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Tina turned in her sleep, reached out and found . . . nothing. In an instant, her eyes fluttered open. It was dark. Deathly quiet. Even the hum of traffic seemed to have faded in the night.
She leaned up on her elbow and waited while her eyes adjusted. The long shadow of Bette’s robe was gone from its usual spot on the left-hand hook on the back of the en suite door. She ran her right hand over the bed sheet. Smooth Egyptian cotton still holding a whisper of body heat.
Downstairs, Bette leaned against the kitchen counter looking at her phone. Her literary agent, Harry, had suggested she might want to start some social media accounts. ‘For Christ’s sake, Bette, get your ass out of the stone age!’ were his exact words. And although she’d been loath, she had to admit it could be interesting. Like this Instagram that was nothing but libraries! The Bokbaten Epos floating library, in Norway, now added to her bucket list.
Solly, who’d been sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor waiting to be noticed, suddenly turned his head. The movement caught Bette’s eye. The little spaniel wuffed deep in his throat.
‘Sshhh,’ said Bette.
The dog padded out into the hallway, and a few seconds later Tina appeared. She was barefoot, wrapped in a long, kimono-style robe in peach silk with teal and ivory floral decoration. This year’s birthday present from Bette.
‘Hey,’ she said, reaching down to pet Solly.
‘Hey,’ Bette smiled.
‘Mhmm.’ Bette shut her phone and slid it into the pocket in her pyjama bottoms. ‘I’m sorry, I was just awake. Thought I’d get up for a bit.’
Tina said nothing, just checked the time on the big kitchen wall clock. Four-thirty.
‘Want some?’ Bette asked, indicating her tea cup.
‘Uh . . . yeah, okay.’
Tina sat down at the kitchen table. She ran her hand through her hair. She and Bette had made out a little the night before – well, maybe five hours ago? – but were both too tired for orgasms. Tina liked that, though. Getting aroused and backing off kept her simmering and made everything Bette did so sexy. Filling the kettle, fetching a cup, wiping the counter . . . Her movements so graceful, her arms in her black tank top still so nice and well-defined . . . In the easy intimacy of a peaceful, night-time kitchen softly aglow with floor-level lighting, Tina felt very in love.