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Bette smiled nervously but still sat quietly and watched the traffic for a few minutes. She was very deep in thought. After their coffee arrived, she fiddled with the plastic stirrer. Finally, she reached for Shane’s hand. “I’m fine, Shane. Really.” Shane leaned in towards Bette and gently stroked her arm. “Where did you go? Care to share? I’m a pretty good listener. Or we can just sit. Either works for me. But I’m here. Just want you to know that.” Bette looked at her best friend. “Yes. Yes, you are. You have always been there for me. And, Shane? I find that we say this more often these days which is a very good thing but I do love you very much. And I am really counting on you to remember that. Because…. well. There is something I need to tell you and I have no idea at all how you’re going to take it.” “What? Whoa! Bette? Time out. Are you okay?” Shane was clearly shaken.
Bette took Shane’s hand. “Shhhhh. Yes, I’m fine. Totally fine. Really. Fine. Look, Shane. I guess the best thing would be for me to just ask you to listen to everything I have to say. Then we can talk about whatever it is you might want or need to discuss. Does that sound okay with you?” “Wow Bette! You’re really freaking me out! What the hell is going on?” Bette took a big drink of her coffee. “Oh God Shane, I’m sorry. I’m not handling this the right way at all. But…” Bette looked away. “It’s such a long story. And so hard to put into words. I’ve played it out in my head so many times and, well, it’s impossible for even me to fathom. I’ve never struggled like this before. Struggled to put my thoughts and feelings into words. I usually know what to say. But…. how to say this? How to explain? How to lay it out there. How to…” “Jesus, Bette!” Shane interrupted. “Okay. Okay. I’m sorry. Let me just start from the beginning I guess.” Bette took in a deep breath, let it out and centered herself.
“You know that I keep in close contact with Sharon Fairbanks? And Irwin? And Howie? Right?” “Yes, I know you and Sharon are friends. Why you give that woman…. Well, I won’t go there. But yes, she and Irwin and Howie all supported your campaign. And Sharon is an art collector. And you and she serve on some committees together. Why do you ask?” Bette sighed. “Yes, that is all true but there is so much more to our relationship than that. This goes back a really long way Shane, to a very complicated time in all of our lives. Please try to remember that when you feel like throttling me. And you will. Trust me. Everything was so messed up back then. There was so much fucking dyke drama.”