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    Chapter 5

    On a Monday morning in early January, her first back at work after a rather miserable holiday season, Bette was sitting curled into the corner of the sofa in her office. It was near-impossible to get privacy in the ridiculous glass room that Zakarian had fashioned for his Artistic Director, but this almost worked. People walked past now and again, casting distracting shadows, but it was quiet and she was making inroads on a slew of scouting reports from Europe and South America when there was a tap on the door.

    Bette tilted her chin upwards, so her PA knew it was okay to enter.

    ‘Hey,’ said Ethan.

    ‘What do you need?’

    ‘He wants to see you.’

    ‘What, now?’

    Ethan nodded. Bette pressed her lips together. She’d emailed Isaac the night before, to let him know she’d be working from home, but he’d insisted she come into the gallery, and now, within an hour of her arriving, he was interrupting her.

    ‘Any idea why?’

    Ethan shook his head, his features blank: either he knew and he wasn’t saying (unlikely) or he was worried that Bette would go off on him (not unheard of). As Bette got her feet, she thought about poor James, and all the times when he’d functioned as a human punching bag.

    ‘So, how’s your life?’ she asked, going to get her dove-grey Alaia jacket from the peg behind her desk.

    Ethan looked like a rabbit in headlights. ‘M- my life?’

    ‘Yeah. Are you seeing anyone?’ Bette studied the young man, a tall blonde with a sweet, almost gawky manner that she’d grown to appreciate. ‘Actually, y’know what? Don’t answer that.’

    ‘Uh, no,’ Ethan said quickly. ‘I mean, yes.’

    Bette aligned her shirt cuffs, eyes crinkled in amusement. ‘Which is it?’

    ‘Yes.’ Ethan’s face broke into a broad smile. ‘I am seeing someone.’

    The smile spread to Bette’s face too. ‘Good,’ she nodded. ‘Good. Take the afternoon off, okay? Go get your someone and show them a good time.’

    A small laugh escaped Ethan’s lungs. ‘Thanks, but I- I can’t. I have to—’

    ‘It’s an order, Ethan,’ Bette said, and dismissed him with another tilt of her chin.

    ***

    Pausing for a moment outside Isaac’s huge red-and-black office door, Bette figured she knew what he wanted to talk about. Over Christmas, Zakarian had been left off Apollo magazine’s top ten list of galleries. That kind of crap mattered to Isaac, and now Bette roused herself to pretend it mattered to her too.

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    Comments

    1. Okay, it means lots of money to accept this offer…. but will it make Bette happy? I think not. Professionally maybe so but personally, she is going to be miserable … traveling, working 60 to 80 hours per week and being on the other side of the world from Tina. Time for Bette to decide what in her life is the most important – her professional life or her relationships….. Time to put her efforts into winning Tina back and getting on that road to true happiness.

      Thanks for the chapter…

      • Hi MickiMacki! *waves* I love your name, haha
        thanks very much for reading and commenting on this story. I’m so pleased you like it and hope you stick with it. It’s going to get worse before it gets better but I’m a Tibetter so don’t worry ;-)
        L

      • Hi Finn422! *waves* Great to see you here and reading my story. :-) I’m so pleased you’re enjoying it. The next little bit is a bit of a rough ride but don’t worry – just enjoy it and all will be well….
        thanks again
        L

    2. I love this no-nonsense Tina and won’t take Bette’s crap anymore! Yet, she’s super tender and always there to support Bette.

      And Bette needs to get off the sidelines, tell Pippa it’s over and done and get out of that nowhere, extended sleepover! Pick a lane Porter, the only one you really want- the road back to Tina!

      PPS – loving this story!

      • Hi Kira! How are you? Great to see you here :-) Thank you so much for reading this story and for commenting.
        I love ‘pick a lane, Porter’ – that’s a lot of her problem in GQ, isn’t it? Here, she’s just really really scared. She knows she wants Tina but she just…. can’t….. get there
        I love writing Tina in this tender way. She’s so lovely.
        Anyway, hope you enjoy the rest of the ride! Thanks again for reading my writing
        L

    3. Hi my Scottish friend,

      What, what will Bette do??? She’s making progress though with asking to talk to Tina & then actually doing it & on top of that agreeing to the dinner to discuss with Angie!!

      And Tina not allowing Bette to hide behind her moods or fears & avoid telling the whole truth.

      And I agree with Martha that Bette will be miserable if she accepts the offer – she won’t like being away from Tina or Angie. Quite the dilemma.

      And I certainly agree with Kira that Bette needs to get herself out of the ineffective situation with P. Get her gone & sooner than later – like the next chapter!!! And no, they don’t need to be friends – work colleagues if you insist!!

      Great chapter, lots of feelings, what ifs & an uncertain future.

      Thanks for the gift of your talent!!!

      • Hello my Texas buddy!
        Thank you so much for keeping up with my story. I really appreciate it. :-)
        Your deep, devoted antipathy towards Carrie and Pippa makes me laugh. I promise they are exiting the stage as of now (well, there might be the odd namecheck – sorry!)
        This tale is going to get worse before it gets better, I’m afraid, but I hope you will stick around for it.
        Hope you’re well!
        L

    4. Am loving this, especially the comical bits! You really do have a way with words.
      I’m wondering now if after the meal together and with Angie, she won’t do it, especially if Tina spills her feelings….
      Don’t keep us waiting to long …..

      • Hi Janice! *waves* Great to see you here. Thank you so much for reading my story and for taking the time to comment. It is so much appreciated. :-)
        I’m so pleased you get a laugh out of the jokes too. I love the humour in some of the great writers on this site. There really are some very very talented people here.
        Thanks again for your time. Next chapter is a bit rough but rest assured they’re headed somewhere gooooooood….
        take care!
        L

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