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    Out of the Flames – Chapter Five

    San Francisco, a week later…

    Why do we have funerals anyway? Why can’t everyone who knew Avery just say goodbye to her on their own time, not mine? Fuck…my leg is killing me. Norco isn’t cutting it. Scotch or another pill?

    Bette struggled to reach into her pants front pocket to fish out the bottle of pain pills. The hard back of the pew wouldn’t give way to ease her task, and she was doing her best not to tip her leg off the knee walker her medical insurance sprung for to help her get around while she recovered from her broken ankle.

    She didn’t particularly care for the Norco, they made her nauseous, not to mention constipated. Bette hadn’t taken a decent shit in days, and that made sitting in a hard pew even more uncomfortable. The pills, though, would have to do for now because she figured the guests paying their respects to Avery would frown on it if she took the occasional swig from the flask tucked safely away in her coat pocket.

    Normally, putting on airs was loathsome to Bette, but Avery’s rarely seen homophobic parents were sitting in the next pew over, and she wanted to keep the peace at least for the next hour. As if sitting through speech after speech that reminded her just how wonderful of a wife she had lost wasn’t bad enough, Bette had to do it sitting a few feet away from the two people who never accepted her as Avery’s wife and thought her very existence was an abomination.

    The only saving grace was that Eric took it upon himself to organize the service and reception at The Tap. He made sure everything was the way Avery would have liked, not her parents. If they had their way, some priest Avery never met would be granting her absolution for her sins, of which loving and marrying Bette would be at the top of the list.

    Besides a strong showing from their fellow men and women in blue, many neighbors, friends, and staff members from The Tap filled the large chapel at the funeral home and then some. If Avery were alive, Bette was sure she would have been ordering around the staff to direct foot-traffic and bring in extra chairs for those standing.

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    1. Amazing chapter CN,

      Poor Bette, so much to handle, her grieve over losing Avery, her broken ankle and now those homophobic losers trying to take Reagan away from her.
      But she can get help from Lane Mattos.

      I likes how you gave us background about Bette and Avery’s early relationship and Bette’s proposal.

      I loved to read more about Tina, but was sad for her that she also lost someone she loved dearly. But she and Bette’s other friends can help her to overcome this overwhelming lost and to get her to live her life again. It is what Avery would want for her.

      Thank you for the update!

      • Bibi, glad you liked Bette’s flashbacks with Avery. I wanted to show you their background, and I thought doing so during the grieving process was a great way to do it. It also showed the depths of Bette’s loss.

    2. Hm, dilemma.

      I understand that the story needs to close Avery part, but still for me too much about her in this chapter. And sorry but some parts about Bette and her i just skipped.
      And last, i also undertand that story mostly about Bette, but i’d like that we can knew more about Tina’s history. Because i need to break from Bette’s sorrow and her flasbacks about her ex-wife.

      • Zhenya, you’re right that this story primarily focuses on Bette. It’s about her pain, her grief, and her journey out of it. I also understand your reluctance to read the parts about her and Avery’s courtship, after all, you are a true TiBetter. Tina will play an important role in pulling Bette out of her grief. I’m glad you’re sticking with me on this journey.

    3. Thanks for a new chapter, CN :)
      Poor Bette, she’s really stuck in her loss and pain. Hopefully the situation with the Santos’ will make her drop the drinking and get herself together again. First she should contact her friend from college, the family lawyer.
      Then she should talk with Tina. About the explosion, about their feelings of being responsible for Avery’s death.
      And then they can finally start working together and look for the ones who really are beind this whole drug thing.
      Looking forward to your next posting!

    4. Hi CN:

      That was a very nice chapter, poor Bette. Those Avery’s parents are garbage (can’t use my preferred word for them); those people think that blood ties are almighty rights and they use that to destroy Bette because they think she is the devil and the cause of what they call the “sin” of her daughter; they blame her for the death of Avery, they are a couple of cowards, homophobic ignorants, they will burn in their own hell (sorry about that).

      I think Bette has reached the point of return, she has to stop to be engrossed in her pain, to stop feeling pity for herself, she needs to stand up for Regan.

      I’m glad that Tina comes around once in a while to see her; she sees in Bette’s pain her own past pain for her dead girlfriend.

      I hope Bette look for help to surmount her mourning and I hope she goes to Tina for that help. Anyway, Tina has already passed for that and could help Bette and perhaps console her (indeed, they could console each other)

      Well, you’ve posted today, Wednesday, will you still post on Saturday? Even if this is not a cliffhanger, it’s getting very, very interesting

      Thanks again for the chapter, and I’m hoping for this Saturday


      • P, Bette definitely has a battle on her hands, with the Santoses and the bottle as well. If she’s not careful, one could worsen the other. I’ve written quite a bit ahead and plan to post on Saturday too.

      • Found it! You wrote:

        I finally read chapter 4 last night and took the time to marinate before coming to comment tonight. Then holy shitballs, you posted another ahead of schedule. So now I suppose I need to double up on the comments.

        C4: I literally cried myself to sleep after reading that last night. Did Avery really have to die? Because Jesus, Bette is going to kill herself. And I really liked Avery. I hope that phone call you will explain later on won’t change my opinion about her. I laughed when Pritchard threatened to send Tina to my shitty hometown for the rest of her career. First BenMac, then you slip in a Bako reference in your stories. Cracks me up.

        C5: There is so much tragedy & struggle in this story, I can’t tell if you’re sadistic for doing this to your readers, or masochistic for doing it to yourself lol. That family lawyer is quite the ambulance chaser. Not sure if I would trust that one. Are we getting gay vibes from her or is she married to a man? Either way, family law attorneys are arrogant narcissists. Hope Tina is getting some counseling to manage her guilt as well. And poor Reagan. Caught in the middle is never a walk in the park.

        Great job and thanks for giving us a midweek treat!

      • meloveslu, we will find out what Avery was doing just before Bette came in, only later…much later. Been through Bako several times on I-99, doing that NorCal to Disney run when I-5 was packed, and yes, I was underwhelmed by it. Funny how I never come across people who live in Bako, only those who are from there and couldn’t wait to leave. Kinda says something.

        This was a story I wanted to tell, but I have to admit after writing the death scenes (Bette’s parents, then Avery), I had to take a break and clear my head. I especially liked Avery too, and I created her knowing what her fate was. So I guess I’m a little masochistic. Man, I’m f**ked up.

        Ambulance chaser? You certainly think the worst of people, don’t you? I’m liking you more and more every day.

        • Sweet, thanks for finding it and reposting!

          And no, I don’t think the worst of people…just lawyers lol! And I can say that because, well, I’m surrounded by them at any given time during the day.

          Bako is a bit of a vortex. I’ve gotten out twice so far and hoping this time it’s for good. Time will tell. Could be a good place to raise kids if you’re into that kind of thing ;-)

          I’ve never endeavored to write a death scene. Perhaps I should sharpen my skills. But that is certainly an emotional cross to bear during the process, I’m sure. Don’t know how up for it I’d be anytime soon since Life is pretty good right now.

          Super excited you’re giving us another installation this weekend!

    5. Forgot to write about one aspect – Reagan.

      I understand both sides who want to fight for her custody. I understand Bette, but i also understand her ex-wife parents. Homophobes or not (and they definitely are) but i understand they wish that their grandchild not lives with woman who not her blood relatives. Bette not her mother now. And i don’t see a problem there because Reagan in age where she can decide with whom she wants to lives by himself. And even in court judge have to listen her wishes.

      • Zhenya, the concept of visitation rights of grandparents when a parent dies is messy. In California, adoption, which Bette had done, does not automatically cut off visitation rights of the Santoses. In that state, a court must balance visitation with Bette’s rights as the adoptive parent, and do what’s in Reagan’s best interests. Not so easily done, and, yes, Reagan will have an opportunity to voice her opinion.

    6. Great chapter, CN. Really happy that you have made Bette see the truth of so much drinking, and it is not good for Reagan either, she needs loving and help to get over the loss of her mother. Bette needs to go back to work or seek help for herself as well. Since Tina has had the same experience she can help Bette and Reagan. I am making the assumption that Janet and her husband are the paternal grandparents. Bette really needs to crawl out of that black hole she is in and Tina can help her and love her back to health. Bette doesn’t realize the burden she has placed on Tina and she needs to stop talking to her like that. Tina is her saving grace but, she doesn’t see that yet. Like the story very much. The college chum that is an attorney, is she married to the young man that is the son of the cartel head, can’t remember their last name now. Mercy sakes if that is the case, lot of conflicts ahead. Great story. Thanks for posting.

      • Dainty, Mercy sakes, you do love plot twists. I should have you on speed dial when I’m outlining my next book. Yes, Janet and Caleb are the paternal grandparents and have always been a part of Reagan’s life, even after Avery remarried. I agree, Bette is burdening Tina, but it’s natural, she was there and pulled Bette out. Doesn’t make it right, though. Tina wants to be her saving grace, she just doesn’t know how. So glad you’re enjoying this story, it’s been a rough one to write.

    7. Bette has made a real problem for herself with the drinking in regard to the custody matters for Reagan. She can’t touch another drop if she really wants to keep Reagan with her. She has to clean up her act and be the responsible adult that she was when they made petition for, and the subsequent adoption. With it being only six months since it was granted Bette might need to revisit the grounds for adoption with her attorney. Seems as though the Santos’ have been very diligent in their quest to remove Reagan from Bettes’ care and at least she realizes she has messed up and needs to change quickly. Eric and Tina can help. She first needs to apologize to Reagan for not being the adult in her life and start acting like one. Reagan is too young to take on the responsibility that she has since her mothers’ death. Not trying to take over, you know I over think things way too much. Thanks for the story.

      • Thanks, kenji. It means a lot that you and so many others are enjoying the story, It’s good to hear that it’s evoking great emotion because I gotta tell you, it was rough writing a few of those scenes. So glad you’re along for the journey.

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