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Bette’s smile fell from her face and, feeling heartbroken and dejected, she asked, “And what about you? Aren’t you glad to see me, Tina?”
Tina stood and stared back at the young woman. Inside her head, huge explosions of joy mixed with anger were going off, rocking her entire body. Her heart was racing, her mouth had gone dry and her hands cold. She couldn’t feel her feet or her legs, and her stomach was turning over and over again. But on the outside she looked cool and calm and in control. It was a skill she had honed, a way of coping. She had learned never to show weakness or vulnerability.
After a long and uncomfortable pause, Tina said stoically, “Of course, Bette, I’m glad to see you. How are you?”
Bette felt let down by the tepid response. “I’m good,” she said. Then she giggled; she was still slightly high and the stern look on Tina’s face seemed funny to her. When she glanced at Coleman, he was looking at her oddly too. Then she realized she was being rude. “I’m sorry,” Bette smiled and she slid down into the passenger seat. “This is my friend, Coleman Alt. Coleman this is Tina Kennard.”
The young man smiled up at Tina and nodded. “Nice to meet you, Tina.”
Tina acknowledged him with a nod as well, but all the while she was taking in the cut of his clothes, the model of his car. She could see it; he was handsome and wealthy and Tina felt an immediate dislike and jealousy of him.
“So I’ve come to surprise my aunt,” Bette said trying to redirect the conversation. She was feeling uncomfortable about the way Tina was glaring at Coleman.
“She’ll be surprised, I’m sure,” Tina said. Then she pulled out the gas nozzle and told Coleman to pop his hood. “Let me check your oil and tires,” she said, and she went to work.
With the hood up, Coleman slapped at Bette’s thigh and whispered, “What the hell is going on?” He had picked up on Bette’s strange behavior, thought it was more than her intoxication, and he could feel the ire in the young blonde’s stare as well.
Bette shook her head and mouthed, “I’ll tell you later.”