They both woke up the next morning earlier than they needed to, Beas mum had arranged things so that they would arrive at ten thirty and have brunch, Bea had been relieved at first but when she let the reality of what she had agreed to sink in she was more nervous than ever. She knew she should have told her mum at least that her and Allie weren't just friends but it was too late to change what she hadn't said now, in a few hours they would be sitting down with her mum and dad and the only consolation was that Allie would be right there, it wouldn't hurt that Debbie wouldn't stop talking about her friends and school and everything that Franky had gotten up to although she suspected that since Franky had met Bridget Debbie's stories may well be a lot tamer now. Not that food fights and stuffing their faces on pizza and ice cream could really ever be considered wild and those were the things Debbie usually raved about.
“I can stay here if you're really worried about me being there…you don't have to tell them anything you're not ready for.” Allie whispered as she ran her fingers through Beas hair.
“Not happening, besides I doubt Deb would be happy if you said you were staying here. I should have told them already, I meant to, I planned on telling mum at least and then every time she called I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say…I'm pretty sure she has her suspicions though, mum called me yesterday morning while I was sat doing nothing in my office and asked if we minded sharing a room…”
“Why is that strange?”
“They have three spare rooms and as far as I know no one else will be over for the weekend.”
“So what did you say?”
“I almost asked her where else she thought you'd sleep.” Bea giggled, “But I didn't, I guess I didn't really give her a real answer…shit, I have no idea how I'm going to tell them, telling Deb was hard enough…I just don't know how they are going to react, I know they've always been fine with Franky but that's completely different, I mean they treat her like one of the family, they always have especially since…well since Harry but…”
Allie pressed a finger against her lips, “As much as I love to hear your voice, especially first thing in the morning you're rambling….what ever happens, even if you don't tell them it doesn't matter, but if you want us to tell them together I'm fine with that, I always meant what I said about never pushing you into anything you weren't comfortable with and I still mean that. Now we better get up, I'm pretty sure Debbie won't be happy if she really has to wait until ten thirty to eat.”
“I don't want to get up, it's Saturday.” Bea pouted as she buried her face in Allies neck.
Bea pulled her head back with a fake look of shock on her face, “If you're trying to say that I'm crazy then you're right, I'm crazy about you.”
After spending a little longer trying to convince Bea that they needed to get up resulting in Bea pulling her back into bed each time she tried to get up, then them both trying to persuade Debbie that she wasn't going to starve to death if she only had cereal for breakfast after her continued complaints that she was starving after being asleep all night they arrived at Beas parents house later than planned.
Debbie had raced off in front of them saying that she needed food leaving Bea and Allie shaking their heads. Allie had hung back slightly as she followed Bea into the house, they were late and Allie was sure that wasn't the best start, even though she had met Beas parents a number of times when she was younger it didn't make her feel any less nervous now. Knowing that Franky still visited them on a regular basis didn't help either, Franky never said anything out of malice or spite when it came to her friends but sometimes she would slip up when she felt like she was being put on the spot and maybe sometimes say more than she really intended to and although Bea didn't seem concerned about that Allie couldn't help but worry that maybe she might have said something without giving it a second thought not realising that Bea hadn't been quite straight with her parents about their relationship.
Five minutes after walking through the door Allie had completely forgotten why she was even worried in the first place. Beas mum and dad were exactly as she remembered them, not that there was a great deal to remember because she had never really gone over to their house with Franky that often because she'd always felt like it was just somewhere she shouldn't be. They were so warm and welcoming and Allie felt herself immediately feeling like she was one of the family. Beas dad had pulled her into a hug as soon as he had spotted her trying to make her presence less obvious as she stayed standing behind Bea.
“Call me John…I'm guessing this one didn't remind you.” He said as he pointed at Bea.
It was easy to see where Bea got her eyes from, everything else she had inherited from Alice, her mum who had been busy in the kitchen since they had arrived trying to convince Debbie that having to wait ten more minutes before they ate wasn't really going to lead to her wasting away to nothing but a pile of dust. As Bea and Allie walked into the kitchen she was just taking a tray of croissants out of the oven.
“That father of yours never remembers to set the timer.” She looked at Bea as she set the tray on the counter, “I hope you're both hungry…obviously we all know Debbie is!”
“Hmmmm.” Bea hummed, “They smell delicious.”
“I know….I always knew there was another reason why I married your dad.”
“Oh there was another reason apart from my cooking skills?” He joked as he walked into the kitchen.
Alice gestured to the croissants as she smiled at Allie, “Come on don't be shy, it's so nice of Bea to finally find the time to bring you over…how long has it been since the last time you were here?”
“Over ten years, I didn't come back to Melbourne very often after I moved to Sydney.”
“That's right, I remember Franky telling us that you lived in Sydney…”
The conversation around the table flowed easily and much to Beas relief neither of her parents asked Allie any awkward questions. As soon as Debbie had finished eating she was eager to drag Allie out into the garden with her, Allie as always was happy to do whatever Debbie wanted and followed her outside while Bea was helping her mum with the dishes. It was the kind of day outside that felt like a summer kiss but without the fiery heat, the grass was the most perfect green and the sky held enough pristine white clouds revealing just how beautifully blue it really was. The garden was huge and Debbie happily showed Allie around pointing out where her favourite flowers were planted.
“Grandad lets me help him if mum ever brings me over, we really have to get her to come over more often…she always used to be so busy then you came along, she's much more fun to have around now and that's all because of you.” Debbie smiled happily at Allie.
“I can't take all the credit for that Debbie.”
“Yeah you sorta can…she was grumpy all the time while you were away if you have to go away again I'm either coming with you or I'm staying with Liz.”
Allie laughed as she saw the seriousness wash over Debbie's face before she kicked off her shoes and carried on walking down the concrete path towards the bottom of the garden, reaching the apple tree that was there she sat down on the grass and closed her eyes for a few moments. It was one of her favourite places in the garden, somewhere she would sit alone for hours, when Allie sat down beside her she opened her eyes again and smiled.
“I don't have to worry about mum anymore now she has you, promise me you'll always look after her.”
“I will, but didn't I already promise you that before we went to London?”
“You did I just want to make sure you meant it, it was just me and mum for so long and I'm sure she wasn't ever really happy all she ever did was go to work. We'd go places when she wasn't busy but everything is better now…Franky said that you were who she was waiting for all her life she just didn't know it.”
“Maybe…she didn't like me very much years ago.”
“How is that even possible?”
Allie shrugged as she thought back to one day she'd tagged along with Franky who was going over to Beas to study, she'd promised not to get in the way or talk too much but as soon as Bea had seen her standing next to Franky she'd tried to argue that they could study another day. Franky had eventually convinced Bea that she wouldn't get in the way and Bea had let her sit in her room with them. She remembered that day all too well because she'd spent the next two hours sitting on the floor her eyes hardly leaving Bea and Franky had teased her all the way home about it, not that Allie had really cared until she'd said that she was going to tell Bea resulting in Allie trying to avoid Bea for the next three weeks.
Bea stood looking out of the window watching her two favourite girls sitting under the apple tree talking and laughing and she still found it hard to believe how easily they had bonded, the only other person in Debbie's life she'd ever really been that comfortable with apart from Liz was Franky and Debbie had chosen to spend a lot of time with Franky, not that Franky had ever complained she loved Debbie and would always be there for her.
“You always told me that you would never find anyone to love and now look at you.” John said delicately as he walked up behind her.
“It's been obvious for weeks, when your mum first told me that you were spending a lot of time with Allie I didn't think too much about it, but then all you did was make excuses to not bring her over. I just want you to know that we're happy you found each other again, it did seem strange because I remember you giving her a hard time. You know everyone needs someone to love and share their life with, I don't remember seeing you this happy for years.”
“I am happy…I wanted to tell you I just didn't know how, Debbie loves her so how can I not?”
“Oh we know that, while you were away in London Franky brought her over and all she talked about was Allie, now I see why, she's really great with her and being that she's so much like you I'm surprised Allie can put up with your stubbornness.”
“Hey we all know where I get that from!” Bea laughed.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty peaceful until Beas brother arrived, Jamie was older than Bea and had already been away at university when Allie had been around and she didn't really remember much about him. Over dinner Allie found it hard to believe that Beas family just accepted them being together, it had been the only thing that had bothered her before they arrived and she'd wanted to dream up an excuse so that she didn't have to go but that was what Bea had been doing and even if she could have thought of something plausible she knew Bea would have been upset with her.
“Why'd it take ya so long sis to tell us you two were together? I mean come on mum and dad might as well have adopted Franky she was always over, still is so I hear, it would be insane to think for a second that any of us wouldn't accept you being together.”
“I can think of one person who might not be so enthusiastic.” Bea sighed.
“Well I for one don't care what anyone says…Allie you really will have to bring your dad over, invite him to spend Christmas with us, the more the merrier.” Alice said happily as she watched Debbie and Allie tucking into their food as if they hadn't eaten for days.
“Oh yeah!” Jamie chuckled, “Aunt Jackie would have a breakdown, I'd love to see that, there'd be a slasher movie playing out in her head.”
Bea punched him playfully on the shoulder, “Jamie seriously, I'm sure Allies not ready to come face to face with her.”
“I reckon she could handle her…I can just see it now…oh even better, invite Franky as well that would totally blow her mind.” Jamie made an explosion noise making Debbie laugh.
“Jackie will mind her manners if she's actually coming this year, last I heard she said she may have other plans.” John said as he looked over at Allie, “My sister can be a bit of a handful, we have absolutely nothing in common but you don't have to worry about her…you should invite your dad though he'd be more than welcome.”
“I'll talk to him, I actually only recently got back in contact with him and I have no idea if he spends Christmas with my older brother, and my younger brother still lives at home.”
Allie was stunned by the invitation, she couldn't remember the the last time she'd had a proper Christmas, Jess never really wanted to celebrate it with Allie, the first year they were together she left her alone when she went to her parents, Allie had felt like an after thought that day when Jess had finally called her late that night while she was out at a bar enjoying herself while Allie had sat at home alone. Every Christmas has ended up with Allie spending most of it alone even when Jess hadn't gone to her parents she spent most of the day with friends drinking and enjoying herself. The possibility of not spending Christmas alone had never entered her head, it was just one of the things she chosen not to think about even though she knew Bea would never leave her alone on Christmas Day. She couldn't even remember having an enjoyable Christmas even as a kid, they generally descended into chaos when her dad started drinking and she remembered one particularly bad Christmas morning when her dad had been drinking all night and was still sitting in the living room that morning. The three of them had been so excited when they'd run downstairs only to find that there were no presents waiting for any of them, even the tree that their mum had managed to convince him to get somehow was missing. The fighting had started as soon as their mum had set about making them breakfast and the three of them had spent the rest of the day sitting in the corner of the living room too afraid to even speak. The prospect of ever spending Christmas as part of a family had been something Allie had given up hoping for a long time ago but now, surprisingly, it seemed like a possibility.
Later that day as they lay in bed Bea noticed that Allie was quieter than normal and that worried her.
“Tell me what's wrong, I can't help put it right if you won't talk to me.” Bea said as she leaned her head against Allies shoulder.
“It's just…I don't even know how to explain it or where to begin.” Allie sighed.
“Mum and dad freaked you out…or was it Jamie, he can be a little over the top sometimes.”
“No it's nothing like that…I don't ever remember enjoying Christmas, there was never anything good about it for me…I mean I know some must have been good when I was young, dad seems to remember everything I ever did before he started drinking and I know he's trying.”
“You must have spent Christmas with Jess.” Bea cringed a little saying her name, there was nothing Allie had ever told her about Jess that she liked hearing but she was sure she must have made time for Allie on Christmas Day.
“Ummm, well…not really, I usually spent the day alone, it was just another day anyway, if I could have gone to work I would have but since that wasn't an option I just stayed home alone.”
“You know you'll never be left alone again don't you? Debbie wouldn't allow it, although you will have to get used to her waking us up at the crack of dawn…besides I really like the idea of having you around at Christmas. I know we always spend Christmas here, and the rest of my family can be a little crazy but if you want to do something else I'm sure mum and dad wouldn't mind too much.”
“I don't really care where we are as long as I'm with you, I will ask my dad though.”
“You better, mum will never shut up about it now she's brought the subject up.”
Debbie spent an hour after breakfast the next morning pestering her grandparents to let her go with them to the garden centre, it was always one of her favourite things to do on a Sunday when they visited them she just hated that it didn't open until 10:30am. When they were finally ready to leave Debbie was the first one out of the house.
“You two sure you don't want to come with us?” Beas dad asked.
“No we'll be fine here, I really don't feel like spending most of the day being dragged around by Debbie.”
“I'm sure you don't, let the oldies deal with that.” John grinned back at Bea before he left the house.
Debbie always loved the garden centre that they always went to it had an old school charm about it and a massive range of plants and garden equipment. The staff were always friendly and knowledgeable and Debbie liked to ask questions, the best thing about this particular garden centre though was most definitely the cafe and they would always have a relaxed lunch there whenever Debbie went with them.
“Are you going to call your dad or go and see him?”
“I haven't decided…what if he doesn't want to spend Christmas with us, I know it's still way off yet but he might already have plans, shit why do I feel so nervous about asking him a simple question?”
Bea stood up and held out her hand, “Come with me I'll help take your mind off it.”
“Oh!” Allie took Beas hand and stood up, “And what exactly have you got in mind?”
“Well we do have the house to ourselves, trust me they'll be gone for hours.”
Bea started walking towards the stairs gently tugging on Allies hand, “Anyone would think you were nervous.” Bea giggled as she turned her head to look back at Allie.
“Why ever would you think that? Have you any idea how hard it was yesterday to try and not do something completely inappropriate?”
“I'm sure I have absolutely no idea what you mean.”
They almost tumbled through the bedroom door, “Course you don't, honestly half the time yesterday I could have just picked you up and taken you to bed, although I'm sure that would have been frowned upon even if your mum and dad are fine with us being together.”
Bea turned to face her a huge grin on her face and casually draped her arms over Allies shoulders, “For the record if you ever feel like picking me up and carrying me off anywhere I wouldn't care where we were or who we were with.”
Allie couldn't think of a reply but she was sure that she almost choked making a sound that was a mix between a cough and a splutter and she was sure that she'd never expected Bea to have as much confidence as she did now, she was like a whole different person even when they weren't alone. Allies eyes were a stormy blue and all Bea could think was how was any of this even real, even when she was a teenager there had never been any temptation to do anything other than study, the only person she ever let in her room was Franky, with the exception of that one day when she'd allowed a much younger Allie in.
“I did notice.”
“Huh…notice what, babe what are you talking about?”
“That day in my room when Franky and I were studying, I saw you looking at me…I just thought you were weird I guess…I never…I wasn't…”
Allie slammed Bea against the wall she didn't care right now if she had been caught staring back then, none of that mattered the second their lips met, Beas kissing skills were simply off the chart for someone who claimed that before Allie it wasn't something she'd ever enjoyed and spending the rest of the time they were alone just kissing wasn't something that was hard to contemplate until Bea pulled back picking Allie up and carried her over to the bed both of them landing on it a few seconds later. Bea pulled Allie close to her, one hand ran gently through her hair as she looked at her the way she'd never looked at anyone before, the light in her eyes was a spark of passion and desire. A small teasing smile played on Allies lips before she crashed their lips together before turning her attention to unbuttoning Beas shirt.
“Are you sure about this, what if they come back early?”
Bea just smiled back at her as she felt Allie fingers move to the button of her jeans, her head was full of crazy thoughts half of them made her feel like a teenager sneaking around behind her parents backs and that was something she had never done, had never had any need to do. Before she could think of anything else they were both naked.
“You're absolutely certain you want to do this?” Allie whispered.
Bea smiled, “Of course.” Bea leaned in and kissed her and Allie was certain she felt her heart skip a beat or three, her stomach fluttered and everything else just faded away, every reluctant thought escaped her head the second she looked into into deep brown eyes that smiled back at her with reassurance and a love that no one had ever shown her before. They left no part of each other untouched, for the first time in her life Bea believed that she deserved a chance at love, that she deserved something magical, that magic had simply started that night she took a chance and spoke to Allie.
A couple of hours later Allie ran her hand down Beas body as she slept in her arms, “I didn't mean to fall asleep,” Bea mumbled before her eyes fluttered open.
Allie smiled, “ I love you so much.” She whispered.
“Good thing I happen to love you to then.” Bea moved the hair that had fallen over Allies face, “I feel so lucky to be with you.”
Allie kissed her softly, “Wait until you try one of my disastrous dinners, you might rethink that.”
Bea laughed, “Nice try but it's never happening, besides Franky warned me about your lack of cooking skills, I'd happily live on bread and water for the rest of my life if I had to…not sure Deb would be thrilled with that idea though.”
“And I always thought Franky could keep a secret.” Allie giggled back, “But you're right Debbie would not be impressed with that…speaking of Debbie I think we really should get up.”