It’s six a.m. when Tina and I sit down on the back patio stairs and watch the sunrise together. Sleep was a fickle friend last night and I spent the majority of my time holding my wife, gazing at her, releasing my worries into the universe as we clung to each other, cried with each other, and made love to each other throughout the night. Our bond is now stronger than even I would have imagined. My family means the world to me, and I would rather die than leave them.
It was difficult getting ready this morning. She didn’t want to let go of me anymore than I wanted to release her. We didn’t realize how difficult it is to do mundane tasks one-handed, but we managed to stay touching throughout most of our morning ritual. So here I sit, in my most “humble-but-elegant” black Armani pantsuit, as Joyce demanded. I don’t go on the stand today, but first impressions are apparently the most helpful, or the most damning. Kit and Malcolm will be alternating between half days at work and staying with Angie and the twins. Alice, Dana, Helena, Carmen, and Shane will be with us at the courthouse. Dylan and Tasha are going to work and will stop by after. It is a small comfort to know that I will not be alone, but it’s a tremendous comfort to sit here with my wife, enjoying a cup of hot coffee and watching the darkness become grey as the sun peeks up over the edge of the Hollywood hills.
We’re quiet as we sit here together, even L.A. is quiet, as if the city is aware of what we’re about to face today. The silence is broken by the light footsteps coming up the side of the house until we see Shane passing in front of the gate. I call out to her. “Hey!”
She turns and peers through the gate, smiling as she says, “Hey.”
I lift a hand in greeting and Tina chimes in with a smile of her own. “Hey.”
Tina takes a sip of her coffee as Shane comes closer and I smile knowingly as I ask, “What are you doing out so early?”
Shane lifts her hands, grinning as she says, “Going home.”
I smirk and drawl, “From?”
She rocks her head from side to side with a mock laugh, “Ha, ha, ha,” and completely avoids the question. “I can’t believe today is the day. You look great.”
I smile again. “Nice dodge. Uh, not quite my best, but it will do.”
I rest my chin on the hand propped on my knee as I consider her speculatively. Tina strokes my other knee and says, “Yeah, she needed to dress more conservatively today for the trial.” Her hand wanders up to my forearm, stroking me with her knuckles as I take another sip of my coffee. I can’t help the enormous grin on my face as Tina’s warm, delicate touch leaves gooseflesh with each smooth stroke, reminding me of the incredibly fulfilling night we spent together.
This goes on for a long, silent moment before Shane drops her head and squints her eyes. Her voice is low and playful as asks, “What have you guys been doing?”
Tina turns to me with a raised eyebrow and I glare at Shane. Tina lets out a soft chuckle, an overdramatic grin lighting her face as she turns to Shane and quirks her head. Shane smirks, saying, “Ah ha…,” as points at each of us.
I take a sip of my coffee before I go back to the original subject. “So, what? Did you spend the night with Carmen?”
She smiles and shakes her head. “No, we were just with Alice.”
Tina’s voice is curious as she asks, “With Alice?”
Shane tucks her hands into her pants pockets, nodding sadly. “Yeah, yeah, she’s um… what can I say? She’s really upset about that whole thing with Tasha and Dana.”
Tina shakes her head. “Oh God, that is a disaster waiting to happen.”
I nod, taking another sip of coffee. “Alice said she would choose Dana the night we talked about it. I don’t understand what she’s trying to do.”
Shane blows out a breath. “Well, she thinks that she needs to work on this with Tasha. Give it a real chance.”
I roll my eyes. “She can’t be serious. She has to know that no amount of work is going to make her love Tasha more. She admitted that she’s in love Dana and would choose her. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, least of all Tasha, but that’s inevitable and this is only going to drag it out longer.”
Tina sighs. “Poor Tasha.”
Shane and I nod in agreement and chorus, “Yeah.” There’s a long moment of silence as we consider just how much Tasha is going to be hurting when Alice figures it all out. In a way, I’m glad it’s Tasha because I know that she’ll not only handle the situation with grace, but she won’t be destroyed. She’s strong and well-adjusted. Dana though, I don’t know how she’s going to handle this.
Shane sighs again. “Well, hey, I’m going to go shower and get dressed. I’ll meet you guys back here as soon as I’m done.”
I take a deep breath. For a moment there, I’d forgotten about the pendulum swinging above my head. Tina links her arm through mine in comfort and says, “Okay, we’ll be here.”
Shane waves and I smile sadly at her as she walks back through the gate. I turn and catch Tina’s eyes. She leans forward and gives me a chaste kiss, the distinguishable taste that is markedly her lingering and reminding me that she’s with me, inside of me, even though I won’t be able to maintain this physical closeness with her when I’ll need it most. I rest my forehead against hers and sigh as she strokes my hair. Today is just the beginning, but I’m going to get through it. No matter what, it’s not my last time with her.