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“I trust your judgment Tina; I want to keep Bette safe too – she’s been through enough. I’ll go call Kit, and I’ll call a cab to take us to the car rental. That way, it looks like we’re both still home. Let’s keep a light or two on before we leave too, but close up the curtains so no one can actually see in.”
Tina smirks at Shane.
“Looks like someone has had to cover their tracks before.”
Shane smirks back slyly before heading out of the room to make her calls, leaving Tina to pack a bag and the safe while arranging a rental.
“Do you want me to wait here while you go inside? What if she’s not here?”
“That’s okay Shane, just head out to get the groceries so you can hurry back. Kit said Candace and Alice were at The Planet when you called, but we don’t know how long they’ll be there. I don’t want them to notice you riding back from out of town. Plus, I’m certain she’s here – there were fresh tire tracks when we drove up, and this driveway is marked private and a mile long not to mention the road the driveway is on is about 4 miles from the main road. So, the tracks could only be purposeful. The tracks lead all the way up to the garage too, which is probably where her car is. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re right, even if she’s not here now, she probably was at some point and she may have left a clue as to where she was going.”
Tina gets out and grabs the packed bag and safe. Shane rolls down the window to speak before pulling off.
“I’ll be back in about an hour with the groceries. If you don’t text or call me, I’ll assume she’s here and just leave them on the porch.”
“Thanks Shane. I’ll check in with you later tonight.”
With that, Shane drives off and Tina approaches the door. Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out the key and lets herself inside. She sighs in relief as Bette’s scent fills her nostrils. She breathes in deep knowing her Beloved is close. Tina sets her bag and the safe down in the entryway before closing and locking the door behind her. She moves further into the cabin quietly noting the limited lighting due to all the curtains being drawn and the lights being off. She jumps, startled, when a high-pitched whistle sounds from the kitchen. Tina runs in and sees the tea kettle sitting on the burner – the whistle indicating it’s reached a boil. She smiles, taking the kettle as confirmation of Bette’s presence in the cabin. Her smile fades as she turns the burner off, removing the kettle from the heat.
She begins looking around the kitchen and living room, confused as to why Bette did not come to the kitchen when the kettle sounded. She explores more of the house, silently, her instincts telling her not to yell out. She looks through the office, the den, the spare room, and the master. As she’s coming out of the en-suite – perplexed as to how she has still not found Bette – she hears whimpers coming from the bedroom closet.
Tina calls, barely above a whisper. When she hears no reply, she moves closer to the closet.
She calls a bit louder.
“No, no, no, no, no… please… please don’t… don’t hurt me again…”
Tears well in the blonde’s eyes as she hears the whispered plea. She slowly opens the door to the closet, her heart breaking as she watches Bette push herself as far back into the closet as possible, holding her legs to her chest, her face buried in her knees.
“Please… no more… not again… please…”
Tina crouches down.
“Baby? Bette? It’s okay Baby; I’m here. You’re safe now; I’m going to keep you safe.”
Tentatively, she reaches out and caresses Bette’s head. Bette continues to cry and makes no movement to exit the closet or acknowledge Tina. Tina crawls into the closet and sits on the floor with her own knees to her chest right next to her Love.
“It’s going to be okay Baby. You just take all the time you need. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Tina wraps her left arm firmly around Bette as she continues to whisper words of comfort and love. Minutes pass with no movement until Bette finally shifts. She releases her right arm from the tight hold she has on her own leg to hook it around Tina’s left leg and rest her head on her shoulder. They continue to sit in silence as Tina caresses the brown locks until a teary-eyed Bette moves her head to look into Tina’s eyes.
“She found me Tina… what do I do? She found me…”