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‘What show?’ Angie asked, emerging with a packet of Oreos.
‘What?’ Bette said, like a rabbit in headlights.
‘Just a show we like,’ Tina explained.
‘What’s it called?’
‘Nothing,’ Bette said pleasantly.
‘It’s a documentary,’ Tina put in, remembering too late that this line hadn’t worked on Angie since she was about nine.
‘What about?’ Angie asked.
This time Bette and Tina answered together.
Bette: ‘Climate change.’
Tina: ‘Janis Joplin.’
Angie stared at them. ‘Okay, I know you’re lying, but I can’t be bothered to work out why so I’m going to bed.’
‘Yes!’ Bette said brightly. ‘Off you go.’
‘Sleep well, honey,’ Tina said. ‘I’m sorry about the ice cream.’
Angie gave her Mama T a small, still slightly ticked off smile but then hugged them both goodnight and headed up the stairs, cookies in hand.
Once they were alone, Tina and Bette met each other’s eye.
‘Janis who?’ Bette asked.
‘Joplin. She was playing on the speaker, I had to say something . . .’
Bette laughed and started making tea while Tina put Sasha’s lunch box in the fridge, wiped down the counter and then came up behind her wife.
‘What a day,’ she said, wrapping her arms around Bette’s waist and laying her head against her back.
Bette enjoyed the feeling of being held for a moment, then asked, ‘What’s going on?’
‘Just work. And the kids moving up a grade. And the show was bad.’
Bette stopped what she was doing and turned around. ‘Want to talk about it?’
‘All of it. Any of it. My ears are only for you.’
Tina blinked slowly, running her eyes over Bette’s face and throat and cleavage.
‘Not right now,’ she said.
The kitchen speaker started streaming an old, slow blues song that Tina recognised. Lush strings and a soulful lead guitar under a man’s voice.
I need someone’s hands
To lead me through the night
They looked at one another. The soft, floor-level lighting in the kitchen made Tina’s warm hazel eyes seem larger, more vulnerable.
‘What can I do to make you feel better?’ Bette asked.
‘Dance with me?’
Bette smiled and took Tina’s right hand in hers, holding it against her own chest while her right hand rested on the small of Tina’s back. Her face was against Tina’s hair. She closed her eyes, inhaled her scent and listened to the song.