This story has been set to a rating of PG-13. Age verification is required to proceed.
Helena Moreland-Peabody was as bright as a button this Monday morning, and Tina knew why – today was Dylan’s last day of casting in New York and tomorrow she would be home for a whole month.
‘Morning,’ said Tina.
‘Perfect, thank you.’ Tina went to the circular glass table set for two. Today it also had a pewter bud vase containing a pretty flower. ‘Oh. Sticky phacella,’ she said, leaning down towards it.
Helena glanced across. ‘Kurt brought it in. They grow by the gate down at the main road.’
Tina put her phone down and looked at the plant more closely. Five wide petals in a vivid shade of royal blue with a heart like an ivory-colored doily. Tiny white stamens stuck out like aerials. I wonder why nature does that? she thought. Make the most important bit the most fragile?
‘Interesting thing in the Times today,’ Helena said.
‘There.’ The Englishwoman indicated the copy of the LA Times she’d been reading, left open on the kitchen island. Tina reached for it. ‘Front page, lower half. That Milner character implying Bette led him up the garden path about opioids.’ Tina felt her jaw tighten as she looked for the relevant column. ‘Bloody cheek, if you ask me. I expect Bette’s about ready to bop him one.’
Tina tried to breathe calmly through her nose. She hoped it wasn’t quite as Helena described. And then she started to read.
Bette was walking unhurriedly back towards the cabin after a pre-breakfast stroll. Dani had woken up in an odd mood, so she’d decided to give them both some space. They’d agreed to meet at the restaurant for breakfast, after which they’d booked to go riding on the beach. Bette’s heart gave a little flip. She adored horses. Her whole life, ever since she could remember, they were her favourite animal. Tina said it figured: something-something ‘big and powerful and sexy’ but also something-something ‘smart and gentle’.
Suddenly Bette stopped in her tracks. She looked around. The forest was empty of humans. Great, towering ponderosa pines in every direction, slicing sunlight into thousands of unique geometries, and everywhere this sweet vanilla scent. So mild it was almost an ache. Delicious.