her. Alice and I stop and chorus, “Wow…”

I stare at Shane incredulously as Alice says, “Three weeks and she’s still going strong.”

Shane smiles smugly. “It’s not my fault that you’re lazy asses.”

Alice scowls at Shane as she hands her a bottle of water. “Fuck off, you freak.”

I detach Angie’s carrier and carry her inside as Alice follows and grabs us all a bottle of water from the fridge. I set the carrier down next to my feet, smiling at Angie’s doe-eyed gaze of wonder. She may have enjoyed the run as much as I did. I take a large gulp of water and watch Shane expend even more energy. Just watching her is exhausting. I’m surprised she hasn’t exploded. Alice has been watching as well and asks knowingly, “How’s it goin’, Shane?”

Shane bounces and kicks her legs. “I’ve been hitting the gym at five-thirty a.m. before meeting you guys at the Planet. Gotta say, it’s going pretty well.”

I stare at her worriedly as I take another sip of water. “And all of this because you can’t have sex?” Bette comes down the stairs and smiles at us as she picks Angie up out of her car seat and coos at her. I didn’t want to touch the baby like this. That doesn’t stop Bette from giving me a chaste kiss on the lips and beaming at me.

Shane continues. “You know, I think it’s a good thing. I don’t have to mess with any of the crap that goes along with it. I have declared a moratorium…” she pulls off her outer tank, “…on sex.” Bette, Alice, and I look to each other as she throws the tank onto the back patio. “…And a moratorium…” she drops to the kitchen floor and starts doing frantic push-ups, “…on drama…” She lifts up high and meets our gaze with a serious expression. “…and a moratorium, on jealousy.”

Alice scoffs. “And a moratorum on girls paintballing your Jeep, putting peroxide in your shampoo, leaving STD warning comments on your OurChart profile, and burning your clothes in your front yard…”

Shane pushes up again and says, “Yup.”

I look to Bette disbelievingly and we both look to Shane for clarification. “What? Someone burned your clothes in the yard?”

She breathes out and says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was one of the girls who thought I gave her herpes. It was while you were in the hospital.” She starts pumping faster. “No, I’m telling you, I’m fucking done. A few days ago I realized that by taking a major break from sex, I thereby eliminate the main cause of the insanity in my life.” She stands and picks up Angie’s carrier, crunching it like it’s a weight. “And I’ve gotta’ tell you girls, I have never, ever felt so freakishly clear-headed, or highly energized.”

Alice smiles maniacally at Shane with knowing gratification at the fact that she is literally going to burst at any minute if she keeps this up. I look to Bette to see her worried as well. This is all so senseless, but honestly, I’m happy that Shane can’t find a willing partner for sex. Being cut off might be just what she needs to stop taking it for granted and find worth in it beyond the physical. “Well, I’m going to go have a shower and then I’ll pump some milk for tonight.” I smile at Bette. “You have Angie?” She returns my smile and leans down to give me another chaste kiss. I sigh at the utter loving, friendliness of it.

We still haven’t made love, and we’ve been home with Angie for five weeks. Everytime we get close, Angie or something else interrupts us. And when the window of opportunity is there without interuption, we’re usually too exhausted. Well, Bette is. I think the emotional turmoil is taking a bigger toll on Bette than the alternated feedings, of which she still doesn’t give me many alone.

Alice breaks through my thoughts. “We can watch Angie if you guys want to be alone for a while.”

Bette furrows her brows and frowns, and I sigh as she says, “Thanks Al, but she’s okay with me until Tina’s done. She’s probably almost ready to eat and sleep anyway.” She smiles adoringly at the baby in her arms and I smile at Alice before heading for the stairs. Part of me can’t help but wonder if Bette doesn’t find me as attractive or just doesn’t need that connection anymore. But I’ve been working out and I’m determined to feel sexy again, and entice Bette away from the baby. I love her too, but I want the carnal, hungry part of my wife back. I have my check-up in one week and Angie should get her all clear next week as well. Hopefully Bette will feel safer and more like herself by then.


 

“Tina, it’s good to see you.” Doctor House smiles at me as he shuts the door behind him, my chart tucked under his arm. “Your levels are good, your heart is healthy, and you’ve healed very well from the surgery.” He opens the chart and double-checks something. “I see here that you came into the hospital three weeks ago. Are you still experiencing any issues?”

I smile reassuringly at my nervous wife and say, “Not since that night. I feel great, actually.”

He smiles again and says, “Well, I don’t think you need any further tests…”

Bette interrupts him. “We’d still like to do the ECG, just to be sure.”

I smile sadly at Bette and stroke her arm. There just aren’t enough reassurances in the world to help her, but if she wants this, I’ll do it. He smiles at her and looks back to me before clearing his throat and walking to the counter to retrieve a few pamphlets from a selection there. He takes three and hands them to Bette. “I’ll get the nurse to get you set up. The results don’t normally take more than forty-eight hours. In the meantime, look these over.”

She looks down at the leaflets, reading the titles out loud with growing indignity. “Dealing with Fear…” She shuffles to the next one. “…How to Overcome the Fear of Losing a Loved One…” She shuffles to the last. “Managing Anxiety…” She looks to the doctor with a perturbed expression and sets the pamphlets on the bed behind us. “Thank you for your concern, but I don’t think we need any of those.”

He meets Bette’s gaze. “I understand, but I’d give those to anyone who has been through what you have. It’s good information, whether you struggle with it personally or not.”

She seems to soften and nods her head. Doctor House smiles at me and says, “You’re in excellent health. Keep up the good work.” He moves to the door and opens it. “The nurse will be with you shortly.”

He shuts the door behind him and I meet Bette’s indignant gaze. Why can’t she accept any form of help with this? I kiss the curl covered head tucked in Bette’s arms and look up as I stroke Bette’s face, trying to communicate that we’re both alive and well before pointedly reaching for the information and tucking it into my purse. She focuses on Angie and I sigh as a gentle rap on the door sounds and the nurse enters with a small cart. Hopefully this will reassure her. If not, she’s going to have to seek help, and I may have to push her. This can’t go on forever.


 

I finish dabbing just a bit of lavender perfume between my breasts and giggle at myself. I have no idea why I put perfume there; it’s habit from years of watching my mother get ready. I muss my long, wavy hair just a bit and step back from the mirror. Not bad for trying to be quick. Bette’s feeding Angie with some of the pumped milk. It’s nine o’clock and once she’s asleep, I will have Bette all to myself. There should be no interruptions for about four hours if I get started with her immediately.

I lift the black, lacy, most see through camisole in my wardrobe, and look at my tightening stomach. There is a small, faint scar and a few faded stretch marks, but the saggy paunch is far less pronounced. My breasts are full and fill the top to bursting. Hopefully they will distract Bette from any of these less pleasing aspects.

I feel bad for setting her up like this, but I’m ready, more than ready. My hormones have settled quite a bit, but I can still see her do something entirely mundane or domestic and feel a sharp thrill of arousal. It’s time; she just doesn’t realize it yet.

The matching boy cut panties lay low on my hips as I turn in the mirror to see if my ass is firmer. I smile. It is, and there are two soft swells that peek out from beneath the thin, lacy fabric. I hear Bette walk into the room and set the monitor on the nightstand. I hasten to lean back against the counter and put the girls out there on full display. I get into position just as she walks in and heads straight for the toilet. She sits and scrubs her face, not even noticing I’m in here.

I let her finish and she stands, flushing the toilet and making her way to the sink. She almost runs completely into me before realizing I’m here. She smiles warmly as she turns on the water and takes a pump of soap, lathering her hands as she says, “Sorry, I didn’t even see you when I came in.”

I smile seductively at her as she rinses and dries her hands. “Thanks okay.” I reach up and brush the haphazard curls from her eyes. They’re still deep set with worried exhaustion just as they have been since the day I woke up in the hospital. Maybe, if we can make love, she’ll see for herself that I’m not fragile or going to fade away. She gazes into my eyes with a sweet smile as she leans in and gives me an open and far more romantic kiss than I have received in the past few weeks. My heart is lightened and my courage emboldened as I run my hands down her hair and neck, and pull myself tight against her strong body.

She reaches up and takes my face in her hand, deepening the kiss for just a moment before pulling back and smiling warmly. She strokes my cheeks with her thumbs. “Are you coming to bed? I’m exhausted…”

I raise an incredulous eyebrow at her and she strokes it with a sigh. Her grin is too sweet as she kisses me chastely one last time before making her way to the bed and curling up under the covers. I follow her devastated and nonplussed, and watch as she immediately falls asleep. This was foolish of me, absolutely foolish. I go to my dresser, pull out some regular night clothes, and start to change only to stop. I look back over to her sound asleep. Even if she weren’t, I don’t know why, but I feel the need for privacy.

I walk into the bathroom and change quickly, turning off the lamp, and curling up under the covers across the giant expanse of king-sized bed that separates us, and gaze out at the dark night sky through the balcony doors as I cry quietly. She didn’t mean to wound me, but she did. I know she’s tired and worried, but she refuses all offers of help. I have no idea what any of this means or how to fix it, and it hurts.


 

“Hello?”

“Hey Chris!”

His voice is deep and warm and entirely welcome. “Hey Tom. Are you back in LA?”

I can hear the smile in his voice. “Yes, actually, I just arrived. I spoke to Alice on my way out of town like Bette suggested, and I interviewed with Jamie this morning. It’s shit pay, but it’s enough to afford a small one bedroom in WeHo. She took one look at my credentials and hired me on the spot and I just signed a six month lease at Meditteranean West.”

I sigh. He was no trouble to have, but he needs his own space and so do we. “That’s great Tom! Do you need help with anything?”

He chuckles. “No. I appreciate it, but I want to do this on my own. It’s my first time acting as a fully functioning adult. I’ll be honest Chris, it feels amazing!” I smile. I remember what it was like when I had no one but myself either. It was scary, but he’s right, it felt amazing to operate my own world. I wish I would have had the support and family he does. I had no one, no one but me. “I’m having some stuff delivered this evening, essentials, and then I’m going shopping, so I can’t stop by tonight, but I’ll try tomorrow. Tell that beautiful family of yours that I love them and I’ll see you all soon.”

I wipe quickly at the tears and clear my throat. “I will. We love you too. See you soon.” The line goes dead and I gaze at the phone. I don’t know if I’ve really accepted that he’s in my life again. It’s like it hasn’t sunk in.


Continued in Chapter 10 – Upon my honor and my life…

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