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‘You see the message from Angie?’ Bette asked.
‘The one about Thanksgiving?’
‘Yeah, I saw it,’ Tina said, putting her book aside.
Bette got into bed, a little gingerly, and lay on her back staring at the ceiling. Tina moved to lie on her side, her head propped on her hand.
‘It doesn’t mean she’s not coming to the cabin,’ Bette said.
‘No,’ Tina agreed.
But they both had a sinking feeling that it did. That when Angie said she was worried about her papers, and that Nik was staying in Cambridge over the holiday, she was preparing the ground.
Bette continued to stare. Tina watched her chest rising and falling. Then she put her hand on Bette’s stomach. Instantly, Bette picked it up and drew it to her face. Kissed it, held it gently against her chest then turned to look at Tina.
‘What about you?’ she said softly. ‘Are you okay?’
Tina gazed at her wife. ‘I’m fine.’ She smiled. ‘Although . . . I did have an interesting moment with Sasha tonight.’
Bette raised an enquiring eyebrow. And so Tina related the story of how Sasha had caught her watching the trailer, but couldn’t see it.
‘She couldn’t see it?’
Tina shrugged. ‘I think she saw a black screen.’
‘So . . .’
‘Maybe we’re the only ones.’
They stared at each other for a long moment, and then both started laughing, or, in Bette’s case, laughing and wincing.
‘Poor baby,’ Tina smiled lovingly.
‘Imagine that,’ Bette said, ignoring the sympathy. ‘Imagine if we really are the only people who can see it? What would be the point of that?’
‘I have no idea,’ Tina said, and then she was ambushed by a yawn, so she released her hand from Bette’s and moved to switch off the light.
The room was dimmed into a familiar amber-grey. Tina kissed Bette and then turned on her side. Bette snuggled up behind her.
Strange day, she thought, with the show reappearing like that. And Sasha not being able to see it and Tina so excited that it was back. But then Tina had always been more affected by it. And in the year since it was last in their lives they’d seen a child leave home and Tina enter fully into the maelstrom of menopause, which meant Bette took her moods more seriously, and wanted, most days, above all, to be a force for good. A calm presence. An agent of harmony. In other words, she caved a lot.
‘When’s the first episode?’ she asked now.
There was a pause while Tina caught up. Then:
‘Friday night,’ she replied.
‘A week tonight?’
Bette squeezed Tina gently. Tina pulled her wife’s arm closer round her body. A wordless exchange of affection and support. And then Bette spoke again.
‘I wonder what Fake Bette says to make Fake Tina so upset?’
‘I know . . . Maybe she doesn’t say anything?’
Bette chuckled. ‘Or something dumb. Or just “no”.’
‘You think she’d just say no?’
‘I wouldn’t put it past her.’
‘But Fake Bette loves Fake Tina.’
‘Loves her, yes, but is she in love with her?’
Tina half-turned round. ‘Are you saying she isn’t?’
‘I’m saying that admitting you’re in love makes you vulnerable. I’m not sure I would disclose it to Fake Tina under those circumstances.’
Tina pondered this a moment, and then fully turned round so she was facing Bette. In the muted light of the room the contours of Bette’s sculptural beauty made Tina’s heart swell. Because she knew it wasn’t skin-deep. That Bette’s soul was beautiful, too.
‘You know you don’t have to watch it,’ she said softly.
Bette gave her a long, loving look. ‘Actually, I do,’ she said. ‘Because, as I told you last season, it’s the eighth natural law of the universe: all Bettes want to be with all Tinas. Even if they’re watching crappy TV.’
Tina laughed. And they kissed. And the waiting for Friday had begun.