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Over the next week, as Tina’s ankle healed, it became more and more apparent to Tina how much her isolation hurt Bette. She knew the brunette was fragile inside, knew she was tender, sensitive, sweet but forgot… or selfishly overlooked… how much Bette would absorb hurts from someone she loved and forge ahead, issues be damned.
Tina knew she should have known better. She had met Melvin Porter twice and she watched as Bette deflected his back handed compliments and tried so hard to please him all while ignoring the insults that Tina felt on Bette’s behalf keenly.
Losing Ellie was pivotal for Tina. Ironically, without Bette, she didn’t how she would have made it through the days that followed the announcement, and yet she didn’t lean on her girlfriend like she should have until a lot of damage was done.
She thought, often, of the incredible love Bette must have for her to put up with a partner who was so callous with her heart.
She could kick herself for shutting Bette out, shutting her out when she should have clung to her. Tina recommitted herself to the relationship, taking time to show Bette with her words and her actions that she loved her, needed her, wanted her. She opened up about her childhood, her family and… most importantly, her grief over losing Ellie.
Her openness about Ellie invited Bette to share her own. They cried together, many times. They laughed over stories, celebrated the role Ellie had in shaping Tina, loving her, teaching her. It was healing for them both and worked wonders to bring them closer following Ellie’s death. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, it was hard work.
There were days when Tina fell apart at any comment Bette made, days when Bette was on edge, snappy. Other times they argued over little things, small annoyances or miscommunications. The sex following these interactions was explosive, hot, leaving them gasping, heaving, breathless. Sex in itself was never a problem for the couple.
The deeper connection was missing. Ellie’s loss was the bridge to their relationship, but Bette was holding back, her hurt giving her pause. Tina felt it, Bette felt it too. Neither knew what to do about it, Bette not yet ready to really show Tina that part of herself.