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Is this love
“How’s your stalker?” Helena asked as she and Bette walked towards the squash court for a game. Bette twirled her racquet in her hand and regarded Helena
“What stalker would this be?”
“The old timer “
Bette laughed “I don’t think she is a stalker “
“She’s got the hots for you – you said it yourself “
“It’s just odd that’s all “
“At first she seemed really nice and I was taken by her but for heaven’s sake she’s my mom’s friend – they were at college together. She pushed my dad into asking my mom for a date – without her my parents might not have got together – I might not have existed “
“So, it’s just strange – is that all holding you back?”
“She seemed genuinely interesting at first but she just started to ask strange questions and also my mother is in with the conspiracy “
“You think there is a conspiracy?”
“My mother asked me a few weeks ago whether I liked blondes or not “
“And that’s evidence why?”
“Emma is blonde “
“And do you like blonde’s?”
“I don’t think I have a huge preference one way or the other. But if I had to confess a weakness it is for blonde’s with hazel eyes “
“And what colour is Emma’s eyes?”
“Hazel “said Bette pulling a face
“So would your mom really conspire with Emma to get the two of you together?”
Bette opened the door of the squash court and hammered the ball hard against the court wall before turning and looking at her oldest friend
“My mom wants to see me settled down with a nice woman. I think I said more than I should have to my dad earlier – that will get back to mom “
“What did you say?”
“I went to lunch with him – you know every time I go to collect him from the prosecutor’s office that I get wolf whistles and all of that. We were talking and I think I just gave away that I am lonely”
“You have said that a few times in the last few months – you know you have absolutely everything going for you “
“I know – fantastic business, lovely house – really good and true friends “Bette sighed
“For about the last six months or so I have been thinking that there has to be more. “
“A partner?” Helena filled in
“I see my mom and dad together and even after 35 years – that’s how long they have been a couple. They are really happy and in love. I know there have been rocky patches but by and large they get on great. I was brought up watching them working together and sharing each other’s highs and lows. I want that so much Helena “
“Ironic isn’t it when I would love the same thing and that’s because I haven’t seen that from my parents “
“Peggy worships you and so did Sam “
“I know he did and I miss him – your dad has been as much a dad to me as he was “
“He adores you – loves grossing you out of course “
“He crept up behind me at the gallery opening and told me some dirty joke “
“He was pretending to be his father “
Helena looked at Bette
“The models aren’t doing anything for you are they?”
“Just making me frustrated “
Helena chuckled “I refuse to believe that you are not getting some relief from any of them “
“Four months since I last had sex “Bette replied raising one eyebrow
“Four months – you have had about 6 different dates since then “
“I know and it’s been my decision to dump all 6 of them – I am not going out on any superficial dates again. There has to be some potential to have a meaningful relationship with the next woman I take out to dinner “
“And what about this older woman – she will have a lot of experience – what do she do?”
“Kennard, Truman and Black – the law firm – you know it?”
“Yes – Peggy once dated one of the lawyers “
“Well the first part of the equation is Emma – Emma Kennard “
“Wow – now that’s serious stuff. I heard that they are on the verge of signing the lease on more office space and taking on more associates”
“Well that’s Emma – mom says that she is driven and dad was hinting that she was pretty ruthless. That’s another thing “
“Today – I started asking dad some questions about Emma – I was discrete “
“As I would expect “
“Dad just said that she was driven beyond a point that was healthy “
“That sounds like a warning “Helena agreed
“So, it looks like mom and Emma are in a conspiracy and dad doesn’t want any part of it”
Helena considered the theory “Yes – it sounds that way to me – what are you going to do about it?”
“That’s the thing isn’t it? I don’t want to just slap Emma down which I would if she was anyone other than a close friend of my parents. I have to not give any signs of knowing or even less welcoming an advance from Emma “
“Would it really be that terrible – she’s a mature woman sure but she will also be intelligent and fantastically wealthy and if she’s been a lesbian for a long time, she’s going to be very experienced in bed “
Bette pulled a squash ball from her pocket and bounced it against Helena’s forehead
“Well get hold of yourself Peabody – this isn’t funny “
“It is “
“It isn’t “
“Get over yourself Porter – if the worst thing that happens to you in the next few weeks is that you get chased by a fantastically wealthy lesbian who just happens to be the same age as your folks you aren’t doing that badly. Just be polite – she’s not going to jump on your unless you give her signals that you are interested in her. Though you are protesting a little too much”
“Just for that Helena I am going to thrash you – come on – let’s play “
“You got a plane to catch?”
“I am going to the theatre tonight “
“No – single ticket – someone gave a ticket to my dad and he gave it to me “
“Well just check the fingerprints – you don’t want to find yourself sitting next to a lawyer who will paw you “
Helena laughed knowing that making Bette cross was only going to make her more determined than ever to thrash her in the game. Bette shuddered – what if Helena was right and sitting beside her at the theatre tonight was Emma Kennard – that just wasn’t funny.
“The theatre?” Tina exclaimed as her mother stood in the living room of her apartment. Tina had been lazing around the apartment all day. She had been intending to tidy the place but instead she had wasted the whole day lying on the sofa channel hoping and watching any old rubbish that caught her eye. She felt like a child being caught stealing from her mom’s purse – her mom was standing there looking like the high-flying lawyer that she was in a light grey business suit and killer heels and there was Tina in her too-big for her pyjamas. Tina knew that there were few bigger sins in her mom’s eyes than spending the whole day in your pyjamas doing nothing.
Tina could see her mother’s eyes scanning the room like she was a crime scene investigation officer – she had already taken in the coffee table containing three unwashed mugs, the plate with the empty candy bar wrappers and the ready to eat meal that she had eaten straight from the plastic tray.
“Yes darling – the theatre – would you like this ticket?”
“What are you doing with a theatre ticket?” Tina answered the question with another question –another one of Emma’s cardinal sins.
“I was given it by a client “
“Who couldn’t spring for two tickets?”
“I am told its one of the hottest shows in town “
Tina walked across and looked at the ticket “Wow – it is “
“So “Emma said sounding irritated “Would you damn well like it or am I holding this in my hand just for the exercise?”
She thrust the ticket at her daughter who took it.
“I was reading a really positive review of this in Time Out “
“A thank you wouldn’t go astray “
“Thanks mom “Tina smiled
“So “Emma gave the room a less than subtle gesture with her hand
“WHAT have you been doing all day – no work?”
“The centre is cutting back – I have had to drop a day and a half to keep my job “
Tina could see the look of frustration and anger sweep into her mother’s face. Tina knew that Emma wanted her to get a “proper “job – one that was well paid, required her to wear a business suit and have flunkies to make her coffee. Instead Tina worked for a very low wage at a community centre – hardly a fitting use of her expensive New York schooling and 4 years at Yale.
“Go on – say whatever is on your mind “Tina challenged.
Emma counted to five – then ten
“Merely that as my only child I want the best for you and that this so-called job of yours is not good for you”
“You would rather I was unemployed “Tina said
“No “Emma caught herself before she really told Tina what she thought of her so-called employment “I want you to fulfil your undoubted potential and be happy “
Tina had taken a lot of years of this – her mother loved her but was disappointed by her choices and lack of perceived success. She turned away – knowing that this conversation could launch very easily into an argument that would fester and upset both of them.
“Just don’t okay mom “
Emma would normally let the matter drop but she tended to want the last word
“One of these days when you are a mother yourself you will realise that my concerns are purely because I love you “
“And it’s not because you are ashamed of me and cannot boast to your partners of my achievements against that of their oh so successful kids “Tina fired back
Emma winched – that comment had hit the target because there was a tiny grain of truth in it. She was senior partner for numerous reasons but that job came with a fair few bullets coming in her direction – and there had been comments about Tina that made her blood boil.
Emma did her best to regain her cool – the problem was that Tina was a combination of both her mom’s and there were times when Emma fought with Tina aware that it followed a path that a row with Kate would.
“Enjoy the theatre “Emma said coldly and turned – she needed to get out of Tina’s apartment with its untidiness everywhere and back to her spotless apartment with views over Central Park. She had an urge to dive headlong into a large glass of wine. Tina watched her mother go and looked at the ticket. Exactly what the hell had all that been about?
Why would her mother come all the way from her office just to hand over a single theatre ticket? Tina scratched her head and put the ticket on the table beside the door.
She looked at her living room and saw all the things that she was sure had irritated her mother – the pile of clean washing that Tina just hadn’t got around to putting in her wardrobe, the almost about to topple pile of newspapers. That aside Tina though the place looked fine.
6pm – curtain up at 8pm- she gave herself the challenge that if she sorted the apartment out in 30 minutes she would go and see the fantastic Pam Grier and Cybill Shepherd in a Broadway show.
Bette was impressed that the theatre ticket was a good one and she’d called her father to thank him again for the ticket. She had dressed up smartly and even if she said it herself she was looking good – the question she was asking herself was who would be sitting beside her She walked confidentially down the aisle looking for her seat – it was only seven rows from the front and it was an end seat – great – she’d have to move for which ever sugar obsessive person or anyone with a weak bladder or a nicotine addiction. She sat down, put her jacket on her knees and started to read the programme. She was trying to put it to the back of her mind that before the evening ended, she might have to fend off the alpha Emma Kennard.
Tina hurried down the street – tidying up had taken her longer than she had expected and then she had showered and got changed – well she could hardly go to theatre in her jimjams. So, she was now racing to get to the subway so she could get across to Broadway. In the days when she had been the PA to a CBS executive, she had been able to take cabs where she wanted. Now she earned a fraction of what she once did she was reluctant to indulge in luxuries that would mean she had to dip into her savings or the money that her mother had left her. She was just turning towards the subway station when she bumped into her best friend
“Tina – I was just coming to see you “
“Why? –not that it’s not fantastic to see you – it’s been a few days “
“I knew you were on a day off so I was calling you to see if you wanted to do something. I must have called you about eight times “
“I have been in my apartment all day and I don’t think as much fun as they were that re-runs of LA Law and Mork and Mindy would keep me from hearing my telephone “
“So, I jumped in the subway ten minutes ago and here I am on my way to see if my pal is okay or if she’s dead and being eaten by her cat “
Tina laughed and embraced Shane
“Oh, it’s so good to see you Shane. I better get my phone checked”
“It’s good to know that you are okay – where are you going all jazzed up in your best coat and high heels? “
“I am off to the theatre “
“Hot date?” Shane said hopefully
“My mother showed up earlier and handed me a theatre ticket and generally to ooze disapproval on me and my life “
“Be fair Ti – she’s supremely good at that “
Tina laughed – seeing Shane was always wonderful.
“It looks like my good deed for the day is done – you are off to the theatre “
Tina looked at her friend
“Hang the damn theatre – you fancy going for a burger and a beer?”
“What about the theatre ticket?”
“To sit on my own? – that’s not exactly my perfect night out “
“You are a little over dressed for a beer and a burger”
Tina laughed “That can be remedied in about half an hour – I’ve got a bottle of tequila in the kitchen – you fancy a couple of margaritas before we go out?”
“We could have a night in – I’ve got some dope in my pocket “
Tina took the ticket from her pocket and looked at it – with two swift movements she’d reduced the ticket to confetti and dropped it down the nearest drain.
“That seals our evening then “
Bette had just walked into her house and re-set the burglar alarm when her phone rang. She hurried into the sitting room and picked the receiver up
“Bette I was just checking on the status of your chastity “
“Hello Helena “
“Hello darling – so – was she like an octopus on heat?”
“A no show Helena – – the whole place was packed – sold out notices as you walked in – and I was the only one with a seat to keep my coat on and my candy “
“You sounded disappointed “
“I am not but it says something about my luck that even someone who went to college with my parents doesn’t want to spend the evening with me. “
Bette collapsed into a comfortable chair and let a long sigh