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Tina smiled. ‘Hi,’ she said softly. ‘I’m Tina.’
Bette’s face broke into a beaming smile. Her eyes welled with tears. She laughed. Tina laughed too. And then Bette gathered up Tina’s right hand, kissed it, and said, ‘Hi. I’m Bette.’
There are moments in life that are longed for and don’t live up to their billing; and there are moments that arrive without fanfare but sear themselves onto our hearts for ever. This moment was the latter. Because for all the many thousands of times that Bette Porter and Tina Kennard had separately fantasised about reconcilation, neither woman had ever envisaged that it would happen when they were sitting at a breakfast counter at two a.m., having shared a golf video, and with a precious new grandson asleep nearby.
As they kissed, and kissed again, touching each other’s faces and gazing, endlessly gazing, gradually they felt the need to speak.
Bette attempted it first. But every time she tried, she just found herself overcome, shaking her head and smiling. Tina laughed through her own tears, sighing with relief.
Finally, Bette got a word out.
‘Years,’ she said.
Tina nodded. She bit her bottom lip, then whispered, ‘I love you.’
Now Bette nodded. ‘I love you too.’
Their lips met again. A gentle, heartfelt kiss followed by a huge sigh, and then a quiet, slightly conspiratorial laugh.
‘I don’t know what to do,’ Bette confessed, kissing Tina’s hand again. ‘I’m feeling suddenly very unpractised at this.’
Tina nodded, holding Bette’s gaze in a way that let her know she understood.
‘We can take it slow,’ she said. ‘All that matters is that we know, right?’
Bette searched Tina’s eyes. ‘We know . . .?’
‘Where we’re headed.’
‘Right.’ Bette nodded. A beat. ‘Or we’re already there.’
Tina smiled. ‘You mean back together?’
‘Well, yeah. We’re already back together, but we don’t need to rush things – other things – if we’re still a little . . .’
Bette nodded some more. She was very conflicted. Part of her wanted to take Tina by the hand and go straight to bed, to touch her, to taste her, to lie with her the way she’d longed to lie with her for God knows how long. But another part of her, a part she wished would fuck off, still counselled caution. Why?