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    Saying Hello while saying goodbye

    The pull-down ladder to the attic dropped with a finality, a creaky groan, matching how Bette felt inside and she sighed heavily before gamely making the climb to retrieve their suitcases, six in all. Neatly stored on the right side of the neatly organized space, she still paused, needing time to process what retrieving these cases meant.

    At the bottom of the ladder, both hand on each side of the handrails, Tina waited patiently. She knew her wife saw symbolism everywhere, that Bette was moving slowly these days a reflection of the news they were still handling. Hearing motion above her, she steeled herself to be that oasis in the storm that would be so, desperately, needed.

    One at a time, the suitcases were handed down, Bette going halfway down the ladder to hand them carefully so Tina could set them in the hallway. And each time, a soft whisper to “be careful, Honey,” drifted Bette’s way and she held tightly to it each time, like the sweet gifts that they were. Because God, how this settled her, gave her comfort, made each step on the ladder that much easier to take.

    It had been a while since they traveled, the move to the river house and Bette’s pregnancy grounding them. Neither minded, it felt nice to have structure, the children’s needs guiding their decision making, paying off especially in the way Rosie responded so well to set routines, the needed consistency helping their little girl thrive.

    They were what Shane referred to as “a well oiled machine”, Alice’s opinion more direct, calling them “boring.”

    But Tina and Bette knew better.

    They knew the work that went into their relationship. They knew the tears, the disappointments, the committment that made their family soar. The passion. The yearning. The devotion, the unbridled love, the romance. They knew love was an action word, that communication was their salvation as much as their downfall. They fucking knew.

    Six suitcases in all were lined up in the master bedroom, not counting the carry-ons and one large diaper bag. “Everything but the kitchen sink.” Tina joked and she wasn’t wrong. The items needed to travel across the country with a 5 year old, a toddler and a baby were nothing short of plentiful.

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    1. Oh I’m so excited to start this. I at first clicked thinking it was the update for pirates or the sequel of remember who you are but oh I’m so excited for this fic and where it goes

      • Great! Let me know what you think when youve read it all. Don’t worry, I am still working on the pirate story. It helps my flow of thoughts when I have two going on at the same time.

        • I will definitely let you know what I think as soon as I can read this weekend and I truly love your fics and your creativeness I love all your fics that I have read so far and this one is one of my favourites and I’m so happy it’s back you just always draw me in and with the river. And I love that writing two stories helps with glowing your thoughts and I’m looking forward to what happens next in the pirate story as well ❤️❤️ I just love them so much

      • Yay! Thank you Brittany. Let us know what you think after youve read this chapter. And yes, The Captain is in the works, I hit a writing wall on that but I am ready to go back to it now that the river thoughts are out of my head!

    2. Sorry in advance that this is so long. I have not been able to comment in so long. I have wanted to. On so many stories. It’s been quite difficult. But this – a return to the river? This is an incredibly magnificent and unexpected surprise. Blurry vision and all but with a smile on my face I just had to read. And have to comment. There is so much to process. As usual your language is so beautifully lyrical. That is no surprise. And from Rosie to Angie to Bette’s baby bump to her swollen belly to Louise Katherine Kennard-Porter – their baby Kat!! That all continues to deserve major celebration! There is so much for Tina and Bette to be happy about. I love this family – this Tina and Bette. This Rosie and her suitcase full of rocks to take to the river. They are a truly connected and blessed family. And it is a joy to read about them.

      But of course there had to be more. “Yaya. Cancer. Two words that did not belong in the same sentence. Two words that sat opposite each other in perfect, unbelievable discord. Two words that made a sentence not just a sentence but a paragraph of ashes, a shift in the very foundation on which they stood. It was hard to reconcile, the indomitable strength of the midwife put to the test by a diagnosis no one saw coming. A prognosis that outlined her remaining time on earth in months, possibly weeks.”

      No. No. No. This was like a punch to the gut. Leaving this reader literally breathless. Yaya has been such a good friend to all of your readers. She has been more than a friend to Tina and Bette. She was everything to Bette when Tina was so ill. Yaya is family. I am reminded of Bette discussing her pregnancy with YaYa in your last chapter: “I’m going to be a mother. A mother, Yaya. I mean, I know I am one now. I know that. But… Rosie… she chose me and I chose her. And Angie has my heart but not my blood. This one though…” her hand went to swollen belly fondly. “I can’t explain what this feels like. And I will love this baby the same as I do my other two children. Life is a wild ride, Yaya. A wild, enchanting ride…and I have this beautiful family to carry me through it.” And now it is time for a more difficult ride and Bette goes into complete action mode. Making lists. Planning.

      “That decided, she went into motion. Taking action always her forte. Those three words put her in high gear, spurring the next inevitable step… her lists. Packing list for each child, shopping list for Jimmy at the river store, list of herbs and homeopathic medications, lotions and creams to bring, food to make, lists of every doctor, specialist and surgeon from Charleston to Charlotte, even a list of all the emergency care clinics in a thirty-mile radius of the river. She worried about the spotty wifi connection, she worried about Yaya’s old car not starting, she worried, she worried, she worried.”

      Yes, she worried. YaYa is a beloved mother figure to Bette and such an important part of her life. And now? There are no words to articulate your description of the emotions Bette was carrying deep inside. But there was Tina with her steadfast love and patience and willingness to wait – knowing Bette – her Bette – would talk and express herself when she was able. And there was Bette who trusted Tina beyond measure. And so when she was ready she did share.

      “I’m not sure I can do this, Tee. I’m not sure I can be strong enough for Yaya…” There it was. Finally. Now spoken out loud, her words hung in the air with their gut-wrenching clarity and Tina immediately understood the complexity of what Bette meant. Being strong for those she loved was important to Bette. Over the years she had learned to hone this need, to be supportive without controlling. Chocolate eyes misted over and Bette blinked, her lashes capturing the unshed tears and Tina thought her heart may shatter at the sight. That Bette would lay her vulnerability out so cleanly, be so exposed, was such a sign of how rock solid their relationship was that Tina thanked every deity in the world that this sweet woman was hers. Whispering as she leaned in to rub noses, Tina kept her eyes open to watch as Bette listened. “You don’t have to be strong for Yaya, my Love. Put that thought down. She doesn’t want you to be anything other than who you are. Be present. Hold space for her. That’s where you shine. I know what that’s like. I get to experience your love every day. Just be, Baby Sweet. Just be you. That’s all anyone who loves you needs.” The way you write these two… Tina is so in tune with Bette and Bette is able to be strong yet also vulnerable with her Tee.

      What is there to say after this? Truly eloquent. Absolutely. Perfection to be sure. Well, I suppose their hotter than Hades lovemaking is a start. Good Lord, woman. I need to control my heart rate: “When they broke for air, Tina’s eyebrow rose in that other way she had, that way of telling Bette things were about to get interesting, things were about to get funky, things were about to get out of hand… buckle up baby… and sure enough she slid slowly down to her knees, first paying proper homage to Bette’s breasts, her tongue then lingering on the brunette’s belly button… oh, Jesus the anticipation of where it would travel next… made Bette squirm under Tina’s tongue… now lower to open outer lips with impunity… a wide, investigative lick, probing indecently, penetrating raucously. It was scandalous, rude, and Bette felt so turned on she gasped in surprise, her thoughts already blurring into oblivion.” Buckle up baby is right! Okay time for everyone to take a breath.

      Even though I am sad that Yaya is ill I am so very glad you have returned to this story. Returned to the river. My two favorite passages:

      “There was a lot on her mind, but her brain didn’t want any part of sorting it. It was too awful to contemplate. So, she did what she always did when life confused or scared her. She went still, quiet. Let the emotions come before trying to label them. Memories flooded her, difficult memories mixing with memories so sweet it made her heart constrict and expand, taking up all the space in her chest and she had to be careful about how she took her next breath.” That totally describes Bette. So multilayered yet in many ways also so simple. The writing? So beautiful.


      “The couple radiated a steel calmness, Boo thought as she watched her granddaughter. Handing Bette a light blanket, Tina paused to kiss the top of her wife’s head, saying something that made Bette chuckle, making Boo feel so happy that Tina had someone who adored her so fiercely. And that Tina had someone to give all that love she couldn’t give anyone when she was a child.” So simple but says it all.

      Steel calmness, indeed. I love this family. Each and every one. Tina, Bette, Rosie, Angie, Kat, Boo, Kit, James, Jimmy, Jerry, Yaya, and more. An amazing story that deserves to be told. Congratulations, BK.

      • Billy
        Words are not adequate to express how thrilled I am that feel well enough to comment and reengage with the readers here. You have been sorely missed and I echo what BiBi said – it is SO nice to have you back. As always, your comment tempted me to read and re-read your thoughts as you selected and framed some of my favorite part of this chapter as well. It was really nice to be back with this couple – they will have challenges but are as solid as ever and committed to the process.
        Rosie and her suitcase full of rocks and the baby that Bette has always dreamed of having with little Angiein the middle to complete the three.
        You are so right in remembering the specialness of Bette’s relatipnship with Yaya – a mother figure who did not abandon her but instead stuck with her during one of the hardest challenges Bette faced (Tina’s accident and possible miscarriage).
        I love writing Bette because this Bette is so layered and complex and yet all her decisons and focus is framed with her fierce and total love of Tina and her family. It becomes quite easy once it looks like that. And this Tina just allows Bette to be Bette, she wouldn’t have her any other way. Doesn’t mean things are easy just that they accept each other and keep the relationship front and center.
        I know Bette is your favorite character so I appreciate that you also like this version as well.
        Steel calmness indeed. it will be very needed in the weeks to come. Glad you are back! more to come!

        • Thank you for the thoughtful and enlightening reply. I really like the balance and equality you create between Tina and Bette. There is no doubt that their love and commitment to one another will stand the test of time. Despite life’s challenges. The River chapters are pure lightning in a bottle. You have a real gift, BK.

    3. Hey BK,

      What a beautiful suprise so early in the morning to see you posted a new story!

      As soon as i am done with work today i will read it!

      Hope live is kind to you!

      Just finished this bittersweet chapter, so glad you continue with this story!

      Yaya and cancer, i cried, no one deserves that ugly disease and knowing she maybe has only weeks or some months, my heart is broken and i deeply feel what Bette feels, the sadness and fear just like when Tina had that accident a few years ago and now the woman she loves and admire and nurses Tina back to health is going to die, but i really hope it was just a mistake, that the diagnose is simply not cancer. And Bette has researched every possible doctor, hospital around the area to help Yaya, maybe there is a cure for her.

      How Tina just knows her wife, sees her and let her be, knowing when the time is right Bette will open up to hear. Their love and passion for each other, still so strong and both knowing what it takes to nurture their relationship, to keep it healthy, loving and strong. Alice can go away with her boring, she is just jealous of them and their family.

      My heart always melt whenever you write Bette as a mom, how her three children love to cuddle up to her, seeking her warmth, love and safety. Rosie, Angie and Kat, three very adorable children. Bette’s understanding of Rosie packing only her most beautiful rocks, to give it to the river. It’s still amazing to read about their bond, Rosie loves Tina as her mama but she has a deeper connection with Bette and i love that.

      And wow, the shower scene was really hot, blew me away but you are a master in writing it, you show their deep passionate love for each other in a way that you feel almost a voyeur for reading it because it’s so well written you can literally see it in front of your eyes. It’s not sex or smug like some people write and speak about it, it’s so more than that.

      Thank you BK for this new story but also for the other ones!

      • Great comment. I agree that the way BK writes about Bette as a mom is really special. Warms my heart. Always wanted Bette to experience childbirth in TLW. And Bette and Rosie do have a special bond but I love Tina’s endearing nicknames.

      • BiBi! Thank you for your insightful comment! I know how much you love the Rosie-Bette dynamic and returning to write about Rosie was so much fun . I can picture her in my head! You too have a very deep understanding of this couple and how much they mean to each other so I always look forward to reading what your thoughts are.
        Yaya and cancer is a terrible story to write but I promise it will still be a story full of light and love and all the things that make life such a glorioius journey.
        I hope you are well and life is good for you and yours.

    4. Hi BK,

      So glad you are writing about the River again. Sad for the reason they are returning. Love reading all your stories and the comment section for your stories. Something to look forward to and get lost in.

      • Hi Cathy
        Thank you for taking time to comment. Before writing all this I got lost in the river chapter and knew a return was needed. Glad to hear I am not the only one.

    5. Happy to see a continuation of this wonderful story and looking forward to what the pirates have planned in the upcoming battle. You’re a wonderful writer and it’s always a joy to read.

      • Thank you C!
        I appreciate you taking the time to comment and so nice to hear you are following Black Bette as well. Glad you enjoyed reading this little foray back to the river as much as I did writing it!

    6. This is a very nice chapter… it would appear almost everything has been discussed that can be discussed… Bette and Tina and family seem to be getting along well and progressing. Now come the news of a very sick Ya Ya….

      I think the best line in the chapter is when Tina tells Bette that she just needs to be present for Ya Ya. She doesn’t have to shoulder her burden…. just be who she is and a hold a space for Ya Ya. For in the end, that is all we can be is to be ourselves and express the appreciation and love of having someone in our life.

      Thanks for the chapter…. I need to go back and reread the final chapter of Remember Who You Are…. it’s been a while since I read it and I do not remember Kat at all…. terrible to get old…. memory is just not what it once was..

      Thank you for continuing your story… appears to be a big hit.

      • Thank you Martha,
        I always wanted to continue with this story and it brings me such happiness to read that other people love it as much as I do. This story almost writes itself, the characters are so vivid in my mind.
        Kat made her appearance in the very last chapter and was not a large part of the story. Perhaps Billys idea above of writing the pregnancy in NY as a new story is the way to go. We all love the idea of seeing Bette be a new mother. The little clip of her holding newborn Angie in the hospital after birth doesn’t do it justice. And then for TLW to basically have her seperated from Angie and Tina for a lot of the formative years is another disappointment.

        Anyway, Thank you for taking time to comment!

    7. So glad to see an update of this “river” family, I really loved this chapter but it’s a bittersweet feeling since we know what awaits them…

      Can’t wait for more !

    8. BK,

      I love that you’re continuing this story. It’s one of my favorites, I love this Bette & Tina, and their family, and the river…and Yaya, one of my all-time favorite characters.

      Bette & Tina are just irresistible in this chapter. “The view of Bette’s backside coming down the ladder” or “Sometimes just looking at Bette dismantled her, and today the brunette was mesmerizing in her sorrow and vulnerability”. And Bette appreciating Tina’s accent – “Your accent is stronger. It’s very sexy. Say something else…” And the double whammy. Such great moments that show how they are irresistible to each other, too.

      Can’t forget the smoking hot shower sex. Doesn’t get much better than that. Loved the description of Tina getting out of her clothes. “Fastest 7 Miles Ever” LOL I love the way you write, BK

      And my favorite part – “They knew the work that went into their relationship. They knew the tears, the disappointments, the committment that made their family soar. The passion. The yearning. The devotion, the unbridled love, the romance. They knew love was an action word, that communication was their salvation as much as their downfall. They fucking knew.”

      Kit said it best – “So much love right here…” Kit purred, her voice a little bit jazz and a little bit swagger. “

      Looking forward to more of this family and story, I’m sure there will be tears. Thanks BK for keeping this story going. It’s a special one.

      • WESTY West
        so nice to read your comment. I love this story, the possibilities are endless. I just have to keep coming up with reasons for them to return to the river… lol
        Kit adds so much to any story, I can not imagine writing anything without her being a part of it. What a mess GQ made of killing her off. You picked two really sweet scenes in this chapter, my favorites as well. More to come my friend, stay tuned!

    9. BK, I am lost for words!
      I’m so thrilled you’ve continued with this story. Remember who you are was always one of my favourites and to be able to go back to the River is pure Joy. It’s such a sad reason they travel back but hopefully Ya Ya is not to ill and can be cured. Please don’t make it to sad !!
      I’m so looking forward to hearing how Rosie, Tina and Bette all react to bending back with the River People, 9d favourites returning I hope? I love how Rosie wants to take her favourite rocks back with her, always her favourite thing to do.

      I wonder if you’d ever write their story, once they moved into the big house by the river until now? Fingers crossed you will.
      Anyway thrilled you’re back with this,, thanks and can’t wait for your next post.

      I also love, love, love the story of Captain Porter on the high seas !!
      Another fantastic story of Bette and Tina’s life, love and family together. So excited to see where this is going, whether she finds her mother and what that silly boy king is up to and hopefully see his downfall
      Thrilled your back

      • Hi Janice
        I hear you about not making it too sad. Last thing I want is to bring everybody down :)
        Yes, there will be lots of the favorites making an appearance. It wouldn’t be the river without them. Jerry and Mabel and Jimmy and Jena Beth to start with. Glad you love those characters as much as I do.
        And yes… the story of the Captain isn’t forgotten, I am working on that one as well. Thinking of ways for the silly boy King to cause trouble, but not too much trouble. Bette will always be one step ahead of him or able to navigate his plots.
        Thank you for your kind message, I really enjoy reading what everyone things!

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