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Braced against the shower wall, the warm water ran over her, setting alight skin. Small patches stung and ached, marked in angry lines on her back; the soft flesh of her thighs in patches of mottled purple. In flashes she remembered blunt fingernails drawing tracks into her skin, teeth marking sensitive flesh before being soothed by a warm tongue and coming noiseless and quick.

Kat had returned the favour; kissing over the tight cursive inked on Adena’s thighs, on her rib cage, her wrists - A roadmap of all of the sensitive parts of her.

A Promise came, breathing close and driving deep into Adena, eyes locked.

A tongue caressed at her centre, drawing her in, thighs locked in a tight embrace. Heady, soft and so wet in her mouth. The short staccato of pants replaced by sweet nothings.

In her arms, Adena felt like coming home.

Silence came immediately after, laying on her back with Adena cradled at her middle, tracing planets on her hip. Long fingers combed through thick hair, massaging Adena’s scalp, lulling the woman purring against her, to sleep. Quiet, the room was lit in warm orange from the streetlights below, under a cloudless sky. A shadow cast on the slope of Adena’s nose and her lips. And the guilt set in.

Eyes closed; head tilted toward the spray of water, she let it cleanse her; water running over tired eyes and swirling into the drain. Poetic in a sense. 

Kat set about washing off all evidence of the night before.

From the south facing conference room, Kat looked over the city blocks, stacked high in a grid formation. Long metal frames, panelled in glass, reaching all the way to the horizon. Traffic piled up on the road below, with city dwellers on crosswalks, walking dogs and weaving through side streets. The view wasn’t all that remarkable. Buildings, much like the one she came to routinely at eight every morning. Filled with people, living. Feeling all of the same feelings of shame, disappointment, joy, grief, satisfaction, hope.

She moved slowly around the office on the fourth day. Angie had noticed the shift in mood, unsure of how to proceed.

“Hey, Kat. Patrick scheduled a team meeting, but I’ve got the notes he sent about the content on Instagram. They want like high graphics, edited, thirty-second clips; I have some ideas.”

“Uh yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.” Came over her shoulder.

Work always gave her focus. She had cried silently in the break room, twice, walked back to her desk puffy and red-faced under her makeup. Jane gave a concerned glance from across the bullpen, but a hand raised told her that Kat wanted to be left alone.

This will pass, she reminded herself. Kat could forget and sometimes she did. How disappointed and ashamed she felt.

When she wasn’t spending each second contemplating and avoiding everyone in the office with their pitied looks she was distracted. ‘You were robbed, Kat.’

Adena was a distraction, a beautiful distraction. And Kat was vulnerable.

Letting her in. The very woman who cracked open her chest and left her bleeding on the floor. The same woman who made her feel more awake than she had in a long time. Who gave comfort without asking for anything in return. The Adena who pressed kisses to the bones her sternum and over her heart. Adena always serene and peaceful as slept wrapped around her body.  

The restaurant was her daughter’s choosing. Eccentric and small, tucked in a side street a few blocks from her office. Candles illuminated the otherwise dimly lit space. The walls exposed brick was adorned by a collection of abstract art. She had smiled being led to a corner table in a row by the window. Time was spent watching people. And she watched all day. That was her job, to watch and listen. The other patrons in the restaurant; the young couple holding hands across the table; the singleton checking their phone between bites of food; the servers; noise coming from behind the pass where tickets were exchanged for food. Her musings were interrupted by Kat walking in greeting the front of house staff before pointing to where she sat.

The mother pushed out her chair and met her daughter for a hug.

“Hi, sweetie.”

“Hey, mom.” Kat hugged her back tightly.

Susan signalled to the server as they both took their seats. “Do you want a drink, honey?”

“Yes. Please.”

Beautiful and tender-hearted, Kat shifted in her seat as she flipped through the menu. Susan worried. She saw her daughter folded in her seat, tired and slumped; all her energy expended on holding herself together. Susan looked at her, suddenly too small in the chair, baby faced, with wet cheeks and missing teeth afraid to meet her eyes. Afraid to see disappointment reflected in them.

The return of their server with their drinks and the collection of their orders offered some distraction. Ordering food was very much without incident and conversation ceased momentarily.

“How is work?

“Work is good. Fine actually. Is dad at the office still?”

An exchange about busy schedules, work meetings and a planned long-weekend in Palm Springs was interrupted by the arrival of food; piping hot and haphazardly plated. Buttery vegetables and a thick sauce requiring measured and strategic use of utensils.  

“Is everything okay. How are you feeling?” Her mother asked with a smile as she decanted more water into her glass.

“Yup. I’m okay.”

“I saw Adena the other night.” Her daughter paused mid-chew. “She came over at the party. I didn’t know she was in New York again, she said something about a showing?”

The mother watched her daughter’s brow dip into a deep furrow. “Are the two of you…?.”

“We uh, had a moment. Like a small moment the other night.”

Across the table, Susan kept her face neutral, well-practised. “And Tia?” Kats life was told in little snippets and sometimes her daughter moved so fast it was a struggle it became hard to tell current information from that of 2 weeks ago. “She seems lovely.” She tried. “Very sweet and polite. You seem happier.”

“She is.”

“And now?”

Kat shrugged and looked away, suddenly overly concerned with the foot traffic on the street just beyond the window and one little dog prancing beside it’s human.

“No Dr Edison, okay. Just Dr Mom.” The quip earned a small smile. “You can talk to me sweetie; you know there is no judgment. This is a safe space.”

Kat smiled again, her mother slipping into a mock doctor voice.

“Now that everything with the campaign is done, I don’t know. Everything was going so well, with Tia and everything and now I don’t know. I was finally feeling like, okay, I’m moving on. I was okay, and she comes back and all of a sudden I'm fucking spiralling and…”

“Language honey. Continue.”

“Sorry.” She said after a moment. “Adena and I have this thing, whatever it is and I can’t put it down. I keep going back there but now I'm scared that it’s because she was unavailable and now here she is, telling me everything I want to hear. When I’m with her, it doesn’t feel so hard. She doesn’t look at me like I failed her somehow and with everything going on.”

“…And with everything going on you feel like you need that.“ Susan finished. “Oh, honey.” Susan gripped her daughters’ hand at the centre of the table.  

“I don’t know.”

“Do you remember Mr Cuddlesworth? You named him that because you said he was ‘distinguished’. He had a bowtie and a tiny blue waistcoat; it was the first thing we bought for you and when you were little you dragged him everywhere with you. I remember at one point his ear was worn and fraying and one of his eyes had come loose. And one day you lost him and it seemed like the end of the world. You wouldn’t sleep in your room. I remember you cried until you tired yourself out.”


“You have to decide for yourself what it that you want sweetie but this… this feeling won’t last forever. And you can run from being in pain and from being disappointed or you can face it. The point is, sometimes the things that we hold the closest, that bring us comfort are always the hardest to let go of, and the letting go part is the hardest thing. But you have to choose, to let it go.”

Brightness slipped in through a small gap in the curtains, drawn over large windows.

It took a few long moments for consciousness to settle in and the very thought of having to face the world kept her eyes closed a little longer. Her muscles ached, with the bones beneath her skin feeling stiff with every small movement. Kat stifled a groan reaching up to rub the sleep from her eyes.

The relative quiet of the morning was disturbed only by the sound of sizzling and the whir of the extractor fan across the room. In the small kitchen, Adena stood over the stove; Kat noticed, wearing her t-shirt.

It almost seemed normal. Watching Adena, comfortable, moving around her space. Familiar in a way that left Kat feeling unsettled. Irrationally. Like breaking an unspoken rule. She knew where Kat kept the good knives gifted by her mother, rarely used. Where the glasses were kept. She knew to put the plates away in size order, to appease Kat. She floated, graceful as she finished making breakfast, chewing morsels as she plated the food. Because Adena is thoughtful and knows exactly how she likes her eggs.

“Morning.” Kat rasped, sitting up in bed.

“Good Morning. I made food because I know you do not give yourself enough time in the morning. Oh, and there’s coffee if you want some. I made eggs.” She finished, pouring a glass of water and placing it next to the plate.

“Yeah I’ve been meaning to go to the store, but everything was kind of hectic.” Kat stretched, pushing out of bed. “It smells great. I'm just going to wash up, give me a sec.” It did smell great, aromatic and savoury, wafting up to hit every corner of the room.

Moving to walk away she was halted by arms around her waist from behind. Adena hugged her close for a minute, kissing her neck, then her shoulder. “I have to go. I have a couple of meetings before lunch and I still have to go back and change, and I left all of my things at the apartment .” Adena explained.


Kat turned in her arms, peering down at the other woman.

They fit. Domestic even with the lines blurred. Her sleepy brain moved her hands to the other woman’s hips, not quite coherent or clear headed. A more rational Kat, her inner voice perhaps, would remind her this definitely was not allowed. Not after declarations said in the wee small hours of the morning. “I never stopped loving you.” “I don’t want to do it halfway.”

“We can talk later?”

“Sure.” Kat smiled.

Adena kissed her. Stood against the dining table, she kissed back.

“I love you.”

“I know.”

Sitting alone in her apartment, breakfast filling and rich, Kat had a realisation. Playing too close to the fire, because it feels deliciously warm up close. That’s what this feels like.

The light dipped below tall buildings with the upper limb of the sun falling below the horizon. Refractory rays coloured the sky in deep red hues and intense amber. The first flickering of street lights to soon follow. The large windows welcomed a soft breeze, the sounds of the street below filtering in behind it: the roar of car tires, of heels, clicking against the pavement and every so often,  the very tail end of a conversation had by passers-by.

Long after the dishes were washed and put carefully away and the bottle of wine between them, sat unfished on the table, two bodies curled together on the couch. Tia’s space was small but well lived in. The walls were light in colour and mostly bare but for a few books balanced on mounted shelves. The well-worn furniture came with all of the comfort one would expect, a deep sunken-in couch and an upcycled coffee table.

“You’re kinda quiet tonight, everything okay?” Tia murmured.

Kat’s eyes flickered monetarily towards Tia and then back to the computer balanced on her lap. “Yeah, everything is fine,”

“Uh, you know before when I said that I didn’t want to talk about Adena… all I wanted to do was talk about it.”

Righting herself on the couch, Kat took a shaky breath, quickly steeling herself and closing the computer. “Okay.” Came as an offering.

“I know you said you were figuring stuff out or whatever and I totally get that but she’s your ex, who you still have feelings for, I guess I'm wondering…”

Confident if not sometimes very forward, from their first meeting Kat had been charmed by Tia; her easy-going manner and passion for her work. Hoping to get involved in some community organising a friendship developed, one marked by easy banter and late nights in her apartment talking too long. And then it was something more. Made all the more heavy conversations about self-acceptance and hesitant touches.

“If she hadn’t come back, would that have changed things between us?

“I don’t know.”

Things changed then. All at once.