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Tina immediately filled up. Then she smiled, a smile so big it spilled the tears from the corners of her eyes. And she held Bette’s face and kissed her tenderly.
‘Oh, Bette, I love it,’ she said, her voice soft. ‘I love it!’
In the morning, the coon guy was due at ten and the electrician shortly after, so they headed off fairly sharp after breakfast.
It was still ‘unseasonably mild’, and everyone seemed very relaxed. Kit, Sasha and Solly went into the woods to pick flowers, gather pine cones and pretty leaves. Sonny and Ben went round the outside of the building looking for raccoon entry points. Bette chopped more firewood, and presently Tina brought her some coffee.
‘Thanks,’ said Bette.
Tina handed her the cup, then gave her a kiss, caressing her cheek. Bette smiled, her crow’s feet deepening in the warm yellow sunlight.
Tina went and sat on the front steps. She was wearing her oldest Levis, chunky hiking boots and Bette’s golden-brown teddy-bear fleece. Her hair pulled back in a ponytail.
‘What do you think about staying tonight?’ Bette asked, going to sit next to her.
‘Is that a dealbreaker?’
‘No. I don’t mind either way.’
Bette tried to hide how happy she was at Tina’s answer, and failed. Tina laughed.
‘Seriously, though,’ Bette said, ‘you think it’s time we upgraded?’
‘This.’ Bette indicated the cabin.
‘Remodel or get a new one?’
Tina looked surprised. ‘A new one?’
‘It’s a thought. Someplace with proper showers and fewer coons.’
Tina laughed, and sipped her coffee, her gaze moving across the driveway, the woods, the lake beyond. ‘The thing is,’ she said, ‘a cabin’s not a hotel. If you want to stay in a hotel, go book one.’
Bette looked down into her coffee cup. Tina knew she was verklempt. Tina leaned in and gave her wife a little friendly shove.
‘I always wanted the kids to love coming here for Thanksgiving,’ Bette said, her eyes shining. ‘Have all these happy memories. Sleeping in the car and arriving in the dark. Hot chocolate and hot water bottles.’
‘Shitty little heaters and the crocheted blankies,’ Tina added.
‘Spiders and s’mores.’
‘And jammies and the Macy’s parade.’
‘Your grandma’s jug.’
Tina glanced at Bette, and they both burst out laughing at the double entendre.
‘Yeah,’ Bette smiled softly, when the laughter had passed. Looking down into her coffee. ‘All that, just all of that. I wanted that for them.’
Tina gazed at her wife. At the beloved dark curls, now threaded with silver.
‘Thank you,’ she said, stroking Bette’s hair back from her temple.
Bette turned to her, a question in her ebony eyes.
‘For wanting that,’ Tina said.
They gazed at each other for a second, and then Bette broke into a beaming smile. The kind of smile that comes from a heart filled with gratitude.