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    Chapter 7

    Bette’s car nosed gingerly through the traffic as she sat in the quiet, insulated back seat reading her notes. It felt daft sometimes. The journey wasn’t even two miles, she could walk it easily, but on days like today half an hour to concentrate was precious. Not to mention the weather . . .

    ‘What is wrong with this country?’ she murmured, looking out at the grey, blustery street as her phone pinged with an alert.

    She checked the lock screen, smiled, then went back to her notes. There was a musical guest today, singing a cover of ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac. She tapped her pen against her lip, trying to recall that song . . . Didn’t Tina sing that in the shower? Or was it while she was cooking? In the early days, she played music everywhere in the house . . .

    The car moved off again and fifteen minutes later Bette was stepping out and striding up a wide, horseshoe-shaped courtyard towards a row of glass doors that were continually in motion at one of the world’s truly 24/7 workplaces.

    A quick good morning and a flash of her pass to the woman on reception, and then she was in the lift up to the fourth floor, stepped out, said hi to someone she knew, and into the staff kitchen to make up a flask of green tea – more hellos, quick catch-ups about the weekend – then her assistant found her and they walk-and-talked down the corridor before disappearing into a door labelled ‘WH Production’.

    An hour later Bette was talking with the same assistant – Kyle – as everyone left the room.

    ‘I swear, I’ve never seen it,’ Bette insisted.

    ‘Well, I wouldn’t tell anyone that,’ Kyle laughed, and then he tapped the shoulder of the young woman in front of him. ‘Hey, Becky’ – Kyle pointed at Bette – ‘never seen Harry Potter!’

    ‘What?!’ Becky’s eyes were huge.

    ‘You said not to tell anyone and then you tell her?’ Bette protested.

    The young man just laughed and walked away, leaving Becky staring at Bette in a way that Bette had become used to.

    ‘If you want to go and see it sometime . . .?’ the young woman said, biting her lip.

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    1. This chapter is sad…. she is with her cats and taking phone calls from those she loves and they are thousands of miles away…. its been two years since they delivered Angie to Yale…. and Bette’s world has collapsed. And to beat it all, she is now relegated to the fringes of the art world and barely friends with Tina. Perhaps Bette will take on the attributes of a phoenix and rise from the ashes. But at the age of 59, starting your life over does not seem to be a great positive. And for all that Bette has done in her life up to this point, all the relationships she has had, it seems very sad to be where she is at.

      Thanks for the chapter….

      • lol…. well. at least I know where the one-star ratings are coming from!

        Martha, Bette is held with such love and affection by so many people. It means a lot to me to show how sometimes families break down but they can be rebuilt in new ways. You think Bette is a tragic figure but to me the tragedy is that you have such a narrow definition of happiness. People can be happy without a partner, they can be happy when their kids are far away, they can be happy in the love of animals, they can be happy when they know they did the right thing, they can be happy with friends, they can be happy in a new city… the list goes on and on. If I can never convince you this, please be of no doubt that I know I’m right. Thank you so much for your feedback. Even though I’m sad that this story isn’t to your liking, I do appreciate your time.
        All best

    2. Oh my goodness I did not expect this!
      When I got to page 3 of chapters 7, I went back to the start to re-read it cos I though I’d missed something!
      What a sad chapter, TV dinners, cats, loneliness, so far away from Angie.
      I can’t believe it’s taken this turn of events, you’ve certainly shocked me!
      Can’t wait for your next post to see where this leads! Brilliant !!

      Who would have thought Bette Porter would end up as ‘ The cat woman from old London Town ‘!

      • Hi Janice24 – *waves* – ok, that’s another vote for sad, sad, sad…. I’m mystified. Maybe it’s too much realism, but…. surely everyone who’s ‘happy’ isn’t coupled-up, living near the kids and eating home-cooked meals every night? I know people who would love to have Bette’s life. Dammit, I wouldn’t mind it myself, lol

        Thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate your time and hope you liked the writing.

        (PS Bette is no further away from Angie than Tina is and that’s just called having a kid at college…)

    3. My dear Largo,

      What you are not seeing is the Bette has suffered a huge blow to her professional life with the death of Zucarrian which has wipeout all her financial resources she had built up for the past 30 years. It has to have had an diminishing effect on her professional standing in the art community. All these galleries which were associated with her name are now no more. And that is world wide. That has to be a devasting event in her life… perhaps a much as her divorce from Tina. And she is working out of it, but its going to take a while. She appears to be self-supporting. But she does not appear to exactly in a position where she can fly to New York to be with Angie on whim. And that is all within the last 18 months? Her professional life is a big part of who she is and since she is a single empty nester, it is more of her life than for most. Bette has been knock on her ass big time, and without warning. That is huge for Bette.

      • First of all, I love that we’re talking about this. :-) It’s late here in Scotland so I have to go to bed after I write this, but please do reply and I’ll see it later.

        I do think I get the scale of the blow to Bette’s professional life, but I’ve drawn on the type of resilience and integrity that we see in canon. Bette’s has been humiliated in the art world before. When Leo was installed as her replacement, when she was fired at Melvin’s funeral, when she had to resign from CU over the Jodi scandal, and then of course the Hammer exhibit. So she gets back up. She fights. And here, in my story, she shows integrity by putting herself on the line to keep the promises she made. I love that and I think it’s plausible too.

        The timeframe is almost two years exactly. And she can’t let the grass grow under her feet for too long because these artists need paid. Bear in mind too that I said the art-world ‘press’ had a field day with the Zakarian scandal. There will have been many individuals who knew Bette’s role, knew that she was taking steps to fix it, and admired and helped her.

        I’m truly sorry you don’t enjoy what I’ve written, but that’s life. I love this story. I love where I’m taking them. I think it’s beautiful.

        Thanks, Martha

    4. L

      Wow, I did not see this coming, but I like how you are exploring Bette’s life as a single older woman. Yes her integrity would motivate her to make things right with the artists. Her life although solitary is settled, she is content with where she is at at 59. I sense though, things are not going to remain quiet and uneventful for long. She is still connected to Tina and we all know their love story has not ended.

      Looking forward to your next chapter.


      • Hi K! Thanks so much for reading this and commenting. :-) I really, really loved writing this chapter, for exactly the reasons you named: to explore the life of a single older woman. I think where Bette is now – divorced, child at college – is very common. Less common is the tumult in her work life, but people do lose jobs, get laid off, etc. And I guess I’m interested in what happens when you take the money away. Wealth is a huge insulator in life. Losing it can reveal things about people. I loved showing what is underneath Bette’s designer clothes!

        You are right too, of course, about Tina. This is a Tibette story. I am still thinking it through a bit, but I do know where they are headed and I hope you and others will stick around for that.

        Thanks so much, my friend. :-)

    5. Oh wow.: :0
      This story was started from something fluffy turned into harsh reality. Need to adjust the expectation for sure!
      What I like about this chapter, you made it clear that Bette is someone with integrity and chose to do the right thing, though as consequence she must letting go her own comfort! Something that significantly part of her image all this time like those luxuries and high end/glamorous life style which part of her work life/identity. And somehow, I am keen to see what will be revealed from this ‘new’ Bette. And yeah.. a bit off to read how she and Tina seems like being drifted apart. Glad that Angie is keeping them glued as family.. though it sounds a bit ironic.
      Well.. let’s see what will happen next.

      Thanks for sharing your stories, Largo ;-)

      • Hello Merlion! *waves* Great to meet you and thank you for reading my story and for commenting. It is much appreciated. :-)

        I’m so glad you took away from this chapter the fact that Bette has acted with huge integrity here. I really love that about her. She has always had a bit of the martyr about her, but here there’s truly a point to it! She is giving up a lot but also learning about herself, how to listen to what she wants and needs.

        You are right, too, about the family. Imagine if they didn’t have Angie??? But they do! And she is integral to what’s going to happen.

        Thanks again for reading and I hope you will enjoy where it goes. Have a good week!

    6. Hi, Largo! :) This is my first time to comment on your story and though I have to get up for work in a few hours, I’ve got to tell you first that this is a well-written, well-thought-out chapter like all the other chapters of this story and the other lovely, well-written stories that you have shared with us before. And no, I don’t think you’re writing about a pathetic, unhappy Bette here. I would say Bette is in a good place here, literally and figuratively. She seems to be content with her new pursuits, still excited in exploring London and the arts and has the love and support of family and friends, both near and far. She has even made peace about her relationship with Tina which is quite a relief. And if other readers see nothing but sadness in this chapter, well they’re looking at this from a different lens. If there are hints of sadness here, that’s okay because that’s part of life which, like everything else, will all come to pass. It’s okay to be sad sometimes. And not all people who are alone, like Bette here, is lonely.
      One last thing, it must have been devastating for Bette when her career and the empire she was painstakingly building came crashing down. It probably took time for her to find her footing in London. So the very fact that she’s in this good, stable place and she has managed to start over at age 59 is quite an achievement. It’s okay to start again.
      Now, I’m curious about Tina’s side of the story. Is she still punishing herself for leaving Bette? Has she also found a new path of self-renewal or still wallowing in remorse and regret? I’m definitely looking forward to how you’ll wrap this up and somehow reunite our beloved but rarely-on-the-same-page Tibette in 3 more chapters. Thank you very much for writing and sharing this story! Take care and please keep on writing, Largo! :)

      • Hi mightymouse! *waves* So lovely to see you here. Thank you for reading this story and for commenting. :-)

        Can I just say that you have saved me with your comment that ‘not all people who are alone are lonely’? I wish I could have thought of that. It’s so true and is the beating heart of this chapter. I see this Bette as someone who is wounded, but still saying ‘yes’ to life. I find that beautiful and moving.

        You ask about Tina…. You are right to ask about Tina….. In case you haven’t noticed, the chapters in this story alternate the POV from one to the other, so the next chapter is a Tina chapter and some answers will be forthcoming.

        Thanks again for your comment. It is very encouraging to me, when I know that other readers have been saddened and maybe turned off a little? That makes *me* sad, in turn, but I have to write what interests me or what’s the point? lol

        Have a great week, mightymouse

    7. Life choices! Bette has come to realize that her life choices to be loyal to her staff, artists and acquaintances were important enough to give back back all that she had gained. The proposal with Z was risky at most when she took it. Losing Tina was the biggest loss of her life so this too will pass. Like many women of her age she has had to start from the ashes. I think one of the earlier replies, she will be the phoenix. Life is not not always roses, right Largo? PPS

      • Hi majicspider60! Hope you’re well and thank you for commenting. :-)

        Love what you say about Bette’s loyalty and how important it was for her to give back. I think she’s just huge for doing that. And Tee is proud if her and tells her that, which is lovely.

        You’re right too – everything passes. And yes, it’s not uncommon for women to find themselves having to start again. Bette is the phoenix. And she’s learned so much on the way. I hope that message of optimism is there, alongside the losses. That was my aim, anyway.

        Thanks so much. I needed a little encouragement and this is perfect. Have a good day!

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