Bernie and Serena shut the door behind Ric, the last guest to leave only because he insisted on having a very serious, if slightly tipsy and insistent, conversation about how they’re both doing. ( Just fine, thank you, Ric. We’re just fine. )
“And so commences the tidy-up operation,” Serena says, heading back into the kitchen. Bernie follows with a grumble. Right now, she’d rather sort out a pile of admin as tall as herself.
“Can’t it wait until the morning?”
Serena glances back at her with a fond smile, turning down the music that’s been playing and switching it to a smoother, slower playlist.
“I’m not leaving rubbish and scraps out in the garden as some sort of fox’s paradise.”
She steps out onto the patio, Bernie close behind. They survey the damage done by their impromptu barbecue, customarily quite last-minute because of a sudden dry spell in the rainy British summer.
There are used paper plates and plastic cups scattered on and around the garden furniture and over the lawn, where some people had set up camp on an old blanket. The grill is still fizzing slightly from Bernie dousing it a while ago and she makes a mental note to check it’s completely out before they go to bed, but she has no intention of cleaning it tonight, even if it will be harder to do so in the morning. She doesn’t have that kind of energy at gone 10.30 after an evening of socialising.
The playlist changes song and Bernie silently chuckles. She’d demanded the Mamma Mia 2 soundtrack be added to Serena’s music library as soon as they’d seen it in Kenya when Serena had come over for the Trauma Centre’s opening.
Serena sighs and moves to start gathering up the rubbish, but Bernie catches her hand.
She must see the soft look on Bernie’s face because she offers no more protest at Bernie pulling her close, bringing up their joined hands to sit on her collarbone and placing the other on the small of Serena’s back. Their cheeks rest against each other and Bernie starts to sway them in half-time to the music.
Take your time, make it slow
Andante, andante, just let the feeling grow
Serena snuggles into Bernie’s neck, lays her head on Bernie’s shoulder and places a kiss on her skin. Bernie holds her tighter, rests her head against Serena’s and breathes her in.
It almost feels to Bernie like a scene from one of those awful American romance films Serena’s prone to watching when she needs something banal to switch off her mind. The stars are out, the light from the kitchen is falling on the patio, the soft breeze is just on the right side of being too cool and she’s slow-dancing with the love of her life. It’s almost enough to make her cry.
Instead, she presses her lips to Serena’s hair and enjoys the feeling of absolute contentment she gets whenever Serena is in her arms.
Andante, andante, oh please don’t let me down
The song ends far too soon and Serena straightens up to smile sleepily at Bernie as another slow number starts to play. She leans into Bernie to nuzzle their noses together for a moment.
“I love you,” Bernie whispers as she catches Serena’s lips with her own in a soft, warm kiss, releasing Serena’s hand and moving her own to stroke Serena’s cheek.
“I love you, too,” Serena murmurs when they pull back a few millimetres, her now free hand finding its place in Bernie’s hair.
Bernie smiles and lets the familiar swell of her heart sweep through her, closing her eyes against another tender kiss.
“As much as I want to stay right here for… well, ever…” Serena giggles softly and Bernie huffs a laugh, agreeing with a nod. “We should probably clear up the worst of this.”
Serena gestures vaguely at the garden and Bernie sighs in resignation. She trails her thumb over Serena’s cheek one last time before reluctantly releasing her.
And so what if she spends more time watching Serena tidy than actually tidying herself? She’s pretty sure Serena’s doing the same.