“Bianca.” She whispered her heart clenching in her chest. Even after so many years the brunette was still breathtaking and apparently could still take hers.
Maggie moved around and felt almost guilty for hiding but for some reason she didn’t want to make herself known just yet. She wasn’t sure Bianca would want to see her even after seven years with no contact. Her breath strangled itself in her throat when she realized it had in fact been that long since they had any contact. If she closed her eyes she could swear no time had passed at all and they were still young and in love. She caught a glimpse of herself in the side mirror of the car she had taken refuge behind and couldn’t for the life of her see the girl she had once been. She had disappeared a long time ago and what she wouldn’t give to be able to go back and give that girl a chance.
“Miranda honey let’s go we’re going to be late.” She dug around in her purse for her keys.
“Okay mommy. Aunt Kendall said to call her later.”
“Okay.” She said distractedly.
Maggie gasped when the tiny brunette stepped into her line of sight. She was absolutely the spitting image of her mother and she wanted to let lose the sob that was threatening to give her away. She had lost so much with that one stupid decision. She had lost her lover, her best friend and the most precious little girl who had stolen her heart without even trying. She had destroyed what was and to this day what remained the best thing to have ever happened to her.
“Mommy can we go see Pop Pop later?” she asked as she waited by the car.
“Sure honey. Ah ha got ‘em.” She held the keys up triumphantly. “Okay Munchie let’s go.” She unlocked the car.
“I think I’m too old for that now don’t you think?”
“You’ll always be Munchie to me.” She smiled at the nine year old going on thirty.
Maggie’s heart constricted painfully. That had been her name for Miranda and the fact that Bianca had taken to calling her that stirred something in her. She sighed when she realized that it was hope. She had never let Bianca go she didn’t know how. How do you let go of the one person you loved more than life itself? It had never been an option for her Bianca was her heart and she had never been able to give it fully to anyone else. She couldn’t. To her it would be just another betrayal and she swore that she would never again do that even if the brunette never knew she would.
Bianca turned to look at Miranda who was squinting at something. “Honey what’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She said shaking her head. “I just thought I saw…never mind.” She must have been imagining things because there was no way. She had seen pictures of her and the tiny lady hiding behind the car sure looked like her. Her mother didn’t know she had found the pictures stuffed away in a box and because she never mentioned her she never brought it up.
“Okay well get in and we’ll go see Pop Pop.” She glanced in the direction Miranda’s eyes were locked on but didn’t see anything.
“Yeah.” She said never taking her eyes from the spot.
They climbed into the SUV and Miranda buckled herself in without looking. She willed it to be her and not her tiny over active imagination. She might not remember much but she remembered bits and pieces and she never lost hope that her Maggie would come back someday.
Bianca backed out and shifted into drive rolling slowly through the crowded parking lot. Miranda turned in her seat to watch through the back window and that’s when she saw her step out from between the cars and stare at them.
“Mommy stop!” she yelled in a panic trying to frantically undo her seatbelt.
Bianca slammed on the brakes and turned to look at her with fright in her eyes. “Miranda what is it what’s wrong?”
She received no answer Miranda had already thrown her door open and bolted from the vehicle.
“Miranda!” she called after her lifting her eyes to watch her run. And that’s when she saw what had her daughter so harried. Her hand went immediately to her mouth to stifle the sob.
Maggie panicked. She watched the SUV lurch to a stop and didn’t know whether to run or stand her ground. She watched almost as if the world had gone into slow motion as the door was flung open and a tiny girl was running at her, her little legs pumping furiously as if she couldn’t get there fast enough. And she did the only thing her heart would allow her, she knelt down in the middle of the parking lot with her arms outstretched waiting.
“Maggie!” she yelled as her legs carried her as fast as they could go. She felt arms scoop her up and hold on tighter than she had ever been held. “You came home.” She breathed through happy tears. “I missed you.”
“Oh I missed you too Munchie you have no idea how much.” She held on fearing that if she let go that it would turn out to be just another dream.
Bianca climbed from the SUV and just stood there watching. She had tried so hard to forget Maggie but no matter how much time went by she was always there in the back of her mind smiling that lopsided grin. She never really thought she would see her again after she returned to the states. The day Maggie had left the park to return to Paris had been the last contact they had and she regretted that decision every day since. Now to see her here holding her daughter, their daughter, she couldn’t for the life of her justify her actions from so long ago. It had hurt at the time but if she would have just given them a chance who knows where they would be now. Maybe it wasn’t too late. She forced her feet to move, to carry her to the one woman who would forever possess her heart.
“Miranda honey?” she tried to hide the crack in her voice.
“Mommy she came back.” She turned a bright smile up to her mother. “My Maggie came home.” She turned back to the woman who was in her heart her other mother.
Maggie stood never breaking contact with the little girl. She had no idea what to say. She had thought about it over the years and she had come up with a thousand things but now standing here looking at Bianca she couldn’t remember a single one.
“Hi.” She thought that was as good a place to start as any.
“Hi.” Bianca’s eyes bounced between her daughter and the haunted eyes of Maggie. She had become even more beautiful with the passage of time and she regretted not being there to witness it for herself.
Maggie cleared her throat. “I was just…uh…” she looked down hoping to come up with something.
“I’ve missed you.” Bianca whispered into the deafening silence.
It was all she could do to keep from launching herself into Bianca’s arms and wrapping her tiny body around her. “Me too.” She whispered back.
Miranda tugged on Maggie’s hand motioning her to bend down so she could whisper in her ear. Maggie looked at her unsure and the little girl just bobbed her head with a stern look on her face.
“Yikes you look like your grandmother when you do that.”
Bianca couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her. “If only you knew.” She shook her head at a now beaming Miranda.
“Go on.” Miranda pushed at Maggie. “Gramma says a Kane always gets what she wants.”
“Well who am I to argue with a Kane woman?” she let herself be herded closer to Bianca. “The tiny diva has ordered me to give you a hug and I never could say no to a Kane you people kind of scare me.” She smiled that lopsided grin that she knew Bianca had always loved so much.
“Well if you’ve been ordered I don’t see that you have much choice.” She was going to have to buy Miranda that pony she had been asking for.
Maggie’s heart thundered in her chest at the anticipation of touching her after so long. Would there still be a spark? Would her body remember her touch and mold itself to the brunette's as if no time had passed at all? Slowly she put her arms around the taller girl’s neck and felt Bianca’s arms encircle her waist. Yes it would. She was home again.
Bianca felt the familiar hitch in her chest at Maggie’s touch and it was as if the last seven years melted away. Just like that she was twenty two again and happily in love. She tightened her arms and felt Maggie do the same and for the first time in a long time she felt hope. She could feel herself come alive again and she could feel Maggie trembling in her arms and pulled away to look at her.
“I’m okay.” She waved it off trying to wipe away the tears. “But I have to tell you I wasn’t expecting to have a reunion in the parking lot of a shopping mall.”
“That makes two of us.” She paused. “Maybe we could, I don’t know go somewhere and talk?”
Her eyes shone brightly. “Really?”
“Yeah.” She smiled. “I know the perfect spot too.”
Maggie smiled knowingly. “The boathouse? Is that place still standing?”
“They tried to tear it down a few years ago and I wouldn’t let them. I couldn’t I have too many memories locked up in there, good and bad.” She smiled sadly. “I’ll drop Miranda off and meet you there in an hour?”
“I’ll be there.” She smiled for what felt like the first time in longer than she could remember.
“I’ll see you later Maggie.” She tucked a dark lock behind her ear.
“Maggie.” Miranda tugged on her arm. “Will you come see me later?” she turned pleading eyes to her mother.
“If your mom says it’s okay.” She turned matching eyes to Bianca.
“Of course it’s okay sweetie.”
“Yay!” she clapped her hands. “I’ll see you later too!” she wrapped her arms around her Maggie and squeezed.
“I’ll see you later Munchie.”
“Oh Maggie she-”
“It’s okay mom she can call me that.”
Bianca smiled at her daughter. “Okay I’ll call Pop Pop I’m sure he would love to spend some time with you.”
“Bye Maggie!” the little girl waved. Her nine year old eyes didn’t miss the bounce in her mother’s step as they walked back to their car.
Thirty minutes later Maggie waited on the bench for Bianca. Her legs bounced incessantly as her mind flooded with memories. This was their place and she was glad Bianca had put a stop to its destruction. Pine Valley wouldn’t be the same without it and neither would she. It was where she admitted for the first time, at least to herself, that what she felt for Bianca was so much more than friendship. It was where they laughed and cried and part of her would forever remain within its walls. She turned her head to the sound of approaching footsteps and wasn’t all that surprised to find Bianca looking at her with a sheepish smile.
“I see neither one of us could wait.” She smiled at the brunette. “Have a seat.” She patted the bench beside her. “I was just reliving the glory days…and the gory days.”
“I hope more glory than gory.” She smiled and sat next to the woman who would always be the love of her life.
“So just how long were you stalking us from your little hiding spot?” she tried to hide the smirk.
“I…no…that’s not….oh god.” She dropped her head into her hands. “I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do.”
“It’s okay Maggie I’m glad Miranda spotted you.” She paused for a second then continued. “So…how long are you in town for?” Her voice was hopeful and she prayed Maggie would be around for a while.
“Actually…” she stared at her fidgeting hands. “I kind of took a transfer. I’ll be starting at PVH next week as head of pediatric surgery.”
“You…you’re…” she stumbled over her words in complete shock. “You’re moving back?”
“Yeah, surprise.” She threw her hands out with an unsure smile.
“Wow…I mean…you uh….” She had no idea how to voice her question without making it sound like she was being nosey, or desperate. “What about your life in Paris?” That seemed like a good compromise.
“Can I tell you something that will probably make me sound pathetic?”
Bianca just cocked an eyebrow and waited for her to continue.
“My life consisted of going to work for eighteen hours a day, eating on the run, and sleeping. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s why I took the position at PVH when Joe offered it. You know it actually got to the point where I forgot what sunlight looked like. That nice tan I always had faded and I looked like a freshly plucked chicken.” She smirked when Bianca laughed at her. “Honestly there was nothing keeping me in Paris and there hasn’t been for a long time.” She let her words hang in the air to be taken for what they were, the truth.
“Maggie…” Bianca sighed.
“No.” she held up a hand to stop her. “It is what it is and I long ago took responsibility for it. There’s nothing I can do to change what happened no matter how many times I wished for it over the years. I don’t blame you for cutting me out of your life I deserved worse…”
“Now it’s my turn.” She held up her own hand. “It’s just as much my fault and I think we can both agree that it’s water under the bridge. It’s been seven years and as far as I’m concerned it’s over and done this is a fresh start. We’re different people now and we get the chance to know each other all over again.”
“I would really like that.” She let go of the breath she had been unaware she was holding. “I’ve missed having my best friend.”
“Me too and I’d like us to be again. And I know Miranda would love having you in her life she couldn’t stop talking about all the things the two of you would do.”
“I can’t believe how big she’s gotten. I missed so much.” Tears started to trek down her face.
“Oh don’t cry Maggie.” She said softly wiping away her tears. “You won’t miss anything else I promise. You’ll be here for her first date and her first heartbreak and her graduation.”
“Hey if any boy breaks her heart I’ll break his face.” She said in all seriousness.
“Still a little bulldog I see. I’m glad some things never change.”
“I’m serious you’ll probably have to bail me out of jail.”
“Actually my mother will probably have to bail us both out because I’ll be right next to you.” She laughed.
“Oh god your mother I didn’t even think of her. Have you told her I’m back?”
“I don’t think I’ll have to Miranda will take care of that but eventually I’ll have to face her.”
“What will you tell her?”
“That the past is the past and we’ve dealt with it and moved on and if she knows what’s good for her she’ll do the same.”
“Oh I see that one going over well.” She rolled her eyes. “You know what let’s not talk about that. I want to know what’s been going on in the life of Pine Valley’s most famous lesbian.” She smirked when Bianca shoved her playfully.
“I had forgotten what a riot you are. And I hate to tell you but you’re Pine Valley’s second most famous lesbian.”
“Yay I’m famous.” She sighed. “Seriously how have you been?”
“Okay I guess.” She shrugged. “I’m just like everyone else I have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes I have a whole month of bad days but I have Miranda and that makes it easier to deal with them. What about you? You said all you do is work I’m sure you managed to find time for fun somewhere in there.”
She debated on whether to tell her the truth or just gloss over it. She didn’t want Bianca to think she was pathetic and had been pining away for her but at the same time she didn’t want her to think that she had moved on so easily as if what they had meant nothing.
“Maggie?” she watched the indecision play over delicate features. “You can talk to me.” She reached over to take Maggie’s hand.
“I know we said we were starting over but I need to say some things if I want to do that.”
“Okay I’m listening.” She was struck with the oddest feeling of peace. She really had dealt with this a long time ago and moved on and now she was in a place in her life where the pain no longer existed.
“The day I left you to go back to Paris…my life stopped. I spent weeks in bed with no desire to ever leave it. I was content to stay there and wither away. There were days where the loss was so overwhelming that I couldn’t breathe. The only thing that got me through was Anna, she came and stayed with me and I truly owe her my life.”
She stood and walked to stare at her reflection in the water. “I had destroyed the one thing in my life that I vowed I never would and in the process I destroyed my own heart. It was a long time before it started beating again.” She turned to face Bianca. “I’m sorry. I know I said it a million times then but this time it’s different I’ve had seven years to figure out what exactly I was apologizing for. I’m sorry for breaking your heart, I’m sorry for not trusting what we had, I’m sorry that I was such a coward and I’m sorry I couldn’t be the person you needed me to be. I promise you I’m not her anymore.”
“I know Maggie.” She stood and stepped in front of her. “I can see it when I look at you.” She reached up gently stroking a cheek with her thumb. “I forgave you a long time ago and I only wish I could’ve told you then maybe if I had…” she sighed thinking about all the time they had lost due to their own stupidity. “Maggie I’d like for us to start over.”
“I know you said-”
“No.” she cut her off shaking her head. “I mean us, if there’s still a chance I want to take it.”
“Really?” she raised wide eyes. “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Maggie you were and still are the love of my life. Nobody has ever been able to take your place in my heart.”
“Mine either.” She said quietly. “I still love you and I’ll never stop I don’t think I could even if I wanted to. Is it too soon to ask you to marry me?” she smirked.
“Maybe just a little why don’t we start with a date and go from there?” she raised her eyebrows in amusement.
“Okay but don’t be surprised if I ask you on the third date.”
“And don’t be surprised if I say yes.”
“So it’s settled then, somewhere in the future you’ll marry me.” She wrapped her arms around her waist pulling her closer.
“Agreed.” She slid her arms over Maggie’s shoulders. “And somewhere in the very near future is a tiny brunette who’s just dying to introduce you to her Barbie’s.”
“I can’t wait but first there’s something I’ve been waiting for seven years to do.”
“I think I have a pretty good idea of what that is.”
“Oh you do do you?” she whispered against Bianca’s lips.
“Mmm hmmm.” A pink tongue darted out to lick suddenly dry lips.
Maggie turned from her suddenly and pulled off her shoes. Taking Bianca’s hand in hers she smiled up at her. “You remember?”
“Yeah.” She smiled squeezing Maggie’s hand and thinking back to the girls they used to be. “You and me together.”
“And now I can promise you forever. Come on, on three.”
“One…” Bianca started.
“Two.” Maggie looked into her eyes.
“Three!” they yelled in unison as they jumped.
They came up laughing amidst cheers and handfuls of rice.
“Well I’ll hand it to you this is one wedding Pine Valley will never forget.” Bianca wrapped her arms around Maggie’s neck. “Leave it to you to want to jump into Willow Lake in a wedding dress.”
“It seemed fitting don’t you think?”
“I think it was an absolutely brilliant idea.” She kissed her bride. “So Mrs. Montgomery-Stone what do you have planned as a follow up to this because I really don’t think you can top it.”
“Mommy!” Miranda yelled as she careened into the water and paddled over to them.
“Hey baby!” she swept her into her arms.
“Mama did you tell her?” she looked expectantly at Maggie.
“Tell me what?” She eyed them suspiciously. “What are you two up to now?”
“Well you know how I said that if I let your mother plan the wedding I get total control over the honeymoon?”
“Oh god what are we doing sky-diving? Bungee jumping?”
“Tell her where we’re going Munchie.” She smiled at her daughter.
“We’re going to Disney World!” she screeched with joy.
“Oh Maggie.” She pulled her into a hug. “I can’t believe you would do that.”
"Hey I’m never being apart from either of you ever again. You two are my whole world and I’m never letting you go.”
“And we’re never letting you go.” She pressed her lips to Maggie’s. She pulled away laughing when she heard the sudden splashing of water. “Oh my god!”
They were quickly surrounded by the entire wedding party and their guests as they all laughed celebrating the union floating around Willow Lake. Bianca and Maggie never once let the other go.