“Chad, it was quite a scene earlier.” The reporter pointed to both ends of the street as the camera panned. “The cops had the roads blocked off where, yet another attempt was made on Kieran Luthor’s life. Unfortunately, the man that shot her evaded the police. As we know, this is the fourth attempt on the Academy Award winning actress’s life in the past three months. She’d been receiving death threats for the past year, but no evidence was left on the envelopes. Currently, we don’t know Ms. Luthor’s condition. Only that she was transported to National City hospital. From what witnesses have told us she was alive when the ambulance pulled out but that there was a lot of blood.”
“Thank you so much, Heather. Now back to---”
Kieran flicked the television off and would have threw the remote if it hadn’t been attached to the bed. The door opened a moment later and Detective Sawyer poked her head in. She was beautiful, but she was tired of seeing the detective’s face.
“Is this a good time?”
She rolled her eyes. “Would it matter if it wasn’t a good time?” She rolled her shoulder only to hiss when pain shot through her shoulder and up her neck. For only a nick, it hurt like hell and had bled something fierce.
When the letters started arriving, she hadn’t thought much about them. People sent shit letters all the time, but over the weeks, they had progressively gotten worse. I’ll kill you in your sleep, blah, blah, blah. It had only irked her at first, but when the first attempt was made on her life, it had just pissed her off, more than scaring her. How dare some deranged fan try and kill her. She’d upped her security per her manager’s instance, but even they couldn’t prevent the next two attacks. Now, with being shot, she wasn’t sure what Detective Sawyer would suggest.
Sawyer sat in the chair beside her hospital bed. “Honestly, no, it wouldn’t. Things have escalated.”
The detective licked her lips. “There’s more.”
Kieran held her eyes and her stomach dropped. “Tell me.”
“Your home was broken into before the attack on you.” She shook her head. “It was trashed. All the mirrors were broken, furniture overturned. You name it and it was probably done. We have CSI going over the scene, and we can only hope that he fucked up this time.”
“My cat,” Kieran ground out.
“Fine. Fluffy is fine. I had a deputy take her to the vet to make sure. He called before I came here and said she checked out fine.”
Kieran relaxed back into the bed. She loved her home, but the only thing that mattered to her was her cat. Fluffy was a Sphynx and she’d had her for past six years and was her constant companion. It would break her if the men after her tried to kill her cat. “Why are you here? You obviously don’t have any good news for me.”
“Your life is in terrible danger. For now, I would like you to go into protective custody.”
“What?” Kieran turned to give the detective her full attention. “You’ve had months to solve this and nothing. What makes you think me going into protective custody will make much of a difference?” What an idiotic idea.
“We’re hoping it will flush him,” she paused, “or her out. When they can’t find you, we’re hoping they’ll mess up.”
“This whole department is a joke. No, find another way.” Kieran flicked her
fingers in the detective’s direction.
“There isn’t another way. This is your life we’re talking about. Help me here.”
When the door shut, she closed her eyes. This was a nightmare. A nap was definitely in order. At least she wasn’t dead, how much worse could it get.
The next time she opened her eyes the room was dark, except for a sliver of light peeking through the curtain. A glance at the clock on the wall showed she’d been asleep for a little over four hours. After using the bathroom and turning up the lights, she relaxed back on the bed.
The doctor had told her earlier that she would be staying the night and she would have to make the best of it. She hadn’t heard from Jess, her personal assistant all day. She hoped everything was okay. She looked around for her phone when her door opened, and the detective walked in followed by another woman.
The woman had on blue jeans, cowboy boots and a plaid button down. Kieran could see a white undershirt peeking through the top of the over shirt. On her head was a baseball cap. Long blond hair peeked out through the hole in the back. She was beautiful. Not even the black glasses on her face could hide that fact. But she looked just as happy to be there as Kieran was to have her there.
The detective threw a paper on the bed. “Congratulation’s. You’re dead.”
“What?” Kieran upfolded the paper and as the words appeared, her heart rate increased. No. No. No.
Academy Award winning actress Kieran Luthor was shot and killed earlier today by her stalker.
Underneath the caption was a rather flattering picture from her shot with Annie Leibowitz. Her accomplishments printed under that. Then a few quotes from notable celebrities. Huh. Meryl Streep even spoke out about her death. She’d always been a fan of Meryl’s and now it looked like Meryl had been a fan of hers. If she wasn’t dead she would have sent her a nice bouquet.
“Kieran, you didn’t give me a choice,” the detective said.
This was a nightmare. She crumpled the paper in her hands. There was no going back from this now. Nope. Now, she was dead, and she had really been looking forward to her role on that Superhero show. Even if it was only for three episodes. “So, how long am I supposed to stay dead?” At least now she would get to see what all her so-called friends thought of her. Bloody bastards better speak well of her.
“As long as it takes. We’ve got some leads. We’re hoping when your memorial for the public happens it will draw them out.”
“And when is that?” It better be televised. She would enjoy watching who showed up. At least she didn’t have any family that would greive her. Her father and brother were dead and her mother, well, she was dead to her. She only felt a bit of unease of what her fans were going through. They loved her and she loved them. Hopefully, in the wake of her death, they were taking proper care of themselves. She would make it up to them somehow when she came back to life.
“A month from today.”
Great. She folded the paper and laid it on her tray. “A month. What am I supposed to do until then? I’m sure you have it all figured out.” Her eyes strained to the other occupant of the room.
“I have. We are the only three people that will know your whereabouts. This is a good friend of mine. Kara.” Sawyer waved her over. “Kara Danvers, Kieran Luthor. You’ll be staying with Kara for the foreseeable future.”
Kieran eyed Sawyer than Kara. From the looks of her it looked like she lived on a ranch. That she could do. She loved horses and hot weather didn’t bother her. “Where is your ranch located?”
Kara grimaced. “I don’t live on a ranch.”
Huh. What was with the getup then? “Where do you live?”
“In Montana,” Kara answered.
“Montana, but not on a ranch?”
“Nope.” Kara rocked back on her heels.
The way her p popped, Kieran wanted to smack her. “Does someone care to fill me in?”
“I have a homestead in Montana, but not a ranch. It’s fully self-reliant.”
“Self-reliant. Like the Alaska bush people?”
Kara scrunched her nose up. “Sort of, but more real.” She waved her hands in the air. “You know. Not fake.”
What. A. Nightmare. She wasn’t a snob, but this was horrible. Better to be in the middle of nowhere dead, then in the midst of the people she guessed. “Well, I at least hope the pathway to the outhouse is lit.”
Kara blinked at her. “Technically, there is an outhouse on the property, but I usually just use the bathroom. But, if you want, I can make the outhouse functional for you? I may even be able to acquire running water, but hot water will probably be pushing it.” She deadpanned.
Oh. A smartass. This was going to be wonderful.
“I promise.” Sawyer said. “Kara’s place is wonderful.”
“When was the last time you where there?”
“Yes, Maggie,” Kara said, grin firmly on her lips. “When was the last time you where there?”
So, her first name was Maggie. It suited her. She should have known that. Shouldn’t she?
“Okay. It’s been a while, but I’ve seen pictures. It’s beautiful.”
Speaking of pictures. “Where’s my phone?”
“Confiscated. It’s evidence.”
“You can’t be serious. My whole life is on that phone.”
Maggie shrugged. “It is what it is.” She clapped her hands. “Now. I’ve got everything planned. Fluffy is already at Kara’s hotel and you’ll be staying with her tonight, then first thing tomorrow you’ll be heading to Montana. It’ll only take a couple of days to get there. Now, make sure Kara does all the talking, but to make things easier a change of appearance is in order.”
“No.” Good grief. Two days in the car with Kara. And she loved the way she looked.
Maggie smiled and dug through the bag she’d brought. “I think black should do it.”
“You want me to dye my hair black?” She’d been blonde all her life and never even thought to change it.
“Yes, and you’ll have no need for contacts for the next few months. Just use your glasses. I took them from your house. I’ll make sure everything in your house is put into storage.”
“For what it matters, I think you’ll look amazing with dark hair,” Kara threw in.
“It doesn’t matter,” Kieran said. “What happens now?” she directed her question to Maggie.
“Now, we’ll dye your hair then get you out of here.”
“What about all the reporters?” Seemed the detective had everything in order which made her feel a bit better about this situation.
“That won’t be a problem,” Maggie said. “They left when the hearse carrying your body left. It has already been taken to the crematorium.”
That was fast. She must have died quickly? “What about an autopsy?”
“Already taken care of. Your name has been a constant in the papers for the last year. You’re autopsy was rushed through.”
“Who’s in the hearse?” She was almost afraid to ask.
Maggie sighed. “A nobody. Well, according to the public, a nobody. A homeless woman that no one has claimed. A Jane doe.”
Kieran clamped her mouth shut. Fuck. “When this is all over, I want her ashes to be deposed of properly. A grave site of her own, not one meant for me. I’ll pay for everything.” She paused. “What’s going to happen to my money?” Kara rolled her eyes at the question, but Kieran ignored her.
“Per your will it will go into a trust. After all this is over, it will go back to you.”
Her will. Shit. This was all real. She was dead and about to become another person. “What will be my new name in this new life?” They looked at her dumbfounded. She could always go by Lena, but she hadn’t been Lena for a long time. After she went to live with the Luthor’s they figured a new name for a new start, so they legally changed her first name to her middle name. “You know when I meet other people. At the store. On the street. At a restaurant.” The way Kara looked at Maggie was unsettling.
“Well, see,” Maggie started. “Winter is coming.” Maggie stopped like that explained everything.
Kara shook her head. “What Maggie is trying to say is. With winter coming, we’ll be snowed in for up to three months, maybe more. The forecast for snowfall is said to suppress last year and I was snowed in for close to four months.” She shrugged. “Alex and I were able to visit each other but, not much else.”
Great. A boyfriend. Something else she didn’t want to deal with. “Four months. Just the two of us and maybe Alex?”
“Yep. Alex is my sister.”
Well, sister was better than boyfriend. Maybe. “What about food? Electricity? Heat?”
“I hunt but will stock up on supplies once we hit the state line. There are a few stores I can pick up supplies cheaper. I Have solar panels and a wood stove, but I also rely on natural gas. I have a well, but the water I use is also supplied by the creek by my house. For the winter the well usually gets me through. Last year I purchased a thousand-gallon water tank and set it up in my garage for extra water. In case we can’t access the well water. I promise you’ll be well taken care of. I even have a guest room you can sleep in instead of the couch. I won’t dispute it if you want to sleep on the couch though.”
Was this even real life? She knew people lived like this and was happy, she just never figured she would have to. She wondered how long Maggie had been planning this. “What about television? Internet?”
“I don’t have any use for a t.v. and can only get internet if I travel a few miles to my sister’s place, but that’s really not that often. I have a small library with the classics and a few newer books.”
No internet. “What if we’re in trouble? Do you even have a phone?”
“No offense,” Kara said, straightening to her full height and crossing her arms. “But, I’ve lived there for the past eight years with no problems. I’m doing Maggie a favor. You can either take it or leave it, but I won’t have you questioning the way I live until you’ve at lease saw the place.”
Kieran huffed. She was ashamed to say that bit of passion from Kara defending her home was a bit of a turn on and her muscles flexing didn’t hurt either, but Kara did make a good point. For goodness sake, Kieran had volunteered in Africa and with a tribe in the rain forest she most definitely would survive a few months alone with Kara Danvers.
Even if it killed her.
It’s not like she could die twice.
Kara blew out the breath she’d been holding, juggled the four bags in her arms and opened her hotel room door. As she shut the door behind her, she spied Fluffy perched in the middle of the bed.
Kieran had to have a sense of humor to name a hairless cat Fluffy. The cat was cute in an ugly sort of way, but she would never tell Kieran that.
She had seen a couple of shows the actress was in but didn’t really pay much attention to the entertainment industry. She loved where she lived and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Well, maybe one thing. It would be nice to meet someone to settle down with. There had been Mike and Lucy, but both wanted her to change the way she lived, and she just couldn’t do that. She would have been willing to compromise but they didn’t want that.
Kara eyed the cat whose eyes hadn’t left her since she walked in. Kara didn’t lie, she had natural gas and a wood stove, but she didn’t want Fluffy to get cold, so she’d stopped by the pet store and picked her up a few sweaters for her. Now she just had to get one on her. She pulled out the red plaid one and approached the bed.
Fluffy was pretty docile as Kara maneuvered the sweater over her slim frame. She was actually impressed. First by how well Fluffy behaved and how well the sweater fit.
When she stood back to look at her handy work, Fluffy stretched and walked to the edge of the bed and meowed.
“I’m hungry to, but I have to wait for Maggie and Kieran.”
After Kara had taken a few photos she took a can of cat food out of the bag and emptied it into a small dish she’d also picked up. The food Kieran bought Fluffy was expensive and if Kara had to pay for the cat food, they’d have to get something cheaper. She loved her way of life but being frugal was a necessity.
Fluffy didn’t seem to mind the cheaper food and dug in as Kara emptied the rest of the bags.
Per Maggie’s guidelines she’d picked up a few pairs of jeans and t-shirts for Kieran, along with a couple of sweaters, socks and a pair of boots. Kara couldn’t afford a new coat for her, so Kieran would have to use one of hers.
As it was now, she would be pushing her food budget to accommodate two people. She’d went over the specs and she could make it work, but they would have to eat rice and beans probably more then they both would like. Hopefully for both their sakes, Maggie would catch Kieran’s stalker sooner rather than later.
When her parents died fifteen years ago she’d moved in with the Danvers. When she turned eighteen, the land her parents had left her in their will was turned over to her. Close to three hundred acres. For two years, her, Alex, Eliza, and Jeremiah worked the land until her and Alex each had a small homestead they could call theirs. For Christmas that year, she had gifted a shocked Alex the land in which her home was built plus fifty acres and had given Eliza and Jeremiah the option to build on a part of the land as well. They had yet to take her up on their offer, but she knew they were considering it.
Alex worked as a guide in the mountains eight months out of the year, but she loved it when she was able to have those few months to herself to energize. The money she made easily afforded her the ability to live the lifestyle she loved.
Kara, on the other hand, had to work at a few different things to earn a living.
She hunted for her meat and used the hide of the animals to create messenger bags that she sold to a high-end dealer in L.A. For the sale of each of those it netted her close to four hundred dollars. She wasn’t stupid. She knew what they were selling for, but she liked not having to do the selling herself and the dealer she sold them to had an amazing marketing plan. A hundred bags sold could easily net her close to forty thousand dollars, but she was saving most of that because she wanted to expand her homestead to include a large outbuilding where she could try her hand at woodworking and different things. She’d only managed a hundred bags one year, it was usually close to sixty bags, so she also supplemented her income with fishing. She wasn’t fond of eating fish, but she loved to fish and the price she would make from selling the seafood was well worth her time catching and smoking them. She made the most profit from the sale of smoked eel’s.
She picked up her phone and shot a quick text off to Alex. The only thing she’d lied to Kieran about was the internet access. The only place she could pick it up was in a corner of her bedroom, where her computer was set up, but Maggie stressed Kieran didn’t need to know that. It was for her own safety and Kara would make sure she didn’t use it.
Taking Kieran in wasn’t something she was upset about, but it was something she hadn’t expected or planned for. Her and Maggie had been friends for years and Kara didn’t see any reason to turn down her request. She did kind of wonder why Maggie had chosen her and not Alex to keep Kieran company.
When Fluffy was finished, Kara switched out the food bowl for the water bowl and when Fluffy had her fill, she walked back to the center of the bed and fell asleep.
Kara loved pets, but her dog had died last year, and she couldn’t bring herself to adopt another one. Maybe it was time.
With the knock on the door came, Kara took a deep breath. Kieran was a beautiful woman with blonde hair and Kara had a feeling with dark hair, Kieran would take her breath away.
Kara knew after Kieran’s stalker was caught, she would go back to her life and leave Kara and their time together behind. She only had to get through the next few months.
With a last minute internal pep talk Kara opened the door.
Nothing prepared her for the vision before her. Kieran didn’t even look like the same woman.
She ushered them both inside and shut the door. With black hair and glasses she looked like a completely different woman. The jeans and t-shirt made her look more approachable. Oh, shit. She was in trouble.
“Kara,” Maggie said, then pointed to Kieran. “I would like you to meet Lena.”
Lena was a nice name. She looked like a Lena.
Kara had just taken a step forward when Lena’s voice had her stopping in her tracks.
“What the hell did you do to my cat?”
Lena frowned and stabbed the pen onto the paper, making a list of the things her and Fluffy would need. She wouldn’t complain about Kara feeding her cat even though it wasn’t the brand Fluffy usually ate. Though, Kara knew this since Lena had told her right before she left the hospital to do some shopping. If Kara couldn’t follow simple instructions, Lena knew this arraignment would never work.
She could see from the mirror that Kara and Fluffy were curled on the bed looking at something on Kara’s phone. Fluffy looked ridiculous in that sweater. Kara had some nerve. Yes, her cat was family, but she wasn’t about to dress her up. She always made sure Fluffy stayed warm. Now, here was some stranger questioning her parenting skills. Lena sent a death glare at Kara through the mirror, but she continued to look at her phone with that dopey smile on her face.
When Kara finally glanced up from her phone and smiled even wider at her, Lena flipped her off and went back to writing. The sound of Kara’s laughter and Fluffy’s meow only grated on Lena at this point. Who was this person to take her cat away from her? Stupid Kara and her stupid homestead.
“You know,” Kara said. “I’m sorry you had to die for the cops to find the men stalking you. That’s something I’ve never understood.”
Lena rolled her eyes. “People dying?”
“No, stalkers.” Kara shrugged, then proceeded to scratch a willing Fluffy’s neck. “If someone’s not interested just move on. No harm done.”
“I’m sure you’ve had that a lot huh? People moving on.”
The smile on Kara’s face deemed and Lena only felt a moment of regret. Sometimes her mouth would get away from her. She’d have to work on that.
“I suppose I have,” was all Kara said. “What’s that you’re working on?”
Lena stood and snatched the paper up. “Here.” Kara took the list and started reading it.
“Really?” Lena rolled her eyes. “It’s a list of things we’re going to need.”
“I see that.” Kara swallowed. “But, I’m not going to be able to afford all of this.”
Did this woman really think Lena would make her pay for everything. “Don’t be stupid. I’ll pay for it. You just need to buy it.”
“With what?” Kara set the paper on the nightstand.
“With what, what?”
“What are you going to pay for it with?”
Could this woman really be this dense. “With money. How else do you pay for things?”
“Well, there’s sex and barter.”
Lena blinked. “Maybe in your world. But, in mine I use money.” She waved her hand in the air. “Just use the money detective Sawyer gave you and buy as much as you can. Get Fluffy’s food first.”
Kara licked her lips. “First off, Fluffy liked the food I bought her just fine.”
Lena crossed her arms. “She was traumatized.”
“Does she look traumatized?”
Fluffy was laying on her back with her legs stretched out with a contented smile on her face as Kara rubbed her sweater clad belly.
“Your point?” Lena never thought she would see the day that Fluffy turned on her.
“Second, you don’t have any money and I can’t afford all of this. Third, you may only have to stay with me a month, but we need to aim for three. Even if Maggie wraps this up in a month, the winters can get bad. We need to shoot for the worst.”
Lena stilled. “What do you mean I don’t have any money?” She knew she wouldn’t be able to access her bank accounts, but she had almost eight hundred dollars in her purse when she was shot and that wasn’t counting the money she kept stashed at her home.
“Maggie didn’t give me any money. She told me to keep track of the money I spent on you and you’d reimburse me.”
“No money.” Lena frowned. “Fine, I’ll reimburse you.”
Kara rubbed her neck. “I don’t have any extra money. My budget this year is tight. I can’t afford a lot of extra. It’s going to be pushing it with the extra staples I have to buy in food and Fluffy’s things.” Kara picked the paper up. “I have soap and things at home. You can use those. Do I look dirty?”
In fact, she looked the opposite of dirty. Even with the sour look on her face she was beautiful, and her skin was glowing. Lena could tell she was a bit embarrassed by her money situation and the last thing she wanted was for her to feel bad. She had to remember Kara didn’t have to take her in but she was. There was an easy solution to this. “Call Maggie.”
“Because I want to know where my purse is? Along with my money.” They’d taken her phone which she didn’t miss as much as she thought she would. What surprised her the most was that she didn’t care what anyone was saying about her death. She was relieved, but she didn’t want to dwell on those thoughts to long.
After four rings the phone was picked up.
“Hello,” Maggie said.
“Maggie, where is the money from my purse? You really can’t expect Kara to pay for everything?”
“Well, the purse is evidence in your murder and, as you know, your house is also an active crime scene. I can’t take anything from there. CSI are still combing through it hoping they missed something. Everything in your purse was logged into evidence. I don’t like putting this burden on Kara, but I didn’t have a choice.”
“I understand,” Lena said.
“Is that all you needed?” Maggie asked.
“Good night and safe travels in the morning.”
“That makes sense,” Lena said, when the reality of the situation hit her.
She was dead? Or at least Kieran was. In that moment, nothing she’d done up and to this point, seemed to matter. Not even all the awards and praise for her movies. She didn’t even have the money to feed her cat now. She had to rely on a stranger. She took a deep breath and took the paper back, balling it up, and throwing it in the trash.
“As long as Fluffy has food and flea medicine I’ll survive.”
“No, it’s fine.” Lena ran her fingers through her hair and was once again struck at how different she looked. “The reality of the situation just hit me.”
Standing before the mirror she really was a different woman. Hardly recognizable. She’d needed a vacation, but these lengths did seem a bit extreme. Without a second thought, she scooped up a willing Fluffy and cradled her in her arms, then walked to the window and looked out. The view of the parking lot left a lot to be desired, but at the moment she couldn’t bring herself to care. She continued staring out even when Kara’s cellphone rang, and she answered.
“I’m fine, Alex.”
“No, we’ll be leaving tomorrow morning. Should take us a couple of days to get there.”
God willing. Any longer and she’d kill herself again. She hated long car rides.
“I think you will. It’s nice, you know.”
Lena frowned at Kara’s reflection in the window.
“She’s great. Really. You know I wouldn’t bring someone home unless I knew.”
Lena’s frown deepened. What was she going on about? Bring someone home. The dread Lena was feeling before had suddenly magnified two-fold.
“I’ll only let you meet mine if I can meet yours.”
Oh no. Lena turned from the window to a smiling and waving Kara.
“I’m looking at her now and she’s the loveliest woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
For a moment, Lena was flattered, then Kara’s next words shattered that illusion.
“Alex, we’ve been over this. You can meet my girlfriend if I can meet yours.”
Girlfriend. And she had thought things couldn’t get any worse. Not matter the fleeting joy she had felt at the smile Kara directed at her.
“I love you, too. We will be.”
Lena waited until she hung up to speak. “Girlfriend?”
“Let me guess.” Kara stood. “Maggie didn’t tell you about that part either. Maggie sure did leave a lot out.” Kara shook her head and took off her plaid shirt, only leaving her in a tank top. A tight tank top. Lena kept her features neutral even though seeing Kara’s muscles on display was most definitely affecting her. This was the worst time to become a useless lesbian.
“No, she didn’t. I thought you lived alone?”
“I do, but my sister would have never believed me If I told her I was bringing a friend to stay with me. I wouldn’t do that. At least not for a long period of time. I like my solitude. No, the only way this would work is if she thought we’d been dating for a while and we wanted to spend the winter together.”
“So, not only am I dead, but I’m also in a relationship with you.”
Kara’s answering grin sent flutters through Lena. Not only was her cat a traitor but so was her body.
Kara slipped her hands into the pockets of her jeans. “We’ve been talking for the last eight months, but this is the first time we’ll have spent any length of time together. That way even if we look awkward together, it will still be believable. Just a fair warning,” Kara said, bending over and rummaging through her bag. She stood with a triumphant look on her face, holding up a pair of lounge pants, with smiling faces on them and a matching tank top. “I can be very affectionate with the people I’m close to. I’m going to shower; do you need to go?”
“Be out in a few.”
Lena slumped down on her bed when the bathroom door shut, and let Fluffy go, who jumped to Kara’s bed and curled up in the spot she’d vacated. Lena lay back and stared at the ceiling. First, dead, now committed. This was not her life.
No, she sat up, wide-eyed. This wasn’t Kieran’s life. Kieran was dead, but Lena was very much alive. It wasn’t every day one had the means to reinvent themselves, but she’d been handed that chance on a silver platter. A small platter, but a platter none-the-less. Not ideal, but she would take it.
She’d never gotten a chance to be Lena. A thrill ran through her at all coming months. At not being constantly hounded by the paparazzi. Yes, she loved the limelight, but she loved the silence too. “Fluffy, I think this may be the second chance we need.” Fluffy meowed.
Now, all she had to do was get over the pesky attraction she felt toward Kara. She may be a bitch at times, but she wasn’t uncaring. She’d only be with Kara a month at the minimum and a few months at the most. Kara didn’t strike her as the type of woman for a short-lived romance and Lena wasn’t the type of woman to lead someone on. Truthfully, she was looking for someone to spend her life with and didn’t do well with one-night stands.
First, though, they had to make it to Montana, then Lena could start living again. It was way past time for that and she was ready to try, for the first time in her life, to be whoever she wanted to be.
Looking in the mirror a second time, she didn’t see a stranger at all, she saw the woman she never got to be, but the woman she’d always wished she could have been.
Kara drummed her hands on the steering wheel. They’d been on the road for a few hours and for the most part Lena had been quiet. Kara had noticed a change in her after she’d gotten out of the shower the night before but had kept the observation to herself. In just the short time she’d known her, Lena seemed to be the type to hold a lot close to her chest. Kara didn’t like being pushed and would never do that to her silent driving buddy.
She glanced in the rearview mirror into the back seat where Fluffy’s face was squished against the door of her carrier. “You can let Fluffy out if you want.”
Lena shot her a glare and went back to her word find. “She’s fine where she is. I will not take the chance of us getting into an accident and her flying around the truck.”
“Fair enough.” Occasionally, Fluffy would meow and Kara would feel sorry for her, but she would keep her mouth shut. She should have known Lena would be protective after she’d gotten a look at Fluffy’s padded carrier.
Lena huffed and shut the puzzle book. “Do you have anything to eat?”
“In the back beside Fluffy’s carrier is a small bag. I have snacks in there. There’s also water in the cooler in the back.”
Kara had already gone over this, but she assumed, and assumed correctly, that Lena hadn’t been listening, but she could tell Lena was trying. She just wasn’t sure how well Lena would like the food she had to offer.
“What is this?” Lena held up a small vacuumed sealed bag.
“Deer jerky. I make it myself.” She learned a long time ago not to be ashamed of the way she lived, and she wasn’t going to start now. “It’s tasty.”
“It’s okay if I eat it?”
“Of course. That’s why I brought it.” She heard the wrapper open and waited a moment to ask. “You like it?”
Kara smiled. “Good.”
“It’s really tender.”
“It’s all in how you marinade it.”
They were quite for the next thirty miles. “So,” Lena said. “Tell me about your home.”
“Well, I’m not sure what you’re expecting.”
“No, don’t do that.” Lena waved her hand in the air. “It’s obvious you’re proud of it. I know how I acted at the beginning and I’m sure it’s going to be quite the learning curve for me, but I would really like to know.”
“Okay.” Kara relaxed back in her seat.
“I know you said you didn’t live on a ranch, but do you have any animals?”
“I do. I have chickens and a few goats, plus Krypton, my horse.”
“Oh.” Lena turned to her. “I love horses, but why Krypton?”
“I enjoy comic books. Surprised?”
“A little. I guess you didn’t strike me as the type, but I can see it.”
“Do you not like them?”
“Oh, I do, but I’ve always been a fan of Wonder woman. Back to your animals.”
“I have a fairly good size barn beside my house.” Kara passed two tractor-trailers then pulled back into the right-side lane. “I’m trying to save my money, so I can add big pole barn. The barn I have now houses my chickens, who all have names, by the way, Krypton and my two goats. The chickens are at one end of the barn, while the goats are at the other and I have Krypton’s stall somewhere in the center. Beside the barn I have a smokehouse and a little further down is the outhouse I told you about. I also have a greenhouse beside my house.”
Kara smiled. “I keep a large woodstove in the barn to keep the animals warm. The last thing I want is something happening to them because they got cold. They help me live but I’ve grown quite fond of them.”
“What are the goats for?”
“Milk. They don’t produce a lot, but I plan on expanding next summer. I can get two quarts from Mable in a day and if I’m lucky Mavis can give me around four quarts. I usually reserve a little to drink or cook with then I use the rest for cheese.”
“Tell me about how you sustain yourself.”
“Well, I like running water and electricity, so I’m not a purist like some people are, but I can live without the aid of any other interference. I keep two large freezes in a portion of the lower part of my house, which holds all my meat and food for the year. I vacuum seal it, so everything stays fresher longer. I got the freezers at a steal when a butcher was going out of business. I also bought some of his equipment, so I can make things myself. It’s nice being able to make my own sausage and stuff. My house runs on natural gas, but I have backup solar panels for my freezers. I bought enough panels that I knew the freezers wouldn’t be in danger of them quitting on me. I have the freezers surfaced every year. They were serviced last week, and everything looked fine. It would kill me to lose all the meat I’ve put up. I was lucky, Alex not so much. I already had a small deposit of natural gas on my property. Alex didn’t. But I always like to be prepared, hence the solar panels. I usually use my woodstove to cook stews and stuff on. I just like the taste. I don’t like to overtax my resources, that’s why I have so many. I like being prepared. That’s why I bought the water tank. I built a small room off the barn to set the tank up in. I didn’t want us running out of water. I got it at a good price from a local famer. It just needed a bit of elbow grease.”
“Why though? What’s so freeing about living that way?”
“It’s great. I live on an amazing piece of land. From the balcony of my house you can see for miles. The wildlife, the creek, just everything. It’s so liberating. I don’t have to worry about neighbors or the sounds of the city. The wildflowers in the summer are breathtaking and sitting on my balcony and listening to the rushing water of the creek. There’s no better sound.”
“It’s hard work.”
“Oh, it is, but so worth it.” Kara took a sip of her water. “When I first inherited the land, I had a lot of people telling me what I should do with it. I was young, but I already knew what I wanted to do with it. There had to be at least a dozen people I pissed off when I asked a local logger to come in and clear ten acres from both mine and Alex’s land. I guess they thought I was disrespecting it. I don’t know. But the loggers got trees and I got a nice paycheck. All in all, it worked out. It took a little over two years before I had it the way I wanted it before I moved in.”
“You haven’t told me what your house looks like.”
“Nothing to be afraid of I assure you. I debated a lot about what I wanted but I like to reuse things and Alex and I were driving the length of our property one day and setting in this field was exactly what I needed.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask.”
“Shipping containers. I got them cheap and stacked them three wide and three high. They turned out better than I ever expected.”
“What do you mean three high?”
“I have three beside each other than I stacked another two on the farthest container to the left. It looks quite scary from outside, but I assure you, it’s secure and has an amazing view. The wood stove runs up through all three levels, plus I have the duct work for the natural gas for the heat and A/C. I may want to live off the land but I’m not a fan of the summer months.”
Lena turned to her. “Tell me more.”
“The top level is my bedroom. It always grounds me when I wake up and look outside and see what beauty really is. The second level is my studio. It’s where I work on my crafts and such. The bottom level is the kitchen, I kept it small because I don’t have much company, the living room, bathroom, and the storage room for freezers. What I mainly wanted the money from the trees for is what’s below my house.”
“A septic system.”
“Oh, no. Don’t get me wrong I had enough money that I put in a sewage tank. I wanted to do things right from the start and spent a little extra time and money to have it that way. No what I’m talking about is my cellar. Inside the storage room is a door that leads into my cellar. It’s amazing. I have a spot for my food and staples and I closed off a small portion of it for my collection of wine.”
“Wine. I didn’t take you for a wine drinker.”
“Oh, I love it and I barter with a man in the next county over for his strawberry wine. It’s so good.”
“You make it all sound so whimsical.”
“It is, but Lena it is hard work. I’ve worked my ass off to get to where I am. Not everyone had the means to do what I did. My parents weren’t well off, but they left me with enough. I wasn’t about to squander what they left me. I wanted to make something of myself. I spent every last penny and work hard every year, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And before you ask, my cellar isn’t some dark and dingy place. It has walls and everything. Alex and Jeremiah helped me put in a nice shelving system to hold my canned goods.”
“You know, Kara, you keep surprising me.”
“I do tend to do that with people.” A beat later. “I have to pee, do you?”
Lena chuckled. “If you stop I can go.”
Kara knew when she talked about her home it could sometimes come off as easy and that’s what a lot of people thought, but it was the most backbreaking work she’d ever done. She was up early and got to bed late. As it was, sometimes, it never felt like there were enough hours in the day.
“I assume you hunt?” Lena asked when Kara pulled into the rest area.
“I do. I keep most of the meat for myself but every year I catch a certain number of deer for one of the butchers in town and he allows me credits in his grocery store for other things I might need.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“Lena, it’s a dangerous way to live. I got cornered by a mountain lion last year and almost didn’t make it out alive. The year before last I lost control of my snowmobile on a patch of black ice and the only reason I’m still alive is because Alex just happened to be with me that day. It’s not an easy life, but it’s worth it. I promise I will do everything in my power to make sure nothing happens to you. I do want to get another hunting trip in before the start of winter, but you don’t have to go, but I could use your help if you’re willing?”
Lena was quiet for so long, Kara was starting to worry she’d said too much. “I’m not going to let you do everything, Kara. I’ll pull my own weight. It’s not something I’m used to, but I’ll help. I don’t want to squander the time I’ll be spending with you.”
“All right then.”
They walked side by side into the rest area. “You know,” Kara said. “I have some scrap fabric that Fluffy would look awesome in. It can’t be that hard to make her a sweater.”
Lena groaned. “Well, let’s see if I can’t keep you busy enough not to even attempt it.”
“I think I would like that.”
Lena drummed her hands on the steering wheel then realized what she was doing and stopped. They’d been at a standstill for almost two hours on the interstate because of a four-car pile-up fifty miles ahead of them.
Kara was fast asleep in the passenger seat and had been for the past hour. Fluffy was passed out in Kara’s arms. Kara had insisted Fluffy be let out when they had first stopped, and Lena had found no reason to object. Fluffy had been ecstatic and had quickly snuggled into Kara.
When Lena took over driving, she’d thought about everything Kara had told her about her homestead and was excited to see it. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she wasn’t one to turn her back on hard work either and would be willing to put in the hours that Kara needed her too.
The plan was to make it to Kara’s homestead today, but that had been blown out of the water by the accident. A cop had came by twenty minutes ago and informed them it would be another two hours before the accident was cleaned up.
From all accounts, it was a fatality accident and even though she wasn’t religious, Lena had sent up a short prayer for everyone involved. In her line of work, she knew, your life could change at a moments notice.
She sat back and closed her eyes. It was surprising how much her and Kara had in common considering their different lifestyles. Kara was funny, charming, and sexy as hell. It was a wicked combination and Lena knew if Kara was willing they could explore the chemistry between them. She had a feeling Kara would be very willing. But, Lena also knew she could easily fall in love with a woman like Kara. It was a dangerous situation she’d found herself in. One she would have to tiptoe through.
For now, she was going to stick to light flirting and let the chips fall where they may. Or at least that’s the plan she’d come up with over the past hour.
“Is it going to be much longer?”
Kara’s voice had Lena opening her eyes and for a moment she’d wished she’d kept them shut. Kara had a dopey smile on her face and all Lena wanted to do was kiss it away.
Shit. Abort. Abort.
She shook her head. “Sorry.” She focused on the cars in front of them. “Probably another hour and a half.”
“I hate this,” Kara said. “I know people die every day, but to know that someone lost their life not far from here, and we’re going to pass by, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Someone’s life has been turned upside down and it breaks my heart.” Kara lifted Fluffy and kissed her nose before settling her back against her chest. “Not to mention the people that were taken to the hospital. Who knows what types of injuries they have. It’s just sad.”
Lena swallowed. She’d never met anyone like Kara before. It was so refreshing. “I know. Losing someone you love to illness is one thing, but this.” She snapped her fingers. “This would be so much harder. At least with an illness you get to say goodbye.”
“I agree, but it’s never easy to lose someone, no matter the consequences.”
“No, it’s not.”
The air was heavy so, Lena decided to go with the flow that she’d talked herself into. “So.” She swallowed. “Do you have any hobbies?” Lena shifted so she was facing Kara and Kara did the same.
“I like to paint when I have time, but other things take priority. I enjoy hunting. I know it’s controversial for a lot of people, but I always try and make sure the animal never suffers and I use every part of the animal I can.”
“What do you do with the bones?”
“I make knifes. The bones make nice handles. I’ve gotten quite good at it, and it takes no time for me to get one finished. I usually make a bunch up and sell them at the yearly craft festival in the nearest town. Alex and I set a booth up and, depending on crowd size can come away with a nice payday. Besides, I enjoy meeting new people.”
“What do you like to do for fun?”
Lena bit her lip and contemplated lying. Most people made fun of her when she told them of her hobby.
“Oh,” Kara said. “This is going to be good, isn’t it?”
“Promise not to laugh.”
“I’ll promise to try.”
Lena shook her head. “Okay. So, when I was growing up life could be difficult but there was one thing that could always bring a smile to my face.”
“Go on,” Kara encouraged her.
Lena nodded. “The characters never failed to cheer me up. The M&M collectibles are vast, so I figured I would stick to one thing that was easy to store and something I could switch out in my office regularly. I collect M&M ads. From all over the world. You would be surprised how many different one’s there are.” She shrugged, feeling a bit foolish when Kara didn’t say anything. That was one of the reasons she never opened up to anyone. It always backfired. “I know, it’s silly.”
“No, Lena. No.” Kara placed her hand on Lena’s forearm and squeezed. “It’s not silly at all. It’s nice. Thank you for sharing that with me.” Kara took her hand back.
It was nice not being judged for once and Kara always seemed to say the right thing. “Thank you, Kara.”
“You’re welcome.” She took a sip of her water. “Alex is a big fan of otters, so she collects otter pictures. She has tons, but it brings her joy and that’s all that really matters. I collect leaves.”
“Like from trees?”
Kara’s eyes lite up. “Not just trees, from flowers and weeds. From anything that has leaves. I press and dry them, and I have two big binders full. It fun, but I know it’s not for everyone. The world would be a boring place if everyone liked the same things.”
They both jumped when Kara’s cellphone went off. Kara hesitated.
“Answer it,” Lena said.
Kara swiped her finger across the screen. “Alex.”
Lena tried to drown out the conversation, but it was hard with Kara right beside her.
“No, we’re stopping for tonight and getting an early start tomorrow morning.” Kara scratched Fluffy’s neck. “I’ve already called and got us a reservation for tonight.” A pause. “I love you, too.”
“She sounds like she worries a lot,” Lena said, accepting the small bag of Lays Kara handed her.
“She does, but it’s only because she cares so much.”
The only sound was the crunch from the chips.
“So, I’m probably not going to like this room you booked for us, am I?”
Kara laughed. “I’m sure it won’t be up to your standards, but it was the only hotel in the area that allowed pets and had an opening. There’s a circus in town and a high school baseball tournament. We were lucky to get a room.”
“I’m sorry.” Lena sighed and sipped her water. “I’m not trying to be difficult. Not really. If the room’s clean, I’ll be fine.”
“I’m going to hold you to that,” Kara said, and Lena got a really bad feeling.
Two hours later, Lena was standing inside their room, staring at the bed.
The one bed.
It was a big bed, but it was still only one bed. Kara was laying out on the left side, with Fluffy perched beside her and they were watching something on the television.
“You’ve been standing there for ten minutes,” Kara said. “You sure you’re okay?”
Lena shook off her shock. “I’m fine.” This was not going to play well into her decision not to tackle Kara and have her way with her.
Kara smirked. “If you’re sure.”
“You know.” Lena placed her hand on the mattress and tested the softness, then looked up at Kara. “If you were a gentlewoman you would allow me and Fluffy to take the bed and you’d take the chair.” Lena pointed to the less than appealing recliner in the corner of the room.
“See here’s the thing.” Kara stood and approached her. “I never said I was a gentlewoman.” At Lena’s wide eyed stare she went on. “I’m taking a shower. So, you have ten maybe fifteen minutes to get used to the idea that we’re going to be sleeping together tonight.” Kara winked. “I promise to keep my hands to myself, but I do like to cuddle.” She shrugged. “Who knows what our bodies will get up to when we’re asleep.”
Lena swallowed when the bathroom door shut then flopped onto the bed, heart racing. What in the hell kind of situation had Maggie gotten her into?
One thing she knew for sure was she probably wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight. Not considering she was afraid her body would become a traitor, like Fluffy, and curl up to Kara. That was last thing either one of them needed right now.
Lena sighed and scooted her body back, enjoying the feeling of being under the warm cocoon of covers. She relaxed and smiled when the arm around her waist tightened. She was warm and content. A moment later her eyes flew open, but she kept still, taking stock of the facts.
Fact 1: When she’d went to bed last night, she was on the left side of the bed. Far away from Kara.
Fact 2: She was now in the center of the bed.
Fact 3: Fluffy was perched in front of her. Staring at her. Judging her.
Fact 4: A warm body was curled around her. A Kara sized body.
Fact 5: She really didn’t mind.
After her mini freak out, she relaxed once again and since her hand was already wrapped around the one around her waist, she kept it there. Kara’s skin was soft. Softer than she expected for all the hard work she did. Being this close to the other woman sent shivers throughout her body. She also smelled like a combination of sunshine and rainbows.
“Are you finished over thinking things?”
Lena closed her eyes and groaned. Because, of course, Kara was awake.
“Don’t do that,” Kara whispered in her ear. “We’re two adults and there is nothing wrong with what we’re doing. Cuddling is one of my favorite activities and nothing we should be embarrassed about. Now, I’m going to close my eyes and get a little more sleep and I suggest you do the same thing. Is that something you can do?”
Lena squeezed Kara’s hand. “I suppose.”
Being in Kara’s arms felt like magic and Lena already knew they would be cuddling more in the future and she wasn’t going to fight it. Kara felt like a safe haven and Lena was going to enjoy it as long as she could.
The next time Lena opened her eyes she was alone in bed. That was a sobering fact. When she lifted her head, she saw a note perched on the pillow beside her.
Fluffy and I went to get breakfast.
Be back by 8:30.
Lena threw the covers off and stood. She had twenty minutes to take a shower and get dressed. Just as she was stepping out of the bathroom, fully dressed, and towel drying her hair, the door opened, and Kara walked in carrying two bags and Fluffy’s carrier.
Lena almost stopped the blush from rushing to her face but failed when Kara winked at her.
“So.” Lena cleared her voice. “What’s the game plan for today?”
She sat down at the table and accepted the container Kara handed her. Biscuits and gray with a side of bacon. She normally wouldn’t eat like this, but it smelled to good to pass up.
“We eat, then pack up and head home. It shouldn’t take more than a few hours. Alex has already taken care of the animals this morning.”
The fork stopped halfway to Lena’s mouth. “Alex is going to be there?”
“You should see your face.” Kara chuckled, and Lena threw her napkin at her. “No, Alex has already gone home. You’ll have to wait a few weeks before meeting her.”
“That’s a relief.”
They finished their meal, loaded the truck, then got on their way. It wasn’t until they were two hours into their trip that Kara spoke up.
Lena frowned and looked up from her word find. “What for?”
“Last night and this morning.”
“Oh.” That wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She thought Kara had enjoyed it as much as she did.
“Look, I’m sorry I forced you to stay cuddled with me this morning. That was wrong. You didn’t give your consent and I’m sorry. A sleepy, 'I suppose', wasn’t sufficient enough.”
Oh, that’s not what she expected. “Kara, it’s fine. Our bodies gravitated toward each other when we were sleeping. We had no control over that and if I had been too bothered about waking up in your arms I would have kicked you out of the bed. Don’t beat yourself up. Last night was the best night of sleep I’ve had in months.” Which was normally not something she would have admitted, but with Kara it was easy.
“If you’re sure?”
“Kara, I’m sure and,” Lena fiddled with her pen. “If we happen to be in the vicinity of each other in the future and our bodies decided to cuddle again, well, I wouldn’t be opposed.”
“That’s…” Kara sighed. “Good. Okay.” She drummed her hands on the steering wheel. “That’s good. I wouldn’t be opposed either.”
Lena chuckled and opened her word find to finish the puzzle.
After another hour, Kara spoke up. “Next exit is ours.”
Lena looked up. “Already?”
“You bet. In about forty minutes we’ll be pulling onto my property.”
Lena put her puzzle book away and concentrated on the road in front of them. She was excited. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been excited for something. “Will the snow be coming soon?”
“It’s not in the forecast for the next few weeks, but the weather can be unpredictable this time of year. We’re all set, don’t worry.”
“So, can I ask you something?”
“How did you get into acting? Was it always a dream of yours?”
“I’ve always been drawn to acting and when I was young I stared in a few commercials and a part in a soap opera. Then I was cast in that medieval show and then the part in A Life Long Lived, which as you know, I won the Academy Award for.”
“Do you enjoy it?”
“I…” That was a loaded question. “Yes and no. I enjoy becoming someone else. Being able to throw myself into a role is easy. Real life is often harder.”
“Was it hard getting into the role of Marcia?”
When Lena’s agent had first called and told her she’d gotten the role of Marcia in A Life Long Lived she’d been ecstatic. To be able to work with the likes of Angela Lansbury and Robert De Niro had been a dream. A dream that was shattered when she first walked onto the set. She’d never told anyone what she was about to tell Kara, but she trusted her. She only hoped her trust wasn’t misplaced. “Please don’t repeat what I’m about to say.”
“I would never, but you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“My fellow castmates were amazing. I learned so much from them. It was the director that was a nightmare. If I’d have known then what I know now, I would have never taken the job. He was a misogynist asshole. It was a toxic environment. He never touched any of us physical, but his words were ugly, and he let us all know what he thought of us. It’s why I screen all of the directors I’ve worked with since.”
“Jesus, that’s horrible. Couldn’t anything be done?”
“Kara, he is a powerful man in the industry and his name is a huge draw. No, nothing could be done. I’m over it, but it left a lasting impact.” It had done more that that, but she wasn’t ready to delve into her life of therapy.
“After all of this do you want to go back to acting?”
“I do, and I don’t.”
“Well,” Kara said, before making a left-hand turn. “What would you want to do?”
“I would love to direct.”
“Then why don’t you make that happen?”
“It’s not that easy.” She wished it was, but real life didn’t work that way.
“Sure, it is. You don’t have to direct some big blockbuster. Start small and work your way up. Find your passion and run with it. Being here, with me, will give you an opportunity to explore that part of yourself. Go after your dream Lena.”
“You make everything sound so easy.” And maybe it was. “I mean I have enough money that I can live comfortable for a while. My investments have done well. I could look into it.”
“Exactly. You can do this.”
Lena smiled at Kara’s enthusiasm. She could start small and work her way up. Maybe find a few directors she could shadow and go from there. It would be a lot of hard work, but she wasn’t afraid of hard work. She was knocked out of her thoughts when Kara pulled the truck to a stop. “Why’d we stop?”
“Okay.” Kara turned toward her. “Around the bend is my homestead.” She rubbed her hands together. “Are you ready to see my home?”
She reached across the seat and tugged on Kara’s hand and squeezed it. “You bet.”
Kara lifted their clasped hands and kissed the back of Lena’s hand. “What the lady wants, the lady gets.” She winked then threw the truck into drive.
Lena tried to keep her excitement at bay but failed. Kara was right, this was a new start. She wasn’t sure what her future held, and she hoped Maggie found the man that tried to kill her, but here, with Kara, she was safe. And she would do everything in her power not to throw this opportunity away.
Lena stared in awe as Kara pulled around the corner and the homestead came into view. It was both bigger and smaller than she expected. Ahead of them was the house, which Kara was right, the way it was stacked did look scary, but the two balcony’s looked inviting. To the right of the house was a huge barn, easily twice the size of the house, complete with red siding.
Lena pointed to the barn. “Is that a quilt on the barn?”
“Yes.” Kara rested her arms on the steering wheel. “A woman by the name of Donna Sue Groves created them as a way to honor her mother and the movement took off. Eliza and I painted that one.”
“It’s beautiful. Is there any significance to the design?”
“No, I just like the look of a patchwork quilt and the colors were just to compliment the red of the barn without clashing with it.”
Lena’s gaze swung to the left side of the house where the greenhouse stood. It was of average size but looked well-kept, as did the rest of the property. From where Kara parked she couldn’t see the smokehouse or the outhouse. The nervous look in Kara’s eyes would neve do. “Show me around.”
Her face lit up. “Okay. Let me put Fluffy in the house, then I’ll grab us each a coat.”
“Sounds good.” As soon as Lena opened the truck door the cold bit into her skin and she rubbed her hands together to warm them up. The jeans and sweater she had on would never do. She took in her surroundings and bit her lip. It took another gaze around to figure out what was bothering her about what she was seeing. She was focused on the green house when Kara spoke up.
“Here’s your coat.” Lena accepted it and stood still while Kara draped a scarf around her neck and shivered when Kara’s fingers grazed her neck. “Better?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“What’s wrong?” Kara slipped her coat on and tied her scarf around her neck.
She wasn’t sure she should say something, but Kara asked. “I just realized everything is so nice here. The house, barn, greenhouse, everything is so put together.”
Kara frowned and glanced around. “What do you mean?”
“Everything is so nice. Nothing’s mismatched everything was built nicely and finished. It almost looks like a magazine spread.”
Kara frowned. “I don’t understand?” She kicked her heel into the dirt. “I take care of everything I own. The land is my pride and joy.”
Lena reached for and grabbed Kara’s hand. “Your place is amazing. It’s just. On a lot of the television shows I’ve seen the house and barns are half made with scarp wood and unfinished. Stuff everywhere. Everything here is nice and clean.” She shrugged, but when Kara took a step backward Lena took her hand away and stuffed them in her pockets.
Lena couldn’t read the look on Kara’s face and it scared her. “Did I say something wrong?” She should have just kept her mouth shut. They were doing so well. Good going, Lena.
“No, but you need to realize something, Lena. I had resources to start with that a lot of people don’t. You’ll find plenty of people in this area with homesteads just like you described, but that doesn’t make them any less then mine. They are proud, but good people and deserve to be treated with respect. My parents left me a lot of money when they died, but they had to die for me to get that money. If they hadn’t, I might have the type of homestead that you described, and you’d be judging me like you are them.”
Oh, shit, she’d hit a sore spot with Kara. Lena held her hands up and took a step back. “I meant no offense, Kara. I’m sorry. It was just an observation.”
Kara slipped her ballcap off then slipped it back on. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just a touchy subject for me. I’ve been judged more times than I can count for the way that I live. I know you didn’t mean anything by it. People being judged in a single glance is a one of my pet peeves. You don’t know someone from one look. You can’t, you know?”
“No, you can’t.” But, that’s exactly what she had done with Kara. “I’m sorry for judging you at the start.”
“Accepted.” Kara blew on her hands. “Instead of the tour let’s get you inside so you can warm up. It’s a lot colder than I expected. I’ll give you a tour of everything tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Lena figured the subject was dropped. Good, because at this point, Lena felt like a complete shit and would have went along with anything that Kara had said. She didn’t want to upset her again.
Up close, the shipping crates were a lot bigger than she had accepted. “How large are the shipping crates?”
“The first floor ones are eight feet wide by forty feet long each and the top two are eight feet wide by twenty feet long each.”
“That’s larger than I expected.”
“Let’s get inside.” The front door was painted red like the barn.
Once inside, Lena was greeted by a large hallway that opened into the living room. There was a bench, a place to hang your coats and a floor to ceiling shelf that was littered with a bunch of mis-matched items. Lena would explore those later. She followed Kara into the living room.
The ceilings weren’t high, but the walls were painted a cream with accents of black and gray that made the room feel bigger. The natural wood trim set the entire room off. A woodstove was situated in the corner and set on a stone floor. A large brown leather couch sat in the middle of the room and a matching recliner next to it. The varying colors of wood on the floor were gorgeous.
“The floors are repurposed wood. It took forever for Jerimiah and me to sand and stain them all.”
“They’re beautiful.” The house was warm, and she felt instantly at ease. Fluffy was perched in the matching leather recliner, curled on, what looked like a homemade patchwork quilt. “Is she okay?”
“Of course. Let me show you the first floor then I’ll get our bags and check on the animals.”
To the right of the living room was the kitchen and table. It wasn’t large by any means. It was long and narrow, but the cabinets were a light wood color and the black granite countertops set the entire kitchen off. The same wood floors ran into the kitchen.
“It’s small but does the job. Follow me.” They walked out and back across the living room. There were two rooms situated at the back of the house and in-between those was an open room with a spiral staircase leading up to the other floors. “This,” Kara said sliding the door to the left. “Is the full bathroom.”
Lena poked her head in and shouldn’t have been surprised, but she was. The floors were slate, as were the walls. The floor slanted in the center where a drain was. Lena was starting to understand Kara was serious about wanting all the comforts of the city.
“It’s a wet room. It’s helps when I come in from a long day. I can just spray the entire floor down and don’t have to worry about ruining anything.”
It was ingenious. The shower walls and ceiling had multiple shower heads. It was not what she had been expecting.
“Let’s check out the other room.” It was the guest room and where she would be staying. It wasn’t large but held a twin bed, nightstand and armoire. The perfect size for her. “Is it all right?”
“One last door.” Lena shut the door then followed Kara into the last room. The room wasn’t wide, but it was long. At the fair end two large freezers were sat side by side, filled, almost to capacity.
“This is the utility room. We have my freezers, then in the corner is the washer and dryer, then here,” Kara pointed to a trapdoor. “Is the cellar. I’ll show you that later, if you want?”
“I do. I want to see everything.” She grabbed Kara’s arm before she called walk away. “I’m sorry, Kara. I never meant to offend you. I would never intentionally do that. Please, just, give me a chance.”
“I know you’re trying, Lena and I know you didn’t mean to offend me. It’s all right.” She squeezed Lena’s hand. “You’re going to have to give me a chance too. We’ll get through this together.”
“I like the sound of that.”
“Good. Come on.” Kara deposited her on the couch. “I’m going to go check on everyone then I’ll show you the rest of the house. Feel free to look around down here until I get back.”
“How long are you going to be gone?”
“Maybe half an hour, forty minutes. I trust Alex but want be able to relax until I check on everything.” Kara went to the kitchen and came back a few minutes later with a mug. “A cup of tea to warm you up.”
“Thank you. Are you sure you don’t need my help?”
Lena sipped her tea and tried to relax when Kara walked out, but failed. So, this was going to be her home for the next few months? She really didn’t mind. She couldn’t wait to climb the spiral staircase to the other floors later.
She bounced her leg and quickly finished her tea, then cleaned the cup in the kitchen. She opened a few cabinets, not surprised to see mostly food staples: rice, pasta, canned goods. She also wasn’t surprised to see the boxed cakes and cookies. Over the last few days she’d learned Kara had a sweet tooth.
In the living room, she petted a content Fluffy on the head then walked around the room. The bookcase held an eclectic mix of genres and a few dozen photographs, along with several Knick knacks.
The checkered red, black, purple, and gray rug was also a nice touch. From just this room alone Kara had great taste. Lena walked across the room and glanced out the large window by the table and watched Kara walk to the barn. She really was a sight in her blue jeans, brown boots, flannel shirt, heavy coat and ballcap, that sported of all things, a penguin. She didn’t need the heat from the wood stove to raise her temperature all she needed was one look at Kara.
She shook her thoughts off and sat down, then noticed that the steel and wood coffee table’s lid opened. The lid lifted easily, and the inside held a few puzzle books and three large binders. From the leaf embossed on the cover, Lena figured she’d found Kara’s leaf collection. She lifted the smallest one out, then lightly shut the lid.
After leaning back and lifting her legs onto the coffee table she opened the cover. A large red and orange leaf stared back at her. There wasn’t any writing underneath the leaf, so she flipped the page and frowned. What she expected was scientific facts about the leaves, but that wasn’t what she got. A notecard was tapped to the back of the page.
Mom pointed out this leaf to me on our daily walk today. Out of all the fallen leaves it was the only one that’s colors were so vibrant. We both took turns holding it since we’d walked farther than normal and thankfully didn’t crush it. We had a good talk. Mom told me about when she was my age and what her mother talked with her about. It was a good day.
There was an added note underneath that one.
Mom and dad died today. This was the last leaf I collected with my mom. I hope one day I can look at this leaf and be happy instead of sad.
Lena shut the cover and lay her head back. When Kara said she collected leaves this wasn’t what she accepted. If she knew what was in it, she would have never intruded. This was personal and intimate.
“Lena, you okay?”
Lena opened her eyes to a worried looking Kara, who stood just inside the door with their bags. How long had her eyes been closed? “I…”
Kara glanced from her face to the binder in her hands. “Oh.”
“For what?” Kara took off her boots by the door, then joined Lena on the couch after she deposited Lena’s bags in her room. She took the binder from Lena’s hands and opened the front cover.
“I didn’t know it held your memories or I would have never looked at it.”
“It’s okay. The other two binders are facts about the leaves I collected. This one is my memories.” Kara ran her hand over the leaf. “It was such a beautiful day. The air was crisp, and we saw quite a few deer and turkey. I had on a burnt orange sweater and my mom had on a red one. She said the leaf complimented us.” Kara smiled down at the leaf then up at Lena. “It was a good day and this leaf no longer makes me sad, now it makes me incredibly happy. The fact that I have such wonderful memories of my parents is priceless to me. Some people don’t have those memories. I don’t mind you looking at it. They were wonderful and loved me.”
Lena, in fact, didn’t have good memories. Oh, there were some good times with Lex, but for the most part she was raised by nannies. Lillian couldn’t be bothered since she wasn’t really her daughter. It was a lonely childhood. Lillian would have never allowed her to collect leaves and would have never taken walks with her.
Kara put the binder back inside the coffee table and held her hand out to Lena you took it. “Let me show you the rest of the house.”
“I would love that.” Lena held tight to Kara’s hand even when they reached the staircase. Her hand was warm and secure. The second floor was a wide-open space. A work table was pushed against one end with a sewing machine and racks of cloth was settled beside it. Several tags were laying on the table and several totes were stacked against the wall.
“This is where I do all my crafts. Down here is where I paint.” At the far end of the room was an easel and several canvases and a large cabinet that she assumed held Kara’s paints. On the easel was a half finished painting of a leaf. Four large windows lit up this end of the floor and Lena walked to them and stared in awe at the landscape.
She turned toward Kara. “I assume that door goes to the balcony.”
“It does, but you’ll get a better view on the upper floor.”
“I can only imagine because this view is beautiful.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet.” Kara tugged on her hand and they continued up. At the third floor landing, Lena paused. This was Kara’s bedroom. “Here is the toilet room. It’s just as it sounds a toilet and a sink. Here is a small coffee bar. It’s nice not to have to go all the way downstairs for coffee of the mornings.”
A large queen bed took up the other end of the room and an armoire was situated up against the wall, but it was the door that held her attention. “I would love to see the balcony.”
Kara grinned. “Be prepared to be blown away.”
“Oh, I’m already blown away.” Kara opened the door and ushered Lena through.
Lena stopped on the threshold and sucked in a breath. It was bitterly cold, but they view was awe inspiring. Trees as far as the eye could see. She walked to the railing and stared wide-eyed at the view. She would have never expected this in a million years. People paid thousands of dollars for a view like this and all she had to do was die to get it. How ironic that what should be such a horrific time in her life wasn’t anything but. And the fact that she hadn’t thought about her other life that much should have bothered her more than it did. She knew she had a responsibility to the people who knew Kieran, but she wasn’t that person today and she wasn’t sure she ever would be again. Her life was irrevocably changed and for the better.
She flinched then relaxed when Kara laid a throw over her shoulders and she pulled it around her neck. “No wonder you never want to leave this place.”
“I watch the sunrise every morning and if I’m not busy I watch the sunset. I’m lucky, Lena and even though I hate the circumstances that brought you here I’m glad you get to see this view.”
“You better watch out because I’ll sneak up here when you’re asleep and take this in.”
“If that’s supposed to be a threat you need to work on your delivery.” Lena laughed and leaned against Kara’s side. “That,” Kara pointed out. “Can you see that point in the distance?”
“That’s Alex’s place.”
“That close.” Kara made it out to be far off.
“It’s farther than it looks. And that,” Kara pointed Lena’s gaze to a clearing quite some ways away. “They’re an older couple and have a small cabin. They can’t take care of things like they used to. I cut their firewood every winter for them and stack it. I never ask for anything in return, but every year for the past five she’s gifted me a handmade quilt. They’re something I’ll always treasure. Her hands are weathered, and arthritis has riddled them, but she somehow manages to finish one for me. You can see how the quilts differ from year to year. Some are missing stitches, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. She made the quilt in the guestroom.”
The people surrounding Lena’s old life, she knew, would make fun of Kara’s way of life. She would have also just to fit in with the crowd. It took dying for her to realize just how little she was actually living. “I didn’t realize there were people like that. You hear stories, but I guess I’ve always been in a bubble. I grew up rich and I’ve been sheltered all my life. I think, Kara Danvers, that we’re going to learn quite a bit from each other.”
“I think we’re already starting to.”
Kara’s smile was a thing of beauty and Lena had to hold herself back from kissing those oh so tempting lips.
Lena took a step back and shivered. “I believe you promised me a tour of your cellar.”
“That I did.”
“And, as your guest, I wouldn’t say no to a glass of wine.” The twinkle in Kara’s eyes was a welcome sight.
Kara held the door open for her. “Now that is a wish I can certainly grant. Get ready, Lena for the best glass of strawberry wine you’ve ever tasted.”
Kara deposited the quilts on her bed, then they took the stairs down. Fluffy was still in the chair, but now she was fast asleep.
“Don’t be surprised if Fluffy joins you in bed,” Lena said. “Stairs don’t bother her.”
“She’s more than welcome.” Kara opened the trap door. “Just follow me.”
The stairs weren’t steep, but Lena still held onto the railing. The cellar was cooler than she expected, knowing how warm the house was.
“Ready?” Kara asked.
“You’ve peeked my interests.”
Kara flipped the switch.
The walls were made of stone and the room was easily four times the length of the guest room.
“The room at the far end is the wine cellar,” Kara said. “but, as you can see, the rest is for my food. The wine cellar is much more high-tech then the root cellar part. I just need something basic for my can goods and vegetables.”
Baskets full of potatoes, sweet potatoes and apples hung from the walls. Shelfs were full of canned goods. Garlic, onions and cabbages hung from the ceiling. Kara really was an amazing woman.
“This is all impressive, but you know what I want to see. A question first. Why the distance between the two?”
“Because even though I have a thick door to the cellar you don’t want your onions or garlic anywhere near your wine. They can and will affect the taste of the wine.” Kara chuckled and lead the way to the door at the end of the room. “This room cost me a pretty penny, but it was so worth it. I keep my room at fifty-six degrees all year around. It’s not easy to maintain but it’s so worth it. Now you’re probably thinking this must be some room, but it’s not that big. Most of the money went into keeping the room temperature controlled, the ventilation and cabinetry. Cabinets down here are mahogany. Unlike the pressed wood upstairs. It was a pick and choose game.”
“Well, I would have never known. The cabinet’s upstairs are really nice.”
“Thanks. I have low lighting in this room.”
“You make it all sound so mysterious.” Lena loved the way Kara’s eyes lit up when she was talking about one of her passions. It was quite the turn on.
Kara laughed and opened the door. She was right, the room wasn’t that big. Lena jumped when Kara shut the door but settled at the warm look on Kara’s face. She was right, the room was cold and there was only three or four feet between the cabinets, but the wood was gorgeous.
“How many bottles?”
“A couple hundred. Some cost hundreds, others nothing at all. It’s all in how you store them. I never turn down a bottle of wine, no matter how much it costs. I know I’m not your average wine drinker. It’s something I really enjoy. One of my hobbies and I know some people won’t spend the money I do on them. I never take money away from my homestead, but when I have extra money I will buy some. I got two cases of a twenty thirteen Zinfandel from Chateau Montelena Napa Valley and it is one of my favorites. I have a case and a half left of it. At thirty-six dollars a bottle it was pretty reasonably priced. But, one of my favorites is a twenty twelve Cabernet Sauvignon from Dalla Valle Napa Valley. At over two hundred dollars a bottle I only bought two, but Alex gave me a couple for Christmas last year. I only have one bottle left and I’m trying to keep it for a special occasion.”
“Wow. I didn’t expect this.” Lena pointed around her. Kara certainly was full of surprises.
“The ballcaps and flannel fool you.”
A bit of insecurity laced her voice. “Kara, everything you’ve shown me allows me to see the full picture of who you are. It’s an honor.” She wasn’t sure if Kara believed her, but she would do whatever she needed to prove it to the other woman. Kara deserved her at her best and that was something she could do. She would just have to make sure she didn’t throw her walls up. It was something she was working on, but it was so easy to just be in Kara’s presence.
Kara hummed and scanned the bottles, then opened a drawer and plucked one out, softly shutting the drawer. “This wine was free, but it was made by practiced hands and one of the finest men I’ve ever known. I can be a total wine snob, so trust me when I tell you this one is exceptionally. When you travel, don’t shy away from local wines, they may just blow you away.”
“Oh, I’m certainly being blown away today.” Lena smiled when Kara shifted on her feet. “Tell me about this wine?” Kara lead the way out, then handed Lena the bottle, turned the light out and shut the door, locking it.
“It is fruit forward, with strawberries and raspberries through, but has a kick at the end. The wine is blended with Grenache and it adds a bit of warmth and is delectable. I have a feeling you’ll fall in with love it.”
“I have a feeling I will too.” She also had a feeling that wasn’t the only thing she would fall in love with.
Kara hummed as she walked through the front door and hung her coat and scarf up, then removed her boots. The air was crisp and clear and felt good, but they had a long day ahead of them. While the coffeepot heated up she grabbed the notepad she kept on the kitchen counter and ran through the list of things she needed to buy.
Normally, she would wait a few more weeks before stocking up, but an early snowstorm had been predicted for later in the week and she wanted to make sure she was well stocked, so her, Lena, and the animals would be comfortable.
A quick glance at the clock showed it was only half past seven. She’d woken at four to get her day started early. She was tired, but that would go away after her first cup of coffee.
She’d decided to let Lena sleep in this morning, since it was her first morning at the homestead. Kara wanted to get through her chores quickly and didn’t want the distraction Lena would have provided. There would be plenty of time for Lena to learn in the coming weeks.
If she was being honest with herself, having Lena around was going to be dangerous. The previous night had been nice, sharing conversation and a bottle of wine with the other woman. It had been too nice. Lena wasn’t going to be around forever. Every time Kara glanced at the news app on her phone that was clear.
The world was mourning the death of Kieran Luthor. She had been much more popular than Kara had expected. With almost ten million followers on Instagram, Kieran was a force. Kara felt a bit guilty laughing and joking with the other woman while her fans cried. She knew, if Lena saw the news reports, she would become depressed, but that might be unavoidable with them going into town.
Maggie had, while they’d been in the city, encouraged Kara to allow Lena to explore the town with her. Maggie had ensured her that Lena would not be recognizable. Kara had to agree, except for one woman that Kara knew would recognize her. Kieran and Lena were not the same person. While Kieran was a beauty, Lena was breathtaking.
Kara took the first sip of her milk and sugar infused coffee when Lena’s bedroom door opened, and she walked out then stumbled to the bathroom, hair disheveled and dressed in Kara’s red plaid sleep pants and a black tank top. Her glasses hung off her nose and she wore a pair of fleece socks. Kara smiled after another sip of coffee.
She pulled down another coffee cup and filled it up. From their time on the road she knew Lena took her coffee black and hoped that was still the case. Kara crossed her feet and leaned back against he counter, holding her coffee cup between her hands when Lena walked out of the bathroom, face washed, and walked toward her. Kara wordlessly handed over the cup.
After the cup was emptied and Kara had refilled it Lena spoke. “Thank you.” she narrowed her eyes. “Why do I look like I just stumbled out of bed and you look like you’ve been up for hours.”
“Because you did, and I have.”
“Why didn’t you wake me, I would have helped?”
“Because we have a big day ahead of us. We’re going into town to buy supplies. Storm is coming in at the end of the week.”
Lena perked up. “I can go into town?”
Lena tapped the side of her cup. “That’s fantastic.”
“I thought we could have breakfast, then buy supplies before stopping for lunch and heading back.” Kara sat her cup down. “There is something we should talk about.” Lena motioned for her to go on. “This town isn’t so small that there won’t be magazines in one of the stores we’ll be going in. I just wanted you to prepare yourself. We don’t have to look at them, I just wanted you to know.”
Lena set her cup down, turned and looked out the kitchen window. “It’s easy to forget why I’m here, but it’s always in the back of my mind that to everyone beside you, me, and Maggie, I’m dead.” Lena touched Kara’s arm. “Thank you for caring, but I’ll be all right.” She bit her lip. “Have you read much about it?”
This is something they hadn’t talked about last night and Kara wasn’t sure if she should be truthful. “I’ve read some.”
“I didn’t realize you were so popular.” She shrugged. “That’s all. I thought the four thousand followers on Instagram I had was a lot.”
Lena arched her brow. “You’re on Instagram?”
“Yes. I’ll have you know, the pictures of the homestead are popular but not as popular as Mabel and Mavis. You’ll meet them tomorrow. I’ll show you later if you want?”
“I would like that.”
“Good.” Kara took the empty mug from Lena and nudged her toward her room. “Go and get ready.”
“Do I have time for a shower?”
“You bet.” Kara rinsed out the cups when Lena walked away then headed into the living room. Fluffy was perched on the back of the couch cleaning one of her paws and Kara lifted her phone and took three pictures to upload to her page.
The previous night Kara had taken one of Fluffy’s new sweaters apart and the design was quite simple to recreate with a piece of spare fleece she had. The blue and black checkered sweater had taken no time at all to sew. Kara had plans over the winter to add to Fluffy’s wardrobe. It would be a fun project to complete.
Kara flopped on the couch and lay back, wincing a little when Fluffy jumped off the back of the couch and landed on her stomach. She closed her eyes and relaxed, waiting for Lena to get ready.
When the bathroom door opened, Kara opened her eyes, moved Fluffy back to the back of the couch and stood. Good grief. Lena was dressed in a pair of jeans, the black boots Kara had given her, and a blue t-shirt. Her hair was in a pony tail and she had her glasses on. Her face was make-up free.
“Do I look okay?”
“You don’t just look okay, you look fantastic. I think you’re going to fit in just fine.”
Kara leaned over the couch and braced herself on the back of it. “There is something else we need to talk about.”
“You’re full of these talks this morning.”
Kara pushed herself up. “I told Alex we were dating.”
Lena’s steps faltered. “Are you telling me Alex is going to be in town?”
“Well, no, but Alex told our parents, and Eliza can be a bit of a gossip. So.” She shrugged.
“So, you’re saying everyone in town will think we’re dating?”
“So,” Lena said, stepping into Kara’s personal space. “We’re going to pretend that we are dating?”
Kara gulped and had to fight with herself not to pull Lena into her arms. Up close, Lena was a vision. “Yes.”
Lena placed her hands on Kara’s chest. “You look tense, Kara. Something wrong?”
Screw it. Kara pulled her hands out of her pockets and wrapped her arms around Lena and hugged her.
“Oh,” Lena said, before doing the same thing.
It was a mistake. Kara knew that but having Lena in her arms felt so good. Last night sleep had been slow in coming because all she had wanted to do was climb into bed with Lena and hold her. After only one night of holding the other woman, Kara knew her life had forever been changed.
“I figured we needed to get used to touching each other,” Kara whispered in Lena’s ear and grinned when Lena shivered.
“Something I am not against,” Lena said, “but,” she pulled away. “I do believe we need to get going.”
Kara reluctantly let her go as well. “We do.”
Lena ran her hand down Kara’s arm and intertwined their hands. “Lead the way.”
Kara tugged her along. Today was certainly going to be interesting.
Lena glanced out the truck window as they flew down the dirt road. Being with Kara was a breath of fresh air and today was going to be fun.
If asked, she wouldn’t admit it, but she’d had trouble sleeping the previous night because she missed Kara. Sleeping alone was going to be a problem, she just knew it.
Not having a phone was also starting to get to her. It had only been four days, but she was itching to take Kara’s phone from her. It wasn’t necessarily her life she missed, but just being connected to the outside world that felt wrong somehow. She wasn’t even sure she wanted to see what the tabloids and newspapers were saying about her. She was liked by some and hated by others. It was just the world she lived in. She tired not to take it too seriously, but it was hard at times.
Her fans were a mixed bunch but overall, they were tame compared to some celebrities she knew. The one thing she didn’t miss was interacting with them. The ones that were nice, were nice, but the ones that were extreme were extreme and she never felt like she said the right things or posted the right pictures for them. She loved her life, but, she didn’t miss it. No, now, she was afraid that the outside world was going to interfere with the bubble that had found itself around her and Kara.
Even the gas stations they’d stopped out hadn’t had anything about her murder, so hopefully these stores wouldn’t either.
“So, what should I expect when we get into town? You said something about supplies, but what kind?”
“Oh, well, I need to get extra chicken, horse, and goat feed, hence why I brought the trailer. I should have enough hay, but it never hurts to have a few extra. I also need to fix a part of Krypton’s pen. Extra chicken wire for the chickens. I need to make sure everything is secure for this coming winter. It doesn’t hurt to double and triple check things.”
“Do they ever get to run free.”
“Of course. I only keep them in the barn and their fenced in pens when I’m in the house or gone. When I’m working in the yard I let them run free, and I put Krypton in the pasture. They’re mostly free range, but I also must be aware of predators. I would rather have them a bit confined for part of the day rather than be killed.”
“That makes sense.”
“I have them for what they provide for me, but I’m quite attached to them and want to protect them. They’re my responsibility.”
“So that takes care of the animals what else are we getting?”
“Fluffy’s food, and extra supplies for us, plus I need to stock up on food staples. I’ve been putting it off, but it’s time.”
“You did say we’d be eating a lot of rice dishes.”
Kara hummed. “That might had been a little white lie.”
“What? Kara Danvers, lying. I do declare, that’s quite shocking.” Lena had already realized Kara knew how to manage her money. She might not have been wealthy, but she was successful.
Kara laughed. “We will have rice and bean dishes, and probably nothing fancy, but I do make a mean chicken pot pie and vegetable stir fry.”
“You are sure full of surprises.”
“Plus, my stash of baking supplies is getting low and I need to restock. I like to take the winter months to craft and practice my baking skills. I’m quite good.”
“Baking, really? Because if my eyes weren’t mistaking me I saw a few packages of cookies in the cabinet.”
“Well, see, that’s the thing, making cookies and me don’t mix. Never have. Give me a complex pastry recipe over a simple cookie one any day. If you want cookies, you can eat my stash or make your own.”
“I might just take you up on that. I happen to be an excellent cookie maker.”
“Now that’s something I’ll take you up on.” Kara slowed, then stopped and turned left. “Okay. We’ll hit the diner first.” She drummed her hands on the steering wheel. Lena quickly realized Kara did that when she was nervous. “Okay,” Kara said. “I’ve been going to this diner since I was little.”
“And everyone knows you,” Lena supplied.
“And they, more than likely, know we're dating.”
“Okay. It’s not like they’re going to ask us to make out in the middle of the diner.” Kara cringed and tightened her hold on the steering wheel. “Are they?” Lena wasn’t necessary against it, but she wanted her first kiss with Kara to be at the house when they were alone.
“No, nothing like that, but M’gann and J’onn were very good friends with my parents, so, they will want to meet you and maybe have a cup of coffee with us, if they have time.”
“Kara.” Lena placed her hand on Kara’s thigh. “Relax. I am an actress after all.” Even as the words left her lips she wanted to pull them back, especially at the tight smile on Kara’s face. Shit. That hadn’t been what she meant to say. “That’s…”
Kara lifted Lena’s hand off and set it on the seat beside them. “Better save that for prying eyes.”
Well, fuck her life. Open mouth, insert foot.
They rest of the ride was meet in silence that was just verging on uncomfortable when Kara pulled into a semi-packed diner and parked.
“Kara, wait.” Lena pulled on her arm to keep her in the truck. “Please, look at me.” Kara did, but held up her hand to stop whatever Lena was going to say.
“We might have another problem,” Kara said.
“What do you mean?” What now? And she’d woken up in a semi-good mood.
“My parents are here.” She shook her head. “Eliza and Jeremiah.” She pointed to a red truck a few spaces down. “That’s their truck.”
“Oh. So, how do you want to play this?” She squeezed Kara’s arm tightly.
“First, we’re going to get out and second, we’re going to walk in. By now they’ve already saw us. We’ll have to eat with them.”
“Look, I know this is probably uncomfortable for you, but I haven’t saw them in a couple of months.”
“No, Kara, no, that’s not it. I’m fine. Everything is fine.” Lena took a deep breath, then leaned across the seat and kissed Kara on the cheek, lingering for a minute, savoring the moment. When she pulled back she’d finally been able to leave Kara speechless. “I would love to meet your parents.”
“Okay,” Kara finally said.
Lena was finally proud of herself, when Kara walked around the truck and opened the door for her. Once Kara shut the door, Lena slipped her hand into Kara’s and let her lead her into the diner. When the bell rung, and they walked inside, it seemed like everyone stopped and stared at them. Kara nodded at a few people and waved at others but strode through the diner like she owned it. That was incredibly sexy and the view of her ass in those jeans wasn’t bad either.
Lena was torn out of her thoughts when Kara stopped at a table and pulled her up beside her. So, these were Kara’s adoptive parents.
“Sweetheart,” Jeremiah said and stood then engulfed Kara into a hug, followed by Eliza.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Eliza said. “Alex told us you were going to be in town today.”
“Of course not. I’ve missed you both. I’m sorry I’ve been so busy.” Kara sat down then patted the seat beside her for Lena. “Eliza, Jeremiah, I would like you to meet my girlfriend Lena. Lena, Eliza and Jeremiah.”
Lena smiled when Eliza grasped her hands. “It’s so good to meet you. I can’t say we know a lot about you, but we both trust Kara’s judgement and you two do make a lovely couple.”
“What my wife is trying to say is welcome to the family.”
“Oh, thank you.” Lena didn’t know what to say to that. They both seemed like lovely people, she only hoped they didn’t ask to many personal questions.
“I can already tell you make our Kara happy. All we want for our girls is to be healthy and happy. Now that Kara’s found you we just have to help Alex with her love life,” Eliza said.
“Actually,” Kara pipped up. “I do believe Alex is hiding a secret girlfriend from us.”
Lena relaxed into the seat while they talked about Alex and her lack of a dating life. She scanned the menu but when Kara recommended the pecan pancakes she took her word for it. that did sound lovely.
“So, Lena, how are you liking Kara’s homestead?” Jeremiah asked.
“It’s lovely. Even nicer than what Kara described. The view is breathtaking. Like a little piece of heaven.”
“She worked her ass off fixing that place off. I’ve never seen someone so determined. She’s made us very proud. Both our girls have. Now, we have you to get to know. Kara would have never brought you here if she wasn’t serious about you.”
Lena hoped her expression was a happy one, but, even though she’d only known Kara for such a short period of time, she wished all of this was real. “Thank you,” was what she said.
Talk ceased when their food was delivered, and Lena enjoyed every single bite of her pancakes. She hadn’t eaten like this in years and savored every bite. “That was delicious.”
“Then Kara is going to have to bring you back sometime.”
Lena looked up at the new voice. A tall black man dressed in a pair of coveralls and a long-sleeve black shirt smiled at her.
“J’onn,” Kara said. “It’s so good to see you.” Kara jumped up and engulfed him in a hug before sitting back down. “This is Lena. Lena, J’onn.”
J’onn nodded at Lena. “It’s nice to meet you. M’gann would have come out to meet you but she’s a bit under the weather.”
“Oh,” Eliza said. “Give her our love and when we’re done shopping we’ll stop back by and check in on her.”
“I’m sure she would love that and Kara, since you’re in town you can come pick up that hay you asked for last week. You have the key to the barn, just go in and get what you want.”
“Thanks, J’onn, I appreciate it.”
“Don’t act like you’re not paying for it. M’gann expects a case of your goat cheese by the end of the month. She wants to make some pastries with it.”
“The batch I have now should be ready in the next few days.”
“We look forward to it. I don’t want to keep you.”
“J’onn, wait,” Jeremiah said, standing. “There’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”
When they walked off, Lena realized quickly that they were left alone with Eliza.
“So, Lena, my husband won’t ask but I will, what do you have to offer our Kara?”
“Eliza,” Kara groaned.
“No, Kara, we trust your judgement and love you but it’s still a valid question.”
“Kara, it’s all right. It is a valid question.” Lena picked up her orange juice and took a sip to get her thoughts in order. She met Eliza’s eyes. “I’m not sure how to answer that. I care for your daughter and I have a good head on my shoulders. I have managed my money nicely and would be able to take care of her.”
“No, Lena. I don’t want to know what you have to offer her monetary. What do you have to offer her?”
Lena took a deep breath. “Me. That’s all I have to offer her. I can be emotionally stunted and I’m in therapy, but I’m not a cheater and I love fiercely when I do love, and her trust in me would be locked away in a vault. I’m loyal to a fault but I do have walls that need to be brought down, but Kara has already torn a few down and is working on the rest. She has a way of worming her way into your heart.” She leaned on the table. “The only thing I have to offer her that she would take is my heart.” Lena felt a bit corny but had meant every word of it. She didn’t dare look at Kara, but she could feel her gaze on her. When Kara kissed her cheek, Lena closed her eyes and enjoyed the contact. When she opened her eyes, Eliza was still looking at her.
“That’s good enough for me.”
With that Jeremiah came back, her and Kara bid their goodbyes. When they were back in their truck and headed toward J’onns house, Kara spoke up.
“Thank you for what you said in there and for the record, you have a lot to offer someone, Lena. You’re amazing and if it takes all the time you’re with me to make you realize it, then I’ll do my best to make you see what a catch you are.”
By the time they’d picked up the hay, and the animal’s feed, it was nearing noon and Lena was tired. She’d pitched in and helped load the trailer and she knew tomorrow she’d be sore. Doing her own stunts was quite different from loading feed onto the truck.
“Tired?” Kara asked, stopping at the stoplight.
“A little, but let’s get everything done today. I’ll worry about being sore tomorrow.”
Kara turned at the next light then pulled into a large parking lot. The building was single story and plain. There was a small sign that stated it was Grant Grocers. “Plain building.”
Kara laughed. “The outside is, but Cat keeps the inside impeccable. Don’t let the building fool you. Cat owns the grocery store, but she’s a fierce business woman and owns more real estate than anyone else in the state. She’s the one who recommended that I sell the trees off to help build the homestead. She was a good friend of my parents. If the Danvers had decided not to take me in Cat was the next choice.”
“So, she’s a mother figure.” Lena smirked when Kara’s cheeks pinkened. “Or?”
Kara turned to Lena. “I mean, yes, she’s very attractive and I consider her a mentor, but not so much a mother figure.”
“So, you have a thing for older women?”
“Not necessarily. I mean I’m dating you after all.”
Lena laughed. “We’ll that’s something.”
“But,” Kara sobered. “If anyone is going to question us it will be Cat. She loves me and only wants what’s best for me. She could, possibly, recognize you. She’s extremely observant.”
“That’s not good.”
Kara shrugged. “She would never say anything. I trust her with my life.”
It was a hard thing for Lena to give her trust to anyone, but Kara seemed to be another story. “I’ll rely on your judgement for this.”
“Let’s go. She’s probably been watching us and wondering what’s taking so long.”
Lena took a steadying breath and when Kara held her hand out Lena grasped it. Kara’s had was warm and comforting and Lena kept a tight hold of it when Kara opened the door and allowed Lena to walk in before her. The inside was well organized, clean, and smelled good. Something sweet but with a floral undertone. Her eyes swept the area, then stopped on a woman who was standing by an open door staring at them. The first thing she noticed was how beautiful the woman was. The second was that she knew how to dress and had excellent taste. This was no ordinary woman.
“That’s cat,” Kara whispered in her ear. “Let’s go say hi then we can get our shopping done. I’m hungry.”
The last thing she wanted to do was talk to Cat, but she followed behind Kara. She held back her jealousy when Kara ran the last few steps to her and threw her arms around the woman, lifting her off the ground.
“Cat,” Kara said. “It’s good to see you.” She set her back on her feet, then slipped her ballcap off. “And can I say you look quite fetching today.” She put her ballcap back on.
“Ever the charmer.” Cat cupped Kara’s cheek, then dropped it and turned to Lena. The way she was scrutinizing her, Lena felt like she was under a microscope. Then she held her hand out. “Cat Grant.”
Lena clasped her hand to be polite and squeezed just a bit. “Lena.”
Cat didn’t let her hand go, just kept staring at her. “I see. Lena with no last name.” She dropped her hand and Kara handed her a wipe for her hands. “Kara, sweetheart, I had Adam gather the things you wanted. He had to leave, but everything is stacked on cart in the back. The deer you gave us earlier in the season will take care of cost.”
“You’re the best, Cat. I’ve got one more hunting trip to get in. If I get the chance, I’ll try and get another deer for you and the boys.” She held her hands up. “I make no promises, but I’ll try.”
“That’s all you can do.” She looked from Kara to Lena. “So, you’re dating?” She slipped her glasses off and tapped the ear against her leg.
Kara slipped her arm around Lena’s waist and pulled her flush against her side. “You bet,” Kara said.
“We are.” Lena gripped the hand that was around her waist.
“Huh.” She slipped her glasses on. “You two, my office now.”
Lena gulped but they followed Cat into her office, which was painted white and looked like something out of a New York City office, rather than in the middle of nowhere Montana. When Kara shut the door, Cat picked up a paper from her desk then slapped it back down.
Lena stepped closer and frowned. Did they have to pick such an unattractive photo of her? Really, she was dead. They could have tried harder. “I had heard she died,” Lena said, letting a bit of her Irish accent slip through. Something she would never allow with Kieran. “Such a shame. She was a good actress.”
“The first thing you should know about me Lena,” Cat said with the emphasis on Lena. “Is that I’m not an idiot. I love the people around here but some of them aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. I am. I must admit it’s an excellent disguise. You look much better with dark hair.”
“What are you talking about?” Lena asked, but Kara shook her head. Were they not even going to try and fake their way out of it? What kind of hold did Cat have over Kara?
“Kara, I’m not going to say anything. Did you really think you’d be able to fool me? Now, I’m not sure why your,” she made quotation marks, “Dead, but I won’t say anything. You mean the world to me Kara and I would never to anything to jeopardize that. So, why are you dead? Do I have to worry about someone coming here and causing trouble?”
“I don’t think so,” Lena bit out. “My stalker tried to kill me. The detective working my case thought this would be the best plan.”
“I see. I assume you pretended to date because Alex would have never believed you invited a friend to stay with you.”
Kara laughed. “You bet. I wasn’t expecting to run into Eliza and Jeremiah though.”
Cat waved her hand in the air. “I’m sure it wasn’t hard for them to believe it.”
“What do you mean?” Kara rocked back on her heels.
“Kara, really? The sexual tension rolling off you two is suffocating. Good grief. You may not be dating, but there is something there.” She sat down in her chair. “Get out. Go do your shopping but stop back here before you leave.”
Kara leaned across the desk and kissed Cat on the cheek, a little to close to her lips for Lena’s comfort, but she didn’t have any say. When Kara pulled back, and walked to the door, Cat winked at Lena.
Instead of throwing the cat sculpture by the door at Cat, Lena lead the way out, then stopped while Kara went to get a cart. She tensed when Cat spoke up behind her.
“Don’t hurt her, or I will make your life a living hell. I’m not an amateur like your stalker. I never miss.”
Lena didn’t even bother to address Cat and after a moment she heard the door shut behind her.
“Ready?” Kara’s grin was infectious.
“You bet. What staples did Cat have ready?”
“Rice, beans, flour, cornmeal, sugar, oats and hopefully the big bag of chocolate chips I asked her to get in. Oh, and I had her throw in a few cases of canned crushed tomatoes. I like to use them for chili.” Lena walked silently beside Kara as she pushed the flat cart through the aisles. Everything from boxes of tortilla chips to a case of Chips Ahoy chunky cookies found its way onto it. “I know what you’re thinking, but I have most of my staples and vegetables in the cellar. These are just snacks that I can’t readily make when there’s five feet of snow outside. Last winter was almost four months. If I needed to, I could have gotten out, but I didn’t need to. Nor want to. I had everything I needed. You’re welcome to pick up whatever you want. If you don’t have to stay the entire time, I’ll eat it.”
“I’m happy with everything you’ve got.”
“All right. Let’s head to the dairy aisle. I usually just get a variety of cheeses, but you’re welcome to get whatever. Remember I make my own goat cheese, so we don’t have to worry about that and of course, we’ll have goat milk. I normally don’t by gallons of cow’s milk, but I’ll pick up a five-gallon bucket of powdered milk. It’s fine for smoothies and I don’t eat a lot of cereal, so if you want any of that we can get it.”
“I am a fan of raisin bran, but I don’t need a case.”
“We can pick one up. It won’t hurt, and we need to get Fluffy’s food. We’ll head to that aisle next.”
Lena went along with Kara’s shopping, which seemed to bring her quite a bit of joy. She wasn’t going to mention Cat’s observation, if Kara wasn’t. If it was that obvious to Cat, why couldn’t they just admit it to themselves?
“Earth to Lena.”
“No problem. Is this okay for Fluffy? It’s what I bought her before.”
Lena eyed the Friskies and had always wanted Fluffy to have the best, but Kara was trying, and Lena knew a few months of the subpar food wouldn’t kill her, but there had to be some compromise. “Can we get a case of the food I normally get her, so we can wean her off it. I don’t want her to get sick.”
“Of course.” Kara picked up four cases of can food, then agreed to get Fluffy the hard food that she was used to eating. “I think that’s all. Are you sure you don’t need anything else? Anything? I wasn’t planning on coming back into town. At least not for a few weeks. Not unless I have too.” Kara bit her lip then eyed the cart and Lena.
“I’m good. So, will the food be all right if we get lunch?”
“Yep. That’s why I brought the cooler for the cheese and the ice cream.”
When they finally made it to the items Cat already had ready for her, Lena was shocked to see the amount of food there was.
“Cat,” Kara groaned and turned to the woman. “This is too much.”
“Don’t be silly. I know you’ll put it all to good use. Come here.” She wrapped her arms around Kara’s neck. “Is it still all right for Carter to come visit next week?”
“Yes. You know he’s always welcome to stay with me for a few days.”
“Good.” Cat turned to Lena. “Lena.”
With that Cat turned and walked back to her office.
“She’s fierce,” Lena said.
“That she is.”
“Cat’s fifteen-year-old son.” Kara clapped her hands. “Let’s get all this loaded and get out of here. I’m starving, but I’m also tired. Would you be opposed to just grabbing some food and taking it home to eat? I know for a fact M’gann’s to-go lasagna stays warm the entire way home and we can get some garlic bread and a gallon of her sweet tea and maybe some chocolate cake for dessert.”
Lena stopped with her hands on the side of the truck bed. “Can we get carrot cake?” Kara’s smile was blinding.
“Yes, Lena. Yes we can.”
Lena climbed into the truck and as soon as Kara was seated beside her she leaned across the seats and took a hold of Kara’s face and kissed her cheek, then ran her fingers down Kara’s neck. “We need to talk about what Cat mentioned in her office.”
Kara leaned their foreheads together. “We do, but I’m not ready for that talk in my truck. When we get home?”
“When we get home.”
It wasn’t until they were halfway home that Lena realized that Carter would be staying with Kara next week. “Where does Carter usually sleep when he stays with you?”
“The guest room,” Kara answered then drummed her hands on the steering wheel. “I didn’t even think about that.”
“Well,” Lena said, “I wouldn’t be opposed to sharing a bed with you. I mean, we did it once before and we did say we wouldn’t be opposed to more cuddling. And we survived.”
“That’s true. We did.”
“So, when Carter comes to visit, I’ll be staying in your room?”
“Yep. It’s a good plan. And,” Kara drummed her hands faster. “If we needed to test the theory, considering we only have that one night to go on, before he stays, we could always start the experiment sooner.”
Lena couldn’t hold back her smile. “Like tonight?” Kara was adorable when she was nervous.
“You’re pretty smart, Lena. No wonder you’re an award-winning actress. You have lots of good ideas.”
Lena laughed then reached across the seat when Kara took one hand off the steering wheel and intertwined their fingers.
The quiet was comfortable and the feel of Kara’s hand in hers felt right. Too right for them not to do something about it.
No matter how uncomfortable the conversation would be when they got home they were already halfway there. Maybe she should just kiss her and get it over with. Any first kiss with Kara would be perfect no matter where or when it happened. It needed to happen soon because the anticipation was killing her.
Lena was on the couch with a cup of tea waiting for Kara to finish with her shower. They hadn’t talked much since arriving from town. Dinner was quiet but not uncomfortable and the cake was amazing, but Lena couldn’t help but feel apprehensive.
They were going to talk.
It was scary and exciting at the same time. She rubbed Fluffy’s head and sipped her tea. The house was warm, but Kara said the temperature outside would continue to steadily drop and snow was expected at the end of the week. Only a few inches, Kara said, with a couple of feet forecasted in a couple of weeks. Tomorrow Kara was going to show her the animals and how to take care of them, but first they had to get through tonight.
Her relationships in the past had never been serious and the fact that she already felt something for Kara was a new but not unwanted feeling. It was just fast. Maybe too fast, but she couldn’t help but want it. Whatever it was. Eventually, though, she’d be going back to her life. Enjoying spending time with Kara was one thing, falling in love with her was quite another. That she couldn’t allow for herself.
Lena jumped and smiled at Kara’s grin. “Just thinking.” Did Kara look good in everything she wore? The sweatpants hung low on her hips and the grey tank top hugged her upper body. A sliver of toned abs peeked out between the two. Lena shook her head to clear it but didn’t miss the interest on Kara’s face.
“So,” Lena said. “We were going to talk.”
“Yes.” Kara scooped Fluffy up and cuddled her before setting her at the end of the couch so she could sit beside Lena.
Lena finished her tea and set the cup on the coffee table before adjusting herself on the couch to face Kara.
“You look really nervous,” Kara said. “It’s just me.”
“I know it’s just you and that’s the problem. You’re so…” Lena pointed at Kara, who’s nose was scrunched up. “Hot.”
“Oh.” Kara laid her hand atop Lena’s. “I think you are as well. I believe that’s why we’re talking.”
Kara’s eyes conveyed nothing but reassurance and instantly put Lena at ease.
“I’m not sure what’s going on here and I know what’s going on here if that makes sense,” Lena finally said. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here and I don’t want to get so caught up in something that I can’t leave. I like you, Kara, a lot and there’s no doubt that I’m attracted to you. I just…”
“You don’t want to date?” Lena nodded. “I agree.”
Lena’s eyes widened. “You don’t?” Well, that was disappointing.
“I like you too, Lena. A lot.” Kara sighed. “We don’t know how long you’re going to be here and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that scared me. I don’t want to fall for you and then you leave. We both know you will. This isn’t your life and I’m not a city girl. I’m afraid if we get our hopes up they’ll both get dashed.”
Everything she said was true, but Lena couldn’t help but be disappointed. Just like her life that this would stop before it even begun. She shivered when Kara touched her chin and turned her head to face her.
“That being said, I don’t think we’re going to be able to ignore this between us.” Kara licked her lips. “I’m not a one-night stand kind of woman, but life is short, and you are hot.”
“Wait.” Lena chuckled and held up her hand, eyeing Kara in disbelief. “Did you just make a Dr. Who reference?”
Kara blinked. “You’re a Dr. Who fan?” Her smile widened.
“Who isn’t?” Lena batted her eyes. “Are you a weeping angel, because I can’t take my eyes off you.” There was a beat of silence, then Kara lunged forward and captured Lena’s lips. The movement took her off guard, then a second later she came to her senses and returned the kiss. It was sloppy, but, oh so perfect and was better than she imagined. It was over way to fast. “Wow. That.” She slipped her hand behind Kara’s head and cupped her neck. Her body was on fire. “Dr. Who for the win.”
Kara chuckled. “You’ve got me now, Lena.”
She really wished she did. Lena leaned back and ran her fingers down Kara’s jaw. “I’m glad you did that, I’m not sure I would have had the guts too.”
“You’re nerdiness is sexy. Everything about you is sexy.” Kara groaned and lay her head back on the couch.
Her neck looked so inviting, so Lena did the only thing she could. She leaned forward and ran her tongue up it then nipped Kara’s jaw before tugging at her bottom lip and kissing her again. When she needed to catch her breath, she pulled back and rested their foreheads together.
“As much as I enjoyed that,” Kara said. “We need to talk about what we both expect from this.”
“I know.” Lena groaned and leaned back to her side of the couch.
Kara ran her hands along her thighs. “Okay.” She sighed. “Okay. This is more difficult than I expected it to be.”
Lena grabbed her hand. “I…”
“Why don’t we do this,” Kara said. “Just have fun and see what happens. No expectations. It’s not how I usually like things, but this is an entirely different situation. I won’t expect you to stay and you don’t have to expect me to ask you to when it’s time. We’re both adults.”
That wasn’t what she wanted to hear either, but she knew it was what needed to be said. They needed to be honest with themselves about this situation. “Who enjoys cuddling.”
Kara licked her lips. “And kisses.”
Lena nodded. “Kisses and cuddling.”
“I could be persuaded,” Kara finally said. “I mean—”
“Oh my.” Lena relaxed. “You’re really cute when you’re flustered.”
“You make me feel all kinds of things, Lena. Things I’m not used to feeling.” She lay her head back on the couch and Lena scooted over and cuddled up to her side, resting her head on Kara’s shoulder.
“Good things I hope.” Lena laced their fingers together. This had not been what she expected when she’d first met Kara.
“Of course.” Kara rubbed her thumb along Lena’s hand. “I know Cat can be quite outspoken at times and I agree with her assessment, but I’m not ready for that step yet. I hope you’re not disappointed.”
“Not at all.” As much as Lena wanted to drag Kara to her bedroom and rip her clothes off, she knew it was too soon for that. As fast as they were moving though, that could happen as early as next week. Lena closed her eyes and just enjoyed being with Kara who made her feel warm and safe. Her eyes opened when Fluffy crawled into her lap and curled into a ball. This was sickeningly domestic, but Lena couldn’t bring herself to care.
The morning sun streamed through the slits in the curtains, casting a warmth over the room.
Kara enjoyed the stillness in the mornings, especially with Lena in her arms, but there was work to be done. She took a moment to appreciate the woman in her arms then slipped out from under Lena and out of the bed. After her morning routine she flipped on the coffee pot.
The last week had been a whirlwind and Lena had surprised her by taking well to working on the homestead, but Kara still liked to take care of the animals in the mornings herself. They knew her, and although they were friendly with Lena, Kara enjoyed her one on one time with them.
They’d fallen into a nice routine every day and every night they would go to bed. Together. In Kara’s bed. It wasn’t awkward in the least. In fact, it felt right, and it scared the daylights out of Kara. She’d never fallen for someone so fast in her life. Not even Lucy or Mike evoked these kinds of feelings in her. Though, she couldn’t argue that Lena did put a pep in her step.
She could imagine a life with Lena. A future. Kids. But every time those thoughts would arise she would push them down. Real life wasn’t a fantasy, and this felt like a fantasy. A dream.
She’d just downed her first cup of coffee when her phone vibrated on the counter. Cat.
“Kara, good morning. I just wanted to make sure it was all right for Carter to stay for the next couple of nights with you?”
Kara rolled her eyes. “You know it’s okay. What’s the real reason you called?”
“I’m worried about you.”
“I’m fine.” Kara sighed and grabbed a banana from the bowl and peeled it before taking a large bite.
Kara swallowed. “No, but I’m trying not to worry about those things.”
“Oh, Kara, you can’t not think about them. What are you scared of? Talk to me. I know you have time.”
“I’m scared of loving her and being rejected.”
“Have you told her that?”
“No, we agreed not to get serious.”
Cat laughed. “You idiots. So, you’re planning to fail.”
“What? No. We must be realistic about this Cat. Lena’s life is glamour and glitz.”
“Stop right there,” Cat said. “Kara, you’re an amazing woman and anyone would be lucky you picked them, but if you really like her, don’t hold yourself back. Go for it. What do you really have to lose?”
“Sweetie, what are you risking if you don’t go for it?”
Kara stared out the window at the snow slowly falling. “My heart.”
“But, Cat, she agreed with everything. I can’t just change things now. I won’t go back on my word.”
“You’re stubborn, Danvers, I’ll give you that.”
“Why would she stay when the others didn’t?”
“Now, we get to the route of the problem.” Cat grew quiet. “They weren’t for you, Kara. Sometimes the people in our lives are only meant to be for a moment. They were never good enough for you.”
“I loved them.” And she had. Lucy and Mike would always hold a piece of her heart and she wasn’t sure she had it in her to give it away again. Falling in love wasn’t in her cards this winter.
“Oh, honey, I know you did. They were idiots. Even bigger ones then you. Kara, I’ve learned that sometimes the risks are worth it. Look at me. I moved here, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Yes, it hurt and there were growing pains, but look at me now. I survived and so will you. Even if it doesn’t work out, which it might not, you’ll still have all of us, Kara and I, for one, am not going anywhere. That I can promise.”
Kara sighed. “I love you, you know.”
“I love you, too.”
“You’ve given me a lot to think about, Cat and I will think about it.”
“I know you will, and I also know you’ll overthink things. If you want to kiss her, kiss her.”
“Yes,” Kara squeaked.
“What was that?”
“I…” Kara swallowed. “We have kissed. I kissed her. We’re past that hurdle.”
“I see. What else? I’m listening.”
“Since that day we were in town we’ve been sharing a bed together. It’s nice. She’s nice.”
“You like her in your bed.”
“Yes, Cat, I do.” Kara finished her coffee then washed her cup.
“You do realize your relationship with her is already on a better path than my second marriage, don’t you?”
“Kara, I’m serious. You two haven’t known each other that long, but you’re already that comfortable with each other. That says something. Good lord, it wasn’t until David and I had been dating for almost six months before I let him spend the night. Even then, I wasn’t sure and look what happened. Divorce number one.”
“I…” Cat was right. Of course, she was. Lena was comfortable. Kara felt comfortable with her. “You’ve got me there.”
“I’m always right. Just ask Carter.”
Kara glanced at her watch. “I hate to cut this short, but I need to take care of the animals then deliver J’onns goat cheese.”
“Be careful, Kara and please think about what I’ve said.”
“I will. I won’t be here when you drop Carter off, please go easy on Lena.”
Cat huffed. “What do you take me for, Kara? Wait, don’t answer that.”
“You be careful, too.”
“I will. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Kara ended the call then slipped her phone in her pocket. Besides her family, Cat was always in her corner and she could never fault her for that. She just hoped Lena knew what she’d be getting into when Cat arrived. Kara could warn her, but where would the fun be in that? If she had to have a heart to heart with Cat, so would Lena.
Lena stretched and yawned before standing from the couch and petting Fluffy on the head. She had to give Kara credit, Fluffy did look good in her gray and white sweater Kara had made for her a few days ago.
The snow was falling at a greater clip, and she was trying not to worry about Kara, but it was hard. Even knowing Kara knew what she was doing didn’t help to ease her mind. It had been an hour since she last looked at the clock. Kara had told her that morning that she would be back around two. It was only eleven thirty.
After waking and checking on the animals, per Kara’s advice, Lena had made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and explored the house. Kara had told her she didn’t mind her being nosy, but with Kara gone for the day, Lena didn’t feel like such a creep actually exploring it.
The computer in Kara’s office was tempting, but she wasn’t ready to face her reality, so she bypassed the second floor all together. Not yet, at least. She wasn’t clueless to what was happening, she just didn’t want to deal with it. Maggie would call Kara if something changed, and if she waited for that call every day, she would be miserable. No matter how distracting Kara was.
And distracting she was. It was torture being wrapped in her arms every night and just sleeping. The kisses had been nice and just one touch of Kara’s hand on her skin set her on fire. It was such a delicious way to be, if not a little bit of a punishment.
From that first night in the hotel room, Lena had been a goner. Being in Kara’s arms was the best nights of sleep she’d ever had even though Kara’s mattress could use an upgrade.
She swiped a cookie and ate it in two bites. If she didn’t stop she’d have them all eaten by the time that Kara got home.
Lena approached the stove and stirred the soup she’d put on an hour ago. It was just a basic vegetable soup, but it was one of Lena’s comfort foods. A plate of covered cornbread was on the counter. For that, Lena had to rummage through one of Kara’s well-used cookbooks. It was simple, but she hoped Kara liked it.
At the sound of tires on the gravel, Lena perked up and approached the front door, when it opened, and a young boy walked in followed by Cat Grant.
Cat pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head. “Carter, this is Lena. Lena, my son, Carter.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Lena said. Kara had said Carter would be by sometime today. She hoped he liked vegetable soup as well.
“You too,” Carter said, then proceeded to the guest room. A couple of minutes later he was back, kissed Cat on the cheek, then told them he was going to check on the animals.
When the door shut, her and Cat were still standing by the front door.
“So,” Lena said, and Cat rolled her eyes.
Cat took her scarf and coat off and hung then up, before taking off her shoes and walking into the living room. “You don’t have to stand by the door,” Cat said.
Lena bit back the words on her tongue and turned to join her, only to see her walk into the kitchen. Lena hurried to catch up with her. The little flames of jealousy that rose up when Cat made herself at home, was threatening to engulf her. For Kara, she would have to keep her cool.
“Cookies and dinner. Oh, dear, I hope Carter isn’t going to be disturbing date night.” Cat said, before nibbling on a cookie.
“Don’t be absurd.” Lena crossed her arms and called on all her acting ability to get through this conversation. “It’s the least I can do for her.”
“You mean, besides sleeping in her bed every night,” Cat deadpanned.
Lena dropped her arms. “If you have something to say, just say it.”
“I’m not sure I like you, but Kara does, so I’ll respect her opinion. However, I meant it when I said not to hurt her, though.” Cat tilted her head. “Now I see, she might not be the only one to get hurt.”
“I don’t know what you’re taking about.”
“Don’t be obtuse, Lena. It doesn’t suit you.” Cat finished her cookie, then poured herself a cup of coffee. “Join me at the table.”
Lena didn’t want to but decided not to make a big deal about this. “What do you want, Cat?”
“I’m going to tell you the same as I told Kara.” Cat dunked her cookie in her coffee then took a bite. “These cookies are good, Kara will appreciate that.”
“Sometimes the risk is worth it, Lena. Not always, but sometimes.” Cat dabbed at her lips.
Lean turned away from Cat’s gaze. The last person she wanted to talk to this about was Cat. “So, you can run and tell Kara what I said.”
“Don’t be stupid. Yes, Kara is my priority, but this involves both of you. Tell me something, Lena? And I want you to answer without thinking. Whatever pops in your head. Can you do that?”
“Could you ever live this life?”
“Maybe.” She closed her eyes when the truth hit her in the face. Maybe she could live this life? It wasn’t the answer she wanted to say and by the look on Cat’s face it wasn’t the answer she wanted.
“Maybe isn’t good enough. Kara deserves a yes. My advice to you is until you’re ready to say yes, don’t take that next step with her. It would only end up hurting you both.”
“What next step? Sex or love?” Lena ran her fingers through her hair and for the first time noticed the bag Cat was carrying. “How did you get a K-Dan bag? I’ve been trying to get one for the last three years to no avail.” A change in subject was in order.
Cat narrowed her eyes at Lena but answered. “A dear friend.” Cat finished her cookie. “Have you explored the house yet?” She brushed her hands on the napkin.
Lena blushed. “Some, but I stayed away from the second floor. I didn’t want to be tempted by the computer.”
“I see.” Cat drummed her fingers on the table top. “Have you talked to Kara about what’s going on in your life?”
“Like what?” Lena stood and poured herself a cup of coffee then set back down.
“Like your stalker and almost dying. Those things?”
Lena sipped her coffee. “No. I don’t want to think about all that right now. It’s not the right time.”
“When is the right time, Lena? Even if you don’t want to think about it, it’s still happening and will continue to happen.” Cat pursed her lips. “It must have been scary.”
“It was, but not in the way you’re thinking. It just pissed me off. How dare this person think they have the right to dictate my life.” She shook her head. “It disrupted my life.”
“I would be upset as well. Do you have a plan for when he’s caught? To go home I mean.”
“No. Haven’t given it much thought.”
“Everyone thinks you’re dead, Lena. That’s a big deal.”
Lena slammed her hand on the table. “You think I don’t know that. Everything I’ve worked for is gone. Sure, when I come back to life, some will be happy, but the majority of my fans will be pissed. Pissed that I would dare to stomp on their feelings.”
“And your mother,” Cat pushed.
“My mother,” Lena spat. “Doesn’t give a damn about me. I’m sure she’s probably dancing on my grave by now.” She didn’t want to think about her funeral, but by now, it had to of taken place. It had been over a week since she died. “This conversation is better with alcohol, but it’s too early for that.”
“It was a beautiful ceremony.”
Lena jerked her head around to Cat. “How did you see it?”
“It was televised, Lena.”
“Oh.” That she hadn’t expected. Probably Lucy, her agent, had something to do with it. It was one thing faking your death to get away from your life, it was quite another being forced to.
“You have a lot to work through and I know from first-hand experience that Kara is a wonderful listener.” Cat finished her coffee and stood. Lena followed. “Sex without love is just sex. If you can separate the two, then love, Lena, that’s the line. Don’t cross that line until you can give Kara a yes.”
Lena stood in silence until the front door shut. She made her way quickly to the window and watched Cat hug and kiss Carter then get in her truck and drive off.
Cat had hit a nerve and she knew it. How would she even begin to incorporate herself back into her old life. She’d make a list later. Cat was right about one thing, no matter how far back she wanted to push her old life it was still happening around her, even if she wasn’t there to witness it.
A few minutes later the door opened, and Carter walked in. They stood staring at each other. Lena really hoped Kara wasn’t late. What in the world would she have to talk about with a teenager?
Kara cut the engine after parking. She’d been gone longer then she’d planned. M’gann was at the restaurant so Kara helped J’onn with a few things around his house. He was a good friend of her parents and had stepped in when her dad had died. Between him and Jeremiah, Kara couldn’t ask for better men to fill the role her father left behind.
The trade was hay for goat cheese, but J’onn had insisted and now Kara was the owner of twelve jars of apple preserves. She couldn’t wait to try some on pancakes the next morning. She had a feeling Lena would enjoy it as well. She knew Carter would.
The call from Cat earlier had gone like she expected. Cat hadn’t given anything away about her talk with Lena, but Kara hadn’t expected her too. The only thing she said was Lena wasn’t as bad as she first expected. That was high praise from Cat.
Kara got out and hefted the crate under her arm and opened the door with her other. She spied Carter and Lena on the couch. They seemed in deep conversation.
“I’m home,” Kara called out, then stopped and sniffed the air. Cookies and something hearty. “What’s that smell.” Her stomach flipped at Lena making her dinner. This felt way to domestic, but in a good way.
Carter jumped up and took the crate from Kara. “Cookies,” Carter said. “And vegetable soup. It was so good, Kara.”
“I can’t wait to try it.” She walked to the couch then leaned down and pecked Lena on the lips. “I hope Cat wasn’t too hard on you.”
“Not at all.” Lena stood, grasped Kara’s hand and pulled her toward the kitchen. They stopped over the threshold and caught Carter with a spoon in his mouth and an open jar in his hand.
“Don’t put that spoon back in there. Share with the rest of us.” Kara took the jar then smothered some preserves on a piece of cornbread. “So good.” She held it out to Lena who took a bite.
“That is good. Do you have time to eat, or do you want help checking the animals?” Lena asked.
“I’ll help,” Carter said.
Kara smiled at Carter’s enthusiasm. He was a great kid. “We’ll check the animals then I’ll eat.”
“I’m going to head out,” Carter said, leaving them alone in the kitchen.
Kara reached for Lena and pulled her into a hug. The other woman melted in her arms. “I missed you today.” She had decided on the drive home to be a little brave.
“I missed you, too.” Lena kissed her neck, causing Kara to shiver. “Carter and I have already decided on Rummy tonight for our game.”
“Sounds good.” Kara slipped her hands underneath Lena’s shirt and ran her hands up and down Lena’s back. Her skin was soft compared to Kara’s. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
Just the feel of Lena’s lips on hers was enough to drive her wild. She deepened the kiss and moaned when Lena broke free and nipped her ear. “As much as I would love to continue this, Carter is waiting for you.” Lena backed up and slipped her hands in her pockets. “And just think, there is a floor between your bedroom and the guestroom. Whatever shall we get up to tonight.” She backed out of the kitchen slowly.
Kara hung her head when Lena walked out of the kitchen. Lena was starting a game that Kara definitely wanted to play. But, work came first. She popped the last of the cornbread in her mouth, grabbed an apple, then smacked Lena on the ass as she passed by her and then strode out the front door.
The cold bit into her skin and she tilted her head back as the snow fell. This was home and she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
She laughed then walked to the barn. Once inside she patted Krypton on the nose, gave her the apple then headed in the direction that Carter’s laughs were coming from.
She leaned against a pillar as she watched Carter bouncing around inside Mavis and Mabel’s pen.
She pulled out her phone and took a few photos. One to send to Cat and one to post on Instagram later. She loved Carter like a little brother and he was always a joy to have around. His dad was a dick, and Kara never minded when he would spend his dad’s weekend with her. Her and Cat had started the routine a few years ago and there was nothing that would make Kara change that. Not even a beautiful woman waiting in her living room for her. She would have plenty of time with Lena, but right now Carter needed her more.
“Boy,” she said, standing tall and crossing her arms. Carter glanced at her. “It’s time to earn your keep.”
Carter blinked at her then cracked up laughing, holding onto his sides. He fell onto the ground while the goats jumped around him.
“I see how it is.” She dropped her arms then laughed along with him before opening the gate and joining in on the fun.
A little play never hurt anyone, she decided. Besides, play with Carter now, then an entirely different kind of play with Lena later.
If there was one thing she learned running a homestead, it was patience. She had an infinite amount of patience. Anything worth having was worth waiting for and she only had a handful of hours to wait for Lena.
Kara hummed as she put the finishing touches on Fluffy’s latest sweater. It was burgundy and cream and would look fabulous on her.
The last week hadn’t gone as she expected after Carter left, but she was enjoying getting to know Lena more. They got along on almost every level and Kara was finding it harder and harder not to fall for her. She feared it would be a losing battle, but it was one she was going to continue to fight.
It was fun teaching Lena about the homestead, but to Lena they were lessons and to Kara it was her life. It stayed on the forefront of Kara’s mind that Lena would eventually leave.
Cat had given her yet another heart to heart when she’d picked Carter up and although she loved Cat and respected her pep talks, at this point, there was nothing that could convince her not to keep going with Lena. It was inevitable. They both knew it.
She shook out the sweater.
“Come here, Fluff.”
She easily put the sweater on her then lifted her phone and took several photos so she could upload them to her Instagram account. Fluffy was becoming just as popular as her goats were.
“All right. Let’s get you fed, and breakfast started. Your mommy will be up shortly.”
Once in the kitchen, Kara started on French toast and had just piled the last piece on the plate when a noise outside drew her attention. A beat later, a red head came into her line of sight out the kitchen window.
“Shit. It’s Alex, Fluffy. Shit.” She wasn’t supposed to be here for a couple more weeks. Kara knew it wasn’t something serious or Alex would have called her. Kara took her apron off, raced to the front door and swung the door open before Alex could even knock.
“Wow. Would you look at that service.” Alex walked in, slipped her boots off, then headed toward the kitchen.
Kara shut the door then followed behind her. “Is there something you needed, Alex?” Kara rushed to the counter and slapped Alex’s hand when she tried to add another piece of French toast to her already growing pile. “Leave some for Lena.”
“Oh. Lena.” Alex snickered then plopped down at the kitchen table. “Your girlfriend that I’ve never met or seen a picture of. That girlfriend. Your “secret” girlfriend.”
Kara groaned, but ignored her. This could go one of two ways with Alex. Either she would like Lena or not and Kara would know within the first couple minutes of them meeting. “I mean it, don’t eat anymore. I’m going to go get Lena.”
Not waiting for a reply, Kara walked toward the stairs then took them two at a time up to her bedroom. Lena was still sprawled out on the bed, but she’d pushed the sheet away and there was a tantalizing amount of skin on display.
Kara carefully climbed on the bed and crawled toward her, stopping when she reached Lena’s stomach then leaned down and licked the skin above her belly button before making her way up and kissing Lena on the cheek. “It’s time to get up.”
“No.” Lena swatted her hands away. “Five more minutes.”
“We don’t have five minutes.”
Lena cracked one eye open. “Why. Oh, God, is Cat back?”
Kara laughed. “Nope.” She flopped back on her back, knowing she would enjoy Lena’s reaction. “My sister's here.” A beat later, Lena flew out of bed.
The panic on her face was actually cute. “She’s downstairs eating our French toast.”
Lena stopped bouncing with one leg in her jeans and narrowed her eyes. “The cinnamon French toast we had last week?”
“Yep.” Lena had fallen in love with it.
“With the brown sugar glaze?”
Kara slipped her hands behind her head and enjoyed the view of Lena half naked. “One and the same.”
Kara nodded along as Lena continued on her tirade. When Lena was dressed, Kara jumped up and pulled her into her arms. “We’ll do fine. At the beginning we didn’t even know each other when I lied to Alex and now, we do.” She snaked her arms around Lena’s waist and slipped her hands underneath her t-shirt. It was the one that Kara had made for Lena with a print of Kara and Fluffy in matching red paisley sweaters. She hadn’t expected Lena to like it, but she’d worn it twice already and Kara had only made it five days ago.
Lena sighed and sunk into Kara’s embrace. “You’re right. We’ve got this.”
“That’s the spirit.” Kara walked away then slapped Lena’s ass. “We do have this.”
When they walked into the kitchen and looked at Alex, Kara was sure they didn’t have this. Or at least, Lena wouldn’t. There were only two pieces of French toast left on the counter. She looked at Alex and her plate with two more pieces of French toast then to Lena, who seemed to be keeping her composer.
She had just opened her mouth so say something when Lena marched across the kitchen, and as she walked by Alex grabbed her plate then slapped the last two pieces from the counter on top of Alex’s then sat down at the table across for Alex.
Lena took her time pouring the brown sugar glaze over the French toast, with a smirk on her face, then dug her fork in and took a big bite. The entire time her eyes never left Alex, who still held her empty fork in her hand.
“Well, fuck,” Alex said, then glanced at Kara. “I like her.”
Lena sat beside Kara on the couch after breakfast and cradled her cup of tea in her hands. For the last thirty minutes, Kara and Alex had been talking about Kara’s homestead and what more she needed to do to winterize it.
Alex hadn’t been what she was expecting at all. Of course, she’d seen pictures of her. Kara had pictures scattered everywhere throughout her home, but nothing compared to her in the flesh. Although, she was the total opposite of Kara, their bond was obvious.
So far, Alex hadn’t asked her a direct question, but Lena knew her time was coming. For one, Kara still hadn’t feed the animals this morning, and two, Alex kept throwing glances her way. Lena shifted on the couch but dared not to move too much for fear that Kara would move the hand she had settled on Lena’s thigh as soon as they’d sat down.
“Earth to Lena.” Kara waved her hand in front of Lena’s face.
“Sorry.” Lena grabbed Kara’s hand and tangled their fingers together. “I was lost in thought.”
“Kara, shouldn’t you go feed the animals,” Alex said.
“Kara, go feed them. You’re already thirty minutes late. Go.” Lena lightly kissed her on the lips and shooed her away.
When the front door shut behind Kara, Alex clapped her hands so hard Lena almost dropped her tea.
“Just the two of us.”
Lena finished her tea than set the empty cup on the coffee table and took a deep breath. “Alex, say what ever it is you’ve been wanting to say since you walked in this morning.”
“No beating around the bush?”
“I respect that. What I won’t ever respect is someone playing with my sister’s heart. She’s an amazing woman and deserves only the best. She’s had some shit luck in the relationship department. Tell me something, Lena. Are you really the right person to make her happy? Because I haven’t seen the smile on her face in a long time. From what I’ve seen of you, I like you, however, you’re not my priority. Kara is and always will be.” Alex sat back waited.
Lena turned her head stared out the window, watching the snow fall. Oh, how she would love to be the woman that could hold Kara’s heart and as long as she was here, she would do her best to not hurt her. But the fact still stood that this wasn’t her life. “I care for Kara. Is it love, not yet, but I can see it moving int hat direction? I’m not intentionally setting out to hurt her, but I don’t know what the future holds. None of us do. Don’t ask me to promise something I can’t.”
Alex sighed, then ran her fingers through her hair. “Do you have a last name. Kara didn’t mention it.”
“So, who’s the woman your dating?” Lena threw a question back at her, trying to buy time not to answer Alex’s.
“Lena, is that really how you want to play this? I have no issue telling you or Kara who I’m dating. I just like pulling her strings. My relationship is somewhat new and I’m not entirely sure how Kara will take it, but I’ll spill when she comes back in. What’s so secret about your last name? Huh? Why all the secrecy? You’re acting like it’s a big deal.”
Lena stiffened when Alex put emphasis on the word acting. Fuck. Alex was playing her. How did Alex know her last name? She knew Kara didn’t tell her and there were only two other women who knew. Maggie and Cat.
“Cut the shit, Alex. Again, I’ll say, say whatever it is that you want to.”
“You know. I’ve scoured the internet after you died. It’s a shitstorm. Your fans are out in droves, but so are the trolls. There’s actually a twitter feed tilted Thank God the Bitch is Dead.” Lena flinched. “That’s what I thought to. I’ve researched you and honestly, I couldn’t find anything that threw up red flags about you. Your family on the other hand.”
“I’m not my family.” Lena gritted her teeth together.
“No, I suppose you're not. You obviously have a stalker. I mean he tried to kill you and a lot of people don’t like you. I just don’t want that to bleed into Kara’s life.”
“How can you be sure? You can’t.” Alex ran her fingers through her hair. “Look, I can already tell Kara’s gone on you and you on her.” Alex held her hand up. “Don’t deny it. It’s plain to see. You’re both going to get hurt by the end of this. You will be going back to your other life, won’t you?”
“Yes.” Lena sighed. “I haven’t looked at any of the sites. I don’t know what my life is going to look like when I go back, and I will go back. I can’t pretend to be dead forever. I can’t. I know a lot of people will be angry. I’m angry. And…” she shook her head. “I don’t know what I’m going back to. Yes, I had a will, and I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but that money is only supposed to go to charities if I’m dead.”
“And you’re not dead.”
“The longer I’m away I fear the harder it will be to straighten everything out. Maggie didn’t give me much of a choice in the matter and here I am.”
Alex snorted. “Maggie always was the act first, ask questions later kind of woman.”
It was at that moment that Lena knew exactly who Alex was dating. She could see it, if she squinted hard enough. It was then that her eyes landed on a bag nestled beside Alex’s chair. How in the hell? First Cat and now Alex. “How did you get one of those?”
Alex looked where Lena was pointing then picked up the K-Dan bag. “Well, it looks like there is some things you don’t know.” Alex stood. “Follow me. Have you not explored the second floor yet?”
“No. I didn’t want to be tempted by the internet.” Lena followed behind her quietly, then walked slowly into the second floor. The large space was well kept. Alex pointed to a stack of cardboard boxes.
“I will be taking these with me when I go.” Alex crocked her finger then cracked opened the top box and pulled out a tissue paper wrapped bundle.
Lena looked from the bundle to Alex who wiggled it in her hands. As soon as her fingers touched the bundle it hit her. K-Dan. Kara Danvers. “Oh.” She laid the package on the work table beside a few scraps of fabric that she was sure would be Fluffy’s new sweater. Kara did have a good eye. Fluffy would look good in the skull printed black and white fabric. With shaky fingers she opened the tissue paper. The bag was gorgeous in red and brown leather hues. Expertly stitched and crafted. “This is beautiful.”
“It is. She’s perfected her technique over the years. Her first ones weren’t great. I still have one of the first ones in my closet.”
“Do you know how much one of those would go for?” Jesus, Kara was full of surprises. This, after everything’s, wasn’t something she’d expected. Kara was such an enigma.
“Kara usually gives, Cat, mom, M’gann, and I a bag from her new line.” Alex shrugged. “She works for weeks coming up with a new design and all the leather is from animals she’s killed or other hunters in the area or from the cattle she keeps at a farm on the southside. Her talents blow me away. You should ask her how she got into making them.”
“Especially after everything she’s been through.” Lena handed Alex the bag back and watched as she laid it in the box.”
“She has been through a lot, but she still loves like crazy.” Alex crossed her arms and settled her back against the wall. “I like you, Lena, I’m just worried about my sister.”
“And I respect that. I know we’re probably going to end up hurting each other, but, at this point, I’m not sure there is any way around it.”
“And I understand that. Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.”
Lena knew that look on Alex’s face. She was sure it was on hers most of the times. “Smacks you upside the head, huh?”
Alex sighed than ran her fingers down her face. “You better believe it.”
They both jumped at Kara’s voice from the doorway.
“Shit, Kara.” Alex clutched her chest. “Don’t do that.”
Kara chuckled. “You big baby.”
“Are these the only boxes going?” Alex asked.
“Yep. A few less than last year, but they’ll do.” Kara looked from Alex to Lena.
“I didn’t realize you were K-Dan,” Lena said.
Kara blushed then rocked back on her heels. “Oh. I enjoy making them and make a good profit.”
“Kara.” Lena held her hand up. “I know what these bags go for. You could be making a lot more if you sold them yourself.”
Kara waved off her words. “I know, but I like the way things are now. I don’t have time to keep up with a website or marketing or shipping.”
It wasn’t the way Lena would have done it, but she understood Kara’s reasoning.
Kara smirked. “Do you own some of my bags, Lena?”
She wished. “I never had the privilege. Every time I tired to get one, they were already sold out.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you know the maker.” Kara lifted the top bag off and handed it to Lena.
Lena really wanted it but had to make a fuss. “Kara, I can’t take that. this is your livelihood.”
“Don’t be silly. Take it. I insist.”
“All right.” Lena ripped the tissue paper off to get a better look. “This really is beautiful. I’ll of course pay for it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I would never accept payment for it. It’s a gift.” Kara clapped her hands together. “What have you two been talking about?”
Lena smirked. “Alex was getting ready to tell me who she was dating?”
“Really?” Kara leaned against the wall beside Lena and wrapped her arm around Lena’s waist. “Do tell. You’ve been awfully secretive about this. She must be special.”
Alex lifted her hand and rubbed the back of her neck. “Well—”
Lena relaxed against Kara’s side and enjoyed her warmth. That was something she’d quickly realized from the first time they’d shared a bed. Kara’s body temperature ran warm. “Do tell.” She was going to enjoy this, but she wasn’t sure how Kara was going to take it.
“Okay.” Alex looked to Kara. “Cat and I are dating.”
Lena almost second guessed teasing Alex when Kara stiffened beside her. “Kara?”
Kara swallowed. “You and Cat?”
Alex looked from Kara to Lena then back to Kara. “Yes. We’ve been dating for the last few months. We’re taking it slow. Kara, I really like her. We’ve always been friends, but over the last year we’ve started to get closer. Neither one of us was sure how you would feel about it.”
“I…” Kara licked her lips. “I’m not upset. Just surprised. Cat never said anything.”
“Neither did I.”
Lena let Kara go when she took two steps in Alex’s direction. “I love you Alex, but Cat means the world to me. If you hurt her…”
“Wow.” Alex held her hands up. “I have no intention of hurting her, Kara. I really care about her. It kind of blindsided us, but we’re happy. Cat wasn’t sure you would understand, and she was scared of losing you.”
“Come here.” Kara grabbed Alex in a tight hug. “I love you both and just want you to be happy. Neither one of you is going to lose me.”
“We love you too. Are you sure you’re not mad?”
“Nope. It’s just going to take some getting used to. That’s all. Goodness.” Kara backed up to stand beside Lena. “We’ll have to double date sometime.”
Alex groaned. “What have I gotten myself into?”
“Oh, Alex. You have no idea.”
Lena took one last look in the bathroom mirror before walking into the bedroom. She paused at the door and watched Kara sprawled out on the bed. Her eyes were closed, but Lena knew she wasn’t asleep. Even having known Kara as long as she had, Lena knew there was something on her mind. And it only took one guess to figure out what.
She walked up to the bed then lay down beside Kara and rested her head on Kara’s chest, then slipped her hand under Kara’s t-shirt and rubbed circles on her stomach.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Lena relaxed into Kara’s warm body when Kara wrapped her arm around her and pulled her close.
“I’m not sure.” Kara sighed. “I’m happy for Alex.”
“But, it…I just didn’t expect this. I mean no one said anything. No one. Was I the only one in the dark? Does Eliza and Jeremiah know? Does Carter know?”
“Is that all that’s bothering you?”
Kara huffed. “Cat always flirts with me. Why would she do that if she’s dating Alex?”
“Probably because they weren’t sure how you would react, so they kept up like they usually would. Do you not want them together?”
“It’s not that. You know looking back I can see it. Cat likes to act all tough, but she’s just a marshmallow. The same with Alex. They both deserve to be happy. They do and I’ll support them no matter what, but the three of us are going to have to set down and talk. I don’t want to cross any boundaries that would make Cat uncomfortable or to piss off Alex.”
Lena raised up and pushed the hair out of Kara’s eyes. “You’re not jealous?”
Kara smiled sheepishly. “Maybe a little, but not the way you’re thinking. I don’t want Cat in a sexual or romantic way. I guess I will miss all her attention being directed at me. I’m not going to lie; Cat and I do have an emotional relationship. She’s been there for me since my parents died and helped me through a lot of tough spots. I don’t know what I would do without her.”
“Oh, Kara. I don’t think anything could come between you and Cat. Not even Alex.” Lena leaned down and kissed Kara on the cheek, then squealed and laughed when Kara flipped them and hovered above her. Lena wrapped her arms around Kara and buried her face in Kara’s neck, then bit her ear.
“I’m really glad you’re here.”
Lena closed her eyes. “I’m glad I’m here too.” Her eyes flew open when Kara raised up then settled her hips on Lena’s thighs. Lena sucked in a breath when Kara’s hands slipped under her shirt and cupped her breasts. “Jesus, Kara.”
“Too much?” That grin on her face would be Lena’s undoing.
“Nope, but,” she slipped Kara’s hand out from beneath her shirt then kissed the knuckles. “I’m not doing this with your sister in the guest room.”
Kara sighed dramatically then flopped down on the bed before wrapping Lena in her arms. “You’re right. You just look so good.”
“I’m in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.”
“Correction. You’re in my shorts and t-shirt. Sexy as fuck.”
“You have no idea how many times a day my mind strays to you.”
“Oh, I could take a guess.”
Lena quieted when Kara stilled behind her and kept quiet when Kara’s breathing evened out. That was one thing she admired about Kara. She could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Unlike Lena who could lay in bed for hours and just stare at the ceiling. Tonight, she knew, would be no different. She couldn’t get what Alex said out of her mind. Maybe it was time she looked in on her life. It had been weeks and she hadn’t heard from Maggie since the early days. Surely, she should know something by now? Or at the least, have something to tell her about her stalker. Surely, Maggie hadn’t hit a road block already.
The last thing she wanted to do was leave Kara, but she’d be lying if she said the entire thing didn’t make her anxious. However, the one thing that had always been hers was her career and she couldn’t just give that up.
After she was certain Kara was sleeping soundly, Lena slipped out of the bed and made her way down to the second floor, settled at the desk, then opened Kara’s laptop.
She wasn’t sure how long she stared at the blank screen until she worked up the nerve to connect to the internet. Google taunted her as her fingers shook on the keyboard. With a bout of courage, she typed in her name and hit enter.
The first headline took her breath away.
Beloved actress Kieran Luthor laid to rest.
Below the headline was a picture of Lena accepting her Academy Award and beside that a picture of Lena’s casket. Rose gold. Exactly like she’d had in her will. Lena clicked on the article and started to read.
As the clock struck twelve, Kieran Luthor’s casket was slowly lowered into the ground at the Luthor’s estate in upstate New York, as a handful of close friends and family gathered.
“What?” That couldn’t be right. Lillian would have never allowed her to be buried there.
Though, it was a closed casket, from those closest to the young actress we’re told she was dressed in the same gown she wore to accept her Academy award and looked beautiful. One source close to the family told me Kieran looked like an angel, but that, per her will, only a small handful of people would have been allowed to view her in her casket. We’re also told her wishes were carried out to the T by her agent and friend Lucy Lane.
The funeral and memorial were public and televised but the burial was a private event. However, we’re told that although Lillian Luthor didn’t attend the funeral she was at the burial and was as distraught as any mother burying their young child would be.
Lena pushed back from the table and stood. No. No. She closed her eyes and gulped in a deep breath of air. No. No. No. This was all wrong.
She placed her hands on her knees and bent her head to try and get her breathing under control. This wasn’t right. Joking about being dead and seeing it in front of you were to completely different things. And her mom. The last person she expected to be there was Lillian. What kind of twisted reality was she living in? Lillian didn’t love her. Nothing Lena did was ever good enough for her. No. She wouldn’t believe it until she saw it. Lillian was about just as good an actress as Lena was.
After standing, she shook her fingers out then sat back down and searched again, but this time for her funeral then clicked on the image search.
The first picture that popped up was of her mother, dressed in all black and glaring at whoever was taking the photo, but that wasn’t what caught Lena’s attention. No, that was the tears in Lillian’s eyes. Never in her life had she ever saw Lillian cry. Lena’s gaze drifted down, and she gripped the desk when she saw what Lillian had clutched in her right hand. A small brown teddy bear.
“Oh, God.” The same teddy bear that Lena had had when she was a small child. The same teddy bear Lillian had told her to get rid of because she was a big girl now. Lillian kept the teddy bear and Lena couldn’t deal with that right now.
Lena stood and slammed the lid to the laptop before walking downstairs and staring out the kitchen window while the water heated up for tea. She should have never looked. Probably the biggest mistake of her life. Lillian didn’t feel anything for her. She’d proved that countless times over the years.
“Lena.” Lena clutched her chest then turned to see Alex standing a few feet behind her. “Are you all right?”
Lena laughed. “Sure. My life is fucked up, but I’m fine. Fine and dandy.”
“What?” Lena turned and glared at the other woman. “Have you looked, Lena? Have you seen the photos, Lena? It was such a beautiful funeral, Lena,” she mocked. “So, yes, Alex, I’ve seen some photo’s, and do you know what?”
Lena fixed her tea then turned back and leaned against the counter. “My mother was grieving me. That bitch never had a moment for me when I was alive, but now that I’m dead.” She sipped her tea but when her fingers started to shake, Alex took the cup out of her hands and set it on the counter. “She was crying. Crying for me.” Lena’s laugh was hollow. “I was buried at the Luthor estate. Unbelievable.”
“Wasn’t that what you requested in your will?”
Lena threw her hands in the air. “Yes, but I never expected her to follow through.” Lena stiffened when Alex took her hands.
“What do you need now?”
“Now?” Lena pulled her hands back and started pacing. “Well, hell, where to start. I’m trying not to be a selfish bitch, but I worked hard for my career,” her voice cracked. “I worked my ass off and now, what? I will never be able to walk back into my old life. Nothing will be the same. People won’t say it, but they won’t trust me. What I’m I supposed to do? By the time this is over, where will my money be, my condo, my cars, everything, Alex!” Lena screamed. “What am I supposed to do?” Tears rocked her body and she didn’t fight when strong arms wrapped around her and helped her to the floor. Lena buried her face into the familiar chest and grabbed handfuls of Kara’s t-shirt.
“It’s all right. I’m here.” Kara kissed the top of her head.
“Shh. We’re fine. Cry all you need to. I’m not going anywhere. Let it out. It’s long past due.”
Lena sunk into the warmth that was Kara and let go for the first time since everything happened. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been crying when the tears finally dried up, but when she raised her head her and Kara were settled on the couch. “I’m dead,” she said softly, and for the first time it felt real. Realer than anything she’d ever felt before. The hollow feeling in her chest would have overtaken her if it hadn’t been for Kara holding her tight. She lay her head on Kara’s chest and listened to the steady beat of her heart.
“I’m not going anywhere, Lena. I’m right here. Get some rest, sweetheart. I promise we’ll tackle this head on tomorrow. Me, you, and Alex.”
Lena didn’t have the strength to fight her, so she closed her eyes and drifted off with the sound of Kara humming in her ear.
Kara slipped out from underneath Lena and lay the throw blanket over top of her, then made her way into the kitchen where Alex was waiting for her.
“Here.” Alex handed her a cup of tea.
“Thanks.” Kara leaned back against the counter where she still had a clear line of sight to the couch.
“I take it that’s the first times she’s fallen apart?”
“It is.” Kara sipped her tea. She knew it was bound to happen and it broke her heart. She wasn’t sure what to do.
“Kara, all you can do is be there for her. Hold her. Listen to her. It will get harder before it gets better. It’s a lot for anyone and she’s so high profile.” Alex shook her head. “She’s lost a lot. I’m not even talking about faking her death.”
Kara frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Kara. Someone tired to kill her. Someone’s been trying to kill her. That person is still out there. That takes a toll on a person. I can’t even imagine what she’s going through. But, if there ever was someone that can help her, it’s you.” Alex gripped Kara’s shoulders. “Just be you. That’s all she needs. It’s obvious you care about her. No matter how it started.” She pulled Kara into her arms. “I’m going to bed and you’re going to go back in there to her.”
Kara drained her tea and settled on the floor beside the couch. Lena was turned to her tucked into a ball under the blanket. She’d be lying if she said she wanted this to end, but she hated seeing Lena so broken. After a few minutes of watching her sleep, Kara stood, lifted the blanket, and lay down, pulling Lena into her arms. She didn’t know what was going to happen, but she would deal with whatever came their way.
The next morning, Lena stood by the kitchen window and watched Kara say goodbye to Alex. She’d woken that morning stiff but comforted to be in Kara’s arms. Her emotions had calmed but bubbled on the surface. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a breakdown. Lillian would have said she was weak, but, surprise, surprise, a good cry was exactly what she needed. Alex had been wonderful, and Kara was Kara.
Before she left house, Alex had given her a business card with her phone number, indicting that if she needed anything or just wanted someone besides Kara to talk to, to give her a call. It had been a sweet gesture, but Lena wasn’t sure she would take her up on it. It still surprised her how quickly she’d let Kara in.
She drained her cup and washed it out just as Kara walked into the kitchen, with arms open wide. It took Lena a moment to react, then she walked to Kara and fell into her arms.
“So, is there anything you want to do today?” Kara pulled back and kissed her lightly on the lips.
“Don’t we have to get everything ready for the hunting trip?”
“Alex and I took care of that already.”
Lena arched her brow. “My, my, you’ve been busy.” A cute pink hue painted Kara’s cheeks.
“I just wanted to be available for you today.”
How had she gotten so lucky? “Anything?”
Kara chuckled, then a grin split her face. “Anything.”
After a beat. “I would love to play with the goats.” The smile that lit up Kara’s face was exactly what she was going for.
“I’m sure they would love that. They’re total hams.” Kara bit her lip. “Thank you.”
“For everything. We’re different, but you’ve expected all of this. So, thank you.”
Lena pulled Kara flush against her. “You don’t have to thank me. I love being here.” She brushed their noses together, then captured Kara’s lips. When Kara flipped their positions and pushed Lena against the wall, Lena let her. When Kara deepened the kiss, Lena let her. When Kara slipped her hands under the back of Lena’s shirt, Lena pulled back, reluctantly. “As much as I would love to carry on with this, and I would. I’m not really feeling up for it this morning.”
“Okay.” Kara lifted both her hands and kissed the palms. “Whatever you’re comfortable with.”
“You make me comfortable, but for what I want to do with you, I’m going to need a lot more stamina than I currently have.”
Kara threw her head back and laughed, and it took all of Lena’s willpower not to connect her lips to Kara’s neck. “So, goats?”
“Yes, we can play with the goats. I’ve been wanting to take a couple of videos of them and you can control the camera.”
Lena took a step back and fanned her face. “Well, I do declare, Ms. Danvers are you hiring me to direct your videos for you.” Every step backward Lena took, Kara took one forward.
“Well, what kind of payment are you looking for?”
A ton of naughty sceneries ran through Lena’s mind. “You can’t afford me, but let it be known I never turned down charity work.”
Lena took off running when Kara took chase. She let her catch her at the top of the stairs where they were both laughing.
Kara nuzzled Lena’s cheek. “I’ll be sure everyone knows how selfless you are.”
Lena closed her eyes and tightened her arms around Kara. “Only you. I’m only selfless for you.”
“I’ll take it.”
“I knew you would.” She would take it one day at a time and with Kara, she had a feeling she would be able to overcome just about anything.
They’d been walking for what seemed like forever when Kara called them to a halt. That morning they’d left at five a.m. to get started for their hunting trip. The sooner they left, Kara said, the sooner they could go back home. Lena wasn't a stranger to early morning wake-up calls but over the past few weeks she'd become accustomed to getting up later.
It didn’t surprise her how much stuff Kara had packed for them either. She was always prepared. Besides both of them being bundled up with long underwear, insulated pants, and thick thermal socks and boots, they each wore a thermal t-shirt, sweater, and a thick coat. Along with a scarf, gloves, and a hat. Even with all that on, Lena had flipped up the hood of her coat a few hours into the trip. The cold was biting.
Kara’s bow and arrows were slung over her shoulders and made her look even more badass then she normally did. A knife hung from a sheath attached to Kara’s belt. Lena had to admit the shotgun Kara carried was a comfort. They hadn’t saw anything yet, and Lena was starting to think this was going to be a wasted trip, but she would never tell Kara that who seemed happy to just be walking.
On top of all that, it had started to snow. It wasn’t heavy, but by the looks of the sky, it wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. She tightened the straps of her backpack and followed beside Kara. Lena came to a stop when Kara held her arm out. Lena scanned the area but didn’t see anything.
“False alarm,” Kara said.
“Okay.” Lena snapped her mouth shut when Kara smirked at her. “What?”
“Not what you expected?”
She rubbed her gloved hands together. “I did expect more, but, despite the cold, it’s a beautiful day.”
“Honestly, I’ve been hunting for years and I expected more.” Kara looked around them. “I think we should be getting back. This snowfall wasn’t predicted when I checked the weather this morning.”
They’d been walking for hours and with the way the snowfall had picked up, their walk back would be even longer. “Lead the way.” Twenty minutes later Kara stopped abruptly, and Lena almost ran into her. “What’s wrong?” She could hardly see in front of her, the snow was coming down so hard.
“There’s a shack about twenty minutes that way.” Kara pointed to their right. “It’s not much, but it has a fireplace and I always make sure there’s a supply of chopped wood there for these occasions. We don’t need to be walking back in this tonight. Not as hard as the snow is coming down. We’ll only get lost and we don’t want to do that.”
“That’s sounds good.” Even with all her layers, she was starting to feel the chill deeply. Sitting in front of a fireplace sounded wonderful. She grabbed a hold of the back of Kara’s coat and held tight in the small chance they got separated. What felt like a lifetime later, Lena could make out a structure ahead of them. Shack wasn’t the word she would have used. Dump was more like it, but at this moment, it looked like heaven.
They stumbled to the shack and Lena stood back while Kara opened the door and motioned her in. Lena walked to the middle of the small one room shack and slipped her backpack off. A large fireplace sat on one end of the room with a couch in front of it. A long counter ran along the opposite wall and there wasn’t much else. No bed. Looked like they’d be sleeping on the couch. It might not have been snowing inside the shack, but it was freezing.
“Give me a minute and I’ll get a fire going.” Lena took a step forward and helped Kara with her bow and arrows. “Thanks.” She raised her hands and rubbed Lena’s arms through her coat. “When I get the fire going, we can take off these wet clothes. Don’t give me that look. I keep a few sets of sweats and sweaters here, for this very reason and there’s a few blankets. Then we can eat something.”
Lena grabbed Kara’s hands and squeezed them. “Do you need any help?”
“Not with the wood, but you can take out food out of your bag and,” she pointed to a cabinet in the corner, “And check to see what’s left over there.”
“Okay. Be careful.”
Kara kissed her cheek. “I will.”
Thirty minutes later, they were both changed, and sitting in front of the fire, bundled up in blankets with their food choices spread out in front of them. While they changed, Lena had no issue with letting her eyes wander over the hard lines of Kara’s body and preened when Kara looked her over. It wasn’t awkward like she’d expected, probably because they’d been fooling around for the last two weeks. She would love nothing more than to tackle Kara and have her way with her, but the fact that they were both shivering put a crimp in those plans.
“Well,” Kara said. “The first thing I’m going to do when we get home is gather a box of supplies to bring out here.”
Lena eyed their stash. There were a handful of trail bars, deer jerky, a baggie of chocolate chip cookies, a half a box of frosted flakes, two cans of pinto beans, a can of tuna, four packets of hot chocolate mix, one packet of saltine crackers and two gallons of water. Lena was afraid to ask where they would use the bathroom, so she kept her mouth shut. “It’s not so bad.” Lena shrugged.
“Not tonight, but if it’s still snowing like this in the morning, we should stay put until it eases up. We could be here a couple of days.”
“Oh.” That hadn’t even crossed her mind. “What about the animals?” She wasn't worried about Fluffy, considering she loaded her food and water bowl before they left that morning.
“They’ll be fine. I gave them extra feed and hay this morning and they have plenty of water. We should still ration. Just in case.”
“So.” Lena started separating everything into three piles. “Tonight, we can share the tuna, a can of pinto beans, half the crackers, and for dessert, a trail bar or a cookie.”
“I’ll grab the pot so we can heat up the beans.”
Lena pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders while Kara set the pot up, opened the can and poured the beans inside. A few minutes later, Lena looked down at her sad looking plate of food. She accepted the salt Kara handed her, sprinkled her food, then started eating. It wasn’t what she would normally eat, but she wasn’t about to complain about having a full belly. Even if most of that consisted of beans.
Once the food was cleaned up, they pulled the small, seen better days couch, as close to the fireplace as they dared and settled down, each of them with a cup of hot cocoa. There was still a chill in the cabin, but Lena was no longer shaking from the chill. When Kara lifted the corner of her blanket and waved her over, Lena snuggled into her side and lifted her arms as Kara placed the extra blanket over their legs.
“This isn’t exactly how I expected today to go,” Kara said.
“Me either, but it’s ending like all our other days are.” Kara arched her brow. “With us cuddled on the couch together.”
“True.” Lena finished her hot chocolate and handed Kara the empty cup. “What was your favorite birthday gift when you were younger.”
“Let’s see.” Kara wrapped her arms more tightly around Lena. “I think my favorite was my tenth. My parents took me to Disney World for the first time. It was awesome. I think I still have the Mickey ears around my house somewhere. What about you?”
“My brother was around when I was younger, and he always made it fun, but I think my favorite birthday was my eighth. My nanny helped me make my cake. It was a unicorn cake. It was the only time I’ve ever had the type of cake I wanted.” Lena closed her eyes when Kara hugged her closer.
“Did you ever have birthday parties?”
“A few, but they were always planned by my mom, but they were never decorated the way I wanted.” She sighed. “I try not to let my childhood trauma’s dictate my life now.”
“Did you have parties?” Lena knew the answer but decided to ask anyway.
“Yes. In fact, Alex and I still throw each other birthday parties. Last year for her birthday I commissioned an otter cake. It was so realistic she didn’t want to cut into it.”
“You two seem really close.”
“We are. We knew each other growing up and I always thought of her as my sister and after my parents died and I moved in with the Danvers our bond only solidified. Raise up.” Lena raised up and watched Kara get up and throw a few more logs on the fire. “Best to keep it going.” She snuggled back onto the couch. “Any other questions?”
“Not really.” All she wanted now was to relax and forget all about how poor her childhood was. “Can we just cuddle?”
“Of course. Are you warm?”
When Kara lay back, Lena settled next to her and rested her head on Kara’s shoulder.
“Try and get some sleep. I’ll set the timer on my phone to wake me up every couple of hours so I can put more logs on the fire.”
“I can do that too.”
“I don’t mind.”
Lena closed her eyes and even midst the snowstorm and all the swirling thoughts surrounding her childhood, she felt more content being in Kara’s arms then she had in a long time. And that scared her more then she would ever admit.
Kara silenced her phone and untangled herself from Lena before getting up and throwing another log on the fire. They should have never gone hunting. She’d lived her long enough to know that a snowstorm could come out of nowhere. The weather this time of year was unpredictable.
She stood and stretched before going to the only window in the shack and looking out. The snow was still coming down, but it tapered off a lot. They should be able to make it back to the homestead tomorrow, where they would hole up for the foreseeable future.
The cabin still held a chill, but it was bearable. When Spring came around she needed to, at the very least, make sure the shack was air tight even if Lena would never be coming back here.
Kara grabbed an extra blanket, folded it, and sat down next to the couch, watching Lena sleep. She refrained from reaching out and touching her. Not when she was sleeping so peacefully. She turned and leaned back against the couch, watching the fire. She knew they weren’t in any real danger, but she hated that Lena had to see this side of homesteading.
This was her life, and she loved it, but being with Lena, she knew, it was going to be hard to watch her go. And she would. It took a special kind of person to live this type of life, and, deep down, she knew Lena wasn’t the type. Cat was right about one thing, no matter what happened, Kara’s heart would end up broken.
She closed her eyes when two arms snacked around her neck.
“Come back to bed, sweetheart. Come on.” She tugged on Kara’s arm.
Kara stood and lay back down where Lena cuddled close to her and promptly fell back to sleep. She adjusted their blankets and closed her eyes. No matter the outcome of their future, what mattered was the here and now. From now on, she would worry less about what would happen and live every day like it was her last with Lena. Because, in reality, it might be.
Early the next morning they gathered their stuff and headed out. Lena didn’t even complain when Kara stated they would have to use the outhouse that was at the back of the shack.
When Lena felt like her legs were going to fall off, the homestead came into view, and they both picked up the pace. After they deposited their bags Lena insisted on helping Kara with the chores, and for once, Kara didn’t argue.
It only took them an hour, and they were huddled in the kitchen drinking coffee.
“I’m assuming not all your hunting trips are like ours?”
Kara chuckled. “No. I usually end up bringing something back, but.” She shrugged. “You win some, you lose some.”
Lena handed Kara her empty cup then fiddled with the edge of her sweater. They hadn’t even changed out of their clothes yet and they both could use a shower. “So.”
“I was thinking.” She knew what she wanted and for once wasn't going to second guess herself.
“I’m listening.” Kara leaned against the counter. “Go on.”
She turned to face Kara completely and held her eyes. “We could shower together.”
Kara stilled. “We could.”
“Do you want too?”
“I wouldn’t be opposed.”
“Am I allowed to touch you?” Taking a shower with her and not being able to touch her, would be a nightmare.
Kara pinned her against the counter. “Lena, if I’m going to shower with you, I am definitely going to touch you.”
“You better believe it.” Kara grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the bathroom. At the door she stopped. “How is your stamina this morning?”
Lena laughed. “It’s just fine.”
“So, I wouldn’t be opposed to more, but I’m not sure I want our first time making love to be in the shower.”
“So, after the shower?”
Lena placed her hands on Kara’s chest and leaned forward until they were nose to nose. “When we’re both clean and refreshed, you can have me any way you want me.”
Kara licked her lips. “What are we waiting for?”
“I’m waiting for you to go into the bathroom.”
Once inside, Kara turned on and adjusted the water and they both stripped. Lena let her eyes wander, then ran her hand down Kara’s chest. Kara caught her hand and tugged her forward. Lena groaned at the first touch of Kara’s breasts against hers.
“Like what you see?”
“You are the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.” Lena moved out of her reach and stepped into the shower. The warm water beating down on her skin felt so good. A moment later a warm and wet body pulled her close. “The faster we get clean, the faster we can get out of here and have some real fun.”
Kara moved her hands and cupped Lena’s breasts. “You drive me crazy.” She kissed Lena’s neck then picked up a washcloth and soaped it. “You first.”
“I’m not going to argue.” Lena held her composure as Kara took her time washing ever last bit of her. She gave Kara’s body the same slow torture.
After drying off and brushing their teeth, Lena slipped her towel off and walked out of the bathroom. She didn’t have to wait long for Kara to follow her out. At the top of the stairs, Lena squealed when Kara picked her up bridal style and carried her the rest of the way into the bedroom, where she lay her gently on the bed.
Lena scooted up the bed and motioned for Kara to join her. Her eyes never left Kara’s when she placed a kiss on Lena’s ankle, then on her calf, her inner thigh, the spot above her belly button. When she made it to her chest, Lena threw her head back when Kara licked the space between her breasts before latching onto a nipple and sucking lightly.
“Why did you stop?” Lena opened her eyes to see Kara hovering above her. The look in Kara’s eyes scared her, because she knew that look, but now wasn’t about their feelings, now was about sex.
“Impatient, are we?”
“Kara, I swear—” her words cut off when Kara lunged forward and kissed her. Lena would never be able to say the words out loud, so she poured all her feelings into the kiss. She ran her fingers along Kara’s spine, then wrapped her legs around her and brought their bodies flush together. In this moment, the only thing that mattered was the two of them.
Kara rolled over in bed and her eyes flew open when she realized she was alone. The spot beside her was still warm, so Lena hadn’t been gone for long. She lay her head back but couldn’t help the smile that came to her face. Lena was a goddess, and Kara loved finding that spot on her thigh, that when bitten, drove Lena wild.
She certainly hadn’t expected this when they left the shack this morning, but she wasn’t complaining. Quite the opposite. She couldn’t wait to get Lena back into bed. If it had been up to her, they would have stayed in bed all day.
She flung the covers off, slipped on a pair of shorts and the first t-shirt she saw. A quick look at her the clock showed she’d been asleep for a little over an hour. She grabbed a pair of socks, put them on then headed downstairs.
Lena was seated on the couch, talking softly to Fluffy. Kara stepped off the stairs and made her way around the couch, where Lena looked up at her with the softest smile on her face. Fluffy was asleep in her arms. Kara leaned down and kissed her on the lips.
“You looked so peaceful I didn’t want to wake you,” Lena said. “I haven’t been up long.”
“Are you hungry?”
“I’ll fix us something.” Kara turned and walked into the kitchen. She wasn’t sure what she expected, but she expected Lena to be a bit more affectionate. She was almost to the fridge when two arms snaked around her waist, drawing her to a stop
“I’m not speechless a lot, but after this morning I’m not sure what to say.” Lena nibbled on her ear.
“Do you regret it?”
Lena turned her around and cupped her cheeks. “Never.”
Kara relaxed and pulled Lena close, capturing her lips. “I don’t either. Being with you was way better than my fantasies.”
“I do aim to please.” Lena tugged Kara closer. “I will never regret my time with you. Never.”
Kara couldn't, wouldn't think about their time ending. “Kiss me.”
Once they broke apart, Kara pushed Lena to arm’s length. “If we keep that up, we’ll never eat.”
“Oh, I can think of something I could eat.”
Kara’s had stilled on the fridge door and she turned back to Lena. “You’re awfully cheeky this morning.”
“It’s the afternoon actually.”
“Oh, I see. Stay over there.” Kara pointed to the table. “Any requests? Food requests?”
“Now, that is something I can do.”
Less than fifteen minutes they were seated at the table eating their pancakes when Kara’s phone started ringing. She stood and swiped it from the counter and her whole body stilled when she caught sight of the caller.
“What?” Lena stood and approached her. “Who is it?”
Kara swallowed. “Maggie.”
Kara swallowed, then answered the phone and put it on speaker per Maggie’s instructions.
“So, now that I have you both here. There has been some major progress.”
Lena relaxed slightly. The last thing she wanted was to leave Kara, not after everything that happened, but she knew she would have to eventually. The fact that some progress had finally been made was also a relief. “What’s going on?”
“We know who he is. Does Joseph Douglas ring a bell?”
Lena squinted at the phone and searched her mind but couldn’t come up with anything. “The name’s not familiar.”
“He’s our man. We’re a hundred percent sure. We raided his house early this morning, but he wasn’t there. He has one room dedicated to you. Like a shrine. It’s creepy. He’s obsessed with you. We also found a boatload of guns and ammo. Kid, it was just a matter of time before he killed you for real. I have cops stationed at your house and his. The whole department is on this. We will find him. Hold on for a minute. Someone just walked in.”
Lena looked at Kara who was looking at her.
“It’s good news.”
Lena smiled even though the smile on Kara’s face was forced. “I know.” And it was, but it also felt like her heart was breaking.
“Sorry about that,” Maggie said. “We’ve got a lead, so I’m going to have to let you go. Just think, Lena, this time next week, you should be back in your old life. I’ll talk to you later.”
Lena thought they would have months together. Not weeks. She allowed Kara to pull her into her arms and hold her. “We knew this was going to happen,” Kara whispered in her ear.
“I know.” The longer the hug went on, the longer Lena felt a little part of her dying. She pulled back, slipped her glasses off and wiped her eyes. She looked up and into Kara’s warm gaze. “I know. I just didn’t expect it this quickly.”
“I could stay for the winter.” But as soon as the words left her mouth, she knew she couldn’t. She had too much of a mess to clean up at home.
“Don’t be silly. You could be here months, and the sooner you get home and clear all this up, the better. As much as I’ve loved having you here, and I have, this isn’t your life.” Kara cupped her cheeks. “However, you’re not gone yet, so we shouldn’t waste what time we do have together.”
Kara was right, she knew that, but it was still hard to swallow. “Then maybe you should take me back to bed.”
“Maybe I will.”
With one last look at Lena sleeping, Kara made her way quietly downstairs, bundled up and went to the barn. Once inside, she started a fire in the wood stove and sat on a bale of hay a few feet from the stove.
Being with Lena was wonderful. Too wonderful. She always knew it would come to an end, but she expected them to have more time together. More time to convince Lena to stay. She’d already made plans for them to pick out and decorate a Christmas tree with Alex.
Cat was wrong. She would have rather had a broken heart without pursuing Lena, instead of what she was feeling now.
She groaned but answered her phone when she saw it was Alex calling.
“How you doing?”
“Maggie called me.”
Kara wiped her nose. “Not great.”
“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry.”
“Me too. Did Maggie tell you when she expects to catch him?”
Alex sighed. “They’re close. Really close, Kara. Maggie has a feeling he won’t allow them to take him alive. Which in the long run, will be better for Lena’s peace of mind.”
“I don’t know what to do.” Kara took a deep breath and pushed the tears that threatened to fall back.
“Kara, I…I think you should spend what little time you two have left together. Are you sorry you started something with her?”
“God, no.” And she wasn’t. “I don’t know how I fell for her so fast. It hasn’t even been a month yet.”
“The heart wants what the heart wants.”
Alex chuckled. “It can, but it can also be amazing.”
Kara stood and stretched. She’d never felt this way. Not even with Lucy or Mike. She loved them, but this felt like so much more. Even from the beginning being with Lena was so easy. Maybe to easy. Her dad always told her if it seemed too good to be true, it probably was. “I doubt Lena will be here next weekend. Do you want to come over and have a sister’s night?”
“Yes, I do. I’ll drive out when she leaves. I don’t think you should be alone.”
“That sounds great, actually.”
“Okay. I love you and you call me if you need anything. Kara, I mean it. Anything.”
“I will and I love you too.”
Kara slipped the phone in her pocket, pulled out a Kleenex and blew her nose before walking to the end of the barn and opening the gate to Mable and Mavis’s pen. Some time with them was exactly what she needed.
Lena woke slowly and reached across the bed. Her eyes flew open and she sat up when her fingers were met with a cold and empty space. Lena balled the comforter in her fingers when it hit her their time together was coming to an end.
Barring anything horrific, she knew she would always be going home. Her home. The home she’d bought with her own money. She’d worked her ass off and slowly climbed the ladder in her career. Being at the top was a dream come true.
Her love life always fell by the wayside and now she was rethinking everything. Was being a household name what she really wanted? When she was younger it was all she wanted. Now, she didn’t know.
One thing was for certain, she was going home. Even if she decided this was where she wanted to be, she wouldn’t let Kieran Luthor stay dead. She didn’t deserve that and neither did her fans. The one bright spot about all of this is it would probably solidify Lillian’s hatred for her.
She grabbed a t-shirt and headed downstairs. When she didn’t see Kara, she grabbed some clothes and decided to take a shower. She spotted Fluffy perched on the back of the couch and paused, slowly looking around the room. A place she’d started to think of as home, but it wasn’t.
After her shower, she dressed and made a cup of tea. From her vantage point in the kitchen, she looked outside at the falling snow.
All her life, she’d wanted to stand on her own two feet without the aid of her mom or the family money. She’d lived a life most people would dream of. Most people would kill for. The irony was, she had to almost die to see that there was more to life than the one she was living. She didn’t want to give up her other life, but it was a life she realized she didn’t need to fulfill her. No, being with Kara made her realize she could do more and be more than the expectations others held for her and the expectations she had for herself.
“Penny for your thoughts.”
Lena drained her tea, set it in the sink, then turned to Kara and held out her hand. Kara took it and Lena pulled her into her arms. “Dance with me?” Without asking questions, Kara held her close and danced her around the room and into the living room. The lack of music didn’t deter them one bit.
When they fell laughing onto the couch, Lena cupped Kara’s cheeks. “I’m going to miss you.” It was more than that, but she couldn’t be sure it was love and, in this instance, she was going to heed Cat’s words. The last thing she wanted was to give Kara false hope. Give herself false hope. They both deserved more than that.
Was it love? She wasn’t sure. Could it be love? Most definitely, but first, she had a life to get back to. Just being with Kara made her stronger, and whatever from her rising from the dead, she’d push forward and get through it. She had to. She didn’t have another choice.
Lena lay curled in Kara’s arms on the couch Monday morning. Sunday night the call came they were both expecting. Joseph was shot and killed after a three hour stand-off with the police.
The moment they saw Maggie’s name on the phone they knew. Maggie had also told her last night that she’d let Lucy in own the secret in the beginning to better handle Lena’s assets. Lucy had then handled everything surrounding the death certificate to make it look real.
Lena could believe it. Lucy was a force when she needed to be and was in charge of her will. It put her mind at ease that she wouldn’t have to deal with the courts to get her assets back. No, now all she had to deal with was the media about her death. It was going to be brutal; she knew that.
Maggie had set up a press conference for the next day. That was something Lena was not looking forward to. Over the past few weeks, she was able to be herself and Kara accepted her that way. Now, she was going back into the world of glitz and glamour. Which she loved, but it was going to be a shock going from one extreme to the next.
At the beginning she wanted to go into this situation open minded and it was the best decision she could have made. Being with Kara felt so natural. It was going to be hard to say goodbye. Kara hadn’t mentioned anything about keeping in touch and Lena wasn’t sure if she should say anything. It would break her heart if Kara said no, so she didn’t ask.
She kissed Kara’s cheek when she sighed beside her.
“What time did Maggie say she would be here?”
Maggie was going to pick her up by helicopter to make the trip quicker. Kara had plenty of cleared space for the helicopter to land and had agreed when Maghie asked. Lucy had made that happen and would be coming with Maggie. Lena wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She liked Lucy well enough for what she did for her but wasn’t keen on her as a person. They had clashed more than once over the years.
“She said around noon.” Lena glanced at the clock. Eleven-forty-five. She raised up and settled her chin on Kara’s chest. Before she could say anything, Kara did.
“Do you have all your stuff?”
Kara had been resigned all morning. It wasn’t something Lena wanted to see. She was so used to bubbly, funny, and feisty Kara and the one she was looking at didn’t feel right.
“And Fluffy’s sweaters?”
Lena closed her eyes and lay back down beside Kara. Taking Fluffy away from Kara was going to be hard. They had been inseparable since the beginning. “I have them all.”
She gripped Kara’s t-shirt in her fist until Kara covered it with her hand. “We knew this was coming.”
“It doesn’t make it any easier.”
“No, but just think, in a few hours you and Fluffy will be at home.”
Before Lena could object, Kara wiggled away from her and stood up. “What?”
“I’ll be right back.”
Lena sat up when Kara ran to the freezer room and a few minutes later she was back and holding a bottle of wine. “I think it’s time for this.”
Lena swallowed hard when she got a look at the bottle. It was Kara’s last bottle of twenty twelve Cabernet Sauvignon from Dalla Valle Napa Valley. Her last bottle. “Kara…”
“Nope, this is the perfect occasion.” Kara walked past her into the kitchen and Lena followed. Lena wanted to object but Kara had already opened it.
She accepted the glass Kara handed her. “What are we toasting to?” She didn’t want to but held Kara’s gaze.
Kara bit her lip. “Us. This—” Kara closed her eyes and took a deep breath before speaking. Lena pulled forth all her acting abilities when she saw the tears glistening in Kara’s yes. “Our time together will be something I never forget. You, Lena Luthor, are simply unforgettable.”
Lena tightened her hold on her glass. “Kara Danvers, I will never forget you.”
Kara set her glass on the table, took her glasses off, then wiped her eyes. “I…”
Lena set her glass next to Kara’s and pulled her into her arms. “I’m going to miss you.” Lena sniffled.
“I’m going to miss you too.”
They both pulled apart when someone cleared their throat. Lena accepted the paper towel Alex handed her and blew her nose, before getting a new one and wiping her eyes. “Thank you.” She cursed the crack in her voice.
“You’re welcome. Let’s not let this wine go to waste.” Alex poured herself a glass then held it up. Lena and Kara did the same. “To living.”
Lena chuckled. “To living.”
“To living.” Kara downed hers in one go.
Lena took a sip then lowered the glass when the unmistakable sound of helicopter blades reached her ears. She set her glass on the table, turned and walked quickly into the living room.
Her two bags were packed and setting beside the front door. Fluffy’s carrier was on the coffee table. She tensed but relaxed when two arms wrapped around her from behind. Lena covered Kara’s hands with her own. They both stared out the window when the helicopter landed. Maggie hoped out and jogged toward the house.
Lena turned in Kara’s arms and kissed her. Their first kiss was amazing. She wanted to make sure their last one was as well. She wasn’t so naive to think she’d ever see Kara again. How often would she ever make it to Montana and how often would Kara leave Montana? She pulled back and rested their foreheads together. “Goodbye.”
Without waiting for Kara’s reply, she put Fluffy in her carrier and walked toward the door, where Maggie and Alex were talking. Maggie grabbed her bags.
“Ready to go kid?”
Lena looked from the bags to the helicopter. “Yes.” She made sure to dry her eyes and store all her emotions away. The last thing she wanted was Lucy to see her vulnerable.
The entire way to the helicopter she hoped, and prayed that Kara would ask her to stay, but knew she wouldn’t. If anything, Kara was a woman of her word. And Lena couldn’t dredge up the courage to stay. Once they reached the helicopter, she handed the carrier to Lucy and climbed in. Maggie followed with the bags. After everyone was buckled in, the helicopter lifted off.
If Lena wasn’t such a coward, she would have looked back. If only to see Kara one more time, but she was a coward, so she kept her eyes on Lucy who was seated across from her. Lena accepted the headset from Maggie and put it on.
“We have a mess to clean up Kieran,” was the first thing Lucy said.
“If I knew you were staying with my ex-girlfriend, I would have visited you sooner,” was the second thing she said.
Kara stood rooted to the spot by the front door when the helicopter lifted in the air and flew off. Lena hadn’t looked back, but Kara didn’t expect her too. More than anything she wanted Lena to stay, but it had to be Lena’s decision. Kara didn’t want to sway her one way or the other. It wasn’t until Alex dragged her back inside and hugged her that Kara broke down.
She clung to Alex until her tears dried up.
“No.” Kara wiped her eyes and frowned when Alex fidgeted. It was such a non-Alex thang to do that Kara’s heckled raised. “Alex?”
“Don’t be mad.”
Oh, no. What had she done? “Alex.” She didn’t really need anything else piled on her today.
“I thought you should be surrounded by people today. I invited Cat.”
“Oh.” Kara flopped down on the couch. “I’m not mad.” She wasn’t, but the last thing she wanted was to watch Alex and Cat with heart eyes.
Alex dropped down beside her and pulled Kara into her side. “We both love you and only want you to be happy.”
They sat quietly beside each other even when the front door opened, and Cat walked in. Kara watched her take off her many layers, then walk to them. Cat sat beside her and mirrored Alex.
“She’s an idiot. Kara, I mean it. She doesn’t deserve you.” Cat kissed her cheek.
Kara laugh soon turned into sobs.
“Look at me.” Cat cupped her cheeks.
“They always leave.”
“Oh, Kara. The whole lot of them are idiots. You deserve someone who is going to stay.”
“She couldn’t. She needed to get back.”
“Bullshit. She’s running away and her coming back from the dead is the excuse she needed. I misjudged her. I thought she would stay.”
“I thought she would too.”
When the silence became unbearable Kara stood and grabbed the wine from the kitchen. She handed a glass to each of them. “No need to waste good wine.” Kara looked from Cat to Alex. “You two can sit next to each other. I really won’t mind.”
“Kara,” Alex said. “Today isn’t about us. It’s about you. Come back over here and bring the bottle. We’re going to need it.”
“Okay.” She set between them. “I’m starting to think I’m not meant to be in a relationship. I mean, I know falling for Lena was fast, but damn, just once it would be nice for someone to stay.”
“Kara, you may not want to hear this.” Alex squeezed her arm. “But Lena is not Lucy or Mike.”
“But she didn’t ask you to leave. They did. Lena never once asked you to change who you are. She accepted you and your way of life. In my book that puts her ahead of the others by a longshot.” Alex downed her wine then filled her glass. She topped off Cat’s.
“Kara, answer me this,” Cat said, and Kara nodded. “Would you ever leave this lifestyle behind?”
“Would you ever ask her to leave her life?”
“No.” Kara downed her wine and set the empty glass on the coffee table.
“There’s someone for you out there and when you find them, and you will, you’ll know,” Cat said.
At this point, she wasn’t sure she could trust her own judgement because she felt that way with Lena. Watching Lena walk away felt like her future went with her.
After dinner and a few board games, Kara showered and changed for bed. She hugged Alex and Cat goodnight, then made her way up the stairs. She paused at the second floor and looked to the work table where the remnants of the sweater she was working on for Fluffy still laid. She tightened her hold on the stairwell and continued up.
Once inside her room, she paused at the foot of the bed and stared at the spot where Lena slept. She shook her head, grabbed a blanket and walked onto the balcony. She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and stared into the sky.
She didn’t flinch when the doors opened, and someone stepped up next to her.
“Share,” Cat said.
Kara lifted her arm and Cat wrapped her arm around her waist. Kara laid her arm across Cat’s shoulder and pulled her close.
“I’m happy you and Alex are happy.”
“We didn’t keep it from you to me malicious.”
“I know, but if I had known I would have stopped flirting with you.”
“Don’t be silly. That’s just our dynamic. There’s only three people I love more than anything in this world and you happen to be one of them.” Cat sighed. “I have a feeling that number will be expanding by one very soon.”
“At least one of us is getting her happy ending.” Alex and Cat both deserved it. She couldn’t think of any two people more deserving.
“You will get yours too. Of that I am sure.” She stepped in front of Kara. “It’s cold out here. Let’s go back in.”
“Five more minutes.”
“Five more minutes.”
Lena paced in front of Lucy the next morning while waiting for the press conference to begin. After Lucy’s bombshell the night before about dating Kara, Lena went straight home and fell into bed. She hadn’t woken up until this morning. The last thing she wanted to think about was Kara and Lucy together in any capacity.
That morning, she’d ignored Lucy’s questions and opted to stay quiet in the car ride to the police station where the news conference was taking place. The place was packed with journalists from all over the world and it left Lena with an uneasy feeling. They would be the first to know that Kieran Luthor was still alive. Maggie was in charge of the news conference and had chosen not to disclose she’d faked her death until today. It was going to be a shit-storm.
The previous night, her thoughts strayed to Kara, but she pushed them back. The last thing she needed was to have another breakdown. Seeing Fluffy without a sweater on this morning was almost her undoing. Stupid feelings.
She continued pacing until she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. The blond wig Lucy provided her looked wrong. She felt like a liar and a fraud, but it was necessary. Lucy had set up an appointment for later in the week to have her hair dyed back to it’s natural blond, which was going to be a process. Even though the pants suit she wore was comfortable and she looked good it was a far cry from the jeans and t-shirts she wore with Kara. It was funny. Before Kara, she would have never gone out in her glasses, now she missed them. Lena was slowly falling to the wayside and Kieran was coming back. It was more scary than she expected it to be.
Lena turned from the mirror when Maggie walked in.
Maggie nodded and pulled Lena to a more secluded spot in the room. “It’s going to be okay. Maybe not today or tomorrow, or hell even next week, but you’ll get there.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“Lena, we have to do this.”
“I know that. I just.” She refrained from biting her lip. It would only mess up her lipstick.
“You miss her?”
Lena shook out her hands. The last thing she wanted to do was have a heart to heart with Maggie while Lucy sat a few feet away staring at them. “How’s this going to work?”
“I’m going out first to make a statement. At the end of the statement, I’m going to drop the news that you’re alive. Then once the uproar is over, I’ll call you out to make a statement.”
“Do I have to answer any questions?”
“You don’t,” Lucy jumped in. “It would be best if you didn’t.”
“Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to answer a few.” Maggie glared at Lucy. “Just a few. If they get to rowdy, we’ll end it.”
“Can we start now. I want to go home.”
“Home.” Lucy chuckled. “Lena, I’ve set up an interview with Lois Lane after this. You need to do this. To explain your side of things.”
That was the last thing she wanted, but it needed to be done if she wanted any chance to regain her career.
“Look on the bright side,” Lucy said. “You’re going to be the hottest commodity after the news breaks. You’ll be able to pick and choose your roles for years to come. Just think, Kieran, this time next year, you’ll be an even bigger star than you are now. Movie after movie sounds nice, doesn’t it?”
Lena turned away from her and watched Maggie walk out and up to the podium. Having her choice of movie role did sound nice. It would keep her busy and hopefully her mind off a certain woman.
Kara sighed and sat next to Cat and Alex at her worktable. Her laptop was opened and waiting for the press conference to begin. She wasn’t sure she wanted to watch it, but knew she needed to.
“You don’t have to do this, Kar.”
“Alex is right. Good riddance to bad rubbish.” Cat squeezed her hand.
“Thank you both but I do need to see this.”
“Well then,” Alex said. “Maggie texted me that after the press conference that Lena is going to have a televised interview with Lois Lane. It's going to be aired on their website.”
Cat huffed. “The vulture.”
Lois could be ruthless when she wanted to be in interviews, but Kara knew Lena would be able to hold her own. “Probably should watch that one too.”
The night before she’d tossed and turned all night before dragging a pillow and blanket downstairs where she fell into a fitful sleep on the couch. Cat had woken her with coffee and homemade donuts.
Kara’s eyes stayed glued to the screen as Maggie walked out and tapped the microphone.
“Good morning. I called this press conference to update everyone on Kieran Luthor’s case. Sunday afternoon, Joseph Douglas, Kieran’s stalker was shot and killed in a stand-off with police.”
“Detective Sawyer are you sure you’ve got the right man,” A woman shouted.
Maggie arched her brow. “We’re sure. We raided his house and found ample evidence to confirm he was the right person. We’re also confident he was working alone.” She held up her hands when others shouted questions at her. “When I’m ready to take questions, I’ll let you know.” They quieted down. “Now, there is another matter we need to discuss.”
Kara’s eyes stayed glued to Maggie.
“As you know Kieran Luthor was pronounced dead at twelve-thirty-seven on November eighth from a gunshot wound she received from Mr. Douglas. What you didn’t know was that, that was false.”
The gasp from the audience was overwhelming.
“In order to draw the man responsible out, it was the decision of my Captain and myself that we didn’t have another choice but to fake Ms. Luthor’s death.”
“Is this a joke?”
“Where is she?”
“Quiet.” Maggie scanned the crowd. “It’s not a joke and yes, she is alive, and she’s here.”
It was at that moment that Cat’s phone started vibrating on the table. Kara eyed it then Cat as it continued to vibrate.
“I set it up Google alerts with anything to do with Kieran.” Cat picked her phone up and turned it off.
Kara turned back to the screen.
Maggie continued. “She’s going to make a statement, but you need to be respectful, she’d been through a lot.”
“Was she even shot,” A man shouted.
“She was shot in the shoulder.” Maggie looked to the left. “Remember what I said. Kieran, you can come out.”
Kara held her breath as Lena walked out and she frowned at the blond hair. The suit was nice, but she wasn’t looking at her Lena. No, she was looking at a movie star. An untouchable movie star.
Even with all the camera flashes and the shouts Lena stayed composed. Kara stilled when Lena walked up to the podium.
“Well, I haven’t had this sort of response since I won my Academy Award.” The shouts turned into chuckles and the crowd quieted down. “Detective Sawyer asked me to make a statement about this ordeal. First, I want to apologize to my fans. It was never my intention to hurt anyone, but frankly, it was a life or death situation and I very much like being alive. I hope that in the future you can forgive me for deceiving you. I have planned a free signing in the coming weeks to try and make up for some of the pain you all endured. The details will be on my website later today and to everyone that isn’t my fan and reveled in my death, I bet you’re not laughing now.”
The smirk on Lena’s face was so unlike her that Kara felt, for the first time, that she truly had lost her. She pushed her chair back to stand when Alex stopped her.
“Let’s listen to the rest.”
Kara didn’t want to but stayed put.
“I’m afraid that’s all the time I have for now. I’m scheduled for a sit down interview with Lois Lane in an hour.” She held up her hands. “I’m sure all your questions will be answered then.”
When she walked off the stage, Kara stood. “Looks like we have an hour I’m going to go make a snack.”
It wasn’t until she was in the kitchen that the full force of what happened hit her. Her Lena was gone, if she ever existed to begin with. The woman on the stage was who Lena was. Kieran was real and Lena wasn’t, and the sooner Kara accepted that the sooner she could move on.
Lena knew she’d agreed to questions but after seeing them all hanging on her every word it left her nauseas. They didn’t deserve her time and she’d be damned if she gave it to them. She wanted to rip the wig off, but it had been a pain to get right in the first place and she didn’t want to go through that again.
“Sorry about the questions.”
“Not a problem,” Maggie said. “You had them eating out of your hand.”
“Well, you’re trending number one all over the world on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumbler. Your face is everywhere, Kieran. You can’t buy this kind of publicity.”
Normally Lucy’s glee would excite her, but today it felt wrong.
“Are we leaving for the interview now?”
“I have an escort waiting for you,” Maggie said.
Surprisingly they made it out of the police station relativity unscathed. She sat quietly the entire fifteen minute ride to the Daily Planet. They pulled into the underground parking lot amid a gathering crowd. Once inside the elevator, Lena took a deep, calming breath.
She wanted to talk to Kara. Now, she wished she’d worked up the nerve to get her phone number. Right now, Kara seemed like a million miles away.
Lena ignored the stares when they walked off the elevator and made their way to Lois’s office, which was already set-up for their interview.
“I have to say,” Lois said. “This is my first back from the dead interview.”
Lena ignored her and sat down. Any other time, Lena would have been upset that Lucy had chosen her sister for the interview, but at this point she didn’t care. The whole morning left her feeing numb.
Lois turned to Lucy. “Are any questions off limits.”
Lena spoke up. “If I don’t want to answer something I’m not going too. You can ask, I’ll refuse.”
Lois nodded and took her seat.
Five minutes later the cameras were rolling.
“I’m here with Kieran Luthor. A woman freshly back from the dead. Tell me, Kieran, how does it feel?
Lena crossed her legs and tapped her fingers on her knee. “How does what feel?”
“Coming back from the dead?”
“Well, I wasn’t actually dead.” She stared at a point over Lois's shoulder.
“Where were you?”
Lena knew that would be asked and she wasn’t sure what to say. There was no way she would throw Kara under the bus. “Not here.”
Lois tapped her pen on the paper. “Is it a secret?”
“No, but I would rather not say. The person I stayed with deserves to be left out of this.”
“I see. How does it feel to be back home?”
“Different. I’m grateful to everyone that has helped me for the past month. It’s good to be home though.”
Lena felt like a zombie after the interview. Pointless question after pointless question. She’d answered but only because that’s what everyone wanted from her. When they got back in the car, Lena turned her phone off and lay her head back.
Once they were behind Lena’s door, Lucy spoke.
“Well, I guess I couldn’t have expected more from you. You did good.”
“I would like to be left alone.”
“Too bad. We have too much to discuss.”
Lena petted Fluffy on the head. “What do you want to discuss?”
“You’re different. I can tell. What exactly did you and Kara get up to in Montana?”
Lena turned and leaned against the back of the couch. “What?”
“I’m just saying she’s gorgeous.” Lucy laughed. “I wouldn’t fault you for fucking her. She’s good.”
“Why did you two break up?” She kept still even though she wanted to smack that smug look off Lucy’s face.
“Wanted different things. There was no way I was moving to her homestead and she refused to leave.”
“You asked her to leave?” Lena would have never asked Kara to leave. Kara’s homestead was her life.
“Do you blame me? It was nice for a weekend, but I’m not moving there.”
“Did you even love her?”
Lucy squinted at her. “Do you?” Lena waved off her words. “You do.” Lucy laughed. “Forget her. You can do better, and Kara will never leave her homestead. She is no city girl.”
“She loved you and you left her. Is love really not that important to you?”
“Like you have room to talk. You love her and you still left. We’re the same, Kieran. You and me. There’s nothing wrong with liking the finer thangs in life and there is plenty of fish in the sea. Compared to the type of women in this town, Kara is a nobody. Forget her.”
“Get out. I told you I waned to be alone. Whatever you want to talk about can wait until tomorrow.”
Lucy stopped at the door. “Whatever spell she has over you, you need to let it go. Let her go. You can’t be who you are and still hold on to her and whatever it is you two shared. Kara will get over it. It’s not like you’re the first person to leave her and I’m sure you won’t be the last. Women like Kara refuse to compromise. She wants what she wants and to hell with anyone else.”
Lena stared at the door long after it closed. And the truth was, Lucy was right. Lena did leave Kara, but Kara hadn’t stopped her, but would she have? Lena couldn’t be sure. Yes, the were both sad to be parting, but she couldn't take that as a sign Kara wanted a life with her.
After taking off the wig and taking a shower, she dressed in the pair of plaid sleep pants she’d taken from Kara and the t-shirt Kara had made her. The white walls and sleek steel of her home used to bring her joy, now she missed the mismatched throws Kara had on her couch and chairs. She missed Kara. But, Lucy was right. Kara wouldn't leave her homestead, so was it fair to either one of them to pursue something that couldn't ultimately end up going nowhere.
She lay down on the couch and closed her eyes.
Lena’s eyes flew open, heart racing when someone continued to pound on her door. The clock read three-thirty a.m. Good grief who was bothering her at this time of night? She slowly walked to the door and looked through the peephole. Maggie stared back at her. That couldn’t be good.
Lena opened the door a crack and looked out. “What’s going on?”
“Cute shirt Luthor.” Maggie said. “I brought someone to see you.”
Lena opened the door and looked to Maggie’s left. If she’d saw the other woman through the peephole, she would have never opened the door. “What are you doing here?”
Lena took a sip of her coffee and eyed the two women across from her. She stared at Maggie. “Is there a reason you brought her here at this time of night?”
“I’m right here. You can talk to me Kieran.”
The last thing Lena wanted was to have anything to do with her mom.
“I know I haven’t always been the best mother, but you could have at the least let me know you weren’t dead.”
“And she badgered me until I brought her.”
“For god’s sake, I watched them lower your casket into the ground next to your father and brother.”
The last thing she wanted was to ease any of Lillian’s pain, but Lena had to admit Lillian did look distraught. Fuck. “No one could know. It’s not like I signaled just you out. I didn’t know I was going to die until Maggie told me in the hospital.”
Lillian nodded. “Well, for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re not dead.”
“It’s not worth anything.”
Lillian set her cup down. “I deserve that, and I understand why you’re angry. I could have tried more over the years. Done more, but you’ve always been so independent. You never needed me like Lex did.”
“Because you were never there. How could I depend on you when you were never there. Or when you always criticized something about me. Whether it be my looks, or my grades. Once dad and Lex died, I knew I was alone. I could never count on you before why would I be able to count on you then?”
“I’m sorry, Kieran.”
“My name is Lena. You were the one that wanted it changed. I don’t know if I’ve ever been a Kieran.”
“It was Lionel’s idea and I agreed. We wanted you to have your best chance.”
Her dad had always showed her that he loved her, but her mom was always so standoffish. “I still don’t know why you thought you could show up at this time of night.”
“I…” Lillian licked her lips. “When I was informed you were dead it was like a piece of me also died. I couldn’t believe I had thrown away so much time with you because we were both stubborn. Both of my children were dead. A parent should never outlive their children. You’re my daughter and I know we’ll never have a normal parent child relationship, but I hope we can be cordial from now on.”
Why did everything have to be so complicated? Though the woman sitting across from her wasn’t the same woman she talked to months ago. If she could change in such a short amount of time, maybe her mom could as well?
“Besides if it doesn’t work out you can always cut me out of your life for good,” Lillian said.
“I’m not sure about this.”
“I want a party for my birthday. Just our close friends and family. All the frills and I want to pick out the cake.”
“I can do that.”
“Nothing fancy. I hated that when I was a kid.”
“You never said anything.”
“How could I when you never let me get a word in.”
“That’s fair. Any idea what you want your cake to be?”
“The M&M characters. All of them and I want a vanilla cake and chocolate icing.”
“I know the perfect baker.” Lillian glanced down at her shirt. “Can I ask who the woman is? I haven’t seen anything about her in the news with you.”
Lena drummed her finger on the table. “She’s the woman I stayed with.”
“I see.” Lillian sipped her coffee. “You care for her.”
“I…” she sighed. “It doesn’t matter. I’m here and she’s there.”
Lillian narrowed her eyes. “What?”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and that’s saying something with all that I’ve seen and heard dealing with your father’s business partners.”
“How dare you.”
“Really. How did you get here from there?”
Lena swallowed. “Helicopter.”
Lillian hummed. “Do you still have access to one?”
Lena’s hands stilled on her cup. “Mom, it’s not that easy. Kara is different. She’s not a city girl. She has a homestead in Montana. She would never fit into my world and the last thing I want is for her to be uncomfortable.”
“So, you’re just giving up?”
Lean ignored Maggie huffing. “I can’t give her false hope.”
“Is that what you’d be doing? Really, Lena. Where’s all this coming from? Why are you so indecisive? Either you want to be with her or not.”
”What about my career?”
Lullian looked from Maggie to Lena. “Do they not have transportation in Montana?”
Lena pushed back from the table and stood. It wasn’t that easy. She walked to and stared out the window. She kept her eyes glued to the window when she saw her mom’s reflection in the window.
“I haven’t even known her that long. Should I really uproot for what amounts to a stranger.”
“Now that, I understand. I still stand by that you’ve always known what you wanted, and you’ve never let anything, or anyone stand in your way.”
“Being with her was so easy. She accepted me like this.” she waved her hand over her clothes. “She liked Lena not Kieran.”
“I see. You don’t think she’ll be able to accept both sides of you?”
“No.” Lena shook her head. “I think she would.”
“It’s okay to be scared, but don’t let your fear of what might happen damper what’s already happened. Can you live the rest of your life without her?”
“No.” Lena closed her eyes and didn’t fight it when her mom pulled her into her arms.
“That’s my girl. You can have it all. If I remember correctly you said something about directing. You should take this time to explore that.”
Lena pulled back and accepted the Kleenex Maggie handed her.
“You were listening to me.”
“I always listened, but I’m sorry I’ve been so hard on you. You didn’t deserve that. You were always my strong one and I’ve taken that for granted. It never dawned on me that you might need me.”
“And it never dawned on me that you actually cared.”
Lillian flinched. “I more than care Lena. I love you.”
Lena turned to Maggie. “What kind of Twilight Zone have you dragged me into?”
“It’s none one of my business,” Maggie started.
“But, your mom’s right. You are not the same woman I meet all those months ago. You’ve changed and I don’t think that’s a bad thing and I don’t think you’re giving Kara enough credit. You trust her?”
“I think that’s a pretty good start.”
“I agree with Detective Sawyer and I believe we should be going.”
Lena looked at the clock. Five a.m. “Stay. I’ll fix us something to eat. God knows I’m going to need it since Lucy is coming back today.”
“I never liked her,” Lillian said.
“She is a bit much,” Maggie threw in.
“She’s good at her job.”
“A job she only has because of your success,” Lillian said.
Lena’s hand stilled on the fridge door. Why did her mom always have to be right? If she thought dying was weird, it didn’t compare to sitting down and having breakfast with her mom and Maggie. What a strange turn of events this was.
“Yes Mom.” She scooped the scrambled eggs out of the skillet and into their plates.
“Where did you get that bag?” Lena set the skillet down when Lillian picked up her K-Dan bag off the counter. “Is this the new model?”
“How did you get it?”
“I’m a superstar.”
“Don’t get sassy with me.”
“A friend gave it to me.”
“How did your friend get her hands on this?”
Lena looked from Lillian to Maggie. Kara never made it a secret that she made the bags, so Lena didn’t think it was a secret. “Well, it all started with getting shot.”
After she finished, Lillian picked her coffee cup up and took a sip. “Well, you have to marry her now.” The smile on her mom’s face wasn’t something Lena was used to seeing, but it was nice.
Lena had just picked up their empty plates when someone knocked on her door. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with Lucy right now. “Can one of you get that?”
A few minutes later footsteps echoed in the kitchen.
“Lena,” Maggie said. “You should turn around.”
Lena turned and almost lost her grip on the plate in her hand. It wasn’t Lucy.
“How did you get here?”
“I flew. I’m rich after all.”
Lena turned around and finished washing the dishes before joining Maggie, her mom, and Cat at the table. The last person she wanted to talk with was Cat.
“I’m not here to talk to you,” Cat said.
“Then why are you here?”
“I’m here for you to listen.”
Lena nodded because she knew Cat wasn’t leaving here without speaking her mind.
“I’m not here to beat you up Lena. It’s obvious you’re as heartbroken as Kara is. I wasn’t going to come, but I’ve never saw Kara look so unsettled. She didn’t even act like this when her other two relationships ended. And after seeing your interview with Lois, it was clear you were only going through the motions. And this.” Cat pointed around her. “This house doesn’t seem like you.”
“I agree. You never did like living at the mansion.”
“That’s because you were there.” Lena felt a tad guilty at the hurt look in her mom’s eyes.
“Well, we can’t change the past, can we?”
“No, mom, we can’t. Cat, I’m not sure what you want from me?”
Cat turned to Lillian. “Has she always been this obtuse?”
“No, but for some reason her brains have turned to mush. I see you have a new K-Dan bag also.”
“Okay.” Lena stood and planted her hands on her hips. “What’s going on here? This is weird. Am I dead? I mean for real, because this all seems like a dream world.”
Cat stood. “I came to talk some sense into you.”
“What about Kara?”
“Kara’s scared and hurting. She would never come because she’s afraid of being rejected.”
“Why do I have to go to her?”
Cat grasped both of Lena’s hands. “Because you will be the one ultimately giving something up. Kara can and will come into the city for you, but she can’t do that for extended periods of time. Kara is loyal to a fault and I know she could do long distance, but you strike me as the type of woman that can’t.”
Lena squeezed Cat’s hands. “It’s a lot. Everything. It’s a lot.”
“Oh, I know. You’ve been through a lot Lena and are still going through it. Even the sanest woman would have trouble wrapping her head around it. You need to cut yourself a break. I didn’t come here to convince you to sell everything and go live with Kara. At this point, that’s not realistic.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
“Lena.” Lillian stood. “I believe what she is trying to say is you could go to her and let her know you want more with her. You don’t want it to end.”
That was exactly what she wanted. “It’s not to soon for that?” That was her fear that she was jumping in too quickly.
“I’m going to ask you some questions,” Cat said. “Answer with the first word that pops in your head.”
“Could you see yourself moving away from here?”
“Can you see yourself living on the homestead?”
Cat tightened her hold on Lena’s hands. “Can you see yourself falling in love with Kara?”
“Yes.” Lena closed her eyes. Yes, she could see herself falling in love with Kara.
“It is soon, but I’ve seen you two together and it’s one of the most natural connections I’ve ever seen,” Cat said. “I’ve been married three times. Trust me I know.”
Lena opened her eyes. “You give really good peep talks.”
Cat laughed, then drew Lena into a hug. “You don’t have anything to be worried about. I wouldn’t steer you wrong not when this is so important.”
“You think she would come here?”
“Yes, but she couldn’t come here now. When I left, it was starting to snow. We’re supposed to get two feet next week. She can’t leave the animals for that long.”
“I understand, but after the snow passes. You don’t think this would stifle her?”
“You’re not giving her enough credit. It’s true she has responsibilities, but I think I can convince Alex to take over the homestead for a week or two so you and Kara could have some time together, but that will be after the snow passes. Do you want to wait that long to go to her?”
No, she didn’t. Maybe she could have it all? The thought of leaving the city didn’t scare her as much as she thought it would. “It will be a couple of weeks before I can leave. There’s a lot I have to do.”
“That’s the spirit,” Lillian said. “And if you want to keep this place, you do have money in your trust fund.” She held up her hand. “I know you’ve never wanted to use it before, but it is yours. Use it Lena. That’s what it’s there for.”
“And if you ask Kara nicely, I don’t see any reason why you won’t be able to set up a studio on the homestead.”
“You all make it seem so easy.”
“Don’t be absurd,” Lillian said. “It’s not going to be easy, but I didn’t raise a quitter.”
“Any relationship worth having is worth putting in the time to make it work.”
Lena nodded and walked toward the window, then marched across the room and picked Fluffy up. She looked from Maggie, to Cat, to her mom. “I’m going to need help.”
“You’ve got it,” Maggie said.
Cat nodded. “I’ll do whatever I can.”
Lillian stopped in front of her. “Whatever you need. We may not have the most conventional relationship and I know I have a way to go, but I’m here. I’m here.”
Kara lay back on the floor beside Alex. “We’ve been lazy today.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being lazy every once in a while, Kar.”
“I suppose not.”
“How are you doing?”
How as she doing? She missed Lena and Fluffy and the ache would be there for a while, but she felt okay. “Not too bad.” Alex raised up and Kara followed suit. “Say whatever it is you want to say.”
“Why didn’t you stop her?”
“From leaving?” Alex nodded. “I promised not to ask her to stay.”
“Kara, that was at the beginning. Why didn’t you ask her to stay?”
“Because I knew she couldn’t. She has a whole other life that I’m not a part of.” Kara jumped up. “You don’t understand.”
“No, I don’t.” Alex stood. “I would have asked her to stay. If she said no, well, you wouldn’t have lost anything, but if she would have said yes. Look what you would have gained.”
She thought of that almost every hour of every day that Lena had been gone. Now, she had a feeling it was too late. Over the past week, Lena had appeared on four different talk shows and done two free signings for her fans. Kara scoured social media for all the photos she could find. Picture after picture showed Lena with her black hair. Kara hoped she kept it but Kara would love her no matter what color her hair was.
Kara flopped on the couch and brought Alex down with her. “My mom told me how her and my dad met once. She got caught out in the rain and huddled under a nearby awning. My dad ran up and asked if he could share it with her. She said, she’d never laughed as much as she did when they were waiting for the rain to slow. They never let a day pass that they didn’t talk or see each other. She said he made her heart race and her soul sour. I want that. I always have.”
“I didn’t have that with Mike. He was nice and I loved him, but there was always something missing. With Lucy it was easy, but there was still something missing. It’s not that I refuse to leave the homestead, it’s just that I don’t want to move, and I know it’s going to take someone special to accept that. I can’t be gone for long periods of time.”
“Kara, you know I will help out whenever I can and so will everyone else. You’re not alone. You have an amazing set of family and friends. If you want her. Go get her.”
“Just like that?”
“Yes. Just like that.”
Kara looked from Alex to outside to the falling snow.
“Well, maybe not right now, but yes, go get her. Call her for god’s sake.”
Kara groaned. “I don’t have her number.”
“I still can’t believe you didn’t get her number. You’re such a loser.”
Kara picked up a throw pillow and smacked Alex in the face. “Oh, shut it.”
“But, seriously, I’ve watched you mope and be depressed all week. It’s time to get out of your funk. I know I said she wasn’t worth it, but Kara I think she is, and I think you know that as well.”
She did and now, she was ready to admit that. Did she want Lena? Yes. Would she compromise to be with her? Yes. “Do you think I can get Lena’s number from Maggie?”
Alex laughed. “Yes, I think that’s something she can definitely do.”
Now the planning would begin. She had all winter to come up with a plan so she could be gone from the homestead for weeks at a time. It would be hard, but in the end, she knew everything would be worth it.
We’re coming down to the wire. Three more chapters and an epilogue.
Over the past week, Lena had taken to looking through Kara’s Instagram and scrolling through the photos on her phone to get a glimpse of the other woman.
Since the night of her intervention, things seemed to move in fast forward. The past Saturday, she sat down for her free signing. The sheer amount of people that showed up stunned her, and for the most part everyone was nice. A few showed their displeasure, but she’d expected that.
Afterward, Lucy had bitched that they could have made a fortune, but Lena dismissed her displeasure. This was something that needed to be done and she was happy to do it
Her eyes strayed to the artificial tree in the corner of the room. Christmas was in two weeks and her mom insisted they have Christmas together because Lena would be in Montana on Christmas day. It would be the first Christmas they’d spent together in years and she was looking forward to it. A few weeks of being civil to each other couldn’t change the years they were estranged, but it was a start.
Getting her affairs in order for her stay with Kara proved more difficult than she expected, but all her hard work was packed in a handful of bags setting by the front door. Besides clothes and toiletries, she’d also pack all the new video equipment she’d bought.
Sometime in the future she’d invest in higher tech, but for right, now, what she had would be perfect. She was hoping Kara would allow her to document the homestead and what it was like to live and work on one. The idea stuck with her one night in bed and took hold. Now it was all she could think about.
She’d yet to let Lucy know bout her change in plans because she didn’t want to deal with her over the week, but she was expecting her any minute. Her mom would also be her soon because they were going to decorate the tree together, make dinner, and exchange gifts. Being stalked and shot was turning out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.
In the living room mirror she checked her makeup and put her hair in a messy bun. Lucy wasn’t happy when Lena decided to keep the black hair and Lena almost laughed that the woman thought she could dictate the way Lena lived her life. They had a long talk ahead of them and while Lucy was a good manager, Lena wasn’t going to put up with her attitude anymore.
She turned from the mirror when her phone dinged.
Lillian: I’m on my way.
That was something new too. Her mom had started texting her. In a strange way, Lena appreciated it and the fact that Lillian was trying meant more than Lena could say.
Lena: I’m looking forward to it.
And she was. She still couldn’t believe the turnaround they’d had.
She gripped her phone and for the hundredth time resisted texting Kara. Before Cat left, she handed Lena a piece of paper with Kara’s number on it and told her to only text if she was a hundred percent sure. Lena was but the thought of texting Kara before seeing her face to face was daunting. So, she’d decided to wait, and it was agonizing.
After her mom encouraged her to accept her trust fund, she had. It was substantial and she’d paid off her home. When her and Kara returned, it would need redecorating, but Lena loved the view and couldn’t bear to part with it. At least not yet. Not with so much still up in the air. She’d put the rest of her trust fund in the bank so it could incur interest.
Instead of packing up the house, Lillian decided to stay in the city and look after it for her. Lena agreed and made sure the housekeeping service she employed would continue to come twice a week.
She wasn’t as scared as she thought she would be. She was excited. Although the little voice in her head would rear its ugly head from time to time, she trusted that Cat would not do anything to hurt Kara.
This felt right and for once, she was going to trust her gut. She wanted Kara and she knew Kara wanted her. Hopefully long term. For the first time in her life, she could see herself settling down and starting a family and she wanted Kara to be there for every moment of it.
She was brought out of her thoughts when the doorbell rang. She accepted the hug from her mom then took her coat and hung it up.
“Have you talked with Lucy yet?”
“No. She should be here soon.”
“Are you nervous?”
Lena joined her mom at the kitchen table. “A little. On the phone, she mentioned she had good news. She’s not going to be happy I’m disappearing for a few months.”
“And going to Kara is something you want?”
“Of course. I haven’t changed my mind about that. I want to spend more time with her, so we can see if this is what we both want long term.”
“Don’t overthink things, Lena.”
“I’m trying not to.” She stood to make them coffee when the doorbell rang. She spun around and walked to the door.
“Wow. Aren’t you feeling festive.”
Lena closed the door and looked around. “I guess I am.” Besides the tree, she’d strung lights along the front windows and various Christmas Knick Knack were positioned all over the open space.
“Let’s—” Lucy stopped short and stared at Lillian.
“My mom is here so we can spend Christmas together.” Lena took the seat next to her mom at the table.
“So, you’re staying for a couple of weeks?” Lucy asked and sat down across from them.
“No, dear, I’m not.”
“Okay.” Lucy opened her bag and pulled out three scripts and smiled. “I think you’ll like these. I know you wanted to steer away from comedy, but,” She tapped one script. “You’ll like this one.”
Lena eyed the scripts then pulled them to her. The name of the director of the comedy stared back at her from the top script. The same director of A life long lived. She pushed it back to Lucy. “I told you I’m not doing any movie he’s directing.”
“It’s a good opportunity.”
Lucy held up her hands. “Fine, but you’re making a mistake.”
Lena looked through the other two. “When will these go into production?”
“You would have to choose because they’re both starting to shoot this summer.”
That would be doable. “When would I need to go in for the audition?”
“You don’t. They want you, Lena. I told you you’d have your pick. Now you do.”
That was something she could get used to. “How long do I have to decide?”
“The sooner the better. I’ve also scheduled you for Fallon next month.”
Lena tapped her fingers on the table. “You’ll have to cancel that.”
“I won’t be here.”
“You can fly back.” Lucy narrowed her eyes.
“No.” Neither one blinked as they kept eye contact.
“You’re going back to her,” Lucy said in disbelief. “You’re making a mistake.”
“If I was you,” Lena said. “I’d stop talking. The last thing you want to do is piss me off to the point of firing you. If one word comes out of your mouth against Kara, I will fire you. I don’t care what your relationship with her was like. That’s in the past where it needs to stay. You were an idiot to let her go and I’m not. I gave myself two weeks, but I’ve moved that up. I’m leaving tomorrow.”
Lucy opened and closed her mouth several times. “I can’t talk you out of this?”
“No, so don’t even try. Also, I want to start moving toward directing.”
”I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You do that.” Lena knew from them look on her face that Lucy wanted to say more. “You’re a fantastic manager. I would like you to stay my manager, but there are plenty of people who would snap up your job if we parted ways. You need to start listening to me. If I tell you I don’t want to do something im not. I’m going to be gone all winter, but I will give you an answer about the script in the next couple of weeks.” Lena stood and walked Lucy to the door.
Lucy gripped the door frame. “I’ll cancel Fallon.”
Lena watched her walk away, but knew deep down they would be okay. Though her and Kara would have to have a talk about her. Lena didn’t want Kara blindsided by the fact that Lucy was her manager.
She shut the door and joined her mom who held out a coffee cup.
“After our coffee we should start cooking,” Lillian said.
“I can’t wait.” This was the next chapter in her life and she couldn’t wait for it to get started.
Kara stared down at her phone for the third time that day. She’d been trying all week to call Lena and chickened out every time. She didn’t know what was holding her back. The urge was always there, but she could never follow through. “Stupid.” She slipped the phone back in her pocket and decided to haul the tree she’d cut that morning into the living room.
The previous day she’d brought all the ornaments up from the cellar to decorate the tree. Alex would be by in an hour to help her trim it. It was their yearly tradition the week before Christmas to trim the tree and spend the day being silly together.
Earlier she’d filled the crockpot with hot chocolate and the wonderful smell filled the house. She’d also gathered all the ingredients for cookies. It was hard to believe Christmas was only a week away.
The two feet of snow they’d gotten at the begging of the week had mostly melted, but the forecast predicated more snow in a few days and Kara knew from experience that would be sticking around. This year, Christmas was being held at her house.
Alex, Eliza and Jeremiah would come over on Christmas Eve and stay until the twenty-sixth. The weather would determine if they came by truck or snowmobile. Alex had also informed her that Cat and Carter would be joining them. Last year Cat and her kids went to Hawaii, but this year Adam had decided to spend Christmas with his dad and Cat decided to stay and celebrate with them.
Eliza and Jeremiah would get her room, Alex and Cat would get the guest room, Carter would get the couch and Kara had dragged out her sleeping bag so she could join Carter in the living room. It would be crowded, but that’s what made it so wonderful.
Lena would have been a welcome sight, but she couldn’t work up the nerve to text her. Kara slipped her phone out when it dinged.
Alex: Be there shortly and I have a surprise for you.
For the past couple of days Alex had been acting odd, but Kara never could get anything out of her. She hoped the surprise wasn’t outrageous. Sometimes Alex took things a little too far.
Kara: I’m not going anywhere
Kara busied herself with stringing the Christmas lights around the living room while she waited. Christmas was by far her favorite holiday as far back as she could remember. Every year her parents would take her to cut down the tree and they would string popcorn to hang. Kara had a ton of it ready for her and Alex to use later.
On Christmas Eve they would have a cookie decorating contest and the winner received the annual cookie decorating trophy. Last year Alex walked away with it and from time to time she would send Kara a picture standing beside it. This year they would be decorating sweater cookies and Kara couldn’t wait to put the trophy back on its shelf in her kitchen where it belonged.
After propping the tree up, she stood back and admired it. Not too big or small. It was narrower than she liked but it would do. She slipped her phone out of her pocket when it rung.
“How are you doing today?”
“Good actually. Getting everything ready for today. Alex texted she was on her way. You don’t have to worry.”
“Of course, I do.”
“Do you know what the surprise Alex has for me is?” Kara had to ask even though she knew what Cat would say.
“I do and I’ve debated about whether or not to tell you, but I went with Alex on this one.”
Kara stilled with her hand on the back of the couch. For Cat to be worried about the secret it must be a doozy. “Oh.”
Cat hummed. “I wasn’t sure how you would feel about it.”
“Alex would never do something that would hurt me.”
“Oh, I know.”
“It won’t will it?”
“Don’t be absurd.”
Kara’s thoughts were running wild. “Well, you’re acting weird.”
“It’s nothing. You’ll love your surprise and if you don’t, we’ll place all the blame on Alex.”
“Do you have everything ready for Christmas?”
“You bet. We’re going to have so much fun. I can’t wait to have everyone here. Don’t forget to bring the cranberries and oranges.”
“I won’t. Since Eliza is making chocolate pecan pie do you still want me to make—” Cat didn’t get to answer before Kara interrupted.
“Yes, Cat. My mouth is watering just thinking about your apple turnovers. We have to have them. It won’t be Christmas without them.”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I’ll make them but only because you asked so nicely.”
“That’s the Christmas spirit. Do you have your ugly sweater ready to go?” Cat had objected to wearing one on Christmas day but had given in when Kara, Carter, and Alex pouted.
“Don’t sound so smug and yes I have one.”
“Since I’m wearing the sweater, I don’t know why I have to wear matching pajamas on Christmas Eve.”
“Cat.” Kara groaned. “It’s tradition.”
“And you still won’t tell me what they are.”
“I don’t know. It was Eliza’s turn to pick them out this year.” Her parents started the tradition with her and when the Danvers took her in, they continued it. When she had kids, she would continue the tradition with them.
“Well, Carter’s looking forward to it.”
Kara knew deep down Cat was as well she just liked to put on a good front. “It’ll be great. You’ll see.”
“I suppose. I don’t want to keep you.”
“You’re not bothering me, but I’ll talk to you later.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Kara ended the call and slid her phone onto the kitchen counter. As the minutes ticked by, she debated about whether or not to call Alex when she heard Alex’s truck pull up outside.
She busied herself with dishing them up a cup of hot chocolate. She had just grabbed the marshmallows when the front door opened. After dropping the marshmallows on top of the hot chocolate, a movement to her left caught her attention.
She dropped the marshmallow bag and her eyes widened when she saw Fluffy standing a few feet from her dressed in an ugly Christmas sweater. Kara closed her eyes and gripped the counter. When she opened her eyes, Fluffy was still there and staring at her. The pounding of her heart spurned her into action, and she turned around.
Lena stood by the table with her own ugly sweater on and a smile on her face. Her Lena. Glasses and all. Kara opened her mouth to speak but words weren’t forthcoming.
Maybe she shouldn’t have spiked that apple cider earlier because what she was seeing couldn’t possibly be real, but when Fluffy meowed it hit her all at once.
“Kara,” Lena said and took a step forward.
She scrunched her nose. “I don’t understand. How’d you get here?”
“I didn’t either, but I do now and Alex brought me.”
Kara took a step forward but decided against it and leaned back against the counter. Lena was here. With her. She came back. “I…”
“Can I talk first?”
Kara nodded because she was at a loss. Lena being here could only be a good thing or at least she hoped it was. Her rational mind was telling her Lena wouldn’t have come all this way to reject her, but the other part of her mind was all over the place.
Lena gripped the back of a kitchen chair. “My life has been set in stone for a long time. I determined my path early on and stuck to it. I would get annoyed and upset with myself if I strayed too far from the path. I’ve learned in the last five weeks that sometimes the most unexpected outcome, the one you weren’t expecting, has rewards that far outweigh the fears. This last week has been eye opening for me. Sliding back into the role of Kieran was natural and easy. I always thought I would have to choose between Kieran and Lena when, in fact, I don’t have to choose at all. I am both of them and I’m okay with that. I’ll always be an actress, but I’ve realized I’m so much more. You made me realize I can be so much more. If it’s okay with you, Fluffy and I would like to spend the winter with you. I missed you and I want to explore what this is between us. I think we have something special. Something I’ve never felt before.”
Kara’s mind was in overdrive. Lena wanted her and she wanted to stay the winter with her. Kara took three steps forward and stood across the table from Lena. “Maggie gave me your number, but I could never work up the nerve to text you. I would always chicken out. I wasn’t sure if you felt the same way I did. I’ve never felt this way about anyone either. I can’t believe you’re here. I didn’t want to let you go, but I didn’t want to go back on what we both agreed on. This is what I want, but it’s hard to wrap my head around. ” It was such a surreal feeling. Lena was here and wanted her.
“Feels like a dream, huh?”
“You wouldn’t believe the week I’ve had.”
“Try me.” She needed a moment to get her thoughts in order. Everything she wanted was right in front of her.
“Mom And I reconciled.”
“It is but still weird.” Lena stepped around the table. “For once your emotions aren’t written in your eyes. Did I make a mistake coming here?”
Instead of speaking, Kara stepped directly in front of Lena and grabbed her in a tight hug, burying her face in Lena’s neck. Holding Lena felt so right. Lena leaned away and cupped her cheeks. “You’re staying the winter?”
“Oh, Kara, the winter’s just the start. I wanted some time away from everything to be with you. The two of us.” She pushed the hair out of Kara’s face. “I want you. I want this. I want you. We have a lot to talk about. For one, I’m not going to quit acting. I love it too much, but I do want to start directing. However, Kara Danvers, I choose you.”
Kara closed her eyes and gulped back tears. “Yay?”
“Yay. Was there ever any doubt?”
Lena laughed. “Yes, there was, but while going home was nice, I missed you so much. I don’t know how you managed to warm your way into my heart so quickly, but we have all winter to figure this out.”
“It’s not going to be easy, but I would have eventually worked up the nerve to call you.” She rested their foreheads together. “I think we’ve both been idiots from the beginning.”
“You’re staying the winter.” She couldn’t help the silly smile that was on her face.
Lena beamed back at her. “Yes.”
“And you want a relationship with me?” She had to be sure.
“A thousand times, yes. There is something about you that pulls me in.”
“It’s probably my kick ass body.”
Lena threw her head back and laughed and it was the sweetest sound Kara had ever heard. Kara turned them around and walked backward, with Lena following. She stopped at the entrance to the kitchen. She would have to get Alex something extra special for this surprise.
At this moment, Kara didn’t care where Alex was considering all she could focus on was the incredible woman in front of her. She puffed up at the revelation. “So, I bagged myself a superstar.” She buffed her fingers on her shirt allowing them to easily fall back into their old routine.
“You’re awfully sure of yourself.” Lena placed her hands on Kara’s chest.
“With good reason.” Kara directed Lena to look up and she did.
“You don’t need an excuse to kiss me, but it is tradition.”
“Definitely.” Kara tugged Lena close and kissed her. Before things could escalate, Kara pulled away and cupped Lena’s cheeks. “Is this even real?”
“It’s as real as it gets and if Alex wasn’t sitting on the couch with Fluffy, I would show you.”
Kara groaned and turned around. Alex waved at her.
“Don’t worry. Fluffy and I have been to absorbed in our own conversation to listen to yours.”
She wanted to be upset but couldn’t considering Alex was the one who brought Lena and this was her and Alex’s day together, which was why she was so surprised by Alex’s next words.
“So, Lena,” Alex said after she stood and approached them. “Are you ready to be initiated into the Danvers sister’s day of Christmas extravaganza?”
That’s when Kara knew everything was going to work out.
Lena woke slowly and opened her eyes. The last six days being with Kara were amazing. This would be their last day alone until after Christmas. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and with that would come a full house. It surprised her how much she was looking forward to it. It still amazed her how far she’s come in such a short amount of time.
She snuggled back against Kara, closed her eyes, and tugged Kara’s arm tighter around her. The first day back with Kara and Alex was eye opening. Lena felt honored that she was accepted into their tradition. And what a tradition it was. From decorating the tree, to stringing popcorn, and baking cookies all day long.
They’d ended the night on the couch with a movie marathon. Lena didn’t even mind they had to watch on Kara’s laptop, though if she was going to stay here for a long period of time, she would have to invest in a t.v. and Blu-ray player. She was sure she could convince Kara it was a good idea.
Her eyes flew open when someone licked her nose. Fluffy sat stiffly in front of her. Staring at her. She groaned when the arm around her tightened. It was a rare morning when Kara slept later than normal.
“I guess that’s our cue we need to get up.”
Lena rolled over coming face to face with a sleepy eyed Kara. “Good morning.” She kissed Kara’s forehead then rested her head on Kara’s chest.
“Morning. I think you’re making me lazy.”
“Don’t be silly. It’s been inside you all along.” Lena grunted when Fluffy jumped on her leg.
“Don’t give her that look. She wants to be included too.”
Lena rolled her eyes when Kara coxed Fluffy to sit on her chest and started petting her. She couldn’t complain. There was no place she’d rather be than with her two favorite girls. “What do we need to get done today?” They’d talked a little the night before, but Lena liked to be prepared.
“Not a lot. I have my usually chores. Tomorrow morning we’ll change the sheets and make sure the rooms are presentable for everybody.”
Since her visit was a surprise, she was regulated to a sleeping bag with Kara in the living room. It did sound fun and she knew Kara would make the experience enjoyable even if they had to share their space with Carter.
Kara jostled her. “Do you plan on following me around today?”
When she’d first explained her idea to Kara, she had been skeptical but eventually gave in when Lena promised not to give her address away. She’d shadowed her for two days but wanted to record more in-depth video of Kara’s specific tasks.
Kara promised when they were settled in, she would take Lena out on the snowmobile so she could get some wide angle shots of the property. Kara had even given up a portion of her craft room for Lena to set up her equipment. It was nice being able to share a space with and watch Kara work.
They’d also talked about their future. Lena had been surprised, but excited when Kara told her she would go back to National City with her when the winter was over for a couple of weeks. Alex had already agreed to watch the animals for her, and Lena couldn’t wait to show her the city. Kara had put up with her enthusiasm like Lena knew she would.
Out of the two scripts Lucy gave her, Lena had read over both of them and chosen a sci-fi western. It looked fun and she’d instantly fallen in love with the character. Larin was a fun and sassy bounty hunter and Lena was sure she could bring the character to life.
When she’d phoned Lucy, she’d agreed with Lena and told her she had a feeling she would choose that one. She’d also informed her after her project wrapped up, Lena would have an opportunity to shadow a director on a primetime drama. It was both scary and exciting, but Lena was ready. Kara had danced her around the living room when she found out.
Lena knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they were both willing to put in the work and that’s all that mattered. After being with Kara all week, Lena knew this was what she wanted and would do whatever was necessary to give their relationship the best chance. She was brought out of her musings when Kara kissed her cheek. “Ten more minutes.”
Kara smacked her ass then got out of bed and dragged the covers with her, leaving Lena coverless
“That was cold.”
“Oh, come one.” Kara grabbed Lena’s leg and pulled her to the foot, then leaned over her. “Coffee, chores, then a shower. The Brightside is you’ll be able to follow me around to your heart’s desire.”
“That is tempting.”
Kara wiggled her eyebrows. “You better believe it.”
“Fine, but I want French toast for breakfast.”
Kara pulled her up from the bed and into her arms. “Your wish is my command.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
Falling in love with Kara was the easiest thing she’d ever done.
Kara whistled while she cleaned out the chicken coup. Never in her wildest dream did she think her life would turn out this way. She’d waited so long for a person like Lena and would never take her or their life for granted. They’d come up with a plan and Kara felt confident that everything would work out. It wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it.
She turned and winked at Lena who was standing in the corner filming her.
“Get back to work slacker.”
Kara chuckled but did as she was told. After all her chores were done, they walked out of the barn with Lena walking backward in front of her. Kara leaned down and picked up a handful of snow.
“What are you doing?” Lena lowered her camera.
Kara packed the snow. “What does it look like?”
“Don’t what, Lena?” She checked the weight of the snowball.
“Kara, I mean it.”
Kara cocked her head. “Are you sure?”
“Here’s the thing. I don’t think you are.” Kara grinned when Lena slipped the camera inside of her coat.
“You really don’t want to try me.”
“Oh. Right in the feels.” Kara grabbed at her chest. A grin split her face when Lena picked up a handful of snow and started forming it. “I’ll have yo…” Kara spluttered when the snowball hit her in the face. She never saw it coming. She took her glasses off, wiped them, then put them back on. “So that’s the way you want to play this.”
Kara stalked toward Lena who took off running with Kara giving chase. Kara caught up with her at the smokehouse, grabbed her from behind and stuffed the snow down her back.
Lena squealed and wiggled away. “Why you.”
“Now, Lena. All’s fair in snowball fights.” Kara felt bad for half a second then Lena’s eyes hardened, and Kara wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into. When Lena smiled, Kara ran.
Two hours later, they were curled on the couch, Kara tracing circles on Lena’s palm. “I hope you never regret coming back.”
“Kara, look at me.” Lena cupped her cheek. “I will never regret coming back.”
“And I’ll never regret you coming back.” Kara pushed the loose hair behind Lena’s ear. “I was walking around the tree this morning and happened to notice a couple new presents.” Lena had been mum on what she gotten her for Christmas and Kara was stumped. The medium sized box had her puzzled. Lena had forbidden her from picking it up which was a clue in itself.
Lena pushed Kara away. “Oh my god, stop fishing. You’ll find out on Christmas.”
“Have mercy. It’s calling to me. Like a siren song.”
“You dork.” Lena stood, pushed Kara back, then lay down beside her. “I hope you like it.”
“I will. You didn’t have to get me anything you know.”
“Don’t be silly. I got something for everyone. I’m really excited for Christmas this year for some reason.”
“Whatever could that be.”
Amid their laughs Kara pulled Lena close and they both relaxed. Soon Lena’s breaths evened out and Kara closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of Lena in her arms. They would spend the next couple of days with her family, then she and Lena would get their time alone. A lot of time considering the latest weather reports predicted a snowstorm the week after Christmas that could potentially dump up to five feet of snow on them.
That sounded pretty much perfect to Kara.
Falling in love with Lena was as easy as breathing.
Lena shook out her hands and bounced on the balls of her feet. Alex had called earlier to let them know they were on their way. Most of her nerves had dissipated over the past week but a few still lingered. This would only be the second time seeing Eliza and Jeremiah again.
A few days ago, Kara called them, and allowed Lena to talk to them about everything that happened. Lena apologized to lying to them, but they waved off her words. Eliza said it was clear from the first time they met there was something special between her and Kara. It made her feel better that they didn’t hold anything against her.
They’d already changed the sheets on the beds and cleaned after they feed the animals that morning. Kara also dragged the sleeping bags up from the cellar and they were currently airing out beside the woodstove. A bundle of blankets and sheets were folded neatly on the coffee table for Carter to use.
Kara had also dug out her stocking, stating everyone else would bring theirs. When Kara presented her with a stocking for her and Fluffy, Lena dragged her back to bed and showed Kara how much she appreciated the gesture. Then they changed the sheets again.
All three stockings were lined up neatly, hanging off a shelf Kara had cleared for this purpose. Kara had been adamant there was room for everyone’s. Lena wasn’t sure. Kara had also sewed a new sweater for Fluffy so she wouldn’t feel left out with all the festivities.
Fluffy currently lounged on the tree skirt, staring up at the twinkling lights. Kara was worried Fluffy would attack the tree, but Lena knew better. Fluffy was too lazy to anything other than lay under it.
Every time Kara would place another gift under the tree, Lena second guessed her gift choices, but it was too late to change them now. When two arms snaked around her waist, Lena leaned back, soaking up the feel of Kara. Something she would never take for granted.
“Are you ready for everyone?”
This was the third time Kara had asked her today. “I am and the next time you ask me I will be as well.” Lena laughed when Kara spun her around.
“You’re cheeky today. You keep that up and I’ll take one of your gifts out from under the tree.”
“Will you now?”
“I cross my heart.” Kara crossed her heart then pointed to the ceiling. Lena didn’t have to look to know what was there. Kara had taken to hanging mistletoe everywhere, even though Lena would kiss her whenever she wanted.
Lena raised up to fulfill the request when the front door swung open.
“Break it up you two,” Cat said.
Lena kissed Kara anyway then wiggled out of Kara’s arms. Cat walked in, followed by Carter, Eliza, Jeremiah, and Alex brought up the rear. “Cat.” It was the first time they’d seen each other since Cat came to National City. Lena only hesitated for a moment when Cat wrapped her in a hug.
“I’m glad you two are happy.”
“We are.” Lena accepted Alex’s hug next.
“Kara,” Alex said. “Come help me with the bags and gifts.”
“Let me grab my coat.” Kara kissed Lena’s cheek as she walked past her.
Lena found herself alone with Eliza. “Eliza.”
“Lena, it’s good to see you again.”
Eliza slipped her arm through Lena’s. “Do you and Kara have everything ready?”
“Yep. All we need from everyone is to relax.” They stopped by the woodstove. “I know I’ve said it—”
“Lena, we’re not mad about anything that happened. We both feel that you two are made for each other. We’re good.”
“Okay. I really…”
The smile on Eliza’s face eased all of Lena’s doubts. “Yes.”
“Have you told her?”
“Not in words. I mean.”
“Ladies,” Cat said, walking up to them with three cups in her hands. “How about a toast?”
Lena accepted the glass of eggnog, ninety percent sure Cat spiked it. Lena held her cup up. “To finding yourself.”
“To family,” Eliza said.
Cat smiled. “To falling in love.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Alex said, sliding behind Cat, still in her coat, and wrapping an arm around her waist. With her other hand she held her own cup up. “To best friends.” She shared a smile with Kara.
“To being happy,” Jeremiah added.
Carter stepped up to Cat with his own glass. “To being together.”
Kara lifted her glass. “To all the adventures still yet to come.”
Lena lifted her glass to her lips and took a sip. Yep, Cat spiked it, but it was good. She relaxed when Kara pulled her into her side.
She still couldn’t believe the last couple of months happened. The outcome far outweighed she went through to get there. The future wasn’t set in stone, but they had a plan and that was the important thing. Everything else they would tackle as it came.
Kara pulled Lena into her arms inside their sleeping bags later that night. Carter was sound asleep on the couch. Everyone else was settled into their rooms. All day, Kara would seek Lena out, but Lena never once looked out of place. It had eased Kara’s nerves to see Lena so comfortable with everyone. Lena sighed in her sleep and Kara pulled her closer.
In years past they would open one gift on Christmas Eve and Lena had insisted everyone open hers. Kara knew she was apprehensive, but she shouldn’t have been. Everyone loved their gifts. Kara knew she would have to hear Alex rave about the otter picture Lena had commissioned for her. The otter wore hiking gear and on her shirt was aname tag that read Alex. It was cute and Alex already proclaimed it was going in her office when she got home.
Jeremiah and Eliza loved their gift cards to the movie theater and a few gift cards to local restaurants for them to have date nights. Cat was happy to receive cat sculpture for her office. She’d only made a few snide comments about it, but Kara knew she was thrilled. She knew Lena was worried about Carter, but he’d been ecstatic to receive a signed poster of his favorite actor.
Kara glanced at the tree where her gift still sat. A Janome MB-4S Embroidery machine complete with a ton of extras. One thing Kara always wanted to do but didn’t have the money for was to start embroidering some of her K-Dan bags. She didn’t have time to hand stitch, so this would be perfect. The fact that Lena listened, then got her something she wanted and could use meant everything. It was an amazing piece of technology and she would have saved for years to be able to afford it. She couldn’t wait to start playing around with it.
“If you don’t go to sleep Santa won’t come,” Lena whispered in her ear bringing a smile to Kara’s lips.
“Did I wake you?”
“No.” Lena ran her hand over Kara’s elf covered pajama top. “Why are you awake?”
“Just thinking. I can’t wait to try out my embroidery machine.”
“I wasn’t sure you would like it.”
“Are you kidding it’s awesome. I’ll be able to do so much more with it and pad my back account in the process.”
“Good.” Lena continued to run her hand on Kara’s stomach.
“I hope you like what I got you?” Kara didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend so she hoped Lena liked it.
Lena raised up to look in Kara’s eyes. “I’ll like anything you got me. Besides,” she lay her head back on Kara’s shoulder. “Being here with you is enough. Being able to share this with you and your family means the world to me.”
“I love having you here too. Raise up.” Lena did and Kara stood and walked to the tree. She picked up the gift she was looking for and joined a now sitting up Lena. “Here.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Kara made sure Carter was still asleep and nodded for Lena to go ahead. Kara’s heart was in her throat as Lena tore the paper and opened the box. She watched Lena take out a photo album and open it.
“Kara.” Lena turned the first page and stared wide eyed at her.
“Is it okay?” She’d debated about making a leaf photo album of their time together but knew this was the way to go.
“Oh, good.” She moved to beside Lena. “I picked up the first leaf when I was walking to the hospital to meet you for the first time. The second one at the hotel after the accident. This one,” Kara turned to a page, “Is from our unlucky hunting trip.”
“This is more than I could have hoped for.”
Kara’s fingers shook as she turned to the last page that held a brown, seen better days, leaf. This one I picked up today.” She turned the page and slipped the notecard out and held it to her chest before looking up and catching Lena’s eyes and turning the card over. On the card were the words, ‘The day I told Lena that I’m in love with her’.
“Oh.” Lena took the card and ran her finger along the words before standing and grabbing a pen. She sat back down and under Kara’s words wrote, ‘The day I told Kara I was in love with her’.
Kara sniffled, shut the book, and set it to the side before turning back to Lena. “I knew from the beginning I would never be able to keep a distance from you. From the moment I laid eyes on you, my emotions were all over the place. You blew into my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She cupped Lena’s cheeks. “I love you. I’m in love with you. I can’t guarantee everything will run smoothly, but I promise I will always be here. Right by your side, even if you’re hundreds of miles away. I’m not running, I never will. I welcome all the hurdles we’ll have to jump because we’ll do it together. I love you.”
“Oh, Kara. I love you too. Far longer then I’m willing to admit. You’re it for me. You always will be. I don’t know how I know that, I just do. I feel so much when I’m with you and it scares me, but you’re worth it. We’re worth it.” She lightly kissed Kara’s lips. “I love you.”
“Say it again.”
“I love you.”
“One more time.”
“Kara Danvers, I love you.”
Kara lay back and pulled Lena down next to her. “Lena Kieran Luthor, I love you too.”
Four years later
Lena drummed her fingers on the steering wheel as she pulled into the diner parking lot. She hopped out, rounded the truck, opened the door, and pulled out a small cooler filled with Kara’s latest batch of goat cheese. She thanked the man who held the door open for her.
“Lena,” J’onn said, taking the cooler from her and pulling her into a one arm hug. “How are you?”
“Good. I’m good.”
“Can you stay for a bite?”
“I can’t. I’m headed to Cat’s next.”
“Don’t be a stranger.”
“I won’t.” She waved at a few people that called her name, walked out, then climbed back into the truck. A few minuets later she pulled into the parking lot of Grant’s Grocery. Winter was fast approaching and while Kara went on one last hunting trip with Alex, Lena opted to stock up on staples they would need. It had been three days and she was ready to see everyone.
It would be the first winter in two years they were staying at the homestead and Lena was ready. After her sci-fi western, she’d taken the lead role in a romance, which lead to her second Academy award. Being able to kiss Kara when she won meant everything.
They’d had their ups and downs over the years, but Lena wouldn’t trade them for anything. The platinum band on her ring finger meant more than words ever could. They were in this together and Lena never doubted that. Kara always made her feel loved, wanted, and safe. Their wedding three years ago and been small and private. It was perfect. Lillian cried when Lena asked her to walk her down the aisle.
For the past year, she’d focused on directing and with eight television episodes under her belt and two independent films, one that won several awards, she was starting to feel like a director. Over the winter she planned on finally finalizing her documentary about Kara’s homestead. It had been four years in the making and she knew the finished product would be amazing.
Lena hummed and stepped out of the truck and made her way to the store’s entrance. She stopped and took in the town around her. National City would always hold such a special place in her heart, but this was her home.
Lena waved at George, who always sat on the corner of the block no matter the weather. He waved at her then went back to watching the traffic.
She walked through the automatic doors then slipped her sunglasses off and hooked them in the V of her sweater.
“Good morning, Lena.”
The first time Lena had met Ashely, Cat’s cashier, Ashely had been star struck, but over the years that had waned, thank goodness.
“It is a good morning.”
“Cat’s in her office.”
“That’s where I’m headed.” Lena started walking then stopped ten or so steps from Cat’s office when Cat stepped into the doorway. They’d become close over the years and Lena couldn’t ask for a better friend. She’d bounced countless ideas off Cat and every time Cat gave her invaluable advice.
Lena took a step forward but stopped when a second body popped up in the doorway beside Cat. A much smaller, squirming body who quickly latched onto Cat’s pants leg. That is until she spotted Lena.
Lena knelt and braced herself for the impact Emma would make. A moment later Emma threw herself into Lena’s arms and Lena stood, holding her tight. “My baby.” Lena peppered a laughing Emma’s face with kisses. “I missed you.”
Since Lena had to fly to National City three days ago and Alex was busy with Kara, Cat had agreed to watch Emma. Which wasn’t a hardship, considering Emma loved her Aunt Cat and Aunt Alex more than her and Kara sometimes. Cat was spoiling her more than Lillian and that was saying something.
“Did you have fun with Aunt Cat?”
Emma nodded her head and Lena pushed the blonde curls out of her eyes. Looked like a haircut was in order.
“Awesome.” Lena held up her hand and Emma high-fived it.
A week after their wedding, Lena and Kara sat down and talked about having kids. They both wanted them sooner rather than later and Kara had been surprised when Lena voiced she wanted them within the next five years. A year later they welcomed Emma into their family. The pregnancy had been a lot different than Lena expected but she’d powered through and they welcomed a healthy six pound, ten ounce baby girl. Kara blossomed at being a mother and they had a dozen photo album’s full to prove it.
Lena accepted Cat’s hug even with Emma clinging to her.
“How are you sweetie?”
“I’m good. Tired, but good.” Lena set Emma down, who ran to the corner of the room where her toys and bed were located. “It went well.”
“Good.” They turned to watch Emma. “She was an angel.”
Lena snorted earning a glare from Cat. “Of course, you would say that. She can do no wrong in you or Alex’s eyes.”
“And your point.”
“No point.” Lena chuckled and glanced around the office. Her eyes landed on a large framed photo to the left of her desk. Alex and Cat’s wedding photo. “It turned out nice.”
“It did. The suit was a good look on her.”
“Good grief, Cat. You like her in anything.”
“And your point.”
“No point.” Lena sighed. “Feels like a dream sometimes.”
“I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but you know what?”
“Now, I don’t care. If the other shoe drops, I’ll just buy a new pair.”
“You’ve learned something most people never do. Relationships take work, but the right ones are worth it.”
“The Danvers sisters are worth it.”
“You better believe it.” After a beat. “I can watch her longer if you like.”
“I don’t think so. If it was up to you, you’d have her year round.”
“I had to ask.”
“Have you and Alex thought about it?”
Cat jerked around to face her. “Are you out of your mind. I’m too old for that.”
“No, you’re not. If that’s something you want, you should talk to Alex.”
“We’ve talked about it, but I don’t know.”
“Don’t wait too long.” Lena pushed off the wall. “I hate to cut this short, but I need to get everything loaded then head home.”
“I had Carter load everything by the back door. You go load the truck and I’ll get her together.”
Lena pulled Cat into a hug before she could walk off. “I love you.”
“I love you too. Now go.”
An hour later, the truck was loaded, and Lena and Emma were on their way home.
“Is mama home?”
“Not yet. Her and Aunt Alex are still hunting.”
Lena quickly glanced at her daughter who was fast losing her ability to stay awake. Lena knew if she let her sleep now, she would be a beast later, but didn’t have the heart to wake her.
“Sleep well, princess.”
Kara lit up when she heard the truck pull into the driveway which meant her two favorite girls were home. Her and Alex had called it quits early since they bagged two deer, which they’d already processed. Now, Kara was taking care of the animals so she could spend the rest of the evening relaxing.
The last four years had been a dream. One she never wanted to wake up from. Having Emma was just the icing on the cake. She always wanted a wife and children, but never thought that was in the cards for her. Now she had both. Lena and Emma were her life and she would do whatever was necessary to make sure they stayed healthy and happy.
She’d been surprised when Lena voiced she wanted to spend winter at the homestead. But Kara quickly agreed. Truth was, she didn’t necessarily miss the snow, but she missed being away from here. National City was nice, but it wasn’t home. She’d learned to love it over the years but nothing beat coming back here.
Sometimes she would find herself staring down at her wedding ring in awe. Seeing Lena walking down the aisle almost had her in a puddle on the ground. She was a vision. They’d honeymooned in New Zealand, which had been at the top of Kara’s bucket list. Lena had promised to mark off more places in the future from said list. They planned on taking Emma to Disney World for her fourth birthday. Still a few years to go, but they both wanted Emma to enjoy it.
Kara locked the goat paddock then locked up the barn and made her way to the house. She grabbed a box out of the truck and piled it on top of the boxes Lena had already brought in. She could hear her girls upstairs so she hurried outside and quickly unloaded the truck. Boxes littered the entranceway, but they could clear that later. Kara took off her outerwear, washed up, then hurried upstairs.
Lena was holding down and tickling a giggling Emma.
“Mama, help me.”
Lena stopped her attack and turned a smile to Kara. “Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.”
Lena had been gone three days, but it felt like a lifetime. “Ditto, darling. Ditto.” Kara climbed on the bed and pulled them both into her arms. Emma quickly snuggled into her side and promptly fell asleep. She got that from Lena. Kara looked over her to Lena. “I’m glad you’re home.”
Lena leaned over Emma and kissed Kara, lingering for a moment then pulling back. “I’m glad to be here.”
“You look tired.”
“I am. I dare say this pregnancy is going to be harder than Emma’s.”
Kara wouldn’t dim her smile even if she tried. Having one child was amazing but two felt like a dream. After Emma, they’d decided on one more. They wanted them close in age, so they decided to wait a couple of years after Emma. At Lena’s latest appointment, they’d found out they were having another little girl. Kara couldn’t wait.
So much had already changed around the homestead, and while some changes had been hard, others came more naturally. After getting married, they expanded the house by three storage containers to make room for their growing family. A pole barn was also built to accommodate Lena’s studio and Kara’s workshop. Along with a state of the art security system and a gated entrance to the homestead.
Bringing a baby into this environment had been a learning curve, but after a few mishaps on their part, everything worked out. Though, she had a feeling, Emma would be getting into so much more and with a new baby on the way, they had their work cut out for them.
“Well, this winter don’t worry about doing anything. I will take care of you both.”
“Don’t be silly. We’ll take care of each other.”
When they were both asleep, Kara slipped out of bed, covered them up, made sure the baby gate was locked at the doorway and made her way downstairs. Once in the living room, she walked to the couch and picked up a willing Fluffy and petted her.
With Lena’s help she was able to quit fishing and was able to devote more time to making her K-Dan bags, which were even more sought after since she started embroidering them. Life was moving at a rapid pace, but she liked to take a step back and take it all in from time to time. Enjoy the life she was living and the people in it. Like right now. The boxes could wait a few more minutes.
Kara sat down on the couch with Fluffy still in her arms. “Who would have thought this would be our life Fluffy. Who would have thought.”